Monday, October 23, 2017

“What Calgacus Said”

“What Calgacus Said”
by Andrew Green

"In 84 AD the Britons who inhabited what is now northern Scotland decided to make a stand against the invading Roman forces, at a place Tacitus calls ‘Mons Graupius’. Scholars differ about where this might be: possibly it was at Bennachie in Aberdeenshire. As ancient historians were accustomed to do Tacitus has the leaders of each side address the troops, and he ‘quotes’ their speeches. (It’s unlikely he could have known exactly what was said, but speeches not only dramatize the narrative, they help supply commentary on the motivation and tactics of the players.) The Caledonian army is addressed by their leader, Calgacus. Tacitus says nothing about him except that he was ‘outstanding in bravery and of noble birth’: perhaps the only sure information he had about him was his name (the Celtic form Calgaich may mean ‘swordsman’).

"Making concessions and being moderate isn’t going to save us from their tyranny. They rape the whole world. When they’ve finished devastating the land they turn their attentions to the sea. If their enemies have wealth they want it; if they’re poor, it makes no difference, they still hunger for power. Nowhere, east or west, is enough for them – they’re the only ones who lust after everything alike, rich or poor. Abduction, massacre, plunder they misname ‘law and order.’ Where they make a desert they call it ‘peace.’” - Calgacus, as quoted by Tacitus.

Raqqa, Syria. YOUR tax dollars at work, Good Citizens. 
Didn’t you know? You should...You, and all of us, paid for this.

X22 Report, “The Next Stock Market Crash Is Going To Drop Like A Rock”

X22 Report, “The Next Stock Market Crash Is Going To Drop Like A Rock”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsIu8CHGKxc
Related followup report:
X22 Report, “Mop Up Operation: Is The Cabal Destroying Records?”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O__8HPau088

Related:
"Why The Next Stock Market Crash Will Be Faster And Bigger Than Ever Before"
http://investmentwatchblog.com/

Musical Interlude: Karunesh, “Moon Temple”

Karunesh, “Moon Temple”

"A Look to the Heavens"

"What surrounds the florid Rosette nebula? To better picture this area of the sky, the famous flowery emission nebula on the far right has been captured recently in a deep and dramatic wide field image that features several other sky highlights. Designated NGC 2237, the center of the Rosette nebula is populated by the bright blue stars of open cluster NGC 2244, whose winds and energetic light are evacuating the nebula's center. Below the famous flower, a symbol of Valentine's Day, is a column of dust and gas that appears like a rose's stem but extends hundreds of light years.
 Click image for larger size.
Across the above image, the bright blue star just left and below the center is called S Monocerotis. The star is part of the open cluster of stars labelled NGC 2264 and known as the Snowflake cluster. To the right of S Mon is a dark pointy featured called the Cone nebula, a nebula likely shaped by winds flowing out a massive star obscured by dust. To the left of S Mon is the Fox Fur nebula, a tumultuous region created by the rapidly evolving Snowflake cluster. The Rosette region, at about 5,000 light years distant, is about twice as far away as the region surrounding S Mon. The entire field can be seen with a small telescope toward the constellation of the Unicorn (Monoceros)."

Chet Raymo, “The Sound And Fury”

“The Sound And Fury”
by Chet Raymo

“Not so long ago, I mentioned here Himmler and Heydrich, two of Hitler's most terrible henchmen. A friend said to me: "If there's no afterlife, no heaven or hell, then those two diabolical creatures got away with it. Their fate was no different than that of any one of their victims, an innocent child perhaps." And, yes, if there is no God who dispenses final justice, then we are left with an aching feeling of irresolution, of virtue unrewarded, of vice unpunished. Heydrich was gunned down by partisan assassins, and Himmler committed suicide a few hours before his inevitable capture, both fates arguably less tragic than that of their victims. How much more satisfying to think that the two mass murderers will spend an eternity in hell, while their victims find bliss.

This may not be a logically consistent argument for the existence of God, but it is certainly compelling. My friend says: "If there's no afterlife, then it's all sound and fury, signifying nothing. Of course, this emotive argument for the existence of God is balanced by another argument against his existence– the problem of evil: How can a just and loving God allow the existence of a Himmler or Heydrich in the first place. Here the argument is not just emotional, but consists of a thorny contradiction.

It comes down, essentially, to head vs. heart- what we would like to be true with all of our heart, vs. what our head tells us is an unresolvable conundrum. So each of us decides: To follow our hearts and make the blind leap of faith, or to follow our heads and learn to live with the sound and the fury. For those of us who choose the second alternative, the relevant words are that distressing coda, "signifying nothing." Our task is one of signification, of finding a satisfying meaning this side of the grave.

For many of us, that means finding our place in the great cosmic unfolding, and of recognizing that our lives are not inconsequential, that by being here we jigger the trajectory of the universe in some way, no matter how small, and preferably for the good and just. Yes, we make a leap of faith too, I suppose- that love, justice, and creativity are virtues worth living for- but at least it is a leap of faith that is not into the unknown, does not embody logical contradiction, and is consistent with what we know to be true, or at least as true as we can make it.”

"Half The Harm..."

"Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm. But the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it. Because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves."
- T. S. Eliot

The Poet: Rainer Maria Rilke, "All Will Come Again"

"All Will Come Again"

"All will come again into its strength:
the fields undivided, the waters undammed,
the trees towering and the walls built low.
And in the valleys, people as strong and varied as the land.
And no churches where God
is imprisoned and lamented
like a trapped and wounded animal.
The houses welcoming all who knock
and a sense of boundless offering
in all relations, and in you and me.
No yearning for an afterlife, no looking beyond,
no belittling of death,
but only longing for what belongs to us
and serving earth, lest we remain unused."

- Rainer Maria Rilke

The Daily "Near You?"

Croydon, United Kingdom. Thanks for stopping by!

"On The Whole..."

 “On the whole human beings want to be good,
but not too good, and not quite all the time.”
- George Orwell

"Let It Roll Off Our Back: Dodging and Deflecting"

"Let It Roll Off Our Back: Dodging and Deflecting"
by Madisyn Taylor, The DailyOM

"When we are criticized or attacked it is important to not take it into our heart space. One of the most difficult challenges in life is learning not to take things to heart and hold on to it. Especially when we’re younger, or if we’re very sensitive, we take so much of what comes our way to heart. This can be overwhelming and unproductive if it throws us off balance on a regular basis. When we are feeling criticized or attacked from all directions, it becomes very difficult for us to recover ourselves so that we can continue to speak and act our truth. This is when we would do well to remember the old saying about letting certain things roll off us, like water off a duck’s back.

Most of the time, the attacks and criticisms of others have much more to do with them and how they are feeling than with us. If we get caught up in trying to adjust ourselves to other people’s negative energy, we lose touch with our core. In fact, in a positive light, these slings and arrows offer us the opportunity to strengthen our core sense of self, and to learn to dodge and deflect other people’s misdirected negativity. The more we do this, the more we are able to discern what belongs to us and what belongs to other people. With practice, we become masters of our energetic integrity, refusing to serve as targets for the disowned anger and frustration of the people around us.

Eventually, we will be able to hear the feedback that others have to offer, taking in anything that might actually be constructive, and releasing that which has nothing to do with us. First, though, we tend ourselves compassionately by recognizing when we can’t take something in from the outside without hurting ourselves. This is when we make like a duck, shaking it off and letting it roll off our back as we continue our way in the world."

“Down With Sex!”

“Down With Sex!”
by James Howard Kunstler

"It’s interesting to see how, in a culture so pornified that any nine-year-old can watch sex acts on-screen all the live-long day, we discover that decorum is absent in American life. This, at the same time that the more Gnostic political Leftists want to transform human nature by erasing sexual categories in their quest to create a utopia of hermaphrodites.

Sex is bothersome, you know. It comes between people literally and rather awkwardly, and it is fraught with tensions so primitive that it can frighten and shame us. Is it any wonder that these tensions will manifest in a workplace where men and women spend their waking hours? Are you really surprised that sexual attraction is a currency for advancement? That it tends toward the naked exchange of favors?

I’d submit that the wreck of Harvey Weinstein is a dramatic representation of collapse of the movie industry as we’ve known for nearly a century. The two-hour motion picture exhibited in a large room with a lot of seats is in its death throes. It joins the long-playing album of recorded music and the book-length literary exercise called the novel in the elephants’ graveyard of art-forms. The fall of HW is just the period at the end of the sentence.

The past month has been a bloodbath for the theatrical release of movies. Supposed blockbusters are being pulled from the empty cineplexes like guest speakers from the college lecture halls. The struggling middle-class doesn’t need movie theaters anymore, and the flat-screens at home enable them to get lost in whole fictional worlds that grind on in weekly episodes year after year like so much bratwurst. Who knows how long that phase of show biz will last. In evolution, remember, the climactic form of an organism is often supersized. Think: Baluchitherium, titan of the Oligocene land mammals. (And imagine sex between two creatures the size of tractor-trailer trucks!) The fate of television “content” like "Game of Thrones" probably depends on the fitness of an electric grid that is looking pretty sclerotic these days. Personally, I think the show-biz of the future will tend toward puppet shows.

Fortunately (or maybe not, depending on your political ideology) sex will still be with us, and its eternal tensions with it. What is more subject to change is the division of labor. Most adults I know accept it as axiomatic that social changes they’ve seen in their lifetime have become permanent installations in the human condition. That was Tom Friedman’s “narrative” about globalism, which is now fracturing and withering. The same is true of the Gnostic Leftists, who believe they are on a trajectory to exterminate the detested cissexist heteropatriarchy. How do you suppose things will work out in a nation of eunuchs and trannies?

You’ll be surprised, perhaps, at how not permanent these trends may be. The decadent USA, lacking discipline and decorum, lost in raptures of grandiose techno-narcissism, broadcasting its twerked-up gangsta fantasies while it sucks finished goods from other lands in exchange for janky bonded debt, is becoming the international pariah. It’s a good bet that the tensions arising out of that dynamic will, one way or another, provoke the blow-up of the trade and financial systems that nourished the phase of history now passing - with plenty of collateral damage in all the other realms of daily life.

In the meantime, America sinks into a swamp of sexual excess, sexual preoccupation, sexual confusion, sexual recrimination, and sexual remorse. The one thing that none of the combatants can agree on is what might pass for sexual normality. The very notion would be taken for a war-cry.”

Musical Interlude: 2002, “Suddenly Yours”

2002, “Suddenly Yours”

"Freely Read “Shantaram”, by Gregory David Roberts, Online"

"U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman HM1 Richard Barnett, assigned to the 1st Marine Division, holds an Iraqi child killed in central Iraq in this March 29, 2003 file photo. Confused front line crossfire ripped apart an Iraqi family after local soldiers appeared to force civilians towards positions held by U.S. Marines."
- REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
“My heart broke on its shame and sorrow. I suddenly knew how much crying there was in me, and how little love. I knew, at last, how lonely I was. But I couldn’t respond. My culture had taught me all the wrong things well. So I lay completely still, and gave no reaction at all. But the soul has no culture. The soul has no nations. The soul has no color or accent or way of life. The soul is forever. The soul is one. And when the heart has its moment of truth and sorrow, the soul can’t be stilled.

I clenched my teeth against the stars. I closed my eyes. I surrendered to sleep. One of the reasons why we crave love, and seek it so desperately, is that love is the only cure for loneliness, and shame, and sorrow. But some feelings sink so deep into the heart that only loneliness can help you find them again. Some truths about yourself are so painful that only shame can help you live with them. And some things are just so sad that only your soul can do the crying for you.”
- Gregory David Roberts, "Shantaram"
“Shantaram”
by Gregory David Roberts

"Crime and punishment, passion and loyalty, betrayal and redemption are only a few of the ingredients in "Shantaram," a massive, over-the-top, mostly autobiographical novel. Shantaram is the name given Mr. Lindsay, or Linbaba, the larger-than-life hero. It means “man of God’s peace,” which is what the Indian people know of Lin. What they do not know is that prior to his arrival in Bombay he escaped from an Australian prison where he had begun serving a 19-year sentence. He served two years and leaped over the wall. He was imprisoned for a string of armed robberies peformed to support his heroin addiction, which started when his marriage fell apart and he lost custody of his daughter. All of that is enough for several lifetimes, but for Greg Roberts, that’s only the beginning.

He arrives in Bombay with little money, an assumed name, false papers, an untellable past, and no plans for the future. Fortunately, he meets Prabaker right away, a sweet, smiling man who is a street guide. He takes to Lin immediately, eventually introducing him to his home village, where they end up living for six months. When they return to Bombay, they take up residence in a sprawling illegal slum of 25,000 people and Linbaba becomes the resident “doctor.” With a prison knowledge of first aid and whatever medicines he can cadge from doing trades with the local Mafia, he sets up a practice and is regarded as heaven-sent by these poor people who have nothing but illness, rat bites, dysentery, and anemia. He also meets Karla, an enigmatic Swiss-American woman, with whom he falls in love. Theirs is a complicated relationship, and Karla’s connections are murky from the outset.

Roberts is not reluctant to wax poetic; in fact, some of his prose is downright embarrassing. Throughout the novel, however, all 944 pages of it, every single sentence rings true. He is a tough guy with a tender heart, one capable of what is judged criminal behavior, but a basically decent, intelligent man who would never intentionally hurt anyone, especially anyone he knew. He is a magnet for trouble, a soldier of fortune, a picaresque hero: the rascal who lives by his wits in a corrupt society. His story is irresistible. Stay tuned for the prequel and the sequel." – Valerie Ryan

Freely read "Shantaram" online, by Gregory David Roberts, here:
https://www.readanybook.com/online/565858
There is a download option for registered users.

"A Single Thought..."

"Looking at the people, listening to the breathing, heaving, laughing, struggling music of the slum, all around me, I remembered one of Khaderbhai's favorite phrases. “Every human heartbeat,” he'd said many times,” is a universe of possibilities.” And it seemed to me that I finally understood exactly what he'd meant. He'd been trying to tell me that every human will has the power to transform its fate. I'd always thought that fate was something unchangeable: fixed for every one of us at birth, and as constant as the circuit of the stars. But I suddenly realized that life is stranger and more beautiful than that. The truth is that, no matter what kind of game you find yourself in, no matter how good or bad the luck, you can change your life completely with a single thought or a single act of love."
- Gregory David Roberts, “Shantaram”

"Depravity, Frivolity, And Dissent: Are We Watching The End Of An Empire?"

"Depravity, Frivolity, And Dissent: 
Are We Watching The End Of An Empire?"
by Daisy Luther via The Organic Prepper blog

A 40-year-old essay predicted the end of an empire and current events sure make it look like we’re watching it happen in real time. I spend a fair bit of time scanning the news every day for my site, Preppers Daily News. And some days, I just have to shake my head as I realize that people are so desperate for…something…that they just keep going to further and further extremes to try and find that elusive thing their lives are missing.

The more I read, the more likeness I see to Sir John Glubb’s essay, "The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival." (It’s only 24 pages and you should definitely read it – it’s brilliant.) Sir Glubb wrote this outstanding work when he was 79 years old, after a lifetime of being a soldier, traveling the world, and analyzing history. It’s well worth a read as he goes into detail about the fall of empires past.
Click image for larger size.
The final stage of the end of an empire is the Age of Decadence.Some signs of this age are political dissensions (Antifa, anyone?), an influx of foreigners (Europe, anyone?), the welfare state (America, anyone?), despair (350 million people diagnosed), depravity (see below), and the rise of frivolity as people try to fill lives that have less and less meaning. Sound familiar? This video is a brief synopsis of the signs of an empire that is near its end:


A synopsis I read makes Glubb’s theory entirely applicable to modern society: "In the age of decadence many people choose to behave in ways that are unsustainable, apparently unaware of the consequences. They indulge in excessive, often conspicuous, consumption. An absurdly wealthy elite emerges, but instead of repelling the masses it is admired and celebrated. Those outside the elite aspire to similar levels of consumption, and are encouraged by the availability of cheap credit. People become convinced that increased consumption is the key to happiness, but in its pursuit they become measurably less happy. As David Morgan says, “you can never get enough of what you don’t need.”

At this point in the life cycle of an empire frivolity, as Glubb calls it, comes to the fore. In order to distract people from what’s really going on, the economy creates diversions. Voyeurism becomes central to culture: the gladiatorial spectacles in decadent Rome are mirrored in today’s ‘reality’ television. People become fixated on celebrity as the genuinely noteworthty become understandably camera shy. These invented celebrities are ‘famous’ just for being famous.

Debauchery is another recurring theme at the end of empire. Society develops a strangely immature obsession with sex. People drink themselves to the point of unconsciousness and shamelessly collapse in the street. In Roman times, binge drinkers were left to their fate. Today’s debauchery is supervised by the police; its ‘victims’ are taken care of by hard-pressed health care professionals, placing further pressure on the public purse. And, all the while, supermarkets and corporations make a killing selling discounted booze to people barely old enough to buy it. This is our modern-day bread and circuses, with obese citizens literally becoming a burden on the state.

But the small can never satisfy the large. Cheap pleasures fail to compensate for the absence of meaning in so many people’s lives. A hankering for something greater remains…growing numbers are denied access to work; they can find no meaningful involvement in their community, so their potential goes unfulfilled. When people are prevented from fulfilling their potential, they often self-destruct." (source)

By “Empire,” I’m not referring specifically just to the United States in particular, but Western Civilization in general. We’re watching our friends in Europe go down the same path. How can anyone look at the following stories and think that we are all okay and that this is sustainable?

NOTE: The story below isn’t pretty and there is adult content. If you are offended by adult content, take my word for it and do not read on. If you do read on, don’t get mad that you read adult content and complain in the comments. Thanks. DL

Dissent: Never have America and Europe seen their citizens more at odds. Here in the United States, the last election caused more division than any other in history. Friendships and family relationships ended over who people’s voting choices. Once Trump was inaugurated, things didn’t settle down. There are still groups who want to overthrow the “Trump-Pence regime.” Some students can’t even tolerate the existence of those with opposite beliefs.

The education system doesn’t help. Some professors are actually encouraging violent revolt. Californians are talking about seceding from the United States because Trump won.

In Europe, the UK voted to leave the European Union and Catalonia voted to leave Spain. People are firmly divided between welcoming immigrants and banishing immigrants.

Chaos is everywhere and there is little middle ground.

Unfathomable crimes: Crimes are becoming more horrific and mindboggling. A 17-year-old girl was trying to walk home through a “no-go zone” in the UK and was sexually assaulted 3 separate times in one hour. A man in Pennsylvania tried to strangle his girlfriend to death because she changed the passcode to the IPad. A Georgia woman murdered her two toddler sons by putting them in the oven and then video-chatted their father.

A Hollywood fixture has been accused of assaulting and harassing dozens of women, which led thousands of other women to share their horror stories with a #MeToo hashtag on Twitter. I have seen report after report recently of teachers having sex with their high school students.

Premature Sexuality: Sexuality is being introduced to our children far too early, For example, libraries around the country are having “Drag Queen Story Hour.” A picture is worth a thousand words:
What’s the purpose of this? Here’s a quote from a magazine write up entitled “An amazing demon drag queen has entertained children in Michelle Obama’s library” that explains: "Drag Queen Story Hour aims to give young children “glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models,” according to the program’s website. The Drag Queen Story Hour site explains that the event “captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood”. “In spaces like this, kids are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present as they wish, where dress up is real. The program “happens regularly in LA, New York, and San Francisco, and events are popping up all over the world!”

I actually don’t have an issue with adults who are drag queens – heck, I sang along at a show in Vegas, and as a libertarian, I believe that consenting adults can do what they want. I have not raised my kids to mistreat others because of their sexuality. They’d be in massive trouble if they did. I did, however, manage to teach them to be kind individuals without taking them to Drag Queen Story Hour when they were 3.

Let me be absolutely clear that while I don’t think Drag Queen Story Hour is an attempt to sexually abuse children, it does lead me to the over-sexualization of kids. I don’t even know the names of all the genders and sexualities that are being claimed and LBGT keeps adding so many initials, I can’t keep up. No wonder kids are confused. I’m confused and I’m a grown-up.

Decades ago, anything on TV before 9 o’clock was pretty innocent. We didn’t have laptops and cell phones that allowed us to learn way too much, way too soon. We didn’t take quizzes on Buzzfeed to see if we were ready to have anal sex that night and we didn’t turn to Teen Vogue to learn about oral sex. These days, Teen Vogue is racier than Cosmo was in the early 80s. How do we protect our children’s innocence in this environment? How do we let them just be kids and find their own ways? Heck, even in Disney movies, everyone’s gotta have a love interest. Why?

Normalization of pedophilia: Children are exposed to far too much, far too young. This makes them ripe targets for pedophiles. Let me be clear on this too. Pedophilia is always, always wrong and extraordinarily harmful to children.

To make matters worse, there is a sick attempt to normalize pedophilia. Salon magazine had published numerous articles with titles like, “I’m a pedophile but I’m not a monster” which has since been deleted due to the public outcry. There are even forums about “moral pedophilia.” Here’s a quote: "Our website is intended to reduce the stigma attached to pedophilia by letting people know that a substantial number of pedophiles DO NOT molest children, and to provide peer support and information about available resources to help virtuous pedophiles remain law-abiding, and lead happy, productive lives. These are our stories. There are brief bios of the two founders of the site and collections of other personal stories."(source)

I keep wondering, are the people in charge of media trying to normalize this so that when they inevitably get outed for molesting children, no one will care? Watch this video about the rampant pedophilia in the entertainment industry – and then remember, these are the people who influence the views of the folks who idolize celebrities.

Tony Podesta, the brother of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, was spotlighted for his incredibly disturbing art collection that showed the torture and murder of children. (Here is a shocking post with images found using “Tony and Heather Podesta’s art collection” as a search term.) And who can forget that sick “spirit cooking” scandal during the election? There are some things we simply cannot unsee.

The mainstream wants to blame the collapse of civilization on Trump, but they ignore the fact that in this administration, more than 1500 pedophilia-related arrests took place in the first full month of his presidency. Just last week, 84 children were rescued from a sex-trafficking ring, with the youngest of those sweet angels only 3 months old. A THREE-MONTH-OLD BABY WAS FOR SALE FOR $600!!!!

Bestiality: Speaking of “art,” a Slovenian woman just won a prestigious art award for being “in seclusion” with her dogs for 3 months. Of course, for some of us, just hanging with pets sounds awesome, but we don’t hang out with pets like Maja Smrekar does. She breastfed a puppy and fertilized one of her eggs with what she says was a “fat cell” from another of her dogs. Mmm hmm. This video that documents her “art” is another thing to add to the can’t-ever-unsee-it list. The jury that awarded her the prize said, “What is making this artwork so special is the total commitment of the artist.” Apparently, I just don’t understand art. Or commitment. Or what cool people do with their pets.

They’ve had to make laws in numerous states to combat an apparent uptick in bestiality. One guy was arrested for sneaking into a neighbor’s yard and doing it with their donkey. Numerous times. This lady says she’s literally married to her dog. All of these people (Can’t-Unsee Warning) also claim to have romantic relationships with animals.

Bestiality is actually legal in these US states: Hawaii, Kentucky, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming, and the District of Columbia. Apparently, parties are organized where people can engage in sex acts with animals. Publicly.

Not to be outdone, this gal is done with humanity altogether and says she now is…a cat. I wasn’t sure if this went in the bestiality section or where.

The emptiness of society: Perhaps people should first examine the depravity and frivolity that passes for art and entertainment these days.  A walk in the woods to look at fall leaves will not suffice for much of the population. People are so desperate for that rush of endorphins that they’re constantly seeking something more and more outrageous to give it to them. Normal things no longer give them that fleeting feeling of joy. Their own lives are so empty that they focus on the lives of people famous for being famous to fill them up.

When society is more interested in reality television than actual reality, how can we expect that same society will be invested in our future?"
http://www.zerohedge.com/

"My own view is that this planet is used as a penal colony, lunatic asylum and dumping ground by a superior civilization, to get rid of the undesirable and unfit. I can't prove it, but you can't disprove it either." - Christopher Hitchens
I could not agree more...

“The Swamp Has Won”

Click image for larger size.
“The Swamp Has Won”
by Bill Bonner

"Autumn has finally imposed itself. The yellow and gold leaves drift down…morning fog rises…and the remains of the day grow cold. We now have a fire in the fireplace all day long. A couple of oak trees had to come down. They were almost dead. And an old araucaria threatened to fall on our heads.
Rotted trees are cut down on Bill’s countryside estate. 
‘When they get old, the worms get into them,’ explained the man with the chainsaw in his hands. ‘Then they weaken fast. And the wood isn’t any good. It’s better to cut them down before the worms eat them up.’

$4 Trillion Budget: The weather may be cold, but the markets are hot. The Dow is above 23,000 points - a new record. And according to yesterday’s press reports, the job market hasn’t been this ‘firm’ since 1973.

Meanwhile, the Senate has just approved a $4 trillion budget. Reports The Washington Post: ‘By agreeing to the massive tax cut, Senate Republicans have officially moved the party far away from its promised goal of ensuring the tax plan would not add to the deficit. The White House and House Republicans had vowed that the tax cuts would be offset with new revenue from the elimination of certain deductions, but that is no longer the GOP’s goal. Instead, they have abandoned long-standing party orthodoxy of deficit reduction and are seeking a political win after months of frustration on Capitol Hill.’

Just as we predicted, the Swamp has won. Neither party now has any interest in draining it.

Worms Burrow In: We’re executing a wide flanking movement, trying to round up as many ‘dots’ as possible to get a fuller, more accurate view of what is really going on. In particular, we’re trying to understand why the US government doesn’t work the way it’s ‘s’posed’ to.

The American system, with its ‘balance of powers’ and its bicameral legislature, was designed for small, limited government. It was meant to be a nation of ‘laws, not of men’. But laws must be simple. And understandable. Moses only had 10 of them. Jesus, in his Sermon on the Mount, reduced them to just two.

Today, in the United States of America, we have 10,000…or more. Who can write and remember so many? Not the legislature. Members of Congress, representing their constituents’ interests, can only come to terms on simple things they can all understand - when to declare war, for example. Or they could vote to give a war hero a pension or declare a national day of mourning if Kim Kardashian should suddenly die. Or they might agree to raise the tax rate from 10% to 11% to cover a national emergency.

Over time, though, the system becomes more complex. The worms burrow in. (Readers will recognize the phenomenon described by anthropologist and historian Joseph Tainter in his book, "The Collapse of Complex Societies"*. As societies evolve, they add complexity. Complexity costs time, money, and resources. Eventually, the costs of complexity overwhelm the productive output of the society. It collapses.

Gradually, insiders get more control and create special privileges and emoluments for themselves; it becomes impossible for the people’s representatives to keep up. They can’t know what scams are buried in 10,000 pages of Obamacare regulations…or what juicy plums lie in the 70,000 pages of the US tax code.

Blithering Idiots: Typically, as the system degenerates, the legislature is reduced to a group of blathering, blustering, blithering idiots, while real power shifts to the technocrats, the insiders, the lobbyists, and the apparatchiks and nomenklatura of the administration. The legislature passes sweeping, grandiose, open-ended laws - often without reading them. Deep State functionaries, who know where the juice is, fill in the details.

That is what just happened. The Senate passed a ‘budget’. No member of the Senate knows what the feds are going to do with $4 trillion, or even where they are going to get the money. Neither does the White House. The insiders will take care of it. And their number one goal will be to take care of themselves.

You can see how this operates at the ‘war powers’ level, too. Congress - and only Congress - is supposed to have the power to declare war. Instead, it passes general, feel-good legislation - such as the Patriot Act, the War Powers Act (originally intended to limit the president’s ability to act on his own), and various AUMFs (Authorization for Use of Military Force) - and leaves the military cronies free to meddle and blunder as is their wont.

Neither the public nor members of Congress knows what they are up to. Are we with Al-Qaeda against ISIS, or is it the other way around? Who knows? When four US Special Forces soldiers were ambushed in Niger, for example, the typical, and sensible, response is: ‘What were they doing in Niger?’ Or: ‘Where is Niger, is that where Nigerians live?’

Thinking Americans tend to be disgusted. They see the contradictions, the delusions, and the double-dealing. They turn off the TV, cancel their newspaper subscriptions, and throw away their voter registration cards, wisely turning their attentions to their gardens and their grandchildren. The other 98% of the population is entranced. Hypnotized. Exploited. Like dead wood. More to come…"
Freely download ”The Collapse Of Complex Societies”, by Joseph Tainter, here:

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Musical Interlude: Dan Fogelberg, “Nether Lands”


Dan Fogelberg, “Nether Lands”
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePrQFaB50w0&html5=1

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Far beyond the local group of galaxies lies NGC 3621, some 22 million light-years away. Found in the multi-headed southern constellation Hydra, the winding spiral arms of this gorgeous island universe are loaded with luminous young star clusters and dark dust lanes. Still, for earthbound astronomers NGC 3621 is not just another pretty face-on spiral galaxy. Some of its brighter stars have been used as standard candles to establish important estimates of extragalactic distances and the scale of the Universe. 
 Click image for larger size.
This beautiful image of NGC 3621 traces the loose spiral arms far from the galaxy's brighter central regions that span some 100,000 light-years. Spiky foreground stars in our own Milky Way Galaxy and even more distant background galaxies are scattered across the colorful skyscape.”

"Pain..."

 "Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun,
so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, 
your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy."

- Kahlil Gibran, "The Prophet"

"Cooperating..."

"He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. 
He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it."
 - Martin Luther King, Jr.

“5 Things Nobody Tells You About Being Poor”

A Comment: Real life, rough language. Offended? Too bad. Deal with it. - CP

“5 Things Nobody Tells You About Being Poor”
by John Cheese

“Being poor is like a game of poker where if you lose, the other players get to screw you. And if you win, the dealer screws you. A bunch of you reading this are among the 45 million “working poor” in America, and if you’re not, you know somebody who is. Like me. I’m not blaming anybody but myself for getting into this situation (I was drunk for two straight decades) and I’m not asking for anybody’s sympathy. What I am saying is that people are quick to tell you to pick yourself up by your bootstraps and just stop being poor. What they don’t understand is the series of intricate financial traps that makes that incredibly difficult. If you’re not poor, that’s awesome. I’m not mad at you, or jealous. Hopefully you’ll never find out that…
#5. You Get Charged for Using Your Own Money: This is the future, where many businesses no longer accept cash as payment. That means you are required to have a checking account to function in the economy. And if you’re poor, that means at some point you’re going to get bank-f**ked. Because having a checking account while poor doesn’t just mean you have to be responsible and good at math — you have to be perfect. Meticulous, flawless record keeping is the difference between surviving and having the bank seize your next paycheck.

Let’s say you’re running late for work and hurriedly stop to get gas, paying with a bank card. In your haste you forget to write the $55 down (gas being $4 a gallon, you know). So while you spent the last week until payday thinking you had $50 in your account to absorb minor purchases, you actually were $5 in the red. So payday comes. You go to the bank to deposit your check, at which point the bank takes it, sticks it in their pocket and says, “Thank you very much! I’m buying myself a new pair of shoes with that shit!” They then inform you that your account was at -$200 at the moment you deposited your check.

The bank can hit you with a $35 fine for every charge that comes in while you are in minus territory. The bank will not tell you they charged you this money. You will have no idea anything is wrong. It’s a silent chain reaction in which every charge that comes through during those few days before payday draws the $35 fee. The $8 you spent at the gas station for cigarettes, the $24.99 that automatically comes out for your Internet access… for each, the bank silently zaps out the charge and $35 on top of it, until your next paycheck is gone. Five seconds of oversight gave the bank the right to take away a week’s worth of your labor.

Some of you are saying, “Fine, just tell the bank to go f**k itself. Walk out the door and just do everything by cash or money order.” Ah, but now when you get paid, you have to go somewhere to cash your paycheck — and businesses charge up to $8 to do it. If you’re working in the service industry, congratulations — an hour of your labor just vanished… just so you could use your own money. Some describe this as a “poverty tax.” Others refer to it as a “Because f**k you, that’s why” fee.

The one piece of advice I can offer here is that you’ll be surprised how many businesses will give you some leeway if you just call them and beg. Banks are run by human beings (as of the writing of this article) and if you get a person on the phone you can get them to waive overdraft fees, particularly if it’s a first offense. Even businesses waiting on a payment will give you an extra week or two if you call and explain it. In this economy, they’re so used to people just taking the money and disappearing that they’re happy to hear you’re operating in some kind of good faith.

Otherwise, you’re going to be in a bind. And this is when you’ll find out …
#4. There is an Industry That Profits by Keeping You Poor: Think you’re too smart to ever use one of those shady “payday loan” places? Well, you should know that nobody thinks they’re a good deal. People go there because they’re choosing between which f**king provides the most lube. Say the gas bill is a month past due, and they’re threatening to turn it off (if so, it’s $150 to get it reconnected). Or you’re about to be late on a credit card payment (which would be a fee and a doubling of your interest rate). Or your favorite S&M whip broke, and Whipfest is coming up (entry fee is nonrefundable). That is when you find yourself swallowing your pride and heading to the payday loan place.

A standard 14-day “payday” loan charges $15.50 per $100 borrowed. So a $500 loan ends up being $577.50 (or 1.5 tanks of gas in interest). But if you don’t have it after 14 days, that’s fine — they offer to extend your loan to 180 days. It makes the payments miniscule. Oh, and you’ll be paying back $1,275 at 403.10 percent APR. Yes, you got f**ked, in the name of your financial asshole avoiding the credit card company’s bigger, barbed dick. And it’s a hell of a lot better than going over on your checking account again and starting up their infinite circular f**katron.

All right, let’s say you wised up. You save and cut back. You resist an offer to, say, buy a computer on Best Buy’s finance plan, because you’re too smart to take on more debt. And no monthly cell phone payments for you, oh no. You’re not going to put yourself in a hole again!
Congratulations. You just did. It turns out …
#3. No Credit Can be Just as Damaging as Bad Credit: On the spectrum of financial responsibility, from “that billionaire who drives an old Dodge Dakota” down to “MC Hammer,” you’d think that the next step up from being overdue on a bunch of bills would be to have no bills at all. Don’t buy it if you can’t afford it, right? You’ll find out the problem the next time somebody does a credit check — having no credit will stop you from getting a loan or an apartment just as fast as having bad credit. And more importantly, if you have old bad credit due to a bunch of previous f**kups, simply vanishing off the credit map doesn’t do anything to fix it.

It took me six months to find a place to rent after applying for every property that appeared in the paper across five towns. I was denied each time. It was my lack of credit due to years of me and lenders deciding to just stay out of each other’s hair, like those old sitcoms where roommates would draw a line down the middle of the house. I even used a prepaid cell phone where I’d just be buying minutes off the shelf rather than get locked into a contract with all those termination fees and shit. When I needed something big, like a computer upgrade or furniture, I’d wait for a windfall, like a tax return, and pay cash. It’s called financial responsibility, motherf**ker!

Nope. It turns out that to a business, a customer with no credit is like a girl giving you the silent treatment — they assume something is wrong. And everybody checks your credit — if I want to get Direct TV, I have to pay $310 worth of startup fees (the size of your up-front payments/deposits depends on your credit history). Utilities are even more — which means trying to move to a new place costs hundreds of dollars in deposits (remember the $150 to get my gas turned on). If I need a new car, well, let’s just say I need to show up at the dealership with a shoebox full of cash.

So repairing credit means opening accounts (having a cell phone plan is a good one, having your utilities in your own name — as opposed to the landlord’s — is another) and, you know, making sure to pay your f**king bills on time. And don’t bother trying to shortcut the system by saving the shoebox full of cash, getting a loan, then paying it all off the next month. Length of credit is part of your credit score. They want to know your ability to make steady, long term payments without missing a month or being late.
#2. Your Next Expensive Disaster is Always Around the Corner: Shit happens, always at the exact worst time. A tire blows on my car and, without a spare, it instantly becomes a paperweight. There’s $80 for a new tire, $50 for a tow. Now, it’s a good idea to have a separate bank account set up specifically for these situations because they are unavoidable. It’s also a good idea to have a sex slave or two just sitting around in case your balls need shaved. It’s not that f**king simple.

You get the same domino effect with sudden financial disasters as you do with the bank fees. For instance, I worked a shitty service industry job, which meant I got paid by the hour, and didn’t get paid unless I showed up — no paid time off. But I couldn’t physically get to work because of the goddamned flat tire. It’s a rural area, no subway or buses. So it’s double penetration — not just lost work time, but lost time that is spent paying for a tow and a tire. And if I didn’t happen to have that money sitting around, it meant waiting until payday, and missing work until then. Which meant my next paycheck would be short. By the time I get it fixed and add in the missed work time, that $80 tire just turned into a $250 enema. That’s life in a world with no financial margin for error. It’s like trying to climb out of a dick pit but the ladder is also made of dicks.

Years ago, we bought a house with the help of our in-laws. You know, because owning property is the responsible adult thing to do. The very first f**king night of moving in, we got a massive water leak. I couldn’t just call the landlord — I was the landlord. I couldn’t call a plumber because we didn’t have the $150 to pay the guy, not until payday. So the leak was allowed to run until we could put the money together to pay one. So two weeks later, we hand the guy $150. And then, a week later, the water bill arrives.

$500.

You find yourself thinking, “Man, we could get caught up if this bad shit wouldn’t keep happening!” Then it finally hits you that bad shit happens like clockwork. Not because God hates you, but because you’re poor and you’re using cheap shit that breaks. Maybe you don’t pay the $150 for a plumber, but have a handy friend fix it for you for $50. Awesome, you saved $100! Then six months later you have a leak again, because it turns out he fixed it with rubber bands and Fruit Roll-ups.

Everything in a poor person’s life is a cash vampire. My truck has 170,000 miles on it and the MPG is so bad that every time I start it, the ghost of an Indian appears in the passenger seat and cries. About twice a year, something under the hood grinds to a halt or melts — always another $500 on a tow and repairs. And that was the money I was saving to get a more reliable car.

Hell, even my own body does it to me. I lost my last job because of chronic back pain, losing my health insurance in the process. Which means I can’t treat my chronic back pain. Can’t afford to get dentist check-ups, so more expensive problems are allowed to grow and fester. And so on.
#1. You’re Always in Survival Mode: There’s a phrase in the working world that drives me crazy. One guy says, “The money’s not great, but I love my job.” And somebody responds, “Hey, happiness is all that really matters.”

To be clear, that’s probably true for people at a certain level of income. If you aren’t struggling to pay the bills, then happiness is indeed a pretty damn awesome extra. But you know those movies like American Beauty, about the guy with the unfulfilling career who abandons it to live life to its fullest? Yeah, don’t forget that after quitting their jobs they still come home to houses that look like this:
But down here, at this level, you take what you can f**king get. Fantasies about holding out for that dream job will ruin you. For instance, long before reading to this part, some helpful commenter has surely skipped down and chimed in with, “Why don’t you just get a job, you lazy f**k!” Wait, did you think I was unemployed? Hell no, it’s been years since I was out of work for any long period of time. I’ve always had jobs. Shitty, shitty jobs.

A huge chunk of this economy runs on shitty jobs now. Recently, McDonald’s held a job fair with 50,000 openings. They got more than 1,000,000 applications. Tens of millions of you will wind up in one of these jobs, it’s sheer math. These service jobs pay hourly, they give you little or nothing in terms of benefits and there is nothing in the way of security even from week to week — your hours could get cut at any time, for any reason. Sure, you can take a second part-time job. Though, that’s assuming you can find one that works around your primary job’s schedule — just mentioning that you have another job in an interview is often enough to stop that interview mid-sentence. Why hire you when there are 30 guys in line behind you with completely free schedules?

So in answer to the inevitable, “You need to dream bigger, and strive forth to get a new career for yourself!” Hey, I totally agree. But now we’re back in the Catch-22 poverty f**k gauntlet. Once you’re in this tier of jobs, getting out isn’t just hard, it’s expensive.

Sure, you can take classes at night at a community college or something. Maybe you’ll even get financial aid or loans to pay for your books or tuition. What they will not pay for is the time you missed at work while you were in classes or for a babysitter or for transportation. And you sure as f**k better be certain that you have some kind of aptitude for whatever you’re studying (which, by the way, you won’t know until you’ve spent a year or two studying it) because that’s the only chance you’re going to get.

You can do it the old-fashioned way, by working your way up the corporate ladder from within whatever shitty job you have. But that is also expensive because promotions often require you to move. I got offered a promotion at my shitty service job (washing semi trucks with high-pressure hoses, the job that eventually destroyed my back) that would have required me to move several hours away. And moving costs money — remember what I said about the cost of getting utilities turned on? And how landlords check your credit?

And then there are the intangible costs. I would be abandoning my children, for instance — I share custody with my ex-wife, who obviously was not going to be moving with me. How many visits would I get in before my car broke down? And moving away from friends and family also comes with a cost — think of the favors you do for each other (i.e. the friend/brother/uncle willing to fix the truck for free, because you helped paint his porch, etc).

It’s not impossible, but it’s taking a huge risk. And if the new job doesn’t work out after you bet all of your chips, you’re triple f**ked. And at that point the world will wag its finger at you and tell you how irresponsible it was to move when you were so poor. “Ha, you poor people are always doing stupid shit like that!”

And on and on. People do get out of this situation — I got paid to write this, for instance. All I’m saying is that the journey is something like trying to go from the Earth to the Moon. By letting them launch a Saturn V rocket directly into your butt.”