Monday, November 20, 2017

Musical Interlude: 2002, “We Meet Again”

2002, “We Meet Again”

"Just Passing Through..."

"We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. 
Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love…and then we return home." 
- Australian Aboriginal Proverb, Author: A.B. Shepherd

The Poet: Rolf Jacobsen, "When They Sleep"

"When They Sleep"

"All people are children when they sleep.
There's no war in them then.
They open their hands and breathe
in that quiet rhythm heaven has given them.
They pucker their lips like small children
and open their hands halfway,
soldiers and statesmen, servants and masters.
The stars stand guard
and a haze veils the sky,
a few hours when no one will do anybody harm.

If only we could speak to one another then
when our hearts are half-open flowers.
Words like golden bees
would drift in.
God, teach me the language of sleep."

- Rolf Jacobsen
"The Roads Have Come to an End Now"

"Night..."

“Night, the beloved. Night, when words fade and things come alive. 
When the destructive analysis of day is done, 
and all that is truly important becomes whole and sound again. 
When man reassembles his fragmentary self and grows with the calm of a tree.” 
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"Humans Crave Violence, Just Like Sex, Food"

"Humans Crave Violence, Just Like Sex, Food"
By Jeanna Bryner

"New research on mice shows the brain processes aggressive behavior as it does other rewards. Mice sought violence, in fact, picking fights for no apparent reason other than the rewarding feeling. The mouse brain is thought to be analogous to the human brain in this study, which could shed light on our fascination with brutal sports as well as our own penchant for the classic bar brawl. In fact, the researcher say, humans seem to crave violence just like they do sex, food or drugs.

Scientists have known that mice and other animals are drawn to fights. Until now, they didn't know how the brain was involved. The new study, detailed online this week in the journal 'Psychopharmacology', reveals the same clusters of brain cells involved in other rewards are also behind the craving for violence. "Aggression occurs among virtually all vertebrates and is necessary to get and keep important resources such as mates, territory and food," said study team member Craig Kennedy, professor of special education and pediatrics at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. "We have found that the reward pathway in the brain becomes engaged in response to an aggressive event and that dopamine is involved."

For the experiments, the researchers placed a pair of mice, one male and one female, in a cage. Then, the female was removed and a so-called male intruder mouse entered the cage. That triggered aggressive behavior in the resident male. The tell-tale signs of aggression included tail rattle, an aggressive sideways stance, boxing and biting. After the initial scuffle ended, the resident male mouse was trained to nose-poke a target to get the intruder to return. Results showed the home mouse consistently poked the target and fought with the introduced mouse, indicating, the researchers say, that the aggressive encounter was seen as a reward. "We learned from these experiments that an individual will intentionally seek out an aggressive encounter solely because they experience a rewarding sensation from it," Kennedy said.

To figure out whether the brain's reward pathway was involved, the scientists treated the home mice with a drug to block dopamine in certain parts of the brain known to be involved in rewards like food and drugs. The treated mice were less likely to instigate the intruder's entry. “This shows for the first time that aggression, on its own, is motivating, and that the well-known positive reinforcer dopamine plays a critical role," Kennedy said. Kennedy explained that the experiments have implications for humans. The reward pathway in the brains of humans and mice are very similar, he said. "Aggression is highly conserved in vertebrates in general and particularly in mammals," Kennedy told LiveScience. "Almost all mammals are aggressive in some way or another." He added, "It serves a really useful evolutionary role probably, which is you defend territory; you defend your mate; if you're a female, you defend your offspring." Even though it served a purpose for other animals, in modern human societies, Kennedy said, a propensity toward aggression is not beneficial and can be a problem."

"It's Ironic..."

 "It's ironic... here is life passing, like clouds drifting over the sky, 
yet they don't see what's in front of them. They believe there is 
something more substantial going on in that little screen in their hands."
- Katie Kacvinsky

"Our National Madness”

"Our National Madness”
by Charles Hugh Smith

"In individuals, insanity is rare;
 but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule." 
- Friedrich Nietzsche

"Fakery and trickery are not solutions; they are a form of self-delusional madness that destroys the nation's ability to face reality squarely and choose real solutions, no matter how painful the choice and path might be. The nation has lost its common sense, its soul and its sanity. Can we summarize the source of this remarkably pervasive madness?

Our efforts are now focused not on solving core problems but on covering up core problems, as if covering up problems is a substitute for solving them. Down this path lies madness, for this substitution of false narratives for reality erodes our ability to distinguish not just between reality and fantasy but our ability to distinguish between moral rights and wrongs.

The efforts of those in positions of power are now focused on obscuring the truth, marginalizing critics, blaming malevolent external forces, cloaking self-interest with virtue signaling and staking claims to victimhood. These are the five dynamics that are powering the nation's descent into madness and dysfunction.

Consider Harvey Weinstein. Evidence is now emerging that Mr. Weinstein and his army of toadies, bullies, thugs, et al. put enormous effort and resources into obscuring the truth, marginalizing critics, and cloaking self-interest with virtue signaling. Next up for Mr. Weinstein's team of apologists: blame the Russians (or an equivalently malevolent Other), and claim to be a victim of all those testifying against him.

This is the model for everyone in positions of power. The only variation is which of the five will be spewed as a first line of defense, and which will be held in reserve for the last-ditch defense against the truth becoming public.

I'm sorry if this is a shock, but the economic "recovery" is nothing but smoke and mirrors designed to obscure the pillage of the nation's wealth and income by state-protected cartels. The central bank can't actually fix what's broken in our economy, but it can manually push the needle of the stock market higher.

So rather than actually fix what's broken, the "solution" is to make the stock market the primary measure of "prosperity." In effect, the stagnation of real prosperity is a problem that would require profound (and painful to those gorging at the feeding trough) changes in the status quo; so the solution is to label the stock market "the measure of prosperity" and then shove it higher.

This substitution of trickery for reality solves nothing. It is the exact equivalent of the student who didn't study and who learned nothing erasing his F grade and forging an A in its place. Nothing has actually changed in terms of the student's knowledge or skillset, but he has fooled the authorities focusing on superficialities: incompetent, self-serving administrators who then tout the student's high grade as evidence of their own success, the media which mindlessly accepts the fake grade as evidence that all is peachy-keen in the school district, and so on down the line.

If this happens often enough, the student actually starts believing he can get away with trickery as a solution for all problems: just BS your way through any challenge, and if that fails, then marginalize one's critics, blame malevolent external forces, furiously virtue-signal, and if all else fails, stake a claim to victimhood.

In other words, the student loses touch with reality and is lost. The USA has lost touch with reality, for its leadership has embraced the notion that trickery and fakery that covers up problems is a substitute for solving problems - and if this fails to convince an increasingly jaded and cynical public, then body-slam the public with the other four tactics: marginalize critics, blame malevolent external forces, cloak self-interest with virtue signaling and stake claims to victimhood.

Unfortunately for our nation, madness is repeating what's failed and thinking it will work next time. Trickery, maligning critics, virtue signaling, blaming outside forces and claiming victimhood no longer have the desired effect on all but the most delusional (or self-serving) supporters of our profoundly corrupt leadership. Actions have consequences. Fakery and trickery are not solutions; they are a form of self-delusional madness that destroys the nation's ability to face reality squarely and choose real solutions, no matter how painful the choice and path might be.”

X22 Report, “A Closer Look Into How We Were Tricked Into Believing The Economy Has Recovered”

X22 Report, 
“A Closer Look Into How We Were Tricked Into Believing The Economy Has Recovered”
Related followup report:
X22 Report, “It Has Now Turned Into A Head To Head Fight With The Cabal”

Musical Interlude: Ludovico Einaudi "La Primavera"

Ludovico Einaudi, "La Primavera"

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Bright spiral galaxy NGC 3169 appears to be unraveling in this cosmic scene, played out some 70 million light-years away just below bright star Regulus toward the faint constellation Sextans. Its beautiful spiral arms are distorted into sweeping tidal tails as NGC 3169 (left) and neighboring NGC 3166 interact gravitationally, a common fate even for bright galaxies in the local universe. In fact, drawn out stellar arcs and plumes, indications of gravitational interactions, seem rampant in the deep and colorful galaxy group photo.
Click image for larger size.
The picture spans 20 arc minutes, or about 400,000 light-years at the group's estimated distance, and includes smaller, dimmer NGC 3165 at the right. NGC 3169 is also known to shine across the spectrum from radio to X-rays, harboring an active galactic nucleus that is likely the site of a supermassive black hole.”

Chet Raymo, “Seeing”

 
 “Seeing”
by Chet Raymo

“Elizabeth Bishop has a poem about a sandpiper, a tiny shore bird scurrying forward and reverse with the lick and ebb of the tide. It was not the sandpiper I thought of today as I walked the beach, but the sand with which the Bishop's bird is seemingly obsessed. The last two lines of the poem:

    "The millions of grains are black, white, tan, and gray,
    mixed with quartz grains, rose and amethyst."

Everyone sees the sandpiper. Who could not? Those fluttering feet. The delicate engine of its controlled frenzy. But who sees what the sandpiper sees, the grains of sand between its toes? The poet, that's who. It is the poet's ability to see the world in a grain of sand– black, white, tan, and gray- that is her gift. And more! Rose and amethyst. And I mean "gift" in two senses. The gift of her talent (who was the giver? nature? nurture?).  And her gift to us of the poem.

I want to have that gift, in both senses. The second sense is easy enough: I need only read. The poem is there, in black and white. The first sense is more problematic. How does one learn to see, to see not only the obvious, but also the obscure. The subtle. The ephemeral. The dim. Is it a gift you are born with, or a practice to be learned? To see the world in a grain of sand, and eternity in an hour?

   " The world is a mist. And then the world is
    Minute and vast and clear…”
“Sandpiper”
by Elizabeth Bishop

“The roaring alongside he takes for granted,
and that every so often the world is bound to shake.
He runs, he runs to the south, finical, awkward,
in a state of controlled panic, a student of Blake.

The beach hisses like fat. On his left, a sheet
of interrupting water comes and goes
and glazes over his dark and brittle feet.
He runs, he runs straight through it, watching his toes.
Watching, rather, the spaces of sand between them
where (no detail too small) the Atlantic drains
rapidly backwards and downwards. As he runs,
he stares at the dragging grains.

The world is a mist. And then the world is
minute and vast and clear. The tide
is higher or lower. He couldn't tell you which.
His beak is focussed; he is preoccupied,
looking for something, something, something.
Poor bird, he is obsessed!
The millions of grains are black, white, tan, and gray
mixed with quartz grains, rose and amethyst.”

"ChromaRadio: Choose Your Own Musical Interludes"

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You will like this :-)
- CP

The Daily "Near You?"

 Hulu Langat, Selangor, Malaysia. Thanks for stopping by!

"No Greater Burden..."

"No greater burden can be borne by an individual 
than to know no one cares or understands.”
- Arthur H. Stainback

"Don’t Just Give Thanks. Pay It Forward One Act of Kindness at a Time”

"Don’t Just Give Thanks. 
Pay It Forward One Act of Kindness at a Time”
by John W. Whitehead

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” - John F. Kennedy

"It’s been a hard, heart-wrenching, stomach-churning kind of year filled with violence and ill will. It’s been a year of hotheads and blowhards and killing sprees and bloodshed and takedowns. It’s been a year in which tyranny took a step forward and freedom got knocked down a few notches. It’s been a year with an abundance of bad news and a shortage of good news. It’s been a year of too much hate and too little kindness.

Now we find ourselves approaching that time of year when, as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln proclaimed, we’re supposed to give thanks as a nation and as individuals for our safety and our freedoms. It’s not an easy undertaking.

How do you give thanks for freedoms that are constantly being eroded? How do you express gratitude for one’s safety when the perils posed by the American police state grow more treacherous by the day? How do you come together as a nation in thanksgiving when the powers-that-be continue to polarize and divide us into warring factions?

It’s not going to happen overnight. Or with one turkey dinner. Or with one day of thanksgiving. Thinking good thoughts, being grateful, counting your blessings and adopting a glass-half-full mindset are fine and good, but don’t stop there. This world requires doers, men and women (and children) who will put those good thoughts into action.

It says a lot (and nothing good) about the state of our world and the meanness that seems to have taken center stage that we now have a day (World Kindness Day) devoted to making the world more collectively human in thoughts and actions. The idea for the day started after a college president in Japan was mugged in a public place and nobody helped him.

Unfortunately, you hear about these kinds of incidents too often.

A 15-year-old girl was gang raped in a schoolyard during a homecoming dance. As many as 20 people witnessed the assault over the course of two and a half hours. No one intervened to stop it.

A 28-year-old woman was stabbed, raped and murdered outside her apartment early in the morning. Thirty-eight bystanders witnessed the attack and failed to intervene. The woman, Kitty Genovese, died from her wounds at the locked doorway to her apartment building.

A 58-year-old man waded into chest-deep water in the San Francisco Bay in an apparent suicide attempt. For an hour, Raymond Zack stood in the shallow water while 75 onlookers watched. Police and firefighters were called in but failed to intervene, citing budget cuts, a lack of training in water rescue, fear for their safety and a lack of proper equipment. The man eventually passed out and later died of hypothermia. Eventually, an onlooker volunteered to bring the body back to the beach.

A homeless man intervened to save a woman from a knife-wielding attacker. He saved the woman but was stabbed repeatedly in the process. As The Guardian reports, “For more than an hour he lay dying in a pool of his own blood as dozens walked by. Some paused to stare, others leaned in close. One even shook his body and then left, while someone else recorded a video of the entire proceeding.”

This is how evil prevails: when good men and women do nothing. By doing nothing, the onlookers become as guilty as the perpetrator. “If I were to remain silent, I’d be guilty of complicity,” declared Albert Einstein.

It works the same whether you’re talking about kids watching bullies torment a fellow student on a playground, bystanders watching someone dying on a sidewalk, or citizens remaining silent in the face of government atrocities. There’s a term for this phenomenon where people stand by, watch and do nothing - even when there is no risk to their safety - while some horrific act takes place (someone is mugged or raped or bullied or left to die): it’s called the bystander effect.

Psychological researchers John Darley and Bibb Latane mounted a series of experiments to discover why people respond with apathy or indifference instead of intervening. Their findings speak volumes about the state of our nation and why “we the people” continue to suffer such blatant abuses by the police state. According to Darley and Latane, there are two critical factors that contribute to this moral lassitude.

First, there’s the problem of pluralistic ignorance in which individuals in a group look to others to determine how to respond. As Melissa Burkley explains in 'Psychology Today,' “Pluralistic ignorance describes a situation where a majority of group members privately believe one thing, but assume (incorrectly) that most others believe the opposite.”

Second, there’s the problem of “diffusion of responsibility,” which is compounded by pluralistic ignorance. Basically, this means that the more people who witness a catastrophic event, the less likely any one person will do anything because each thinks someone else will take responsibility. In other words, no one acts to intervene or help because each person is waiting for someone else to do so.

Now the temptation is to label the bystanders as terrible people, monsters even. Yet as Mahzarin Banaji, professor of psychology at Harvard University points out, “These are not monsters. These are us. This is all of us. This is not about a few monsters. This is about everybody. It says something very difficult to us. It says that perhaps had we been standing there, we ourselves, if we were not better educated about this particular effect and what it does to us, we may fall prey to it ourselves.”

Historically, this bystander syndrome in which people remain silent and disengaged—mere onlookers—in the face of abject horrors and injustice has resulted in whole populations being conditioned to tolerate unspoken cruelty toward their fellow human beings: the crucifixion and slaughter of innocents by the Romans, the torture of the Inquisition, the atrocities of the Nazis, the butchery of the Fascists, the bloodshed by the Communists, and the cold-blooded war machines run by the military industrial complex.

So what can you do about this bystander effect? Be a hero, suggests psychologist Philip Zimbardo. “Each of us has an inner hero we can draw upon in an emergency,” Zimbardo concluded. “If you think there is even a possibility that someone needs help, act on it. You may save a life. You are the modern version of the Good Samaritan that makes the world a better place for all of us.”

Zimbardo is the psychologist who carried out the Stanford Prison Experiment which studied the impact of perceived power and authority on middleclass students who were assigned to act as prisoners and prison guards. The experiment revealed that power does indeed corrupt (the appointed guards became increasingly abusive), and those who were relegated to being prisoners acted increasingly “submissive and depersonalized, taking the abuse and saying little in protest.”

What is the antidote to group think and the bystander effect? Be an individual. Listen to your inner voice. Take responsibility. “If you find yourself in an ambiguous situation, resist the urge to look to others and go with your gut instinct,” says Burkley. “If you think there is even a possibility that someone is in need, act on it. At worst, you will embarrass yourself for a few minutes, but at best, you will save a life.” “Even if people recognize that they are witnessing a crime, they may still fail to intervene if they do not take personal responsibility for helping the victim,” writes Burkley. “The problem is that the more bystanders there are, the less responsible each individual feels.”

In other words, recognize injustice. Don’t turn away from suffering. Refuse to remain silent. Take a stand. Speak up. Speak out.

This is what Zimbardo refers to as “the power of one.” All it takes is one person breaking away from the fold to change the dynamics of a situation. “Once any one helps, then in seconds others will join in because a new social norm emerges: Do Something Helpful.”

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation,” stated Holocaust Elie Wiesel in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in 1986. “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”

Unfortunately, too many Americans have opted to remain silent when it really matters while instead taking a stand over politics rather than human suffering. That needs to change. I don’t believe we’re inherently monsters. We just need to be more conscientious and engaged and helpful.

The Good Samaritans of this world don’t always get recognized, but they’re doing their part to push back against the darkness. For instance, earlier this year in Florida, a family of six—four adults and two young boys—were swept out to sea by a powerful rip current in Panama City Beach. There was no lifeguard on duty. The police were standing by, waiting for a rescue boat. And the few people who had tried to help ended up stranded, as well. Those on shore grouped together and formed a human chain. What started with five volunteers grew to 15, then 80 people, some of whom couldn’t swim. One by one, they linked hands and stretched as far as their chain would go. The strongest of the volunteers swam out beyond the chain and began passing the stranded victims of the rip current down the chain. One by one, they rescued those in trouble and pulled each other in.

There’s a moral here for what needs to happen in this country if we only can band together and prevail against the riptides that threaten to overwhelm us.

Here’s what I suggest. Instead of just giving thanks this holiday season with words that are too soon forgotten, why not put your gratitude into action with deeds that spread a little kindness, lighten someone’s burden, and brighten some dark corner? I’m not just talking about volunteering at a soup kitchen or making a donation to a charity that does good work, although those are fine things, too. What I’m suggesting is something that everyone can do no matter how tight our budgets or how crowded our schedules.

Pay your blessings forward. Engage in acts of kindness. Smile more. Fight less. Focus on the things that unite instead of that which divides. Be a hero, whether or not anyone ever notices. Do your part to push back against the meanness of our culture with conscious compassion and humanity. Moods are contagious, the good and the bad. They can be passed from person to person. So can the actions associated with those moods, the good and the bad.

Even holding the door for someone or giving up your seat on a crowded train are acts of benevolence that, magnified by other such acts, can spark a movement.

Imagine a world in which we all lived in peace. John Lennon tried to imagine such a world in which there was nothing to kill or die for, no greed or hunger. He was a beautiful dreamer whose life ended with an assassin’s bullet on December 8, 1980. Still, that doesn’t mean the dream has to die, too. There’s something to be said for working to make that dream a reality. As Lennon reminded his listeners, “War is over, if you want it.” The choice is ours, if we want it.”
Related:
“The Bystander Effect”

"Dreamers Of The Day..."

The Economy: "It's A Bonfire Of The Absurdities"

"It's A Bonfire Of The Absurdities"
by John Mauldin

"This week’s letter will take a look at the growing number of ridiculous, inane, and otherwise nonsensical absurdities that fill the daily economic headlines. I have gone from the occasional smile to scratching my head now and then to “WTF” moments several times a week.

Wondering if it was just me, I recently sent an appeal to a what became a large number of my friends and fellow writers and analysts, asking for their graphic examples of this paranormal economic activity. Suffice to say, it is not just me who sees absurdities. I received so many responses that I may have to extend this letter another week or two. (Note: This letter will print long, as there are lots of graphs.)

Some of what you’ll see depicted in the following charts originated a decade ago in the Global Financial Crisis – or was caused by the reactions of central bankers to that crisis. The many shocking, previously unimaginable acts by central banks and governments left us so numb that I think we started to simply accept them without much thought. That was our mistake: We must confront the unthinkable, not just shrug our shoulders at it. Because when we have our next crisis, I will bet you dollars to donuts that central banks and governments will react in ways that are even more unthinkable.

Now on to the bonfire.”
I highly recommend you read this lengthy, excellent complete article here:

"How It Really, Insanely, Is"

"Home Again, and Hello Dante"

"Home Again, and Hello Dante", Introduction
by Charles Hugh Smith

"What will replace the current system after it self-destructs? That's the question. You know those disclosures on your credit card statements? That it will take 27 years to pay off your balance if you only make the minimum payment each month, and so on? You might not be aware of it, but America's "credit card" - our national debt - comes with its own disclosure statement:


The only possible output of a system like this, lacking any discipline, is self-destruction. Whatever is free is squandered. When water is free, it's freely wasted. When electricity is free, there's no motivation to use it wisely.

The same principle holds true for money. If money is free, or nearly free, there is no motivation to invest it wisely, or to consider the opportunity costs of spending it versus investing it or preserving it as savings. Money that can be borrowed for next to nothing is essentially "free" because the costs of interest are negligible. Money that can be borrowed in virtually unlimited quantities is also "free," as whatever funds are squandered or lost to malinvestment can be easily replaced with more borrowed money.

Nothing enduringly productive can be built without discipline and a steady focus on the bottom line of production costs, revenues, overhead expenses and opportunity costs, i.e., what else could have been done with this capital and labor.

All of which leads us to ask: What precisely have we accomplished by borrowing and blowing $9 trillion in additional national debt over the past eight years? With interest rates near zero and the credit line of the nation essentially unlimited - recall that the central bank created $3.5 trillion of money out of thin air and used much of it to buy federal bonds - there was no need for any difficult choices or trade-offs - that is, discipline.

Lowering interest rates to near zero has reduced the need for fiscal-political discipline to near zero. Politicos of all stripes are only too willing to borrow trillions from future generations - why not borrow and blow the money now to assure my re-election and let future taxpayers figure out what to do about the crushing burden of debt we're leaving them?

High interest rates were basically the only mechanism of discipline imposed on short-term, free-spending politicos. Once the cost of interest was reduced to signal noise, politicos were freed of the burdens of discipline: of having to reckon the burdens of future interest, of opportunity costs, of trade-offs and the difference between productive investments and cronyist pork-barrel spending on marginal (but highly profitable) "infrastructure."

How disciplined will your gambling be in the casino when all your losses are covered by future taxpayers?Why hold back from risky gambles when any losses will be paid by others? Go ’head and gamble wildly - any lucky wins will be yours to keep, and all the losses will be covered by nameless others.

This is how "free money" leads to disastrous decisions. With the need for discipline eliminated, there's no motivation not to gamble wildly, fund every special interest group's demand and grease the palms of every insider, every crony and every oligarch. This is how a great nation will self-destruct. The only possible output of a system lacking any discipline is self-destruction.

Below, the incomparable Mogambo Guru lays it all out for you - if you can stop from laughing. Read on."

"Home Again, and Hello Dante"
by The Mogambo Guru

"Hey! Look! Here I am! Over here! I’m back! (Sound of thunderous applause). Thanks! Wonderful to be here!

I know that you, like most people, are probably scratching your head quizzically, asking yourself “Who is this doofus who calls himself Mighty Magnificent Mogambo in the next paragraph, which doesn’t even make sense? And who cares that he is back, which is not to mention why am I reading this stupid crap in the first freaking place?”

Or perhaps you are wondering “Where have you been all this lonely, lonely time, oh, Mighty Magnificent Mogambo (MMM), that you can now announce your triumphant return to the dispensing of wit and wonder about things such as, oh, I dunno, maybe, for example, how we are frantically screaming ‘We’re Freaking Doomed (WFD) because of all the absolutely INSANE amounts of money and the INSANE amounts of accompanying debt created by the evil Federal Reserve and all the other dirtbag central banks around the world’ all these many, many years?”

I am happy to answer your question, or to answer any question that is not “Do you always eat like a pig?” (Answer: no, not always).

The real answer is that I have been sort of sidelined, stupefied and stunned into some kind of “shock reaction” to heretofore unseen titanic seismic economic events concerning fiscal and monetary policy, the monstrous interplay of which I can only vaguely contemplate, but with a shudder.

It all started, as these things sometimes do, innocently enough. I was watching an episode of Gilligan’s Island (“Don’t pick those strange flowers, Gillian you idiot!”) to hopefully catch a scene with the adorable Mary Ann, while simultaneously reading Chuck Butler’s Daily Pfennig newsletter during the lulls in the action, like when there is nobody in the scene except Gilligan and the Skipper (“Listen to The Wise Mogambo (TWM) and don’t pick those strange flowers, Gillian you idiot!”).

Then, suddenly, out of nowhere, I was metaphorically slapped in the face (“Whack! Whack!”) by Mr. Butler when he revealed the alarming fact that the M2 Money Supply in 2000 was $4.673 trillion, and that today it is $13.386 trillion!

If my editorial use of an exclamation point in that last sentence did not serve to alarm you as it does other Junior Mogambo Rangers (JMRs) around the world and throughout the cosmos, then let me disabuse you of your laughable Pollyanna attitude by rudely pointing out that this is Something Really, Really Significant (SRRS)! 

And the exclamation point is to, well, you know.

Anyway, then Mr. Butler, perhaps to make sure of our complete comprehension despite being already alerted by my clever and judicious use of exclamation points in the paragraphs above, goes on “imagine that if you will!”, which is a sentence fragment, replete with his exclamation point, that I lift wholesale so that one can be fully prepared to get to the following factoid that (drum roll, please) this is “a 186% increase in Money Supply here in the U.S. in 16 years.” 

Yikes!

In case your blood has not immediately turned to a corrosive, ashy slurry congealing icily in your veins, I laboriously make the necessary calculations (by, first, tracking down some guy who remembers how to figure this stuff on an HP12C) only to discover, to my horror, that this means that the money supply has been increasing at 6.4 % per year! Yikes! Per Freaking Year (PFY)!

Yikes! Yikes!

Yet, yet, yet, this is when GDP growth has been less than a quarter that! Yikes! Yikes, Yikes! No wonder that the velocity of money has been slowing! The screeching terror and disgusting flecks of spittle flying out of my mouth are easily explained by the simple, ugly fact that inflation in the money supply necessarily means inflation in prices!!!

By this time, you know what three exclamation points mean, I am sure.

And this is because it is inflation in prices that destroys economies; GDP falls when fewer and fewer people can afford discretionary spending, and economies crash when fewer and fewer people can afford to buy absolute necessities.

And how much debt has sprung from this poison fount of fiat currency? Egon von Greyerz of Matterhorn Asset Management AG writes that “global debt going from virtually zero one hundred years ago, to $230 trillion today. Within this astronomical figure is personal debt that cannot be repaid and government debt that will not be repaid. In addition there are unfunded liabilities and derivatives in the quadrillions.”

Quadrillions of dollars! At least two million billions of dollars! Or, if you prefer, two billion millions of dollars! Either way, a lot of moolah! And with the GDP of The Whole Freaking World (TWFW) added together being somewhere around $80 trillion, the paltry lower figure of $230 trillion is (gulp!) almost 300% of GDP!

And, closer to home, let’s not forget about a towering $20 trillion national debt, or our massive $500 billion per year trade deficit, or the staggering $1.3 trillion in annual federal spending deficits!! More yikes, as handily indicated for your convenience by the use of two exclamation points!

And let’s not forget all about those three overpriced, highly-leveraged markets. Tens of trillions of dollars could be lost from these never-seen-before, nosebleed market valuations going down, and STILL be above real, long-term value! This means that everyone involved (which is you, me and everybody else with two dimes to rub together, whether they like it or not) is, or should be, absolutely fixated on making sure, sure, sure that nothing, nothing, nothing bad happens to the stock, bond and housing markets due to a pesky, yet easily-remedied, insufficient supply of new money with which to continually bid prices higher and higher.

And now we know why President Trump has surrounded himself with a lot of people associated with Goldman Sachs (“The vampire squid”) and the financial services industry, who have apparently always proven more than willing to do secret, slimy, corrupt things so that they reap the benefits of the inflation in asset prices, using money that the evil Federal Reserve creates, which causes the inflation in prices in the First Freaking Place (FFP)!

And with a fiat currency, a willing Congress and a complicit evil Federal Reserve making it all possible, it seems more and more obvious that Many, Many More Trillions Of Dollars (MMMTOD) will be created in the years ahead, and that things you buy are going to get much more expensive.

A Dow Jones Industrial Average of 30,000? Sure! 50,000? No problem! 100,000? Easy as pie! A $25 taco? Sure! A $50 taco? No problem! A $100 taco? Easy as pie!

So forget about picking those strange flowers, Gilligan! Make it easy on yourself, and go back to an earlier episode where you were mining gold and silver on that eponymous desert isle, finding huge nuggets which you were easily digging out of loose sand with a makeshift shovel made out of a lousy tortoise shell, for crying out loud.

And why? Because history has shown that the value of gold and silver always survive such monetary insanities, especially the insane Keynesian jibber-jabber that currently holds the world’s monetary system captive, and is directly responsible for the bankrupting mess we are in.

So, back to gold and silver, Gilligan. And maybe get that adorable Mary Ann to help you, perhaps prancing about as a delightful diversion from the ugly backdrop of a world descending into an economic hell about which not even Dante dared to write. Soon enough, you will be agreeing with me that “Whee! This investing stuff is easy AND pleasant!”

“Transparently”

“Transparently”
by James Howard Kunstler

"As long as sexual hysteria is the order of the day, there was juicy item stowed on the back blue pages of The New York Times this morning. They report that actor Jeffrey Tambor is leaving the title role in Amazon’s hit TV series 'Transparent' after two women on the set accused him of sexual misconduct. One was “actress” Trace Lysette (notice The Times reverting to the antiquated gendered term when the new correct mode is to use “actor” for all on-camera persons). The other victim was Mr. Tambor’s on-set assistant, Van Barnes.

“My back was against the wall in a corner as Jeffrey approached me,” Ms. Lysette said in her statement on Thursday. “He came in close, put his bare feet on top of mine so I could not move, leaned his body against me and began quick, discreet thrusts back and forth against my body. I felt his penis on my hip through his thin pajamas, and I pushed him off of me.” Mr. Tambor was only accused of “groping” Van Barnes. We’re informed near the end of the story that both victims are transgender women, that is, men who went through some kind of medical procedure to present as women.

Hollywood was especially proud of the transgressive series for pioneering TV programming into the new frontier of transsexual manners and mores, something America really needed to know about. The show was showered with awards. Its creator, Jill Soloway - who “identifies as non-binary,” and refers to herself with the pronoun “they” in their relations with the media - has said that they hope to use the series to explore ideas of gender identity through a “wounded father being replaced by a blossoming femininity.”

Well, I guess that sort of does say it all about the fundamental state of American culture these days. We are living in the land of the wounded father. The nature of his wound is not quite specified, but if one were to guess, one might venture that something happened to his testicles. Cut off? Shot off? Industrial accident? We’re not informed. But the remedy for that misfortune is to turn into a woman, or at least act like one.

An interesting angle on all this from, say, a zeitgeist point of view, is that the archetypal father is not missed. Society does not need him. Rather we need him to go through the mystical passage to become a tragic-comic mother figure, a harmless old vessel full of rueful wisdom and comic relief. Of course that is the message that has been coming through loud and clear in the cultural scripts of recent days, with all the carping about cis-gender white folks (i.e. men) being responsible for all the woes of humanity.

My own meta-take on this whole business is that the archetypal father is secretly rather sorely missed in the USA. The mental inversions of the Progressive intelligentsia tell me that, deep down, the Left is in a state of deranged anguish over it. Trump has inflamed them especially because he fills the role of national father so badly for them with his vulgar incoherence. Nothing he does reassures anybody. They are desperate to shove him off-stage. He only reminds them how badly they miss a real and proper daddy. And their rage about it prompts them to destroy anybody else who reminds them of a bad daddy, by any means necessary - sexual misbehavior being a very convenient means in a culture that celebrates its lack of boundaries.

Lately, male authority in America has gone along with this script, perhaps (I have to guess) because they have screwed up public affairs so royally - especially the financial management of the national household - and they are deeply ashamed. So they have been willing to submit, at least, to a certain amount of symbolic castration to avoid having to act differently, or actually accomplish anything on the nation’s pretty long to-do list.

This psychodrama is not going to continue indefinitely. At some point the men in this country who are not Trump are going to rediscover that they have a purpose and even an obligation to act like men. But it will be interesting to see how the 'Transparent 'TV show continues into Season Four minus the character that is its reason to exist. The fact that the producers seem to think they can just carry on as if nothing happened tells us a lot about the delusional thinking of Hollywood."
Quoting the Great and Glorious Mogambo Guru...
"We're so freakin' doomed!"