Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Daily "Near You?"

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Thanks for stopping by!

“134 Earthquakes Strike The San Andreas Fault As The Shaking Of The Earth’s Crust Intensifies”

“134 Earthquakes Strike The San Andreas Fault As 
The Shaking Of The Earth’s Crust Intensifies”
by Michael Snyder

"Within the last 7 days, 134 earthquakes “have hammered a three-mile stretch around Monterey County on the San Andreas fault”. 17 of those earthquakes were of magnitude 2.5 or greater, and many believe that these quakes could be a warning sign that a much bigger quake is imminent. Let’s hope not, because when the “Big One” finally strikes California we will witness devastation on a scale that is unlike anything that we have seen before in modern American history. The Northridge earthquake of 1994 was crippling, but it was only a magnitude 6.7 quake. Experts tell us that when the “Big One” finally hits, we could be looking at a quake of magnitude 9.0 or greater, and such a disaster would make the Northridge earthquake look like a Sunday picnic.

The San Andreas fault stretches for more than 700 miles along the California coast, and in a previous article I discussed how seismologists have warned that it could potentially “unzip all at once”. There is a reason why it is one of the most famous earthquake faults in the entire world, and all of the shaking that we have seen over the past 7 days has many scientists deeply concerned: "In the last week 134 earthquakes have hammered a three-mile stretch around Monterey County on the San Andreas fault. Of those earthquakes, 17 were stronger than 2.5 magnitude and six of them were stronger than 3.0, with more tremors expected in the coming weeks, experts warn. It follows fears raised last week that the ‘Big One’ is about to hit after a series of ten ‘mini quakes’ struck the same area."

Let us hope that forecast about “more tremors” is wrong, but those that study these things do acknowledge that the probability of a very large earthquake goes up once we start seeing a bunch of smaller quakes. For example, in a previous article I included the following quote from the director of the Southern California Earthquake Center‘Any time there is significant seismic activity in the vicinity of the San Andreas fault, we seismologists get nervous,’ Thomas Jordan, director of the Southern California Earthquake Center, told the LA Times last year. ‘Because we recognize that the probability of having a large earthquake goes up.’

And Mac Slavo recently pointed out that USGS seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones has warned that the “Big One” is way overdue: "Seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones, from the US Geological Survey, warned in a dramatic speech that people need to act to protect themselves rather than ignoring the threat. Jones said people’s decision not to accept it will only mean more suffer as scientists warn the ‘Big One’ is now overdue to hit California. In a keynote speech to a meeting of the Japan Geoscience Union and the American Geophysical Union, Dr. Jones warned that the public is yet to accept the randomness of future earthquakes.

People tend to focus on earthquakes happening in the next 30 years but they should be preparing now, she warned. Jones said there are three key reasons why the peril is so frightening – it cannot be seen, it is uncertain, and it seems unknowable. This means people bury their heads in the sand and pretend it won’t happen when they should be prepared and soon for the “big one.”

Of course the shaking that we are currently witnessing in California is far from isolated. All over the planet we are seeing some very unusual things happen right now. For example, an enormous volcano in Iceland that has not erupted in 290 years is starting to come to life: "A massive ice cauldron measuring one km in diameter has formed at the epicentre of the Öræfajökull volcano. Stunning satellite images taken during a flyover of the region show the new ice cauldron has developed within the volcano in the last week. This suggests that activity at the volcano, located in Vatnajökull, Iceland’s largest glacier, is increasing, according to the Icelandic Met Office (IMO)."

And officials in Indonesia are warning that Mt. Agung may be about to experience a major eruption for the first time since 1963. The following comes from TruNews: "Indonesia’s Mt. Agung volcano on the island of Bali has erupted, prompting officials to prepare for possible mass evacuations from the popular tourist destination. Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency was already warning residents and tourists to stay away from an exclusion zone of roughly five miles around the crater. Their warning states the eruption could result in ash clouds that “severely disrupt air travel,” or cause disastrous environmental hazards. While a main blast has not yet occurred, officials believe it is likely to happen soon. The last such eruption occurred in 1963 and resulted in the deaths of more than 1,000 people."

As I have said so many times before, it appears that the crust of our planet is becoming increasing unstable. This is especially true along “the Ring of Fire”, and the fact that the section of the Ring of Fire that runs along the west coast seems to be awakening should be a major red flag for all of us. They don’t know exactly when it will happen, but scientists assure us that it is just a matter of time before an absolutely catastrophic earthquake strikes the California coast.

So do you believe that this is a major threat? Please feel free to tell us what you think by posting a comment below…”

"Human Nature: What Kind of Creature Are We?"

"Human Nature: What Kind of Creature Are We?"
by John Robbins

"What can we know? What are we all? Poor silly half-brained things peering 
out at the infinite, with the aspirations of angels and the instincts of beasts."
- Arthur Conan Doyle

"These days, many of us tend to think that human nature is inherently competitive and destructive. We hear about “selfish genes,” as if our genetic makeup predetermines that we will be egotistic people and that we will fight with one another. We’re told that our species contains a built-in “killer instinct,” that we are descended from apes who needed to be brutal and ferociously aggressive to survive the hostile conditions of prehistoric times. According to such notions, the natural world is an unrelenting battle for survival, and it is mere wishful thinking to believe that people can live in peace with one another and with their environment for any significant length of time. “War,” said Dick Cheney, seeking to justify the invasion of Iraq, “is the natural state of man.”

Cheney and others who think like him believe that the human condition is inherently and inexorably competitive, and that all of human experience is an expression of the Darwinian principle of “survival of the fittest.” If they are correct, then given the existence of nuclear weapons, our species is almost certainly doomed. But Charles Darwin himself would not agree. In fact, in "The Descent of Man," Darwin mentioned the survival of the fittest only twice, and one of those times was to apologize for using what he had come to feel was an unfortunate and misleading phrase. By contrast, he wrote 95 times about love. In his later writings, Darwin repeatedly stressed that the “survival of the fittest” model of natural selection dropped away in importance at the level of human evolution and was replaced by moral sensitivity, education and cooperation.

It’s true that chimpanzees, whose genetics are very similar to our own, have quite a propensity for deceit, violence, theft, infanticide and even cannibalism. But it’s equally true that among chimps, the toughest rivals will reconcile after a fight, stretching out their hands to each other, smiling, kissing and hugging. And besides, there is another primate who is as genetically similar to us as the chimpanzee–the bonobo, an ape species native to the Congo. If, instead of studying chimps for clues to the origins of human behavior, we had been studying bonobos, we would have come to very different conclusions. Instead of the killer-ape model, we would have had the lover-ape model, for these primates show a phenomenal sensitivity to the well-being of others.

“Primatologists,” writes author Marc Barasch in his book, "Field Notes on the Compassionate Life," “are finding in the bonobos evidence that it is not tooth-and-nail competition, but conciliation, cuddling, and cooperation that may be the central organizing principle of human evolution.” One of the world’s leading experts on primate behavior, Frans de Waal, calls it “survival of the kindest.”

What kind of creature, then, are we? There are those who believe human beings are fundamentally selfish, and there are those who believe we are essentially kindly creatures who need only love to flourish; but I stand in neither camp, or maybe I should say I stand in both camps. It appears to me that we have nearly infinite potential in both directions. Part ego and part divinely inspired, we have both the potential to compete and the potential to cooperate. There are in each of us forces that can produce a Bernard Madoff, and also those that can produce a Martin Luther King. Depending on what we choose to affirm and cultivate within ourselves and our children, we can collectively turn this planet into a hell or a heaven. Whether we like it or not, and whether we accept it or not, our choices make an enormous difference.

In these deeply uncertain times, I believe that the effort to create a web of caring, support, authenticity and trust among your friends and family members, and in your larger community, may be among the most important acts you can undertake. With the economy and the biosphere deteriorating and potentially collapsing, nothing may be more imperative than overcoming the isolation and disconnectedness that so often pervades contemporary life.

Down through history there have been sages and philosophers who have spoken of the fundamental unity underlying the human condition. They have taught that each of us is truly part of an extended family that includes all people everywhere. But today the human future depends on more than just a few wise people understanding the concept. The quality of life for humanity in the years to come depends on ever-increasing numbers of people incorporating this understanding into their everyday lives. The health and survival of the human species now depends on how deeply we grasp the reality of our interdependence.

Whether we acknowledge it or not, we all have a choice to be either accomplices in the status quo or everyday revolutionaries. We have a choice whether to succumb to the consumer trance, identify our self worth by our net worth, and race by each other in the night — or to build lives of caring, substance and beauty.

In our so very troubled times, hope itself can seem like a romantic fallacy. The news we hear is so filled with horrors and tragedies, so replete with examples of humanity’s failures, that it can seem like a childish fantasy to still root for all that is good in us. But I believe the real news on this planet is love — why it exists, where it came from and where it is going.

This is why, even though I fail at it far more than I succeed, I still try to follow the advice of the author Og Mandino, who wrote: “Treat everyone you meet as if he or she were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do so with no thought of reward. Your life will never be the same.”

"That Dreadful Universal Thing..."

"The more one analyzes people, the more all reasons for analysis disappear. 
Sooner or later one comes to that dreadful universal thing called human nature.”
- Oscar Wilde

"How It Really Will Be: 'Black Friday Fights'"

"Black Friday Fights", Published on Nov 25, 2016

What a bunch of greed-demented disgusting swine...
That's who and what you are, America. A disgrace...

"How It Really Is"

"Another Year of American Hilarity"

"Another Year of American Hilarity"
by George Will

"Tryptophan, an amino acid in turkey, is unjustly blamed for what mere gluttony does, making Americans comatose every fourth Thursday in November. But before nodding off, give thanks for another year of American hilarity, including:
A company curried favor with advanced thinkers by commissioning for Manhattan’s financial district the “Fearless Girl” bronze statue, which exalts female intrepidity in the face of a rampant bull (representing (1) a surging stock market or (2) toxic masculinity). Then the company paid a $5 million settlement, mostly for paying 305 female executives less than men in comparable positions. New York’s decrepit subway system took action: Henceforth, gender-neutral announcements will address “passengers” rather than “ladies and gentlemen.” Washington’s subway banned a civil liberties group’s ad consisting entirely of the text of the First Amendment, which ostensibly violated the rule against ads “intended to influence members of the public regarding an issue on which there are varying opinions.”
California now can jail certain caregivers who “willfully and repeatedly fail to use a resident’s preferred name or pronouns.” A Massachusetts librarian rejected a donation of Dr. Seuss books because they are “steeped in racist propaganda,” and the New Yorker discovered that “Thomas the Tank Engine” is “authoritarian.” Always alert about planetary crises, the New Yorker also reported: “The world is running out of sand.”
A food truck offering free lunches to workers cleaning up after Hurricane Irma was banished from a Florida town because its operator had no government permit to do that. United Airlines said: Assault? Don’t be misled by your eyes. That passenger dragged off the plane was just being “re-accommodated.”

Even Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) went to Mississippi, to the Nissan plant in Canton, to help the United Automobile Workers with yet another attempt to convince Southern workers of the delights of unionization. The workers, 80 percent of whom are black, voted 2-to-1 against the UAW. A New York Times tweet about the South reported a shooting at a nightclub “in downtown Arkansas.” Louisiana’s Democratic Party joined the virtue-signaling by changing the name of its Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner.
In toney and oh-so-progressive Malibu, Calif., the city council voted to become a sanctuary city. The councilwoman who made the motion for protecting illegal immigrants said: “Our city depends on a Hispanic population to support our comfortable lifestyle.” In more-progressive-than-thou Oregon, where you can get state-subsidized gender reassignment surgery at age 15 without parental permission, the legislature made 21 the age at which adults can buy cigarettes.
UCLA researchers warned that because Americans’ pets eat meat, they endanger the planet by generating 64 million tons of carbon dioxide. Forty-two years after the government began (with fuel economy standards) trying to push Americans into gas-sipping cars, the three best-selling vehicles were the Ford, Chevrolet and Ram pickup trucks

A year after a NASA climatologist (from the “settled” science of climate) said California was “in a drought forever,” torrential rains threatened to break dams.
Pierce College in Los Angeles was sued after it prevented a student from giving away Spanish-language copies of the U.S. Constitution because he was outside the .003 percent of the campus designated a “free speech zone.” Two years after social justice warriors convulsed the University of Missouri in Columbia, freshman enrollment was down 35 percent

An Arizona State University professor allowed some students in her human rights class to stage anti-Donald Trump protests in lieu of final exams. The University of Arizona guide directed instructors to encourage students to say “ouch” when something said in class hurts their feelings. Clemson University’s diversity training washed brains with this idea: Expecting punctuality might be insensitive because in some cultures time is considered “fluid.” The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that student snowflakes are not the only victims of academic suffering. It seems that after the nine-month school year, professors endure isolation, solitude and depression during their three-month vacations.
Massachusetts continues to be surprised that the smuggling of cigarettes into the state increased when state cigarette taxes increased. Although San Francisco’s hourly minimum wage has not yet reached its destination of $15, the city is surprised that so many small businesses have closed. McDonald’s probably was not surprised when its shares surged after it announced plans to replace cashiers with digital ordering kiosks in 2,500 restaurants.
Finally, Domino’s Pizza is going to need bigger menus. Government labeling regulations require calorie counts for every variation of items sold, which Domino’s says (counting different topping and crusts) includes about 34 million possible combinations. None, however, has excessive tryptophan."

"Two Big Warning Signs Emerge For The Stock Market”

"Two Big Warning Signs Emerge For The Stock Market”
by Porter Stansberry

"This week, my famously bullish colleague Steve Sjuggerud mentioned a word of caution for the first time in many, many years… In today’s Digest, I (Porter) will point out a second – and in my view, even more worrisome – sign that this aging bull market is definitely running out of steam. But as always, before we get to the “meat and potatoes” of this week’s missive… just a few simple reminders.

I write these weekly letters personally. I’ve done so since 1999 when I founded Stansberry Research from my kitchen table. You see, after bombarding you with e-mail advertisements all week and tweaking your emotional (fear and greed) buttons to sell subscriptions, I feel a tremendous obligation to provide you with the information I’d most want if our roles were reversed. Sadly, that frequently means telling you something you don’t want to hear and are likely to ignore. Often enough, telling folks the difficult truth about financial circumstances causes them to cancel their subscriptions, or as I like to say, “part as friends.” And I have a feeling that might happen today.

You see, we’re entering into an incredibly dangerous phase of this bull market. Ironically, that also means most people will find stocks simply irresistible. But trust me, friends… it’s time to start selling. Let me show you why. Many, many obvious signs point to a gigantic financial bubble:

The prices of cryptocurrencies are soaring…
Stocks are trading at record levels…
Corporate bonds are paying record-low yields…
Consumer debt is at a new all-time high less than 10 years after the biggest consumer-lending collapse in 50 years…

What’s powering this bubble? It’s sovereign debt. Major governments around the world have gone mad with debt. I won’t bore you with the details (I promise). But consider this: For a period of almost 20 years – between 1979 and 1998 – the 10-year average growth rate in U.S. federal debt was more than 100%. That first big “spurt” of U.S. debt growth peaked in 1991 (with a 10-year increase in federal debt of 228%) that saw total federal debt per person in the U.S. grow from $3,700 to $20,000 by 1998.

As I’m sure you’ll recall, the period between the early 1980s and the 1990s was generally fantastic for the stock market and for investors. At the beginning of a massive credit boom, everything seems great. That’s because when credit growth far exceeds savings, it allows an economy to consume far more than it’s producing. This “pulls forward” consumption, magnifies economic growth, and increases spending and usually wages, too. It’s a boom!

But by 1998, so much consumption had been pulled forward that not enough global aggregate demand was left. A huge bust emerged, which hit commodities and emerging markets. Russia defaulted. Eventually, these problems caused the tech and telecom bubbles to burst, and the U.S. saw a severe bear market. Tech stocks fell about 80% from their peak. We’re about to see a similar bust.

Over almost the entire last decade, we’ve seen another huge increase to government debt: Since 2009, U.S. government debt has again more than doubled on a rolling 10-year basis, peaking at 137% in 2012. By the end of this year, total federal debt per person in America will reach $62,000. That’s nearly $250,000 for a family of four. And that’s just the federal debt that we’ve created in this generation. On a per-capita basis, federal debt has more than tripled since 2000. You might have noticed that wages and the economy haven’t tripled.

OK, no more data, I promise… Since this boom began in 2009, almost nobody has paid any attention to this massive increase in federal debt. You haven’t heard a word about our deficits from our politicians. Nobody cares. Why? Because since 2009, these debts haven’t caused our country’s borrowing costs to rise. Even though total federal debt outstanding has increased by 126% since 2008, our borrowing costs have fallen. We’re still paying about the same amount in interest on this debt as we did back in the early 1990s, when our national debt was only 22% of the size of today’s burden.

The thing that matters to policymakers is how much the debt costs to maintain, not how much it costs to repay. That’s why you haven’t heard anything about it. Nobody is paying any attention to what’s about to happen next…

As you know, the Federal Reserve has allowed the government to take on these massive debts by buying huge amounts of the debt that has been issued, and by manipulating interest rates lower so that borrowing costs were affordable. That’s causing big dislocations in the rest of the financial system. Low interest rates are mostly responsible for stocks soaring. (Price-to-earnings multiples expand as interest rates fall.) The Fed’s manipulation of interest rates also explains how and why consumer lending has reached all-time highs. As interest rates fell, lenders were forced to buy riskier and riskier loan portfolios to earn enough yield to match funding requirements for insurance portfolios and pensions.

The ongoing debt explosion is finally reaching its peak. Lots of those consumer loans are starting to go bad. We first saw default rates creeping up in subprime auto loans (as we warned they would). Now, credit-card default rates are moving higher, too. Soon, the mirage of student lending is going to completely fall apart. That’s when we’ll see fireworks across the credit spectrum. But that’s not all.

Just as defaults are rising, the Fed has begun to raise rates. Look at what that’s going to do to the U.S. government’s funding costs over the next few years, according to projections from the Congressional Budget Office. Interest payments will nearly double, going from 6% to 11% of the federal budget:
These rising costs are going to have a profound effect on the current widespread political belief that “deficits don’t matter,” just as soaring default rates on consumer lending are going to lead to much tougher lending standards on cars, colleges, and credit cards. All of that consumption that we’ve enjoyed on credit for the last decade is going to come back to haunt us. All of us.

If I’m right…If the credit boom is over and the default cycle has begun, we should see plenty of warning signs in the months to come. First, the stock market “lions” we saw back in late 2015 will re-emerge. Transportation stocks will begin to disappoint as new orders for manufacturing decline. (That’s what Steve pointed out in the warning I referenced earlier.)

You should also see the yield curve invert early next year. That’s extremely dangerous for financial stocks.

The Fed is raising short-term interest rates. But long-term interest rates aren’t rising much. That’s because they’re based on the economy’s long-term growth potential. With such large debt burdens, we’re unlikely to see 3% growth going forward. We haven’t sustained rates of growth at that level since before President Obama. An inverted yield curve is a “get out” warning for financial stocks, so keep your eyes on the “spread” between two-year sovereign debt and 10-year sovereign debt:
As you can see, the spread has been decreasing since 2013… and could turn negative by early next year. I believe that’s inevitable if the Fed continues to raise rates. That’s a big red flag for this bull market…

This historic bull market has largely been the creation of low interest rates and buoyant credit markets. “Happily,” these tightening financial conditions and rising borrowing costs are arriving just in time for a huge wave of corporate high-yield bond maturities in 2018 and 2021. More than $1 trillion worth of speculative bonds is coming due before the end of 2021. There’s no way the majority of these loans can be repaid or refinanced. A particular worry is the debt related to retail/malls, high-cost energy production, and legacy media and entertainment.

As I’ve long predicted, the end of this credit cycle will see the greatest legal transfer of wealth in history as equity holders are wiped out when these bonds default. We haven’t hit our big home run yet with our Stansberry’s Big Trade strategy… But it’s coming.

So, my friends, just a simple warning… We are heading full steam into the biggest credit-default cycle in our nation’s history. Do you think we’re prepared as a nation to ride out this storm? No way. Get ready for some real political fireworks.

Do you think the “marginalized” members of our society are angry today, crying over statues, bitching about who gets to play quarterback, and rioting over a few police shootings? Just wait until their food stamps won’t cash… until doctors stop showing up for Medicare work… until their pensions collapse… and until the police strike over unpaid wages.

Oh, yes… it’s all coming. And maybe a “Debt Jubilee,” too.

Whoops, I’m sorry. Not bullish enough for you? Too bad.”

“What the Media Is Missing About Roy Moore”

“What the Media Is Missing About Roy Moore”
by Bill Bonner

"'I’M WITH THE PERV,’ screams today’s New York Post headline. The accompanying photos show Donald J Trump and the accused child molester Roy Moore. There are those who despise the Alabama Senate candidate. And there are those who see him as their hope for the future of the nation. We promise to annoy both camps.

Media feeding frenzy: In the current media feeding frenzy over the swinish and sometimes illegal behavior of public figures, Mr Moore stands out. If you believe his accusers, he distinguishes himself by sexually targeting very young girls. ‘There ought to be a law that protects underage girls from full-grown male predators,’ you say. And indeed, there is.

If the charges could be proven, and were not blocked by a statute of limitations, Mr Moore could do time for soliciting a minor, corrupting the morals of a minor, child molestation, or some such offense. Mr Moore would know better than we; he has been on the public payroll practically all his life, enforcing some laws and breaking others.

We don’t blame him; most of our laws are foolish or crooked, often both. We exceed the speed limit when we think we can get away with it…and we use the Census form for starting a fire in the kitchen. We’re tempted to take up smoking, too. But we aren’t running for public office, and we don’t provide a model for anyone but ourselves.

Egregious lapse: The separation of church and state is one of the most important innovations in the US Constitution. Mr Moore gets in trouble because he seems unable to understand it…or at any rate, enforce it. This lapse is so egregious that Judge Moore was removed from the Alabama bench - twice. In other words, he was guilty of treason and misfeasance: failing to uphold its laws as he had sworn - on the Bible! - to do.

Normally, faithlessness toward the feds would be no disgrace in our book. Sedition, subversion, mutiny, contempt - all are underrated. Far from disqualifying him from public office, they should be encouraged.

As for his apparent looting of a tax-exempt charity…or even his alleged chasing after young girls in the Gadsden Mall 30 years ago - none of these things, unless proven, should bar him from the Senate. To the contrary, they will help him fit in…

Bombastic stupidity: No completely honest man would want to run for the Senate; by this measure, Mr Moore is more suited to the job than most. Plus, he seems to have more than his share of the quality that is held in the highest esteem by the electorate - bombastic stupidity. But such is the state of play in modern public life.

A man can be a traitor to the Republic, a scoundrel, an ignoramus, a killer, a flaming jackass, a publicity-seeking humbug…with no poetry in his soul…no generosity in his heart…no grace in his actions…no sense of humour…and (the biggest failing) no humility…but let him pinch the wrong bottom at the wrong time, and his career could be over.

Would Mr Moore make a good senator or a bad one? Who knows? What makes the man interesting to us is that he is prepared not only to betray the courts, the state of Alabama, and the US Constitution…but also God Himself.

Absurd vanity: ‘Take not the Lord thy God’s name in vain,’ it reads on the 5,000-pound Ten Commandments monument Mr Moore installed in the rotunda of the Alabama Supreme Court. Moore says he will bring ‘knowledge of God’ to Washington…that he will ‘put God back in the public square.’ What more absurd vanity is there?

First, Mr Moore has no more ‘knowledge’ of God than anyone else - including the 535 current members of Congress. God is a mystery to us all.

Second (talk about vanity!), does Roy Moore think he has God collared, like a cocker spaniel…and can put Him where he wants Him? If God wanted to be in Washington, DC, he wouldn’t need Roy Moore or a ticket on the Acela Express. He goes where He wants.

Third, what makes Roy Moore think that God would want anything to do with him or Washington?

Swamp law or God’s law? We regard it as unlikely. The Gospels and the Scripture support us. Jesus was asked, directly, about going to Washington… "And the Devil taking him up into a high mountain showed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the Devil said unto him, ‘All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them; for that is delivered unto me: and to whomsoever I will give it. If thou wilt worship me, all shall be thine.’ And Jesus answered and said unto him, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan.’"

Who offers political power in this Gospel passage? Not God. Not the voters. Not the Constitution or the law of the land. Instead, the Devil says clearly that Washington belongs to him.

Christians know you have to make a choice. It’s either God or the Devil. Not both. Roy Moore has made his choice. And if voters put him in office, he will stand before God and Man, put his hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the laws of the swamp, not the laws of Moses or Jesus. And then, most likely, he will betray them all.”

Musical Interlude: Hans Zimmer, “Time”

Hans Zimmer, “Time”

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

"A Revision Of Belief..."

"Consider a turkey that is fed every day. Every single feeding will firm up the bird's belief that it is the general rule of life to be fed every day by friendly members of the human race 'looking out for its best interests,' as a politician would say. On the afternoon of the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, something unexpected will happen to the turkey. It will incur a revision of belief."
- Nassim Taleb

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving, folks!

Musical Interlude: Vangelis, "1492: Conquest of Paradise"

Vangelis, "1492: Conquest of Paradise"

"A Look to the Heavens"

“When did you first learn to identify this group of stars? Although they are familiar to many people around the world, different cultures have associated this asterism with different icons and folklore. Known in the USA as the Big Dipper, the stars are part of a constellation designated by the International Astronomical Union in 1922 as the Great Bear (Ursa Major). 
Click image for larger size.
The recognized star names of these stars are (left to right) Alkaid, Mizar/Alcor, Alioth, Megrez, Phecda, Merak, and Dubhe. Of course, stars in any given constellation are unlikely to be physically related. But surprisingly, most of the Big Dipper stars do seem to be headed in the same direction as they plough through space, a property they share with other stars spread out over an even larger area across the sky. Their measured common motion suggests that they all belong to a loose, nearby star cluster, thought to be on average only about 75 light-years away and up to 30 light-years across. The cluster is more properly known as the Ursa Major Moving Group. The featured image captured the iconic stars recently above Pyramid Mountain in Alberta, Canada.”

Chet Raymo, “Nature Loves To Hide”

“Nature Loves To Hide”
by Chet Raymo

"A rainbow. Pretty to look at. But what do you see? The arc of a perfect circle. Pure geometry.

Think about how seldom we see pure geometric forms in nature. Rivers never run straight and true. Nature draws straight lines reluctantly. Circles? The sun and moon. I look out my window at a broad panorama or earth, sea and sky, and I see not a single shape or line that might be found in a geometry book.

In the "Timaeus", Plato suggested that behind the manifestly ungeometrical higgledy-piggledy of nature there lay a hidden world of geometrical atoms. It was a prescient insight, but led nowhere at the time. Kepler hoped to explain the spacing of the planets with nested Platonic solids- spheres, cubes, tetrahedra, etc.- but it turned out to be a bit of a wild goose chase. When Galileo rolled balls downed inclined planes and measured distances and times, a parabola winked in his data. Plato was right! It wasn't long before mathematical regularities started showing up everywhere. The book of nature really is written in the language of mathematics.

But how closely nature hides that secret. I look out the window and I don't see a hint of it. Then- the rainbow appears in the sky... 

"The Trouble With The World..."

“The trouble with the world is not that people know too little, 
but that they know so many things that ain't so.”
- Mark Twain

"Nobody's Listening..."

"Angel: Well, I guess I kinda worked it out. If there's no great glorious end to all this, if nothing we do matters... then all that matters is what we do. 'Cause that's all there is. What we do. Now. Today. I fought for so long, for redemption, for a reward, and finally just to beat the other guy, but I never got it.

Kate Lockley: And now you do?

Angel: Not all of it. All I wanna do is help. I wanna help because, I don't think people should suffer as they do. Because, if there's no bigger meaning, then the smallest act of kindness is the greatest thing in the world.

Kate Lockley: Yikes. It sounds like you've had an epiphany.

Angel: I keep saying that, but nobody's listening."

"What We Are, And Are Not..."

"Imagination was given to us to compensate for what we are not; 
a sense of humor was given to us to console us for what we are."
- Mack McGinnis

“A New Theory of History – Moronism: A History of Idiocy”

“A New Theory of History – Moronism: A History of Idiocy”
by Uri Avnery

"The subject is idiocy. Particularly, the role of idiocy in history. The older I get, the more convinced I am that sheer stupidity plays a major role in the history of nations. Great Thinkers, compared to whom I am a mere intellectual dwarf, have pursued other factors to explain what has turned history into a mess. Karl Marx blamed the economy. The economy has directed humankind from its earliest beginnings.

Others blame God. Religion has caused awful wars, and still does. Look at the Crusades, which for almost two hundred years raged in my country. Look at the 30-year War which devastated Germany. No end in sight. Some accuse Race. Whites against Red Indians. Aryans against Untermenschen. Nazis against Jews. Terrible. Or geopolitics. The White Man’s Burden. The Drang-nach-Osten.

For many generations, Great Thinkers have been searching for some deep explanation for war. There must be such an explanation. After all, terrible historical events cannot just happen. There must be something profound, something sinister, which is causing all this untold misery. Something that has accompanied the human race from its very beginnings, and that still directs our destiny.

I have adopted most of these theories in my time. Many of them impressed me very much. Great thinkers. Deep thoughts. I have read many thick volumes. But in the end, they left me unsatisfied. In the end it hit me. There is indeed one factor common to all these historical events: foolishness. I know that this sounds incredible. Foolishness? All these thousands of wars? All these hundreds of millions of casualties? All these emperors, kings, statesmen, strategists? All fools?

Recently I was asked for an example. “Show me how it works,” an incredulous listener demanded. I mentioned the outbreak of World War I, an event that changed the face of Europe and the world forever, and which ended just five years before I was born, My earliest childhood was spent in the shadow of this cataclysm.

It happened like this: An Austrian archduke was killed in the town of Sarajevo by a Serbian anarchist. It happened almost by accident: the planned attempt failed, but later the terrorist happened upon the duke and killed him. So what? The duke was a quite unimportant person. Thousands of such acts have happened before and since. But this time the Austrian statesmen thought that this was a good opportunity to teach the Serbs a lesson. It took the form of an ultimatum. No big deal. Such things happen all the time. But the powerful Russian empire was allied with Serbia, so the Czar issued a warning: he ordered the mobilization of his army, just to make his point.

In Germany, all the red lights went on. Germany is situated in the middle of Europe and has no impregnable natural borders, no oceans, no high mountains. It was trapped between two great military powers, Russia and France. For years the German generals had been pondering how to save the Fatherland if attacked from the two sides simultaneously. A master-plan evolved. Russia was a huge country, and it would take several weeks to mobilize the Russian army. These weeks must be used to smash France, turn the army around and stop the Russians.

It was a brilliant plan, worked out to the finest detail by brilliant military minds. But the German army was stopped at the gates of Paris. The British intervened to help France. The result was a static war of four long years, where nothing really happened except that millions upon millions of human beings were slaughtered or maimed. In the end a peace was made, a peace so stupid that it virtually made a Second World War inevitable. This broke out a mere 21 years later, with even larger numbers of casualties.

Many books have been written about “July 1914”, the crucial month in which World War I became inevitable. How many people were involved in decision-making in Europe? How many emperors, kings, ministers, parliamentarians, generals; not to mention academicians, journalists, poets and what not?

Were they all stupid? Were they all blind to what was happening in their countries and throughout their continent? Impossible, one is tempted to cry out. Many of them were highly competent, intelligent people, people versed in history. They knew everything about the earlier wars that had ravaged Europe throughout the centuries. Yet there you are. All these people played their part in causing the most terrible war (up to then) in the annals of history. An act of sheer idiocy.

The human mind cannot accept such a truth. There must be other reasons. Profound reasons. So they wrote innumerable books explaining why this was logical, why it had to happen, what were the “underlying” causes. Most of these theories are certainly plausible. But compared to the effects, they are puny. Millions of human beings marched out to be slaughtered, singing and almost dancing, trusting their emperor, king, president, commander-in-chief. Never to return.

Could all these leaders be idiots? They certainly could. And were.

I don’t need the examples of the thousands of foreign wars and conflicts, because I live in the middle of one right now. Never mind how it came about, the present situation is that in the land that used to be called Palestine there live two peoples of different origin, culture, history, religion, language, standard of living and much more. They are now of more or less equal size. Between these two peoples, a conflict has now been going on for more than a century.

In theory, there are only two reasonable solutions: either the two peoples shall live together as equal citizens in one state, or they shall live side by side in two states. The third possibility is no solution – eternal conflict, eternal war. This is so obvious, so simple, that denying it is sheer idiocy.

Living together in one state sounds logical, but is not. It is a recipe for constant conflict and internal war. So there remains only what is called “two states for two peoples”. When I pointed this out, right after the 1948 war, the war in which Israel was founded, I was more or less alone. Now this is a worldwide consensus, everywhere except in Israel.

What is the alternative? There is none. Just going on with the present situation: a colonial state in which 7 million Israeli Jews oppress 7 million Palestinian Arabs. Logic says that this is a situation that cannot go on forever. Sooner or later it will break down.

So what do our leaders say? Nothing. They pretend to be oblivious to this truth. At the top of the pyramid we have a leader who looks intelligent, who speaks well, who seems competent. In fact, Binyamin Netanyahu is a mediocre politician, without vision, without depth. He does not even pretend that he has another solution. Nor do his colleagues and possible heirs. So what is this? I am sorry to have to say it, but there is no other definition than the rule of idiocy.”