Thursday, July 27, 2017

"Iron Horse Nights: An American Residuum"

"Iron Horse Nights: An American Residuum"
by Fred Reed

"You gotta understand about biker bars. Well, maybe you don’t, but you ought to want to at least. They are the last redoubt of American civilization in an age of Snowflakes, Cupcakes, milquetoasts, mollycoddles, and  fizzing herds of witless mall rats.

My biker bar is the Iron Horse, just across the carretera from our house. If popular wisdom holds, it was started by a guy in the nuclear-construction business who, I suppose, wanted a biker bar. Vi and I often wander over of a weekend when forty or so big-bore bikes show up and you hear Harleys starting with that explosive cough, 
WapAhappotatopotatopotatopotato,
 a sound the which there ain’t no other like. Nor better.

Usually there’s a good crowd. The Mexican bikers come in from Guad, and the gringo club, Los Gueros, appears along with wives and girlfriends. The bands are hard rock, La Maquina del Tiempo for ample, and by dark the joint thumps and roars  and and nobody can hear anybody else but they’re dancing like maniacs and don’t care. The dance floor is a concrete slab because the place used to be a warehouse I think until Chris decided it needed to be a biker bar.

Biker bars are not always well understood. Some are in truth dens of psychopaths with several teeth and witless grins auguring bodily damage. One such was the Sons of Silence, headquartered in the Berkeley Bar in Denver when I was working at Soldier of Fortune in Boulder. The Berk was not where you wanted to take your mother on her birthday. I spent time there with Craig Nunn, SOF‘s artist who later died when, drunk one night, he drove his motorcycle into a tree. The SOF staff agreed that he died as he would have wished: horribly. Working as we did for a mercenary magazine, Craig and I were thought acceptably sordid. There were some memorable nights, but I don’t recommend it.

The Iron Horse is altogether different. These guys like to ride and they wear colors but if you accidentally left your three-year-old daughter there  all Saturday night, on your return you would find her in working order and well cared for by the wives and girlfriends. They bikers of the Horse are a mixed bag but you find for example a guy who invented something about ATMs, made a bundle, and didn’t want to dress up in office drag like some sorry metrosexual. So he moved to Mexico, got a monster Harley, and actually enjoys living.

The local expat club is Los Gueros, gringos and Canadians. The name translates loosely as The Pale Ones. In the US this would have priss spigots wetting themselves about racism and inclusiveness, but Mexico doesn’t do that racial gotcha routine so they’re just the Gueros and everybody’s happy.

A degenerate in the Iron Horse. A shocking display of grotesque machismo, toxic masculinity, Jack on the rocks–self-medication, likely for feelings of inadequacy–and intransigent deplorability. Hell, he probably even like girls, though that’s pushing it.


Probably you either like bikes or you don’t. I have never had a power bike but once rode a Honda 350, which I think was the old 305 Dream bored out. It was geared low and actually pretty quick, certainly enough bike to provide a Motorcycle Experience. At night on the winding forested roads of rural Virginia the wind was chill and traffic nonexistent and you could lean through the curves and there came a wild sense of freedom and being part of the night, as if you belonged there. To stop in the darkness and just sit there astride, motor ticking over, bugs keening in the trees and trying to get laid–it was a trip.

Which I think is why guys like bikes. It is a guy thing. If a gal showed up on a bike, she would be welcome but it doesn’t much happen.  A lot of  people who are not bikers show up at the Horse and, as  mentioned, wives and girlfriends and the guys behave as gentlemen, or at least not as jerks, but it remains masculine at heart, very much so. This is refreshing in an age in which Bruce Jenner would be regarded as dangerously masculine.

Oh my god. Oh my god. Hide the children.

Bikers are a certain kind of men, as evidenced by their still being alive. Motorcycles are not for the dreamy. Bad things develop too quickly. Some psychologist did a study that divided athletes into two categories, Thinkers and Reactors. Intelligence had nothing to do with it. A baseball pitcher is a Thinker. He sizes the batter up, consults with the catcher on the type of pitch, thinks about  it and, when he is ready, pitches. By contrast, a shortstop just reacts.

This very much applies to bikers. If an eighteen-wheeler suddenly pulls across the road in front of him, a Thinker will, well, think, “Hmmm. Eighteen wheeler. Not good. I probably ought to BLAP!” A Reactor might lay the bike down and try to slide under the truck. Might work, might not, but BLAP definitely will not work. Potholes, cars that don’t see the bike, hunks of truck tire in the road–these require instant reflexes that some, including me, don’t have.

Odd things happen on bikes. A buddy of mine who later killed himself by swimming out into the Rappahannock River at night in mid-winter told me of riding–he had a 450 something-or-other–along a desert highway in maybe it was New Mexico. A terrific steady tailwind came up at the speed he was making, maybe sixty. There was thus no relative wind.  Weird. The engine started to overheat.

You gotta wonder what is happening in America. In any country there are the adventurous and the less so, the rock climbers and cavers and divers, and those who would rather spend their time in the library. Fine. It takes all kinds. But today a guy who goes to a gym is held by much of society to be in need of counseling, or maybe estrogen supplements. If this isn’t your style, drop by the Horse some night. Bring party paraphernalia, such as a date. If you can, arrive on two wheels. Better than four.”

"First, Suck In Unqualified People..."

"First, Suck In Unqualified People..."
by Karl Denninger

"First, suck in unqualified people, then, once you've got a campus full of people who can't function at the level expected of someone with a college education... you lower the standards!

"The chancellor of the California Community Colleges system says intermediate algebra should no longer be required to earn an associate degree - unless students are in the fields of science, technology, engineering or math."

Thank you very much for telling me that nobody who earns an alleged Degree has anything at all of value. The solution to high failure rates is to tighten up admission requirements. The reason you have the problem in the first place is that you let a bunch of people in who couldn't function at that level.  Now you wish to "legitimate" it.

May I remind you that were the American people able to understand simple exponents and their application to the economy and government, including spending and taxation, that we'd have had a literal shooting revolution a couple of decades ago? We haven't because the people of this country in the general sense are willing to accept the mathematically impossible in claims from politicians without telling them to cut it out or they will swing after being indicted, tried and convicted of mass fraud and theft on a multi-trillion dollar scale.

Is it any surprise that a government-run alleged college wants to further decrease the percentage of people who understand simple, first-year algebra principles such as exponents - say much less anything more complex?

Not at all."

God forbid these oh-so-delicate, preciously unique snowflakes should be forced to actually exert themselves, to learn something, anything. Oh no, can't offend their sensitivities now, can we, or be politically and/or socially incorrect, right? Or invade their safe spaces by asking, as Thomas Sowell did, "What were you doing for the last 12 years before you got here?" God knows, but it sure as hell wasn't learning anything... - CP

"We're so freakin' doomed!"
- The Mogambo Guru

"Codes of the Underworld"

"Codes of the Underworld"
by The Zman

"One of the many concepts that has entered the mainstream from the Dissident Right is signalling. It’s first appearance came as criticism of social justice warriors, who were signalling their virtue by opposing someone or some thing, real or imagined. Virtue signalling is not new. It has probably been a part of human society since people began to settle into agricultural communities. Scipio Africanus, the great Roman general, who defeated Hannibal at Zama, was also famous for his virtue signalling.

These days, you will hear guys on the alt-right talk about counter-signalling. The easiest example of this is the newly minted rich guy going out and buying expensive display items, like cars or gaudy homes. NBA players are prone to this. They want to signal their wealth by acquiring highly visible, expensive items. An old money guy, in contrast, counter-signals by living in an old farmhouse that has been in the family for generations and driving a 40 year old Saab. He’s the sort of rich that feels no need to advertise it.

Signalling is a basic human trait. We all do it to one degree or another. Walk into a prison and you will see an array of tattoos on the inmates. These will signal gang affiliations, time served in the system, facilities in which the inmate has served and the individual’s violence capital. That last part is an important part of keeping the peace. To civilians, a face tattoo is always scary, but in jail, the right neck tattoo can tell other inmates that they are in the presence of an accomplished killer for a particular prison gang.

Virtue signalling and danger signalling are the easiest to understand, but people also use verbal and non-verbal signals to indicate trust or test the trustworthiness of others. A criminal organization, for example, will have a new member commit a pointless crime to demonstrate their trustworthiness. This is not just to sort out police informants, as is portrayed on television. It’s mostly to ascertain the willingness of the person to commit to the life of the organization. It’s hard to be a criminal if you will not commit crimes.

Outlaw biker culture is a good example of the use of signalling to establish trust relationships. Bikers have always, for example, adopted Nazi symbols as part of their display items. Bikers are not sitting around reading Julius Evola. What they are doing is signalling their complete rejection of the prevailing morality. By adopting taboo symbols and clothing, the outlaw biker is letting other bikers know his status, as much as he is letting the squares know he is a dangerous guy, who should be avoided.

This type of signalling is also defensive. Someone who is not serious or unprepared for life in a motorcycle club will try hard to hide this from himself and the club he is trying to impress. When those club members all have visible tattoos and swastikas on their vests, no one can kid themselves about what is expected from members. The visual presentation of the outlaw biker does more to chase away posers and trouble makers than character tests and initiation rituals. A biker is a walking entrance exam for prospects.

It’s not just an in-group/out-group thing. When you start prospecting for a biker club, you are routinely forced to choose between the moral framework of society and the morality of the club. The same process works in cults, interestingly enough. The prospect is always in a position where he must either divorce himself emotionally from his old life and the old world, or leave the club. It’s why one percenter clubs take their time patching in new members. It takes time to leave the old world and fully commit to the lifestyle.

That’s the way to read the alt-right and the stuff they say and do on-line with respect to non-whites, Jews and women. They don’t actually spend a lot of time talking and writing about these groups. They spend most of their time talking about how to organize themselves, the issues that face white identity movements and the philosophical points of their thing. The offensive memes and the racists language are mostly signalling. If you freak out over Hitler themed twitter avatars, then you are never going to be in their thing.

As with bike culture, it is defensive signalling to ward off entryists and the posers, but it is also a signal that joining their thing is more than just a secret handshake. If you are on-line talking about white identity, you’re never going back to the squaresville world of normie politics. You are rejecting that world as illegitimate in favor of the new thing. In effect, the racist memes are an offer. Accept it as a price of admission, but understand that by accepting the offer you are leaving the old morality behind for the new moral framework.

What this sort of signalling suggests is that the alt-right may have more staying power and more momentum, than their current numbers would suggest. Political movements come and go because they are rooted in the moment. “Free Silver” stopped being a rally cry once the currency issue was put to bed. The “Happy Warrior” stuff from the prior generation no longer has any relevance, as those ideological wars are now a part of history. Political movements are born to die, as soon as their issue is resolved.

The other thing about political movements is they are inherently open. The whole point of the Tea Party, for example, was to rally a lot of people from different ideologies to challenge the Progressives, who sacked Washington. The Tea Party people welcomed anyone who opposed the bailouts and reckless spending that was ushered in by Obama and the Democrats. That openness is what allowed the army of grifters from Conservative Inc to sail in and hijack the movement, turning it into a fundraising arm of the GOP.

Cultural movements, like identity or race movements, are closed and exclusive. They certainly seek to grow their numbers, but only on their own terms. They place narrow rules on members and never accept divided loyalties. You are either in the thing or outside the thing. There is no in between. This is why the American Left has been so persistent and able to re-spawn after each collapse. It’s not a list of agenda items. It’s a lifestyle with a moral code and a wide array of symbols for the members to accept and display.

That’s what is evolving with the alt-right. There’s no way to be “sort of alt-right.” You’re either in it or you’re not in it. That’s become clear with the schism between the civ-nat guys and the alt-right. Rejecting a guy like Milo Yiannopoulos forces guys like Gavin McInness to decide. He can be edgy TV funny guy or he can be in the alt-right and everything that implies. The result is his thing is dissolving as some people bite the bullet and join the alt-right, while others go back to sleep.

The jury is still out as to whether the alt-right is the long hoped for response to the rise of the New Left in the 1960’s. Ironically, the worst thing that could happen for the alt-right is for Trump to be everything his critics in Washington claim. White identity politics can only flourish when whites believe they must be an intolerant minority, battling other intolerant minorities for space. What is clear is that the alt-right is not another Tea Party. It has staying power because it is a cultural movement, not a political one."

The title of this post comes from this excellent book, "Codes of the Underworld"

"How It Really Is"

"Total Government And Personal Debt In The U.S. Has Hit 41 Trillion Dollars ($329,961.34 Per Household)"

"Total Government And Personal Debt In The U.S. 
Has Hit 41 Trillion Dollars ($329,961.34 Per Household)"
by Michael Snyder

"We are living in the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world. In 1980, total government and personal debt in the United States was just over the 3 trillion dollar mark, but today it has surpassed 41 trillion dollars. That means that it has increased by almost 14 times since Ronald Reagan was first elected president. I am searching for words to describe how completely and utterly insane this is, but I am coming up empty. We are slowly but surely committing national suicide, and yet most Americans don’t even understand what is happening.

According to 720 Global, total government debt plus total personal debt in the United States was just over 3 trillion dollars in 1980. That broke down to $38,552 per household, and that figure represented 79 percent of median household income at the time. Today, total government debt plus total personal debt in the United States has blown past the 41 trillion dollar mark. When you break that down, it comes to $329,961.34 per household, and that figure represents 584 percent of median household income.

If anyone can make a good argument that we are not in very serious debt trouble, I would love to hear it. And remember, the figures above don’t even include corporate debt. They only include government debt on the federal, state and local levels, and all forms of personal debt.

So do you have $329,961.34 ready to pay your share of the debt that we have accumulated?

Nobody that I know could write that kind of a check. The truth is that as a nation we are flat broke. The only way that the game can keep going is for all of us to borrow increasingly larger sums of money, but of course that is not sustainable by any definition. Eventually we are going to slam into a wall and the game will be over.

One of my pet peeves is the national debt.  Our politicians spend money in some of the most ridiculous ways imaginable, and yet no matter how much we complain about it nothing ever seems to change. For example, the U.S. military actually spends 42 million dollars a year on ViagraYes, you read that correctly. 42 million of your tax dollars are being spent on Viagra every year. And overall spending on “erectile dysfunction medicines” each year comes to a grand total of 84 million dollars. According to data from the Defense Health Agency, DoD actually spent $41.6 million on Viagra - and $84.24 million total on erectile dysfunction prescriptions - last year. And since 2011, the tab for drugs like Viagra, Cialis and Levitra totals $294 million - the equivalent of nearly four U.S. Air Force F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.

Is this really where our spending on “national defense” should be going? We are nearly 20 trillion dollars in debt, and yet we continue to spend money like there is no tomorrow. For much more on the exploding size of our national debt and the very serious implications that this has for our future, please see my previous article entitled “Would You Like To Steal 128 Million Dollars?”

I didn’t think that our debt bubble could ever possibly get this big, but I didn’t think that our stock market bubble could ever possibly get quite get this large either. For a few moments, I would like for you to consider a list of facts about this stock market bubble that was recently published by Zero Hedge:

The S&P 500 Cyclically Adjusted Price to Earnings (CAPE) valuation has only been greater on one occasion, the late 1990s. It is currently on par with levels preceding the Great Depression.
CAPE valuation, when adjusted for the prevailing economic growth trend, is more overvalued than during the late 1920’s and the late 1990’s. (LINK)
S&P 500 Price to Sales Ratio is at an all-time high
Total domestic corporate profits (w/o IVA/CCAdj) have grown at an annualized rate of .097% over the last five years. Prior to this period and since 2000, five year annualized profit growth was 7.95%. (note- period included two recessions) (LINK)
Over the last ten years, S&P 500 corporations have returned more money to shareholders via share buybacks and dividends than they have earned.
The top 200 S&P 500 companies have pension shortfalls totaling $382 billion and corporations like GE spent more on share buybacks ($45b) than the size of their entire pension shortfall ($31b) which ranks as the largest in the S&P 500. (LINK)
Using data back to 1987, the yield to maturity on high-yield (non-investment grade) debt is in the 3rd percentile. Per Prudential as cited in the Wall Street Journal, yields on high-yield debt, adjusted for defaults, are now lower than those of investment grade bonds. Currently, the yield on the Barclays High Yield Index is below the expected default rate.
Implied equity and U.S. Treasury volatility has been trading at the lowest levels in over 30 years, highlighting historic investor complacency. (LINK)

Our financial markets are far more primed for a crash than they were in 2008. The only times in our entire history that are even comparable are the late 1920s just before the infamous crash of 1929 and the late 1990s just before the dotcom bubble burst. A whole lot of people out there seem to be entirely convinced that things will somehow be different this time. They seem to believe that the laws of economics no longer apply and that we will never pay a significant price for decades of exceedingly foolish decisions.

Overall, the world is now 217 trillion dollars in debt. Earlier this year, Bill Gross raised eyebrows when he said that “our highly levered financial system is like a truckload of nitro glycerin on a bumpy road”, and I very much agree with him. There is no way that this is going to end well.  Yes, central bank manipulation may be enough to keep the party going for a little while longer, but eventually the whole thing is going to come crashing down in a disaster of unprecedented magnitude.”

"I'm Not Dumb..."

The Economy: "Our Doom Index Is Heating Up…"

"Our Doom Index Is Heating Up…"
by Bill Bonner

"The Dow Jones rose another 100 points yesterday. Can anything stop this bull market? At least we know the answer to that question: Yes. When? Longtime Diary sufferers know better than to trust our market timing advice. So rather than rely on our instincts, the Bonner & Partners research department has developed a Doom Index to guide us. What is it saying now? Mixed bag For an update, we turn to our ace analyst in the back room, Joe Withrow. But first, a bit of background…

The Doom Index is made up of 11 indicators:

1. Bank loan growth
2. Credit downgrades
3. Junk bond prices
4. Stock market valuations
5. Margin debt
6. Investor sentiment (contrarian indicator)
7. Manufacturing sentiment
8. Railcar traffic
9. Nonfarm payrolls
10. Household debt to disposable income
11. Quarterly building permits

Joe and his team update these on a quarterly basis. And each quarter, they award Doom Points based on what these indicators are saying. When the index hits six or seven Doom Points, it’s time to be cautious. When it hits eight or nine Doom Points, it’s time to raise the tattered ‘Crash Alert’ flag. Anything over a nine means stocks - and the economy - are in deep trouble.

So what’s the latest? Joe: ‘Most second-quarter data has come in. But we are still waiting for railcar use and building permit numbers. The ISM Manufacturing Index came back with another relatively strong reading. I expect we won’t see much of a drop-off with these yet. The Doom Index stands at six now, which is our “soft warning” level.

Here are the highlights from the second quarter: The Fed reported credit growth at 0.8%. This number is down from the Fed’s first-quarter report of 1.5%. We also saw an uptick in corporate bond downgrades this month. You can almost feel the tension in the credit markets. But junk bond prices are still holding up strong.

Stock valuations remain high relative to historic levels. But our bullish investor sentiment indicator is coming back relatively low. The euphoria that precedes a major crash is not there. Household debt-to-income numbers are still at moderate levels as well. On the other hand, auto loans and student loans are through the roof. ‘So, all in all, the data coming in for the second quarter is a mixed bag.’

Permanent loss: We’re no better than anyone else - and perhaps worse - at telling you when the next crash will come. Or even how. But that it will happen…we have no doubt. And when it does, the loss - judging by similar events in the past - is likely to be more than 50%. Worse, the loss could be almost permanent - as it has been in Japan.

The Japanese central bank has used every trick in the book to try to get its stock market back in the black - ZIRP (zero-interest-rate policy), NIRP (negative-interest-rate policy), QE (quantitative easing), and the biggest government debt burden in the world. But stock market prices are still less than half of what they were in 1989…28 years ago. As an investor, your goal is to try to get a decent return on your money without giving it up in a downturn. US stocks come with a big risk. You want to avoid it.

This week, companies with a total of $3 trillion in market value will announce their results. Unless there are some surprises, they will show modest increases in earnings. But wait; there’s something fishy here. Since 2009, earnings per share for US companies have increased a spectacular 265%. Sales, however, have gone up only 32%. How is that possible? Another miracle?

Easy money:  When the cost of borrowing is low, companies prefer to get financing from debt. When it is high, they switch to equity - they issue stock. Debt-financing costs are as low as they have ever been; naturally, shrewd CFOs have borrowed heavily, increasing corporate debt by more than $1 trillion - a 50% rise - since the bottom of the last crisis.

What do they do with the money? The economy is barely expanding. The typical American has no more real buying power than he had 35 years ago. It’s hard to justify investments in extra goods and services when your customers have no more money to buy your output. So what do you do? You buy back your own shares and cancel them. This removes shares from the market, increasing earnings per share for the remaining shares. (Each remaining share then represents a higher portion of the company’s earnings.)

Since 2009, the open market share count has gone down as earnings have gone up. According to Real Investment Advice, this has added $1.60 per share to the earnings of the average company. Instead of investing its money to produce more at a lower cost, corporate America has used debt financing to buy back shares at the highest prices in history. Corporate chiefs get stock option bonuses (because share prices go up). But now the company is deeper in debt and floating on a tide of easy money. Tides go in and go out. This one will be no exception. And when this one goes out, corporate buyers will disappear - along with everyone else.

Dogs of the world: So what’s an investor to do? Again, we are incapable of giving investment advice. But we can tell you what we do. For our own family account, we have money in stocks, gold, cash…and real estate. Since we think we are nearing a financial catastrophe - this post-1971 credit bubble must pop sometime - we keep nearly half our liquid wealth in cash and gold, more than we would normally want.

As for stocks, we are never ‘in the market’, merely hoping that it will go up. Instead, we have two main strategies. First, we rely on colleague Chris Mayer to find ‘special situations’ - companies we want to own regardless of the up and down trends on Wall Street. Second, we also follow a strategy based on Michael O’Higgins’ ‘Dogs of the Dow’ approach.

O’Higgins found that simply buying the cheapest stocks can pay off. The problem is that stocks are often cheap for good reason. Companies go broke. Their stocks go to zero and never come back. That almost never happens with entire stock markets. Which is why we’ve modified O’Higgins’ approach. Instead of buying the cheapest stocks on the Dow, we buy the cheapest country stock markets around the world. This is our ‘Dogs of the World’ portfolio.

Pampered pooch: Last week, we reported that the US stock market is now the world’s most expensive, judged by a range of different tried-and-tested valuation metrics. That makes the US the least-attractive country market right now. In our Dogs of the World portfolio, we look for the world’s cheapest country stock markets and update it annually. One choice. Once a year. Easy-peasy. Of course, this is not for people who check their portfolios daily…or even monthly.

Among the world’s cheapest now, for example, are Turkey and South Korea. Turkey is cheap because its government just narrowly survived a coup d’état in which military jets tried to shoot down the president’s plane. South Korea is cheap because North Korea aims its missiles in that direction. Maybe these dogs will turn out to be good investments. Maybe not. But, by our reckoning, they are safer bets than the pampered pooches of North America."

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Musical Interlude: James Taylor, "You Can Close Your Eyes"

James Taylor, "You Can Close Your Eyes"

X22 Report, “The Moment Of Truth Is Upon Us, Which Path Are We Going Down?”

X22 Report, “The Moment Of Truth Is Upon Us, Which Path Are We Going Down?”
Related followup report:
X22 Report, “The Fed Delays Raising Rates
 As It Waits Patiently For The Economy To Collapse”

Musical Interlude: Neil H, “Echoes From The Mist”

Neil H, “Echoes From The Mist”
Please manually restart to 0:00.

"A Look to the Heavens"

"You don't have to be at Monument Valley to see the Milky Way arc across the sky like this -- but it helps. Only at Monument Valley USA would you see a picturesque foreground that includes these iconic rock peaks called buttes. Buttes are composed of hard rock left behind after water has eroded away the surrounding soft rock. 
Click image for larger size.
In the featured image taken last month, the closest butte on the left and the butte to its right are known as the Mittens, while Merrick Butte can be seen farther to the right. Green airglow fans up from the horizon. High overhead stretches a band of diffuse light that is the central disk of our spiral Milky Way Galaxy. The band of the Milky Way can be spotted by almost anyone on almost any clear night when far enough from a city and surrounding bright lights, but a sensitive digital camera is needed to capture these colors in a dark night sky.”

"A Very Obscure Vulcan Quote"

"A Very Obscure Vulcan Quote"
By Moon

"Ideally, do no harm. Harm speeds up the heat-death of the Universe, and indirectly, your own. More practically, do as little harm as possible. We are creations of a Universe in which entropy exists, and therefore see no way of escape, but we do not need to help it.

Harm no one’s internal, invisible integrities. Leave others the privacies of their minds and lives. Intimacy remains precious only insofar as it is inviolate: invading it turns it to torment. Reach out to others courteously: accept their reaching in the same way, with careful hands.

Do not murder. The spear in the other’s heart is the spear in your own; you are he. All action has reaction: what force you inflict, inevitably returns. The murder of the other is the murder of your own joy, forever.

As far as possible, do not kill. Can you give life again to what you kill? Then be slow to take life. Take only life that will not notice you taking it. To notice one’s own death increases entropy. To die and not notice it increases it less, but still does so.

Cast out fear. Cast out hate and rage. Cast out greed and envy. Cast out all emotion that speeds entropy, whether it be love or hate. Cast out these emotions by using reason to accept them, and then move past them. Use in moderation emotions that do not speed entropy, taking all care that they do not cause others pain, for that speeds entropy as well. Master your passions, so that they become a power for the slowing of the heat-death.

Do no harm to those that harm you. Offer them peace, and offer them peace again, and do it until you die. In this manner you will have peace, one way or another, even if they kill you. And you cannot give others what you have not experienced yourself.

Learn reason above all. Learn clear thought: learn to know what is from what seems to be. This is the key to everything: the truth of reality, the reality of truth. What is will set you free.”
Surak’s concept of cthia, the guiding principle of Vulcan society, 
as written by Diane Duane in her novel, “Star Trek: Spock’s World.”

The Poet: Clarice Lispector, "Change"

"Change"
by Clarice Lispector

"Change.
"But start slowly, because direction is more important than speed.
Sit in another chair, on the other side of the table.
Later on, change tables.
When you go out, try to walk on the other side of the street. 
Then change your route, walk calmly down other streets, 
observing closely the places you pass by.
Take other buses.
 Change your wardrobe for a while; give away your old shoes and
 try to walk barefoot for a few days - even if only at home.
Take off a whole afternoon to stroll about freely, 
listening to the birds or the noise of the cars.
Open and shut the drawers and doors with your left hand.
Sleep on the other side of the bed. Then try sleeping in other beds.
Watch other TV programs, read other books, live other romances -
 even of only in your imagination.
Sleep until later. Go to bed earlier.
Learn a new word a day.
Eat a little less, eat a little more, eat differently; choose new seasonings, new colors,
 things you have never dared to experiment.
Lunch in other places, go to other restaurants, order another kind of drink 
and buy bread at another bakery.
Lunch earlier, have dinner later, or vice-versa.
Try something new every day: a new side, a new method, a new flavor, 
a new way, a new pleasure, a new position.
Pick another market, another make of soap, another toothpaste.
Take a bath at different times of the day.
Use pens with different colors.
Go and visit other places.
Love more and more and in different ways. Even when you think that the other 
will be
 frightened, suggest what you have always dreamed about doing when you make love.
Change your bag, your wallet, your suitcases, buy new glasses, write other poems.
Open an account in another bank, go to other cinemas, other hairdressers,
 other theaters, visit new museums.
Change. 
And think seriously of finding another job, another activity, 
work that is more like what you expect from life, more dignified, more human.
If you cannot find reasons to be free, invent them: be creative.
And grab the chance to take a long, enjoyable trip -  preferably without any destination.
Try new things. Change again. Make another change. Experiment something else.
You will certainly know better things and worse things than those you already know, 
but that does not matter. What matters most is change, movement, dynamism, energy.
Only what is dead does not change - and you are alive."

-  Clarice Lispector

The Daily "Near You?"

Bogotá, Distrito Especial, Colombia. Thanks for stopping by!

"Grief..."

“The dictionary defines grief as: “Keen mental suffering or distress over affliction of loss; sharp sorrow, painful regret.” We’re taught to learn from and rely on books, on definitions, on definitives but in life, strict definitions rarely apply. In life, grief can look like a lot of things that bear little resemblance to sharp sorrow. 

Grief may be a thing we all have in common but it looks different on everyone. It isn’t just death we have to grieve. It’s life, it’s loss, it’s change. And when we wonder why it has to suck so much sometimes, it has to hurt so bad. The thing we gotta try to remember is that it can turn on a dime. That’s how you stay alive when it hurts so much you can’t breathe. That’s how you survive. By remembering that one day, somehow, impossibly, it won’t feel this way. It wont hurt this much. Grief comes in it’s own time for everyone in it’s own way. So the best we can do, the best anyone can do, is try for honesty. The really crappy thing, the very worst part of grief is that you can’t control it. The best we can do is try to let ourselves feel it when it comes and let it go when we can. The very worst part is that the minute you think you’re past it, it starts all over again and always, every time, it takes your breath away.

According to Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, when we are dying or have suffered a catastrophic loss, we all move through five distinctive stages of grief. We go into denial because the loss is so unthinkable, we can’t imagine it’s true. We become angry with everyone. We become angry with survivors, angry with ourselves. Then we bargain, we beg, we plead. We offer everything we have. We offer up our souls in exchange for just one more day. When the bargaining has failed and the anger is too hard to maintain, we fall into depression, despair. Until finally we have to accept that we have done everything we can. We let go. We let go and move into acceptance." 
- “Grey’s Anatomy”

"11 Things Everyone Needs You to Know"

"11 Things Everyone Needs You to Know"
by Marc

"A silhouette of a human being stands before you. Perhaps an old friend. Perhaps a neighbor.  Perhaps a perfect stranger, like me. Here are 11 things we all need you to keep in mind…

1. You never really know how much the people around you are hurting. You could be standing next to someone who is completely broken inside and you wouldn’t even know it. So never deprive someone of hope; it might be all they have. And remember that there are two ways to spread light in this world: You can either be a flame of hope, or a mirror that reflects it. Be one of the two every chance you get. 
 
2. The most important trip you will likely take in life is meeting others half way. You will achieve far more by working with people, rather than against them. Giving someone else a voice, and showing them that their ideas matter, will have a long-lasting, positive impact on the both of you.

3. Relationships don’t create happiness, they reflect it. Happiness is an inside job. Relationships are simply the mirrors of your happiness; they reflect it and help you celebrate it. They are mirrors because they are a perfect reflection of your thoughts and beliefs. To reflect means to encourage you when you feel weak and challenge you when you feel strong, thereby returning you to your center. And to celebrate is to share the natural ease and joy of living from your center – of living in the now with clarity.

4. Compassion comes back around. The son who tends to his chronically ill mother, ignoring his own exhaustion; the neighbor who gives a helping hand, even as his own needs go unanswered; the one who donates a couple dollars to someone in need, even if she has to break her last five dollar bill to do it. Maybe you don’t hear the names of these unsung heroes in the news, but surely the universe hears their names and treats them accordingly.

5. Timing is everything. There is a time for silence, a time to let go and allow your friends to launch themselves into their own destiny, and a time to cheer for their victories, or help them pick up the pieces, when it’s all over. 
 
6. Actions are the loudest form of communication. What you do speaks so loud that others will have a hard time hearing what you say. So practice what you preach or don’t preach at all – walk the talk. And remember that there is often a major gap between what someone says and what they do. Characterize people by their actions and you will never be fooled by their words.

7. A healthy relationship keeps the doors and windows open. Plenty of air is circulating and no one feels trapped. Relationships thrive in this environment. Keep your doors and windows open. If a person is meant to be in your life, all the open doors and windows in the world won’t make them leave.

8. People are more what they keep silent than what they say. Pay attention to their quiet gestures.  If you cannot understand someone’s silence, you will have a hard time understanding their words. 
 
9. What others say and do is often based entirely on their own self-reflection. When you have people speaking to you who are angry and upset, and you nevertheless remain very present and continue to treat them with kindness and respect, you place yourself in a position of great power  You become a means for the situation to be graciously diffused and healed. A Zen teacher once said, “When somebody backs themselves into a corner, look the other way until they get themselves out; and then act as though it never happened.” Allowing people to save face in this way, and not reminding them of what they already know is not their most intelligent behavior, is an act of great kindness. This is possible when we realize that people behave in such ways because they are in a place of great suffering. People react to their own thoughts and feelings and their behavior often has nothing directly to do with you.

10. Sincerity is giving without expectation. Good character and true friendship is all about how a person nurtures another person who is vulnerable and can give nothing in return. So when you have been through tough times and come out the other side, look around you. The people still standing beside you are your true friends.

11. Not every relationship is meant to last forever. Some people aren’t meant to stay in your life. Some people are just passing through to bring you something – perhaps a lesson you need to learn, or memory that makes you smile years later. When the time comes, it’s okay to let go and move on with your life."

"How We Go Through Life..."

"It's extraordinary how we go through life with eyes half shut, with dull ears, with
dormant thoughts. Perhaps it's just as well; and it may be that it is this very 
dullness that makes life to the incalculable majority so supportable and so welcome."
   - Joseph Conrad, "Lord Jim"