Monday, July 24, 2017

X22 Report, “The Corporate News Propaganda Is Masking What's Really Going On”

X22 Report, “The Corporate News Propaganda Is Masking What's Really Going On”
Related followup report:
X22 Report, “Countries Are Ramping Up On Gold Purchases As The Dollar Takes A Dive”

Musical Interlude: Adiemus, “In Caelum Fero”

Adiemus, “In Caelum Fero”

"A Look to the Heavens"

“The Sleeping Beauty galaxy may appear peaceful at first sight but it is actually tossing and turning. In an unexpected twist, recent observations have shown that the gas in the outer regions of this photogenic spiral is rotating in the opposite direction from all of the stars! Collisions between gas in the inner and outer regions are creating many hot blue stars and pink emission nebula. 
Click image for larger size.
The above image was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2001 and released in 2004. The fascinating internal motions of M64, also cataloged as NGC 4826, are thought to be the result of a collision between a small galaxy and a large galaxy where the resultant mix has not yet settled down. “

"Consider The Following..."

"Consider the following. We humans are social beings. We come into the world as the result of others' actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others' activities. For this reason it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others.

Nor is it so remarkable that our greatest joy should come when we are motivated by concern for others. But that is not all. We find that not only do altruistic actions bring about happiness but they also lessen our experience of suffering. Here I am not suggesting that the individual whose actions are motivated by the wish to bring others' happiness necessarily meets with less misfortune than the one who does not. Sickness, old age, mishaps of one sort or another are the same for us all. But the sufferings which undermine our internal peace- anxiety, doubt, disappointment- these things are definitely less. In our concern for others, we worry less about ourselves. When we worry less about ourselves an experience of our own suffering is less intense.

What does this tell us? Firstly, because our every action has a universal dimension, a potential impact on others' happiness, ethics are necessary as a means to ensure that we do not harm others. Secondly, it tells us that genuine happiness consists in those spiritual qualities of love, compassion, patience, tolerance and forgiveness and so on. For it is these which provide both for our happiness and others' happiness. A good motivation is what is needed: compassion without dogmatism, without complicated philosophy; just understanding that others are human brothers and sisters and respecting their human rights and dignities. That we humans can help each other is one of our unique human capacities"
- Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

"The Predator of Man"

"The Predator of Man"
 by Carlos Castaneda

“’Predators Mind.’ This is the Castaneda term for that which aligns man with the thought center of service to self. In “Active Side of Infinity,” Don Juan tells Castaneda of the Earth being invaded in the mists of time by creatures of condensed darkness, the so-called Flyers which use man as food. The key idea as that these cosmic predators gave man their own mind. This is reasonable in light of much other material. At the human level, a system based on exploitation and consuming and control is seen to shape people in its own image: The slave tends to dream of becoming a master rather than of abolishing slavery. Any organization based on dominance naturally takes the form of a pyramid with few at the top and most at the bottom. For man to be the bottom or in some cases intermediate level of such a system, man must have the attributes of the dominators, only at a reduced scale.

Castaneda's writings in large part deal with ways of claiming one's own in terms of energy and free will from such a system. The battle is in large part internal. One must unmask and stand up to one's internal predator first. Otherwise one's external actions, even if well motivated, take place in the paradigm and mode of the predator. The internal predator can be extremely subtle. Still, it has some general recognizable characteristics: Castaneda puts it as follows:
"The Predator of Man"

"Ah, that's the universe at large,' he said, 'incommensurable, nonlinear, outside the realm of syntax. The sorcerers of ancient Mexico were the first ones to see those fleeting shadows, so they followed them around. They saw them as you're seeing them, and they saw them as energy that flows in the universe. And they did discover something transcendental. They discovered that we have a companion for life...
We have a predator that came from the depths of the cosmos and took over the rule of our lives. Human beings are its prisoners. The predator is our lord and master. It has rendered us docile, helpless. If we want to protest, it suppresses our protest. If we want to act independently, it demands that we don't do so. You have arrived, by your effort alone, to what the shamans of ancient Mexico called the topic of topics. I have been beating around the bush all this time, insinuating to you that something is holding us prisoner. Indeed we are held prisoner! This was an energetic fact for the sorcerers of ancient Mexico.'

'Why has this predator taken over in the fashion that you're describing, don Juan?' I asked. 'There must be a logical explanation.'

'There is an explanation,' don Juan replied, 'which is the simplest explanation in the world. They took over because we are food for them, and they squeeze us mercilessly because we are their sustenance. Just as we rear chickens in chicken coops, the predators rear us in human coops. Therefore, their food is always available to them.'
I felt that my head was shaking violently from side to side. I could not express my profound sense of unease and discontentment, but my body moved to bring it to the surface. I shook from head to toe without any volition on my part. 'No, no, no, no,' I heard myself saying. 'This is absurd, don Juan. What you're saying is something monstrous. It simply can't be true, for sorcerers or for average men, or for anyone.'

'Why not?' don Juan asked calmly. 'Why not? Because it infuriates you?' 'Yes, it infuriates me,' I retorted. 'Those claims are monstrous!'

'I want to appeal to your analytical mind, ' don Juan said. 'Think for a moment, and tell me how you would explain the contradiction between the intelligence of man the engineer and the stupidity of his systems of beliefs, or the stupidity of his contradictory behavior. Sorcerers believe that the predators have given us our systems of beliefs, our ideas of good and evil, our social mores. They are the ones who set up our hopes and expectations and dreams of success or failure. They have given us covetousness, greed and cowardice. It is the predators who make us complacent, routinary, and egomaniacal.'

'But how can they do this, don Juan?' I asked, somehow angered further by what he was saying. 'Do they whisper all that in our ears while we are asleep?'

'No, they don't do it that way. That's idiotic!' don Juan said, smiling. 'They are infinitely more efficient and organized than that. In order to keep us obedient and meek and weak, the predators engaged themselves in a stupendous maneuver - stupendous, of course, from the point of view of a fighting strategist. A horrendous maneuver from the point of view of those who suffer it. They gave us their mind! Do you hear me? The predators give us their mind, which becomes our mind. The predators' mind is baroque, contradictory, morose, filled with the fear of being discovered any minute now.'

Don Juan continues: 'I know that even though you have never suffered hunger... you have food anxiety, which is none other than the anxiety of the predator who fears that any moment now its maneuver is going to be uncovered and food is going to be denied. Through the mind, which, after all, is their mind, the predators inject into the lives of human beings whatever is convenient for them. And they ensure, in this manner, a degree of security to act as a buffer against their fear.

The sorcerers of ancient Mexico were quite ill at ease with the idea of when [the predator] made its appearance on Earth. They reasoned that man must have been a complete being at one point, with stupendous insights, feats of awareness that are mythological legends nowadays. And then, everything seems to disappear, and we have now a sedated man. What I'm saying is that what we have against us is not a simple predator. It is very smart, and organized. It follows a methodical system to render us useless. Man, the magical being that he is destined to be, is no longer magical. He's an average piece of meat. There are no more dreams for man but the dreams of an animal who is being raised to become a piece of meat: trite, conventional, imbecilic."

"Hold Fast To Dreams..."

Paulo Coelho, “Convention For Those Wounded In Love”

“Convention For Those Wounded In Love”
by Paulo Coelho

“General Provisions:

A – Whereas the saying “all is fair in love and war” is absolutely correct;

B – Whereas for war we have the Geneva Convention, approved on 22 August 1864, which provides for those wounded in the battlefield, but until now no convention has been signed concerning those wounded in love, who are far greater in number;

It is hereby decreed that:

Article 1 – All lovers, of any sex, are alerted that love, besides being a blessing, is also something extremely dangerous, unpredictable and capable of causing serious damage. Consequently, anyone planning to love should be aware that they are exposing their body and soul to various types of wounds, and that they shall not be able to blame their partner at any moment, since the risk is the same for both.

Article 2 – Once struck by a stray arrow fired from Cupid’s bow, they should immediately ask the archer to shoot the same arrow in the opposite direction, so as not to be afflicted by the wound known as “unrequited love”. Should Cupid refuse to perform such a gesture, the Convention now being promulgated demands that the wounded partner remove the arrow from his/her heart and throw it in the garbage. In order to guarantee this, those concerned should avoid telephone calls, messages over the Internet, sending flowers that are always returned, or each and every means of seduction, since these may yield results in the short run but always end up wrong after a while. The Convention decrees that the wounded person should immediately seek the company of other people and try to control the obsessive thought: “this person is worth fighting for”.

Article 3 – If the wound is caused by third parties, in other words if the loved one has become interested in someone not in the script previously drafted, vengeance is expressly forbidden. In this case, it is allowed to use tears until the eyes dry up, to punch walls or pillows, to insult the ex-partner in conversations with friends, to allege his/her complete lack of taste, but without offending their honor. The Convention determines that the rule contained in Article 2 be applied: seek the company of other persons, preferably in places different from those frequented by the other party.

Article 4 – In the case of light wounds, herein classified as small treacheries, fulminating passions that are short-lived, passing sexual disinterest, the medicine called Pardon should be applied generously and quickly. Once this medicine has been applied, one should never reconsider one’s decision, not even once, and the theme must be completely forgotten and never used as an argument in a fight or in a moment of hatred.

Article 5 – In all definitive wounds, also known as “breaking up”, the only medicine capable of having an effect is called Time. It is no use seeking consolation from fortune-tellers (who always say that the lost lover will return), romantic books (which always have a happy ending), soap-operas on the television or other such things. One should suffer intensely, completely avoiding drugs, tranquilizers and praying to saints. Alcohol is only tolerated if kept to a maximum of two glasses of wine a day.

Final determination: Those wounded in love, unlike those wounded in armed conflict, are neither victims nor torturers. They chose something that is part of life, and so they have to accept both the agony and the ecstasy of their choice. And those who have never been wounded in love will never be able to say: “I have lived”. Because they haven’t.”

"The Real Damage..."

"The real damage is done by those millions who want to ‘survive.’ The honest men who just want to be left in peace. Those who don’t want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves. Those with no sides and no causes. Those who won’t take measure of their own strength, for fear of antagonizing their own weakness. Those who don’t like to make waves - or enemies. Those for whom freedom, honor, truth, and principles are only literature. Those who live small, mate small, die small. It’s the reductionist approach to life: if you keep it small, you’ll keep it under control. If you don’t make any noise, the bogeyman won’t find you. But it’s all an illusion, because they die too, those people who roll up their spirits into tiny little balls so as to be safe. Safe?! From what? Life is always on the edge of death; narrow streets lead to the same place as wide avenues, and a little candle burns itself out just like a flaming torch does. I choose my own way to burn.”
- Sophie Scholl

“I’m tired of living with cowards, I want to live with lions.”
- Rumi

Musical Interlude: Yanni, “World Dance”

Yanni, “World Dance”

The Daily "Near You?"

Butterworth, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia. Thanks for stopping by!


"There is much asked and only so much I think I can or should answer, and so, in this post I would like to give a few thoughts on what seemed to be the overwhelming question: "WHY?" And here is the best answer I can give: Because. Because sometimes, life is damned unfair. Because sometimes, we lose people we love and it hurts deeply. Because sometimes there aren't really answers to our questions except for what we discover, the meaning we assign them over time. Because acceptance is yet another of life's "here's a side of hurt" lessons and it is never truly acceptance unless it has cost us something to arrive there. Why, you ask? Because, I answer. Inadequate yet true."
- Libba Bray

"The Economic Collapse Began Long Ago"

"The Economic Collapse Began Long Ago"
by Gerold

"My forty-year old Godson was belly-aching about the lack of jobs. He whined it’s all the Boomers’ fault. I tore a few strips off him. I asked him WTF am I wasting my time researching and writing these articles if he doesn’t read them. Since I had him cornered, I told him a few things he obviously didn’t want to hear.

We are in an economic depression. It was predicted in Strauss and Howe’s 1997 book “The Fourth Turning” [Link] that occurs every four generations as a time of great turmoil. Their Generational Theory is a framework which explains where we are, how we got here and where we’re going. For more details see ‘Notes” at end.

This is a ‘Stealth Depression.’ The government is doing its utmost to hide it with fake statistics. Their ass-media handmaidens are carrying their water telling us everything is wonderful. And, if my Godson believes the ass-media, he deserves his fate.

At the bottom of it all are fake inflation (CPI) statistics. They distort everything else because most economic data is ‘inflation adjusted.’ Consequently, when other economic data such as GDP growth is adjusted with fake inflation statistics, then those numbers are also distorted.

Note: there’s a difference between inflation (increased money supply) and Consumer Price Index (CPI), but I used the terms interchangeably to make it easier for my Godson to understand.

Anyone who buys stuff or reads John Williams Shadow Stats [Link] knows that the actual inflation rate in 2017 is roughly 5% and NOT the bullshit 2% (or less) that the government claims. I say “roughly” because I rounded the numbers to make it easier for him to understand. I wish I could have shown him the ShadowStats graph below.
Consequently, every so-called 2017 statistic that’s “inflation-adjusted” is off by 3%. (Hint: 2 – 5 = -3)

The government claims that (inflation adjusted) 2017 GDP growth is roughly 2%. Since it’s understated by 3%, it means the economy is “growing” at negative 1%. In other words, the economy is SHRINKING by 1%. And, that’s only this year.

Looking at the chart again, you’ll see that since 2001, the real inflation rate (the blue line based on non-manipulated methodology) bounced between 2% and 9%. This means the government’s bullshit inflation rate was understated between 0% and 7%. The ‘mean’ (roughly average) overstatement is roughly 3% to 5% since 2001.

The “magic of compounding interest” is often called the eighth wonder of the world. If you earn a small percentage every year and keep reinvesting your earnings, the growth rate eventually goes exponential. And the sooner you start, the more you make. I wish I could have shown him the chart below that shows the difference ten years can make.
Emily (the blue line) started investing ten years before David. Emily makes a shitload more than David. That’s the magic of compounding interest.

The trouble is; it works in reverse, too. If the economy shrinks ‘only’ a couple of percent every year before too long the economic decline also goes exponential. The economy has been shrinking roughly 3% to 5% for the last sixteen years. Because of the magic of compounding interest, the economy is less than HALF what it once was when you factor in the REAL rate of inflation. More people, less than half the pie.

Now, do you see why everything’s gone to hell? Now, do you see why so many people are out of work, or if they do have jobs, why they cannot make ends meet? Even good jobs pay half what they once did. Lousy jobs pay even less. Bullshit inflation statistics hide the real decline.

Anyone waiting for “The Collapse” can stop waiting; it began years ago and will continue for a long time. There’ll be shocks and lurches along the way. The U.S. dollar will strengthen as the Euro declines and capital flees into the dollar. Cash will be banned starting with large denomination bills; it already has been in India. Years ago, Satyajit Das admitted they can’t stop the collapse; all they can do is try to engineer a soft landing.

And, never mind the ‘nominal’ pay (dollar amount) of wages. Purchasing power is declining and the Middle Class is slowly dying. Dollars are worth less every year. Zimbabwe was a perfect, if extreme, example. They were printing trillion dollar bills that couldn’t buy a loaf of bread. Everyone was a trillionaire, yet everyone was starving.

Too Much Debt: Never in history has there been so much debt worldwide; household debt, corporate debt and government debt. The graph below is consumer (household) debt.
Click image for larger size.
The graph below is corporate debt. Notice the small box showing how little corporate debt declined during the ‘Great Financial Crisis” of ’08. Now imagine what happens when the idiots at the Fed and other central banks increase interest rates and all this debt becomes more expensive to service? More on that later.
Click image for larger size.
Money is based on nothing tangible. Money is now created with debt, and they need more debt to pay the interest on the bonds that created this debt/credit/money in the first place. We’ve reached a point where there isn’t even enough money in existence to pay the interest let alone touch the principle. Consequently, everything is slowly turning to crap.

Once you understand this, many things fall into place:

Factory orders fell to where they were a decade ago [Link] Inventories (especially autos) are rising. Credit spreads can’t get much lower. The U.S. dollar is on the decline, yet commodity prices are unchanged which means they’re deflating when adjusted for the REAL inflation rate. The U.S. corporate tax rate is among the highest of industrialized nations. Some production is returning to the U.S., but it’s performed by robots.

Stock markets give the illusion of recovery, but there are fewer retail investors. In addition to the Federal Reserve-Treasury Ponzi scheme, the corporate sector has been the primary buyer of their own stocks (“buy-backs”) since the Crash of ’08 as companies take advantage of ultra-low interest rates.

Demographics is Destiny: Few people appreciate the power of demographics which is the study and analysis of population dynamics over time or space. North America has a cohort of 80 million boomers, the first of who are turning 70 this year. Millions of boomers will do so every year for the next 15 years. Many will live to age 85 or longer.

The power of this demographic is seen in the two charts below. The first one shows the U.S. population aged 70+. The second shows their share of the overall population.
Click image for larger size.
The graphs above show where we are today and, most important, where we are going.

Other than government employees, few people have a defined benefit pension plan. Most boomers have less than $100,000 in retirement savings. Given today’s low interest rates, bonds don’t pay much and even Blue Chip stock dividends are only slightly higher. Consequently, aggregate growth in incomes will decelerate and pose additional deflationary pressure on the economy.

Those who can retire will have a lot of time on their hands. They’ll spend money on experiences such as travel, tourism and restaurants, but a lot less on clothing, durables and housing. Demographics is indeed destiny. [Link]

Boomers are retiring and spending less, but younger generations are not picking up the slack. Malls are empty or closing. Stores are going bankrupt at an unprecedented rate. It’s not all because of online shopping because online shopping has not increased as much as the decrease in bricks & mortar [Link] Few people have money except the 0.1%. As George Carlin used to say “It’s a big club and you ain’t in it.”

Oil prices are plunging not because of the over-supply governments and the ass media want us to believe, but because of lack of demand. We’re in a Stealth Depression. Fewer people have money to buy gas or jobs to drive to.

Aging Work Force: Another indicator of this Stealth Depression is the aging Amerikan work force. Look at the Labor Force Participation Rate in the chart below. The greatest increase in jobs is aged 65 and older (brown line.) The biggest decline is in the youngest cohort (blue line.)
Click image for larger size.
Many Boomers can no longer afford to retire. The last two recessions (shaded gray) and the stock market crash in ’08 devastated their retirement plans. And, many who did retire have returned to work to make ends meet. I understand my Godson’s complaint; his cohort’s employment is down since 2000. However, every age group is screwed. The oldsters want to retire, but can’t and the youngsters can’t find decent jobs. Welcome to the Stealth Depression.

Fake Jobs: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) employment numbers are as fake as the so-called inflation rate. Mish reported  “that 67 percent of non-employed younger men lived with a parent or close relative in 2015, compared to 46 percent in 2000.” He says what the statistics miss are “masses of people on welfare via fraudulent disabilities, people in school wasting money in dead-end retraining exercises, people who have simply given up looking for a job…” The unemployed who have abandoned job searching are classified as “discouraged workers” and excluded from the unemployment statistics. Fake everything masks the Stealth Depression.

Adding insult to injury, the idiots at the Fed believe the government’s fake labor statistics and are using them to justify interest rate hikes discussed below. More below.

Central Bank Idiocy: The Fed and other central banks worldwide are neo-Keynesian idiots worshiping at the altar of neoclassical economics. They completely ignore the impact of debt. Their track record for explaining, predicting and controlling economies is a series of utter failures, yet they continue singing from the same song sheet. The Overton Window [Link] explains this herd mentality. Nassim Taleb uses the term “intellectuals-yet-idiots.” The collapse of Argentina, Greece, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe are their most recent catastrophes, and they won’t be their last.

The most powerful of the central banks is the U.S. Federal Reserve (the “Fed”) which manages monetary policy through interest rate manipulation that ultimately affects the global economy. They operate on the principle that the U.S. economy booms when they lower interest rates and increase the money supply. Conversely, the economy shrinks when they raise rates and reduce the money supply.

Being idiots, they repeated their mistake reacting to the international financial crisis in 1931. More oops! And, then they failed to act as a “lender of last resort” during the subsequent banking panics. Still more oops!

President Richard Nixon “closed the gold window” in 1971. This cancellation of convertibility of the U.S. dollar into gold increased inflation prompting the Fed to raise interest rates to combat the falling dollar. The result was a major recession inducing the Fed to lower rates. More see-sawing of rates caused a series of recessions from 1980 to the Great Recession of 2008. Lots more oops!

And, now the Fed, deluded by the government’s fake economic statistics is raising interest rates so they can lower them when the next Fed-induced recession hits. Once again, the government is the problem disguised as a solution. Economic growth is fake. Bill Bonner says, “Fake money produces fake prosperity. Take away the fake money… and the fake prosperity goes ‘poof,’ too.”

We’re in a Depression. Technically we did, but fundamentally we never recovered from the Great Recession of ’08, so raising rates will kill the zombie economy and induce another recession that will make the last one look like a walk in the park. The only question is “when?”

Being idiots, they either do the wrong thing or, if they do the right thing, they do it at the wrong time or too late or too long. The length, depth, and global consequences of the Great Depression of the 1930s were primarily caused by the Fed’s ineptitude.  Trying to minimize stock market speculation, they raised interest rates in 1928 and 1929. The stock market crashed, and the slowing U.S. economy triggered recessions worldwide. Oops!

Increased Risks Create Black Swans: Confidence is the glue holding our financial world together. Uncertainty undermines confidence and increases risk. Many Black Swans  are circling overhead ready to trigger a sh*t-storm:

 The recent failure of Republicans repealing Obamacare.
 Trump’s promised tax reforms unsupported by the Republicans.
 The Deep State’s war Trump.
 Further Fed rate hikes.
 Political theater raising the U.S. debt ceiling before the October deadline.
 Risk of a credit default cycle. We’re in the terminal phase of debt creation.
 The Tech bubble was $15 trillion. U.S. housing bubble was $30 trillion. Current bond bubble $100 trillion. Current derivative bubble $550 to $1,500 trillion. Bubbles burst. The numbers are going exponential.
 The VIX (“fear index”) at historic lows means unprecedented stock market complacency.
 The ass-media’s never-ending Trump Derangement Syndrome.
 Record number of Amerikans disapprove of both parties. [Link]
 North Korea is playing a dangerous ICBM game.
 Increased pressure on China to rein-in North Korea.
 Chinese presence on artificial islands in the South China Sea and a container ship mysteriously ramming the Amerikan destroyer USS Fitzgerald.
 The Neocons continue pushing for a war with Russia.
 Globally, we’re in the biggest financial bubble the world has ever seen.
 Interest rates will rise uncontrollably and increase borrowing costs when bond vigilantes overwhelm government monetizers.
 Rapefugees over-running and destabilizing Europe.
 Resource-rich trading partners like Canada and Australia won’t be spared from the next down-turn by Chinese demand like they were during the ’08 – ’09 recession. Their banks are being down-graded, yield-curves flattening, defaults increasing and real-estate in unprecedented bubbles.
 The Anglo-Amerikan empire’s destabilizing wars in the Middle East including Syria are now in the sixteenth year.
 Most of Amerika’s public pension systems are insolvent with Illinois at the epicenter.

We cannot rely on history for forecasting the outcome of all these risks. Right now, many of us are blinded by Normalcy Bias [Link] and see this as just Chicken Little “doom & gloom”. However, the sh*t will continue to hit the fan.

What Can You Do?
 Spend less than you make. Start by cutting non-essentials.
 stop spending money you don’t have to buy sh*t you don’t need to impress people you don’t like.
 Get out of debt.
 Stay out of debt.
 If you plan to sell your house in the future, do it NOW before the bubble bursts. It’s better to be a year too early than a month too late.
 Rent (I do.) Over-priced real estate is a bottomless money pit, a time-waster and a tax cow (property taxes only go up, never down.)You’ll have a deteriorating pressboard shack when the mortgage is finally paid. Wait for the bubble to burst if you insist on buying into the house hoax to satisfy the Missus’ misguided sense of security.
 Keep only enough money in the bank for bill payments to avoid Bail-ins.
 Keep several months’ cash on hand for expenses, but be prepared to abandon this strategy when they ban cash.
 Cryptocurrencies are a risky and volatile strategy. Again, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. They can be hacked, or banned by the government.
 By 1 oz. gold coins (not bars) from reputable dealers if you’re rich, silver if you’re not.
 Stockpile durable essentials like toilet paper, garbage bags, soap, etc., etc.
 Learn to shoot and safe gun-handling.
 Guns & ammo.
 Stop eating junk food and exercise more because you need to stay healthy.
 If you’re wealthy, apply the Jim Sinclair GOTS checklist. [Link]
 Invest in yourself and your skills.
 Start now if you haven’t already because time is getting short.

Afterward: My Godson found another job. It’s a step down from his last one which was a step down from the previous one, but at least it’s a job. The ingrate should be thankful he has a job. Any job! More than 20% of eligible workers don’t.

Welcome to the Stealth Depression of the Fourth Turning. When it ends, no one knows, but when it does I guarantee it’ll be unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

Remember the mantra:
We cannot borrow our way out of debt.
We cannot spend our way to prosperity.
We cannot pretend our way out of trouble.
They keep trying, but ultimately, they’ll fail."

"Not Much Mental Distance..."

“A man who has blown all his options can't afford the luxury of changing his ways. He has to capitalize on whatever he has left, and he can't afford to admit - no matter how often he's reminded of it - that every day of his life takes him farther and farther down a blind alley. Very few toads in this world are Prince Charmings in disguise. Most are simply toads, and they are going to stay that way. Toads don't make laws or change any basic structures, but one or two rooty insights can work powerful changes in the way they get through life. A toad who believes he got a raw deal before he even knew who was dealing will usually be sympathetic to the mean, vindictive ignorance that colors the Hell's Angels' view of humanity. There is not much mental distance between a feeling of having been screwed and the ethic of total retaliation, or at least the random revenge that comes with outraging the public decency.”
- Hunter S. Thompson

"America 2017 = France 1789”

"America 2017 = France 1789”
by James Howard Kunstler 

"We are looking more and more like France on the eve of its revolution in 1789. Our classes are distributed differently, but the inequity is just as sharp. America’s “aristocracy,” once based strictly on bank accounts, acts increasingly hereditary as the vapid offspring and relations of “stars” (in politics, showbiz, business, and the arts) assert their prerogatives to fame, power, and riches - think the voters didn’t grok the sinister import of Hillary’s “it’s my turn” message?

What’s especially striking in similarity to the court of the Bourbons is the utter cluelessness of America’s entitled power elite to the agony of the moiling masses below them and mainly away from the coastal cities. Just about everything meaningful has been taken away from them, even though many of the material trappings of existence remain: a roof, stuff that resembles food, cars, and screens of various sizes.

But the places they are supposed to call home are either wrecked - the original small towns and cities of America - or replaced by new “developments” so devoid of artistry, history, thought, care, and charm that they don’t add up to communities, and are so obviously unworthy of affection, that the very idea of “home” becomes a cruel joke.

These places were bad enough in the 1960s and 70s, when the people who lived in them at least were able to report to paying jobs assembling products and managing their distribution. Now those people don’t have that to give a little meaning to their existence, or cover the costs of it. Public space was never designed into the automobile suburbs, and the sad remnants of it were replaced by ersatz substitutes, like the now-dying malls. Everything else of a public and human associational nature has been shoved into some kind of computerized box with a screen on it.

The floundering non-elite masses have not learned the harsh lesson of our time that the virtual is not an adequate substitute for the authentic, while the elites who create all this vicious crap spend millions to consort face-to-face in the Hamptons and Martha’s Vineyard telling each other how wonderful they are for providing all the artificial social programming and glitzy hardware for their paying customers.

The effect of this dynamic relationship so far has been powerfully soporific. You can deprive people of a true home for a while, and give them virtual friends on TV to project their emotions onto, and arrange to give them cars via some financing scam or other to keep them moving mindlessly around an utterly desecrated landscape under the false impression that they’re going somewhere - but we’re now at the point where ordinary people can’t even carry the costs of keeping themselves hostage to these degrading conditions.

The next big entertainment for them will be the financial implosion of the elites themselves as the governing forces of physics finally overcome all the ruses and stratagems of the elites who have been playing games with money. Professional observers never tire of saying that the government can’t run out of money (because they can always print more of it) but they can certainly destroy the value of that money and shred the consensual confidence that allows it to operate as money.

That’s exactly what is about to commence at the end of the summer when the government runs out of cash-on-hand and congress finds itself utterly paralyzed by party animus to patch the debt ceiling problem that disables new borrowing. The elites may be home from the Hamptons and the Vineyard by then, but summers may never be the same for them again.

The Deep State may win its war against the pathetic President Trump, but it won’t win any war against the imperatives of the universe and the way that expresses itself in the true valuation of things. And when the moment of clarification arrives - the instant of cosmic price discovery - the clueless elites will have to really and truly worry about the value of their heads.”
Madame Defarge, where are you now that we need you?

“How ‘Confident’ are Intelligence Agencies that Russia Interfered with the Election?”

“How ‘Confident’ are Intelligence Agencies 
that Russia Interfered with the Election?”
by Scott Adams

"Remember when all seventeen intelligence agencies agreed that Russia interfered with our elections?Turns out it was only four. Do you know how you get four agencies to agree on something of this nature? It’s easy. One publishes an opinion and the other three loyal agencies assume it is credible, so they support it. Do they all do independent investigations? I kinda doubt it.

Based on my experience on this planet, probably one intelligence agency out of seventeen investigated and told the others they did a great job of it. Still, you can’t ignore even one intelligence agency that did an investigation and is totally positive Russian interfered with the election. That’s still credible information.

Wait, did I say “totally positive”? Here’s a quote from CIA Director Mike Pompeo from this past week: "I am confident that the Russians meddled in this election, as is the entire intelligence community.“  Is confident the same as totally positive? And are “the Russians” the same as Putin?

Personally, I use the word “confident” when I’m not 100% sure, when I think the evidence all points one way. Coincidentally, that is exactly what confirmation bias looks like too – all the signs point in the same direction. They just happen to be false signs. And it seems to me that a good non-Russian hacker could make a hack look like it came from anywhere. A related thought is that real Russian government hackers wouldn’t have gotten caught. But that might underestimate our capacity to track this sort of thing.

But wait, if we can track this sort of thing and know who did it, using our secret methods, doesn’t that mean we are 100% positive? That’s different than being confident. A few months ago, seventeen intelligence agencies knew for sure that the Russian government interfered in the election. Today, I’m guessing just one of them looked at the information in any detail. And we don’t know how well they can identify this sort of thing. They won’t tell us. For good reasons.

The intel agencies (or agency) didn’t convince the President of the United States that Russia interfered with the election, and the president would have access to all of the secret spy methods to convince himself they really know what they know. It is entirely possible that our intelligence agencies know Russia interfered with our elections. But they packaged it exactly like a bunch of lying weasels who are simply hoping they are right. I hope that’s just bad brand management and nothing worse.”
Uh huh...

"How It Really Is"

"We Like To Think..."

“We like to think we are rational beings, humane, with consciences, civilized, thoughtful, but when things fall apart even just a little, we’re no better than animals. We have opposable thumbs, we think, we walk erect, we speak, we dream, but deep down we’re all just rooting around in the primordial ooze, biting, clawing, scratching out an existence in the cold dark world like the rest of the tree toads and sloths. 

There’s a little animal in all of us and maybe that is something to celebrate. Our animal instinct is what makes us seek comfort, warmth, a pack to run with. We may feel caged, we may feel trapped, but still as humans we can find ways to feel free. We are each others keepers. We are the guardians of our own humanity and even though there is a beast inside all of us, what sets us apart from the animals is that we think, dream, feel, and love, and against all odds, against all instinct we evolve.”
- “Meredith Grey” , "Grey's Anatomy"

“Wise People Have Rules For Themselves”

“Wise People Have Rules For Themselves”
by David Cain 

"Every time I post a new behavioral experiment, or share a personal resolution of some kind, I get a few emails telling me not to be so strict with myself. They always say something like “It’s not good to be so hard on yourself!” or “We shouldn’t be forcing ourselves to do things!”

This is a common thing to hear in our improvement-focused culture. I used to think it was a reasonable caution, but now I think it’s generally bad advice.

It seems well-meaning in most cases - people sometimes do go overboard with exercise, frugality, and personal efficiency. But I think it’s much more common for people to go under-board in some or all of those areas, and you can bet the person giving you a hard time is one of them.

We often hear about the importance of “balance” in our self-improvement efforts. But what exactly are we balancing? Good behaviors and bad ones? Are we looking for lives that are equal parts wisdom and recklessness? Can you imagine someone saying “I don’t think we should force ourselves to brush our teeth every day. You have to live a little!”

You might have noticed a pattern in the most successful people around you. Wherever they excel, they tend to have personal rules that they take very seriously.  Financially effective people tend to hold themselves to certain rules about money. I don’t borrow money for anything smaller than a house. I ledger every dollar in or out. I live on 80% of my income and invest the difference.

Fit, energetic people tend to have personal rules about health. I run or walk every day, rain or shine. I fill half my plate with vegetables. I don’t keep junk food in the house.

Productive people keep personal rules about work. I’m always at my desk at seven sharp. I clean out my inbox out every Friday. I don’t use social media before five o’clock.

These uncommonly capable people have figured out something that should be obvious: your quality of life improves when you set clear standards for how you live. You gravitate back towards “so-so” in any area where your standards are unclear. It works - both ways - like magic.

Equally predictable is the resistance you will face from others whenever you do set standards for yourself that deviate from the norm. Quit eating meat, and people will try to get you to eat meat. Start going to bed at ten, and someone will try to get you to stay up later. Quit drinking, and someone will buy you a shot. Work out regularly, and someone will say you’re being “obsessive”.

This notion that personal rules constitute “forcing yourself” is just a way of dismissing self-discipline as a possibility, for oneself or others. Brushing your teeth every day doesn’t require any sort of forcing or obsessing, just dental hygiene standards you consider non-negotiable.

Again, consider the absurdity of it: “I don’t think we should force ourselves to live within our means. No way I’m going to be so strict with myself. I wanna enjoy my life, man!” Nobody quite says that, but in many circles it’s normal to live that way.

Why so much contempt for personal rules? Part of it is probably a kind of tall poppy syndrome. If we can convince others that their attempts to improve themselves are vain or joyless, we can feel safer about our own trajectories. There are probably deeper reasons though. We fear the prospect of losing any of our freedom, and we tend to think of rules as devices that only constrain. To say “I’m no longer going to let myself do X” can feel like we’re trading enjoyment and freedom for some drab moral aspiration like purity or perfection.

We’ve all experienced the pain of living under unfair or unsympathetic rules, especially the ones imposed on us as children by teachers and grownups. Having our freedom curtailed, often for reasons we don’t understand or didn’t agree to, is painful. But setting rules for yourself is completely different. Freedom is the whole point. Who’s more free? The person determined to live on significantly less than their means, no matter what, or the person who shops like a “free spirit?”

Self-imposed rules aren’t constraints, they’re good decisions made in batches - they’re behavioral boundary markers you get to position yourself, through your own experience and wisdom. A good personal standard clarifies and simplifies, eliminating what would be countless painful decision points. You’re free from having to stop and negotiate with yourself for the hundredth time on the same issues. Should I have a third drink? Should I quit early and work Saturday instead? Should I lie and say I’m sick?

Despite our fear of rules, the feeling of acting in accordance with a well-considered personal rule is not a feeling of being bound or hamstrung. It’s a palpable feeling of power and independence. The real ball and chain is the liability of not having standards independent of your mood and other acute pressures. Without explicit no-go zones, there’s always a possibility of getting sweet-talked into every chance to “live a little”, whether it’s by others or yourself, and there’s nothing freeing about living like that.

For some reason, we tend to assume that “keeping our options open” means living with more freedom. But a range of options is just a range of possible behaviors, and personal rules are a simple way to eliminate broad categories of bad or mediocre behaviors from your repertoire - ones that reliably lead to debt, strained relationships, remorse and other freedom-destroying conditions.

It’s not hard to see how you might experience more freedom in your life when you don’t reserve your option to lie to get of an obligation, to check Facebook the moment you wake up, or to be hungover tomorrow.

After years of striving to “not be so hard on myself”, I am now enjoying the freeing, empowering effect of keeping personal rules that I never negotiate with other people, or even with my own bad moods. Clear rules reduce the need for approval, the stress of trying to have everything both ways, and the necessity of constantly explaining yourself. Since I began to recognize the freeing effect of personal rules, I’ve never felt more independent, and I’ve never worried so little about what others think.

Instead of going by mood or whim, you already know what you will do and what you won’t. You know which side of the fence you want to live on - on this side lies prosperity, consistency, and health, and on that side lies remorse, ambivalence and excuse-making, and other varieties of pain you’ve finally decided to be done with. And you’re still free. You can always hop the fence and get burned again, which will only remind you why you drew a line in the first place.”