Ghost fishing

Whyte on Anger

 Poet and Philosopher David Whyte on Anger, Forgiveness, and What Maturity Really Means

consolations_davidwhyte.jpg?w=680“Our emotional life maps our incompleteness,” philosopher Martha Nussbaum wrote in her luminous letter of advice to the young. “A creature without any needs would never have reasons for fear, or grief, or hope, or anger.” Anger, indeed, is one of the emotions we judge most harshly — in others, as well as in ourselves — and yet understanding anger is central to mapping out the landscape of our interior lives. Aristotle, in planting the civilizational seed for practical wisdom, recognized this when he asked not whether anger is “good” or “bad” but how it shall be used: directed at whom, manifested how, for how long and to what end.

This undervalued soul-mapping quality of anger is what English poet and philosopher David Whyte explores in a section of Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words (public library) — the same breathtaking volume “dedicated to words and their beautiful hidden and beckoning uncertainty,” which gave us Whyte on the deeper meanings of friendship, love, and heartbreak.

davidwhyte.jpg?w=680

David Whyte (Nicol Ragland Photography)

Many of Whyte’s meditations invert the common understanding of each word and peel off the superficial to reveal the deeper, often counterintuitive meaning — but nowhere more so than in his essay on anger. Whyte writes:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngANGER is the deepest form of compassion, for another, for the world, for the self, for a life, for the body, for a family and for all our ideals, all vulnerable and all, possibly about to be hurt. Stripped of physical imprisonment and violent reaction, anger is the purest form of care, the internal living flame of anger always illuminates what we belong to, what we wish to protect and what we are willing to hazard ourselves for. What we usually call anger is only what is left of its essence when we are overwhelmed by its accompanying vulnerability, when it reaches the lost surface of our mind or our body’s incapacity to hold it, or when it touches the limits of our understanding. What we name as anger is actually only the incoherent physical incapacity to sustain this deep form of care in our outer daily life; the unwillingness to be large enough and generous enough to hold what we love helplessly in our bodies or our mind with the clarity and breadth of our whole being.

Continue reading Whyte on Anger

Hate crime up 17%, or 37%, or ?? over last year

November 14 at 9:28 AM
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What it takes to track and prosecute a hate crime

This is how a hate crime is defined and how federal and state authorities prosecute them. 

The FBI announced on Tuesday a disturbing 17 percent increase in reported hate crimes last year.Law enforcement agencies disclosed 7,175 hate crimes in America during 2017, up from 6,121 in 2016. This is the third consecutive year that reported hate crimes have increased, and it’s the single biggest spike since the surge of incidents targeting Muslims in 2001 after the attacks on Sept. 11.

But the reporting of these incidents remains uneven and inconsistent, both by victims and law enforcement. The definition of “hate crimes” varies by state, as do punishments, and even the federal standard has shifted over time. The FBI, which has pleaded for more cooperation from local law enforcement, notes that about 1,000 more agencies contributed information for this year’s report than last year’s. But those additional numbers don’t explain much of the increase. Massachusetts reports lots of incidents, for example, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there are more hate crimes per capita than in Mississippi, which experts say underreports.

— “Of the hate crimes that likely occur each year in our country, only about 1 percent are reported in official federal statistics,” estimates Maya Berry, executive director of the Arab American Institute.

One especially startling figure: The FBI’s new report shows anti-Semitic hate crimes rose 37 percent in 2017. “The new FBI data comes less than a month after the worst anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history — a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that killed 11 and wounded six,” Devlin Barrett notes. “The suspect in that attack has been charged with dozens of federal hate crimes, and that one incident alone accounted for nearly as many hate crime killings as were recorded all of last year in the United States: 15.”

But the Anti-Defamation League’s independent annual audit of anti-Semitic incidents, which the group has been tracking closely since 1979, found an even bigger jump of 57 percent in 2017, compared to 2016.

The ADL notes that 16,149 law enforcement agencies participated in the FBI’s 2017 crime data collection effort, but only 2,040 of these agencies, about 13 percent, reported one or more hate crimes to the FBI. That means 87 percent of police agencies reported that there were zero hate crimes to the FBI. To prod them to be more forthcoming and/or change the way they classify incidents, the ADL posted a list of 91 cities with populations exceeding 100,000 people that either did not report any data to the FBI about hate crimes or reported that there were zero such crimes in their jurisdiction during 2017.
Continue reading Hate crime up 17%, or 37%, or ?? over last year

Spring 2018 Edition of the Final Exit Newsletter

Source material from the Final Exit Website

http://www.finalexitnetwork.org/FEN_NL_Spring_2018_1to17_L_FINAL.pdf

“And for those of you in a jurisdiction where
assisted dying has not been realized, I think it
might be even more helpful for you to think about
this as a human right. Human rights are universal,
inalienable, and indivisible. If your state,
province, or country doesn’t have legal or decriminalized
assisted dying, it doesn’t mean that
the human rights doesn’t exist in your jurisdiction,
it just means it hasn’t been realized—yet!”

Il y a de la pluie, mais c’est pas grave

Amazon meshes with Apple – and screws independent refurbishers

The impact of the Apple-Amazon partnership: Goodbye refurbishers

“This is what Amazon sellers have been dreading”

By  7 comments

Why it matters: Earlier this week Amazon announced that they would be listing Apple’s iPads, iPhones and smartwatches through various authorized resellers. For most people, that just means another way to buy Apple products and possibly shorter shipping times. But for the hundreds, if not thousands of independent resellers on Amazon, that means a loss of business.

As part of the deal, Amazon isn’t letting unauthorized resellers list Apple products, including second-hand and refurbished products. As the largest e-commerce platform by far, this decision spells doom for unauthorized Apple refurbishers that relied on Amazon’s Marketplace.

To understand why that matters, let’s take a look at John Bumstead. John’s an independent reseller who buys thousands of MacBooks and MacBook Pros every year, refurbishes them, and then sells them on Amazon and to other independent resellers who do the same. He primarily buys from small recyclers (large ones are required to shred Apple devices if they have a contract with Apple) who get their devices from large companies, government facilities and universities who replace their computers every 3-5 years.

Because Apple supports their old devices with software for so long, these devices usually run fine for light workloads and are pretty easy to refurbish. Not only is this good for the environment, the recyclers and independent resellers like John, but it’s also good for the many consumers who can’t afford Apple’s high-end offerings.

For a lot of people, $100-$300 older MacBooks are more than adequate and have a smooth software experience compared to budget Windows devices. On Friday morning, John received an email from Amazon explaining why he wouldn’t be able to operate his business anymore.

“As part of a new agreement with Apple, we are working with a select group of authorized resellers to offer an expanded selection of Apple and Beats products, including new releases, in Amazon’s stores. You are receiving this message because you are currently selling, or have previously sold, Apple or Beats products. Your existing offers for those products will soon be removed from Amazon’s online store in the United States. Please contact Apple if you would like to apply to become an authorized reseller on Amazon.”

Despite a request for comment, Apple has declined to specify exactly what requirements there are to become an authorized reseller, but you can be sure it’s going to be pretty hard given the number of physical stores that are excluded.
Continue reading Amazon meshes with Apple – and screws independent refurbishers

George Carlin – on war

George Carlin On War Transcript. 

“Let me tell you what I liked about that Gulf War: it was the first war that appeared on every television channel, including cable. And even though the TV show consisted largely of Pentagon war criminals displaying maps and charts, it got very good ratings. And that makes sense, because we like war. We’re a warlike people. We can’t stand not to be fucking with someone. We couldn’t wait for the Cold War to end so we could climb into the big Arab sandbox and play with our nice new toys. We enjoy war. And one reason we enjoy it is that we’re good at it. You know why we’re good at it? Because we get a lot of practice.

This country is only 200 years old, and already we’ve had ten major wars. We average a major war every twenty years, So we’re good at it. And it’s just as well we are, because we’re not very good at anything else. Can’t build a decent car anymore. Can’t make a TV set, a cell phone, or a VCR. Got no steel industry left. No textiles. Can’t educate our young people. Can’t get health care to our old people. But we can bomb the shit outta your country, all right. We can bomb the shit outta your country. Especially if your country is full of brown people. Oh, we like that, don’t we? That’s our hobby now. But it’s also our new job in the world: bombing brown people. Iraq, Panama, Grenada, Libya. You got some brown people in your country? Tell ’em to watch the fuck out, or we’ll goddamn bomb them!

Well, who were the last white people you can remember that we bombed? In fact, can you remember any white people we ever bombed? The Germans! That’s it. Those are the only ones. And that was only because they were tryin’ to cut in on our action. They wanted to dominate the world. But the Germans are ancient history. These days, we only bomb brown people. And not because they’re cutting in our action; we do it because they’re brown. Even those Serbs we bombed in Yugoslavia aren’t really white, are they? Naaah! They’re sort of down near the swarthy end of the white spectrum. Just brown enough to bomb. I’m still waiting for the day we bomb the English. People who really deserve it.

Now you folks might have noticed, I don’t feel about that Gulf War the way we were instructed to feel about it by the United States government. My mind doesn’t work that way. You see, I’ve got this real moron thing I do, it’s called ‘Thinking’ And I guess I’m not a very good American, because I like to form my own opinions; I don’t just roll over when I’m told. Most Americans roll over on command. Not me, There are certain rules I observe. My first rule: Never believe what anyone in authority says. None of them. Government, Police, clergy, the corporate criminals. None of them. And neither do I believe anything I’m told by the media, who, in the case of the Gulf War, functioned as little more than unpaid employees of the Defense Department, and who, most of the time, operate as unofficial public relations agency for the government and industry. I don’t believe in any of them.

And I have to tell you, folks, I don’t really believe very much in my country either. I don’t get all choked up about yellow ribbons and American flags. I see them as symbols, and I leave them to the symbol-minded. I also look at war itself a little differently from most. I see it largely as an exercise in dick-waving. That’s really all it is: a lot of men standing around in a field waving their dicks at one another. Men, insecure about the size of their penises, choose to kill one another. That’s also what all that moron athlete bullshit is all about, and what that macho, male posturing and strutting around in bars and locker rooms represents. It’s called ‘dick fear.’ Men are terrified that their dicks are inadequate, and so they have to ‘compete’ in order to feel better about themselves. And since war is the ultimate competition, essentially men are killing one another in order to improve their genital self-esteem.

You needn’t be a historian or a political scientist to see the Bigger Dick Foreign Policy Theory at work. It goes like this: ‘What? They have bigger dicks? Bomb them!’ And of course, the bombs, the rockets, and the bullets are all shaped like penises. Phallic weapons. There’s an unconscious need to project the national penis into the affairs of others. It’s called ‘fucking with people’.

George Carlin: from “Back in town…

George Carlin – Conservatives / Republicans

George Carlin – Conservatives / Republicans Transcript from “Back in Town”

These conservatives are really something, aren’t they? They are all in favor of the unborn, they will do anything for the unborn, but once you’re born, you’re on your own! Pro-life conservatives are obsessed with the fetus from conception to nine months. After that they don’t want to know about you, they don’t want to hear from you . . . no neo-natal care, no day care, no head start, no school lunch, no food stamps, no welfare, no nothing! If you’re pre-born, you’re fine. If you’re pre-school, you’re fucked.

Conservatives don’t give a shit about you until you reach military age. Then they think you are just fine, just what they’ve been looking for. Conservatives want live babies so they can raise them to be dead soldiers.

Pro-life… these people aren’t pro-life, they’re killing doctors! What kind of pro-life is that? They’ll do anything they can to save a fetus, but if it grows up to be a doctor they just might have to kill it? They’re not pro-life. You know what they are? They’re anti-woman. Simple as it gets, anti-woman — they don’t like them. They don’t like women. They believe a woman’s primary role is to function as a broodmare for the state. Pro-life, you don’t see many of these anti-abortion women volunteering to have any black fetuses transplanted into their uteruses, do you? No, you don’t see them adopting a whole lot of crack babies, do you? No, that might be something Christ would do! And you won’t see a lot of these pro-life people dousing themselves in kerosene and lighting themselves on fire. You know, morally committed people in South Vietnam knew how to stage a god-damned demonstration, didn’t they? They knew how to put on a fuckin’ protest. Light youself on fire! Come on, you moral crusaders, let’s see a little smoke to match that fire in your belly.

“Hey, if they really want to get serious, what about all the sperm that are wasted when the state executes a condemned man, and one of these pro-life guys who’s watching cums in his pants, huh? Here’s a guy standing over there with his jockey shorts full of little Vinnies and Debbies, and nobody’s saying a word to the guy. Not every ejaculation deserves a name.

Now, speaking of consistency, Catholics – which I was until I reached the age of reason — Catholics and other Christians are against abortions, and they’re against homosexuals. Well who has less abortions than homosexuals? Leave these fucking people alone, for Christ sakes! Here is an entire class of people guaranteed never to have an abortion, and the Catholics and Christians are just tossing them aside! You’d think they’d make natural allies. Go look for consistency in religion.

And speaking of my friends, the Catholics, when John Cardinal O’Connor of New York, and some of these other Cardinals and Bishops have experienced their first pregnancies and their first labor pains, and they’ve raised a couple of children on minimum wage, then I’ll be glad to hear what they have to say about abortion. I’m sure it will be interesting and enlightening…

“But you know, the longer you listen to this abortion debate, the more you hear this phrase ‘sanctity of life.'” You’ve heard that, ‘sanctity of life.'” You believe in it? Personally, I think it’s a bunch of shit. Well I mean, life is sacred? Who said so? God? Hey if you read history, you realize that God is one of the leading causes of death, has been for thousands of years. Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Christians, all taking turns killing each other because God told them it was a good idea. The sword of God, the blood of the lamb, vengeance is mine, millions of dead motherfuckers, all because they gave the wrong answer to the God question.

‘You believe in God?’
‘No.’
Bang dead.
‘You believe in God?’
‘Yes.’
‘You believe in my God?’
‘No.’
Bang dead

‘My God has a bigger dick than your God!’ That’s how it is, isn’t it? Thousands of years, and all the best wars too, the bloodiest, most brutal wars fought all based on religious hatred, which is fine with me. Anytime a bunch of holy people want to kill each other, I’m a happy guy. But don’t be giving me all this shit about the sanctity of life. I mean, even if there were such a thing, I don’t think it’s something you can blame on God. No, you know where the sanctity of life came from? We made it up! You know why? Cause we’re alive! Self-interest. Living people have a strong interest in promoting the idea that somehow life is sacred. You don’t see Abbott and Costello running around, talking about this shit, do you? We’re not hearing a whole lot from Mussolini on the subject. What’s the latest from JFK? Not a god damned thing, cause JFK, Mussolini, and Abbott and Costello are fucking dead. They’re fucking dead, and dead people give less than a shit about the sanctity of life. Only living people care about it, so the whole thing grows out of a completely biased point of view. It’s a self-serving, man-made bullshit story. It’s one of these things we tell ourselves so we’ll feel noble. Life is sacred, makes you feel noble.

Well let me ask you this, if everything that ever lived is dead, and everything alive is going to die, where does the sacred part come in? I’m having trouble with that. Because even with the stuff we preach about the sanctity of life, we don’t practice it. Look at what we kill. Mosquitos and flies, because they’re pests! Lions and tigers, because it’s fun! Chickens and pigs, because we’re hungry. Pheasants and quail, because it’s fun, and we’re hungry. And people! We kill people, because they’re pests… and it’s fun!

And you might have noticed something else, the sanctity of life doesn’t seem to apply to cancer cells, does it? You never see a bumpersticker that says ‘save the tumors’ or ‘I brake for advanced melanoma.’ No, viruses, mold, mildew, maggots, fungus, weeds, e. coli bacteria, the crabs, nothing sacred about those things. So at best, the sanctity of life is kind of a selective thing. We get to choose which forms of life we feel are sacred, and we get to kill the rest. Pretty neat deal, huh? You know how we got it? We made the whole fucking thing up! Made it up, the same way we made up the death penalty. We made them both up, the sanctity of life and the death penalty. Aren’t we versatile?

George Carlin: “the real owners…”

George Carlin Owners of the Country Transcript and Clip.

“The real owners are the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians, the politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice, you don’t, you have no choice. You have owners, they own you, they own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations, they’ve long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the statehouses, the city halls. They’ve got the judges in their back pockets, and they own all the big media companies so that they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They’ve got you by the balls.

They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying, lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want, they want more for themselves and less for everybody else. But I’ll tell you what they don’t want, they don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking, they’re not interested in that, that doesn’t help them, that’s against their interests. They don’t want people who are smart enough to sit around the kitchen table and figure out how badly they’re getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking years ago, they don’t want that.

“You know what they want? Obedient workers, ­ people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork but just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it. And, now, they’re coming for your Social Security, they want your fucking retirement money, they want it back, so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They’ll get it. They’ll get it all from you, sooner or later, because they own this fucking place. It’s a big club and you ain’t in it, you and I are not in the big club. The table is tilted, folks, the game is rigged and nobody seems to notice, nobody seems to care,good, honest hard working people continue to elect these rich c*suckers who don’t give a f** about them.”

Two Worlds

Two Distinct Worlds

One is populated by more elderly people, more likely to live in rural areas, are predominately Evangelical Christians, fiercely Nationalistic, comfortable with authority and precedent, focused on heritage, dislikes the highly educated, prone to reject scientific consensus on climate change and evolution, more likely to accept fringe positions on immigration, conspiracy theories, malevolent actors or intrigue, moderately to strongly opposed to immigration, social equality, international agreements, abortion,  secularism, and fiercely pro-gun and law & order. Heros are Gen. Patton and Ronald Reagan.

Two is generally concentrated in urban, and metropolitan areas, generally better educated, consisting of people with a wide variety of economic, social, ethnic, faith, and religious orientations, generally tolerant of change, diversity, and respect for science and reason. Generally more spiritual but less dogmatically religious. Respects international law, but has much lower automatic respect for authority and tradition. Heros are George Carlin and Carl Sagan

A warning…


In the lead-up to his Australian visit, the renowned economist warns of the triple threat of rising inequality, the undermining of democracy and climate change

Joseph Stiglitz
 Economist Joseph Stiglitz will be in Australia next week to receive the Sydney peace prize and talk about the lessons the rest of the world can learn from America’s mistakes. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod for the Guardian

It’s a stark message from a Nobel-prize winning economist.

“We were a very different country 40 years ago,” he says. “The downhill slide has been pretty fast. America, I think, should be an important warning to other countries not to take for granted their institutions. I worry that things in the United States could get much worse.”

Joseph Stiglitz is coming to Australia next week. The renowned economist and Columbia University professor has been awarded the 2018 Sydney peace prize for leading one of the defining public policy discussions of our age – the crisis caused by economic inequality.

Stiglitz is credited with pioneering the concept of the “1 per cent”, the idea that the upper 1% of Americans have accumulated so much political power and wealth in recent decades – through voter suppression, gerrymandering, and the corrupting influence of money – that the country’s economy has suffered, and its democracy has been undermined.

In 2011, barely two years into Barack Obama’s first presidential term, he warned the political upheavals then roiling countries including Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen and Bahrain could one day be visited upon the US, but in an American way. Later that year, the Occupy Wall Street protest emerged in Manhattan’s financial district.

His 2012 bestselling book The Price of Inequality explained in detail how America had been growing apart, at an increasingly rapid rate. He argued forcefully that the severe inequality in the US was a choice of the country’s leaders: a consequence of their policies, laws and regulations.

This month he plotted in Scientific American how inequality had worsened so much over the last 40 years that US democracy was imperiled.

“Whereas the income share of the top 0.1% has more than quadrupled and that of the top 1% has almost doubled, that of the bottom 90% has declined,” he wrote.

“Wages at the bottom, adjusted for inflation, are about the same as they were some 60 years ago. Wealth is even less equally distributed, with just three Americans having as much as the bottom 50%.”

“As more of our citizens come to understand why the fruits of economic progress have been so unequally shared, there is a real danger that they will become open to a demagogue blaming the country’s problems on others and making false promises of rectifying ‘a rigged system’.
Continue reading A warning…

Fascism anyone?

The 14 Characteristics of Fascism
by Lawrence Britt
Spring 2003
Free Inquiry magazine

Political scientist Dr. Lawrence Britt recently wrote an article about fascism (“Fascism Anyone?,” Free Inquiry, Spring 2003, page 20). Studying the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile), Dr. Britt found they all had 14 elements in common. He calls these the identifying characteristics of fascism. The excerpt is in accordance with the magazine’s policy.

The 14 characteristics are:

 

    1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
      Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
    2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
      Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
    3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
      The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.
    4. Supremacy of the Military
      Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.
    5. Rampant Sexism
      The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.
    6. Controlled Mass Media
      Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

Continue reading Fascism anyone?

Home and RV security device product review: SimpliSafe

SIMPLISAFE REVIEW

By Rose Thibodeaux – 08/06/2017


7.6 – Our Overall Rating

Pros

No contracts, low cost monitoring, optional self-monitoring.

Cons

Limited home automation features and dated hardware.

The Bottom Line

SimpliSafe home security is a good option for those who want 24/7 monitoring service, but if you want more from a security system, look elsewhere.
Equipment & Protection8
Home Automation – 4.8
Customer Service – 10

UPDATE: Please Read Our New SimpliSafe 3 Review Here


Simplisafe Equipment & Protection

simplisafe equipment

SimpliSafe has found a niche in a somewhat crowded market. Instead of locking customers into long contracts, they’ve cut out the middleman. In doing so, they are able to offer affordable no contract home security; customers can come and go as they please. The upside to this model is obvious: more freedom to drop the service if you’re not finding any value in it, and without consequence. The downside is that no contract means no free equipment and the lower cost comes at the expense of quality.

SimpliSafe Monitoring

SimpliSafe is one of the only monitoring companies that provides professional UL-listed monitoring on a month-to-month basis, starting at $14.99 per month. The company uses cellular monitoring, which is 5-10 seconds faster than phone lines and can’t be snipped with a $4 pair of wire cutters.
Continue reading Home and RV security device product review: SimpliSafe

Off the rails

American Democracy Is Malfunctioning in Tragic Fashion
In his book “The American Mind,” from 1950, which I took down from the bookshelf during the weekend, the historian Henry Steele Commager notes that “the American” of the late nineteenth century had “little time for tradition and authority,” because “he knew that his country had become great by flouting both.” Simultaneously, however, the American “thought his government and the Constitution the best in the world, credited them with a large measure of the success of his experiment, and would not tolerate any attack upon their integrity.” Although some of Commager’s language, such as the use of “he,” grates on the modern ear, the paradox that he identifies survives to this moment, and it is doing untold harm to this country. The horrible events of the past few days have confirmed that the United States, while it remains a great nation, is a country trapped by its past. Despite a rising tide of gun violence and political extremism, it has repeatedly failed to adapt its institutions and its laws—particularly those relating to guns and the online spread of hate speech—to an age of technology-enabled savagery. Now the very foundations of the political system that so many Americans take for granted seem to be under threat.

And for those who need another reason…

Is Fall Foliage Compromised Due To Climate Change?

Dear EarthTalkDo environmental factors influence fall foliage colors?

—Bess Walker, Clinton, CT

An uptick in the intensity of hurricanes, prolonged periods of drought precipitating wildfires, flooded out coastal regions, melting ice caps—most of us can agree that man-made climate change is at least a contributing factor for these modern-day environmental maladies that seem to be compounding on top of one another in recent years. But another (less serious albeit still troubling) effect of our fossil fuel profligacy might just be compromised fall foliage displays.

The deciduous trees that drop their leaves in the fall rely on cues from the surrounding environment to signal when to stop producing chlorophyll (which turns the leaves green) in order to conserve energy and hunker down for the colder air temperatures of the upcoming winter.

When the trees do get the signal, the chlorophyll begins to drain from the leaves, leaving behind carotenoids (in orange and yellow leaves) or anthocyanins (in red leaves) until they fall to the ground.

But the unpredictability of a fast-changing climate has some species of trees confused about when to drop their leaves as warmer temperatures linger longer into the fall. Some trees are simply producing fewer leaves as a result, while others are thrown out of whack as to when to drop their leaves.

A 2016 study by Chinese researchers and published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Global Change Biology found trees changing color (“phenology”) later than in recorded history across 70 percent of the study area (the Northern Hemisphere), presumably due to warmer air temperatures pushing the process back.

Also, drought before and/or during the fall can drastically reduce the foliage show, given trees lack of resources to begin with. Researchers have found that during drought years, trees’ leaves tend to turn color early and peter out sooner, if they don’t skip the color show altogether and go straight to brown. Granted droughts come and go and cannot be pinned directly on global warming, no doubt climate change is increasing their prevalence and intensity.

And at a more macro level, the overall year-by-year warming trend is forcing many species north in search of the right temperature conditions for optimal growth. To wit, some of the stars of New England’s fall foliage show—such as sugar maples, yellow birches and others—are expected to shift their habitat north within the next few decades. Indeed, biologists warn that foliage fans might have to head north of the U.S./Canada border to see these colorful denizens of the autumnal forest by 2100. Meanwhile, other iconic foliage species—such as ashes, elms and oaks—are facing new threats from warming-induced insect outbreaks, with various troops of beetles and borers moving into new habitat with global warming clearing the way for them.

One way you can guarantee some kind of fall color display in your yard is to plant a variety of native plants and trees known to turn bright colors in the fall. If there is enough diversity among them, you’re sure to get some kind of show every year, even if every plant isn’t “turned on.”


EarthTalk® is produced by Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss for the 501(c)3 nonprofit EarthTalk. To donate, visit www.earthtalk.org. Send questions to: question@earthtalk.org.

The Murder of an American Journalist is Not A Problem for this guy


Link to article:

Some sensible writings by Jim Rickards

The Hard Truth About America’s Middle Class

  • Is the middle class getting smaller, or does “middle class” not mean what it once meant?…
  • “If there’s a rising tide lifting boats, whether you have a boat or not, the tide is not rising very quickly”…
  • Then Jim Rickards shows you why so much of today’s wealth is flowing to “parasites” who suck wealth from the economy while adding nothing…

Portsmouth, New Hampshire
October 8, 2018

Jim RickardsDear Reader,

Today I want to step back from my normal market analysis and discuss a problem we hear about all the time now — the idea that the middle class is shrinking.

We know who the rich are. They seem to be getting richer, aided by the stock market artificially rigged in their favor. And we have plenty of poor, whether recent immigrants or minorities or people in depressed areas.

But it seems to many that the middle class is disappearing in front of our eyes.

Is it true?

The answer is a bit more complicated than it first seems. In a nutshell, I would say the middle class isn’t necessarily shrinking. It’s more the case that the middle class doesn’t feel middle class anymore.

Let me explain that distinction.

The middle-class numbers are not necessarily getting smaller. The problem is that middle class doesn’t mean what it used to mean.

Going back 20, 40 or even 60 years to the 1950s during the Eisenhower administration, middle class meant something.

It meant security. It didn’t mean you were rich. It didn’t mean that you drove around in a new Mercedes, but you probably had a new Chevrolet or a new Ford.

It meant you had a steady job, with maybe a pension and good public schools for your children. You could afford to take your family out to dinner every now and then. Not five nights a week, but maybe one night a week or a couple nights a month.

You had neighbors. You had organizations, charities, church, etc. It was a stable existence.

Nobody was going to pull the rug out from under you, and you expected that your children would do even better than you. They would have greater job prospects, they would make more money. That was part of the American dream.

But today’s middle class, the group in the middle 40–60% of earners, does not have any of the things I just described.

You might have a nice house. You might have a job. Maybe your kids have their eye on a better college than you went to, maybe not. But you don’t have the job security. You’re not certain the company you work for will necessarily be around in a couple years.

Even if the company is around, you don’t feel your job is secure. You can be laid off at any time. Workers, including middle-class earners, are being replaced by robots. The opioid crisis is a growing problem, not just among 20-somethings, but also among 40-year-olds and 60-year-olds.

My point is that we still have a middle class and it’s not shrinking. But the definition of middle class has changed. It’s gone from being a much more secure niche in the American economy with an optimistic view of the future to a very insecure niche with a more pessimistic view of the future.

There are reasons for that, and you don’t have to go back very far to find them.

Go back 20 years. That’s not a lifetime. But in 1998, global markets came to the absolute edge of collapse. People don’t realize how close they came to total collapse with the Russia Long Term Capital Management crisis.

In 2000, we had the dot-com collapse. In 2007, the mortgage market collapsed. In 2008, the Lehman Bros. and AIG global financial crisis, and then a very long, slow recovery.

A lot of people think we’re still in recession, and there’s a good reason for that. I would argue that we’re in a depression, not a recession. A depression just means long-term, below-trend growth, with a large wealth gap between where we’re actually growing and our potential for growth.

We’re not realizing our potential, in other words. But technically this expansion that we’re in started in June 2009.

But this has been the slowest, weakest expansion in American history. It’s the second longest in U.S. history, but also the weakest. Many people don’t feel the effects.

If there’s a rising tide lifting boats, whether you have a boat or not, the tide is not rising very quickly. It’s not that there is no middle class. It’s that the middle class doesn’t feel middle class.

They don’t feel that they’re anchored to the American dream. They don’t feel that their prospects are necessarily better, that prospects for their children are necessarily better or that they have security.

All of this is very damaging to growth prospects. It limits spending and investment, which are major headwinds for the U.S. economy.

Below, I show you how parasitic elites are getting richer without adding any real value to the economy. Who’s the poster child for this phenomenon? Read on.
Continue reading Some sensible writings by Jim Rickards

The Daily Outrage

The real lesson from trump’s speech at the UN…Sep 2018

Andrew Sheng writes on global issues from an Asian perspective

https://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/united-states/article/2166146/donald-trump-draws-laughs-un-us-isolationist

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Why is it that, 10 years after the failure of Lehman Brothers, the world feels like a dangerous place? US President Donald Trump’s remarkable speech to the United Nations this week was supposed to restate the new order America has for the world. And all he got was a laugh.

But it was an important speech, spelling out more clearly what everyone has known since January 2017 – his administration is dismantling what America has stood for since the second world war. Out goes the vision of a liberal rules-based stable world under US leadership.

What replaces it is a “no holds barred” reality show of bilateral “art of the deal” negotiations, supposedly to solve what is paining America. Never mind the collateral damage to everyone else, even if they are ultimately American consumers. What everyone heard is that the White House does not care much about allies or enemies, only what is good for certain elements within the United States.

Speeches to the UN have never been about foreign policy. Speaking in front of 193 member countries, the national leader is actually addressing their home audience to show that their voice is heard by the whole world.

Most national leader speeches to the UN are boring homilies. They praise themselves, pay due respect to the UN and expound upon what Miss Congeniality says in all beauty contests: “World peace!”

What we got instead from Trump was raw and edged: “America’s policy of principled realism means we will not be held hostage to old dogmas, discredited ideologies and so-called experts who have been proven wrong over the years, time and time again.”

That statement made a powerful indictment of “experts”, because his supporters feel that it is the elites that have run the country for 70 years who have let them down.

If America is doing so well economically, militarily and technologically, why should its middle class feel so insecure?

The answer lies not in what the speech said, but what it omitted. Everywhere in the world, not least in America, the greatest existential concerns are inequality and climate change.

Trump said almost nothing about either issue, both of which are stressing societies and pushing immigration from poorer neighbors across borders to richer nations with cooler climates.

Instead, what was decided was non-participation in the Global Compact on Migration, withdrawal from the Human Rights Council and non-recognition of the International Criminal Court. There was also a barrage against Opec, which contains some of the US’ strongest allies.

If other bodies like the World Trade Organisation or even the UN do not do America’s bidding, then the cutting of funds or withdrawal is a matter of time. Does that imply the US will now veto every World Bank or International Monetary Fund loan to members it does not like?

In short, it is all about anti-globalism: “We reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism…” Trump said. “The passion that burns in the hearts of patriots and the souls of nations has inspired reform and revolution, sacrifice and selflessness, scientific breakthroughs and magnificent works of art.”

Never mind if a lot of that sacrifice and selflessness was by immigrants and new arrivals.

Tech giants under pressure from Trump tariffs

Outsiders who used to admire America as an open society founded by immigrants with new ideas on how to build a more just society and free economy find instead one with an increasingly closed mind to global issues.

It does seem strange that American innovationentrepreneurship and dynamism, which drew continuously on new talent, first from Europe and then the rest of the world, is now walling up its borders physically, legally and mentally.

There are 40 million immigrants in the US today, representing 13 per cent of the US population. Immigrants founded nearly one-fifth of the Fortune 500 companies, such as Google, Procter & Gamble, Kraft, Colgate Palmolive, Pfizer and eBay. Today, much of Silicon Valley feels like working in the UN: diverse, noisy and creative.

The irony of America drawing on global talent and resources is that it has no need to pay for it from exports, but can easily print more dollars.

In other words, the grand bargain of global trade was the ability of the US to pay for real goods and services with something that can be printed at near zero marginal cost.

Even the Europeans are now creating a separate payment system outside the US dollar-dominated SWIFT system to avoid being punished for “trading with the enemy”.

When contracts of trust are being renegotiated, no one can feel at ease. One can never solve global problems unilaterally or even bilaterally, let alone with calls for more national patriotism.

And as the English writer Samuel Johnson scribbled in 1775, a year before the US declared independence from Britain, “patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”.

Leadership has always been about generosity to those who are less well-off. Often, it is not generosity of kind, because that would mean buying votes, but generosity of spirit.

This side of the Pacific, there is awareness that the tensions will not go away with a change in the November elections. The US establishment has put political interests ahead of economic interests, which means that any settlement will have to go beyond economic considerations.

If trade and political tensions are in for the long haul, can the current US market enthusiasm display sufficient strategic patience? Now we understand why no one should be laughing.

The “net” scam

Chances are you are getting a lot less than you pay for

by Richard @ Flexible Reality – Sep. 26th, 2018

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You have seen it in the grocery store already  – right? The imprinted notice that says 12oz net weight on a package, and when you get home and cook the item, you end up with a silver dollar sized morsel, like this package of fish showing a net weight of 12 ounces, or .75 pounds. Say the cost of the fish was $6.49 for the 12 oz package, but when you prepare the fish the pre-cooked weight is about 9 oz, and the finished cooking weight is 8 ounces. Thus instead of paying $8.66 per pound for the fish, you actually paid $12.98 per pound.

Then we move on to items like chicken thighs, packaged nicely in a 2 pound package, priced at $4.35 per pound. Then when you get home you discover the butcher left on the skin of the chicken for miles around the thigh, and that the liner under the chicken, containing moisture, et al,  weighing in at 4oz and 3oz respectively, so you cook the chicken and weigh the edible portion which amounts to 1.125 pounds, so instead of a pound of chicken costing a little over $4 per pound, the actual cost is over $8 per pound.

Then we move on to prepackaged items, like one of my wife’s favorite, that comes in a pretty wrapper, and costs $6.49 for 5oz. Fine, the net weight of edible morsels is close to, but almost never exactly 5oz…just slightly less. Then being mathematically inclined you decide to see what this stuff sells for per pound…which turns into $20.77 per pound which puts it above the typical cost of Filet Mignon.

Beer drinkers see this too, when they recall a can of beer for decades has been 12 fluid ounces or 355 ml, but is now becoming 11.2 oz or 330ml…same price, same size can, same composition can, just 7% less product.

Moving on to the big kahuna: medical care and insurance, where what you get is less every year, but for which you pay more. Look at your homeowner’s insurance coverage for example…have you noticed the exemptions that have crept into the policy over the years: limited or no coverage for mold, for hail, for weather related issues, or for shoddily performed construction or maintenance issues. With health insurance, the deductibles decline while the co-pays increase, and more exemptions creep into the policies.

But alas, the buzzer goes off when you decide to vent on any of these considerations…say you want to speak to a “customer service” agent…fine, welcome to Siren who speaks passable English but is empowered only to listen to your comment or complaint, and “pass it on” to management for action.  And you come to realize that CSR’s with the shortest connect times receive a modest bonus for getting callers off the line the quickest. Corporations, especially those in a monopoly position in the market don’t give a fig for you or your satisfaction…they have you by the short hairs and know you have no place else to go other than to them for service.

Lastly, we have the Government who one might expect works in the public interest; that is unless the lobbyists and special interests got there first. We are now in the position where just four corporations control over 80% of many markets, from broadband internet, to cereal brands, to beer, and over 50% of the labor force works for large corporations which employ more than 500 people. The percentage of all nonfarm workers in manufacturing declined from 24 percent in March 1973 to 10 percent in March 2007, and workers in the service sectors went from 70 percent to 83 percent, so the notion we are selling hamburgers to each other is not far off the mark.

All of these trends will continue, and increase the separation between what one believes they are getting, and what actually shows up on their plates.