The Key - Happiness, Compassion, Caring for Others


Naps are good! ~ Index

Anger
Apocalypse
Bears
Bing Crosby
Birds
Birthdays
Blockchain Tech
Cats
Celebrities
Charlemagne
Chris Hedges
Christmas
Cows
Compassion
Coyotes
Critters
Currency
Death,Funeral
Death Penalty
Dogs
Doing Nothing
Ducks
Ent'd Photon Tech
Flamingos
Goats
Gratitude
Happiness
HappyStuff
Health, Aging
Humans
India Miracle
Inspiring
Jon Stewart
Lifestyle
Making Tshuvah
Me Too/Women
Meaning,Karma
Mind, IQ
Morning Routine
Mothers day
Move, The
Oceans
PainSuffering
PopulationControl
Priorities
Privacy
Rain
Seals
Solitude
Squirrels
Steiner,Rudolf
Stoicism
Strawman
Thanksgiving/Turkeys
Tigers
Umair Haque
Weather
Word Spoken

"It is not the length of life, but the depth of life that matters.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Pooties are cats; Woozles are dogs. Goggies are dogs, too, and moggies are cats. Birds...are birds! Peeps are people.


Happy Stuff

"Conscience reveals whether we shall be horrified or happy, when we are able to behold our actions in the realm of spirit. Conscience is a presentiment that reveals prophetically how we shall experience our deeds after death." - Rudolf Steiner – GA 143 – Conscience and Astonishment As Indications of Spiritual Vision in Past and Future – Breslau, 3rd February 1912


"The spiritual beings who apart from ourselves inhabit the spiritual world look with satisfaction and approval upon our thoughts about their world. They can help us only if we think about them... if we know about these spiritual beings they can help us. In return for our study of spiritual science help comes to us from the spiritual world. " Rudolf Steiner – GA 168 – How Can the Destitution of Soul in Modern Times Be Overcome? – Zurich, October 10th, 1916


Uncle Robb gives advice

I’m pretty sure that the best advice I’ve ever received (so far) was from my uncle, the late Robb Sagendorph (11th editor of the Almanac). No, it was not about doing everything in moderation. That has become tiresome. It wasn’t that you should treat other people as you would like to be treated yourself either. I would never be so presumptuous. No, it was far better than those old bromides.

Uncle Robb was talking with one of the young women in our circulation department for a half-hour or so at our office in Dublin, New Hampshire. I sat across the room from him in those days and could catch snatches of the conversation.

It was apparent that they were discussing a certain local dandy she’d been seeing, a fellow who had a reputation for getting into fights at the bars over in Brattleboro, Vermont, breaking ladies hearts at the drop of a hat, and all that sort of thing. Uncle Robb was advising her to drop him. She was crying and saying that she cared for him. When she finally left, it didn’t seem to me that Uncle Robb had made much headway. In fact, she sounded more determined than ever that, despite his urgings to the contrary, this particular dandy ' was the man for her.


Uncle Robb sat quietly for a few minutes, staring out at the pear tree next to his window. Then he got up slowly and ambled over to my desk. I looked up at him standing there in front of me, all 6 feet 4 inches of him, and pretended that I’d just noticed his presence. Then he came forth with what I believe to be the best advice I’ve ever received.

“'’t ever give advice,” he said solemnly. I nodded, waiting for more. I wasn’t disappointed. “Unless,” he said, after a long, thoughtful pause, “… unless you can somehow determine the advice that the person wants to hear. Then give that.”

In the ensuing years, I’ve learned a lot about advice and advice-giving because that’s what The Old Farmer’s Almanac does every year. Aside, that is, from presenting the astronomical structure for each day—Moon and Sun risings and settings, and so on—and aside from the monthly weather forecast for all of North America and aside from maybe a little history based on that year’s particular anniversaries. Aside from those areas, it can truly be said that the Almanac has been an annual book of advice ever since 1792, when the first edition appeared on the American scene.


Right from the beginning, the Almanac advised its readers—whether they were farmers or not—on everything from the best times for planting peas and catching the most fish to when to castrate bulls. It has had advice for lovers, advice for curing sickness and staying healthy, advice for making money, advice for restoring energy, advice for proper social behavior, and on and on, year after year. It’s all good advice—advice that a person wants to hear.

Incidentally, the young woman to whom Uncle Robb was giving advice that day in our office soon married the dandy '. He gave up his wicked ways and became a deacon of the church, and the couple proceeded to raise three lovely children. As Uncle Robb said himself later on, he should have taken the advice he gave to me that day. But then that wasn’t the sort of advice he really wanted to hear.


O to lie in the ripening grass
That gracefully bends to the winds that pass,
And to look aloft the oak-leaves through
Into the sky so deep, so blue!
–William Roscoe Thayer (1859–1923)

Jon in Honduras

"The human being experiences no lack of consciousness when he passes the gate of death. On the contrary, his soul experiences a superabundance of consciousness. He lives and weaves completely in consciousness, and as well as the strong sunlight dazes the eyes, he is dazed at first by consciousness, he has too much consciousness... The soul becomes conscious for a more or less short time and then it again enters into a condition similar to sleep as you may call it. Then such moments become gradually longer and longer" - Rudolf Steiner – GA 159 – The Mystery of Death: The Path of the Human Being through the Gate of Death — A Transformation of Life – Hannover, 19th February 1915


"A feeling of hatred directed at another is very real, and for one who can see in the spiritual world, it is much more potent than hitting him with a stick. Although the terrible thing does not take place right before our eyes, yet it is so." Rudolf Steiner, Die Erkenntnis der Seele und des Geistes – Berlin, 12 December 1907 (page 144-145)


Cover Greenpeace Mag. June, 2017

".. hatred does not persist after a person’s death when we have the feeling that we ourselves are being observed by him. But the love or even the sympathy we extend to the dead eases his path, removes hindrances from him." - Rudolf Steiner

"After death man is a direct witness of how the forces he took into himself together with the spiritual teachings received during his life on Earth have an organising, vitalising, strengthening effect upon what is within his being when he is preparing for a new incarnation... Decadence of physical humanity would set in if the spiritual forces were not received." - Rudolf Steiner – GA 141 – Between Death and Rebirth: Lecture Four – 10th December 1912


In Congo with gentle folk

"What we experience in pre-earthly existence in working together with the Beings of the Higher Hierarchies leaves in us a heritage for our earthly life, a faint shadow of this communion with the Hierarchies. If between death and a new birth we had no such community of life with the Beings of the Hierarchies, we could not unfold, here on Earth, the power of love. The power of love we unfold here on Earth is of course only a faint reflection, a shadow of our communion with the Spirit-Beings of the Higher Hierarchies between death and a new birth, but it is a reflection of that communion. That here on the Earth we are able to unfold human love, sympathetic understanding for another human being, is due to the fact that between death and a new birth we are able to live in communion with the Beings of the Higher Hierarchies." - Rudolf Steiner


See fun article below

Famous Last Words the joys of air travel



The earliest breath of June
Blows the white tassels from the cherry boughs,
And in the deepest shadow of noon
The mild-eyed oxen browse.
–Elizabeth Ann Allen (1832–1911)

FIRST DAY OF SUMMER: SUMMER SOLSTICE 2017 Summer Solstice 2017 begins June 20 and June 21 (depending on your time zone)! Celebrate with a fantastic live solstice show with Slooh telescopes streaming extraordinary views of the Sun from around the world!


CELEBRATE THE SOLSTICE!

MARK YOUR CALENDARS! SLOOH’S LIVESTREAM BEGINS BELOW ON WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21, AT 2:00 PM PDT | 5:00 PM EDT | 21:00:00 UTC (INTERNATIONAL TIMES)

On Wednesday, June 21, celebrate the summer solstice with a free and live telescope event, courtesy of Slooh Space for Everyone—featuring extraordinary views of the Sun streamed from Slooh observatory partners all over the world, including close-up views from Prescott Observatory in Prescott, Arizona, wide angle views from New York City, Chicago, Seattle, Hawaii, and other locations around the globe. This special show features astronomy experts: Bill Nye The Science Guy and Phil Plait, The Bad Astronomer. Plus, hear about the biggest event of the year: the Total Solar Eclipse on August 21!

You can go to Slooh.com to join and watch this live broadcast, snap and share your own photos during the event, interact with the community, and control Slooh’s telescopes. Slooh owns all copyright to the text, images, photographs, video, audio, graphics, user interface, and other content provided on Slooh live broadcasts.

Slooh Your Interface to Outer Space


"When, after death, we go through our previous earthly life in reverse order, we feel the effects which our actions, will impulses, and thoughts had on other people as well as other creatures. During that period, we do not feel what we have personally felt while in the physical body, but what we have caused other souls and other entities to feel."

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 174b – Die geistigen Hintergründe des Ersten Weltkrieges –Dornach, March 15, 1916 (page 166) Source


Helen at age 90 with Karen

Video: Cutest Moments of 2016

Biodynamics


6/21/17 It's Alban Hefin today, the Druid festival of the Summer Solstice, "It is the time of greatest light when the Solar God is crowned by the Goddess as the King of Summer." - Treehugger.

Rescued Dairy Cow Comes Home (6 months later) / Playful cow asks for hugs from humans / Bull saved from bullfight becomes a docile pet

Maybelle's Story / The Dudley Story / Dudley and Destiny / Dudley reunited with his family


Cookie, Kris Kringle and Candy are wanted for causing hearts to flutter
and showing people that little piggies deserve only to be treated with kindness.

Prepare to Smile This sweet video features a rescued cow from Hof Butenland sanctuary in Germany. The little cow seems to love nothing more than passing the days out in the sunshine alongside her human BFF.


Jonathan Glass


We absolutely, positively love lambs. Not the kind you find neatly packaged at the supermarket, but the living and feeling animals who desperately want to live, just like this cheeky little guy, Wah. [Edgar's Mission].

Video of lamb


Christmas 2016


Christmas 2016


Christmas 2016


Christmas 2016


from Edgar's Mission in Australia


Jefferson High School


Get a bike

This is perhaps the single most important thing I've 'e: I just refuse to drive and I ride my bike everywhere, year-round unless the city is a sheet of ice. Driving is stressful; everybody goes so fast and I get so judgmental of everyone else going through red lights and speeding, I feel much more relaxed and comfortable cruising along down the bike lane. It's also much cheaper and I suspect for most trips in the city, just as fast.

However the health benefits are probably the best part. A recent British study noted:

Cycling offers the potential for positive experience by providing older people with the means to participate in meaningful activity: to engage with landscape, foster personal relationships and maintain social contact with the outside world. The broader health and wellbeing benefits of cycling need to be recognized, promoted and supported through activities, events and programmes.

Never stop reading

Everyone complains about the millennials always staring at their phones, but I'm worse; I'm almost never not looking at my phone, iPad or computer. I'm reading news sites, environmental journals, magazines and newspapers. I subscribe to left- and right-wing journals to keep up on all sides of politics, trying to cope with the Wall Street Journal the Washington Post and the Guardian online before the local dead tree papers arrive on the doorstep.

But my brain is always working at absorbing.

I actually prefer to read books on my iPad to the paper book; I can crank up the font and highlight really easily for future reference.

I suspect that those in my generation who have been immersed in tech and phones and computers will be far luckier and happier and connected through social media; I had 47 people wish me happy birthday on Facebook and I even knew most of them — and I barely use Facebook. It was nice. It was nice walking 45 minutes to a restaurant; it was nice being able to adjust my hearables on my Apple Watch while I was there.

For those who are wired in, who have the money and the access and the insurance, there has probably never been a better time to get older. It's a shame that not everyone is so fortunate.

And Now, the No-Thanks List: 7 Terrible People, Events and Phenomena of 2016 That Inspire Zero Gratitude since I’m choosing to be as positive as possible this year, I’m going to get all of the negativity out of my system by publishing a list of the things that I’m not thankful for instead of sharing them face-to-face. Feel free to play along.

1. I’m not thankful for 'ald Trump, his kids, the lower half of their faces or really anything that happened in this election cycle in general. This has been the most uninspiring election in my life.

2. I’m not thankful for Ben Carson’s presidential run. I '’t know what’s wrong with that guy.

4. I’m not thankful for panels and TV town halls on police brutality. It’s always a large quantity of talk that leads to zero action

5. I’m not thankful for Ted Cruz’s chin, Paul Ryan’s cowardice or Chris Christie’s sad face for obvious reasons.

6. I’m not thankful for the rise of gentrification in America.

7. I’m not thankful for the passing of Prince and Muhammad Ali. One of the greatest fighters, one of the greatest musicians and two of the greatest revolutionaries to ever live. We lost two innovative and courageous men who can never be replaced.

Please also join the growing and encouraging trend of wearing a safety pin to indicate that you are safe and caring toward refugees, immigrants, and every person threatened by racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry.


Trump Trump; have compassion

Jesus in India Swami Chidananda of the Self-Realization Fellowship speaks about the 'missing years' of Jesus' life.

"When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it? ": Eleanor Roosevelt


"A human being is part of a whole, called by us the 'Universe,' a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest--a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty." Albert Einstein

"The true civilization is where every man gives to every other every right that he claims for himself" : - Robert Ingersoll

"Strike against war, for without you no battles can be fought! Strike against manufacturing shrapnel and gas bombs and all other tools of murder! Strike against preparedness that means death and misery to millions of human beings! Be not dumb, obedient slaves in an army of destruction! Be heroes in an army of construction!" - Helen Keller

"Iniquity, committed in this world, produces not fruit immediately, but, like the earth, in due season, and advancing by little and little, it eradicates the man who committed it. ...justice, being destroyed, will destroy; being preserved, will preserve; it must never therefore be violated." Manu 1200 bc


"The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who ''t do anything about it." - Albert Einstein Ralph Nader video on Solitude in Nature

Photo of Happy Pit Bull Getting Kisses From Curious Cows Will Shatter Your Stereotypes About Animals The idea that it is okay to exploit cows because they are stupid, boring animals that have no idea what is happening to them is actually incorrect. It turns out that cows are very intelligent animals, with excellent memories. They have shown a unique ability to remember faces and locations and some have even demonstrated an understanding of the mechanical world by using latches to open gates. Being herd animals, they are also quite social, enjoying play and affection on a regular basis. They are very much aware of their surroundings, so there is no excuse for the terrible treatment that they receive in today’s barbaric meat and dairy factories.

Pit Bulls, like cows, also have a lot of negative stereotypes to overcome. Many people wrongfully believe that they are vicious, aggressive animals with locking jaws, unlike any other dog breed, but the reality is that “Pit Bull” isn’t even an official breed of dog. They are bred from many different types of dogs to have certain dominant characteristics, but physically, there are no locking jaws or innate viciousness. To the contrary, Pit Bulls are highly intelligent dogs, with a love of play that makes them very trainable. During WWII, they were military working dogs, with Petey from the Little Rascals making the Pit Bull America’s nanny dog for many years until a cultural shift in the 1980s (driven by a rise in dogfighting) decided that they were monsters. Today, they are feared animals who are subjected to breed specific legislation and barred from certain cities. Adding to this, Pit Bulls have the highest rate of euthanasia out of all different breeds singled out by the law for euthanasia and other, unfair treatment.



Beloved Izzy died this week, 1/16/17


comments

IKEA's $400 flat-pack city bike will hit US stores in February [2017] Somewhere between the bookshelves, bedroom sets, and kitchen stuff, there will soon be flat-packed belt drive bicycles, which display the same understated and timeless Scandinavian design as the rest of IKEA's offerings.

IKEA announced that the bike would be available in the US in February, at a much lower price - just $399 for those in the "IKEA Family" and $499 for the rest of us. A host of accessories will also be available, including a bike trailer ($129/$169), front cargo rack ($25/$35), and rear pannier ($29/$39), and the bike itself will come with a 25-year limited warranty on the frame and 10-year limited warranty on the belt drive.

The Sladda will be available in two different sizes, has a powder-coated aluminum frame with a (sort of) step-through geometry that lends itself to an upright riding position, and comes in any color you want, as long as it's gray. The bike features a front disc brake and rear coaster brake, a chainguard, an integrated bike bell, a two-speed internal gear hub, a kickstand, a maintenance-free belt drive, and front and rear lights (batteries sold separately, of course).

Rescued Cow and Pig Cuddle Up In Their Sanctuary Home [video]


Jon & Caroline on cruise, 2017

Camille on Facebook: Colby is a Retired friend of mine who is in poor health as his his wife and daughter. Over the many years I have known him he has taken numerous kids who had no place to go. He took in kids like Celeste took in cats. As a Quaker he is one of the most peaceful and generous people I know. Your remarks are unwarranted


Princess Leia is proof that a little bit of kindness makes the whole world of difference


Rescued Piglet and Her Kitten Companion Find Love In an Animal Sanctuary


Cow Ruminating

What Rescuing 2 Turkeys Taught Me About How to Change People’s Minds About These Animals As the musician and animal rights activist Moby once said, “could you look an animal in its eyes and say: ‘my appetite is more important than your suffering’?” To the compassionate few the answer would be an outstanding no. Unfortunately, most people choose to ignore the reality of what happens to animals in factory farms to make their favorite foods possible.

Thanks to many hardworking organizations, however, such as Mercy for Animals and the Save Movement, the reality behind factory farming can no longer hide in the shadows. Undercover investigations and acts of bearing witness have exposed the truth for the world to see. One of the cruelest forms of slaughter involves poultry – chickens and turkeys. It is estimated that nine billion chickens and 250 million turkeys are raised on factory farms in the United States every year. Their short miserable lives are filled with pain and constant suffering from the day they are born to the day they are violently slaughtered. Why do we continue to allow animals to be treated in this manner? How can you help make a difference?


Rescued turkeys


Squirrel and Poppy





Strawman, Debt

Strawman Notes page

Are We in The Final Phase? By Peter Koenig Terror is fed, trained and armed by Washington and the Pentagon. The number of attacks are increasing by the day. We can only wonder, where will it strike tomorrow. The question, “when will it stop?” is not even an option. It will not stop. It’s part of the war game.

On the other side of the equation, globalized Wall Street, the FED and international financial institutions are strangling poor countries with debt into submission, especially those with natural resources, like hydrocarbons tropical forests, gold and diamonds. All stained in blood.

But finance does not stop there. It comes down to the individual, digitizing cash. Making us a cashless society. It’s good for you. No need for carrying money around. It’s worthless anyway. Going digital, we can control you-and you are safe. The State will never steal your money. They could, but they won’t. Ethics. It’s called Ethics. And we trust them. In God We Trust – and god is money, to be precise – the US Dollar.

Because the US economy is based on war – and the European one is following closely in these bloody footsteps. We are living an economy of destruction, not one of construction

Those who control the economy are those who control the western monetary system, the fraudulent, privately made, owned usurping debt and interest machine; the dollar pyramid, upon which every other western currency depends. Those who control this unspeakable fraud, will eventually control a divided world.

People, there is nothing left to hope for in the west. This could be it. The end-run. And you and me are in it, if we '’t leave it NOW.

We have for too long believed in the treachery of Washington, the false promises, the eternal lies for centuries... we have ‘democratically’ allowed these Washington bandits and the criminal gang that directs them from behind, have stolen our nations sovereignty.

We are doomed. The west is doomed. The west is in its final stage of committing unrelenting suicide by sheer greed and monstrous aggressions and an eternal flood of lies. We are cooked. For good, beyond the threshold of no-return.

The only hope for those of us who may survive, is the East. China, Russia and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) offer an economy of peace. They offer the world, including the west, for those who are not afraid to break loose from the weakening fangs of Washington, an enormous economic and scientific development program – the New Silk Road, or OBOR – One Belt One Road, or OBI for short. The One Belt Initiative – an economy of peace and prosperity offered to the world by China’s President Xi. Wake up, People, wake up – and step out from the western warmongers orbit.






Entangled Photon Technology

China Tech: Interesting Bits and Pieces By Fred Reed To one watching the advance of Chinese science and technology, or to me anyway, several things stand out. First, the headlong pace. Second, the amount of it that appears aimed at making China independent of the West technologically and getting the United States off Beijing’s back. Third, the apparent calculated focus. It looks like intelligent design, as distinct from America’s competitive scrabbling for profit by special interests, the hope being that this might inadvertently benefit the country as a whole.

As I have mentioned before, China came out of nowhere to become the world leader in supercomputers. Also in high-speed rail, of strategic importance in its plan to united Europe and Asia economically. Heavy investment in solar power offers to ameliorate its dependence on oil from the Persian Gulf, vulnerable to blockage by the US Navy. Then there is DF21D terminally guided ballistic missile, specifically intended as a carrier-killer in what China regards as its home waters. The list could go on at length.

The Chinese are smart. They are certainly capable of high-grade engineering and scientific research. (Eg., Beijing Genomics Institute) The line between imaginative engineering and invention is blurry. Note that on the numbers China can potentially bring to bear five times as many engineers as America can and, while they are well short of this, twice as many would be–is?–the beginning of a new world.

Step One, From a while back, “China Activates World’s Longest Ultra Secure Quantum Communication Network..” Beijing to Shanghai.

Quantum communications is based on the behavior of entangled photons. Said behavior is obviously impossible, but apparently nobody has told the photons, so they do it anyway. (Unless all the world’s physicists are smoking Drano. This possibility is worth considering. If interested, quantum entanglement. Also Quantum Key Distribution.) The point is that if anyone tries to intercept the transmission, it becomes obvious. A weakness is that you need repeaters every sixty miles, which reduces security.

Unless you do it in space:

Step Two: China launches world’s first quantum satellite. Having 'e the landline, they move to orbital experimentation.

Step Three, Bingo! “China Just Took the Lead in the Quantum Space Race”

This being a big deal, I clip from Asia Times:

On Thursday, a team of Chinese scientists released findings from a breakthrough study that makes China the indisputable leader in the field of quantum communication, an achievement that could be of immense strategic importance.

The study, led by Pan Jianwei and published in Science magazine, successfully demonstrated the ability to distribute entangled photons across unprecedented distances, from space to earth, opening the door for the practical application of cutting-edge, ultra-secure communication.

The unprecedented distance was 1200 kilometers. Beijing might be regarded as trying to establish world-wide communications secure against NSA and, eventually, a whole internet proof against Fort Meade. Whether one regards this as engineering development or innovation doesn’t seem to make much difference.

Then we have, from Phys.org,

“China launched its most powerful rocket ever on Thursday, state media said, as the country presses on with a program which has seen it become a major space power.”

Chinese Quantum Radar

Quantum radar is another application of entangled photons. The link gives a semi-technical overview. The important point is that in principle it allows detection of stealth aircraft.

The Chinese assert that they can now detect stealth aircraft at 62 miles with enough accuracy to compute a fire-control solution. This means that radar stations with slightly overlapping fields of detection, say a hundred miles apart, could detect incoming aircraft with easily enough time to shoot them down.

If this report is true, it is potentially devastating for the US Air Force. So far as I am aware, Chinese claims of technical results have heretofore been accurate.

The Air Force has invested very, very heavily in stealth. In bombers, the hugely expensive B2 and the planned hugelier expensiver B21 are dead meat if detached. In fighters, the F22 and the F35 Bankruper—Lightning II, I meant to say—will lose their main selling point if detectable. The F35 in particular has made compromises in performance to make it stealthy and, if detectable, is just a so-so fighter.

~~~~~~

Next: “Enter the Nimble Dragon: China sees nuclear future in small reactors”

“SMRs (small modular reactors) have capacity of less than 300 megawatts (MW) – enough to power around 200,000 homes – compared to at least 1 gigawatt (GW) for standard reactors….”

“China is aiming to lift domestic nuclear capacity to 200 GW by 2030, up from 35 GW at the end of March, but its ambitions are global.”

Small reactors (a bit larger than a bus) are important if you want to electrify a remote city without the overkill of a standard plant or the expense of long transmission lines. China is not the only country working on mini-nukes (or on anything else mentioned in this column), but it can now play with the big boys. Again, small reactors are an abrupt entrance into a major technical field. Note “global ambitions.”

A Reuters piece describes “an ambitious plan to wrest control of the global nuclear market.” Planning and doing are not the same thing, but if I were a nuclear market, I would be uneasy.

For whatever reasons, the American media do not much cover technological advance in China. Ignorance? Arrogance? Is it just the American tendency to regard the rest of the world as unimportant? Maybe a little attention would be a good idea. A steady stream of advances comes out of the Middle Kingdom. In some fields, the Chinese lead the world. In others, they are behind but not by much, and gaining. Could be important.






Health, Aging

Can Letting Go of Grudges Help You Live Longer? How about learning new things?

18 Secrets for a Longer Life:

People pay attention to detail, think things through, and try to do what's right -- live longer.

Make friends.

Nap more.

Get married.

Eat mostly vegetables. Lose weight.

Keep moving.

Get spiritual. Forgive [Letting go of grudges has surprising physical health benefits. Chronic anger is linked to heart disease, stroke, poorer lung health, and other problems. Forgiveness will reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, and help you breathe more easily. The rewards tend to go up as you get older.].

Make sleep a priority. Cut down on stress.

Keep a sense of purpose [Japanese researchers found men with a strong sense of purpose were less likely to die from stroke, heart disease, or other causes over a 13-year period than those who were less sure of themselves. Being clear about what you're doing and why can also lower your chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease.]

My favorite life hacks for getting older: There's a lot of technology out there that makes it easier.

Downsize for dollars

There are so many baby boomers who say that they want to “age in place” and stay in their suburban homes. The problem is, they're dependent on their cars to get around or to do just about anything. As Jane Gould wrote in her book "Aging In Suburbia":

An estimated 70 percent of Baby Boomers live in areas served by limited or no public transit. If Boomers stay in their homes as they age and continue to drive their cars, do they put other drivers and pedestrians at risk?

Yet many people are sinking big bucks into “aging in place” renovations with giant bathrooms, wide corridors and huge kitchens, giant garages with room for a wheelchair van, when the object of this game is to keep out of wheelchairs, to be mobile and on your feet as long as possible. That’s why people who live in Italian hill towns and New York walk-up apartments live longer than most Americans; all that schlepping up and down the stairs keeps them fit and mobile.

Crank up the lumens and check the color temperature

In a previous post, Boomer alert: You need better lighting to compensate for aging eyes, I noted that by age 65, the amount of light that gets through those cloudy lenses is down to a third of what young people see, so you need a lot more light.

Fortunately, this is a great time to be going through this stage because new LED bulbs are getting brighter and better without using more power. When I wrote that article, I theorized that having RGB bulbs like the Philips Hue, where you can adjust the color, might be useful for aging eyes as lenses yellow with age. In fact, this has proven to be true. According to the Lighting Research Center, our eyes change as we age:

-Reduced contrast and color saturation: The crystalline lens becomes less clear and, as a result, begins to scatter more light as one ages. This scattered light reduces the contrast of the retinal image. This effect also adds a "luminous veil" over colored images on the retina, thus reducing their vividness (saturation). Reds begin to look like pinks, for example.

-Reduced ability to discriminate blue colors: The older eye loses some sensitivity to short wavelengths ("blue light") due to progressive yellowing of the crystalline lens.

Cuba's health system Cuba, a country of 11 million people, has achieved health outcomes that are the envy of the Third World. It has one of the lowest infant and young child (under age 5) mortality rates and longest life expectancies in the Americas, outperforming the U.S. on all three of these indicators[6] (although the maternal mortality rate is still considerably higher than that in rich countries[7]). This year, Cuba also became the first nation in the world that, according to the World Health Organization, had eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.[8] How has a Third World country, subjected to decades of economic sanctions, accomplished this?

Part of the answer lies in the post-revolutionary government’s establishment of a comprehensive, universal health care system — structured around primary and preventive care — with a network of physicians, nurses and home health workers generally living in the same community as their patients.

To ensure adequate staffing for this initiative, the government invested heavily in medical education, which resulted in Cuba having nearly three times as many physicians per capita as the U.S.[10] This also enabled the country to send a self-reported total of 130,000 of its own health professionals to provide low- or no-cost medical care to patients in other Third World countries, with nearly 37,000 working in 70 countries as of 2008.[11] Cuba was among the first to respond to the past year’s Ebola epidemic, sending more doctors to Sierra Leone than any country besides Great Britain.

The country’s universal vaccination programs eradicated many previously commonplace childhood and tropical diseases, including polio, measles and diphtheria.[13] Many of the vaccines, as well as other medications, are manufactured by a domestic pharmaceutical industry that was developed, in part, in response to the U.S. embargo. This biotechnology sector employs about 10,000 people and manufactures most of the medicines used in the country, including 33 vaccines, 33 cancer drugs, 18 drugs to treat cardiovascular disease and seven drugs for other diseases.[14],[15] At one point, Cuba was the leading provider of pharmaceuticals to Latin America and also supplied medicines to several Asian countries.[16] Its medical infrastructure is also relatively advanced, with 22 medical campuses and academic journals in all of the major medical specialties.

Much of the progress made in improving the well-being of the Cuban population also traces back to policies independent of the health care sector, including universal education, guaranteed nutrition, clean drinking water and modern sanitation.[18] Perhaps more important were the Cuban government’s egalitarian economic policies that dramatically reduced the wealth inequalities that had existed prior to the revolution.[19] An extensive body of research shows that income inequality is closely associated with, and likely a critical determinant of, population health, and Cuba is no exception.

What makes Cuba’s health advancements all the more remarkable is that they were achieved under more than five decades of a stifling economic embargo. In 1962, three years after the Cuban revolution, the U.S. instituted the embargo to cripple Cuba’s economy,[21] in the hope that the pain inflicted on the Cuban people would spur them to overthrow the government. (The embargo was just one of several methods employed by the U.S. to do away with the Cuban government; see text box below for more details.)

In a comprehensive 1997 report documenting the impact of the U.S. embargo of Cuba, the American Association for World Health (AAWH) observed that it was “one of the few embargoes of recent years … that explicitly include[d] foods and medicines in its virtual ban on bilateral commercial ties.”[22] The report found that the tightening of the embargo during the 1990s had resulted in shortages of drugs, water treatment supplies and food, leading to malnutrition and waterborne diseases, among other problems.[23] The AAWH concluded that “[a] humanitarian catastrophe [resulting from the embargo] has been averted only because the Cuban government has maintained a high level of budgetary support for a health care system designed to deliver primary and preventive health care to all of its citizens.”

Amnesty International followed the AAWH report with its own 2009 analysis of how the embargo had affected the “economic and social rights” of the Cuban people.[25] The report documented numerous instances in which Cuba was unable to import a range of medical supplies, including HIV and psychiatric medicines, vaccines and syringes, medical devices, diagnostic equipment, condoms, and pediatric nutritional products.

The U.S. has long been isolated from the rest of the world on its policy towards Cuba. Every year since 1992, the United Nations General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly (188-2 was last year’s tally) in favor of a resolution calling on the U.S. to end the embargo.[27] Nevertheless, The New York Times claimed in an editorial last year that it was not the U.S. but Cuba that suffered from a “beleaguered international standing.”






Weather

As Climate Changes, Southern States Will Suffer More Than Others As the United States confronts global warming in the decades ahead, not all states will suffer equally. Maine may benefit from milder winters. Florida, by contrast, could face major losses, as deadly heat waves flare up in the summer and rising sea levels eat away at valuable coastal properties.


In a new study in the journal Science, researchers analyzed the economic harm that climate change could inflict on the United States in the coming century. They found that the impacts could prove highly unequal: states in the Northeast and West would fare relatively well, while parts of the Midwest and Southeast would be especially hard hit.

“The reason for that is fairly well understood: A rise in temperatures is a lot more damaging if you’re living in a place that’s already hot,” said Solomon Hsiang, a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a lead author of the study.

“You see a similar pattern internationally, where countries in the tropics are more heavily impacted by climate change,” he said.

The greatest economic impact would come from a projected increase in heat wave deaths as temperatures soared


Higher temperatures could also lead to steep increases in energy costs in parts of the country, as utilities may need to overbuild their grids to compensate for heavier air-conditioning use in hot months.

higher sea levels along the coasts would make flooding from future hurricanes far more destructive.

Some of the poorest regions of the country could see the largest economic losses, particularly in the Southeast.

The American South Will Bear the Worst of Climate Change’s Costs Climate change will aggravate economic inequality in the United States, essentially transferring wealth from poor counties in the Southeast and the Midwest to well-off communities in the Northeast and on the coasts, according to the most detailed economic assessment of the phenomenon ever conducted.


Across the country’s southern half—and especially in states that border the Gulf of Mexico—climate change could impose the equivalent of a 20-percent tax on county-level income, according to the study. Harvests will dwindle, summer energy costs will soar, rising seas will erase real-estate holdings, and heatwaves will set off epidemics of cardiac and pulmonary disease.

West Texas and Arizona may see energy costs rise by 20 percent.

Simultaneously, the study finds that some regions may reap moderate economic benefits from global warming. New England, the Pacific Northwest, and the Great Lake states may all prosper as growing seasons lengthen, and the number of frigid, deadly winter days decrease.







Mind, IQ

Stephen Hawking Predicts, “This Pill Will Change Humanity" Breaking news:

Harvard Study Shows Brain Boosting “Smart Drug” Proven To Double IQ Is The Biggest Discovery In History

Recently Hawking made some comments in an interview with Anderson Cooper about a brain booster that would become the biggest event in human history

Stephen Hawking credits his ability to function with maintained focused on such a high level to a certain set of “smart drugs” that enhance cognitive brain function and neural connectivity, while strengthening the prefrontal cortex and boosting memory and recall.

In an interview with Anderson Cooper, Stephen Hawking said that his brain is sharper than ever, clearer and focused and he credits a large part to using Neurofuse Hawking went on to add “The brain is like a muscle, you must work it out and use supplements just like body builders use, but for your brain, and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing to enhance my mental capabilities”.

Neurofuse trial offer

Everyone that has taken this, from athletes like Tom Brady to musicians like Kanye West have nothing but praise for the brain booster, which doubles IQ, skyrockets energy levels and connects areas of the brain not previously connected. Neurofuse works so well for these guys, we had to ask... Is it safe?


After numerous rounds of testing results were astonishing. One test subject was quoted as saying:

“As soon as I took it started working within minutes of taking it. All of a sudden, it felt like a dark cloud had been lifted up from in front of me. I was more alert, more focused, had long lasting energy, and experienced a mental clarity that I’d never felt before” – Ben Lishger Harvard Sophomore."

The Lead Researcher on the team Dr.Rosenhouse gave us an exclusive inside look at the ingredients that make up this revolutionary smart drug:

“It is engineered with all the ingredients containing vitamins and essentials that your brain needs to ensure improvement in all aspects of cognitive growth, while including short and long term memory, focus, energy, problem solving capabilities and total brain performance.

We are all very grateful to have this now, as I believe it can help everyone on the planet and take us to the next stage of evolution. We’re very proud."


Genius Steven Hawkings has Admitted To Using Neurofuse To Triple His Memory.

From Brain Pickings:

Darwin's singular genius of presenting and defending his ideas, and what it teaches us about the art of preempting criticism, is what New Yorker contributor and essayist extraordinaire Adam Gopnik explores in a portion of the altogether magnificent Angels and Ages: A Short Book about Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life (public library) – a slim but in many ways enormous book, for it tackles some of the most abiding and unanswerable enormities of existence.

Gopnik considers the unusual intellectual architecture of Darwin's 1859 masterwork On the Origin of Species – a book "unique in having a double charge, a double dose of poetic halo" – built into which was an ingenious and timelessly effective model for disarming critics:

The book is one long provocation in the guise of being none.

Yet the other great feature of Darwin’s prose, and the organization of his great book, is the welcome he provides for the opposed idea. This is, or ought to be, a standard practice, but few people have practiced it with his sincerity – and, at times, his guile. The habit of “sympathetic summary,” what philosophers now call the “principle of charity,” is essential to all the sciences.

With an eye to philosopher Daniel Dennett's four rules for arguing intelligently and criticizing with kindness, Gopnik considers the essential principle at the heart of Darwin's rhetorical brilliance, which illuminates the secret to all successful critical argument:

A counterargument to your own should first be summarized in its strongest form, with holes caulked as they appear, and minor inconsistencies or infelicities of phrasing looked past. Then, and only then, should a critique begin. This is charitable by name, selfishly constructive in intent: only by putting the best case forward can the refutation be definitive. The idea is to leave the least possible escape space for the “but you didn’t understand...” move. Wiggle room is reduced to a minimum.

This is so admirable and necessary that it is, of course, almost never practiced. Sympathetic summary, or the principle of charity, was formulated as an explicit methodological injunction only recently.

Darwin's singular genius was the marriage of visionary ideas and supreme mastery of argument. But it was the latter, Gopnik argues, that lent Darwin's ideas their victorious competitive advantage in the natural selection propelling cultural evolution:

All of what remain today as the chief objections to his theory are introduced by Darwin himself, fairly and accurately, and in a spirit of almost panicked anxiety – and then rejected not by bullying insistence but by specific example, drawn from the reservoir of his minute experience of life. This is where we get it all wrong if we think that Wallace might have made evolution as well as Darwin; he could have written the words, but he could not have answered the objections. He might have offered a theory of natural selection, but he could never (as he knew) have written On the Origin of Species. For The Origin is not only a statement of a thesis; it is a book of answers to questions that no one had yet asked, and of examples answering those still faceless opponents.

But this clever rhetorical framework was both a stylistic strategy and a reflection of Darwin's lifelong battle with anxiety:

Darwin invented, cannily, a special, pleading, plaintive tone – believe me, I know that the counterview not only is strong but sounds a lot saner, to you and me both. And yet... The tone reflects his real state. He was worried about the objections, he did spend long days worrying about eyes and wings and missing fossils, and he found a way to articulate both the anxiety and the answers to it. Darwin tells us himself that he forced on himself the habit, whenever he came across a fact that might be inconvenient for his thesis, of copying it down and paying attention to it, and that this, more than anything else, gave him his ability to anticipate critics and answer them.

[...]

In the back-and-forth of a self-made contest, both sides have a shot.

Darwin not only posits the counterclaims; he inhabits them. He moved beyond sympathetic summary to empathetic argument. He makes the negative case as urgent as the positive claims... What’s striking is that Darwin anticipates arguments against his theory that no one had yet made... It’s a really amazing piece of intellectual empathy, and of beating one’s opponents to the punch.

Gopnik's account of what set Darwin apart calls to mind a lecture Michael Faraday delivered five years before the publication of The Origin, in which the trailblazing scientist called for the mental discipline of contradicting one's own ideas – a hallmark of reason, of which Darwin's prose made a high art.

How to Criticize with Kindness: Philosopher Daniel Dennett on the Four Steps to Arguing Intelligently “In disputes upon moral or scientific points,” Arthur Martine counseled in his magnificent 1866 guide to the art of conversation, “let your aim be to come at truth, not to conquer your opponent. So you never shall be at a loss in losing the argument, and gaining a new discovery.” Of course, this isn’t what happens most of the time when we argue, both online and off, but especially when we deploy the artillery of our righteousness from behind the comfortable shield of the keyboard.

Dennett synthesizes the steps:

How to compose a successful critical commentary:

1. You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.

2. You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).

3. You should mention anything you have learned from your target.

4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

Dennett points out this is actually a sound psychological strategy that accomplishes one key thing: It transforms your opponent into a more receptive audience for your criticism or dissent, which in turn helps advance the discussion.

Michael Faraday on Mental Discipline and How to Cure Our Propensity for Self-Deception “That point of self-education which consists in teaching the mind to resist its desires and inclinations, until they are proved to be right, is the most important of all.”

Two centuries before modern psychologists coined “the backfire effect” — the root of why we have such a hard time changing our minds — Faraday captures our profoundly human propensity for self-deception when it comes to confirming our convictions and indulging our desires:

Among those points of self-education which take up the form of mental discipline, there is one of great importance, and, moreover, difficult to deal with, because it involves an internal conflict, and equally touches our vanity and our ease. It consists in the tendency to deceive ourselves regarding all we wish for, and the necessity of resistance to these desires.

It is impossible for any one who has not been constrained, by the course of his occupation and thoughts, to a habit of continual self-correction, to be aware of the amount of error in relation to judgment arising from this tendency. The force of the temptation which urges us to seek for such evidence and appearances as are in favour of our desires, and to disregard those which oppose them, is wonderfully great.

In this respect we are all, more or less, active promoters of error. In place of practising wholesome self-abnegation, we ever make the wish the father to the thought: we receive as friendly that which agrees with, we resist with dislike that which opposes us; whereas the very reverse is required by every dictate of common sense.


Michael Faraday / Carl Sagan

The Baloney Detection Kit: Carl Sagan’s Rules for Bullshit-Busting and Critical Thinking Necessary cognitive fortification against propaganda, pseudoscience, and general falsehood.

But the kit, Sagan argues, isn’t merely a tool of science — rather, it contains invaluable tools of healthy skepticism that apply just as elegantly, and just as necessarily, to everyday life. By adopting the kit, we can all shield ourselves against clueless guile and deliberate manipulation. Sagan shares nine of these tools:

1. Wherever possible there must be independent confirmation of the “facts.”

2. Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view.

3. Arguments from authority carry little weight — “authorities” have made mistakes in the past. They will do so again in the future. Perhaps a better way to say it is that in science there are no authorities; at most, there are experts.

4. Spin more than one hypothesis. If there’s something to be explained, think of all the different ways in which it could be explained. Then think of tests by which you might systematically disprove each of the alternatives. What survives, the hypothesis that resists disproof in this Darwinian selection among “multiple working hypotheses,” has a much better chance of being the right answer than if you had simply run with the first idea that caught your fancy.

5. Try not to get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it’s yours. It’s only a way station in the pursuit of knowledge. Ask yourself why you like the idea. Compare it fairly with the alternatives. See if you can find reasons for rejecting it. If you '’t, others will.

6. Quantify. If whatever it is you’re explaining has some measure, some numerical quantity attached to it, you’ll be much better able to discriminate among competing hypotheses. What is vague and qualitative is open to many explanations. Of course there are truths to be sought in the many qualitative issues we are obliged to confront, but finding them is more challenging.

7. If there’s a chain of argument, every link in the chain must work (including the premise) — not just most of them.

8. Occam’s Razor. This convenient rule-of-thumb urges us when faced with two hypotheses that explain the data equally well to choose the simpler.

9. Always ask whether the hypothesis can be, at least in principle, falsified. Propositions that are untestable, unfalsifiable are not worth much. Consider the grand idea that our Universe and everything in it is just an elementary particle — an electron, say — in a much bigger Cosmos. But if we can never acquire information from outside our Universe, is not the idea incapable of disproof? You must be able to check assertions out. Inveterate skeptics must be given the chance to follow your reasoning, to duplicate your experiments and see if they get the same result.






The Move

Are We in The Final Phase? By Peter Koenig Terror is fed, trained and armed by Washington and the Pentagon. The number of attacks are increasing by the day. We can only wonder, where will it strike tomorrow. The question, “when will it stop?” is not even an option. It will not stop. It’s part of the war game.

On the other side of the equation, globalized Wall Street, the FED and international financial institutions are strangling poor countries with debt into submission, especially those with natural resources, like hydrocarbons tropical forests, gold and diamonds. All stained in blood.

But finance does not stop there. It comes down to the individual, digitizing cash. Making us a cashless society. It’s good for you. No need for carrying money around. It’s worthless anyway. Going digital, we can control you-and you are safe. The State will never steal your money. They could, but they won’t. Ethics. It’s called Ethics. And we trust them. In God We Trust – and god is money, to be precise – the US Dollar.

Because the US economy is based on war – and the European one is following closely in these bloody footsteps. We are living an economy of destruction, not one of construction

Those who control the economy are those who control the western monetary system, the fraudulent, privately made, owned usurping debt and interest machine; the dollar pyramid, upon which every other western currency depends. Those who control this unspeakable fraud, will eventually control a divided world.

People, there is nothing left to hope for in the west. This could be it. The end-run. And you and me are in it, if we '’t leave it NOW.

We have for too long believed in the treachery of Washington, the false promises, the eternal lies for centuries... we have ‘democratically’ allowed these Washington bandits and the criminal gang that directs them from behind, have stolen our nations sovereignty.

We are doomed. The west is doomed. The west is in its final stage of committing unrelenting suicide by sheer greed and monstrous aggressions and an eternal flood of lies. We are cooked. For good, beyond the threshold of no-return.

The only hope for those of us who may survive, is the East. China, Russia and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) offer an economy of peace. They offer the world, including the west, for those who are not afraid to break loose from the weakening fangs of Washington, an enormous economic and scientific development program – the New Silk Road, or OBOR – One Belt One Road, or OBI for short. The One Belt Initiative – an economy of peace and prosperity offered to the world by China’s President Xi. Wake up, People, wake up – and step out from the western warmongers orbit.

~~~~


Paraguay


Paraguay, Asuncion ~ Paraguay


Paraguay


Paraguay


Uzbekistan


Uzbekistan



Uzbekistan


Costa Rica



Costa Rica


Costa Rica


Costa Rica






Blockchain Technology

My Page of Notes on Blockchain Technology






Currency

Are We in The Final Phase? By Peter Koenig Terror is fed, trained and armed by Washington and the Pentagon. The number of attacks are increasing by the day. We can only wonder, where will it strike tomorrow. The question, “when will it stop?” is not even an option. It will not stop. It’s part of the war game.

On the other side of the equation, globalized Wall Street, the FED and international financial institutions are strangling poor countries with debt into submission, especially those with natural resources, like hydrocarbons tropical forests, gold and diamonds. All stained in blood.

But finance does not stop there. It comes down to the individual, digitizing cash. Making us a cashless society. It’s good for you. No need for carrying money around. It’s worthless anyway. Going digital, we can control you-and you are safe. The State will never steal your money. They could, but they won’t. Ethics. It’s called Ethics. And we trust them. In God We Trust – and god is money, to be precise – the US Dollar.

Because the US economy is based on war – and the European one is following closely in these bloody footsteps. We are living an economy of destruction, not one of construction

Those who control the economy are those who control the western monetary system, the fraudulent, privately made, owned usurping debt and interest machine; the dollar pyramid, upon which every other western currency depends. Those who control this unspeakable fraud, will eventually control a divided world.

People, there is nothing left to hope for in the west. This could be it. The end-run. And you and me are in it, if we '’t leave it NOW.

We have for too long believed in the treachery of Washington, the false promises, the eternal lies for centuries... we have ‘democratically’ allowed these Washington bandits and the criminal gang that directs them from behind, have stolen our nations sovereignty.

We are doomed. The west is doomed. The west is in its final stage of committing unrelenting suicide by sheer greed and monstrous aggressions and an eternal flood of lies. We are cooked. For good, beyond the threshold of no-return.

The only hope for those of us who may survive, is the East. China, Russia and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) offer an economy of peace. They offer the world, including the west, for those who are not afraid to break loose from the weakening fangs of Washington, an enormous economic and scientific development program – the New Silk Road, or OBOR – One Belt One Road, or OBI for short. The One Belt Initiative – an economy of peace and prosperity offered to the world by China’s President Xi. Wake up, People, wake up – and step out from the western warmongers orbit.






Lifestyle

From TreeHugger: Move over, Marie Kondo. No longer is the question "Does it spark joy?" the new mantra is "Do not fear death cleaning." The ultimate purpose of death cleaning is to minimize the amount of stuff, especially meaningless clutter, that you leave behind for others to deal with.

'Swedish death cleaning' is the new decluttering trend It's not what it sounds like.

That conversation revealed to me the importance of discussing the long-term intentions for one's belongings. If I hadn't said anything, I suspect it would have been decades before my 50-something-year-old mother realized what a burden her stuff would be on the family someday -- and just think of all the additional things she could've accumulated in that time. It makes me shiver.

Enter "Swedish Death Cleaning." (I'm not joking. This is for real.)

The first time I heard the term, I thought it meant some kind of hardcore Scandinavian house-cleaning routine (they take a lot of things seriously there), where you scour your home from top to bottom to the point of physical collapse, as in "working yourself to the bone." Well, I was wrong.

In Swedish, the word is "dostadning" and it refers to the act of slowly and steadily decluttering as the years go by, ideally beginning in your fifties (or at any point in life) and going until the day you kick the bucket. The ultimate purpose of death cleaning is to minimize the amount of stuff, especially meaningless clutter, that you leave behind for others to deal with.

A woman by the name of Margareta Magnusson, who says she's between 80 and 100, has written a book titled "The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to free yourself and your family from a lifetime of clutter." She says she has moved house 17 times over the course of her lifetime, which is why "I should know what I am talking about when it comes to deciding what to keep and what to throw away".


Diseases of Despair By Chris Hedges September 04, 2017 "Information Clearing House"

The opioid crisis, the frequent mass shootings, the rising rates of suicide, especially among middle-aged white males, the morbid obesity, the obsession with gambling, the investment of our emotional and intellectual life in tawdry spectacles and the allure of magical thinking [https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/happiness-in-world/200911/magical-thinking "Magical thinking is defined as believing that one event happens as a result of another without a plausible link of causation. For example: "I got up on the left side of the bed today; therefore it will rain."], from the absurd promises of the Christian right to the belief that reality is never an impediment to our desires, are the pathologies of a diseased culture. They have risen from a decayed world where opportunity, which confers status, self-esteem and dignity, has dried up for most Americans. They are expressions of acute desperation and morbidity.

Plato wrote that the moral character of a society is determined by its members. When the society aban's the common good it unleashes amoral lusts—violence, greed and sexual exploitation—and fosters magical thinking. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus called those who severed themselves from the moral and reality-based universe idiotes. When these idiotes, whose worldview is often the product of relentless indoctrination, form a majority or a powerful minority, the demagogue rises from the morass.

The demagogue is the public face of collective stupidity. Voegelin defined stupidity as a “loss of reality.” This loss of reality meant people could not “rightly orient his [or her] action in the world, in which he [or she] lives.” The demagogue, who is always an idiote, is not a freak or a social mutation. The demagogue expresses the society’s demented zeitgeist. This was true in Nazi Germany. It is true in the United States.

“The fool in Hebrew, the nabal, who because of his folly, nebala, creates disorder in the society, is the man who is not a believer, in the Israelite terms of revelation,” Voegelin wrote. “The amathes, the irrationally ignorant man, is for Plato the man who just does not have the authority of reason or who cannot bow to it.

The stultus for Thomas [Aquinas] is the fool, in the same sense as the amathia of Plato and the nebala of the Israelite prophets. This stultus now has suffered loss of reality and acts on the basis of a defective image of reality and thereby creates disorder. … If I have lost certain sectors of reality from my range of experience, I will also be lacking the language for appropriately characterizing them. That means that parallel to the loss of reality and to stupidity there is always the phenomenon of illiteracy.”

A society convulsed by disorder and chaos, as Voegelin pointed out, elevates and even celebrates the morally degenerate, those who are cunning, manipulative, deceitful and violent. In an open society these attributes are despised and criminalized.

But the social, cultural and moral norms in a diseased society are inverted. The attributes that sustain an open society—a concern for the common good, honesty, trust and self-sacrifice—are detrimental to existence in a diseased society. Today, those who exhibit these attributes are targeted and silenced.

The deep alienation experienced by most Americans, the loss of self-esteem and hope, has engendered what Durkheim referred to as a collective state of anomie. Anomie is a psychological imbalance that leads to prolonged despair, lethargy and yearnings for self-annihilation. It is caused by a collapse of societal norms, ideals, values and standards.

Pope John Paul II in 1981 issued an encyclical titled “Laborem exercens,” or “Through Work.” He attacked the idea, fundamental to capitalism, that work was merely an exchange of money for labor. Work, he wrote, should not be reduced to the commodification of human beings through wages. Workers were not impersonal instruments to be manipulated like inanimate objects to increase profit. Work was essential to human dignity and self-fulfillment. It gave us a sense of empowerment and identity. It allowed us to build a relationship with society in which we could feel we contributed to social harmony and social cohesion, a relationship in which we had purpose.

The pope castigated unemployment, underemployment, inadequate wages, automation and a lack of job security as violations of human dignity. These conditions, he wrote, were forces that negated self-esteem, personal satisfaction, responsibility and creativity. The exaltation of the machine, he warned, reduced human beings to the status of slaves. He called for full employment, a minimum wage large enough to support a family, the right of a parent to stay home with children, and jobs and a living wage for the disabled. He advocated, in order to sustain strong families, universal health insurance, pensions, accident insurance and work schedules that permitted free time and vacations. He wrote that all workers should have the right to form unions with the ability to strike.

We will not bring those who have fled a reality-based world back into our fold through argument. We will not coerce them into submission. We will not find salvation for them or ourselves by supporting the Democratic Party. Whole segments of American society are bent on self-immolation. They despise this world and what it has 'e to them. Their personal and political behavior is willfully suicidal. They seek to destroy, even if destruction leads to death. We must organize our communities to create a new socialist order and overthrow the corporate state through sustained acts of mass civil disobedience.


Can Letting Go of Grudges Help You Live Longer? How about learning new things?

18 Secrets for a Longer Life: People pay attention to detail, think things through, and try to do what's right -- live longer. Make friends. Nap more. Get married. Eat mostly vegetables. Lose weight. Keep moving. Get spiritual. Forgive [Letting go of grudges has surprising physical health benefits. Chronic anger is linked to heart disease, stroke, poorer lung health, and other problems. Forgiveness will reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, and help you breathe more easily. The rewards tend to go up as you get older.]. Make sleep a priority. Cut down on stress. Keep a sense of purpose [Japanese researchers found men with a strong sense of purpose were less likely to die from stroke, heart disease, or other causes over a 13-year period than those who were less sure of themselves. Being clear about what you're doing and why can also lower your chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease.]


Union Pacifiste de France Elle lutte pour une France sans armée, contre toute forme de guerre, contre la production et le commerce des armes et pour une société démilitarisée. [It fights for a France without an army, against all forms of war, against the production and trade of arms and for a demilitarized society.]


Facebook page for Union Pacifiste de France


Japanese Teehouse: spending time with nature is healing

The 10 Most Important Things to Simplify in Your Life “Purity and simplicity are the two wings with which man soars above the earth and all temporary nature.” — Thomas Kempis


Based on our personal journey, our conversations, and our observations, here is a list of the 10 most important things to simplify in your life today to begin living a more balanced, joyful lifestyle:

1. Your Possessions

Too many material possessions complicate our lives to a greater degree than we ever give them credit. They drain our bank account, our energy, and our attention. They keep us from the ones we love and from living a life based on our values. If you will invest the time to remove nonessential possessions from your life, you will never regret it.

2. Your Time Commitments

When possible, release yourself from the time commitments that are not in line with your greatest values.

3. Your Goals

Reduce the number of goals you are intentionally striving for in your life to one or two. By reducing the number of goals that you are striving to accomplish, you will improve your focus and your success rate. Make a list of the things that you want to accomplish in your life and choose the two most important. When you finish one, add another from your list.

4. Your Negative Thoughts

Most negative emotions are completely useless. Resentment, bitterness, hate, and jealousy have never improved the quality of life for a single human being. Take responsibility for your mind. Forgive past hurts and replace negative thoughts with positive ones.


5. Your Debt

If debt is holding you captive, reduce it. Start today. Do what you’ve got to do to get out from under its weight. Find the help that you need. Sacrifice luxury today to enjoy freedom tomorrow.

6. Your Words

Use fewer words. Keep your speech plain and honest. Mean what you say. Avoid gossip.

7. Your Artificial Ingredients

Avoid trans fats, refined grain (white bread), high-fructose corn syrup, and too much sodium. Minimizing these ingredients will improve your energy level in the short-term and your health in the long-term. Also, as much as possible, reduce your consumption of over-the-counter medicine – allow your body to heal itself naturally as opposed to building a dependency on substances.

8. Your Screen Time

Focusing your attention on television, movies, video games, and technology affects your life more than you think. Media rearranges your values. It begins to dominate your life. And it has a profound impact on your attitude and outlook.

9. Your Connections to the World

Relationships with others are good, but constant streams of distraction are bad. Learn when to power off the iPhone, log off Facebook, or not read a text. Focus on the important, not the urgent.

10. Your Multi-Tasking

Research indicates that multi-tasking increases stress and lowers productivity. while single-tasking is becoming a lost art, learn it. Handle one task at a time. Do it well. And when it is complete, move to the next.


The 10 Most Important Things to Simplify in Your Life “Purity and simplicity are the two wings with which man soars above the earth and all temporary nature.” — Thomas Kempis

Simplicity brings balance, freedom, and joy. When we begin to live simply and experience these benefits, we begin to ask the next question, “Where else in my life can I remove distraction and simply focus on the essential?”

1. Your Possessions

Too many material possessions complicate our lives to a greater degree than we ever give them credit. They drain our bank account, our energy, and our attention. They keep us from the ones we love and from living a life based on our values. If you will invest the time to remove nonessential possessions from your life, you will never regret it.

2. Your Time Commitments

Most of us have filled our days full from beginning to end with time commitments: work, home, kid’s activities, community events, religious endeavors, hobbies … the list goes on. When possible, release yourself from the time commitments that are not in line with your greatest values.

3. Your Goals

Reduce the number of goals you are intentionally striving for in your life to one or two. By reducing the number of goals that you are striving to accomplish, you will improve your focus and your success rate. Make a list of the things that you want to accomplish in your life and choose the two most important. When you finish one, add another from your list.

4. Your Negative Thoughts

Most negative emotions are completely useless. Resentment, bitterness, hate, and jealousy have never improved the quality of life for a single human being. Take responsibility for your mind. Forgive past hurts and replace negative thoughts with positive ones.

5. Your Debt

If debt is holding you captive, reduce it. Start today. Do what you’ve got to do to get out from under its weight. Find the help that you need. Sacrifice luxury today to enjoy freedom tomorrow.

6. Your Words

Use fewer words. Keep your speech plain and honest. Mean what you say. Avoid gossip.

7. Your Artificial Ingredients

Avoid trans fats, refined grain (white bread), high-fructose corn syrup, and too much sodium. Minimizing these ingredients will improve your energy level in the short-term and your health in the long-term. Also, as much as possible, reduce your consumption of over-the-counter medicine – allow your body to heal itself naturally as opposed to building a dependency on substances.

8. Your Screen Time

Focusing your attention on television, movies, video games, and technology affects your life more than you think. Media rearranges your values. It begins to dominate your life. And it has a profound impact on your attitude and outlook. Unfortunately, when you live in that world on a consistent basis, you '’t even notice how it is impacting you. The only way to fully appreciate its influence in your life is to turn them off.

9. Your Connections to the World

Relationships with others are good, but constant streams of distraction are bad. Learn when to power off the iPhone, log off Facebook, or not read a text. Focus on the important, not the urgent. A steady flow of distractions from other people may make us feel important, needed, or wanted, but feeling important and accomplishing importance are completely different things.

10. Your Multi-Tasking

Research indicates that multi-tasking increases stress and lowers productivity. while single-tasking is becoming a lost art, learn it. Handle one task at a time. Do it well. And when it is complete, move to the next.


4 Reasons Living With Less Can Change Your Life – and Save the World The fact is, we live in a consumer culture that tells us that we '’t only want 10 different products that all serve the same basic purpose – but we also need them for one reason or other.

Having too much stuff not only creates physical clutter ('’t think just because you jam all of last season’s clothing in a closet means it goes away!), but it creates mental and emotional clutter as well. Studies have found that too much clutter can lower your ability to focus and process information and even contribute to stress and anxiety levels. So, how can we avoid all of these adverse effects of too much stuff? Well, it all starts with learning to live with less.


Are mussels, clams and oysters the most ethical seafood? One scientist believes that these plant-like bivalves could build much-needed food security in aquaculture.

The next time you’re craving seafood, a steaming bowl of clam chowder or a dish of garlic-steamed mussels could be your best option. Not only are they delicious and nutritious, but they’re also a more environmentally friendly choice than fish and crustaceans.

Clams, mussels, and oysters are bivalves and members of the invertebrate mollusk family. They differ from other mollusks, such as octopus, for their evolutionary simplicity. Bivalves are sessile (immobile) and plant-like in the way they filter nutrients from the water around them and do not require feeding. They develop a meaty edible muscle that is rich in omega-3s, without the mercury levels found in larger fish.


An an article for Solutions journal, scientist Jennifer Jacquet makes a convincing argument for bivalves being the most ethical

1. Bivalves '’t require feeding. As mentioned above, bivalves filter their nutrients from the water, cleaning anywhere from 30 to 50 gallons of water per day, which improves the habitat for other fish around them.

What many people '’t realize about farmed finfish and shrimp is that they need to eat other smaller fish in order to grow. Aquaculture means that more wild fish must be caught in order to feed the farmed fish.

2. Bivalves build food security. Because bivalves do not require feeding, this frees up wild-caught fish to feed local communities, while providing nourishment themselves.

3. Welfare is not as serious a concern. The effects of farming would be considerably less for bivalves than other farmed fish, as they do not require space or enrichment in order to grow, nor do they migrate like salmon. One could argue that bivalves are plant-like. This does not mean there are no welfare concerns, but their life in captivity would not be all that different than in the wild.


Jacquet describes the ideal species for aquaculture:

“It should be a species group that does not require fish feed, does not require conversion of habitat, does not contribute to pollution, and has very little potential to be invasive. It should consist of animals who are not likely to experience significant pain and suffering in captivity in particular—animals whose health and wellbeing is at least somewhat compatible with industrial methods.”

It’s not a perfect solution, though, as shown in a short film called “A Plastic Tide,” which revealed mussels absorbing plastic micro-particles from seawater – the distasteful side effect of rampant plastic pollution. But, then again, this problem affects all sea creatures, not just bivalves.




Orangutan makes rain hat for self and baby




from marji@animalplace.org

© Kelly Meehan/Flickr--It's as if someone misplaced a bit of the Caribbean and it ended up in Spain. Photographer Kelly Meehan titled this shot, "What Fairytales Are Made Of....." which seems perfectly appropriate. Kelly writes: The Urederra (which means beautiful river) is a natural exit of the aquifer, created in the rock massif karst of Urbasa, Navarre (Spain).

Rudolph Steiner on Death On December 31, 1905, Rudolf Steiner wrote to his esoteric pupil Paula Stryczek, who had turned to him for advice after the death of Anna Wagner (1847-1905):

Dear Miss Stryczek,

Let me say this to you on the occasion of this unhappy event.

When a person dear to us crosses into the other worlds, it is especially important to send our thoughts and feelings without in any way giving the impression that we want her back, which would make life difficult for her in the new spheres she is entering. What we would send into her worlds is not our own sorrow, but our love for her. '’t misunderstand me; I do not mean that we must be hardened or indifferent. But it should be possible for us to look toward the dead person and think, “May my love accompany you and surround you.” According to my insights, such feelings give wings to the dead person, whereas the feelings of many mourners (such as, ‘Oh, if you were only still here with us’) become obstacles in her path. This is a general suggestion about how we ought to direct our feelings in such cases.

In inner stillness, say them to yourself three times a day, one of which should be immediately before you fall asleep, so you take them with you into the spiritual world. Ideally, you should fall asleep with the thoughts:

May the offering of my love envelop you, cooling all heat, warming all cold.

May my gift of light carry you upward on wings of love.


Halloween Moon

Curing 'affluenza' needs to become a cultural priority Consumerism and materialism are not the same thing, according to Richard Denniss. The author of "Curing Affluenza: How to buy less stuff and save the world" argues that, if consumerism is about the love of buying things, then materialism is the love of things themselves.

The two words are often used interchangeably, which is problematic; because, when taken literally, Denniss points out that they're actually polar opposites. A true materialist would take pleasure in what he or she owned, not feeling a constant urge to buy new

Consumerism, on the other hand, is a relatively new cultural shift that has proven to be highly addictive -- and dangerous. From an environmental perspective, it's absurd to be using precious resources to generate products that are only used temporarily.

From a financial perspective, it's an enormous waste of money to be shopping constantly and a straight shot to debt. Psychologically, it is unnatural to override humankind's natural and historic inclination toward thriftiness, not to mention mentally exhausting always to be craving the next thing.

Note that Denniss' description does not stop just at appreciating the things we own. It goes beyond that, to embracing non-material items and prioritizing leisure, non-shopping-related activities, and presumably investing in human relationships.







Thanksgiving

Turkey Trivia FACTS ABOUT THE TURKEY—THE ALL-AMERICAN BIRD!

Why Do Turkeys Gobble?

Only male turkeys, or toms, can gobble, and they mostly do it in the spring and fall. It is a mating call and attracts the hens. Wild turkeys gobble at loud sounds and when they settle in for the night.

~

Could the Turkey Have Been the National Bird?

Ben Franklin thought the turkey would be a better national symbol than the bald eagle. According to the Franklin Institute, he wrote in a letter to his daughter:

“For my own part, I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country; he is a bird of bad moral character; he does not get his living honestly…like those among men who live by sharping and robbing…he is generally poor, and often very lousy. Besides, he is a rank coward; the little king-bird, not bigger than a sparrow, attacks him boldly and drives him out of the district…For in truth, the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America. Eagles have been found in all countries, but the turkey was peculiar to ours…”

~

How Much Turkey Does a Person Eat per Year?

The average person in the United States will eat 15 pounds of turkey this year.

What’s That Weird Wobbly Thing on a Turkey’s Neck?

The loose red skin attached to the underside of a turkey’s beak is called a wattle. When the male turkey is excited, especially during mating season, the wattle turns a scarlet red. The fleshy flap of skin that hangs over the gobbler’s beak is called a snood and also turns bright red when the bird is excited. The wobbly little thing on the turkey’s chest is the turkey’s beard and is made up of keratin bristles. Keratin is the same substance that forms hair and horns on other animals.

~ Wild Turkey

Is the Turkey Considered a Game Bird?

Yes. In fact, the wild turkey is one of the more difficult game birds to hunt. It won’t be flushed out of the brush with a dog. Instead, hunters must try to attract it with different calls. Even with two seasons a year, only one in six hunters will get a wild turkey.

By the 1930s, almost all of the wild turkeys in the U.S. had been hunted. Today, thanks to conservation programs, there are plenty of wild turkeys—they even invade cities, occasionally!

turkey-flock ~

What is a Baby Turkey Called? And What About Adult Turkeys?

A baby turkey is called a poult, chick, or even turklette. An adult male turkey is called a tom and a female is a hen.

How Big Do Turkeys Get?

The domestic tom can weigh up to 50 pounds, the domestic hen up to 16 pounds. The wild tom can weigh up to 20 pounds, the wild hen up to 12 pounds.

Can Turkeys Fly?

The wild turkey can fly! (It does, however, prefer to walk or run.) The domestic turkey is not an agile flyer, though the bird will perch in trees to stay safe from predators.

How Long do Turkeys Live?

The average life span of a domestic turkey, from birth to freezer, is 26 weeks. During this period of time, it will eat about 75 pounds of turkey feed. The average life span of a wild turkey is three or four years. It generally feeds on seeds, nuts, insects, and berries.







Christmas








Dogs

It's quite a rainy and cozy day, so Finley decided
to spend it with his favorite cuddle buddy.

Moose has one goal for the weekend and it's napping. Take a note from this ball of wrinkles and get a little rest — its been a long week and you've earned it.

Just Goofin' Off

16 Doggo Facts That'll Change The Way You Look At Said Doggos

  1. Welsh folklore believed that corgis were ridden by magical fairies into battle, and that the patterns in their fur were the result of their fairy's saddle.
  2. The name "pug" most likely came from the Latin word, "pugnus," which means "fist," because the shadow of a fist resembles a pug's profile.
  3. Dalmatians are born without their signature spots.
  4. A dog once walked 2,551 miles through plains, desert, mountains, and rivers during the coldest part of winter to get back to his family.
  5. Most French bulldogs' hips are too slim to deliver puppies, so their litters are almost always delivered via C-section.
  6. A neuroimaging study revealed that dogs prioritize the smell of their humans over everything and anything else.
  7. Doug the Pug, the world's most famous internet dog, has an estimated net worth of about $500,000.
  8. Three border collies were once trained to run around Chilean forests wearing backpacks that released native plant seeds — this was an effort to try and rebuild areas devastated by wildfires.
  9. Dogs are now capable of watching TV because of the invention of HDTV with higher frame rates. Before that, TV just looked like a strobe light to them.
  10. The Golden Retriever has never won The Westminster Dog Show.
  11. Dogs have evolved to understand human laughter.
  12. Roselle, a guide dog, saved her blind owner during 9/11 by leading him out of the North Tower and down 78 flights of stairs.
  13. Dogs sneeze to show other dogs that they're not being aggressive.
  14. A bloodhound joined a half-marathon after her owner let her out to pee. She ran the entire 13.1 miles, and finished seventh.
  15. There once existed a breed of dog called the Turnspit that was bred to run on a wheel to make meat turn and cook evenly
  16. And lastly, 26,000-year-old canine paw prints were found fossilized next to those of a child, revealing the oldest evidence of dog being man's best friend.

V Dogs Compete to Show How Excited They Are

Pampered Pooch Having Nails Done

Just give me a LITTLE of your treat please

The Unique Dogs of Russia, Korea and China By Dr. Karen Shaw Becker

Our final stops on our around-the-world tour of native dogs are Russia, China and Korea

Russia has several native dogs, including the Black Russian Terrier, a breed developed in the former USSR to be military and working dogs

China is also home to several original breeds, including the distinctive Chow Chow

A native breed of Korea is the Korean Jindo, a highly intelligent breed developed for its outstanding hunting ability

Chow Chow could be a little bear

V Huskies Reveal Their Love Languages

Malamute Trows Tantrum Under Coffee Table, Wants attention


Out of Africa: Great Dogs You’ve Never Heard Of By Dr. Karen Shaw Becker

Several dogs originated in Africa, including the barkless Basenji and the Rhodesian Ridgeback, also known as the African Lion Dog

The Republic of Madagascar lays claim to the Royal Dog of Madagascar, the intelligent, joyful little Coton de Tulear

Who’s knocking my door?


Hailing From Portugal, Greece and the Balkans, One-of-a-Kind Gems By Dr. Karen Shaw Becker

Here in the U.S., the handsome, lively Portuguese Water Dog is the most recognizable native dog of Portugal

The Balkan Peninsula is home to the Molossers, a group of solidly built, large dog breeds that all descended from the same common ancestor

Hailing from Greece is the Greek Shepherd or Greek Sheepdog, bred for centuries to guard livestock in mountainous regions

The Greek Shepherd, also called the Greek Sheepdog, has been bred for centuries to guard livestock in mountainous regions. These dogs are medium to large in size, solidly built and very strong. Their double coat is thick and dense, and their tails range from long to nonexistent. Adult males can weigh up to 110 pounds; females are smaller, topping out at around 90 pounds.

V Malamute Pouts After Bath Time

This dog shows his owner who’s the boss.


Next Stop: Dogs Native to Europe By Dr. Karen Shaw Becker

Today’s stops on our round-the-globe look at native dogs include Sweden, Lithuania, Germany and Belgium

The Swedish Vallhund is believed to be an ancestor of the modern Welsh Corgi and the Lancashire Heeler

The Lithuanian Hound is a sleek, muscular descendant of the Bloodhound, among other hounds

The Keeshond is a very old breed native to Germany; his gentle temperament makes for a wonderful companion and watchdog

The Belgian Sheepdog comes in four varieties — the Groenendael, Laekenois, Tervuren and Malinois

And we can't forget the Swedish Vallhund, also known as the Västgötaspets and Swedish cow dog. Vallhund in English means herding dog, and the Swedish Vallhund was originally bred to drive and herd cows over 1,000 years ago.

It is an ancient, national dog breed of Sweden that dates back to the Viking settlement of England and is thought to have played a part in the development of the modern Welsh Corgi and the Lancashire Heeler. In 1942, the breed had a close call with extinction, but careful breeding and publicity saved the day.



V Husky Argues When Dachshund Has Her Toy


V Amy look alike eating watermelon

V Amy look alike eating watermelon

What Hogwarts House Does Your Pet Really Belong In? Brandy got Gryffindor

Pit Bull Faces Off Against a Terrifying … Ladybug (VIDEO)

V Husky refuses to go outside, throws epic temper tantrum

Slideshow: The Truth About Pets and Personality Dog people were 11% more conscientious than cat people... Dog people were 15% more extroverted than cat people in the survey.. Cat people were 11% more likely to be open and artistic, if you're a dog person, you're 13% more likely to be agreeable than a cat person... If you get stressed out easily, you may be a cat person. If dogs tend to be energetic, faithful, and easy to get along with, well, so do the people who love them. cat owners were more likely to be curious, unconventional in thinking and actions, and more prone to worry than dog people. Dogs have rightfully earned their reputation as man’s best friend. No matter the size or breed, a dog provides a lifetime of love and loyalty. Dogs are social animals, and they thrive on human companionship. Doggie downside: Must be trained. Even the best dog can have some not-so-cute behaviors. Dogs bark, jump up, dig, tug at the leash, or even growl and bite. To curb bad behavior, you need to teach your dog what’s OK and what’s not.

Adorable Bulldog Puppy Cannot Get Enough Of His New Comfy Bed

20 Things You Can Learn From Your Pets slideshow

~

Here's 21 Reasons To Prevent You From Getting A Pit Bull

They play way too rough for other dogs:

They'll rudely wake you up from your sleep:

They hate to be cuddled and/or held:

They strike terror in all other animals

~~~
V Dog Slumbering All Over the Bed


Biscuit may have gotten into the garden and made a bit of a mess, but she's definitely having a happy day. Sometimes we need to make a mess of things in order for it all to work out — and Biscuit thinks that's okay.

V Diva Husky Doesn’t Want to Ride in Back

V 'Meet Your New Human Sister, Dude'

V Shar-Pei Is Great at Tapping for Attention

V Malamute Throws a Tantrum Under the Coffee Table

V Tonka: But I Didn't Want a Bath!

V German Shepherd's Billy Joel Sing-Along

V Police Dog Jango Has Requirements

V Shih Tzu Puppy Knows Tricks

V French Bulldog Is Ready for Anything!

V Bulldog Answers 'Yes' Before Hearing the Question

V Westie Practices Her Combat Readiness Moves

V Puppy 'Humble-Brags' About His New Neckerchief

V Huskies Argue Over Who Should Be Nearest Their Human

V Rescue Dog Plays ‘Mom’ to Foster Kitties

V Dog Complains About Her Difficult Day

V Alaskan Malamute Teaching Little Sis to Howl

V Husky Argues About Stealing Shoe

V Newfoundland Outsmarts Owner

V Boxer Wants a Spot Near the Fire, Too

V Little Girl and Her Dogs Don’t Want to Wake Up

V Shiba Inu Puppy so Happy When His Human Comes Home

V Husky’s in His Element With the Season’s First Snowfall

V Puppies Responding to Snow

V Dog Buddies Elated To Be Together Again

V Dog Loves New Rescues at Farm Sanctuary







Cats


V Go-Getter Lion Plays Fetch Like a Dog

V Ragdoll Cat Timo Loves Cuddles

V Cat Claims New Rug, so Don't Try Moving Him!

V If the Shoebox Fits, These Cats Will Own It!

V Rescue Dog Plays ‘Mom’ to Foster Kitties

V Cat Helps his mom sing a song

V 'Problem Kitty' or Adorable Genius?

V D'Artagnan, the Staring Cat

V Guy Asks Kitty, 'Who's a Good Boy?'


Why cats aren't Republican








Death, Funerals


“In America, anyone can become president. That's the problem.” - George Carlin

Final Exit Network

World Federation of Right to Die Societies Ensuring Choices for a Dignified Death

"Today we refer to the physical body as our own — with no notion of how unjustified this is.

"While a man is going about on Earth, he regards his physical body and his etheric body — of which he knows little, but at least he feels it in his powers of growth, and so on — as his own body, but he has no right to do so. Only his Ego and his astral body are his.

"Everything present in his physical body and etheric body — even while he is on Earth — is the property of the divine-spiritual Beings who live and weave within them, and continue their work while the man is absent in sleep.

"It would go badly with anyone if he had to care for his own etheric and physical bodies in continual wakefulness between birth and death. Time and time again he is obliged to hand over his physical and etheric bodies to the Gods — especially during childhood, for then sleep is the most important thing of all.

"Later in life sleep works only as a corrective; the really fructifying sleep is the sleep that comes to a child in the first years of its life. Thus the human being has continually to be yielding up both physical and etheric bodies to the care of the Gods.

"In past ages of human evolution this was so clearly perceived that the body was called the temple of the Gods, for so was its wonderful structure experienced. And in all architectural work — this can best be seen in oriental buildings, but also in those of Egypt and of Greece — the laws of the physical body and the etheric body were followed. In the very way the Cherubim are set on the temples of the East, in the attitude of a sphinx, or in the placing of pillars — in all this the work of divine-spiritual Beings in the human physical and etheric bodies has been made to live again. In the course of evolution, consciousness of this has been lost; and to-day we refer to the physical body as our own — with no notion of how unjustified this is — whereas as an earthly creation it belongs in reality to the Gods.

"Hence, when anyone to-day talks of “my body”, when he speaks of the healthy functioning of his body as due to himself, it is just an instance of the prodigious arrogance of modern man — a subconscious pride, certainly, expressed with no awareness of it, but none the less deplorable. It shows how in speaking of their bodies as their own, people are really laying claim to the property of the Gods, and this pride is embodied in their very speech." - Rudolf Steiner – GA 227 – The Evolution of Consciousness: Lecture X: Man’s Life after Death in the Spiritual Cosmos – Penmaenmawr, 28th August 1923. Translated by Violet E. Watkin & Charles Davy

"Between death and a new birth, we learn to read the conditions here on earth in relationship with the spiritual world. Try to realize this, try to imagine these conditions. Then you will have to confess that it is, indeed, deeply significant to say that the world which we first learn to know through our senses and our understanding is an illusion, a Maya. As soon as we approach the real world, we find that the world that we know is related to this real world in the same way in which the reflection in the mirror is related to the living reality before the mirror, which is reflected in it." - Rudolf Steiner – GA 179 – Historical Necessity and Freewill: Lecture 4: The Rhythmical Relationship of Man with the Universe and with the World of the Dead – Dornach, December 11, 1917

"When we go through the gate of death our life on earth is followed by a few days in which pictures of the life just ended come before us in a gigantic perspective. These pictures are suddenly there: the events of years long past and of the last few days are there simultaneously. As the spatial exists side by side and only possesses spatial perspective, so the temporal events of our earthly life are now seen side by side and possess ‘time-perspective’. This tableau appears suddenly, but, during the short time it is there, it becomes more and more shadowy, weaker and weaker.

"Whereas in earthly life we look into ourselves and feel that we have our memory-pictures ‘rolled up’ within us, these pictures now become greater and greater. We feel as if they were being received by the universe. What is at first comprised within the memory tableau as in a narrow space, becomes greater and greater, more and more shadowy, until we find it has expanded to a universe, becoming so faint that we can scarcely decipher what we first saw plainly. We can still divine it; then it vanishes in the far spaces and is no longer there.

"That is the second form taken by memory — in a sense, its second metamorphosis — in the first few days after death. It is the phase which we can describe as the flight of our memories out into the cosmos. And all that, like memory, we have bound so closely to our life between birth and death, expands and becomes more and more shadowy, to be finally lost in the wide spaces of the cosmos." - Rudolf Steiner – GA 234 – Anthroposophy, An Introduction – Lecture IX – Dornach, 10th February 1924 Translated by Vera Compton-Burnett


Privacy

The Birth And Death Of Privacy: 3,000 Years of History Told Through 46 Images

Jean-Leon Gerome, The Large Pool Of Bursa

2-Minute Summary


Privacy, as we understand it, is only about 150 years old.

Humans do have an instinctual desire for privacy. However, for 3,000 years, cultures have nearly always prioritized convenience and wealth over privacy.

Section II will show how cutting edge health technology will force people to choose between an early, costly death and a world without any semblance of privacy. Given historical trends, the most likely outcome is that we will forgo privacy and return to our traditional, transparent existence.








Anger

"Anger has its value for the development of the human being. The human being must purify himself, he must overcome anger. Anger is something that works beneficially in that it is overcome. The human being would never be able to reach perfection without conquering anger." - Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 108 – Die Beantwortung von Welt- und Lebensfragen durch Anthroposophie – St. Gallen, November 21, 1909 (page 100) Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger








Celebrities

John Oliver buys up $15 million in medical debt, then pays off the debt for 9,000 people in hardship

Bourdain In Trinidad


V The Double Life Of Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain slams ‘privileged’ liberals for ‘utter contempt’ of working class


Anthony Bourdain speaks during South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, in March. (Photo: Rich Fury/Invision/AP)

Celebrity chef and self-described “privileged Eastern liberal” Anthony Bourdain slammed his fellow leftist elites this week, arguing that their disdain for working-class Americans helped create “the upswell of rage and contempt” that propelled 'ald Trump to the presidency.

“The utter contempt with which privileged Eastern liberals such as myself discuss red-state, gun-country, working-class America as ridiculous and morons and rubes is largely responsible for the upswell of rage and contempt and desire to pull down the temple that we’re seeing now,” Bourdain said in an interview with Reason magazine.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in gun-country, God-fearing America,” Bourdain continued. “There are a hell of a lot of nice people out there, who are doing what everyone else in this world is trying to do: the best they can to get by and take care of themselves and the people they love. When we deny them their basic humanity and legitimacy of their views, however different they may be than ours, when we mock them at every turn and treat them with contempt, we do no one any good.”

He added, “We should be breaking bread with each other and finding common ground whenever possible.”

"You learn so much. You learn so much more about (Vietnam), for instance, sitting on a low plastic stool, drinking coffee or eating some spicy noodles--just watching the Vietnamese, how they live, where they go, the rhythms of daily life. It’s deeply satisfying, enlightening, and instructive." — Anthony Bourdain



V Mike Rowe Breaks His Silence On Anthony Bourdain In Post That Says It All – This Is EVERYTHING.

V The Death of Anthony Bourdain: Coverups, Lies, Connections, Fault, Causation & Media Redirection

#2 V The Untold Truth Of Anthony Bourdain good review

V The troubling signs leading up to Anthony Bourdain’s suicide

#1 V Anthony Bourdain Collection on Late Show, 2000-2011 great story

V Medium raw. Anthony Bourdain in conversation

V Anthony Bourdain on Going from Obama to Trump | The New Yorker Festival

#3 V Anthony Bourdain on Guy Fieri, women, and booze | On The Table | Reserve Channel

V Anthony Bourdain's Life Advice Will Change Your Future (MUST WATCH)

V The life and legacy of Anthony Bourdain, in his own words

V Meat Loaf Legacy - full concert - The Royal Albert Hall RARE FULL SHOW with Aspen Miller

Meat Loaf Wikipedia Michael Lee Aday (born Marvin Lee Aday; September 27, 1947), better known by his stage name Meat Loaf, is an American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, and actor. He is noted for his powerful, wide-ranging operatic voice and theatrical live shows.

His Bat Out of Hell trilogy of albums (consisting of Bat Out of Hell, Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell, and Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose) has sold more than 50 million copies worldwide.[1] Almost 40 years after its release, Bat Out of Hell still sells an estimated 200,000 copies annually and stayed on the charts for over nine years, making it one of the best selling albums in history

After the commercial success of Bat Out of Hell and Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell and earning a Grammy Award for Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance for the song "I'd Do Anything for Love", Meat Loaf experienced some initial difficulty establishing a steady career within the United States. However, he has retained iconic status and popularity in Europe, especially the United Kingdom, where he received the 1994 Brit Award for best-selling album and single, appeared in the 1997 film Spice World, and ranks 23rd for the number of weeks spent on the UK charts as of 2006. He ranked 96th on VH1's "100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock"

He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, with worldwide sales of more than 80 million records.[4] He has also appeared in over 50 movies and television shows,[5] sometimes as himself or as characters resembling his stage persona. His most notable roles include Eddie in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), Robert "Bob" Paulson in Fight Club (1999), and "The Lizard" in The 51st State (2002). He has also appeared as a guest actor in television shows such as Monk, Glee, South Park, House, and Tales from the Crypt.

Birth name Marvin Lee Aday
Born September 27, 1947 (age 70)
Dallas, Texas, U.S.

Meat Loaf official site







Rudolf Steiner

Akasha Chronicle: It is written in the Great Book of Life

Everything that happens in the physical sense-world has its counterpart in the spiritual world. When a hand is moved, there is more before you than the moving hand seen by your eye, there is my thought and my volition: ‘My hand must move.’ A spiritual background is there. Whereas the ocular, sensible impression of the hand passes away, its spiritual counterpart remains engraved in the spiritual world and unfailingly leaves a trace there.

So that, when our spiritual eyes are opened, we can follow the traces and find the spiritual counterpart of everything that has happened in the world. Nothing can happen in the world without leaving such traces. Let us suppose the spiritual investigator lets his gaze wander back to the days of Charlemagne, or to Roman times, or to ancient Greece. Everything that happened in those times is preserved in the trace left by its spiritual prototype, and can be observed in the spiritual world. This kind of vision is called ‘reading the Akashic records’.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 112 – The Gospel of St. John – Lecture 2 – Cassel, 25th June 1909. Translated by George Metaxa

Heaven

The most important characteristic of this devachanic world (HEAVEN) is that in it moral actualities are no longer separable from the physical, that moral and physical laws are one and the same. What does that mean? Well, is it not true that in the ordinary physical world the sun shines upon the just and the unjust? Whoever commits a crime may be put in prison, but the physical sun is not darkened. That is to say: in the physical world there is a realm of moral and physical laws, leading in two very different directions.

It is not so in Devachan, not at all; instead of this, everything proceeding from morality, from intelligent wisdom, from the aesthetically beautiful, and so on, leads to growth (is creative,) and that which arises from immorality, intellectual falsity, and aesthetic ugliness leads to withering and destruction. And there the laws of nature are such that the sun does not shine upon the just and the unjust alike but, if we may speak figuratively, it darkens upon the unjust; so that the just, passing through Devachan, have there the spiritual sunshine, that is to say, the influence of the fertilizing forces that bring about their forward progress in life.

The spiritual forces draw back from the dishonest or ugly human being. The following is possible there which is impossible here on earth. When two people — just and unjust — walk here side by side, the sun cannot shine upon one and not upon the other; but in the spiritual world the effect of the spiritual forces depends absolutely upon the quality of the individual concerned. That is to say: the laws of nature and the spiritual laws do not follow two separate roads, but one and the same. That is the fundamental, essential truth. In the devachanic world the natural, moral, and intellectual laws act together as one.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 143 – Psychoanalysis in the Light of Anthroposophy – Munich, February 25, 1912 Translated by May Laird-Brown

~~~
"Just as we work with nature’s forces here on earth, just as we use external objects of nature as tools, so in the same way does work take place between us and the Beings of the higher spiritual Hierarchies. "And what manner of work is this? This work consists in the fact that the spirit-soul human being, conjointly with an enormous number of sublime spiritual Beings of the cosmos, is weaving the cosmic spirit-germ of his physical human body in the spiritual realm. However peculiar this may seem to you — to weave the physical human body as spiritual germ out of the whole cosmos — it is the greatest, the most significant piece of work conceivable in the cosmos.

"And not only does the human soul in the state described work at this, but the human soul works at it conjointly with whole hosts of divine-spiritual Beings. For, if you visualize the most complicated thing that can be formed here on earth, you find it primitive and simple in contrast with that mighty fabric of cosmic vastness and grandeur which is woven there and which, compressed and condensed through conception and through birth, becomes permeated with physical earth matter and then becomes the human physical body." - Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 218 – The Concealed Aspects of Human Existence and the Christ Impulse – The Hague, November 5, 1922 Translated by Katharine L. Federschmidt

"What could be more uplifting than to know that we can discover the fount of our life between death and rebirth. We can discover our kinship with the whole universe! What could give us greater strength for our duties in life than the knowledge that we bear within us the forces pouring in from the universe and must so prepare ourselves in life that these forces can become active in us when, between death and rebirth, we pass into the spheres of the planets and of the Sun.

"One who truly grasps what occultism can reveal to him about man’s relation to the world of the stars can say with sincerity and understanding the prayer that might be worded somewhat as follows, “The more conscious I become that I am born out of the universe, the more deeply I feel the responsibility to develop in myself the forces given to me by a whole universe, the better human being I can become.”

"One who knows how to say this prayer from the depths of the soul may also hope that it will become in him a fulfilled ideal. He may hope that through the power of such a prayer he will indeed become a better and more perfect man. Thus what we receive through true spiritual science works into the most intimate depths of our being." - Rudolf Steiner – GA 140 – Life Between Death and Rebirth: III – Hanover, November 18, 1912 [Translated by Rene Querido]

Anecdote

"There is a lovely anecdote about how the different peoples study natural history, say, for example, studying a kangaroo, or some other African animal. "The Englishman makes a trip to Africa – as Darwin once did, to acquire scientific knowledge, travels around the world and considers the animal in the environment where it really lives. Then he can see how it lives, what his natural circumstances are. "The Frenchman brings the animal from the wilderness into the zoo. He studies it at the zoo; He does not consider the animal in its natural environment, but in the zoo.

"And what does the German do? He does not interfere with the animal at all, what it looks like, but he sits in his study and begins to think. The thing in itself does not interest him – in line with the Kantian philosophy, as I have told you recently – but he is only interested in what is in his head. There he thinks about it. And after he has thought about it long enough, he says something. But what he has to say is not in accord with reality."

- Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 353 – Die Geschichte der Menschheit und die Weltanschauungen der Kulturvölker – Dornach, May 20, 1924 (page 273) Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

"She gazed at her husband. Being loved and admired by a man like that—and she knew that this man, this mechanic, this fixer of machines with their broken hearts, did indeed love and admire her—was like walking in the sunshine; it gave the same feeling of warmth and pleasure to bask in the love of one who has promised it, publicly at a wedding ceremony, and who is constant in his promise that such love will be given for the rest of his days. What more could any woman ask? None of us, she thought, not one single one of us, could ask for anything more than that." - from "The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine: No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency"

Knowledge of the spiritual world can only be acquired on earth


"The fact that the dead live in the spiritual world does not necessarily give them knowledge of the world, although they can see it. The knowledge which can be acquired through Spiritual Science can only be acquired on earth; it cannot be acquired in the spiritual world. If, therefore, the beings in the spiritual world are to possess it too, they can only gain it from the beings still on the earth. That is an important secret of the spiritual worlds. We may live in them and be able to perceive them, but the necessary knowledge concerning these worlds can only be acquired on earth." - Rudolf Steiner – GA 140 – Descriptive Sketches of the Spiritual World: Lecture I – Bergen, 10th October 1913 [Translated by Harry Collison]

"All talk of limits to human knowledge is a nonsense. One should rather ask: Is it not possible for the human being to rise to a higher level of knowledge? Are not what one calls the eyes and the ears of the spirit perhaps a reality? There have always been individuals who have worked on certain latent faculties and who can thus see more than others. Their testimony might be just as valid as the testimony of those who look through the microscope. How many people have actually seen what the scientific history of creation teaches? I would like to ask, how many people have seen what they talk about? How many, for example, have in actual fact, proof of the development of the human embryo? If they were to ask themselves such questions they would see what a blind faith it is that governs them. And if it is a justified faith, then the faith based on the testimony of the Initiates who speak from their spiritual experiences is equally justified." - Rudolf Steiner – GA 54 – Woman and Society – Hamburg, 17th November 1906

"Alcohol only arose after the Atlantean epoch to help men to become individualized. It closes man off from his higher capacities and encloses him in himself.

"But now all civilized people have reached that stage so that alcohol is an unnecessary evil today. Through its use one loses the ability to get along with others and to understand them. Alcohol is especially harmful for esoterics since its use changes all developed higher forces into forces of the personal ego, repeatedly locks it into itself.

"By consuming alcohol one prepares a fertile soil for hosts of spiritual beings, just as a dirty room gets filled with flies." - Rudolf Steiner – GA 266 – From the Contents of Esoteric Classes: Esoteric Lesson – Stuttgart, August 13, 1908

"{On Earth, we have to be active, move from place to place, be on the go. It is an important characteristic of daily life that what is presented to our perception comes to us without our activity. However grotesque it may appear, the opposite is true in the spiritual world. There one cannot be active, one cannot draw anything towards one by moving from one place to another. Nor can one bring anything to one simply by moving a limb — by the movement of a hand, for example. Above all, for something to happen in the spiritual world it is essential that there be absolute calmness of soul." - Rudolf Steiner – GA 140 – Life Between Death and Rebirth: IV: Recent Results of Occult Investigation Into Life – Vienna, November 3, 1912. Translated by Rene M. Querido

Steiner taught himself Latin and Greek

His teaching (the teacher of the German language and literature in the three upper classes) gave me much to do. For he covered in the fifth class the Greek and Latin poets, from whom selections were used in German translation. Then for the first time I began to regret once in a while that my father had put me in the Realschule instead of the Gymnasium. For I felt how little of the character of Greek and Roman art I should get hold of through the translations.

So I bought Greek and Latin text-books, and carried along secretly by the side of the Realschule course also a private Gymnasium course of instruction. This required much time; but it also laid the foundation by means of which I met, although in unusual fashion yet quite according to the rules, the Gymnasium requirements.

I had to give many hours of tutoring, especially when I was in the Technische Hochschule in Vienna. I soon had a Gymnasium pupil to tutor. Circumstances of which I shall speak later brought it about that I had to help this pupil by means of tutoring through almost the whole Gymnasium course. I taught him Latin and Greek, so that in teaching him I had to go through every detail of the Gymnasium course with him.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 28 – The Story of My Life: Chapter II

Friendships in Devachan

It is incorrect to say that man is asleep in Devachan; incorrect that he is concerned only with himself, or that relationships begun on Earth are not continued there. On the contrary, a friendship truly founded on spiritual affinity continues with great intensity. The circumstances of physical life on Earth bring about real experiences there. The inwardness of friendship brings nourishment to the communion of spirits in Devachan and enriches it with new patterns; it is precisely this which feeds the soul there. Again, an elevated aesthetic enjoyment of nature is nourishment for the life of the soul in Devachan.

All this is what human beings live on in Devachan. Friendships are as it were the environment with which a man surrounds himself there. Physical conditions all too often cut across these relationships on Earth. In Devachan the way in which two friends are together depends only on the intensity of their friendship. To form such relationships on Earth provides experiences for life in Devachan.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual Science: LECTURE FOUR: DEVACHAN – Stuttgart, 25th August 1906
Translated by E.H. Goddard & Charles Davy

Above all you must get rid of the notion that your opinion is worth more than that of other people

Self-knowledge is one of the hardest things to acquire, and it is precisely those who think they know themselves best who are most likely to be deceived: they think too much about themselves. You should get out of the habit of fixing your attention on yourself and constantly using the word “I” — “I think, I believe, I consider this right”. Above all you must get rid of the notion that your opinion is worth more than that of other people.

Suppose, for instance, that someone is very clever. If he displays his cleverness in the company of people who are not so clever, his behaviour will be very ill-timed; he will be doing it only to please his own egoism. He ought to adapt his response to the needs and capacities of others.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual Science: Lecture XIV: Rosicrucian Training – The Interior of the Earth – Earthquakes and Volcanoes – Stuttgart, 4th September 1906

Translated by E.H. Goddard & Charles Davy

Good habits will produce good health

Good habits will produce good health; bad ones will create a tendency to some specific illness in the next life. A strong determination to rid oneself of a bad habit will work down into the physical body and produce a tendency to good health. How a disposition to infectious diseases arises in the physical body has been particularly well observed. Whether we actually get a disease will depend on what we do; but whether we are specially liable to contract it is the result of the inclinations we had in a previous life. Infectious diseases, strangely enough, can be traced back to a highly developed selfish acquisitiveness in a previous life.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual Science – Lecture VII: Workings of the Law of Karma in Human Life – Stuttgart, 28th August 1906

Translated by E.H. Goddard & Charles Davy

The mission of evil

The power needed to overcome the evil will yield a power that can reach the heights of holiness. A field has to be treated with manure and the manure has to ferment in the soil; similarly, humanity needs the manure of evil in order to attain to the highest holiness. And herein lies the mission of evil. A man’s muscles get strong by use; and equally, if good is to rise to the heights of holiness, it must first overcome the evil which opposes it. The task of evil is to promote the ascent of man.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual Science – Lecture VIII: Good and Evil – Stuttgart, 29th August 1906

Translated by E.H. Goddard & Charles Davy

What is conscience?

Conscience is the outcome of experiences spread over a number of incarnations. Fundamentally, all knowledge, from the highest to the lowest, is the outcome of what a man has experienced; it has come into being as a result of trial and error.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual Science – Lecture VIII: Good and Evil – Stuttgart, 29th August 1906

Translated by E.H. Goddard & Charles Davy

Immortality/Unbornness

People talk of immortality only as the negation of death. Certainly this side of immortality is as important as the other — we shall have much more to say about it — but the immortality we first come to know in the way I have briefly indicated is not the negation of death, but “unbornness”, the negation of birth; and both sides are equally real. Only when people come once more to understand that eternity has these two sides — immortality and “unbornness” — will they be able to recognise again in man that which is enduring, truly eternal.

Modern languages all have a word for immortality, but they have lost the word “unbornness”, although older languages had it. This side of eternity, “unbornness”, was lost first, and now, in this materialistic age, the tragic moment is threatening when all knowledge of immortality may be lost — for in the realm of pure materialism people are no longer willing to know anything whatever of the spiritual part of man.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 227 – The Evolution of Consciousness: I: First Steps towards Imaginative Knowledge – Penmaenmawr, 19th August 1923

Translated by Violet E. Watkin & Charles Davy

We have in German a good expression for a man who refuses to become wise

"We have in German a good expression for a man who refuses to become wise. We call him a Philistine. [German: Philister – The German and the English meanings of the word are rather different. (Tr.)] A Philistine is a man who resists the development of wisdom, who wants to remain as he is his whole life through, without altering his opinions. A man who seeks to become wise makes the effort to carry over the work which he has done and stored up in the course of earlier incarnations. The wiser we become, the more we bring over from earlier incarnations into the present, and if we do not wish to become wise, so that we leave barren the wisdom developed in earlier incarnations, there is then one who comes to saw it off: Ahriman. No-one likes it better than Ahriman that we fail to grow wiser. "

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 159 – The Great Virtues – Zürich, January 31, 1915

Understanding must take the place of criticism

For the development of the soul it is necessary that one acquire a certain definite manner of judging one’s fellowmen. It is difficult to attain an uncritical attitude, but understanding must take the place of criticism. It suppresses the advancement of the soul if you confront your fellowman immediately with your own opinion. We must hear the other out first, and this listening is an extraordinarily effective means for the development of the soul eyes. Anybody who reaches a higher level in this direction owes it to having learned to abstain from criticizing and judging everybody and everything. How can we look understandingly into somebody’s being? We should not condemn but understand the criminal’s personality, understand the criminal and the saint equally well. Empathy for each and everyone is required and this is what is meant with higher, occult “listening.” Thus, if a person brings himself with strict self-control to the point of not evaluating his fellowman, or the rest of the world for that matter, according to his personal judgment, opinion and prejudice and instead lets both work on him in silence, he has the chance to gain occult powers. Every moment during which a person becomes determined to refrain from thinking an evil thought about his fellowman is a moment gained.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 53 – The Inner Development of Man – Berlin, 15th December 1904

Translated by Maria St. Goar






Compassion


5 Studies That Show How Wealth Warps Your Soul






Population Control

Would You Refrain From Having Children to Save the Planet? Hayes has the last word in The Guardian’s article. “If a large British family lives as sustainably as it can,” she said, “they will still need the carbon-emitting infrastructure of homes, transport, schools and hospitals. Vast areas of our planet are going to be uninhabitable as climate change progresses but we can reduce this impact by limiting our families to replacement size.






Birthdays

"Birthdays are good for you! Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest." - Father Larry Lorenzoni
~

"A human being is part of a whole, called by us the 'Universe,' a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest--a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty." Albert Einstein







Pain & Suffering

"The greatest wisdom is acquired by the quiet endurance of pain and suffering... Many people deplore pain and suffering, but from a higher point of view this is quite unjustified, for if they are overcome and the person is ready for a new incarnation, suffering and pain are the sources of wisdom, prudence and comprehensiveness of vision.... has long been known to the occultist, for the greatest wisdom of the world is acquired by the quiet endurance of pain and suffering; this creates wisdom in the next incarnation." - Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 99 – Theosophy of the Rosicrucian – VI The Law of Destiny – Munich 30th May, 1907 Translated by M. Cotterell & D. S. Osmond







Meaning, Karma

A Quest for Meaning, Mercola and video

“A Quest for Meaning” follows two childhood friends as they travel the globe in search for the meaning of life

Questions about the collective beliefs that have shaped Western civilization are investigated, as are the changes in consciousness we now see as more people are becoming inspired to live more in harmony with the natural world

For many, the way to reconnect with nature is through food — planting, tending, harvesting and eating what they’ve grown. Or, at the very least, knowing where the food comes from and how it was grown

A finite world cannot accommodate infinite consumption. The current system must be replaced with a new system that takes only that which is required, and returns to the earth something that supports the continued cycle of growth

Modern science tells us we’re not only interdependent with nature here on planet Earth, but we’re also interdependent with Universe as a whole. Quantum mechanics also tells us that there’s no way of breaking this unity


Karma

"In fact the law of karma is the most consoling law there is. Just as it is true that nothing exists without a cause, so it is equally true that nothing existing remains without its effects. I may be born in poverty and misery; my abilities may be very limited; yet whatever I do must produce its effect, and whatever I accomplish now, by way of industry or moral activity, will certainly have its effect in later lives. If it depresses me to think that I have deserved my present destiny, it may equally cheer me to know that I can frame my future destiny myself." - Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual Science – Lecture VI – Stuttgart, 27th August 1906. Translated by E. H. Goddard & Charles Davy

Meditation

"What we want to attain through esoteric exercises is to concentrate completely on one thought and afterwards to let an empty space arise in us and to wait for what flows to us as a result of our meditation. What we attain thereby depends on the intensity of the perseverance that we have applied to this. One might think that one gets ahead faster by changing exercises, but the most profound esoterics have always said that they got the furthest by doing the same exercise with patience and perseverance for years." - Rudolf Steiner – GA 266 – From the Contents of Esoteric Classes: Esoteric Lessons Part II – Munich, 10th January 1912







Priotities

5 things you should always prioritize in life Think of them as personal investments that guarantee fabulous returns over time.

In a thought-provoking article for The Mission, writer Srinivas Rao outlines what he considers to be 5 essential investments every person should make in themselves. When these five things are prioritized, it affects every aspect of your life for the better, resulting in greater happiness, health, work performance, and more.

1. Physical Health

This is the first thing most people think of, but it encompasses far more than just going to the gym on a regular basis. Getting enough quality sleep and eating well are just as important. If you hate working out, Rao recommends developing an athletic hobby, like surfing, snowboarding, yoga, or GARDENING. Make exercise less of a chore and you'll grow to like it more. (I didn't set foot inside a gym until I was 25, and it became a highly unexpected addiction.)

2. Mental Health

Your mental state has an impact on everything around, from your job to your relationships to creative output to physical wellbeing. Surround yourself with positive influences (your primary relationship has a huge impact on everything you do), FOSTER A HABIT OF GRATITUDE, get a therapist, practice meditation, establish a productive routine. I'd add SPEND TIME OUTSIDE. Being outside has an incredible uplifting effect on one's mood and creative performance.

3. Education

Education should not stop with a diploma or degree; it's an ongoing, lifelong process. Thanks to the Internet, there's a world of valuable information at your fingertips, if you have the determination to access and absorb it. Rao thinks books, courses, and podcasts are all valuable investments, as long as you actually do them.

4. Professional Development

There will come a point where you cannot get any better doing something on your own. Know when to hire a trainer, a coach, a mentor; form a Mastermind group; or seek professional guidance in some other way. This may require a significant financial outlay, but you may very well learn more in a 2-day workshop than you'd teach yourself in a year.

5. Your Environment

The state of your surroundings affects your mental health and productivity. Staying tidy, organized, and well-dressed goes a long way toward fuelling inspiration. Choose a place to live that is conducive to becoming your best self. Perhaps that means moving downtown so you don't have to commute, or choosing a place that allows you to bike to work, or downsizing to enjoy greater financial freedom.

~~~~
10 Discoveries That Made Us Healthier in 2015


10 Pluses and Minuses of Being an Aging Baby Boomer--very funny The first item of business that needs to be put in order is the nomenclature. Is it really necessary to refer to us as elderly seniors winding down our golden years? We’re vintage. Classic. Enduring. Seasoned. Steadfast. Resilient. Ripe. And accumulating ripagosity every day.

5 Reasons Why Stephen Colbert's 'The Late Show' Will Make You Forget All About 'The Colbert Report' We've only scratched the surface of the man's genius — now that he's free from his character, the real fun begins

Jon Wreck 4.14.18 ~

"Lack of humility is due to nothing else than lack of knowledge. A penetrating, comprehensive knowledge of man in his connection with the events of the world and of history will certainly not lead to excessive self-esteem; far rather it will lead the human being to look at himself objectively." - Rudolf Steiner – GA 236 – Karmic Relationships: Esoteric Studies – Volume II – Dornach, 23rd April 1924 Translated by G. Adams, M. Cotterell, C. Davy, & D. S. Osmond

~~~
"Nowadays people often squabble over opinions. But that cannot continue, simply because it is necessary that everyone has their own opinion.

"When a tree is photographed from different sides, it is still the same tree, but the descriptions will be quite different; thus, every person can have his own opinion – depending on the position he places himself.

"The wise man will no longer fight over opinions. He will however, find some opinions healthy, and others unhealthy. But people no longer need to fight about opinions that differ from their own. It’s like looking at different pictures and then noticing: those pictures are quite unalike, these are good, and those others have failed.

"It can at most be interesting how a man comes to his opinion: whether an opinion is formed out of wisdom, or foolishness, whether an opinion is commonplace and infertile or noble and fruitful for humanity – that is of interest." - Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 337b – Soziale Ideen/Soziale Wirklichkeit/Soziale Praxis – Dornach, 16 August 1920 (page 62-63). Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

"The physical world is the expression of wisdom incarnate, divine wisdom" - Rudolf Steiner


"In every single man there lives a divine man. In the distant future this divine man will arise resurrected in every man. As man stands before us today he is, in his outward appearance, to a greater or lesser extent, an expression of the inner divine man, and this inner divine man works constantly on the outer man." - Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 94 – The Gospel of St. John – First Lecture– Berlin, 19th February 1906

"In human beings who perish as a result of earthquakes or volcanic eruptions one notices, during their next incarnation, inner qualities which are quite different. They bring from birth great spiritual pre-dispositions because, through their death, they were brought in touch with forces which showed them the true nature of reality and the illusion of material life." - Rudolf Steiner – GA 94 – An Esoteric Cosmology – Lecture XVI: Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Human Will – Paris, 12th June 1906 Translated by René Querido

Fear of the new and unknown

Daily we are experiencing that there actually lives a fear of the new and unknown in the souls of many people. They come and say, ‘ What is brought to us here is in contradiction with proven scientific results.’

But these thought combinations are nothing else but a pleasant mask with which the fear of the new and unknown clothes itself. And because it’s so nice to be able to say to oneself: one can prove something with logic, all arguments speak against this new way of looking at the world, one hides the fear; a fear that one would be ashamed of when one can see it in its true form. Even much that nowadays is merited as scientifically sound, which occurs with seemingly strict logic is nothing else but the masked inner fear for the new and unknown. - Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 77b–Kunst und Anthroposophie, Der Goetheanum-Impuls – Dornach, 21 August 1921 (page 18). Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Wherever the sensory world is the spiritual world is present as well

"The spiritual world is – as I have frequently stated here – not somewhere in a kind of unreal dream world, it is also present wherever the sensory world is; It penetrates, permeates this world; and wherever activities are visibly present, they are initiated by supersensible, spiritual activities. […..] The soul lives in the supersensible world before it is born, or rather till conception, it lives in the supersensible world and it stays connected to the spiritual world in this life. The soul is present in supersensible worlds not decades, but centuries before it enters earthly existence." - Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 72 – Freiheit Unsterblichkeit Soziales Leben – Basel, 18th October 1917 (page 47) Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger






Mothers Day







Seals












Coyotes








Ducks

Mallard duck’s nose kissing.






Rain







#Me Too

see also Making Tshuvah

A Gentleman’s Guide to the #MeToo Era

“Separate the syllables of the word gentleman, and you will see that the first requisite must be gentleness--gentle-man.”

“Few persons are sufficiently aware of the power of gentleness. It is slow in working, but it is infallible in its results.“

— The Gentlemen’s Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness by Cecil B Hartley

There are few things more dangerous than a man whose confusion leads to fear, which ultimately leads to anger. Right now many men are confused. Some are downright scared. Many believe that women wield a new form of power. Some of these same men accuse women of conducting a witch hunt. They claim they must contend with life-altering misinterpretations and career-ruining false allegations. They’re scared of this new power they believe women will leverage against them. Even Superman’s afraid, if you can believe it.

You know things are bad when the Man of Steel quivers.

Recently, actor Henry Cavill misspoke in an interview with GQ Australia intended to promote his new movie Mission Impossible:?—?Fallout. His words lit a firestorm of controversy related to the #MeToo Movement. Asked about his thoughts on the movement, Cavill said:

There’s something wonderful about a man chasing a woman. There’s a traditional approach to that, which is nice. I think a woman should be wooed and chased, but maybe I’m old-fashioned for thinking that.

That’s not a bad sentiment. If anything, it’s a perfectly harmless throwback expression of masculinity. But then the Superman actor went on to add:

It’s very difficult to do that if there are certain rules in place. Because then it’s like: ‘Well, I don’t want to go up and talk to her, because I’m going to be called a rapist or something’. So you’re like, ‘Forget it, I’m going to call an ex-girlfriend instead, and then just go back to a relationship, which never really worked’. But it’s way safer than casting myself into the fires of hell, because I’m someone in the public eye, and if I go and flirt with someone, then who knows what’s going to happen?

Whoa, Henry, hold your imaginary horses.

Do you see where he went wrong?

“…difficult to do that if there are certain rules in place.”

“Because I’m going to be called a rapist or something.”

“It’s way safer that casting myself into the fire of hell…”

With those three statements, he cast himself into the hell of internet outrage. And rightfully so.

The better question to ask is this: Why is Superman afraid of being called a rapist? Are false sexual assault allegations the new kryptonite? Not exactly.

This comic book metaphor is a wholly incorrect (and adolescent) way of looking at our modern moment. First, women aren’t wielding any new power. We haven’t eradicated abuse, harassment, and rape. The only change is that the world is finally, rightfully, listening to women, and holding their abusers, harassers, and rapists accountable. That’s huge. That’s good. We want more of that.

Those who claim the #MeToo Movement has gone too far, that it’s morphed into a witch hunt, are focusing on the wrong aspects of sexual abuse. The #MeToo Movement has one simple aim: Make the world safer for women by ensuring women are free from sexual harassment, abuse, assault, and rape. This goal can’t go “too far.”

Yet some men, and even some women, think it already has, or will. Although the hashtag originally conceived by Tarana Burke came about more than ten years ago, the recent heat and light generated by the #MeToo conversation in our culture is not even a year old, yet they already want to discuss the hypothetical dangers for men. Instead, we need to focus on how #MeToo brings justice to victims of abuse, harassment, assault, and rape. To stop future abuse.

After some reflection, Henry Cavill seems to have realized this truth. Or at least his handlers and PR people urged him to see the error in his statements. He was quick to apologize.

But let’s not pick on Cavill, who genuinely seems like a decent and old-fashioned guy (at least according to his self-assessment). He is by no means alone in fearing and criticizing the #MeToo Movement. Fellow action stars Matt Damon and Liam Neeson have both made clumsy statements that were met with condemnation. Damon, who often expresses himself in ham-fisted ways, blundered into a self-made controversy back in December. In January, Neeson called the #MeToo Movement “something of a witch hunt.”

But it’s not just men who’ve criticized #MeToo as a witch hunt, Damon and Neeson were soon followed by French actress Catherine Deneuve, who said the exact same thing. She also quickly apologized and walked back her remarks after experiencing a backlash.

You know who also labelled the #MeToo Movement a witch hunt?

Bill Cosby’s lawyers. If you’re on the same side of an argument as Bill Cosby’s lawyers, that alone should tell you something.

But here, let’s go one further. Kanye West’s friend and socio-political mentor, Candace Owens, wanted to add her two cents. She tweeted:

"I love that this conversation is finally happening. I was ahead of the curve on this and took a ton of bullets for telling the truth. Men are becoming scared to speak to women bc definitions have been blurred. https://www." - Candace Owens

Thankfully, to dispel Owens’ nonsensical two-cent notion that definitions have been blurred, we have all-around badass gentleman, Terry Crews. Though he once shared Henry Cavill’s mistaken criticisms and misplaced fears, his wife helped him see what matters most.

"I remember making comments about relationships between men and women that were very similar to what Henry Cavill said— and my wife called me out every time. "What changed is once I stopped trying 2 justify my intentions and actually started listening - it became painfully clear" - Terry Crews

Do you see how it became crystal clear to Crews? He stopped focusing on himself, and instead, he started to focus on the countless victims of sex crimes.

Crews reminds us all, men and women alike, to do two things. In the era of #MeToo, we must get in the habit of listening to women. We must believe women. Always. As a matter of habit. Will there be exceptions to the rule? Absolutely. But this is the new rule: listen to women. Essentially, men need to re-dedicate themselves to respecting women as our equals, our partners.

You always want to believe your partner. That’s a vital trust.

Additionally, thanks to his powerful confession of being sexually assaulted, Terry Crews widened the whole cultural discussion by pointing out that not all victims of sexual abuse are women. So, the larger message he offers is: Believe victims. Always.

Here’s the thing, guys. You have nothing to worry about…if you don’t commit any sex crimes. Pretty simple, right? You may be thinking: But the boundaries are shifting. How do I know what I can do anymore, like, when can I touch a woman in public? What if I take a picture with her and suddenly my hand–

I’ll stop you right there. Don’t be that guy. Don’t come up with wild-ass hypotheticals. Last week, video game developer Mark Kern attracted an online backlash after he tweeted something intending to highlight the difficult position modern men are in when it comes to approaching women:

"Guys, first moves are over. "Women, it’s all you now. You have to call us, send us gifts, do all the asking out and paying for dinner, make the first move, and provide consent paperwork in triplicate for the goodnight kiss. "We quit." - Mark Kern

Satire or not, Kern overlooks a huge loophole in his knee-jerk logic. If men who are sexually interested in women are “not mind readers,” then how did we get along before? Did Kern and, by extension, all straight men, just sort of blunder forward and hope for the best? What happened if they were wrong? If it turned out that their “first move” was uninvited sexual contact, are we supposed to blame the woman for not giving clear signals? Was it her fault that a man tried to kiss her?

See my point? There are two fatal fallacies of the inherent logic of Kern’s (satirical) argument: Blaming victims, and his notion of “mind reading” as a measure of whether a man should initiate a sexual contact makes it clear that in that past:

  1. Guys wrote off A LOT of unwanted sexual contact as mixed signals: “It’s her fault for leading me on,” or, “she should know what I’d want to do if we’re alone.” Once again, this blames the person who gets assaulted or kissed.
  2. Men are expected to be sexual aggressors, the ones who must “make it happen.” Women are expected to be mysterious creatures, whose sexual resistance must be overcome, and whose minds are impossible to read.

In order to protect men from the possible sting of rejection (or the mistake of not being a “mind reader”), Kern urges us to focus on how we can protect men’s feelings--how to mitigate the potential risk to their careers, reputations, and legacies. But as long as men are excused for their confusion, sex crimes are likely to continue.

So let’s clear up any confusion. Look, guys. I promise you can make the first move without any worry of being a sexual abuser or having to go pillar-to-post and say “it’s all up to women” now so that you feel safe. That’s far too simplistic. We’re better than that.

No, you don’t have to be a mind reader. You don’t even always need to stop and ask, “Can I kiss you?” But if you feel unsure, perhaps you should. A question removes all confusion. It’s far better than pressing on into dangerous uncertainty. Asking “Can I kiss you?” protects both parties in that fraught moment.

A sexual interaction is never just about the initiator. Like, obviously, right? We all get that. It’s about everyone involved. Never lose sight of this. You and your proposed sexual partner are equals. So you must respect women as people, not bed them as conquests whose objections or trepidations must be overcome.

This ain’t the mythical Fifties. Women don’t need to maintain their virtue. In case you missed it, women are definitely lusty sexual creatures. They want to get their freak on, too. Trust. But they only want to do it with men they feel comfortable with, men they’re attracted to, men they invite into their physical space.

When it comes to sexual interactions with a woman, comfort is key. And it should always be part of your sexual protocol. If she’s not comfortable alone with you, then she definitely doesn’t want you on or in her body. A woman’s comfort is the first step of seduction. You cannot skip past that.

Here. Just flip it for a second.

Imagine if some woman you weren’t interested in latched herself onto your lips like an Aliens face-hugger and started tongue-punching you without your permission. Or she groped your crotch in some fumbling attempt to feel your junk through your jeans. You would feel violated, right? You would feel assaulted, correct? Now flip it back it around. Do you want to be the Aliens face-hugger? Nah, son. You do not. So don’t be.

Also, you should never try to cajole or beg or coax or coerce or guilt or leverage with power or contractual obligations, whether explicit or implied, a woman into giving you sexual attention or repaying your kindness or loyalty with sexual favors. Don’t ever be that guy. He’s a punk-ass. He’s an abuser. Even if “it’s all legal.”

If you’re looking for guaranteed sexual interaction, hire a sex worker. That’s their job.

Otherwise, you are always dealing with an adult woman, one who has her own sexual agenda, and you need her agenda to align with yours. As equals. Simple.

~~~
ut let’s move past any vague set of Musts and Don’ts. For any man reading this who feels confused about how to approach a woman, how to converse with a woman in a sexual manner, or how to initiate sexual contact, there are ways to do this right, to do it well, and to do it effectively.

In that same GQ Australia interview, actor Henry Cavill shares his personal guide to being a gentleman, one who lives at the top of his game. Cavill keeps in his cell phone a list of 100 bullet points on how to be the best man you can be. Many of his rules are well-articulated and highly useful. Some of Cavill’s bullet points recommend:

19. Be the most positive and enthusiastic person you know.

20. Loosen up; relax. Except for rare life-or-death matters, nothing is as important as it first seems.

26. Be modest. A lot was accomplished before you were born.

And perhaps most important:

41. Show respect for everyone who works for a living, regardless of how trivial their job.

Show respect for everyone. This includes your potential sexual partners. But how can you show respect for women in the era of #MeToo and still act in a sexualized manner without being labelled an abuser, a harasser, or a rapist?

It’s way easier than you think.

BE A GENTLEMAN.

In 1860, Cecil B. Hartley wrote The Gentlemen’s Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness. His advice for gentlemen is as timely today as it was just before the start of the Civil War--but to help you out, I added a modern update in italics. This way, you can see that while things change, sexual etiquette remains the same. Consider these the new-old rules of sexual engagement.

1. “Never join a lady whom you may meet, without first asking her permission to do so.”

A gentleman should always ask a woman if his presence is welcome.

Example: “Is anyone sitting here? Would you mind if I joined you?”

2. “In meeting a lady do not offer to shake hands with her, but accept her hand when she offers it for you to take.”

Definitely never initiate physical contact with a woman first. Always allow her to be the first to do so.

Example: When at a bar (or other social space where flirtation is expected), do not touch a woman until she’s first touched you. Sounds kinda Victorian, right? It’s not. Touch is intimate. It’s a means of flirting. If she likes you, she will let you know, likely with a playful touch. Let her initiate that game.

3. “When inviting a lady to dance, if she replies very politely, asking to be excused, as she does not wish to dance (‘with you,’ being probably her mental reservation), a man ought to be satisfied. At all events, he should never press her to dance after one refusal.”

Learn to gracefully take “No” as answer, without acting like a colossal ass. And never insult her for saying “No.” It’s always her right to do so.

Example: If you approach a woman in a public space and she blows you off, just wish her a good day and walk on…like a gentleman.

4. “The lady who was so very amiable to you last night, has a right to ignore your existence to-day. In fact, a ballroom acquaintance rarely goes any further, until you have met at more balls than one. A prudent man will never presume on a girl’s liveliness or banter.”

Just because she was chill with you yesterday doesn’t mean you should expect anything today. A woman always reserves the right to change her mind. In other words, women don’t owe you shit.

5. “Perhaps the true definition of a gentleman is this: ‘Whoever is open, loyal, and true; whoever is of humane and affable demeanor; whoever is honorable in himself, and in his judgment of others, and requires no law but his word to make him fulfill an engagement; such a man is a gentleman, be he in the highest or lowest rank of life, a man of elegant refinement and intellect, or the most unpolished tiller of the ground.’”

To be a gentleman requires that you be respectful, graceful, and most of all, gentle. Imagine what cinematic gentleman Cary Grant might do. Then, do that.

6. “True courtship consists in a number of quiet, gentlemanly attentions, not so pointed as to alarm, not so vague as to be misunderstood.”

Be clear in your approach and intent, and always keep your words and actions gentleman-ly smooth. Example: Before you initiate any sexual contact, check to see that she’s comfortable in your presence. If she’s never physically touched you in a playful way, then, my man, she ain’t into you. You need that clearance, that tacit permission, before you ever think of pressing your lips or hands onto her body. Call it a consent check.

~~~
Let’s conclude with a quote from my homie, Cecil B. Hartley. He speaks to the undeniable power of gentleness:

The progressive dawn of day, the flow of the tide, the lapse of time, the changes of the seasons--these are carried on by slow and imperceptible degrees, yet their progress and issue none can mistake or resist. Equally certain and surprising are the triumphs of gentleness.

You see how that plays out, right? With the flow of respect and the touch of grace, the correct order of events and the right sequence of actions, man, you need not worry you’ll be misinterpreted as a harasser, or labeled an abuser, or called a rapist. Besides, gentleness is way more effective than conquest. It gets more done. Trust me on that. A confident gentleman is, and always will be, sexy AF. Ain’t nothing changed about that.

But if you still don’t feel like you know how to approach a woman in the #MeToo era, visualize yourself doing this easy step-by-step:

Start by saying “Hi.” Then, follow that with a joke, or a compliment not based on her body. If she responds favorably, enjoy a flirtatious conversation. But if she doesn’t have time for you, if she rebuffs your initial greeting, wish her a good day, and get on with your life.

Trust that women are sexual beings, too. They don’t need you to overcome their objections. They don’t want you to convince them to have sex. They’re not looking for a surprise, some out-of-the-blue kiss, an unsolicited dick pic, or a nasty comment. There’s no need for a modern man to be an aggressor.

Be HER PARTNER. You know, like a dance partner. You wouldn’t yank your dance partner around the floor and call it fun. Instead, you want to be graceful, smooth, and moving in time.

Before you press your body onto anyone else in a sexual way, the invitation from them should always be as clear to you as the sun in the sky. Just like there’s no mistaking the presence of the sun, there should be no mistaking a woman’s sexual interest in you.

It’s really just that simple. Whether you’re a regular man or Superman.






Tigers

A tribe in India just sent us this letter about tigers


Deep in the Indian jungle, elders in an indigenous tribe called the Chenchu gather to write a letter to the outside world.

The Chenchu are going through this trouble to talk to you because they are afraid. Lately, the government has been trying to get them to leave the jungle. They live on what has been declared a tiger reserve.

“Without us, the forest won’t survive, and without the forest, we won’t survive,” the Chenchu say in their letter.

The government says tigers need a human-free environment to flourish. It's true that tigers have faced a lot of trouble from humans over the past few decades. In the 70s, there were only 2,000 tigers left in India. But the link between tribal people and declining tigers is fuzzy at best. Poaching, logging and agriculture have been eating into tiger territory lately, while tribal people have been living in harmony with tigers for thousands of years.

“If a tiger or a leopard kills our cattle, we don’t feel disappointed or angry,” the Chenchu continue. “Instead, we feel as if our brothers have visited our homes and they have eaten what they wanted.”

In fact, the Chenchu may keep tigers and other forest plants and animals alive. When indigenous people are in an area, poachers steer clear and companies can’t just come in and use it for resources.

The Chenchu “consider themselves to be the eyes and ears of the forest,” explained Sophie Grig, a senior researcher at Survival International, an organization that campaigns for indigenous people’s rights. Grig is currently working with the Chenchu.

“All the tribal people we’ve talked to in India say, ‘If you remove us, the forest will be destroyed’,” Grig told me. “And actually, if you look around at where there is still forest in India, it’s pretty much where the tribal people are. Once they go, that’s when the companies come in, and it gets sold off for timber.”

In fact, Grig says the Indian government is currently looking into harvesting uranium in the area that the Chenchu people currently live. So, you know … Coincidence? I reached out to the Indian Ministry of the Environment, but they declined to comment.


“If there’s enough money in it, tiger protection just doesn’t seem to matter enough,” Grig added.

The Chenchu are just one group among many facing this kind of thing. Hundreds of thousands of indigenous people are being evicted from dozens of regions around the country. It's part of a pattern that's been going on around the world for hundreds of years. Governments and businesses "encourage," trick or force out indigenous people and ransack their lands for resources.

Legally, modern indigenous peoples in India are supposed to be able to choose whether they want to leave, but that choice can look a lot like extortion. For instance, when the government decided to evict the indigenous Munda people of India, they took Telenga Hassa, a Munda man, to see the resettlement villages. There, he saw people living under rows of black sheets propped up by sticks.

“It made my heart cry,” Hassa said, according to Grig.


So he and the other Munda were in good spirits as a forest service employee gathered them together one day to give them their forest rights, a piece of paper saying they had the right to live in the forest. The employee had them sign a paper. Many were illiterate, so they signed their names without reading.

Once they signed it, the employee explained they just signed away their rights and agreed to be relocated in exchange for new homes and land. The government moved them out of their village and sent elephants to trample the village so they wouldn't come back.

“They spent months in absolute squalor having to build their own houses,” Grig told me. “They didn’t get any land.”


While many tribes are removed, some manage to stay put. Grig says that the government is less likely to pull these tricks when they know people are keeping an eye on them. When the government tried to evict Soliga, another tribe, the Soliga fought back with a media campaign. The tribe got people around the world to write to the forest service, and the government backed off. According to Survival International, the local tiger population may have doubled after the Soliga were permitted to stay.

“We know that does really work, and we’ve seen it work again and again,” Grig said. “You don’t need huge numbers. You just need people to be aware they’re being watched.”









Humans

Humans are more like ants than lone wolves "Man is a wolf to man," say so many moody antiheroes in gritty dramas. Humans cheat and hurt each other constantly, and economists and cynics say we're selfish by nature. So it's no surprise that the rich exploit the poor, or that corporations destroy the environment. Right?

Except even wolves aren't wolves to each other. Wolves live in packs, where they sacrifice their own immediate desires for the needs of the group. So maybe it's time to stop thinking of humans as lone wolves. Lisa Krall, an economics professor at the SUNY Cortland, thinks that another animal tells us more about modern human nature: the ant.

A few years ago, a colleague started talking to Krall about ants.

"Do you think that it’s possible that the evolutionary dynamic of these species of insect has any similarity to humans when humans made the transition to agriculture?" he asked her.

"I guess I was crazy enough to say, 'Well, yeah, that's possible. Why don't we look at it?'" Krall replied.

Here's why: Back in the day, humans all lived in small, hunter-gatherer bands. But then people started farming, dividing up work and developing cities. That's pretty weird for mammals, but not so unusual for ants or termites.

"I'll take the example of the leaf cutter ant," Krall explained in a podcast. "They cut and harvest leaves, and then they feed the leaves to their fungal gardens, and they themselves then feed on the fungal gardens," she said. The ants "develop into vast, vast colonies that have highly developed, profound divisions of labor." Sound familiar?

~

"Humans have a capacity for dividing up tasks, communication, and that sort of thing that lends itself to engaging an agricultural economy," Krall continued.

But don't hold hands around the world quite yet. Being so good at working together has a dark side.

"The individual becomes more of a cog in the machine of producing those annual grains and keeping the society going," Krall said. "So people are more alienated. They have less personal autonomy. In humans, these societies became extraordinarily hierarchical."

That means you end up with a few people in charge, and a lot of people serving them.

"After the onset of agriculture, you get the development of these large-scale state societies, where probably the majority of people lived in some realm of servitude," Krall said. "That’s not a liberating thing."

Being so wrapped up in human society also separates people from nature.

"It sets humans up to have this kind of oppositional relationship with the non-human world," Krall said. "We manipulate and control it and dominate it."

People aren't evolved to fight nature. Humans evolved to be part of their environment. They spent most of their history as members of small tribes, living in and depending on other animals and plants.

"On the one hand, we do best embedded in a robust other-than-human world. We do best, we’re healthiest in that kind of world," Krall said. "And yet we have this strange part of our social evolution now that has taken us on tract which is going to destroy every bit of the non-human world before we’re done."

Humans don't hurt each other or the planet because we've wolves on the inside, Krall says. It's the opposite: people were so cooperative that they created a human-centric world. Lone wolves don't build cities.

"We engaged a kind of social evolution, that started with agriculture, that put us on a path of expansion and interconnectedness and ultimately, in humans, hierarchy, and all that kind of stuff," she said. "That is a really difficult path to disengage now ... Ten thousand years later, can we honestly say that global capitalism and expansionary, highly interconnected systems are a good thing? No. But that's where we've ended up."

It gets worse.

~

"People need to understand that evolution is not necessarily about perfection. It can't see ahead. And it is quite possible that we've been placed on an evolutionary dead end," she said. "When people ask me what my research is, I say, 'Well, I've come to the conclusion that humans evolved like ants and we're screwed.' I get deer in the headlights eyes. Like, 'What!?'"

I know, this all seems depressing. But don't sob into your screen yet. Because humans aren't actually ants.

"We also have things that ants and termites don’t have. We have institutional fabric, private property laws, the development of markets, methods of redistribution of income ..." Krall said. "The creation of institutions and technological change makes us very different than ants and termites."

Krall says that people should start thinking seriously about letting students go to college without ending up in debt, creating more affordable healthcare and other social safety nets if they want to change the system.

"Then people are able to think more critically about what they do," she continued. "Because right now people are so harried and worried and stressed that it’s hard for them to stop and hear a bird song, you know?"

Perhaps once people have the time and energy to figure out what sort of society they want and how they want to treat the planet, they can put their amazing cooperative powers to good use and make their vision happen.

"We have this infinite variety of cultures that we can adopt," Krall explained. "Through reflection, we can try to create different institutions, try to create change, and try to create different incentives and a different kind of system."

Forget about nations; we need to think for the world Treehugger Ilana Strauss August 14, 2018


Good guys and bad guys make great characters. Frodo versus Sauron. Harry versus Voldemort.

It's easy to think of the real world in terms of good guys and bad guys too. Solar panel makers are good guys; oil companies are bad guys. Politicians who stop fracking are good guys, politicians who build pipelines are bad guys.

But that narrative misses something crucial: businesses, politicians and countries compete with each other. If one oil company slows down the drilling, another will swoop in to drill more. If one country stops selling oil, another will take over the industry.

"Perhaps because of my business background, I realized that no nation could decisively reduce its carbon emissions unless virtually all other nations did so too because any nation trying to go it alone would only land its economy with increased costs and a competitive disadvantage," explained John Bunzl, the CEO for an international textile business who is working on a solution to this problem.

Even when green candidates get elected, they're stuck competing to stay in power.

"That’s why, once in office, one party behaves much like another and voters become increasingly disillusioned: an effect we call 'pseudo-democracy,'" Bunzl went on. "Our votes, apparently, have become substantially meaningless."

Environmental destruction, according to Bunzl, isn't about greed or ignorance. It's about being trapped in a game of Monopoly.

"Our problem today, at least in the West, is that most people including our politicians still operate with a nation-centric worldview whereas solving global problems depends on a critical number of us adopting a world-centric worldview," Bunzl added.

Bunzl argues that the only way for countries to solve the energy crisis is to do it together. Countries have to come up with an agreement, carry it out together and make sure no one cheats.

That may seem hard, and it is. But it's comforting to think that the world isn't in an environmental crisis because people are just rotten on the inside (after all, you can't do much about human nature). It's in a crisis because we haven't changed the game. Yet.






Death Penalty

Pope Francis declares death penalty 'inadmissible,' commits Catholic Church to fight for abolition Daily Kos

Pope Francis changes Catholic Church teaching to say death penalty is ‘inadmissible’ By Chico Harlan, Washington Post, August 2 , 2018

ROME — Pope Francis has changed Catholic Church teaching to fully reject the death penalty, the Vatican announced Thursday, saying it would work to abolish capital punishment worldwide.

It adds a new wrinkle to the question of what it means to be pro-life — particularly in the United States, where Catholics who support the death penalty sit on the Supreme Court and govern states that permit executions. At the same time, it will test the church’s ability to influence with a moral authority weakened by decades of sex abuse scandals.

The church’s updated teaching describes capital punishment as “inadmissible” and an attack on the “dignity of a person.” Previously, the church allowed for the death penalty in very rare cases, only as a means of “defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.”

Francis’s latest move places the issue toward the forefront of his own efforts to overhaul and modernize Roman Catholic Church’s approach to social justice.

“There is no doubt the pope wants politicians to pay attention to this,” said John Gehring, the Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life, an advocacy group in Washington. “He is not just speaking internally. The pope wants to elevate this as a definitive pro-life issue.”

The full political significance of the new teaching stands to emerge slowly, as priests and bishops speak more clearly about the death penalty to planet’s 1.2 billion Catholics. But in part because the practice has already been abolished in most countries with large Catholic populations — including throughout the European Union and across nearly all of South America — the United States is among the places where the shift could have the greatest consequence.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Catholic, presides over the state that carries out the highest number of executions. Several states have recently opened new discussions about abolishing the punishment. And in New Hampshire, one of the most heavily Catholic states, Gov. Chris Sununu in June vetoed a legislature-backed repeal of the death penalty, saying he didn’t want to send a message that the worst criminals might be “guaranteed leniency.”






Critters

99 strange collective animal names

Whether it's a shrewdness of apes or a zeal of zebras, lots of animals have bizarre names when they cluster into crowds.

A parliament of burrowing owls in Florida. (Photo: Tania Thomson/Shutterstock)

A conspiracy of ring-tailed lemurs. (Photo: Bas Czerwinski/AFP/Getty Images)

An ostentation of Indian peacocks. (Photo: Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images)






Apocalypse

Apocalypse by 2040? ICH By Oli Smith , August 20, 2018

Shock as MIT computer model predicts END DATE for civilisation

A COMPUTER MODEL developed in 1973 by a team of MIT researchers has predicted the "end of civilised life as we know it" by 2040, with a major change coming in 2020 - just two years away from now.

... video...

An apocalyptic computer model, processed by one of the world's largest computers in 1973, has predicted the end of civilization by 2040.

The prediction came from a programme nicknamed World One, which was developed by a team of MIT researchers and processed by Australia's largest computer.

It was originally devised by computer pioneer Jay Forrester, after he was tasked by the Club of Rome to develop a model of global sustainability.

However, the shocking result of the computer calculations showed that the level of pollution and population would cause a global collapse by 2040.

This shows that the world cannot sustain the current level of population and industrial growth for more than two decades.

Australian broadcaster ABC has republished its original report from the 1970s, since there is just two years until a major change is expected according to the computer model.

The model based its predictions on trends such as pollution levels, population growth, availability of natural resources and quality of life on earth.

The eerie calculation has been remarkably accurate in certain predictions, such as a stagnated quality of life and diminishing pool of natural resources.

video: Jim Bakker claims Trump was sent to deter Apocalypse

A fascinating forecast shows that the quality of life is expected to drop dramatically right after 2020.

At this time the broadcasters addreses the audience: "At around 2020, the condition of the planet becomes highly critical.

"If we do nothing about it, the quality of life goes down to zero. Pollution becomes so seriously it will start to kill people, which in turn will cause the population to diminish, lower than it was in the 1900.

"At this stage, around 2040 to 2050, civilised life as we know it on this planet will cease to exist."

This article was originally published by "The Express" [ https://www.express.co.uk/news/weird/1002422/Apocalypse-2040-MIT-computer-model-civilisation-world-end-Club-of-Rome ]






Jon Stewart

Jon and Tracey Stewart Help Rescue Goats Found on Subway Tracks in NYC!
Here are the goats before authorities corralled them.

On the morning of August 20th, two goats were reportedly seen roaming the sea beach line of the N train in Borough Park, Brooklyn. Goats on the subway?! Yes, that’s right, two lovely brown and white goats were exploring the tracks on their own. A train operator reported them around 10:30 a.m., and by 1 p.m., NYPD and MTA personnel managed to corral them up and remove them to a safer area.

After being corralled, the goats were temporarily cared for by Animal Care Centers before having famous animal advocates Jon and Tracey Stewart aid in their transport upstate to Farm Sanctuary where they will get to live freely (and safely) for the rest of their lives! Watch Jon assist in the rescue here:






Inspiring People

‘Do that on your own time’: Official’s decision to kneel during pledge divides her small town WP 8/3/18 By Kristine Phillips

The crowd stood up, but Melissa Schlag didn’t. Scattered boos drowned out the Pledge of Allegiance, and as they reached the last phrase of the oath, “with liberty and justice for all,” they raised their voices, nearly screaming the words as they looked down at the silent protester kneeling in front of them.

Schlag has been both vilified and admired in the small Connecticut town of Haddam since she began kneeling during the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance last month. The Democratic town official said she’s kneeling to protest President Trump, and for as long as he is in office, she will keep kneeling. It was the kind of silent protest that has both angered and inspired people nationally as NFL players took a knee during the singing of the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality.

In Haddam, where 51 percent voted for Trump and 43 percent for Hillary Clinton, the issue seemed just as polarizing, as evidenced by events of the past two weeks.

Many saw Schlag’s protest as disrespecting U.S. soldiers, and they showed their disapproval by laying 1,000 little American flags near a veterans’ memorial. Connecticut state Sen. Art Linares, a Republican, called for Schlag’s resignation and demanded that she apologize. Schlag’s supporters, meanwhile, also rallied, holding signs defending freedom of speech. And the Hartford Courant published an editorial calling Schlag’s silent protest an act of bravery.

Schlag, a member of the board of selectmen, or the town’s executive body, did not respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post. In a Facebook post, she called Monday’s town meeting “a verbal stoning.”

“The intolerance and hate was palpable in the room. The room booed throughout their own pledge as they belted the pledge at me like [a] weapon. I was told I urinated on the graves of dead soldiers. I was told I hate my country,” she wrote in the Facebook post Wednesday.

More controversy seems to have erupted after a video taken during the town meeting captured Schlag saying, “This town is fascist and racist.” Schlag apologized, saying in her Facebook post that she does not think the entire town breeds racism and fascism. But, she said, “strong veins of fascism (forced patriotism) and racism” run deep in Haddam.

Schlag began kneeling July 16, when Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. Trump stood next to Putin during a news conference and did not support the collective finding of his own intelligence agencies that Russia had interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. He also appeared to equate the credibility of his intelligence agencies with that of Putin.

During a town meeting that day, Schlag knelt for the Pledge of Allegiance for the first time in her life, she said in a lengthy letter posted on Facebook last month.

“I knelt out of extreme sorrow for our country, that the leader of our great nation, rejected the advice and findings of all American intelligence agencies and would rather support the lies of a murderous dictator,” she wrote, adding that she’s also protesting the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy that has resulted in the separation of thousands of migrant children from their families.

She further wrote: “Therefore, as long as Donald J. Trump is the president of the United States, I will kneel. I will kneel for all the people, regardless of party affiliation, and continue to fight for their rights. This is not the America I grew up in, or the country we should be, but I will work every day to get us back to that place.”






Bears

Wild & Weird: Food Coma Nap for Mama Bear and Cubs






Morning Routine

I Tried 7 Different Morning Routines — Here’s What Made Me Happiest Annie Atherton

Day 1: Do Something Escapist

I altered her method by reading one chapter of a novel when I first woke up. One study showed that reading is incredibly effective in reducing stress; even six minutes can be enough to reduce stress levels by more two-thirds. Given that I begin most days with a vague sense of dread at the thought of leaving my cozy cocoon to invite an onslaught of demands into my life, any strategy promising that much relaxation was welcome. After making my usual coffee, I crawled back into bed—an indulgence in itself—and dove into a world of fictional problems before acknowledging my own.

The Verdict
Doing something I genuinely like had the dual benefits of lifting my mood and expanding my perspective. It reminded me not only that is there a world outside my often-claustrophobic work life, but also that I am a whole person outside of my professional identity, with creative interests and forms of intelligence rarely required in my current role. For this reason, I was happier walking into work. However, I’m not sure how relevant this was to the rest of my day. Though I likely won’t make it a habit, I can see doing this again if I’m feeling bummed out and in need of comfort so I can muster the strength to get going.

Day 2: Exercise

The obnoxious folk are, of course, correct. True, my lungs and ears did not love the cold air. But once it’s over, exercising has virtually no downsides. I did have more energy. I did enjoy knowing I’d gotten that crucial part of self-care out of the way. But while I did feel a little less anxious, the main sources of my stress were still there waiting for me when I sat down to open my inbox. It was absolutely helpful, but not a cure-all.

Day 3: Meditate

Day 4: Do Something Social

What intrigued me about these rare examples of early morning socializing is that they seemed so counterintuitive and yet so aligned with my values. The longer I live, the more firmly I believe in prioritizing close relationships above all else. Even without substantial evidence supporting the benefits of friendship

(one researcher wrote that “those with close social ties and unhealthful lifestyles (such as smoking, obesity and lack of exercise)

actually lived longer than those with poor social ties but more healthful living habits”), I know from personal experience that my happiness is directly related to how much time I spend with those I care about. Given the importance I give this area of my life, it seemed foolish to not at least try starting my day with it.

The Verdict
Spending quality time with others before anything else was uplifting and created some of the best memories I’ve had in a long time. Still, in some ways it made transitioning to rote, stressful tasks even harder. I think I get equal, if not more happiness from meeting up with people immediately after work, when we can blow off steam and validate each other back to sanity.

Day 5: Get Right to Work

The Verdict
As much as I hate to admit it, starting work earlier was a pretty effective way to reduce my stress. The sheer luxury of working without interruption was grounding and calming. And if feeling unorganized is a huge source of my unhappiness, taking an hour to “sort myself out,” as the Brits say, seems a small price to pay. Even just clearing off my desktop, both physical and digital, made a difference.

Day 6: Indulge in a Small Luxury

The Verdict
This was, unsurprisingly, a joy in the moment. But compared to every other indulgence of the week, it was truly fleeting. And, of course, sullied by the dual-pronged guilt of eating poorly and frivolous spending.

Day 7: Foster Creativity

Ultimately, it was the less-fun activities--exercise, meditation, and just getting to work--that set me up best for a day at work. But all of the strategies were better than my usual frantic M.O., and simply trying them was a useful and fun exercise. To some extent, I think the “optimal” routine depends on how we spend the day. My current job is pretty frenetic, so it helps to be calm and centered. If I transitioned to a more creative role, that might not be the case. But maybe I’m thinking about it the wrong way. Maybe if we insist on designing our mornings to reflect the values we want to inhabit, the rest of our lives will follow suit.






Happiness

The Purpose of Life Is Not Happiness Harry J. Stead timeandritual.com Aug 25


“But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry,
I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.”
- Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

Aldous Huxley spent the entire summer of 1931 writing ‘Brave New World’. He was living in France at the time and had already established himself as a writer. Huxley had published four satirical novels prior to Brave New World, as well as a book of poetry. He also edited the literary magazine Oxford Poetry.

‘Brave New World’ is Huxley’s most famous novel and rightly so. I do not think there is any other book that has had such a profound impression on me. The comparison with Orwell’s ‘Nineteen-Eighty Four’ is fitting, but the vision and foresight in Brave New World, the sheer audacity it displays is unrivalled. Clearly, Huxley was a genius, a rather bold, daring intellectual eager to discover the delicate realms of both utopia and dystopia.

The context for ‘Brave New World’ is an international scientific empire that has managed to manufacture a society where truth and reason are less significant than happiness and comfort.

The entire society has been sterilised; there is no disease or emotional pain. The people are ignorant of the concept of love, it is traded for promiscuity and casual relationships. Old age, nature, thought and anxiety are removed and a rigorous structure of psychological conditioning is practiced upon the youth. A strict ban on books, philosophy and religion is in place--the people view this as protection from harmful material. Each of these pursuits are a distraction from happiness for they are all too uncomfortable and confusing for a people in pursuit of pleasure.

A drug called ‘soma’, an opiate with no withdrawal symptoms, is widespread and used to numb emotions and feelings. It is necessary to maintain social order; the people cannot imagine a life without it for it carries “all the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects.”

“In Brave New World the soma habit was not a private vice; it was a political institution…” writes Huxley. “The daily Soma ration was an insurance against personal maladjustment, social unrest and the spread of subversive ideas. Religion, Karl Marx declared, is the opium of the people. In the Brave New World this situation was reversed. Opium, or rather Soma, was the people’s religion.”(Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited)

All of those beautiful human emotions--pain, sorrow, trust, delight--are never experienced and people are instead reduced to a nothingness existence.

Huxley’s idea of the perfect totalitarian state would not punish wrongful behaviour, but would instead ease people into loving their servitude through pleasure and desensitisation. There would be an exchange from the black leather boot and the cracking whip to drugs, sex, pleasure and gentle conditioning. This would provide the people with no reason to rebel against authority. No discontentment could come between the ordinary man and the state.

The principles of Henry Ford’s assembly line stretch throughout the novel, indeed the people view Ford, alongside Sigmund Freud, as the creator of their civilisation.

It is a society of predictability, certainty, pleasure and comfort.

The novel introduces a foreigner, John the Savage, to the civilised World State. John was born outside civilisation on the Savage Reservation. He falls in love with the works of Shakespeare early in his life. Through Shakespeare, he learns of tragedy, love, loyalty and pain--all foreign ideas to the civilised people. He is able to verbalise his own feelings with the words of Shakespeare and in doing so, he recognises the true beauty of human emotions.

Shakespeare provides John with a framework to rebel against the civilised world. John commits himself to the language and ideal of poetry and to nature’s truth and consequently, he rejects the sterilised essence of the world he has found himself in. John is the tragic hero of Brave New World, a character whose idealism eventually leads to his demise.

“Men can only be happy when they do
not assume that the object of life is happiness.”
- George Orwell

The force that drives Huxley’s dystopia is the Western culture of seeking the end, the belief that one’s reason for being here is only for happiness. It is supposed, perhaps unknowingly, that there will come a time when our suffering will be finished and the journey will finally come to an end. There is a destination somewhere over those blue remembered hills where all our struggles will end--where heaven and horizon will collide. We will be happy, healthy, without depression, worry or anxiety, sitting comfortably with total harmony within ourselves.

Life, by its very nature, is never free of struggle. But, people are incessant in their belief that the day will come in the future when it will all be over.

Brave New World, Huxley believed, would be the end consequence of this foolishness. Because ultimately there will come a time when people will value their happiness over freedom. Pleasure, then, would be followed to its conclusion and willingly allowed to become the foundation of society.

“Give me television and hamburgers, but don’t bother me with the responsibilities of liberty” (Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited)

Huxley understood the myth of arrival, the idea that life is a journey, to be an illusion. Many will come to appreciate this, some sooner than others. The ‘good life’ is seen as beyond reach and such a realisation can cause disillusionment and despair. Even when one finally grasps all that is believed to fund happiness, the initial haste eventually withers away. For humans are accomplished at acclimatising to new heights.

It is this misery and despair, caused by the myth of arrival and life’s constant struggles, that creates the quiet desperation necessary for a people to accept happiness over their freedom. But, the question must be asked as to what we will miss once we make this decision. Truly, reflection and thought is needed about what matters and about what makes us who we are.

Because the faster the world becomes and the less time we have to stop to reflect, the more we are amnesiacs, sleepwalking towards a destination that we did not choose.

“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.”

- Seneca

Aldous Huxley was presenting a choice between freedom or pleasure. Humans have a natural instinct for freedom, a drive to follow the beat of one’s own heart. There is no dignity, no pride or love without freedom as to be free is our most natural state and to lose it in such a mindless way betrays all that we are. It is a sad time when many would not only welcome their enslavement, but would rejoice when finally all responsibility is taken away.

Freedom is inseparable from responsibility. We have the freedom to speak our minds, yet the responsibility to make sure we are clear and meaningful. We have the freedom to act, but the responsibility to act appropriately. See, responsibility only brings ache, pain and burden. It almost never brings pleasure. But, without responsibility, without autonomy, we can no longer find the answers within ourselves, but must instead seek guidance elsewhere.

However, with careful reflection, we have to stop and question the conventional wisdom surrounding the idea of happiness. And so the question arises, do people truly want happiness?

Or do they want to struggle against the wind, to fight for their family, to bleed against their misfortune, to break their own heart, to bite their own lip, to put down bribery, to follow their omens, to hang on tight to their past, to move beyond the edges, to love so passionately that they lose themselves, to slay their demons and to discover new creations?

No, happiness is never as virtuous as it seems. Rather, you only believe so whilst you are sat alone in the cellar, distant with the memories of the past. But, this, of course, is amnesia.

Aldous Huxley was warning the individual against the belief that the object of life is happiness. Those moments of happiness that everyone has experienced are rare and fleeting, yet we cling onto them for dear life as if the same script is supposed to extend forever. Instead, rather like John the Savage, each person should follow a purpose, a vocation, an ideal, a fight or a love.

A meaning to one’s life should embrace a struggle for it is necessary to move through time believing your suffering holds a great purpose. Thus it is not a question of a meaning to life itself, but instead a meaning to the suffering endured through life.

A purpose to life, a struggle against nature or a deep breath amid chaos is almost always more glamorous than happiness. How dull those people are who lay on the beach all day and how foolish we are to think so highly of them. For where there is no darkness, dirt or filth, there is also no light, health or life.

Aldous Huxley believed that a shift in our perspective, amongst other things, is needed if we are to avoid what at this moment seems inevitable.

“Man, the bravest of animals, and the one most accustomed to suffering, does not repudiate suffering as such; he desires it, he even seeks it out, provided he is shown a meaning for it, a purpose of suffering. The meaninglessness of suffering, not suffering itself, was the curse that lay over mankind so far.” - (On the Genealogy of Morals, Friedrich Nietzsche)

Thus in the spiritual world we find the formative forces that belong to our moral life. The moral world becomes for us a reality. We see how an ethical impulse cannot in one earth-life effect a change in the physical body, but when it passes over into the next life on earth, can work there quite definitely as a health-giving influence, no less truly than heat works in the physical world, or light, or electricity. Source: Rudolf Steiner - GA 231 - Spiritual Knowledge: A Way of Life - The Hague, November 16th, 1923 Translated by Mary Adams






Cows

V Scottish Highland Bull Gets His Hair Brushed

V Fluffy Cow and Baby Goat: Best Friends funny video






Goats

V Fluffy Cow and Baby Goat: Best Friends funny video

V Sleeping 'Kids' Are Therapy for Humans







Birds

V Pelican Waits in Line To Be Served at a Fish Store

Black Palm Cockatoo Grooves to the B-52's

This bird is amazing at peekaboo (video)






Oceans

Wildlife Flourishes in Scotland’s Protected Coral Reefs


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Squirrels

V Rescue Squirrel Changes Everybody’s Plans






Making Tshuvah

Famous abusers seek easy forgiveness. Rosh Hashanah teaches us repentance is hard. WP By Danya Ruttenberg [Danya Ruttenberg is rabbi-in-residence at Avodah.] September 6

Since the #MeToo movement exploded almost a year ago, our culture has been grappling with questions about what repentance and redemption should look like in the context of sexual misconduct. A great many men have been named as perpetrators and suffered almost unprecedented professional consequences for it. Yet not even a full year later, many of the accused whose careers initially seemed ruined are angling for comebacks, including Mario Batali, Charlie Rose, Bill O’Reilly, Garrison Keillor and Kevin Spacey . Matt Lauer told some fans in late August, “Don’t worry, I’ll be back on TV,” despite allegations of an extreme and rampant pattern of sexual harassment. Louis C.K. performed a couple of weeks ago at a comedy club, his first gig since admitting that he had forced a number of women to watch him masturbate.

Are these men sorry? Should they be forgiven? More to the point, perhaps, who has the right to forgive them?

For such questions, sometimes you need a rabbi. Judaism has thousands of years of scholarship on forgiveness and atonement; this is the season when Jews traditionally make tshuvah — engaging in a process of repentance and repair for all we’ve done wrong this past year. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins Sunday night, and Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, follows 10 days later. And the classical Jewish categories of “repentance,” “forgiveness” and “atonement” might be able to offer some insight to Jews and non-Jews alike.

The Jewish tradition teaches that repentance is really hard work, in contrast to the glib and easy way these accused perpetrators are seeking cheap forgiveness from popular culture. America is often perilously quick to welcome comebacks, in part because we don’t really know what it means to atone.

According to Jewish law, though, the most critical factor is repentance, tshuvah — the work that a person who has done harm must undertake. There are specific steps: The bad actor must own the harm perpetrated, ideally publicly. Then they must do the hard internal work to become the kind of person who does not harm in this way — which is a massive undertaking, demanding tremendous introspection and confrontation of unpleasant aspects of the self. Then they must make restitution for harm done, in whatever way that might be possible. Then — and only then — they must apologize sincerely to the victim. Lastly, the next time they are confronted with the opportunity to commit a similar misdeed, they must make a different, better choice.

The perfunctory public apologies that we have so often seen in the wake of allegations could, at best, be considered part of the first step toward repentance, taking ownership of the harm done. But they must reflect a genuine ownership of all actions taken — not “if I did behave then as he describes ,” as Spacey said; not complaining about the impact on their work (Keillor), fans (Batali) or family (Lauer), with minimal focus on the victims; not minimizing the complaints as Rose did, blaming God as O’Reilly did or guessing what the victims might have thought, as C.K.’s initial statement last year did. Issuing such superficial and narcissistic public statements is the only thing that any of the above-named men have done to signal any sort of repentance process, at least publicly.

Even if these men had taken full responsibility in their statements, a few months away from the spotlight isn’t long to be gone, given all the inner work that must be done. We’ve seen few indications that these accused perpetrators have gone directly to those they have harmed to make restitution — financial or otherwise — amends or apologies. Their interest in jumping back into the spotlight at the first opportunity raises suspicions about where their focus might really be.

What would indicate that their tshuvah was in earnest? A shift in priorities, an investment of their wealth or time into work protecting victims of assault and harassment or creating policies that would better prevent abuse. They would be stepping away from the ego-stroking, power-holding limelight that makes abuse so easy to perpetrate in the first place.

We would see something like the work of Rabbi Yosef Blau, who, after understanding his complicity in enabling a sexual abuser to continue his work as both a high school principal and youth group leader, has dedicated much of his life and work to advocating for victims of sexual assault. Or we might see real commitment to preventing harm in the future. Shira Berkovits, founder of Sacred Spaces , told me of a Christian man she once met who was incarcerated after raping his nephew. As he was preparing to be released, he wrote to churches telling them what he had done and asking for permission to pray there. For, he said, “I can’t be safe and the people around me can’t be safe unless we talk about the real risk” — the abuse that he knows he’s capable of committing.

He owned the harm he had done and asked for help from prospective faith communities to ensure that he’s not put in situations where he could rape again — all the while, of course, making himself very vulnerable to social rejection. While this is not necessarily complete tshuvah — I don’t know what amends he made to his victim, and I don’t know what choices he made once released — he was clearly working hard to change, not to do the same harm again. There are no shortcuts.

Of course, this work is not always lived out well, even in the Jewish world. Barry Freundel, a Washington rabbi jailed in 2015 for filming more than 150 women as they undressed for the ritual bath, issued a public apology that was clearly shaped by his knowledge of classical tshuvah literature. But as one of his victims noted, its impact was mitigated by his actions, including appeals for a lighter sentence — showing an unwillingness to accept the full consequences of his deeds.

And sometimes it’s simply not clear. When renowned sociologist Steven M. Cohen was accused by eight women of sexual harassment and misconduct, his public statement to the press hit all the right notes, also clearly informed by Jewish text. “I am committed,” he wrote, “to making the changes that are necessary to avoid recurrences in the future and, when the time is right, seek to apologize directly to, and ask forgiveness from, those I have unintentionally hurt.”

But I’ve spoken to several of his victims, including Keren McGinity, who is in touch with many more; to the best of her and my knowledge, he has not yet reached out to anyone for any sort of apology or amends. Whether he will at some point remains to be seen.

On a human, ethical level, there is always a path toward repentance, toward understanding the harm we have caused and toward doing the work of repair and restitution, to whatever degree that is possible. People can always grow and become better.

But how are the rest of us to decide whether these men and others like them have, in fact, repented? We don’t have to. Society can’t make the determination about when a perpetrator has done sufficient tshuvah, and the people who stand to earn money from enabling their “redemption” can’t make that determination, either. No matter what, we don’t need to reward men who have done harm with more opportunities for wealth, prestige, power and celebrity. Part of repenting is accepting the consequences of your actions; in this case, those consequences might come from the criminal justice system or from professional censure.

Whether an abuser’s victim or victims have forgiven them is a separate question from whether perpetrators — public entertainers or not — have done tshuvah, and it’s their business, not ours. There are many talented people whose work we could reward instead of rushing back to people who haven’t truly repented. That would send a clear message about not tolerating rape culture.

Rosh Hashanah is almost here. The Talmud teaches that the gates of repentance are always open. Maybe this will be the year that more perpetrators choose to walk through them.

What Donald Trump could learn from the Jewish tradition about apologizing WP By Mark Oppenheimer October 8, 2016

It's not enough to say you're sorry to a teleprompter.

Along with so much else that we learned about Donald Trump with the release of Friday’s tape — that he likes to “grab them by the p—y,” that being recently married is no impediment to such grabbing, that he has no idea when a microphone is live — we learned that even when Trump tries to apologize, he gets it all wrong.

We still have time to repent for American racism WP By Danya Ruttenberg [Danya Ruttenberg is rabbi-in-residence at Avodah.] September 18, 2017

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins Wednesday night. This is the season during which Jews make tshuvah — engage in the work of repentance and repair — for all we’ve done wrong in the past year. Tshuvah isn’t just about saying sorry; it’s really about healing wrongs, to whatever extent that might be possible.

And it’s that part about healing wrongs that makes this cultural moment in the United States so unsurprising. The rise of white nationalism, the election of a man who campaigned and governs on a platform of racist fearmongering, even the fact of Confederate statues serving as a political lighting rod — it’s all the product of tshuvah left undone.

Maimonides, the great 12th century philosopher and sage, defines complete tshuvah as that which happens when a person has the opportunity to commit the same sin as he had in the past, but does not — he makes a different choice the second time around. How could it be that you might return to the exact situation in which you had previously screwed up? Who gets an instant replay like that? My rabbi, Alan Lew, used to explain Maimonides thusly: “If you haven’t done the work of tshuvah in any kind of serious way, you’ll get back there.” That is, without the necessary soul-searching and growth, you will undoubtedly manage to find yourself in some variation of the same situation over and over and over again.

Our country is in that position. The Christian writer Jim Wallis has famously described racism as America’s “original sin.” Our country has never done tshuvah for its many racist wrongs — particularly those committed against black and indigenous people.

There has been no real introspection by those who hold institutional power, no formal apologies made to those enslaved or their descendants. There has been, on an official level, no display of curiosity about whether restitution is needed and what that might possibly look like.

Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) has introduced the bill that’s now known as H.R. 40 (the “Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act”) in Congress every single year for the last 28 years. It establishes a commission to study and develop reparation proposals that would “examine slavery and discrimination in the colonies and the United States from 1619 to the present” and make recommendations for solutions. Not to hand out money, just to study and make recommendations; implementation would be an entirely optional step outside the scope of the bill. Conyers’s bill has never even made it to the House floor.

We have never done the work of tshuvah as a country, and so we continue to find opportunities to commit the same sins, again and again and again. We went from slavery to lynchings, from Jim Crow to redlining to mass incarceration and challenges to voting rights. From the Trail of Tears to Wounded Knee to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

As Ta-Nehisi Coates put it:

To ignore the fact that one of the oldest republics in the world was erected on a foundation of white supremacy ,,, is to cover the sin of national plunder with the sin of national lying …. What is needed is an airing of family secrets, a settling with old ghosts. What is needed is a healing of the American psyche and the banishment of white guilt …. We cannot escape our history. All of our solutions to the great problems of health care, education, housing, and economic inequality are troubled by what must go unspoken.

There are several steps to making tshuvah: You have to acknowledge what you did wrong (no matter whether it was intentional). You have to take actions to correct the mistake, or to make amends, if possible. And you need to invest some time working out how things can be different next time.

Can an entire nation make tshuvah? One needs only look to Germany’s behavior over the past 70 or so years to know that it is, at the very least, possible to do some of the work at a national level. They have taken full responsibility for the Holocaust, issued formal apologies, paid over 66 billion euros in reparations payments, built memorials to the victims of atrocities — in sharp contrast to the veneration of Confederate slaveholders here — and are committed to being different, now. Everything from their attitude toward military engagement to the language in their textbooks is influenced by the knowledge that to become different, they need to behave differently.

There is much discussion in Maimonides’s “Laws of Tshuvah” and elsewhere in Jewish literature about whether or not someone who has committed an atrocity can ever do complete tshuvah — particularly in a situation in which true amends can never be made. Meaningful restitution can never be made to Nat Turner, Emmett Till, Sandra Bland, or 500 years’ worth of other human lives. But whether the United States — or Germany, for that matter — can, or should, ever be forgiven by our victims or their descendants isn’t the question. The work should be done not to attain absolution, but because it is the only moral way forward.

I don’t have a lot of hope that those with the greatest power in our federal government will be undertaking a tshuvah process for the sins of American racism any time soon. It’s much more likely that new wounds will be created in the coming months, new traumas, an entrenching of some oppressive systems and perhaps even the creation of new ones. We continue to arrive to the same place, again and again. But Maimonides reminds us that the gates of tshuvah are always open — we can become baalei tshuva, penitents, even on the day of our death. Perhaps one day our country will be ready to interrupt the cycle of injury and injustice on an institutional level. Until then, well, the rest of us have plenty of work to do.

Why Jews have a special obligation to resist Trump WP By Jill Jacobs and Daniel Sokatch November 21, 2016

Those of us who awoke after the presidential election in a state of disbelief have by now begun to recognize our frightening new political reality — and to act.

Donald Trump’s winning platform includes pledges to ban Muslims from entering our country, to forcibly deport millions of people, to remove legal protections from vulnerable minorities and to reinstate the use of torture. The president-elect has threatened massive attacks on human rights and constitutional freedoms. Just last week, he appointed to the highest advisory position in the White House Stephen K. Bannon, a former publisher of Breitbart News, which the Southern Poverty Law Center calls the “media arm” of the white supremacist alt-right movement. Noted anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney is reportedly serving as an adviser to the transition team. Jeff Sessions, considered too racist to be a federal judge in the 1980s, has been tapped as attorney general.

This platform is terrifying for many Americans, and not only for those Trump and his supporters have explicitly targeted. Protests and marches have sprung up nationwide. Already, Americans are turning dashed hopes and disbelief into principled action.

Half a century ago, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote, “Let us yield no inch to bigotry, let us make no compromise with callousness.” As leaders of Jewish organizations committed to human rights, we believe that if ever there were a moment to commit to making no compromises with callousness, that moment must be now.

A platform so explicitly bigoted may be unprecedented in modern American politics, but it isn’t new to Jews. Many of us are alive today because, throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents fled government persecution in Europe and other parts of the world. The United States allowed our families to find refuge here, and we built institutions to strengthen our ability to counter anti-Semitism and to work together toward social justice for all.

Jewish communal organizations have always worked with both Democratic and Republican administrations to make progress on the issues we care about, such as funding social services, supporting Israel and protecting civil liberties.

And we’ve already seen signs that some members of our community will treat this administration no differently. Several congratulated Trump on his victory; some expressed their faith that he would make good on his victory speech promise to “bind the wounds of division.”

For many Jewish organizations, it will be tempting to “move past” the disturbing policy goals and divisive rhetoric we heard during the campaign from Trump and his team and to engage in business as usual with the new administration. But if we take the president-elect at his word — and we must — we can’t afford business as usual. Now is the time for principled opposition, not accommodation.

At many points in our history, the Jewish community has fallen into the trap of believing that we can protect ourselves by proximity to power: by being the “Court Jew” or the shtadlan charged with lobbying the governments of medieval Europe on behalf of Jewish subjects. We thought that these relationships and “special” positions would protect us.

But they don’t protect us. Over the past year, we have watched as Trump’s campaign trafficked in blatant anti-Semitism alongside racism, xenophobia, misogyny, homophobia, ableism and Islamophobia. He has empowered white supremacists and provoked a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan.

Trying to conduct business as usual with the Trump administration could prevent us from joining with other threatened groups to protect our neighbors. Jews know that when one minority is vulnerable, we all are vulnerable. If American Muslims will be targeted and those entering the country from elsewhere forced to “register,” if immigrants will be torn from their families and their homes, if women are assaulted as access to justice disintegrates, policies that attack Jews could be next. Jewish history and values demand that we step up and act in opposition.

Even if Jews were not personally threatened as Jews, it would still be imperative for us to call upon all of the communal strength we have and all of the institutions we have fought to create to oppose threats to other people. This is an obligation that comes from our tradition. In the Torah, one of God’s first commands to the Jewish people after our liberation from slavery is to protect those who are most vulnerable, as we, too, know the experience of being strangers.

Our history has taught us that autocracy does not arrive all at once, but through the slow erosion of individual liberties and the pitting of one group against another. We cannot look away or hope for the best when politicians promise to assault our civil liberties and threaten human rights.

Nor can we excuse winks and dog-whistling at white supremacist and anti-Semitic groups that understand this election as a mandate to carry out attacks on members of minorities or on our institutions. If we ignore these signs, we risk waking up to an America that is no longer recognizable.

As a first step, we must not take a “wait-and-see” approach. Benefit of the doubt must be earned, and this incoming administration hasn’t done so. We should meet each and every step toward authoritarianism with strong opposition, as many of us have done in calling on the president-elect to reverse his decision to appoint Bannon.

But condemnation alone isn’t enough. In the coming years, we must build a strong and effective opposition to protect people who are likely to be targeted under new racist, anti-woman, anti-immigrant policies. We should support brave political leaders, such as the mayors of New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and other cities for affirming that their communities will remain places of sanctuary. And as Jews, we must marshal the full resources of our community, including the institutions built over more than 100 years, to protect the rights of all minorities — ourselves, yes, but not only us.

In the words of Rabbi Heschel, this is a moment for “moral grandeur and spiritual audacity.” We cannot sell out our values in the name of one-off successes. It’s time for American Jewish leaders to say no to business as usual.

What the Hanukkah story teaches us about the Trump administration Today, we have to be the Maccabees. WP By Danya Ruttenberg December 23, 2016

In 175 B. C., an insecure, despotic ruler came to power. He was narcissistic and known for a level of extravagance and display that bordered on the bizarre. Despite his occasional ability to captivate his subjects by appearing gracious, he was said to have, in his heart, a cruel tyrant’s contempt for his subjects. Political positions under him were easily bought; he installed unqualified cronies in high positions and quickly turned on one if another offered him more money for the same job. He was quick to anger, nicknamed “the madman,” and it wasn’t long into his reign that he began curtailing civil liberties, restricting the freedom of religion, and pillaging his subjects’ resources for his own profit.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes seized rule illegitimately over the Seleucid Empire, including Judea; the kingship was meant to have gone to his nephew, but he took it by force. He allowed bribes to drive his appointments of the high priest several times and plundered the treasury of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem for its gold. In a fury about a humiliating loss in Egypt, he cracked down in Judea, outlawing observance of the Sabbath and ritual circumcision and defiling the temple by erecting an altar to Zeus there, complete with pig sacrifice. He sent his officers to slay and destroy, with an agenda that was less about Hellenism — that is, the demand that the Judeans assimilate into the kingdom’s dominant Greek-influenced culture — than it was about denationalization, a full eradication of their way of life.

As Hanukkah begins, the parallels between that ancient story and what’s happening in U.S. politics are hard to ignore. There are the questions around Donald Trump’s rise to power — his connections to Vladimir Putin and possible Russian interference in the election. There’s his cabinet, stacked with donors and those whose positions on everything from minimum wage to immigration, public schools, privatization and the environment could affect us in devastating ways. Trump’s pursuit of his own financial gain seems to be pointing us toward a kleptocracy, collusion with brutal regimes and terrifying shifts in foreign policy. He threatens freedom of speech, assembly and the press, as well as American Muslims‘ free exercise of religion, among his other authoritarian tendencies. Trump may very well sack the temple of our democracy and social safety nets. Like Antiochus, he could eradicate the way of life that has defined this country.

Antiochus’s regime was, needless to say, terrifying and devastating for the Judeans, who had to decide whether to be martyred — as many were — or to submit to his demands. A small handful of zealots chose a third option, however, protesting his decrees and the complicity of some of their fellow Judeans. After an initial skirmish, the Maccabees ran for the hills and, soon, were engaged in all-out warfare with the massive Seleucid army. They were outmanned and underarmed; many of the Maccabean soldiers didn’t even have swords and armor. But they made use of their superior knowledge of their terrain: They were light, quick and mobile, relying on ambush techniques and superior tactical skill. Slowly, painstakingly, they beat back the Seleucids and eventually gained their freedom.

The miracle of Hanukkah is that an outnumbered, weaker minority was brave enough to resist a repressive regime — to fight back, against all odds. They held fast to their ideals and pushed back against the narrative that their faith was a just target for oppression. Their smart thinking and intimate knowledge of their own country was enough to outmaneuver a government bent on maintaining power through force.

It’s likely that some, if not all, of the things that many of us fear about the Trump administration will come to pass. If so, our acts of nonviolent resistance may be painful. We may have times of uncertainty and literal or metaphorical cold and hunger. We’re going to have to be smarter and more savvy than we have been, to be resourceful and make use of all the assets we have — perhaps not by hiding in caves but by building coalitions, developing protest strategies, creating novel uses for technology. and engaging civic processes and the legal system in new and innovative ways.

Black Lives Matter activists are nimbly shifting approaches to focus on local reform and coalitions with other marginalized groups. Houses of worship, universities and cities are declaring themselves places of sanctuary for undocumented immigrants. More than 1,000 employees of tech organizations have pledged to refuse to use their skills to the detriment of immigrants or American Muslims. Phone calls to members of Congress are already way up, and some former Capitol Hill staffers have put together a public document explaining how to best use local representatives to frustrate Trump’s agenda.

Crowdsourced guides for helping vulnerable populations cope with Trump’s policies have popped up around the Web. New apps, agendas and tools are emerging everyday. We are going to have to be quick, light and strategically flawless, and we are going to have to settle in for the long haul.

Before going into the Battle of Emmaus, Judah Maccabee addressed his soldiers, urging them to fight valiantly. “For,” he said, “it is better for us to die in battle than to see the evils of our nation and of the holies. Nevertheless, as it shall be the will of God in heaven, so be it done.”

We will need to be brave. We will need to resist.

We will have to make the miracle ourselves.







Solitude

The Most Important Skill Nobody Taught You Medium, by Zat Rana, June 15,2018

Before dying at the age of 39, Blaise Pascal made huge contributions to both physics and mathematics, notably in fluids, geometry, and probability.

This work, however, would influence more than just the realm of the natural sciences. Many fields that we now classify under the heading of social science did, in fact, also grow out of the foundation he helped lay.

Interestingly enough, much of this was done in his teen years, with some of it coming in his twenties. As an adult, inspired by a religious experience, he actually started to move towards philosophy and theology.

Right before his death, he was hashing out fragments of private thoughts that would later be released as a collection by the name of Pensées.

While the book is mostly a mathematician’s case for choosing a life of faith and belief, the more curious thing about it is its clear and lucid ruminations on what it means to be human. It’s a blueprint of our psychology long before psychology was deemed a formal discipline.

There is enough thought-provoking material in it to quote, and it attacks human nature from a variety of different angles, but one of its most famous thoughts aptly sums up the core of his argument:

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s
inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

According to Pascal, we fear the silence of existence, we dread boredom and instead choose aimless distraction, and we can’t help but run from the problems of our emotions into the false comforts of the mind.

The issue at the root, essentially, is that we never learn the art of solitude.

The Perils of Being Connected

Today, more than ever, Pascal’s message rings true. If there is one word to describe the progress made in the last 100 years, it’s connectedness.

Information technologies have dominated our cultural direction. From the telephone to the radio to the TV to the internet, we have found ways to bring us all closer together, enabling constant worldly access.

I can sit in my office in Canada and transport myself to practically anywhere I want through Skype. I can be on the other side of the world and still know what is going on at home with a quick browse.

I don’t think I need to highlight the benefits of all this. But the downsides are also beginning to show. Beyond the current talk about privacy and data collection, there is perhaps an even more detrimental side-effect here.

We now live in a world where we’re connected to everything except ourselves.

If Pascal’s observation about our inability to sit quietly in a room by ourselves is true of the human condition in general, then the issue has certainly been augmented by an order of magnitude due to the options available today.

The logic is, of course, seductive. Why be alone when you never have to?

Well, the answer is that never being alone is not the same thing as never feeling alone. Worse yet, the less comfortable you are with solitude, the more likely it is that you won’t know yourself. And then, you’ll spend even more time avoiding it to focus elsewhere. In the process, you’ll become addicted to the same technologies that were meant to set you free.

Just because we can use the noise of the world to block out the discomfort of dealing with ourselves doesn’t mean that this discomfort goes away.

Almost everybody thinks of themselves as self-aware. They think they know how they feel and what they want and what their problems are. But the truth is that very few people really do. And those that do will be the first to tell how fickle self-awareness is and how much alone time it takes to get there.

In today’s world, people can go their whole lives without truly digging beyond the surface-level masks they wear; in fact, many do.

We are increasingly out of touch with who we are, and that’s a problem.

Boredom as a Mode of Stimulation

If we take it back to the fundamentals--and this is something Pascal touches on, too--our aversion to solitude is really an aversion to boredom.

At its core, it’s not necessarily that we are addicted to a TV set because there is something uniquely satisfying about it, just like we are not addicted to most stimulants because the benefits outweigh the downsides. Rather, what we are really addicted to is a state of not-being-bored.

Almost anything else that controls our life in an unhealthy way finds its root in our realization that we dread the nothingness of nothing. We can’t imagine just BEING rather than DOING. And therefore, we look for entertainment, we seek company, and if those fail, we chase even higher highs.

We ignore the fact that never facing this nothingness is the same as never facing ourselves. And never facing ourselves is why we feel lonely and anxious in spite of being so intimately connected to everything else around us.

Fortunately, there is a solution. The only way to avoid being ruined by this fear--like any fear--is to face it. It’s to let the boredom take you where it wants so you can deal with whatever it is that is really going on with your sense of self. That’s when you’ll hear yourself think, and that’s when you’ll learn to engage the parts of you that are masked by distraction.

The beauty of this is that, once you cross that initial barrier, you realize that being alone isn’t so bad. Boredom can provide its own stimulation.

When you surround yourself with moments of solitude and stillness, you become intimately familiar with your environment in a way that forced stimulation doesn’t allow. The world becomes richer, the layers start to peel back, and you see things for what they really are, in all their wholeness, in all their contradictions, and in all their unfamiliarity.

You learn that there are other things you are capable of paying attention to than just what makes the most noise on the surface. Just because a quiet room doesn’t scream with excitement like the idea of immersing yourself in a movie or a TV show doesn’t mean that there isn’t depth to explore there.

Sometimes, the direction that this solitude leads you in can be unpleasant, especially when it comes to introspection--your thoughts and your feelings, your doubts and your hopes - but in the long-term, it’s far more pleasant than running away from it all without even realizing that you are.

Embracing boredom allows you to discover novelty in things you didn’t know were novel; it’s like being an unconditioned child seeing the world for the first time. It also resolves the majority of internal conflicts.

The Takeaway

The more the world advances, the more stimulation it will provide as an incentive for us to get outside of our own mind to engage with it.

While Pascal’s generalization that a lack of comfort with solitude is the root of all our problems may be an exaggeration, it isn’t an entirely unmerited one.

Everything that has done so much to connect us has simultaneously isolated us. We are so busy being distracted that we are forgetting to tend to ourselves, which is consequently making us feel more and more alone.

Interestingly, the main culprit isn’t our obsession with any particular worldly stimulation. It’s the fear of nothingness - our addiction to a state of not-being-bored. We have an instinctive aversion to simply BEING.

Without realizing the value of solitude, we are overlooking the fact that, once the fear of boredom is faced, it can actually provide its own stimulation. And the only way to face it is to make time, whether every day or every week, to just sit--with our thoughts, our feelings, with a moment of stillness.

The oldest philosophical wisdom in the world has one piece of advice for us: know yourself. And there is a good reason why that is.

Without knowing ourselves, it’s almost impossible to find a healthy way to interact with the world around us. Without taking time to figure it out, we don’t have a foundation to built the rest of our lives on.

Being alone and connecting inwardly is a skill nobody ever teaches us. That’s ironic because it’s more important than most of the ones they do.

Solitude may not be the solution to everything, but it certainly is a start.







Doing Nothing

The power of doing nothing at all Medium by Aytekin Tank, June 7, 2018. Originally published on JOTFORM.COM

The old crocodile was floating at the river’s edge when a younger crocodile swam up next to him,

“I’ve heard from many that you’re the fiercest hunter in all of the river bottoms. Please, teach me your ways.”

Awoken from a nice long afternoon nap, the old crocodile glanced at the young crocodile with one of his reptilian eyes, said nothing and then fell back asleep atop the water.

Feeling frustrated and disrespected, the young crocodile swam off upriver to chase after some catfish, leaving behind a flurry of bubbles. “I’ll show him”, he thought to himself.

Later that day the young crocodile returned to the old crocodile who was still napping and began to brag to him about his successful hunt,

“I caught two meaty catfish today. What have you caught? Nothing? Perhaps you’re not so fierce after all.”

Unphased the old crocodile again looked at the young crocodile, said nothing, closed his eyes and continued to float atop the water as tiny minnows muched away lightly at the algae on his underbelly.

Again, the young crocodile was angry he couldn’t get a response from the elder, and he swam off a second time upstream to see what he could hunt.

After a few hours of thrashing about he was able to hunt down a small crane. Smiling, he kept the bird in his jaws and swam back to the old crocodile, adamant about showing him who the true hunter was.

As the young crocodile rounded the bend, he saw the elder crocodile still floating in the same spot near the river’s edge.

However, something had changed--a large wildebeest was enjoying an afternoon drink just inches near the old crocodile’s head.

In one lightning fast movement, the old crocodile bolted out of the water, wrapped his jaws around the great wildebeest and pulled him under the river.

Awestruck the young crocodile swam up with the tiny bird hanging from his mouth and watched as the old crocodile enjoyed his 500 lb meal.

The young crocodile asked him, “Please… tell me… how… how did you do that?”

Through mouthfuls of wildebeest, the old crocodile finally responded,

“I did nothing.”

Doing what matters vs. busy-bragging

When I was first building JotForm, I was a lot like the young crocodile--believing that I always had to be doing something to get results.

Back then, if someone would have told me that I would see greater results by spending more time doing nothing, I would have rolled my eyes and continued to chip away at my 16 hour day of work.

I thought that in order to be successful, I had to constantly be building, working, growing and developing the next thing--whatever that “thing” was.

All of us have a problem with busyness. But being busy and being successful are not one in the same. And, I think if we were to make “doing nothing” more of a priority, we might find ourselves catching more wildebeests versus measly catfish.

It worked for me, and I hope it can work for you, too.

But, doing less or nothing at all is easier said than done, especially in a society that suffers from extreme busyness. Let’s take a closer look at our unhealthy obsession with staying busy…

The extreme busyness epidemic.

Mankind has struggled with busyness since the beginning of time - or at least since 425 BC when Homer walked the Earth.

The Odyssey tells the tale of the Lotus-eaters - a strange people that slothed around all day long eating lotus and doing nothing. And, what was stranger than fiction was that these people were content with their lives.

Homer wrote that after some of Odysseus’s crew ate the Lotus-eaters Lotus fruit (say that three times fast), they became like the Lotus-eaters -- content, relaxed and a bit lethargic.

Terrified that if all of his men ate the lotus fruit they would be unmotivated to return home, Odysseus ordered the affected men to be tied to the ship benches and for the ship to set sail immediately.

It ’s interesting, Odysseus’s reaction to this feeling of “doing nothing” sounds similar to the Corporate CEO, the Startup Founder and the collegiate football coach we know today - hardcore workaholics that despise anything that might allude to a sense of complacency.

Though, they of course are just the tip of a much larger societal iceberg that feels frozen with fear at the thought of doing nothing.

The world as a whole now measures value in terms of busyness versus quality of work. In many ways, it has become something of a status symbol to be “busy”.

How many times have you heard or had a conversation like this...

“How have you been lately, Mark?”

“Oh man, just insanely busy!”

“That’s awesome to hear man--keep killing it!”

We’ve grown to subconsciously measure a person’s worth based off how many hours they work, how much is on their plate and put simply - whether or not they are running around like a chicken with their head cut off.

In Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Work Week, he pokes fun at this idea by facetiously saying that if you want a promotion, you should appear to be more busy by working longer hours, scrambling around and constantly answering emails.

But, sooner or later, all of us have to ask ourselves what our mission is - is it to be the busiest or is it to make the most impact?

And, what’s fascinating is that when we look at some of the greatest minds to grace planet Earth, we see an interesting commonality--they all make time for doing nothing.

The power of doing nothing at all

Making time in your life to do nothing can be challenging--especially during the work week where we are constantly pummeled and bombarded with meetings, notifications and an ever growing list of tasks.

Busy founders have started implementing “Think Weeks” into their annual schedules--week long periods they spend reflecting, reading, thinking and living outside the all-encapsulating world that is running a business.

While young founders like Skillshare’s Mike Karnjanaprakorn have adopted this practice, as well as big names like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Tim Ferriss, it was Bill Gates who originally made the Think Week famous.

For many years while running Microsoft, Gates would retreat into week long Think Weeks twice a year--not vacations, but actual periods of time dedicated to doing nothing.

Gates was so adamant about his Think Weeks that family, friends and Microsoft employees were banned. Today, Gates attributes much of Microsoft’s success to the big ideas and concepts he stumbled upon while doing nothing.

On implementing “nothing” time.

You don’t necessarily have to ban family and friends to retreat into a Think Week, though. Take me as an example.

Every year, I take at least a full week off from my company and head back to my hometown to help my parents with the olive harvest.

All thoughts of startup growth or conversion rates slip away when you’re picking olives. It’s meditative and calming.

I know that olive picking won’t land me at the top of TechCrunch, but it’s a personal measure of success. And somehow, some of my best ideas come to me during this period.

For someone who can’t take an entire week off of work once a year to do nothing, I recommend taking a slightly different approach - embracing the digital sabbath.

On either Saturday or Sunday, force yourself to step away from all forms of technology--a practice known as a digital sabbath.

Shut off your smartphone and hide it in your closet. Powerdown the laptop and slide it under your bed. And, try with all your might to refrain from binge-watching Netflix.

Give your brain space to think by stepping away from the daily grind and doing nothing. Your mind will have time to stumble upon new ideas and further process old ones.

You may find the success that results from this practice to be similar to that of the old crocodile at the beginning of this article.

While we tell ourselves we can achieve more by scrambling, sometimes it’s better to close our eyes and just float.

And, wait, until the wildebeest shows up.


Gratitude

Express Gratitude

Mercola STORY AT-A-GLANCE

Video

Only 1 in 3 Americans report being “very happy.” More than half say they’re frustrated at work. Nearly 1 in 4 experience no life enjoyment at all

Small changes in perspective and/or behavior can add up, and practicing gratitude has been scientifically verified as a way to boost happiness and life satisfaction

Gratitude is also a form of generosity, as it involves extending “something” to another person, even if it’s only a verbal affirmation of thanks, and generosity and happiness are neurally linked

If your happiness could use a boost, commit to cultivating an attitude of gratitude. It not only boosts life satisfaction, it’s also the single best predictor of good relationships, and benefits both sanity and physical health

A dozen different strategies are reviewed, all of which can help you build and strengthen your sense of gratitude

Increase Positive Emotions by Spending More Time in Nature

Let go of negativity by changing your perception--Disappointment — especially if you're frequently struggling with things "not going your way" — can be a major source of stress, which is known to have far-reaching effects on your health and longevity. In fact, centenarians overwhelmingly cite stress as the most important thing to avoid if you want to live a long and healthy life.

Embrace the idea of having "enough"
According to many who have embraced a more minimalist lifestyle, the key to happiness is learning to appreciate and be grateful for having "enough." The average credit card debt for Americans who carry a balance is $16,000.

Try tapping
The Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is a helpful tool for a number of emotional challenges, including lack of gratitude. EFT is a form of psychological acupressure based on the energy meridians used in acupuncture that can quickly restore inner balance and healing, and helps rid your mind of negative thoughts and emotions. In the video below, EFT practitioner Julie Schiffman demonstrates how to tap for gratitude.

V Tapping for Gratitude







Chris Hedges

Has The U.S. Gone Insane?

By Jeffrey Bowers November 09, 2018 "Information Clearing House"

What does United States of America stand for nowadays if political division is at an all time high?

Is it still the land of the free if America has the highest rate of incarceration in the world?

Are we still the home of the brave if we refuse to stand up to injustice, because it would compromise our pocketbook?

This disconnection from reality is the definition of psychosis.

Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, best-selling author, and activist Chris Hedges, has made it his life’s work to highlight this inequity and combat the complacency of the consumerist culture. In a 2010 essay published on Adbusters, Hedges caught the eye of filmmaker Amanda Zackem, when he succinctly spelled out the problems with totalitarian capitalism and corporate power. Those ideas deeply resonated with Zackem and caused her to reach out to Hedges about bringing his essay into the cinematic realm in order to expose them to a larger audience. This week’s Staff Pick Premiere, “American Psychosis,” is the result of that process and their attempt to make people think more deeply about the world we’re living in.

“We live in an unbalanced, exploitation-based system and that’s not morally right or just. The issues of totalitarian capitalism and totalitarian corporate power need to be discussed more openly and honestly in our national dialogue,” says Zackem. “To be clear, totalitarian capitalism is not sustainable and should not be intertwined with our government. Most people don’t realize how their consumer choices negatively impact the world – environmentally, socially, culturally, politically, globally.”

Without going deep into the trenches, the short documentary illuminates many of these issues. However, with its hard-lined perspective, “American Psychosis” serves as a vital entry point to critically observing, thinking, and acting on the imbalances one sees in society. “I learned long ago that you can’t change anybody unless they want to change themselves. With this in mind, my intention when making this film was to encourage people to begin to think critically about the world we live in as opposed to just going through our daily motions.

Most of us aren’t even aware of the oppressive, inequitable systems we are a part of, or if we are, we choose not to look, or not to talk about it, because it is uncomfortable. I want people to question the world we live in, the systems we’ve set up. I want people to self-reflect and take personal responsibility for our current situation. Why do we allow it to continue? What are we afraid of? How can we co-create and help each other live and thrive as individuals and as a community?”

The Declaration of Independence says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Using those words as a rubric, one can’t help but acknowledge the widespread injustice happening across our society and question our government’s interests.

Traditionally totalitarian mechanisms are being used to silence dissenters, imprison people without due process, challenge the freedom of the press, promote hatred between different ethnic groups, and destroy the humanities and arts. “I believe in the ripple effect and that every person’s energy – be it big or small actions towards positive change – is powerful and vital to a functioning democracy,” says Zackem. “This film is my contribution to this larger dialogue.” As the United States moves closer to the November 6th midterm election, each citizen must ask themselves what they want for this country and how to best achieve it. The first step is to vote, which is the easiest and best way to contribute to that change.

Vimeo: Thinking about American society since the 2016 presidential
election (post international fiascos, post Brett Kavanaugh, and more),
what from Chris’s words seem most important or prescient?

American Psychosis on Vimeo

The United States is a very strange place when you really think about it. We celebrate freedom and yet we live in a nation with the highest incarceration rate in the world. We have tons of money, but people go bankrupt and/or die because they can’t afford healthcare. We have an abundance of food, much of which ends up in the trash, yet so many children and families are going hungry. Our education system is a mess. Teachers aren’t paid properly, nor do they have enough funding or resources to do their job. Our universities are putting our youth into massive debt. Women are still not paid as much as men; the list goes on and on. And yet in the United States productivity has never been higher but average wages have been virtually stagnant since the 1970’s. Corporations pay hardly any taxes and hide their money abroad and our governmental system somehow allows this to continue? All of this, as Chris highlights, is totally insane.

Chaco Canyon, Chaco Earth By Chris Hedges April 23, 2018

In New Mexico, a great civilization built a complex religious and administrative center that now lies in ruins. The ghosts there are whispering a message to us.

A bitter wind whipped down the 10-mile-long Chaco Canyon, kicking up swirls of dust among the thorny greasewood and sagebrush bushes. I ducked behind one of the towering sandstone walls in the three-acre ruin, or Great House, known as Pueblo Bonito, to escape the gusts. I was in the section of the 800-room complex where burials took place. Treasure hunters and archaeologists have uncovered in these ruins and tombs delicate white-and-black painted ceramics, flutes, ceremonial sticks, tiny copper bells, inlaid bone, macaw and parrot skeletons, cylindrical jars with the residue of chocolate that would have been imported from Mexico, shells and intricate turquoise jewelry and sculptures. From this vast, bureaucratic and ceremonial complex, the Anasazi—a Navajo word meaning ancient ones or possibly ancient enemies—dominated the Southwest from about the year 850 until the society collapsed in about 1150.

The Chaco ruin, 6,200 feet above sea level, is one of the largest and most spectacular archeological sites in North America. It is an impressive array of 15 interconnected complexes, each of which once had four-to-five-story stone buildings with hundreds of rooms each. Seven-hundred-pound wooden beams, many 16 feet long, were used in the roofs. Huge circular, ceremonial kivas—religious centers dug into the earth, with low masonry benches around the base of the room to accommodate hundreds of worshippers—dot the ruins. It rivals the temples and places built by the Aztecs and the Mayans.

Radiating from Chaco is a massive 400-mile network of roads, some 30 feet wide and still visible in the haunting desert landscape, along with dams, canals and reservoirs to collect and store rainwater. The study of astronomy, as with the Aztec and the Maya, was advanced. Petroglyphs and pictographs on the canyon walls often record astrological and solar events. One pictograph shows a hand, a crescent moon and a 10-pointed star that is believed to depict a 1054 supernova, and one of the petroglyphs appears to represent a solar eclipse that occurred in 1097.

A few thousand priests and ruling elites, along their retainers and administrators, lived in the Great Houses or palaces. They oversaw the trade routes that stretched to the California coast and into Central America. They maintained the elaborate network of lighthouses whose signal fires provided rapid communication. They built the roads, the long flights of stairs carved into the rock formations, the bridges, the wooden ladders to scale the towering cliffs, and the astronomical observatories that meticulously charted the solar observations to determine the equinoxes and solstices for planting and harvesting and for the annual religious festivals when thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, would gather. The buildings in the complexes were oriented to solstitial or cardinal points, a difference the anthropologist Stephen H. Lekson believes denoted not only competing cosmologies but competing political ideologies.

“Chaco was the political capital of a well-defined region that encompassed most of the Four Corners country, with more than 150 outlying Great Houses scattered over an area about the size of Ireland,” Lekson writes.

But this complex society, like all complex societies, proved fragile and impermanent. It fell into precipitous decline after nearly three centuries. The dense forests of oak, piñon and ponderosa pines and juniper that surrounded the canyon were razed for construction and fuel. The soil eroded. Game was hunted to near-extinction. The diet shifted in the final years from deer and turkey to rabbits and finally mice. Headless mice in the late period have been found by archaeologists in human coprolites—preserved dry feces.

The Anasazi’s open society, one where violence was apparently rare, where the people moved unhindered over the network of well-maintained roads, where warfare was apparently absent, where the houses of the rich and powerful were not walled off, where the population shared in the spoils of empire, was replaced with the equivalent of gated, fortified compounds for the elites and misery, hunger, insecurity and tyranny for the commoners.

Dwellings began to be built in the cliffs, along with hilltop fortresses, although these residences were not close to the fields and water supply. Defensive walls were constructed along with moats and towers. The large, public religious ceremonies that once united the culture and gave it cohesion fractured, and tiny, warring religious cults took over, the archaeologist Lynne Sebastian notes.

Lekson, a professor of anthropology at the University of Colorado in Boulder, believes the Anasazi rulers during the decline increasingly resorted to savage violence and terror, including the public executions of dissidents and rebels. He finds evidence, much of it documented in Steven A. LeBlanc’s book “Prehistoric Warfare in the American Southwest,” that “Chaco death squads” were sent out across the empire. LeBlanc writes that at Yucca House, a Chaco Great House near Mesa Verde, as many as 90 people were killed and tossed into a kiva and at least 25 showed signs of mutilation.

“Chacoan violence, concentrated and brutal, appears to represent government terror: the enforcement of Chaco’s rule by institutionalized force,” Lekson writes in the article “Chaco Death Squads” in Archeology magazine. “Violence was public, intended to appall and subdue the populace. Chacoan death squads (my term, not LeBlanc’s) executed and mutilated those judged to be threats to Chacoan power, those who broke the rules.”

The anthropologist Christy G. Turner, who specialized in osteology, the study of human bones, in his book “Man Corn” cited “cannibalism and human sacrifice as conspicuous elements of terrorism.” In short, as Lekson writes, “the death squad killed you, cut you up, and then ate you in front of your relatives and neighbors.” The term “man corn” comes from the Nahuatl word “tlacatlaolli,” which Turner defined as a “sacred meal of sacrificed human meat, cooked with corn.” Debra Martin goes on to argue in a paper titled “Violence Against Women in the La Plata River Valley, A.D. 1000-1300” (located on the periphery of the Chacoan empire) that there is evidence of battered women who were perhaps slaves.

The Anasazi elites, no longer willing or able to provide social services or competent governance and plagued by shortages of natural resources, kept extracting unsustainable tribute. They resorted to harsher and harsher forms of repression. By the end, they were hated. The civilization suffered a severe drought in the year 1130. It was the final blow. The impressive structures would lie abandoned until they were discovered by the nomadic Navajos some 600 years later. The Navajos did not reoccupy the buildings, many of which contained skeletal remains, because they believed them to be filled with evil spirits.

“Prosperity, social integration, altruism, and generosity go hand-in-hand,” Stuart adds. “Poverty, social conflict, judgmental cynicism, and savagery do, too.”

Collapse, as Joseph A. Tainter points out, is “a recurrent feature of human societies.” Complex societies create centralized bureaucratic structures that exploit resources until exhaustion and then prove unable to adapt to scarcity. They create more sophisticated mechanisms to extract depleted resources, evidenced in our own time by the decision of the Trump administration to open up the lands around the Chaco Culture National Historical Park to fracking. In the end, the technologies and organization that make the rise of complex societies possible become the mechanisms that destroy them.

The fate of the Anasazi replicates the fate of all complex societies. The collapse came within one or two decades after the peak. As Jared Diamond writes in “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed,” the trajectories of complex societies “are unlike the usual course of individual human lives, which decline in a prolonged senescence. The reason is simple: maximum population, wealth, resource consumption, and waste production mean maximum environmental impact, approaching the limit where impact outstrips resources.”

“Civilization is an experiment, a very recent way of life in the human career, and it has a habit of walking into what I am calling progress traps,” Ronald Wright writes in “A Short History of Progress.” “A small village on good land beside a river is a good idea; but when the village grows into a city and paves over the good land, it becomes a bad idea.

"This human inability to foresee—or watch for—long-range consequences may be inherent to our kind, shaped by millions of years when we lived hand to mouth by hunting and gathering. It may also be little more than a mix of inertia, greed, and foolishness encouraged by the shape of the social pyramid. The concentration of power at the top of large-scale societies gives the elite a vested interest in the status quo; they continue to prosper in darkening times long after the environment and general population begin to suffer.”

We in 2018 are beset with signs of impending collapse. The droughts, wildfires, flooding, soaring temperatures, crop failures, poisoning of the soil, air and water, and social breakdown from global warming are leaving huge segments of the world’s poor without adequate food, water and security. Desperate migrants are fleeing the global south. Crisis cults carry out nihilistic acts of terrorism, often in the name of religious beliefs.

Our predatory elites, who have retreated to their own versions of Anasazi Great Houses, with access to private security, private education, private medicine, private transportation, private sources of water and food and luxury items that are unavailable to the wider population, have walled out reality. Their hubris and myopia, as well as blind obedience to an ideology—global capitalism—that benefits them but accelerates social and environmental destruction, mean they have only bought a little more time before they succumb like the rest of us.

We can no longer live on the capital of the natural world and instead must learn to make do with the interest. This means the end to reliance on fossil fuels and the animal agriculture industry. It means adopting a simplicity that rejects the ethos of capitalism and the hedonism and gluttony that define the consumer society. It means a communal society in which inequality and income disparity are not extreme. If we continue to live as if the future does not matter, our society, like that of the Anasazi, will fracture and die. We will vanish from the earth in an act of global suicide.

The human species faces its greatest existential crisis. Yet, our elites replicate the imbecility, arrogance and greed of past elites. They hoard wealth. They shut us out from circles of power. They use brutal forms of repression to maintain control. They exhaust and poison the ecosystem. The longer the corporate elites rule, the longer we fail to revolt, the less chance we have to endure as a species. Settled or civilized life is less than 10,000 years old. Our peculiar human social construction is but a nanosecond to the universe. It may prove to be a brief and fatal experiment. Perhaps, as Franz Kafka wrote, “There is hope; though not for us.”

Becoming Serfs

ICH By Chris Hedges August 27, 2018

The elites divert attention from their pillage by blaming foreign countries such as China or undocumented workers for the economic demise of the working class.

You know the statistics. Income inequality in the United States has not been this pronounced in over a century. The top 10 percent has 50 percent of the country’s income, and the upper 1 percent has 20 percent of the country’s income. A quarter of American workers struggle on wages of less than $10 an hour, putting them below the poverty line, while the income of the average CEO of a major corporation is more than 300 times the pay of his or her average worker, a massive increase given that in the 1950s the average CEO made 20 times what his or her worker made. This income inequality is global. The richest 1 percent of the world’s population controls 40 percent of the world’s wealth. And it is getting worse.

What will the consequences of this inequality be economically and politically? How much worse will it get with the imposition of austerity programs and a new tax code that slashes rates for corporations, allowing companies to hoard money or buy back their own stock rather than invest in the economy? How will we endure as health care insurance premiums steadily rise and social and public welfare programs such as Medicaid, Pell Grants and food stamps are cut? And under the tax code revision signed by President Trump in December, rates will increase over the long term for the working class. Over the next decade, the revision will cost the nation roughly $1.5 trillion. Where will this end?

We live in a new feudalism. We have been stripped of political power. Workers are trapped in menial jobs, forced into crippling debt and paid stagnant or declining wages. Chronic poverty and exploitative working conditions in many parts of the world, and increasingly in the United States, replicate the hell endured by industrial workers at the end of the 19th century. The complete capture of ruling institutions by corporations and their oligarchic elites, including the two dominant political parties, the courts and the press, means there is no mechanism left by which we can reform the system or protect ourselves from mounting abuse. We will revolt or become 21st-century serfs, forced to live in misery and brutally oppressed by militarized police and the most sophisticated security and surveillance system in human history while the ruling oligarchs continue to wallow in unimagined wealth and opulence.

“The new tax code is explosive excess,” the economist Richard Wolff said when we spoke in New York. “We’ve had 30 or 40 years where corporations paid less taxes than they ever did. They made more money than they ever did. They have been able to keep wages stagnant while the productivity of labor rose. This is the last moment historically they need another big gift, let alone at the expense of the very people whose wages have been stagnant. To give them a tax bust of this sort, basically reducing from 35 percent to 20 percent, is a 40 percent cut. This kind of crazy excess reminds you of the [kings] of France before the French Revolution when the level of excess reached an explosive social dimension. That’s where we are.”

When capitalism collapsed in the 1930s, the response of the working class was to form unions, strike and protest. The workers pitted power against power. They forced the oligarchs to respond with the New Deal, which created 12 million government-funded jobs, Social Security, the minimum wage and unemployment compensation. The country’s infrastructure was modernized and maintained. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) alone employed 300,000 workers to form and maintain national parks.

“The message of the organized working class was unequivocal,” Wolff said. “Either you help us through this Depression or there will be a revolution.”

The New Deal programs were paid for by taxing the rich. Even in the 1950s, during the Eisenhower presidency, the top marginal rate was 91 percent.

The rich, enraged, mounted a war to undo these programs and restore the social inequality that makes them wealthy at our expense. We have come full circle. Dissidents, radicals and critics of capitalism are once again branded as agents of foreign powers and purged from universities and the airwaves. The labor movement has been dismantled, including through so-called right-to-work laws that prohibit agreements between unions and employers. The last remaining regulations to thwart corporate pillage and pollution are removed.

Although government is the only mechanism we have to protect ourselves from predatory oligarchs and corporations, the rich tell us that government is the problem, not the solution. Austerity and a bloated and out-of-control military budget, along with the privatization of public services and institutions such as utilities and public education, we are assured, are the way to economic growth. And presiding over this assault and unchecked kleptocracy are the con artist in chief and his billionaire friends from the fossil fuel and war industries and elsewhere on Wall Street.

The elites cook statistics to lie about a recovery from the 2008 global financial crash. To gather unemployment statistics, for example, government agents ask people two questions: Are you working? If they answer “yes” they are counted as employed even if they have a temporary job in which they work only an hour a week. If they say “no” they are asked if they have been looking for work. If they have not looked for work in the last four weeks they are magically erased from the unemployment rolls. And then there is the long list of those not counted as unemployed, such as prisoners, the retired, stay-at-home spouses and high school and college students who want jobs. Alternative facts did not begin with Donald Trump.

“You don’t have to be a statistical genius to understand that over the last 10 years, a significant number of people gave up looking because it’s too disgusting,” Wolff said. “The jobs they were offered were inferior to what they had before or so insecure that it made their family life impossible. They went back to school, went into the illegal economy or began to live off their friends, relatives and neighbors.”

“The quality of the jobs, the security, the benefits and the impact on physical and mental health have been cascading downward as the wages remain stagnant,” he went on. “We’re not in a recovery. We’re in an ongoing decline, which, by the way, is why Mr. Trump got elected. This is happening to capitalism in Western Europe, Japan and the United States. This is why an angry working class is looking for ways to express and change its circumstances.”

“Society has a responsibility to itself,” Wolff said. “If the private sector can’t or won’t manage that, then the public sector has to step in. It’s what [Franklin] Roosevelt said when he came on the radio: ‘If there are millions of Americans who ask for nothing other than a job, and the private sector can’t provide it, then it’s up to me. Who else is going to do it?’ If we cut back on welfare we are making people depend on the private sector. What happens to people thrown on a private capital sector that cannot and will not function in a socially acceptable way?”

“Instead of creating a middle class, it polarizes everything,” he said of the inequality. “It allows the top executives to go completely crazy with their pay packages. They are paid beyond what’s reasonable, beyond what their fellow capitalists receive in other parts of the world. There is a collapse of the ability to buy things.

"A company that saves all this money through a tax cut from Mr. Trump is not going to spend its money hiring people, buying machines, producing more. They’re having trouble selling what they already produce. They’re impoverishing the very people they sell to. What do they do with the money?

"They take it and pay themselves. They give themselves higher pay packages. They buy back their own stock, which they’re legally allowed to do. It pushes the price of the stock up. Their [personal] compensation is connected to how well the price of the stock does. No jobs are created. No growth is created. The price of stock is going up even though the viability of the enterprise—because of the [company’s] collapsing market—is shrinking.”

“Capitalism is hollowing itself out,” he said. “The capitalists refuse to face this because they are making money, for a while. That’s the same logic as the monarchs before the French Revolution building the fantastic Versailles without understanding they were digging their own graves in those lovely gardens.”

The elites divert attention from their pillage by blaming foreign countries such as China or undocumented workers for the economic demise of the working class.

“It’s a classic ploy of crooked politicians stuck with a problem of their own making, blaming somebody else,” Wolff said. “We take the poor 10 or 11 million immigrants in this country with questionable legal status and we demonize them. We scapegoat them. They couldn’t possibly account for the difficulties in this economy. Throwing them out does not fundamentally change the dynamics of the economy. It’s childishly easy to show this. But it’s good theater. ‘I am smiting the foreigner.’ ”

“Tariffs are another way to smite the foreigner,” Wolff went on. “The tariff is a punishment of others. These days, the bugaboo is China. They are the bad ones. They are doing this. I’d like to remind people two or three things about these tariffs. One: Historically, they don’t work very well. It’s very easy to evade. For example, we put a tariff on steel from China. What do the Chinese do? They cut a deal with the Canadians or the Mexicans or the Koreans or the Europeans. Sell it to them, who resell it here. It’s on the same ship coming here. It just has a different flag at the back. This is childish. It’s well known.”

“Number two: It’s political theater,” he said. “It doesn’t change very much. For example, a good half of the goods that come from China come from subsidiaries of American corporations that went to China over the last 30 years to produce for the American market. You are smiting them by closing off their market. They’re going to be angry. They’re going to lose their investments. They’re going to take corrective action. All of this is negative for the American economy. It’s bizarre.”

“Finally, the Chinese, their politicians being not that different from ours, will have to posture in return and retaliate,” he said. “They’re already targeting our farm products. It is chaos. The United States, when we were a young country, was accused by the British and the Europeans of stealing their technology and intellectual property. Never before has it been easier to communicate intellectual property than it is today. The Chinese have been doing their share of this as an up-and-coming economy. It’s not new. It’s not frightening. It’s a part of how capitalism works. To suddenly get people outraged as if something special is going on, that’s just dishonest.”

There is no discussion in the corporate-controlled media of the effects of our out-of-control corporate capitalism. Workers struggling under massive debts, unable to pay for ever-rising health care and other basic costs, trapped in low-wage jobs that make life one long emergency, are rendered invisible by a media that entertains us with court gossip from porn actresses and reality television stars and focuses on celebrity culture. We ignore reality at our peril.

“We’ve given a free pass to a capitalist system because we’ve been afraid to debate it,” Wolff said. “When you give a free pass to any institution, you create the conditions for it to rot right behind the facade. That’s what is happening.”

Chris Hedges, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years. https://www.truthdig.com/author/chris_hedges/

Chris Hedges--Scum vs. Scum

November 05, 2018 "Information Clearing House"

There is perhaps no better illustration of the deep decay of the American political system than the Senate race in New Jersey. Sen. Bob Menendez, running for re-election, was censured by the Senate Ethics Committee for accepting bribes from the Florida businessman Salomon Melgen, who was convicted in 2017 of defrauding Medicare of $73 million. The senator had flown to the Dominican Republic with Melgen on the physician’s private jet and stayed in his private villa, where the men cavorted with young Dominican women who allegedly were prostitutes. Menendez performed numerous political favors for Melgen, including helping some of the Dominican women acquire visas to the United States. Menendez was indicted in a federal corruption trial but escaped sentencing because of a hung jury.

The Senate campaign in New Jersey has seen no discussion of substantive issues. It is dominated by both candidates’ nonstop personal attacks and negative ads, part of the typical burlesque of American politics.

Scum versus scum. That sums up this election season.

Is it any wonder that 100 million Americans don’t bother to vote? When all you are offered is Bob One or Bob Two, why bother? One-fourth of Democratic challengers in competitive House districts in this week’s elections have backgrounds in the CIA, the military, the National Security Council or the State Department. Nearly all candidates on the ballots in House races are corporate-sponsored, with a few lonely exceptions such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, members of the Democratic Socialists of America who are running as Democrats.

The securities and finance industry has backed Democratic congressional candidates 63 percent to 37 percent over Republicans, according to data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics. Democratic candidates and political action committees have received $56.8 million, compared with Republicans’ $33.4 million, the center reported. The broader sector of finance, insurance and real estate, it found, has given $174 million to Democratic candidates, against $157 million to Republicans. And Michael Bloomberg, weighing his own presidential run, has pledged $100 million to elect a Democratic Congress.

Our system of legalized bribery is an equal-opportunity employer.

Trump is a clownish and embarrassing tool of the kleptocrats.

His faux populism is a sham. Only the rich like his tax cuts, his refusal to raise the minimum wage and his effort to destroy Obamacare. All he has left is hate.

Bertram Gross (1912-1997) in “Friendly Fascism: The New Face of American Power” warned us that fascism always has two looks. One is paternal, benevolent, entertaining and kind. The other is embodied in the executioner’s sadistic leer. Janus-like, fascism seeks to present itself to a captive public as a force for good and moral renewal. It promises protection against enemies real and invented. But denounce its ideology, challenge its power, demand freedom from fascism’s iron grip, and you are mercilessly crushed. Gross knew that if the United States’ form of fascism, expressed through corporate tyranny, was able to effectively mask its true intentions behind its “friendly” face we would be stripped of power, shorn of our most cherished rights and impoverished. He has been proved correct.

“Looking at the present, I see a more probable future: a new despotism creeping slowly across America,” Gross wrote. “Faceless oligarchs sit at command posts of a corporate-government complex that has been slowly evolving over many decades. In efforts to enlarge their own powers and privileges, they are willing to have others suffer the intended or unintended consequences of their institutional or personal greed. For Americans, these consequences include chronic inflation, recurring recession, open and hidden unemployment, the poisoning of air, water, soil and bodies, and more important, the subversion of our constitution. More broadly, consequences include widespread intervention in international politics through economic manipulation, covert action, or military invasion.”

No totalitarian state has mastered propaganda better than the corporate state. Our press has replaced journalism with trivia, feel-good stories, jingoism and celebrity gossip. The banal and the absurd, delivered by cheery corporate courtiers, saturate the airwaves. Our emotions are skillfully manipulated around manufactured personalities and manufactured events. We are, at the same time, offered elaborate diversionary spectacles including sporting events, reality television and absurdist political campaigns.

Trump is a master of this form of entertainment. Our emotional and intellectual energy is swallowed up by the modern equivalent of the Roman arena. Choreographed political vaudeville, which costs corporations billions of dollars, is called free elections. Cliché-ridden slogans, which assure us that the freedoms we cherish remain sacrosanct, dominate our national discourse as these freedoms are stripped from us by judicial and legislative fiat.

It is a vast con game.

You cannot use the word “liberty” when your government, as ours does, watches you 24 hours a day and stores all of your personal information in government computers in perpetuity. You cannot use the word “liberty” when you are the most photographed and monitored population in human history. You cannot use the word “liberty” when it is impossible to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs or General Dynamics. You cannot use the word “liberty” when the state empowers militarized police to use indiscriminate lethal force against unarmed citizens in the streets of American cities. You cannot use the word “liberty” when 2.3 million citizens, mostly poor people of color, are held in the largest prison system on earth. This is the relationship between a master and a slave. The choice is between whom we want to clamp on our chains—a jailer who mouths politically correct bromides or a racist, Christian fascist. Either way we are shackled.

Gross understood that unchecked corporate power would inevitably lead to corporate fascism. It is the natural consequence of the ruling ideology of neoliberalism that consolidates power and wealth into the hands of a tiny group of oligarchs.

The political philosopher Sheldon Wolin, refining Gross’ thesis, would later characterize this corporate tyranny or friendly fascism as “inverted totalitarianism.” It was, as Gross and Wolin pointed out, characterized by anonymity. It purported to pay fealty to electoral politics, the Constitution and the iconography and symbols of American patriotism but internally had seized all of the levers of power to render the citizen impotent. Gross warned that we were being shackled incrementally. Most would not notice until they were in total bondage.

He wrote that “a friendly fascist power structure in the United States, Canada, Western Europe, or today’s Japan would be far more sophisticated than the ‘caesarism’ of fascist Germany, Italy, and Japan. It would need no charismatic dictator nor even a titular head … it would require no one-party rule, no mass fascist party, no glorification of the State, no dissolution of legislatures, no denial of reason. Rather, it would come slowly as an outgrowth of present trends in the Establishment.”

Gross foresaw that technological advances in the hands of corporations would be used to trap the public in what he called “cultural ghettoization” so that “almost every individual would get a personalized sequence of information injections at any time of the day—or night.” This is what, of course, television, our electronic devices and the internet have done. He warned that we would be mesmerized by the entertaining shadows on the wall of the Platonic cave as we were enslaved.

Gross knew that the most destructive force against the body politic would be the war profiteers and the militarists. He saw how they would siphon off the resources of the state to wage endless war, a sum that now accounts for half of all discretionary spending. And he grasped that warfare is the natural extension of corporatism. He wrote:

Under the militarism of German, Italian, and Japanese fascism violence was openly glorified. It was applied regionally—by the Germans in Europe and England, the Italians in the Mediterranean, the Japanese in Asia. In battle, it was administered by professional militarists who, despite many conflicts with politicians, were guided by old-fashioned standards of duty, honor, country, and willingness to risk their own lives.

The emerging militarism of friendly fascism is somewhat different. It is global in scope. It involves weapons of doomsday proportions, something that Hitler could dream of but never achieve. It is based on an integration between industry, science, and the military that the old-fashioned fascists could never even barely approximate. It points toward equally close integration among military, paramilitary, and civilian elements. Many of the civilian leaders—such as Zbigniew Brzezinski or Paul Nitze—tend to be much more bloodthirsty than any top brass. In turn, the new-style military professionals tend to become corporate-style entrepreneurs who tend to operate—as Major Richard A. Gabriel and Lieutenant Colonel Paul L. Savage have disclosed—in accordance with the ethics of the marketplace.

The old buzzwords of duty, honor, and patriotism are mainly used to justify officer subservience to the interests of transnational corporations and the continuing presentation of threats to some corporate investments as threats to the interest of the American people as a whole. Above all, in sharp contrast with classic fascism’s glorification of violence, the friendly fascist orientation is to sanitize, even hide, the greater violence of modern warfare behind such “value-free” terms as “nuclear exchange,” “counterforce” and “flexible response,” behind the huge geographical distances between the senders and receivers of destruction through missiles or even on the “automated battlefield,” and the even greater psychological distances between the First World elites and the ordinary people who might be consigned to quick or slow death.

We no longer live in a functioning democracy. Self-styled liberals and progressives, as they do in every election cycle, are urging us to vote for the Democrats, although the Democratic Party in Europe would be classified as a right-wing party, and tell us to begin to build progressive movements the day after the election. Only no one ever builds these movements. The Democratic Party knows there is no price to pay for selling us out and its abject service to corporations. It knows the left and liberals become supplicants in every election cycle. And this is why the Democratic Party drifts further and further to the right and we become more and more irrelevant. If you stand for something, you have to be willing to fight for it. But there is no fight in us.

The elites, Republican and Democrat, belong to the same club. We are not in it. Take a look at the flight roster of the billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who was accused of prostituting dozens of underage girls and ended up spending 13 months in prison on a single count. He flew political insiders from both parties and the business world to his secluded Caribbean island, known as “Orgy Island,” on his jet, which the press nicknamed “the Lolita Express.” Some of the names on his flight roster, which usually included unidentified women, were Bill Clinton, who took dozens of trips, Alan Dershowitz, former Treasury Secretary and former Harvard President Larry Summers, the Candide-like Steven Pinker, whose fairy dust ensures we are getting better and better, and Britain’s Prince Andrew. Epstein was also a friend of Trump, whom he visited at Mar-a-Lago.

We live on the precipice, the eve of the deluge. Past civilizations have crumbled in the same way, although as Hegel understood, the only thing we learn from history is “that people and governments never have learned anything from history.” We will not arrest the decline if the Democrats regain control of the House. At best we will briefly slow it. The corporate engines of pillage, oppression, ecocide and endless war are untouchable. Corporate power will do its dirty work regardless of which face—the friendly fascist face of the Democrats or the demented visage of the Trump Republicans—is pushed out front. If you want real change, change that means something, then mobilize, mobilize, mobilize, not for one of the two political parties but to rise up and destroy the corporate structures that ensure our doom.







India Miracle

Couple creates wildlife sanctuary in India by letting barren farmland return to nature Melissa Breyer


The husband and wife have spent 25 years buying up wasteland farmers no longer wanted; now elephants, tigers and leopards roam free there.

Sometimes it takes a village, sometimes it just takes a person or two, as in the case of Anil and Pamela Malhotra who together are creating what is likely India’s first private wildlife sanctuary.

Having met and married in the United States in the 1960s, the couple moved to India in 1986 after visiting for the funeral of Anil’s father. While generally it would be the beauty of a place to inspire relocation, for the Malhotras it was the opposite – the terrible state of nature in Haridwar was the attraction.

"There was so much deforestation, the timber lobby was in charge, and the river was polluted. And no one seemed to care. That was when we decided to do something to reclaim the forests in India," Anil tells the India Times [ ].

India Times: Couple Spends 26 Years And Turns A 300 Acres Of Barren Land Into A Flourishing Rainforest A couple has transformed 300 acres of denuded farmland in Karnataka into what is probably India's first private wildlife sanctuary. Pamela Malhotra walks through the forest, pointing out a spot where she and her husband saw a herd of 10 elephants a few days ago. She also shows off a giant tree nearby.


"That tree is about 700 years old and draws different types of birds," she says, running her hand along the massive trunk


Pamela and her husband Anil K Malhotra have spent the last 25 years buying denuded and abandoned agricultural land in Karnataka's Kodagu district and reforesting it, to return the land to a bio-diverse rainforest for elephants, tigers, leopards, deer, snakes, birds and hundreds of other creatures.

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The couple owns 300 acres of land in Brahmagiri, a mountain range in the Western Ghats, which houses the Malhotras' Save Animals Initiative (SAI) Sanctuary. It's probably the only private wildlife sanctuary in the country with more than 300 kinds of birds as well as many rare and threatened animal species.


But this was not the scene in 1991 when Anil, 75, and Pamela, 64, who run the SAI Sanctuary Trust, came to this part of the country.

"When I came here with a friend who suggested I buy this land, it was a wasteland of 55 acres. The owner wanted to sell because he couldn't grow coffee or anything else here," says Anil, an alumnus of Doon School, who worked in the real estate and restaurant business in the US before moving to India. "For me and Pamela, this was what we were looking for all our life."

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They had almost given up the search for land after hitting the land ceiling hurdle in North India


The couple, who met and married in New Jersey, US, in the 1960s, had a love for nature from their childhood. When they went on their honeymoon to Hawaii, they fell in love with its beauty and decided to settle there. "That is where we learnt the value of forests and realised that despite threats of global warming no serious efforts were being made to save forests for the future," says Anil.

Red Leaves ~ Crown Flower

When the Malhotras came to India for the funeral of Anil's father in 1986, the pollution in Haridwar horrified them. "There was so much deforestation, the timber lobby was in charge, and the river was polluted. And no one seemed to care.

That was when we decided to do something to reclaim the forests in India," says Anil, sitting below a dense canopy in front of their house facing the Brahmagiri hills.


When they realised they would not find land in north India, the search turned southwards. Malhotra's friend had told him that if he was looking for returns, this land in Brahmagiri wouldn't provide any. "We were not looking for money.

Early on, we realised that shortage of fresh water will be a concern for India and the rest of the world. Acquisition, protection and reclamation of forested lands and wildlife habitat, where vital water sources have their origin, is the only way to save ourselves," explains Anil.


They sold property they owned in Hawaii, bought the first 55 acres at the foothills of the Brahmagiri range and began afforestation work. Soon, they realised there was no use nurturing a forest on one side of the stream when landholders on the other side were using pesticides for cultivation.

"We started buying lands across the stream whenever they came up for sale. Many of the farmers considered their holdings 'wasteland' as very little grew on it and were happy to get money," says Malhotra


But there were legal complications as many land documents were not in order and many farmers had debts to be settled. "Once we bought the land, we allowed the forest to regenerate. We planted native species where necessary and allowed nature to take care of the rest," says Anil.

Today, SAI Sanctuary covers approximately 300 acres, and draws naturalists and scientists doing research on the different animal species as well as hundreds of indigenous trees and plants, which have medicinal value as well.


Hunting and poaching was a challenge and often locals did not understand what "this couple from the US" was doing, so it was slow going and required a lot of talking to create awareness. "A priest of a temple located on a nearby hillock was killed by a tiger and villagers were afraid.

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We helped them rebuild the temple at a safer location, but our condition was that they'd give up hunting and poaching," says Pamela. "When they asked us why, we asked them why they worshipped Hanuman and Ganesha but killed animals. It worked," she says.

They worked with the forest department to set up camera traps and keep poachers away. "There are times I have fought poachers with logs," says Pamela. The couple gets help from other trustees to keep the sanctuary going.

https://youtu.be/8zoxzZGD2WI

They also try convincing large companies to buy land and let it flourish as part of their corporate social responsibility plans. "Corporates should extend their CSR activities towards this sector," says Pamela. "Without water, what business will you do?"

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After looking for land to purchase, in 1991 they settled on a 55-acre plot down south in Brahmagiri, a mountain range in the Western Ghats. The land was a mess, Anil, 75, and Pamela, 64, say that the owner wanted to sell it because he could no longer grow on it.

"For me and Pamela, this was what we were looking for all our life," says Anil. And thus began the transformation, orchestrated by Mother Nature, of barren farmland into what is now the Save Animals Initiative (SAI) Sanctuary [http://www.saisanctuary.com/index.htm].


Since then, the couple has been purchasing land as it becomes available, most of it agricultural acreage that has been stripped of its fertility.

"Once we bought the land, we allowed the forest to regenerate. We planted native species where necessary and allowed nature to take care of the rest," says Anil.


As of now, the SAI Sanctuary boasts some 300 acres of beautiful bio-diverse rainforest that elephants, tigers, leopards, deer, snakes, birds and hundreds of other animals all call home. Naturalists and scientists come to do research on animals as well as the hundreds of indigenous trees and plants. And guests are invited to come and stay in the two eco-tourist cottages on the property as a way to help support the continuing efforts of the Malhotras. Efforts that are making waves in both a mountain range in India and all the way across the world as news of this noble endeavor continues to spread.

You can see all of the beautiful nature and meet the Malhotras in this trailer for a film made about the couple and their work.


Video: trailer [above]

Video: Sanctuary: A Home In The Kodagu Forests In south Kodagu in Karnataka, at the end of a long and bumpy road, is the Save Animals Initiative Sanctuary. It is a 300-acre dream - the dream of Pamela and Anil Malhotra, who came here to try and save a part of Kodagu's precious forests and keep it safe for wild animals and indigenous plants.

Watch full show: http://www.ndtv.com/video/environment...

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Video: Tata Safari - SAI Sanctuary Getting out there, living life, taking the road less traveled, accepting a tough week at the office because the weekend offers enough adventures, that’s what the Tata Safari has always represented. So here we were on the Kerala-Karnataka border, at the SAI (Save Animals Initiative), spearheaded by Pamela in the most powerful Safari till date, the Storme VARICOR 400.

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And for more information, visit the the sanctuary's website

Our main mission:

• To protect and preserve the last remaining natural Wild Places of the Earth—especially equatorial rainforests—thereby safeguarding our vital water sources as well as the planet’s rich biodiversity of both flora and fauna for ourselves and future generations.

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To this end, we at SST use a three-pronged approach:

~ Acquisition, protection and reclamation of forested lands and wildlife habitat where vital water sources have their origin,

~ Rescue, rehabilitation and re-introduction of indigenous species of wildlife back into the wild, and

~ Spreading awareness to the global and local community about the 'Web of Life' and the necessity to help re-establish the Balance of Nature.

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Through acquisition and protection of forested lands and the reclamation of degraded lands through reforestation projects, the source of all fresh water—the forests—are preserved and expanded. This also helps mitigate the disastrous effects of Global Warming, while safeguarding the habitat for various species of wildlife since the forest is their home.

Through anti-poaching measures and rescue, rehabilitation and release programs of wildlife, the health of the forests is insured, since a forest cannot be healthy without the wildlife that lives within it, protecting and expanding the forest through their natural living cycles.

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Methods for spreading awareness of the importance of the forest includes:

~ Writing articles for and giving interviews to the local, national and international media,

~ Education and awareness programs including talks, slide shows, and the establishment of Nature Clubs, and

~ Networking and partnering with business groups, other service organizations, indigenous people, and the general public.

Red Leaves ~ Crown Flower

In today’s world, where global warming has become an accepted scientific fact, where species of plants and animals are vanishing from the planet at an unprecedented rate, where vital water sources are drying up due to the unrelenting pace of deforestation, we at SAI Sanctuary Trust renew our commitment to work toward our goal: the re-establishment of the Balance of Nature through the protection and preservation of Earth’s remaining forests.

*SAI Sanctuary Trust is an independent Registered Nonprofit Charitable Trust. While ‘SAI’ is an anagram for ‘Save Animals Initiative,’ the word ‘SAI’ also means ‘Universal Mother’—i.e., Mother Nature.

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Video: This Couple Nursed a Rainforest Back to Life What was once 300 acres of coffee and cardamom fields in India’s Southern Ghats is now lush native forest, all thanks to the hard work and dedication of Pamela Gale Malhotra and her husband Anil. The couple started India’s first private wildlife sanctuary, SAI sanctuary, and for the past two decades they have been nursing the land back to life. Here’s how they did it.

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Video: SAI Sanctuary - The only Private Wildlife Sanctuary in India - HD The Couple Who Transformed 55 Acres Of Barren Land Into A 300 Acre Wildlife Sanctuary.

Pamela and Anil Malhotra bought 55 acres of land 23 years ago, and today they have converted it into a beautiful forest of over 300 acres. Here’s how SAI Sanctuary, the only private wildlife sanctuary in India, came to host animals like Bengal Tiger, Sambhar and Asian Elephants.

The couple, passionate about wildlife and nature conservation, bought 55 acres of land to plant native trees and protect the environment. Today, they are responsible for creating over 300 acres of wild life sanctuary that hosts animals like Bengal Tigers, Asian Elephants, Hyena, Wild Boar, Leopards, Sambhar, etc.

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* Video: An Intro to SAI Sanctuary SAI Sanctuary is an incredible place. Not only is it a paradise for all forms of life-- humans, rare plants, and even rarer animals-- but the ecological services that are protected in this area are crucial for maintaining the entire south Indian region... and protection of this rainforest is critical for the environmental health of our entire globe.

The sanctuary borders the Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, acting as a buffer between the villages and the primary forest and providing Asian elephants with an unmolested corridor in which to travel freely. Among the animals regularly spotted on sanctuary grounds are the rare Bengal tiger, the Asian elephant, Sambar deer, and leopard, as well as countless rare amphibians and insects.

So what you can do? Come and stay at our cottages! Spread the word about SAI! And donations are always welcome-- they are tax-deductible in India as well as in the United States.

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Video: Couple Buys 300 Acres Of Barren Land, Converts It Into India's First Private Wildlife Sanctuary Pamela and her husband Anil K Malhotra have spent the last 25 years buying denuded and abandoned agricultural land in Karnataka's Kodagu district and reforesting it, to return the land to a bio-diverse rainforest for elephants, tigers, leopards, deer, snakes, birds and hundreds of other creatures.

The couple owns 300 acres of land in Brahmagiri, a mountain range in the Western Ghats, which houses the Malhotras' Save Animals Initiative (SAI) Sanctuary. It's probably the only private wildlife sanctuary in the country with more than 300 kinds of birds as well as many rare and threatened animal species.

Mushroom ~ Kingfisher

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V Shantiniketan - The Abode of Peace in Indian--Santiniketan (Santiniketôn) is a small town near Bolpur in the Birbhum district of West Bengal, India, approximately 180 km north of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta). It was established by Maharshi Devendranath Tagore, and later expanded by his son Rabindranath Tagore whose vision became what is now a university town, Visva-Bharati University - Wikipedia







Umair Haque

Do Americans Know How Weird and Extreme Their Collapse is Getting?--Even the Dark Ages Would Laugh at Where We’re Going

Why America Collapsing Into Authoritarianism Was Inevitable - How America Never Developed the Power to Grow Into a Modern Democracy

When you look at America, what do you see?

Authoritarian collapse, obviously. But in the years preceding it? School shootings. People dying for lack of basic medicines, like insulin. Skyrocketing prices for the basics of life, whether healthcare, education, finance, or housing. Old people who will never retire, and young people who cannot afford to start a family or have a home of their own. The middle class imploding. Incomes shrinking. Savings dwindling. The rich growing richer as a consequence of all that. A predatory way of life arising.

Here’s the unforgiving truth. In such a society, authoritarianism rising was inevitable. Not just because such chaos spawns a need for a tyrant to take the reins. But for a less visible, but related, reason.

What unites all these things?

If you look closely at America, you will see a society of vertical power. One whose sole organizing force is vertical power. What do I mean by “vertical power”? I mean that every stratum of society occupies its position on a hierarchy, and each struggles to keep the next down, instead of lift any other up. Vertical power is power over, vertical power systems maximize power over--and so American life is now one great power struggle over the next person, everyone locked in mortal combat with everyone else.

Think about the problems above closely. Whites will not invest in healthcare for all?—?“let those dirty, lazy minorities pay their own way!”--and so the result is that no one has healthcare, thanks to vertical power games. The school shooter is lashing out at those above him in a hierarchy whom he feels have scorned and rejected him.

The old are not allowed pensions anymore because above them sit a class of predatory financiers, who raid their retirement savings, to pump up stock prices. All these are forms of vertical power being abused. But they are forms of vertical power nonetheless, and America’s great unseen problem is that it is a society which only knows, allows, understands, respects, one kind of power, vertical power.

Vertical power allows us only two rules in life. Punch the next person down, so they stay down. And obey the next person up, so they don’t hurt you.

Hence, American society is one of extreme submission, conformity, obedience, control, discipline, and punishment. What else do you call a place in which people die young for a lack of healthcare as a just moral dessert?

These two rules--punch downwards, obey upwards--made it impossible for America to develop as a genuine democracy.

Instead, American society became a system of interwoven hierarchies, in which only these two rules were allowed to operate. Corporate hierarchies, political hierarchies, social and cultural hierarchies, economic and financial hierarchies. But a society of people punching down and obeying up cannot really be a democracy?

For that reason, because it was a society premised on vertical power, punching down and obeying up, a collapse into authoritarian at light speed was more or less inevitable.

sooner or later, someone so genuinely terrible will arise that he is willing to punch anyone and everyone downwards in the most horrific of ways. He will be willing to send kids to camps, call immigrants vermin, and call everyone who disagrees an enemy of the state. But because such a person is operating in a system of vertical power, he will soon rise to the top.

Vertical power systems, because they are built to maximize power over, select for ruthlessness, cunning, cowardice, and cruelty. And when the person who has the most of all these qualities arises, he will rocket to the top of a vertical power system--and command it.

Now. What is the solution? The answer, if you like? I’ll share it with you, but you won’t like it, because, quite frankly--well, we’ll get to that.

Imagine that the average American had public healthcare, affordable education, media, finance, safety nets. He wouldn’t be stuck to some meaningless, pointless job, which only fuels the engine of his own ruin, shrinking his life expectancy, corroding his society. Maybe he’d go write that book, make that film, produce that great discovery. He would have power to realize himself?—?not just power over others. And as a result, society would be better off, too, than if he were just in that crap job.

Societies do not grow by waging wars for land anymore?—?which take vertically controlled armies?—?or by controlling colonies, another form of vertical power, or even by mass producing stuff in factories, yet more vertical power. They develop and mature now through the exercise of self-directedness at an individual level, the freedom to really make the most of one’s brief life?—?horizontal power.

The problem is that America does not do horizontal power. It does not understand it, have any affinity for it, or believe that it can exist, really. It never has. It is deeply uncomfortable with the idea of horizontal power?—?precisely because it is so attached to its history of horizontal power. Why don’t whites want black to rise? Why don’t people in cities care about rurals?—?and vice versa? Why don’t people lift each other up? America is obsessed with vertical power.

That is why neither political, no intellectual, nobody, really, has any agenda or vision for America based on horizontal power, not vertical power?—?one that says, for example, “Everyone will be better off when each of us has healthcare, education, finance, because we will all make the most of ourselves.” Pretty simple, right?

All that is a complicated way to tell you a sad and simple truth. Americans don’t care about each other as human beings. Only as instruments, tools, means to the end of power. Maybe they never have. And until that changes, my friends, America probably isn’t going to make it.

Umair
June 2018

How Authoritarians Play Societies (Like America) Like Fools--The Economics of Kleptocracy, Fascism, and Supremacy

6-21-18, Umair Haque, Eudaimonia

It’s the greatest con game of modern history, it’s happening right under your nose, and you’re the mark. It goes like this.They’ve convinced you that using the machinery of the state to kidnap little kids and put them in concentration camps isn’t any of the following: Nazism, fascism, authoritarianism. They are men in suits, and men in suits do not do such things. Do they? Those are scary words! Ah, you see--you are afraid already. And you must be for a con to work.

Maybe these people are so dumb they’ll settle for mere kleptocracy. Let’s intimidate them into it. OK! We’re sorry! We’ll only put families in camps--not little kids by themselves. Phew, you say, relieved. Everything’s better now, isn’t it? Such horrors make the kleptocrat’s game--selling favours, selling elections, clientelism, transferring control of a nation’s assets to cronies, selling off little bits of democracy, piece by piece, to the lowest bidder--look tame, timid, harmless, like a relief. Hey, what’s a little kleptocracy--when the alternative is concentration camps? Phew--let’s settle for that.

That, my friends, is abuser logic. The abuser places you in a terrible dilemma--and it’s your fault. At least I’m not hurting you. You didn’t make me--good. But note how our perceptions of relative good and bad shift: by not committing the hardest of abuse, we see the abuser as more decent and kind than of course he is, if we are in the cycle--and we are the bad ones, whether, consciously, we know it or not. Our whole worldview has been skewed and twisted. We have been manipulated into believing that pretty terrible is decent, normal, and reasonable, because the alternative is unthinkable. And that is the first part of the con game being played on you, too.

Now consider the other alternative. Maybe these people really are dumb enough to fall all the way into institutionalized supremacy. That’s the best business on earth, my friends. Privately built and run concentration camps net you a huge profit--and when you can fill them up with people working for free, then you are something like a king. Running vast bureaucracies of secret and not-so-secret police whose job is to repress and subjugate people--all that costs titanic sums of money, to the state--but that means that titanic sums of money are earned by those who can provide all that. And so on.

Supremacy is a much better business than mere kleptocracy. More profitable, longer lasting, and, frankly, easier to control. The kleptocrat is something like an auctioneer: he sells off a bunch of existing assets, from parks to energy grids to schools to hospitals, that were once called “democracy.” It’s a shaky business--at any time, buyers can renege. And eventually, he runs out of things to sell, though--and so he must move on to new countries to raid and deplete. That is why kleptocracy, though it is a good business, is not the best one of all, for a predator.

Supremacy is. The supremacist is not just selling off existing assets, though there is plenty of that to be done. He is building whole new assets to profit from, and profit richly. Camps. Police forces. Armed forces (Space Force!!). Paramilitaries. Government institutions, like Departments of Racial Purity. All these are whole new profit centers?

Do you know why the good German loved Hitler? It wasn’t just because he delivered fervently nationalist speeches. It was because their lives actually got better. But they did not want to know why. Their lives were getting better because other people were being expropriated, dispossessed, and put to work--Jews, Roma, minorities. The wages of those people--if there were any left--crashed--and so the average German’s income, for the first time in a decade, began to rise. He had barely been able to afford to feed his kids--and now he had enough money to vacation. He hadn’t been able to afford a new home--but now that the homes of Jews and minorities stood empty, prices suddenly seemed much, much cheaper. His standard of living rose explosively, finally.

Who were the people that had saved him? What had they really done? They had set the wheels of ruin in motion. Because a nation cannot grow for long in such predatory ways. It is eating the seedcorn of its own civilization. It can only regress--from democracy into barbarism, savagery, war, and atrocity. And so all that is exactly what happened next.

The Day American Patriarchy Took its Mask Off--You Can Have a Democracy--or You Can Have Men Competing to be the Most Dominant and Abusive. But You Can’t Have Both.

9-27-18, Eudaimonia, by Umair Haque

I don’t know if I have the words to remotely do justice to today’s especially grotesque chapter in American collapse. So forgive me if I fall short. I’m still angry, disgusted, and ashamed--maybe you are too. I’ll come back to that.

We saw many things today. We saw an obviously, clearly still traumatized sexual assault survivor quivering with fright, displaying all the classic signs of severe emotional harm--yet still miles braver than all the jowled, preening, finely suited men taunting and goading and smirking at her.

We saw those very men arrange something like a Kafkaesque, Soviet political sham trial--a public spectacle, designed to humiliate, replete with hostile prosecutor, who interrogated her with irrelevant question after irrelevant question, designed to cast suspicion on this frightened, impossibly brave woman’s tiniest motive (“How did you get here?” “On an airplane.”).

And then, at last, we saw the accused himself--as high and mighty as Jove on a throne, sneering with disdain, dripping with contempt, voice cracking like a whip, rage flashing. And then--sobbing great, unctuous crocodile tears of self-pity. And then, in the end, finally, smirking that very same smirk all those men smiled, at the very beginning.

This was the day American patriarchy took its mask off. And revealed its true self to the world. Did you like what you saw? Or were you disgusted and repelled and ashamed, to be a part of this, too, enraged at the ordeal, like I was?

What mask am I talking about? What does it look like? Why have so many of us had such difficulty seeing through it for so long? The mask American patriarchy wears is made of lacrosse games and fraternities and societies and prep schools and Ivy League universities. Of blazers and club ties and boathouses. Of a veneer of genteel civility and politesse. And yet none of these things seem to civilize these boys very much, or nearly enough. They become young men, who become adults but somehow stay children, at all.

Landon and Georgetown Prep and Hilton Arms and Holy Cross. I grew up amongst all that, it might surprise you to know--but just for a year. I rebelled so fiercely that my parents had to, shouting at me, apologizing to the principal, take me out of the storied private school they’d proudly put me into--not understanding, coming from another world, just how explosively destructive American patriarchy really was.

What did you see Brett Kavanaugh do today? He flipped, in this strange, polarized, binary way, between extreme narcissistic rage--shouting, red-faced, about his many accomplishments, thundering how he’d been first in his class, and so on--and just as extreme unctuous self-pity, in great broken sobs--how can they have done this to me? Isn’t that bizarre? Psychologically, we’d call it borderline level malignant narcissism--not an ounce of concern or regard for anyone else: he was the world’s greatest victim, hounded and pursued by malign forces, unfair because he was as pure as the driven snow. A virgin, so they say.

All that--as confusing as it may be--is exactly what patriarchy really is. These are the only two behaviours that patriarchy really allows men. I will come to why, but first I want you to understand them. Men in patriarchal hierarchies--let’s just say people who can only really climb up or slide down hierarchies--only have two behaviours available to them. Those who will climb to the top of such systems must do so by becoming the most dominant and controlling--they must threaten the most violence. When they cannot do that, they must become obsequious, maybe even weepy, playing the victim. That way, their potential power is maximized--those below them fall into line, while those above them aren’t threatened.

Violence is the only language such men really understand--only now the mask is slipping away, so we can see it a little better. Hasn’t that always been an especially American problem?

Hence, again and again, we see such personalities rise in them--Hitler, Stalin, Saddam, and so forth. Classic malignant narcissists--who skyrocketed through patriarchal systems, which were rising in collapsing democracies, as they always do. Pecking orders of violence were being established, as democracies were crumbling.

Do you see how the dynamics of social hierarchies neatly explain the strange, bizarre behaviour we saw in Kavanaugh today--the screams which became the sobs? It wasn’t that he exhausted himself--not at all. He alternated rapidly, unconsciously, predictably between threatening a kind of ruinous violence--at one point he literally shouted at the country “you’ve reaped the whirlwind!!”, I think--which was as plain as day to see on his face, which was why everyone who had been near an abuser commented how obvious his rage was--and then lapsed into great gasping sobs of self-pity and self-entitlement, instantly becoming the world’s greatest victim (“I was number one in my class!!”).

The reason that men in such structures make sport of abuse--gang rape, hazing, bullying, and so on--is that the abuse is what establishes the hierarchy.

Remember, the one who is the most violent is the one who rises highest. And so the group must discover, together, who that one really is. Who will lead the rape tonight? Who will throw the first punch at the cowering little child? Who will aim the first kick at the gay couple? All these establish the leader of the pack, the top dog, if you like, amongst men in hierarchical structures. They need violence to “structurate”, to establish the structures that bond them together, to form the tribal hierarchy. Pecking orders of violence.

[Yep. That's Trump alright. - CG]

...it’s not the case that these were once decent and kind men. Instead, it seems that American social structures select for and reward abusers--because that is how tribal, primal hierarchies are maintained, enforced, and reproduced. It takes predation and abuse to establish the hierarchy, who is on top, who is on bottom, and who is not a person at all, and America is made of just such hierarchies, such pecking orders of dominance and violence, only maybe implicit, everywhere you look--from work to politics to culture--and hence, America is a place where abuse and predation have become endemic, systemic, and normal.

You can either have patriarchy--or you can have democracy. But you cannot have both. America has never really become a genuine democracy--just 20% of the American Congress and Senate are women, compared to 40% in Europe, for example, less even than in Pakistan--and that is because what it has always been is far too much a patriarchy.

But now that you understand what that word really means, let’s state it more plainly. It has always been ruled by a little tribe of men among whom the most violent, abusive, and narcissistic rise to the top--because rigid hierarchies will quite naturally always select for such a person.

Social structures which go on selecting for violence, instead of courage, truth, kindness, wisdom, intelligence, or compassion, are the grim residue--the toxic waste--of centuries of supremacy, of racism, of slavery, of genocide, if we are honest. They are what made America rich, and maybe even powerful if you think power is only a thing had at the point of a gun.

But now this structurally selected, encouraged, inculcated, and cultivated violence--so prized amongst American elites--is what is tearing America apart, too.

That is why we see monsters rising in America today. America’s fundamentally undemocratic social structures were never really undone, unraveled, unmade enough--and so the pecking orders of violence which structurate America rule on and on.

People were never really made equal--which is to say, liberated from being preyed upon and abused, for the sake of the social status of the predators and abusers.

All that is what today proves. And you are very right to be ashamed, because, in truth, we all stand disgraced, as a nation, as a country, and as a people.

Umair Haque--The Ethical Collapse at the End of Predatory Capitalism

I think that predatory capitalism has ripped a hole not just in economies--but right down in our souls. It’s inequality, unfettered greed, unfairness, and dehumanization are sparking an ethical implosion. One which we see everywhere, if we look. Hey, why doesn’t Silicon Valley have any ethics? Wait--what about Washington DC, Wall St, the alt right, the neo-Nazis, ICE, the GOP, the immovable centrists...

Can we survive the slings and arrows of the hostile world capitalism has left us? Can we make it as we struggle on in our journey through the wasteland? That is the primary goal of PROTAGONISTIC ETHICS. It is concerned with the survival of the self in a world which appears hell-bent on defeating one.

Capitalism doesn’t just eat away at our self-belief--it’s premised on the idea that we have no inherent worth. And so the protagonistic hero’s goal becomes to establish a sense of self-worth. Perversely, in capitalism’s terms usually. By making lots of money, buying fine things, driving a fast car, and so on. I’m sure you know many people like this. What do they really earn? The meaning of a life as something like: “survivor” or “strong” or “powerful.”

Umair Haque--Will the Midterms Be Deja Vu All Over Again?-- Why Pollsters and Pundits Systematically Underestimate Extremism, and Overestimate Democracy

Why is that polls and pundits never predict a fascist-authoritarian meltdown--and instead always tell you there can’t be one? Even when, well, you’re in the middle of one?

Why Our Aspirations Are Broken (And How to Fix Them)--Why We Need to Elevate the Quality of Our Dreams-Umair Haque

Once upon a time the dream of building a business meant something like this. Caring for your employees--and their families, too. Creating decent jobs, that let people live lives of prosperity and peace.

How? By undertaking an an authentic, noble and worthwhile challenge for your society--providing transportation, care, connection, nourishment, knowledge, truth, beauty, grace. One that filled a real and genuine and deep human need--not just stoked an artificial one.

The reward? Earning a good and decent profit--not a king’s ransom, because a free person must never aspire to be a king, but perhaps a small fortune--and sharing it with those who were brave enough to take real risks with you.

Do you see the dream a little? Building something real and authentic and genuine, worthy and lasting and fulfilling. A cross between a family, a tribe, and a mission.

Do I romanticize too much? Am I seeing through the rose colored glasses of nostalgia? Perhaps, perhaps. Still. Think of Steve. Of Henry Ford. Of Thomas Edison. Now think of Zuck, Thiel, and Bezos. Isn’t there a striking difference? So while it’s true that there have always been examples of terrible and evil businesses--Scrooge and Mr Burns weren’t entirely fictional--still, I can’t help but feel that the ideal, the dream, wasn’t always as hollow and shallow as it is now.

Did America Just Save Itself From the Bad Guys? The Difficult and Subtle Meaning of the Midterms--Umair Haque

It wasn’t the crushing defeat many feared--yet nor was it fully the triumphant victory democracy needed. Not a catastrophe--but also not a landslide. So what was it? To make sense of the midterms, we’re going to have think in less polarized, binary terms. It was a complex, subtle outcome, which demands a more thoughtful interpretation. Here’s mine.

It wasn’t a blue wave. It was more like a blue whimper.

This is hardly the stuff of a tidal wave, a grand shift in politics. So what is it? It’s something more like the most barely adequate minimum, a leaky wooden lifeboat on a stormy sea, the least possible salvaged at the last possible moment.

It wasn’t a stinging rebuke of authoritarianism. Let’s cut through the political noise and put in harder terms. Democracy retained one half of the legislature. But extremists have still captured the executive, judiciary, and the other half of the legislature.

Really repudiating authoritarianism would have meant something more like taking the Senate, winning by a much larger margin in the House, and winning those hotly contested governorships, every one. It would have meant sending a clear message that authoritarianism is not welcome here.

Largely, voting split along the same old lines--tribal ones. Lines of race and ethnicity, which are often mistaken for those of geography. The fissures which have always divided America aren’t just present, in many ways, they are deepening.

For example, white women still largely voted (LOL) for Ted Cruz. A stinging rebuke of fascism would have been sending a much clearer and more unified signal, across social groups, that the kind of dehumanization and scapegoating and bigotry that casually defines American politics now will not pay, but be swiftly, severely punished.

The good news is that Americans did something not just urgent, but difficult. They began to buck the tide of history.

So this election wasn’t so much a victory for the Democrats--who are they? What do they stand for? Is there some unified party platform? What are their values?--as much as it was frustration and anger at Republicans. At their spite at democracy and indifference to American values and grotesque cruelty to everyone who doesn’t share the first two. To ascribe victory to the Democrats, who didn’t campaign very hard, very well, or in the terms the moment asked--with a vision for a new social contract--is being too generous, and letting them off the hook, too. I think it would be a mistake to settle for the bare minimum of an opposition, as Americans so often do.

So. Let’s answer the question now. It wasn’t quite the triumphant victory democracy needed--nor was it the defeat many feared. So what was it? What lies between necessary victory and ruinous defeat? Disappointment does. The stakes were high, and the Democrats didn’t quite rise to the challenge--nor did the American people.

Best Definition of Fascism


How Patriarchy and Supremacy Cost America the Future: You Can Have Modernity or Barbarity--But Not Both

Eudaimonia, by Umair Haque, 10-28-18

Here’s a strange and funny observation.

There is the very famous psychology professor who shouts that college students protesting neo Nazis are deep, dangerous threats to free speech--but has yet to condemn internment camps for children. There is the other very famous psychology professor whose goal in life is to persuade you and I that the world is getting better--while America implodes into the panicked chaos of authoritarianism (I guess America isn’t part of the world). Over there, the renowned columnist who argued women should be sexually enslaved, so that men don’t shoot people (I guess he didn’t learn two wrongs don’t make a right in kindergarten--but we’ll return to him).

Friends, I’m here to tell you something you’d rather not hear. Patriarchy and supremacy made America dumb. Wait, not just dumb. Mean, cruel, and poor, too. All the above, if you pause and think about it, are just reflections of a culture, society, way of thinking, still steeped up to its eyeballs in patrarichy and supremacy. Only the rest of the rich world isn’t. How so?

American discourse consists (more or less) of the ideas of supremacy and patriarchy--just softly encoded into shining myths of exceptionalism, where it’s a little better hidden. One endless reiteration of a set of tired fairy tales--and if you know them, you’ll quickly see that every newspaper column you read, every TV show you watch, every politician’s speech, is an endless retelling of them. Here they are (if you haven’t figured them out by now): Everyone must be self-reliant. Only the strong survive, so weakness must be punished. The purpose of life is profit, ownership, and control. Be as cruel and exploitative and ruthless, especially to those beneath them, as possible. The only right way to organize a society is as a jungle--a food chain, to feed the apex predators.

Wouldn’t you say that accurately describes most of the beliefs underpinning American life, from healthcare to education to aspiration to work to play? Why else do we aspire to be “ninjas” and “killers” working a hundred hours a week for less money every week, accomplices to our own ruin--while the rest of the rich world, which lives longer, better, happier lives, gently sips wine in little town squares, chatting and laughing under the stars--wondering what went wrong with us?

Guess who wins when a nation buys into patriarchy and supremacy? Here’s a hint--not you. No one at all, not even the patriarchs and supremacists. Why? Here is the problem and it’s a very big one.

The rest of the civilized world rejected these myths long ago. Because they led to millennia of poverty, ruin, war, and tragedy, from which whole continents had to painfully rebuild, over and over again. What happened when Europe organized itself along these lines? Germany burned, Hitler rose from the ashes, scapegoated the Jews, started a great war, and launched the Holocaust.

what-is-fascism-and-does-trumps-victory-really-show-it-on-the-rise - UK The Week

America’s Collapsing Into Fascism Because Americans Still Don’t Understand Fascism: Fascism Isn’t What Americans Think it Is, and That’s Why Americans Are Losing the Fight Against Fascism

Yesterday, I sat down over coffee to write an essay about an organized bombing campaign by a right wing extremist targeting the political opposition. But by the time I’d finished a gunman radicalized by the delusional, paranoid propaganda of an authoritarian movement had committed a mass murder at a synagogue. What a tragedy, what a loss. One of those killed was a holocaust survivor.

That, my friends, is an extreme pace of social collapse--one that should leave you profoundly unsettled. And yet while I’ve long had had the uncomfortable suspicion that fascism would rise in America during my lifetime--across the world in fact--I’ve also suspected that would be because Americans, many of them, enough of them, even especially the good ones were never really taught what fascism is.

What is fascism? This wave of violence, my friends, is fascism coming to life. Now I suspect when I say this, you feel conflicted. One part of you probably says, “I know that, you idiot!!”--while another one, trying to be reasonable, says “but this isn’t really, you know, fascism fascism.” How curious. Am I right? Do you have something like this unconscious inner dialogue going on? I’d bet that you do. But why?

The reason is that Americans have been badly miseducated about fascism. They have been told a terrible and stupid lie, that I will come to. That part of you that objects, “but this isn’t fascism fascism,” does so because somewhere, probably in grade school, and then all over again in college, you were taught the definition that every American is taught. Fascism is the “concentration of state and economic power.”

Now, let’s think about this for a second. If this is fascism, then Britain’s NHS, France’s retirement system, and Germany’s high speed rail network meet this definition, too--and all those kind folks working in them are…fascists. Lol. In fact, they are the precise opposite of fascism--goods designed explicitly to make everyone better off, regardless of their position in society, their caste, creed, place--which is why we call them “public” goods. And yet this definition--“the concentration of state and economic power,” or those like it--has no racial or ethnic component, nor one of violence, whatsoever. Isn’t that, well, strangely, bafflingly ignorant? After all, isn’t fascism at its core about exactly that?

I want you to see the point. The definition of fascism Americans have been taught is tragically and funnily backwards. So much so that it quite literally makes no sense at all--it falls apart on the merest examination. What is it really defining, if it’s not defining fascism?

Mehr News Agency, Tehran

Americans have been taught that socialism is fascism. Not even totalist communism, a la Soviet Russia--even lightweight social democracy. Quite literally, under the terms of this bizarre definition--“the concentration of state and economic power”--Americans are left badly, deeply, and profoundly confused.

But wait! If we build that high speed rail line, or give people healthcare--isn’t that a step on the road to fascism? LOL--of course not: it is an inoculation against taking that step. I’ll come back to exactly why. Do you see how convoluted our logic grows, how dim our reason becomes, when our definitions begin from a backwards place? When we suppose fascism is a thing without a politics begin with, when we have reduced it to a ghost, a shell--then what are we to fight against?

Now. The interesting question is: why?

Why were Americans taught that socialism is fascism--when in fact the diametrical opposite is true?

The reason is quite simple, but to really understand it--and you will not like the explanation--we need to consider America’s gruesome, weird, and terrible history.

Fascism is best seen this way. A person who believes that there is a hierarchy of personhood--that some people are more human than others, and some fall below the threshold of being people entirely--and furthermore, that that hierarchy should be institutionalized, is a fascist.

A movement composed of such people is a fascist movement. A government managing such a project is a fascist government. (The natural moral logic of such a hierarchy is that violence must be done to the weak by the strong, since they are not human beings at all, but parasites and predators.)

But that creates a very big problem for America. If that definition is true--you are welcome to think about whether it is--then America was a fascist country for a very long time, and many Americans have always been welcoming to fascist ideas, because the central organizing principle of American life was just such a hierarchy of personhood--and its institutionalization. Slavery and segregation, after all, was exactly all this, wasn’t it?

So now we come to a difficult truth--one that is perhaps too difficult for America to ever really face, and that is why it is where it is now.

A Republican voters' guide: "When thinking of Fascism,
Occupy Wall Street should come to mind, not the GOP."

You see, the problem is that fascism was an American creation. The Nazis didn’t begin by being America’s enemies. They were its great admirers. They openly studied America’s long history of slavery and segregation to model their own race laws upon. Now, Americans, quite naturally, wanting to disown this legacy, were left calling fascism “white supremacy” and “white nationalism” and so on. But these are inaccurate, sanitizing terms, which only hide a bitter and grim reality--and leave us unable to ever really improve upon it much, either.

(Hence, I don’t say any of this to condemn, blame, or judge you, by the way. No nation has a virgin birth. I say these difficult things for the sake of democracy. As hard as that might be to swallow, or even accept. I wish only the best for you, really--which is the attitude democracy demands of us, I think, but I digress.)

Americans were taught that socialism is fascism, but slavery and segregation weren’t.

Their echoes, ideals of supremacy and nationalism and so on, were something repellent, maybe, but also to be tolerated, in the “market” or “battle” of “ideas”. That legacy, that history of failed ideas, of poor thinking, is what made America ever more vulnerable to today’s fascist collapse. Because when one doesn’t know what is seeing, one is just as blind as if one cannot see at all.

Let’s consider the question now--is what we see today really fascism? You know, fascism fascism, the real thing, as our unconscious minds probably object--now that we have some criteria we can use. If fascism is just the concentration of state and economic power--then it is Europe who is fascist, not America.

But it isn’t Germany, Switzerland, France, and Spain in which mass political violence against Jews, refugees, and immigrants is breaking out--and their heads of state and governments are not applauding, cheering, and promoting it.

But if fascism is the institutionalization of a hierarchy of personhood, well, then, America is obviously the one who is well on the way to becoming fascist. But becoming is the wrong term. The right term is “reverting”--because that is what America was always built upon. Perhaps in the end history will sum America up this way, if Americans make the wrong choice in about ten days: it had just fifty short years of democracy between dark centuries of fascism.

(Now, there are qualifications and objections we can make--they go like this. One: fascism is a modern phenomenon, it’s sometimes said, because the machinery of the state is used bureaucratically to control and subjugate people, with accounting and ledgers and all the techniques of modern management. But these aren’t convincing ones, to me. Because precisely the same thing happened to black American slaves, and native Americans who face genocide--they were counted, tracked, parcelled, sorted, and valued by managers and underlings and administrators, too...

Quote by Georgi Dimitrov

Two: fascism is an organized campaign of genocide, and America has never done any such thing, and therefore it is not fascist. My friend, if you tell yourself this, you badly misunderstand what “genocide” is. When the child was sold, and the mother kept, or the family broken up, that too was genocide--because it is simply limiting the reproductive destiny of a group. It would be a foolish kind of ignorance to suppose America’s centuries of slavery were not one long, slow genocide--one of history’s greatest.)

And that brings us back to that very uncomfortable place--at least if we are American. Because now we are face to face with a shattering truth. We are backwards people, thinking backwards thoughts--and among these, one of the most backwards is that fascism is socialism, but slavery and segregation weren’t.

I don’t want to mince words, on this eve of a massacre. It is believing lies like these that have made us history’s great fools--easy, gullible marks for the worst among us, who never went anywhere at all. Where would they go? After all, we were taught that socialism was the idea never to be tolerated--but not supremacy, not violence, hierarchies of personhood. Those are ingrained in us as deep as our very pores. “Hey--maybe that billionaire really is just smarter, tougher, better!” Ah, I suppose that means, too, then, that the slave wasn’t. I suppose maybe we should arm the teachers--not take away the guns. Do you see my point?

Let me make that even sharper. Slavery and segregation were seminal, pioneering forms of fascism--but Americans have not yet understood that yet. Yet without understanding that, they are impotent to know what it is to truly be, and also stay, a democracy.

What distinguishes fascism from “white supremacy”? Fascism is the superset of supremacies--it’s best to think about it that way.

So in America, it might be whites who aspire to be supreme, and in Asia, castes or tribes of some kind, and so forth. Supremacies are just different forms of the category fascism. And the only real difference between them is the desire, appetite, and will to institutionalize such a hierarchy of the weak and the strong--but what supremacist doesn’t want to do that, really? Yet that is precisely what America did, for far, far longer than it has undone.

So Americans struggle to understand fascism because they have been taught to think about it not just poorly--but in a fatally backwards from the very beginning. They’ve been taught the stupid, foolish, lie that socialism is fascism, but supremacy, slavery, and segregation weren’t. Therefore, today, the echoes of the expressions of the idea that some people are more human than others, are quite alright (hey, I hear people talking about dirty, filthy lower kinds on Faux News all the time, what’s the big deal?) But a little bit of public healthcare, education, media, or retirement--my God, that way lies the abyss!

from thinkingpacifism.net

Do you see the setup for tragedy occurring here? It made it almost inevitable that America would fail at really becoming a modern democracy--and collapse right back into the fascism it had pioneered. Socialism, in the way of public goods, is the one thing that, by equalizing societies, prevents and mitigates fascism, just as it has done in Europe, where, of course, thanks to global economic stagnation, it has risen too, but has been much, much more successfully fended off. Nobody in London, Paris, or Berlin is killing people at synagogues and sending bombs to the opposition, inspired by a demagogue, who preaches hate in the open, after all.

So what was likely to happen when fascism began to rear its ugly head again in America--driven by a sense of frustration, the very first time after the end of segregation that the economy stagnated? People were likely not to see it as a monster at all. They’d been taught that “fascism” was socialism, not the echoes of slavery and segregation, supremacy, the notion that ethnic and racial hierarchies should order societies, all of which might be repellent but were to be tolerated as “free speech” and the “debate of ideas” and so on, expressed openly, everywhere. Over and over again, American received one message: socialism equals fascism, but INSTITUTIONALIZED SUPREMACY does not.

So, quite naturally, when the classical sequence of fascist collapse began--comically textbook style, no less--demagogue, demonization, scapegoating, camps, trials, mass violence--neither intellectuals nor populace could quite anticipate, comprehend, or prevent any of it. Instead, they were shocked, every single day, more or less. “How can this be happening to us?” They cried. “We are better than this!” they shouted--even as the mass killings began.

But we were the ones who invented fascism to begin with, and, in perpetual denial of that terrible fact, remained altogether too comfortable with its expressions, ideals, and component thoughts. We had to tell ourselves it was the one thing it had never been at all--but that made it altogether too easy to stay just that thing. That’s always the price of denial, isn’t it?

So funnily, ironically, tragically, the sequence of fascist collapse began, picked up steam, and soon enough had wrecked the nation’s norms, values, institutions, rules, codes, expectations--and all this was because America, trying to run away from the ugly truth, made itself impotent to slow it, stop it, reverse it, too. If you think socialism is fascism, after all--you will fight socialism, but let fascism flourish.

And that is exactly what America’s politicians, intellectuals, thinkers, and pundits did, at the crucial moment, upon the election of a demagogue. “The real threat to us is Medicare for all! And what about Hillary’s emails? Who cares if he calls some dirty, filthy Mexicans names? Grow up!!”

Daily Worker: It wasn’t just hate – Fascism
promised to solve capitalism’s problems

Society had been constructed by now on a terrible and stupid lie. Socialism was fascism, but supremacy never had been. Therefore, hate, spite, and violence, built to enforce hierarchies of personhood, were never really rooted out of society, torn up, and turned into dust for history to spread over the ocean. Soon enough, the hierarchies demanded the violence they always did. “The intruders and the subhumans”, cried the bomber and the gunman, “are taking what is ours!! We must put them back in their place, with the fist, the knife, the bullet!” The sad truth is that could just as easily have been settlers and slavers talking about the native American or the black, too.

Fascism didn’t come to America. It didn’t even come back to America. It was born here, nourished here with centuries of slavery and segregation--hence, the Nazis learned it from us--and only slumbered a few short decades, while Americans told themselves proudly that the real monsters were not the people they had once been, but the people they did not want to be.

It’s hard to face the truth of yourself. The guilt and shame and fear that come with it. Is this really who I am? And yet until and unless you do--you will stay just that person. If you ask me, that is what the lie that fascism is socialism, but slavery and segregation weren’t, has done to America. Made it incapable of ever really changing very much.

Fascism? It’s this, my friends. The rule of violence, committed to establish hierarchies of personhood, with the intent of institutionalizing them, with a little bit more intimidation and fear every day. The lie that fascism isn’t this, but socialism, is what the phase of turmoil America is collapsing into now, day by day, a little more explosively, almost inevitable. And I wonder--and you should too--whether we have learned anything yet. Umair
October 2018

Fascism (/'fæ??z?m/) is a form of radical authoritarian ultranationalism, characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and strong regimentation of society and of the economy, which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe. -Wikipedia

Why Fascists Never Think They’re Fascists--but Victims and Heroes

Eudaimonia by Umair Haque, 9-12-18

A Day in the Life of Fascism: Five Lessons from History Repeating Themselves Today

Eudaimonia, by Umair Haque, 12-5-17

I’m going to use the last 24 hours to illustrate a few simple truths about fascism. Truths which we seem to have forgotten, and so history is repeating itself in eerie and exacting echoes of the 1930s--from a stagnant economy, to a rising extremist movement, to a broken social contract, to failed institutions (whether media, political, or economic), to authoritarianism, to pundits and intellectuals and leaders who are perpetually surprised by its swiftness and fury, baffled, paralyzed, unable to ever really respond.

Fascism counts on your exceptionalism, too--not just theirs. The Supreme Court upheld the ban on a certain ethnic group. Now, I cannot think of a society in human history that has banned an ethnic group, which has not then fallen down a slippery slope--first segregation, then expropriation, and finally, cleansing and atrocity.

Not one. Even today, the cycle repeats itself: see the plight of the Rohingya. And yet, American intellectuals and leaders have at every step dismissed this great lesson of history, and that is precisely why history is repeating itself in America.

So: fascism counts on your exceptionalism. Not just the tyrant’s version--“we will be pure and great again!”--but also on the version of the story that wise men tell: “ah, this will never happen to us. It will stop itself, fix itself, slow down and go away. It will never happen here!” Both are the same conceit: that one is exceptional, special, thus above the inevitabilities of history, time, destiny. But history writes laws made of steel, not clay--and to think one can mold them is hubris, whose hand writes stories of tragedy. And the greatest of those laws is the slippery slope of tribal violence, which has plagued humankind all its day long.

Fascism stuns us with fresher and larger outrages, that make yesterday’s seem irrelevant, winnowing away our decency.

Now, what was truly striking was that when the ban was announced, the response was furious. And yet yesterday, when the Supreme Court upheld it, the response was less than muted--it was almost nonexistent. I didn’t see a single prominent leader, intellectual, pundit, journalist really raising a hue and cry about it. Why not? They were too busy being stunned by everything else: pedophiles, stings, tax bills, and so on. It’s too much. Today, it’s “are Jews people?”, tomorrow it’s “So what if he’s a pedophile?” Whose senses stay intact under such an assault?

Fascism stuns us, just as if we have been morally tasered: it winnows away our sense of basic decency, by committing larger, fresher outrages, until yesterday’s come to seem mere nuisances. In this way, reality itself comes to be distorted: the bar for indecency is set higher and higher, until at last the grotesque becomes the merely commonplace, for one cannot pay attention to it all, unless we are diligently vigilant, and so all the norms and bonds which hold a society together begin to erode--such as that of never discriminating against an ethnic group or religion.

Battle of Cable Street--The infamous 1936 confrontation between
ordinary Londoners and fascists is still significant

Fascism makes it more and more costly to be your better self. This shock-and-awe strategy of moral violation was an explicit goal of the Nazis--Hitler called it the Big Lie technique, to every day tell a bigger lie, and yesterday’s would soon be forgotten.— and it’s also one the Russians use today: to overwhelm us, until we are left numb and paralyzed by the sheer scale and scope of all these transgressions against civilization, wondering which outrage to speak out against first, and thus, we weary of morality itself. What is its effect? It raises the cost of being your better self.

Caring about every day’s fresher, bigger, more numerous violations becomes more and more difficult, exacting a higher moral and social toll, and so the price of truth, decency, and wisdom soon rise. The number of things to be concerned about has risen sharply, but the supply of what we can be concerned about, our attention and empathy and acceptance, stays fixed in us. And our true challenge is, even though we are stunned, ever increasing that supply. Too often, though, weary, we do the opposite: better to avoid those who are controversial. Better to stay away out of the fray. Every corner, there is some lie, some half-truth, some lie, some disgrace. Just let it go. Just walk away.


The Russians call it the “firehose”, and of course, today’s Nazis use it too: every day presents a fresh horror, doesn’t it? It’s not a bug, it’s the plan. The purpose of all these moral outrages is to erode your moral agency, to stun you, and thus make your better self rise in price, more difficult to be, enact, give to me, and me to give mine to you. And in the last 24 hours, we have seen it work spectacularly. Ban? Who cares? Imagine piranhas nibbling on a human soul, until it flees in horror: that is what fascism does to us.

Fascism depends on despair about now replacing a vision for a better society.

Now what is the effect of all this, of stunning people until they lose their better selves? Well, it is to create a great sense of despair. Paralyzed, numb, stuck, while every day, things seem to collapse a little more, one comes to feel hopeless. And yet the solution is always hidden in plain sight.

It is for the center, left, and what is left of the sane right to get together, and author a plan for a working society again--for fascism only ever rises in broken ones, that lack a vision. That is why the demagogue earns such undying devotion from his flock--because he is the only one presenting such a vision for a working society. Of course, it is a poor one, a broken one itself--but at least it is one.

And so though everday now we hear demagoguery denounced, still, there is not just no real “plan” to “fight it”--there is no plan to offer a better social contract and stop it dead in its tracks, which is what is this battle is always all about. The mistake that the Germans really made in the 1930s wasn’t merely “allowing fascism to rise”--what does that mean, anyways?--it was never responding to it in kind, not just with anger and despair, but with optimism, courage, pragmatism, and vision.

https://theredphoenixapl.org

Fascism proceed[s] through a series of authoritarian collapses, each one a little more severe than the last.

How did Hitler come to power? Was he elected? Nope. He frightened German leaders so, with intimidation tactics, that they gave him “extraordinary powers”. And that was the turning point which seared atrocity and ruin into the hearts of millions. Now, let us think about today. Already in America we have seen a genuine authoritarian moment this weekend: Congress ramming a tax bill through like a bulldozer--allowing no time for debate, deliberation, or even reading. That is democracy being eroded before your very eyes.

But it is still only a small authoritarian collapse, as worrying as it seems. If a parliament can subvert democracy in this way, then how far away is it, really, from giving a leader “extraordinary powers”? What is to prevent it from doing so? The opposition which cannot oppose? The intellectuals who cannot learn from history? The people overwhelmed by every day’s fresh outrages?

And that is the lesson of a day in the life of fascism. Let me draw it out.

Fascism is just like an epidemic of a lethal virus.

It spreads faster and quicker and harder and more lethally than we ever imagine--even while it spreads. For that very reason, it is difficult, if not impossible to stop, only with quarantines, treatments of the symptoms, by shunning the sick, and avoiding the vulnerable--which is what we are doing to one another now, and hoping it goes away. History teaches us we are wrong.

Like an epidemic, it is stopped either by burning itself out--and ruining all those it touches--or with the antidote. And the antidote is something that is in too short a supply now, because its price has grown dear: truth, courage, vision, grace, wisdom, memory--whether in renewed visions for society, in better institutions, in our lives, or in simply remembering the lessons of history. All that is the stuff our better selves are made of, whose prices rise every day, until, at last, they are unattainable things, ghosts, and we are only lesser monsters prowling in the same night.

So you see my point. I am deeply worried at this point in history. Not just about America--for the truth is that I think America is already past the point of no return. Whether it turns into 1930s Germany or 1990s Russia remains to be seen--but I do not really think it can avoid a fate that falls somewhere in this spectrum of failure, from tyranny to kleptocracy. My worry is for the world, now, which holds its breath, waiting for Americans to come to their senses. Because if you really understand all the above, the conclusion is: they just might not be able to.

Umair
December 2017




Right Wing Logos ~ Klu klux klan Logo


The Fourteen Points of Fascism and Our President

The Swamp Media, by MARY CAITLYN 10 months ago in TRUMP

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause

4. Supremacy of the Military

5. Rampant Sexism

6. Controlled Mass Media

7. Obsession With National Security

8. Religion and government are intertwined.

9. Corporate power is protected.

10. Labor power is suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts

12. Obsession With Crime and Punishment

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption

14. Fraudulent Elections

https://goodmenproject.com/

http://www.indigenousaction.org/

http://www.differencebetween.net/

When It’s Too Late to Stop Fascism, According to Stefan Zweig

New Yorker, 2-6-17 George Prochnik

Stefan Zweig in Ossining, New York, in 1941,
seven years after he fled the ascendant Nazism of Europe.

The Austrian émigré writer Stefan Zweig composed the first draft of his memoir, “The World of Yesterday,” in a feverish rapture during the summer of 1941, as headlines gave every indication that civilization was being swallowed in darkness.

Zweig’s beloved France had fallen to the Nazis the previous year. The Blitz had reached a peak in May, with almost fifteen hundred Londoners dying in a single night. Operation Barbarossa, the colossal invasion of the Soviet Union by the Axis powers, in which nearly a million people would die, had launched in June. Hitler’s Einsatzgruppen, mobile killing squads, roared along just behind the Army, massacring Jews and other vilified groups--often with the help of local police and ordinary citizens.

Zweig himself had fled Austria preëmptively, in 1934. During the country’s brief, bloody civil war that February, when Engelbert Dollfuss, the country’s Clerico-Fascist Chancellor, had destroyed the Socialist opposition, Zweig’s Salzburg home had been searched for secret arms to supply the left-wing militias. Zweig at the time was regarded as one of Europe’s most prominent humanist-pacifists, and the absurd crudity of the police action so outraged him that he began packing his things that night.

From Austria, Zweig and his second wife, Lotte, went to England, then to the New World, where New York City became his base, despite his aversion to its crowds and abrasive competitiveness. In June of 1941, longing for some respite from the needs of the exiles in Manhattan beseeching him for help with money, work, and connections, the couple rented a modest, rather grim bungalow in Ossining, New York, a mile uphill from Sing Sing Correctional Facility.

There, Zweig set to furious work on his autobiography—laboring like “seven devils without a single walk,” as he put it. Some four hundred pages poured out of him in a matter of weeks. His productivity reflected his sense of urgency: the book was conceived as a kind of message to the future.

It is a law of history, he wrote, “that contemporaries are denied a recognition of the early beginnings of the great movements which determine their times.” For the benefit of subsequent generations, who would be tasked with rebuilding society from the ruins, he was determined to trace how the Nazis’ reign of terror had become possible, and how he and so many others had been blind to its beginnings.

Zweig noted that he could not remember when he first heard Hitler’s name. It was an era of confusion, filled with ugly agitators. During the early years of Hitler’s rise, Zweig was at the height of his career, and a renowned champion of causes that sought to promote solidarity among European nations. He called for the founding of an international university with branches in all the major European capitals, with a rotating exchange program intended to expose young people to other communities, ethnicities, and religions.

He was only too aware that the nationalistic passions expressed in the First World War had been compounded by new racist ideologies in the intervening years. The economic hardship and sense of humiliation that the German citizenry experienced as a consequence of the Versailles Treaty had created a pervasive resentment that could be enlisted to fuel any number of radical, bloodthirsty projects.

Zweig did take notice of the discipline and financial resources on display at the rallies of the National Socialists—their eerily synchronized drilling and spanking-new uniforms, and the remarkable fleets of automobiles, motorcycles, and trucks they paraded. Zweig often travelled across the German border to the little resort town of Berchtesgaden, where he saw “small but ever-growing squads of young fellows in riding boots and brown shirts, each with a loud-colored swastika on his sleeve."

These young men were clearly trained for attack, Zweig recalled. But after the crushing of Hitler’s attempted putsch, in 1923, Zweig seems hardly to have given the National Socialists another thought until the elections of 1930, when support for the Party exploded—from under a million votes two years earlier to more than six million. At that point, still oblivious to what this popular affirmation might portend, Zweig applauded the enthusiastic passion expressed in the elections. He blamed the stuffiness of the country’s old-fashioned democrats for the Nazi victory, calling the results at the time “a perhaps unwise but fundamentally sound and approvable revolt of youth against the slowness and irresolution of ‘high politics.’ ”

In his memoir, Zweig did not excuse himself or his intellectual peers for failing early on to reckon with Hitler’s significance. “The few among writers who had taken the trouble to read Hitler’s book, ridiculed the bombast of his stilted prose instead of occupying themselves with his program,” he wrote. They took him neither seriously nor literally. Even into the nineteen-thirties, “the big democratic newspapers, instead of warning their readers, reassured them day by day, that the movement . . . would inevitably collapse in no time.”

Prideful of their own higher learning and cultivation, the intellectual classes could not absorb the idea that, thanks to “invisible wire-pullers”—the self-interested groups and individuals who believed they could manipulate the charismatic maverick for their own gain—this uneducated “beer-hall agitator” had already amassed vast support. After all, Germany was a state where the law rested on a firm foundation, where a majority in parliament was opposed to Hitler, and where every citizen believed that “his liberty and equal rights were secured by the solemnly affirmed constitution.”

Zweig recognized that propaganda had played a crucial role in eroding the conscience of the world. He described how, as the tide of propaganda rose during the First World War, saturating newspapers, magazines, and radio, the sensibilities of readers became deadened. Eventually, even well-meaning journalists and intellectuals became guilty of what he called “the ‘doping’ of excitement”—an artificial incitement of emotion that culminated, inevitably, in mass hatred and fear.

Describing the healthy uproar that ensued after one artist’s eloquent outcry against the war in the autumn of 1914, Zweig observed that, at that point, “the word still had power. It had not yet been done to death by the organization of lies, by ‘propaganda.’ ” But Hitler “elevated lying to a matter of course,” Zweig wrote, just as he turned “anti-humanitarianism to law.” By 1939, he observed, “Not a single pronouncement by any writer had the slightest effect . . . no book, pamphlet, essay, or poem” could inspire the masses to resist Hitler’s push to war.

Propaganda both whipped up Hitler’s base and provided cover for his regime’s most brutal aggressions. It also allowed truth seeking to blur into wishful thinking, as Europeans’ yearning for a benign resolution to the global crisis trumped all rational skepticism. “Hitler merely had to utter the word ‘peace’ in a speech to arouse the newspapers to enthusiasm, to make them forget all his past deeds, and desist from asking why, after all, Germany was arming so madly,” Zweig wrote. Even as one heard rumors about the construction of special internment camps, and of secret chambers where innocent people were eliminated without trial, Zweig recounted, people refused to believe that the new reality could persist.

“This could only be an eruption of an initial, senseless rage, one told oneself. That sort of thing could not last in the twentieth century.” In one of the most affecting scenes in his autobiography, Zweig describes seeing the first refugees from Germany climbing over the Salzburg mountains and fording the streams into Austria shortly after Hitler’s appointment to the Chancellorship. “Starved, shabby, agitated . . . they were the leaders in the panicked flight from inhumanity which was to spread over the whole earth. But even then I did not suspect when I looked at those fugitives that I ought to perceive in those pale faces, as in a mirror, my own life, and that we all, we all, we all would become victims of the lust for power of this one man.”

Zweig was miserable in the United States. Americans seemed indifferent to the suffering of émigrés; Europe, he said repeatedly, was committing suicide. He told one friend that he felt as if he were living a “posthumous” existence. In a desperate effort to renew his will to live, he travelled to Brazil in August of 1941, where, on previous visits, the country’s people had treated him as a superstar, and where the visible intermixing of the races had struck Zweig as the only way forward for humanity. In letters from the time he sounds chronically wistful, as if he has travelled back to before the world of yesterday. And yet, for all his fondness for the Brazilian people and appreciation of the country’s natural beauty, his loneliness grew more and more acute.

Many of his closest friends were dead. The others were thousands of miles away. His dream of a borderless, tolerant Europe (always his true, spiritual homeland) had been destroyed. He wrote to the author Jules Romains, “My inner crisis consists in that I am not able to identify myself with the me of passport, the self of exile.”

In February of 1942, together with Lotte, Zweig took an overdose of sleeping pills. In the formal suicide message he left behind, Zweig wrote that it seemed better to withdraw with dignity while he still could, having lived “a life in which intellectual labor meant the purest joy and personal freedom the highest good on earth.”

I wonder how far along the scale of moral degeneration Zweig would judge America to be in its current state. We have a magnetic leader, one who lies continually and remorselessly—not pathologically but strategically, to placate his opponents, to inflame the furies of his core constituency, and to foment chaos. The American people are confused and benumbed by a flood of fake news and misinformation. Reading in Zweig’s memoir how, during the years of Hitler’s rise to power, many well-meaning people “could not or did not wish to perceive that a new technique of conscious cynical amorality was at work,” it’s difficult not to think of our own present predicament.

Last week, as Trump signed a drastic immigration ban that led to an outcry across the country and the world, then sought to mitigate those protests by small palliative measures and denials, I thought of one other crucial technique that Zweig identified in Hitler and his ministers: they introduced their most extreme measures gradually—strategically—in order to gauge how each new outrage was received. “Only a single pill at a time and then a moment of waiting to observe the effect of its strength, to see whether the world conscience would still digest the dose,” Zweig wrote. “The doses became progressively stronger until all Europe finally perished from them.”

And still Zweig might have noted that, as of today, President Trump and his sinister “wire-pullers” have not yet locked the protocols for their exercise of power into place. One tragic lesson offered by “The World of Yesterday” is that, even in a culture where misinformation has become omnipresent, where an angry base, supported by disparate, well-heeled interests, feels empowered by the relentless lying of a charismatic leader, the center might still hold.

In Zweig’s view, the final toxin needed to precipitate German catastrophe came in February of 1933, with the burning of the national parliament building in Berlin–an arson attack Hitler blamed on the Communists but which some historians still believe was carried out by the Nazis themselves. “At one blow all of justice in Germany was smashed,” Zweig recalled. The destruction of a symbolic edifice—a blaze that caused no loss of life—became the pretext for the government to begin terrorizing its own civilian population.

That fateful conflagration took place less than thirty days after Hitler became Chancellor. The excruciating power of Zweig’s memoir lies in the pain of looking back and seeing that there was a small window in which it was possible to act, and then discovering how suddenly and irrevocably that window can be slammed shut.

Stefan Zweig

https://www.newstatesman.com/2016-04-28

How the American Mind Broke: Why American Intellectuals are Failing Past, Present, and Future

These days, when I look at the ideas that American intellectuals propound, the notions they debate, I’m a little aghast--sexual slavery? the economy’s doing well--but most Americans can’t afford $1000 for an emergency? calling people fascists makes them…fascists? It makes me wonder: is the American mind broken? No, not your mind. The mind of a society is something like the job that its thinkers do, and when they stop being able to think well, then a society’s mind breaks, too. But are American intellectuals thinking at all anymore?

How Patriarchy and Supremacy Cost America the Future: You Can Have Modernity or Barbarity--But Not Both

Here’s a strange and funny observation.

There is the very famous psychology professor who shouts that college students protesting neo Nazis are deep, dangerous threats to free speech--but has yet to condemn internment camps for children. There is the other very famous psychology professor whose goal in life is to persuade you and I that the world is getting better--while America implodes into the panicked chaos of authoritarianism (I guess America isn’t part of the world). Over there, the renowned columnist who argued women should be sexually enslaved, so that men don’t shoot people (I guess he didn’t learn two wrongs don’t make a right in kindergarten--but we’ll return to him).

Friends, I’m here to tell you something you’d rather not hear. Patriarchy and supremacy made America dumb. Wait, not just dumb. Mean, cruel, and poor, too. All the above, if you pause and think about it, are just reflections of a culture, society, way of thinking, still steeped up to its eyeballs in patrarichy and supremacy. Only the rest of the rich world isn’t. How so?

American discourse consists (more or less) of the ideas of supremacy and patriarchy--just softly encoded into shining myths of exceptionalism, where it’s a little better hidden. One endless reiteration of a set of tired fairy tales--and if you know them, you’ll quickly see that every newspaper column you read, every TV show you watch, every politician’s speech, is an endless retelling of them. Here they are (if you haven’t figured them out by now): Everyone must be self-reliant. Only the strong survive, so weakness must be punished. The purpose of life is profit, ownership, and control. Be as cruel and exploitative and ruthless, especially to those beneath them, as possible. The only right way to organize a society is as a jungle--a food chain, to feed the apex predators.

Wouldn’t you say that accurately describes most of the beliefs underpinning American life, from healthcare to education to aspiration to work to play? Why else do we aspire to be “ninjas” and “killers” working a hundred hours a week for less money every week, accomplices to our own ruin--while the rest of the rich world, which lives longer, better, happier lives, gently sips wine in little town squares, chatting and laughing under the stars--wondering what went wrong with us?

Guess who wins when a nation buys into patriarchy and supremacy? Here’s a hint--not you. No one at all, not even the patriarchs and supremacists. Why? Here is the problem and it’s a very big one.

The rest of the civilized world rejected these myths long ago. Because they led to millennia of poverty, ruin, war, and tragedy, from which whole continents had to painfully rebuild, over and over again. What happened when Europe organized itself along these lines? Germany burned, Hitler rose from the ashes, scapegoated the Jews, started a great war, and launched the Holocaust.

America’s Collapsing Into Fascism Because Americans Still Don’t Understand Fascism: Fascism Isn’t What Americans Think it Is, and That’s Why Americans Are Losing the Fight Against Fascism

Yesterday, I sat down over coffee to write an essay about an organized bombing campaign by a right wing extremist targeting the political opposition. But by the time I’d finished a gunman radicalized by the delusional, paranoid propaganda of an authoritarian movement had committed a mass murder at a synagogue. What a tragedy, what a loss. One of those killed was a holocaust survivor.

That, my friends, is an extreme pace of social collapse--one that should leave you profoundly unsettled. And yet while I’ve long had had the uncomfortable suspicion that fascism would rise in America during my lifetime--across the world in fact--I’ve also suspected that would be because Americans, many of them, enough of them, even especially the good ones were never really taught what fascism is.

What is fascism? This wave of violence, my friends, is fascism coming to life. Now I suspect when I say this, you feel conflicted. One part of you probably says, “I know that, you idiot!!”--while another one, trying to be reasonable, says “but this isn’t really, you know, fascism fascism.” How curious. Am I right? Do you have something like this unconscious inner dialogue going on? I’d bet that you do. But why?

The reason is that Americans have been badly miseducated about fascism. They have been told a terrible and stupid lie, that I will come to. That part of you that objects, “but this isn’t fascism fascism,” does so because somewhere, probably in grade school, and then all over again in college, you were taught the definition that every American is taught. Fascism is the “concentration of state and economic power.”

Now, let’s think about this for a second. If this is fascism, then Britain’s NHS, France’s retirement system, and Germany’s high speed rail network meet this definition, too--and all those kind folks working in them are…fascists. Lol. In fact, they are the precise opposite of fascism--goods designed explicitly to make everyone better off, regardless of their position in society, their caste, creed, place--which is why we call them “public” goods. And yet this definition--“the concentration of state and economic power,” or those like it--has no racial or ethnic component, nor one of violence, whatsoever. Isn’t that, well, strangely, bafflingly ignorant? After all, isn’t fascism at its core about exactly that?

I want you to see the point. The definition of fascism Americans have been taught is tragically and funnily backwards. So much so that it quite literally makes no sense at all--it falls apart on the merest examination. What is it really defining, if it’s not defining fascism?

Americans have been taught that socialism is fascism. Not even totalist communism, a la Soviet Russia--even lightweight social democracy. Quite literally, under the terms of this bizarre definition--“the concentration of state and economic power”--Americans are left badly, deeply, and profoundly confused.

But wait! If we build that high speed rail line, or give people healthcare--isn’t that a step on the road to fascism? LOL--of course not: it is an inoculation against taking that step. I’ll come back to exactly why. Do you see how convoluted our logic grows, how dim our reason becomes, when our definitions begin from a backwards place? When we suppose fascism is a thing without a politics begin with, when we have reduced it to a ghost, a shell--then what are we to fight against?

Now. The interesting question is: why?

Why were Americans taught that socialism is fascism--when in fact the diametrical opposite is true?

The reason is quite simple, but to really understand it--and you will not like the explanation--we need to consider America’s gruesome, weird, and terrible history.

Fascism is best seen this way. A person who believes that there is a hierarchy of personhood--that some people are more human than others, and some fall below the threshold of being people entirely--and furthermore, that that hierarchy should be institutionalized, is a fascist.

A movement composed of such people is a fascist movement. A government managing such a project is a fascist government. (The natural moral logic of such a hierarchy is that violence must be done to the weak by the strong, since they are not human beings at all, but parasites and predators.)

But that creates a very big problem for America. If that definition is true--you are welcome to think about whether it is--then America was a fascist country for a very long time, and many Americans have always been welcoming to fascist ideas, because the central organizing principle of American life was just such a hierarchy of personhood--and its institutionalization. Slavery and segregation, after all, was exactly all this, wasn’t it?

So now we come to a difficult truth--one that is perhaps too difficult for America to ever really face, and that is why it is where it is now.

You see, the problem is that fascism was an American creation. The Nazis didn’t begin by being America’s enemies. They were its great admirers. They openly studied America’s long history of slavery and segregation to model their own race laws upon. Now, Americans, quite naturally, wanting to disown this legacy, were left calling fascism “white supremacy” and “white nationalism” and so on. But these are inaccurate, sanitizing terms, which only hide a bitter and grim reality--and leave us unable to ever really improve upon it much, either.

(Hence, I don’t say any of this to condemn, blame, or judge you, by the way. No nation has a virgin birth. I say these difficult things for the sake of democracy. As hard as that might be to swallow, or even accept. I wish only the best for you, really--which is the attitude democracy demands of us, I think, but I digress.)

Americans were taught that socialism is fascism, but slavery and segregation weren’t.

Their echoes, ideals of supremacy and nationalism and so on, were something repellent, maybe, but also to be tolerated, in the “market” or “battle” of “ideas”. That legacy, that history of failed ideas, of poor thinking, is what made America ever more vulnerable to today’s fascist collapse. Because when one doesn’t know what is seeing, one is just as blind as if one cannot see at all.

Let’s consider the question now--is what we see today really fascism? You know, fascism fascism, the real thing, as our unconscious minds probably object--now that we have some criteria we can use. If fascism is just the concentration of state and economic power--then it is Europe who is fascist, not America.

But it isn’t Germany, Switzerland, France, and Spain in which mass political violence against Jews, refugees, and immigrants is breaking out--and their heads of state and governments are not applauding, cheering, and promoting it.

But if fascism is the institutionalization of a hierarchy of personhood, well, then, America is obviously the one who is well on the way to becoming fascist. But becoming is the wrong term. The right term is “reverting”--because that is what America was always built upon. Perhaps in the end history will sum America up this way, if Americans make the wrong choice in about ten days: it had just fifty short years of democracy between dark centuries of fascism.

(Now, there are qualifications and objections we can make--they go like this. One: fascism is a modern phenomenon, it’s sometimes said, because the machinery of the state is used bureaucratically to control and subjugate people, with accounting and ledgers and all the techniques of modern management. But these aren’t convincing ones, to me. Because precisely the same thing happened to black American slaves, and native Americans who face genocide--they were counted, tracked, parcelled, sorted, and valued by managers and underlings and administrators, too...

Two: fascism is an organized campaign of genocide, and America has never done any such thing, and therefore it is not fascist. My friend, if you tell yourself this, you badly misunderstand what “genocide” is. When the child was sold, and the mother kept, or the family broken up, that too was genocide--because it is simply limiting the reproductive destiny of a group. It would be a foolish kind of ignorance to suppose America’s centuries of slavery were not one long, slow genocide--one of history’s greatest.)

And that brings us back to that very uncomfortable place--at least if we are American. Because now we are face to face with a shattering truth. We are backwards people, thinking backwards thoughts--and among these, one of the most backwards is that fascism is socialism, but slavery and segregation weren’t.

I don’t want to mince words, on this eve of a massacre. It is believing lies like these that have made us history’s great fools--easy, gullible marks for the worst among us, who never went anywhere at all. Where would they go? After all, we were taught that socialism was the idea never to be tolerated--but not supremacy, not violence, hierarchies of personhood. Those are ingrained in us as deep as our very pores. “Hey--maybe that billionaire really is just smarter, tougher, better!” Ah, I suppose that means, too, then, that the slave wasn’t. I suppose maybe we should arm the teachers--not take away the guns. Do you see my point?

Let me make that even sharper. Slavery and segregation were seminal, pioneering forms of fascism--but Americans have not yet understood that yet. Yet without understanding that, they are impotent to know what it is to truly be, and also stay, a democracy.

What distinguishes fascism from “white supremacy”? Fascism is the superset of supremacies--it’s best to think about it that way.

So in America, it might be whites who aspire to be supreme, and in Asia, castes or tribes of some kind, and so forth. Supremacies are just different forms of the category fascism. And the only real difference between them is the desire, appetite, and will to institutionalize such a hierarchy of the weak and the strong--but what supremacist doesn’t want to do that, really? Yet that is precisely what America did, for far, far longer than it has undone.

So Americans struggle to understand fascism because they have been taught to think about it not just poorly--but in a fatally backwards from the very beginning. They’ve been taught the stupid, foolish, lie that socialism is fascism, but supremacy, slavery, and segregation weren’t. Therefore, today, the echoes of the expressions of the idea that some people are more human than others, are quite alright (hey, I hear people talking about dirty, filthy lower kinds on Faux News all the time, what’s the big deal?) But a little bit of public healthcare, education, media, or retirement--my God, that way lies the abyss!

Do you see the setup for tragedy occurring here? It made it almost inevitable that America would fail at really becoming a modern democracy--and collapse right back into the fascism it had pioneered. Socialism, in the way of public goods, is the one thing that, by equalizing societies, prevents and mitigates fascism, just as it has done in Europe, where, of course, thanks to global economic stagnation, it has risen too, but has been much, much more successfully fended off. Nobody in London, Paris, or Berlin is killing people at synagogues and sending bombs to the opposition, inspired by a demagogue, who preaches hate in the open, after all.

So what was likely to happen when fascism began to rear its ugly head again in America--driven by a sense of frustration, the very first time after the end of segregation that the economy stagnated? People were likely not to see it as a monster at all. They’d been taught that “fascism” was socialism, not the echoes of slavery and segregation, supremacy, the notion that ethnic and racial hierarchies should order societies, all of which might be repellent but were to be tolerated as “free speech” and the “debate of ideas” and so on, expressed openly, everywhere. Over and over again, American received one message: socialism equals fascism, but INSTITUTIONALIZED SUPREMACY does not.

So, quite naturally, when the classical sequence of fascist collapse began--comically textbook style, no less--demagogue, demonization, scapegoating, camps, trials, mass violence--neither intellectuals nor populace could quite anticipate, comprehend, or prevent any of it. Instead, they were shocked, every single day, more or less. “How can this be happening to us?” They cried. “We are better than this!” they shouted--even as the mass killings began.

But we were the ones who invented fascism to begin with, and, in perpetual denial of that terrible fact, remained altogether too comfortable with its expressions, ideals, and component thoughts. We had to tell ourselves it was the one thing it had never been at all--but that made it altogether too easy to stay just that thing. That’s always the price of denial, isn’t it?

So funnily, ironically, tragically, the sequence of fascist collapse began, picked up steam, and soon enough had wrecked the nation’s norms, values, institutions, rules, codes, expectations--and all this was because America, trying to run away from the ugly truth, made itself impotent to slow it, stop it, reverse it, too. If you think socialism is fascism, after all--you will fight socialism, but let fascism flourish.

And that is exactly what America’s politicians, intellectuals, thinkers, and pundits did, at the crucial moment, upon the election of a demagogue. “The real threat to us is Medicare for all! And what about Hillary’s emails? Who cares if he calls some dirty, filthy Mexicans names? Grow up!!”

Society had been constructed by now on a terrible and stupid lie. Socialism was fascism, but supremacy never had been. Therefore, hate, spite, and violence, built to enforce hierarchies of personhood, were never really rooted out of society, torn up, and turned into dust for history to spread over the ocean. Soon enough, the hierarchies demanded the violence they always did. “The intruders and the subhumans”, cried the bomber and the gunman, “are taking what is ours!! We must put them back in their place, with the fist, the knife, the bullet!” The sad truth is that could just as easily have been settlers and slavers talking about the native American or the black, too.

Fascism didn’t come to America. It didn’t even come back to America. It was born here, nourished here with centuries of slavery and segregation--hence, the Nazis learned it from us--and only slumbered a few short decades, while Americans told themselves proudly that the real monsters were not the people they had once been, but the people they did not want to be.

It’s hard to face the truth of yourself. The guilt and shame and fear that come with it. Is this really who I am? And yet until and unless you do--you will stay just that person. If you ask me, that is what the lie that fascism is socialism, but slavery and segregation weren’t, has done to America. Made it incapable of ever really changing very much.

Fascism? It’s this, my friends. The rule of violence, committed to establish hierarchies of personhood, with the intent of institutionalizing them, with a little bit more intimidation and fear every day. The lie that fascism isn’t this, but socialism, is what the phase of turmoil America is collapsing into now, day by day, a little more explosively, almost inevitable. And I wonder--and you should too--whether we have learned anything yet. Umair
October 2018

The Moral Cowardice of This Moment in American History

umair haque Jun 13, 18 Eudaimonia and Co

What Happens When a Society Forgets its Duty?


I’m going to make an observation that will strike you as unkind, uncharitable, and unforgiving. Yet perhaps, in these troubled and strange times, the truth is the first and last thing we have left to share, as Orwell once said, so maybe it is my duty, and maybe forgetting to do our duty is a kind of corrosion we have yet to see. But I will get to that. First, here is my observation.

This moment in American history is marked by a kind of systematic moral cowardice.

Cowardice is a strange, funny, and quite foolish word to have to use. But I have no other. So I want you to know that I do not mean it as a kind of angry Trumpist denunciation. What good would that do? I mean it in a precise, calm, and reflective way, so that we can think about it carefully, and you be the judge if it leads us anywhere.

What is cowardice? I am going to define it very simply, in Kantian terms. It is the failure to live up to one’s duty--the one that one has to treat others as one would wish to be treated if roles were reversed. A soldier has a duty not to desert his post, and when he does, we’d rightly say that is a coward. But everyone, too, in society, has duties. A doctor has a duty not to harm a patient, and if he doesn’t, that, too, is a kind of moral cowardice. It’s a point I’ll return to, after I explain three specific kinds of moral cowardice that I see, daily now.

My first kind of moral cowardice is a failure of action. Consider for a moment that it would take just three GOP Senators to stop authoritarianism dead in its tracks. All that they would have to do is caucus with Democrats with for a short time. Now, consider the fact that many, many GOP Senators at this point endlessly tweet angrily about how concerned they are about the corrosion of democracy, about the erosion of institutions, about the Presidency, send laments about the sad state of things. But they will not lift a finger to change anything (not even to stop healthcare being taken away from little kids.)

What is the duty of a politician? It is of course to represent the people--but first, even before that, it is to defend democracy. Otherwise, everything collapses on itself. Americans are always searching for nuance, but there’s nothing complicated about it. In this way, American political leaders are committing acts of great moral cowardice every day. They may say they are concerned by the way that democracy is dying--but they are failing their duty to democracy, by gathering together to defend its basic principles, mechanisms, values, and institutions.

My second kind of moral cowardice is a failure to speak. Not just by commission--but perhaps more perniciously, by omission. Let me give you an example--one that should go down as an infamous moment in history, but probably won’t. After the Trump administration announced it would build guarded prisons to put children separated from their parents, MSNBC hosts started, en masse, calling them “camps.” Of course they’re camps. Duh.

But are they summer camps? Sports camps? Vacation camps? They’re concentration camps. You might ask: well, what difference does it make, that one little word? Come on, grow up! But it makes all the difference in the world. A camp is many things. But a “concentration camp” is just one. It is not just a phrase--it is a specific historical phenomenon, a term that contains within it decades of human folly and tragedy. When we use the correct terms for things, we imply and suggest--because we know--that we are making the very same terrible mistakes that history once made, too.

What is the duty of a journalist? It is to tell the truth. The whole of it, with as much accuracy and precision as they can muster. But journalists, intellectuals, and pundits in America use a whole different language of their own to describe things: not fascism and authoritarianism, but “nativism” and “ethnonationalism”, not “concentration camps” but “tent cities”, not “neo-Nazis” and “dictator”, but strange inside code words like “white nationalists” and “cultural anxiety.”

Is this the truth as best we know it--or just some sugar-coated, polite, spin-doctored approximation of what’s palatable? When we fail to tell the truth--the historical truth, as accurately and precisely as we can--leaving out specific words, ideas, phrases, to soften the blow, to reinforce our own foolish myths of grandiosity and exceptionalism, and we know it, then we are committing an act of moral cowardice. We are failing to do our duty.

My third kind of moral cowardice is a failure to think. Why exactly do American intellectuals use this strange, ahistorical, decontextualized, denuded vocabulary to describe what is obviously at this point fascism and authoritarianism--“nativism”, “ethnonationalism”, “cultural anxiety”, etcetera?

They do not think it can happen here. But it is very clearly now beginning to happen here--in a textbook fascism, the bellowing demagogue, the shouting masses, the camps being built, the children separated from parents.

And perhaps if intellectuals had thought it could happen here, well, maybe we would have been able to consider whether it was. Maybe we wouldn’t have this strange and fatal hubris and arrogance that we do--we’re above, history, we’re America, we don’t do things like this. My friends: we do.

What is the duty of an intellectual? It is to study cause and effect, and thereby to gain wisdom. So why don’t American intellectuals have a working theory of American collapse? Of why kids are shooting each other in schools and people are dying for a lack of insulin?

How come not a single one predicted it? How come not a one says “Hitler, Stalin, and Mao also…” What about a theory that warns people of what happens after societies begin putting people in camps? The theory of “ethnonativism” and “cultural anxiety” doesn’t say anything about that. But the theory of fascism most certainly does. Do you see what I mean?

In a grand failure to think, really, at all, American intellectuals have committed an act of moral cowardice too--refusing, even now, to see their nation even-handedly, dispassionately, unemotionally. It can’t happen here! And so here they are, unable to link cause with effect, and teach people that what is happening in America today is lethally real. They have failed at their primary duty of gaining and giving wisdom--and that is why this moment is marked by folly instead.

So. The duties--and they are great ones, if you ask me, which a society cannot really function without--of truth, wisdom, and democracy--have been failed. And yet they are not the only ones. The question is this, if you follow me so far.

Just how did this great and noble idea of duty get stripped out of American life? How did duty itself get eroded? Because if you look closely at American life, well, no one seems to be doing their duty. Not well, not often, and not hard enough, really. “Health management organizations” are more concerned with billing than healthcare. Tech tycoons aren’t interested in connecting people--just selling ads. Banks blow up the economy. Hedge funds don’t hedge against risk--they pass the buck to society. Here’s a grotesquely perverse example, to make it clear--some want to sell teachers guns, so they can shoot…school shooters. But the duty of a teacher is to teach, not shoot. Do you see what I mean by an erosion of duty?

How did duty itself collapse? I think it happened for a very simple reason. Predatory capitalism came to be the sole organizing force left in society. Duty is a Kantian concept--something that we must always do, not just when it is convenient, easy, or self-interested. But predatory capitalism does not allow us any time, room, energy, or freedom of any kind, really, to do our duty to one another--it makes the sole end of life profit.

If our lives are giant game of profiting off of one another, if all we are to do is obey, conform, produce, and consume, then who will we do the duties of truth, justice, democracy, freedom, integrity, humanity? Then we can only do them when they are costless in financial terms.

But a duty is never free. It always costs us something to do our duty--a duty is something we do precisely because it is costly. That is how it expands our notion of interest beyond the infantile, narcissistic self, and that is how we earn, together, things greater than profit--trust, respect, worth, meaning, purpose, belonging, grace, defiance, empathy. Without duty, there is nothing left to denominate financial profit, economic value--society becomes a rich place, but also an empty one, hollowed out, eroded from the inside, and collapsing upon itself day by day.

Does that sound like America to you today, maybe a little bit? You are right to say that people are trying, all is not lost, and there are good people about everywhere. Still, I stop and wonder to myself these days if our definition of good is good enough. Because, self-evidently, we are failing this turning point in history. Moral cowardice marks the moment, on every side, every day, in big and little ways. And that is not just because we are not doing our duties, to democracy, justice, freedom, truth, to dignity, service, history, humanity--but because, perhaps, we are forgetting that we ever had them at all.

Umair
June 2018

America Can Afford to Be a Working Society. What it Can’t Afford is Not to Be One.: What’s the Best Investment a Society Can Make?

1937’s Revenge: Why an Imbalanced Global Economy is a Recipe for Disaster


Do People Really Want Better Lives? Or, How Indignity Broke the Global Economy

How American Collapse is Becoming American Implosion: The Final Stage of Collapse and the Institutionalization of Mass Violence

America Can Afford to Be a Working Society. What it Can’t Afford is Not to Be One.

I read a recent quote by Howard Schultz, the ex Starbucks CEO who will probably for run for President, castigating some Democrats for offering healthcare, education, and finance to people: “how are we going to pay for these things?!”, he demanded to know.

LOL. The answer goes like this. Not already knowing it is the fatal folly of American thought in a nutshell. American intellectuals and pundits don’t do a good job of explaining economics, politics, or society to you--because they don’t understand it well themselves. Allow me. Here’s the simple truth. America can afford to be a working society. What it can’t afford is not to be one. Here’s why.

Healthcare, education, finance, transport, safety nets like insurance. Such things aren’t ”entitlements”, liabilities, or costs, which we can’t afford. They’re precisely the opposite: investments, which a modern, civilized, post-industrial society can scarcely do without. Why?

Because basic public goods--goods that people share in common, universal rights of citizenship--like these are the best investments that a society can make, by a very, very long way. Their returns are way, way, greater than what American economists and CEOs and pundits go on proclaiming society should invest in--hedge funds, Walmarts, Zuckerbergs, and robots. It’s pretty self-evident to see that all those aren’t exactly producing a working society, economy, or democracy. Why not?

The key word is “investment”. Like any investment, public goods like healthcare, education, finance, media, transport, and safety nets pay for themselves--and then yield tremendous, dramatic, life-changing returns beyond that, for everyone, not just the super rich.

That is exactly how a society develops--not just "grows" economically, at the cost of average people's lives, but becomes a place of genuine prosperity. Europeans enjoy vastly higher qualities of life--higher life expectancy, lower mortality, greater happiness, less stress, more trust, more meaning==than Americans precisely because they invest significantly more in public goods. Another way to put that is that invest more in themselves--and less in predatory capitalism.

Let’s do a simple example. Americans live five full years shorter than Italians or Spaniards, largely because Americans won’t invest in a working healthcare system. So if they did, what would the returns be? Well, on one level, the math is simple. Five years of life times 360 million people times the value of a life year, which, according to actuaries, is about $125,000. How much is that? It’s a colossal number. $203 trillion, which more than doubles America’s total wealth of about $90 trillion. Sure, I’m comparing household wealth, which is composed of homes, bonds, and bank accounts, to people. Still, it’s a rough, imprecise idea of magnitudes involved. See what I mean by “the best investment a society can make”?

[...]

So the price of not investing in public goods is, we might say in econ parlance, especially steep--investing in Walmarts, robots, and hedge funds, instead of healthcare, finance, media, transport, and education has catastrophic, social-scale, politically destabilizing externalities. It leaves a people weak and broken in mind and heart and spirit, who are then easy meat for extremists, who feel failed by the status quo, who then seek consolation and succor and safety in authoritarian’s muscular (or flabby) arms.

How Capitalism Addicted Us to Hate: What Capitalism’s Really Selling You, And Why

It'd be a nice to have a job where, upon being such a terrible person they finally had to fire you because you did something unconscionable…you were also paid $70 million. Yet that's the strange, funny, grotesque story of how Megyn Kelly left NBC, on the heels of a racist comment--and it's a perfect parable of how capitalism warps and twists societies (and the people in them).

What are YouTube algorithms, Facebook, Twitter, cable news? In a word, hate. What is it when someone earns $70 million after they make a racist comment after a prominent career spent stoking the flames of bigotry? Hate, of many kinds. What do all these things have in common? Unbridled capitalism has addicted us to more and more extreme forms of hate--that's what it needs to do to survive.

Let’s think about it for a second. It would be overly generous to say that what such TV “hosts” do is journalism, of even the remotest kind or sort. Instead, here we have the bizarre spectacle of a toxic cocktail of paranoia, delusion, and propaganda, more or less, diluted with lightweight entertainment--for which they earn tens of millions.

All this in a society where humble people who do things which genuinely benefit and improve lives--teachers, professors, engineers--struggle to make ends meet.

It’s obvious to say that’s capitalism at work--the predatory receive the most, and the productive earn the least.

Hence, in the example of TV news, Instead of asking difficult questions--how should we reform a society in which people have lost faith, hope and trust? What is the best healthcare system to mold ours upon, Germany, Switzerland, or Britain?--it pursues the lowest common denominator, and showers fortunes upon those who stoke and fan the flames of ignorance, stupidity, and hate. Let’s delve a little deeper into why all that is what sells most.

After a long day spent in bruising combat at a meaningless job--if you are lucky enough to even have one--who wants to sit down and ponder great questions of political economy and social organization? Why bother--when the answer has already been decided, which is that the zone of the possible is limited to either totalitarian capitalism, or slightly less totalitarian capitalism?

So there is the average prole. Capitalism has promised him a life like the bourgeoisie--no work, all play, the cheap, easy thrill of exploiting someone lower than him in the social hierarchy, the feeling of power. Only it never gives him that life. He’s left simmering with frustration, perpetually threatening to boil over into rage. What can capitalism give him, as a substitute, to keep him dumb and paralyzed? It can addict him to hate--because that way, he can get the experience of most of the above. He can feel like he’s above someone, like he holds dominion, like he has the power to exploit.

What sort of incentives does [capitalism] set in society to let someone earn tens of millions after they're fired for making a racist comment? Quite obviously, it sends the very clear messages that a) racism is quite alright, because long before you pay any price, you'll benefit handsomely b) whatever price there is to be paid is a laughable fraction of the benefits and c) that as long as you're earning money for capitalists by doing it, they'll look the other way--until enough people notice, and get angry enough about it, which is never enough to outweigh the profits.

It’s in this way that capitalism shatters democratic norms and values of equality, decency, tolerance, and good faith.

Let’s take those one by one. It corrodes the idea of equality, by driving this vicious spiral of stoking people’s worst prejudices in the pursuit of sensationalistically driven profits--without any real regard

It corrupts the notion of decency, because what sells fastest and quickest is lurid gossip and race-baiting.

And it erodes tolerance--because as a result of all this, people lose the ability to think well, much, or at all.

And it shatters the idea of authenticity, good faith--the capitalists don’t really care what they destroy, so long as they make money--but when it comes to human concerns like news, healthcare, education, finance, or media, such an attitude is explosively self-destructive. If you doubt me, go ahead and ask yourself--isn’t all this is self-evident in America today?

... The result is what you see today. A society which is deficient in all these things, in much of a real or genuine way. But because a functioning society depends on them, a society without them will soon enough stop functioning--and a broken society is the cauldron of authoritarianism and fascism.

Bang! Capitalism implodes into fascism just this way: it shatter[s] democratic values, the foundation of modernity, by feeding people a diet of garbage, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, until they are nothing but fear, spite, venom, rage, whimpering fools who see monsters in little children, and are ready to shoot, imprison, or exterminate them.

But it needs to do so because it is in an impossible position--it’s promised the proles lives like capitalists, but it can’t deliver such lives without making capitalists poorer, and therefore, the prole is always simmering, primed to explode. So there’s only one way, really, to keep this social bomb of tension from ever going off--to keep proles from ever really understanding they will never be capitalists--and that is to find a target for all this simmering rage, resentment, and fury. To find someone for the proles to hate.

Hate--hating the weak, hating the poor, hating the different--becomes the cheapest, most effective substitute for the power, status, and riches the prole will never have. That is why capitalism needs to sell you hate. “Do you feel angry, so resentful, failed? Here’s someone to despise, to loathe, that should suffer! See how filthy and dirty they are? Why, they are barely even human!”

Wham! Now comes something glorious and triumphant--the adrenaline rush of hate, the dopamine kick of superiority, the hit of power over a lesser being, exploitation, that was promised all along.

The truth, my friends, is that you do not create a society of hateful people without a Faux News and its Megyn Kellys failing upwards into NBCs. Nobody is born naturally hating anyone else.

So just like heroin is a substitute for love and intimacy that was never had, so hate is a substitute for all the things that capitalism promises people, but never delivers, money, power, and status. But one can grow addicted to hate, too--and that is the problem.

When you can hook people on violence, rage, fear, and hate--why bother educating, informing, and enlightening them? The latter is expensive--it takes time, effort, dedication, imagination. The former just takes a pleasant smile loaded with the gunpowder of a thinly veiled slur and an imaginary villain that’s coming to get your children.

Because capitalism needs to sell you hate to thrive, it’s as predictable as the sunrise that in a capitalist economy, racists, bigots, and supremacists--not to mention violent abusers--will rise to the top, and rake it in: they are the ones who are have the most salable products of all--a scapegoat for your anger, a target for your resentment, a monster for your hate, the soothing picture of yourself as an aggrieved, wronged victim, which mollifies your guilt and shame, and becomes constant fuel for the very fire of spite that being just another disappointed prole has left you with.

Now you know who to hate and why, how to hurt them most and where, who to resent most and how. Bang! There’s that rush, that hit, that kick. Dopamine, adrenaline, power, control, status. What a thrill races through you. Now you’re hooked. Capitalism is selling you relief from its very own misery in the form of pleasure through hate--only maybe you don’t know it yet.

And this is precisely where a large chunk of America appears to be--addicted to a drug called hate. It’s true that hate flourished early in this promised land, thanks to decades, centuries, of slavery and supremacy. But it’s also true that capitalism keeps selling it in more and more concentrated forms, to people who’ve been addicted to it for generations.

Today, America’s on something like the fentanyl of hate--which is to say digital tribalism, log in, read a screed that justifies bombing plots, cheer on the trial of little babies, lose any semblance of reason or decency. Wham! There’s that delicious thrill of pleasure--the one that more than makes up for the misery of being an exploited prole. Only it fades a little quicker, and a littler duller, each time--and you need a bigger hit next time. Just like an addict, you need more of your drug to keep delivering you the same amount pleasure--only the prole’s drug is hate.

So on the one hand, it’s true to say capitalism works by maximizing profits for shareholders. But that is just barely even economics. It’s truer to say that on a psychological level, capitalism works like this. It takes its very own miseries--impoverishment, precarity [Precarity (also precariousness) is a precarious existence, lacking in predictability, job security, material or psychological welfare. The social class defined by this condition has been termed the precariat. - Wikipedia], always living on the edge, never quite making ends meet, all the panic and fear and anxiety and rage and anger therein--and sells us relief from them with the intense pleasure that comes with hate, with spite, with violence.

All that keeps profits rising, forever--because we’ll do anything to feel relief from fear, dread, anxiety, pain, especially if it comes with a dopamine kick and an adrenaline rush. And that is pure, undiluted hate gives us. It is the most perfect drug of all--it costs nothing, really, to make, and people never even know they’re addicted to it. The cartels have nothing on the capitalists, when you think about it.

That is why wherever you see unrestricted capitalism, you will also see the omnipresent, constant, relentless, perpetual stoking of every kind of hate, whether bigotry, racism, supremacy, discrimination, and so on--in more and more extreme ways. The proles grow addicted to hate--and they need more and more intense forms of it, to soothe them with the rush of pleasure, as the misery of life under capitalism only ever seems to grow, as you work harder every year, but never go anywhere at all--just as 80% of Americans now live, in one [of] history’s richest societies, paycheck to paycheck, like the poor. Wham! Hate the pain away.

Again, if you doubt me, take a long, hard look at America. Does it look like a gentle, kind place to you? Or one consumed, a little more every day, by ever more extreme, strange, and bizarre forms of hate? Hate of others, hate of the self, hate of the world, hate of the future, hate of truth--on and on, into oblivion.

What is it that unifies all this stuff--YouTube algorithms, Twitter, Facebook, Kelly, cable news? Capitalism needs to sell more and more distilled, extreme, ultra-pure forms of hate--the equivalent of crack, meth, and fentanyl--to keep on surviving. But that way lies fascism, too.

If enough thought for just a single moment--hey, maybe we should all have healthcare, free education, retirement, and savings, instead of each of us wishing the other one suffers more, then--poof!--capitalism would simply cease working. But we’re too busy, mostly, pulling one another down to lift one another up. Do you see how this great, clever, foolish system of hate works?

What America Should Do Now (But Won’t): Four Things a Broken Society Won’t Do to Fix Itself

Every time I write about American collapse, people ask me, over email, in the comments, "Oh my god!! Dude! Be positive! Be helpful! What should we do?"

OK, I'll tell you what I think America should do.

But first let me be helpful in a different way. Whenever I write a "what should we do" essay, it doesn't really get through to people. And that is because Americans are taught to be so wedded to outmoded ways of thinking, obsolete theories and paradigms--and I mean really emotionally attached to them--that doing what is obvious and necessary becomes a kind of huge, impossible psychological conflict. Strangely, funnily, fatally, it's never easier to cling to the past when things are imploding, isn't it? But we'll come back to that in the end.

The first thing America should do is get over its monogamous love affair with capitalism.

Even Paul Tudor Jones--one of the world's biggest hedge fund managers--now thinks capitalism is obsolete. Does that sound funny to you? Yet meanwhile, the only real development in American thought whatsoever these days is the "hipster antitrust movement", spearheaded by Lina Khan. I like Lina's work. It's intelligent, sharp, penetrating. But what happens if all we do is break up big monopolies? Well, we just get capitalism all over again--just of a more romanticized kind--which, in its next cycle, will, of course, rebuild those very same monopolies.

That's exactly what happened in America after the last wave of trust-busting, the 1980s--yet by 2010 or so, business was bigger than it had ever been, profits higher, but the average American's income hadn't risen at all.

So the only development in American thought is not much of a development at all--it is just a restatement of the same old capitalism, a kind of ardent faith that if we capitalism hard enough, things will be better again. We are only going in circles in America--we cannot make progress, because the way that we think, at root, has never changed one iota.

The inconvenient truth for America is this. Capitalism is obsolete--it can't move societies forwards anymore. Why not? Because capitalism doesn't care about you, me, the planet, the future, or democracy. It only cares about profit--here, now, this instant, by any means necessary.

Capitalism wants insta-profits now--but the world needs investments that last generations. Capitalism wants profit by any means--but the world needs to reduce the tremendous, destabilizing uncounted costs of pollution, extremism, inequality, mistrust, despair. And capitalism concentrates profits among owners--so much so that interest rates are negative, meaning there's so much money at the top, it has nowhere to go--yet the challenge now is getting the wealth of societies back to fast-imploding middle classes, before they turn all the way to authoritarians who promise them safety, instead of the crushing anxiety of atomized, meaningless, precarious neoliberal life.

So capitalism can't do the three things the world needs today: invest in things that matter, create higher qualities of life, and create more cohesive, stable, prosperous societies.

So the second thing that needs to be done is for societies to build a whole new set of indicators of progress, success, wealth, and growth.

That's part of what my friend Dylan Ratigan is trying to do, in his bid for congress. "GDP" is growing--but life expectancy is falling--and so American economists cry: "everything’s awesome, guys!!" "Unemployment" is falling--but people's real incomes are still shrinking, and again American economists say, "woohoo! Mission accomplished!." LOL. Everything is far from good--America's collapsing implosively.

Only we don't have the indicators to see it--so mostly, we don't. We're like blind men in a burning house--we know something's wrong, but where's the fire?

We don't look at things like stagnant real income, loneliness, mistrust, school shootings, rage, despair, anxiety, pressure, stress, unpaid labour, extremism as indicators of whether or not economic growth is adding up to better lives. But we should. All those things tell us whether people are living genuinely well or not.

And so we must build a whole new series of measures beyond GDP, that tell us if a society is successful, or not. At what? At being a society--at its people flourishing and realizing themselves, or living like Americans do now, in indignity, in fear, in squalor, ever at the edge of life or death, one missed paycheck away from losing it all. GDP won't tell you that--and so we need to build new indicators of the genuine health, prosperity, and maturity of a society.

What would we do if we had those? Well, the first thing we’d probably see is that Americans live such startlingly poor lives, short, nasty, lonely, uneducated, misinformed, fearful, anxious, because a purely capitalist economy does not allow society to invest in people--only in Walmart, hedge funds, and status symbols.

And so we'd probably come to the third big thing we should do. Learn. Learn, learn, learn. Why do I repeat it?

Consider this. The entire rest of the rich world is now vastly more successful than America, in every way. People live longer, healthier, happier lives. They have better democracies. They enjoy more meaningful work. They are kinder to one another, and trust one another more.

But not once in my adult lifetime have I ever seen American intellectuals try to learn from other countries what specific structures, institutions, ideas, norms, values, produce all that. America doesn't learn from a single thing the world now does better--and that is a fatal kind of arrogance for a falling nation to have.

What would we see if we were ready to learn--and I mean really learn, not play the stupid and childish American game of endlessly discussing what the Founding Fathers thought, or what JFK meant, or how bad Trump is? Well, we’d see some pretty obvious things.

Great social institutions play a huge role in improving people's lives. The BBC doesn't just inform people--it civilizes them, educates them, keeps them intelligent, kind, graceful, and a little wise. The NHS doesn't just make sure people live longer--it also creates norms of trust and decency and kindness, because if you-re not competing with your neighbor for healthcare, but cooperating with him, then he is not your adversary. People aren't trying just to survive don't have to be nasty to one another. The American vicious circle never erupts.

So the first thing we'd see is that institutions matter--only America doesn't have many, [not] enough of them, and certainly not working ones. But the second thing we'd see is that societies are living, breathing things--not just globs of institutions. Institutions create norms, values, culture itself. But there are good norms and bad ones. What really went wrong in America was that without functioning institutions, only one norm ever emerged: cruelty, which set off a vicious circle of disinvestment, competition, and self-absorption. Let's think about that for a second.

If all life is is capitalism, then we are adversaries. We cannot cooperate, because by definition, we are always competing. We compete at work, for jobs, for money, for titles. Then we come home and we compete at play, for status, for things, for dates, for toys. Life as adversarial competition--does it lead anywhere? The central idea in American thought has always been that competition is good, and cooperation is bad, evil, terrible. But a society in which people do nothing else whatsoever but compete has proven to be a self-evident failure. Why is that?

It is because cruelty prevents modernity itself from emerging. Cruelty means people cannot invest in each other. It means that a democracy cannot really function. It means that a social contract cannot ever be written. It means that people's only aspirations are to outdo each other--climbing up heirarchies. But those are not the same aspirations as genuine progress, transformation, growth, and maturity--not for a person, and so not for a society, either.

So. The things we should do. Understand capitalism is obsolete as the central organizing force of a society. Build social indicators of real progress. Use them to invest in institutions which elevate and expand people's quality of life. Watch as those institutions create norms that bind people together in consensual, democratic, positive, beneficial social contracts again. Sounds simple enough to me.

But I'd bet that to you, all that sounds impossible. Maybe totally outlandish, hopelessly undoable, bizarre, alien, like science fiction. And that is the problem in the problem.

Americans have been misinformed, maleducated, and a little brainwashed, into a kind of stunned, numb paralysis--because the truth is that the rest of the world is already doing all these things.

Only Americans, now, don't genuinely have the heart, courage, wisdom, or intelligence, perhaps, to really create the future.

Like Soviets, they are emotionally wedded to their broken, battered, ruinoues ideologies--capitalism, cruelty, individualism, materialism, narrow, blinkered self-interest. We only need to do all those better! That's what American thinking devolves to, basically. Alas, the future is about, as it always has been, progress. Not going in circles. That's what stuff circling the orbit of a black hole does.

So. People like myself can very easily tell you what we should do, not because we are better, or smarter, or superior in any way whatsoever, but simply because we have studied it our whole lives, just like a doctor can tell you when you have cancer. There is nothing in the least bit complicated about it. But people like myself therefore also know that times like these, times of stagnation and trouble, are also reactionary times, when the fires of ignorance burn brightest in every human heart, so it can cling to the dying embers of the past. And so we understand, too, that precisely because we can tell you what should be done in times like these, you will not do it.

Umair
June 2018

Why The World is Ripping Itself Apart: Five Ways History’s Repeating Itself

4-6-18

Consider the following finding. A third of Americans would give up their right to vote for a 10% raise. About $5000. Troubled yet? Now imagine that a demagogue comes along and offers them exactly that. You don’t have to try very hard, do you? Bang. Democracy goes bye bye - overnight.

All that’s what’s really going wrong in the world today, in one single, alarming statistic. We are repeating history. It’s easy to forget that, to lose focus on the big picture, numbed by the latest daily little outrages--“who resigned over what scandal today? He did what?!” Yet unless we see clearly how the larger dots of human despair, folly, and prosperity are connected, we are doomed to be history’s mute puppets, not futurity’s authors--I’ll return to that, after we discuss those five exact dots, one by one.

1. Stagnation is producing authoritarianism.

What does it mean that a third of Americans would give up their right to vote for about $5000? It means that economic stagnation produces authoritarian[ism]. When people grow poor--absolutely or relatively--they lose faith in democracy.

That democracy can offer them a working social contract--one that elevates their standards of living. They are willing to make what seem like foolish bargains later--but make sense at the time. Democracy for a better life? A functioning society for tyranny? When a democracy ceases to represent you, why not?

In just this way, strongmen--who tempt people with the better lives that democracy can no longer offer them--rise, take control, and shape the destinies of nations. That is the story of the 1930s, whether in Germany, Italy, Japan, or Russia.

2. Authoritarianism is producing instability

People turn to authoritarians for a sense of stability--they are like wounded infants seeking safety in the arms of a strong daddy figure. But when authoritarianism ripples through nations, the result globally is instability. That is because authoritarians brook no compromise, hold no respect for democracy externally, too, not just internally. And so treaties, agreements, alliances, all get shredded. Trade wars erupt--all in the name of “us first!” Borders are closed. Exit visas are issued. And so on.

The result for people is ironic - they sought stability, but they gain only more and more instability. Authoritarianism is not compatible with global order, which must be carefully negotiated, discussed, consented to--if a handful of petty authoritarians are vying for absolute power, trying to bully the next one a little harder, then how can nations ever agree on anything? But that is the case today, too - authoritarians ripping up the older order, each one promising everything to their own nations, just as it was in the 1930s. But no nation can have it all--that way lies the threat of follows trade war: genuine war and ruin.

3. Instability produces aggression and hostility

So as people turn to authoritarianism, a paradox takes hold. Instead of the stability they once sought, their lives only become more and more unstable, precarious, impoverished. After all, authoritarians do not enact the social contracts that would lift people’s lives up - offering, for example, incomes, savings, social systems, safety nets, and so on - usually, they make agreements with kleptocrats and robber barons.

What is the result? Even more hostility, anger, rage, envy, as people grow even more impoverished. Towards neighbors, who were once allies, partners, friends. That is the case across the globe already too, isn’t it? You don’t have to think very hard about once great partners and allies becoming something like enemies - societies saying “what have you done for us? We are better off without you!!” Now, no one notes, usually, at this point, that this hostility is misplaced - the fault is not that of former allies, but of the turn towards authoritarianism itself. Instead, people growing more and more impoverished become more and more aggressive. Towards the weak inside their own societies, and their new enemies, who were once their partners. That is the story of the 1930s - and it is the story of now, too. Hostility and aggression grow by the day, don’t they? But when a global order fractures, that is the natural result.

4. Hostility produces chaos and war.

I won’t say much about this, because I don’t need to. The point to note is that it’s difficult, impossible, to say, what the trigger of outright war will be. It’s better to think of all the above as something like an avalanche. The factors above - stagnation producing authoritarianism producing instability producing aggression - pack the snow tall on the mountain of human folly. And all it takes is a single flake shifting to cause the tide to thunder down the slope, and wipe out the village of human prosperity.

Now. The last dot I want to discuss is the first one. If you understand all the above so far - stagnation, authoritarianism, instability, hostility, in that order, cause and effect, a linked chain, a vicious cycle = then what produces the first link in the chain, stagnation?

5. Broken social contracts produce stagnation

What caused the stagnation of this era? A botched response to a great financial crisis. I want you to think about all this carefully: did the alt-right, the new global extremism, the aggressive hostility that permeates the globe---any of it---really exist before 2007? It didn’t, did it? So the greatest financial crisis since the great depression is what ultimately sparked this doom loop.

How? Again, I want you to really understand this part, because it is the key. Banks failed, saddled with bad debts, as a result of foolish loans and malinvestments. Societies from America to Britain to Germany chose to “bail them out” in a particularly toxic way--society assumed the debts, and the banks essentially got off scot-free, with no real costs to shareholders, executives, or even their own incomes.

What happened next? Well, society was burdened with all these bad debts. At this point, it could have done two smart things---simply cancelled those debts, or printed money to offset them, which would have ended up in people’s pockets. Instead, a generation of politicians chose to believe that the only way to pay off these debts was to cripple society and tear up the social contract---“cut as much spending as we can!”, the cry went up, not understanding at this precise moment, the economy needed investment, because money wasn’t flowing through the economy. So a wave of austerity swept the globe. Nations shredded their own social contracts---and as a result, people’s living standards began to fall sharply, until, now, for example, life expectancy is declining in America.

Austerity following the last financial crisis produced stagnation, that sparked authoritarianism, which led to instability, that is creating aggressive global hostility. And all that is the story of the 1930s, too. in 1929, a great financial crisis wrecked the globe. Governments responded in exactly the wrong way--cutting investment, wrecking social contracts, raising tariffs. All this caused stagnation, which led to authoritarianism, instability, hostility, and ultimately, world war.

We are on the fatal trajectory of the 1930s today---exactly and precisely. World war will not erupt tomorrow, to be sure. But it is a mistake to think that every day we repeat history, history is not laughing at us.

And so. We cannot solve the great problems of today by focusing on the daily outrage. What scandal happened today matters not a whit.

What matters is a politics and economics, a leadership, that can really understand---and break the chain above, by cutting it away at the root.

How? By offering powerful, expansive, deep social contracts that undo stagnation. That way, the rest of the link in the chain---authoritarianism, instability, hostility--will come undone, too. People will consent to being self-governed again---because self-governance now offers them decent lives again. Nations will regain their faith in democracy, their optimism in society, and their trust in one another. The fires of war will not burn.

But here is the harsh and unforgiving truth. If the world cannot do all that, then the doom loop that it is in will end in the same place it always has. Atrocity, ruin, and despair.

Umair

Why Catastrophic Climate Change is Probably Inevitable Now: How Capitalism Torched the Planet by Imploding Into Fascism Medium, 10-10-18 by Umair Haque

Sometimes, when I write scary essays, I encourage you not to read them. This one’s different. It’s going to be brutal, scary, jarring, and alarming. But if you want my thoughts on the future, then read away.

It strikes me that the planet’s fate is now probably sealed. We have just a decade in which to control climate change--or goodbye, an unknown level of catastrophic, inescapable, runaway warming is inevitable. The reality is: we’re probably not going to make it. It’s highly dubious at this juncture that humanity is going to win the fight against climate change.

Yet that is for a very unexpected--yet perfectly predictable--reason: the sudden explosion in global fascism--which in turn is a consequence of capitalism having failed as a model of global order.

If, when, Brazil elects a neo-fascist who plans to raze and sell off the Amazon--the world’s lungs--then how do you suppose the fight against warming will be won? It will be set back by decades--decades…we don’t have.

America’s newest Supreme Court justice is already striking down environmental laws--in his first few days in office--but he will be on the bench for life…beside a President who hasn’t just decimated the EPA, but stacked it with the kind of delusional simpletons who think global warming is a hoax. Again, the world is set by back by decades…it doesn’t have. Do you see my point yet? Let me make it razor sharp.

My friends, catastrophic climate change is not a problem for fascists--it is a solution. History’s most perfect, lethal, and efficient one means of genocide, ever, period. Who needs to build a camp or a gas chamber when the flood and hurricane will do the dirty work for free?

Please don’t mistake this for conspiracism: climate change accords perfectly with the foundational fascist belief that only the strong should survive, and the weak--the dirty, the impure, the foul--should perish. That is why neo-fascists do not lift a finger to stop climate change--but do everything they can to in fact accelerate it, and prevent every effort to reverse or mitigate it.

But I want to tell you the sad, strange, terrible story of how we got here. Call it a lament for a planet, if you like. You see, not so long ago, we--the world--were optimistic that climate change could be managed, in at least some way. The worst impacts probably avoided, forestalled, escaped--if we worked together as a world. But now we are not so sure at all. Why is that? What happened? Fascism happened--at precisely the wrong moment. That shredded all our plans. But fascism happened because capitalism failed--failed for the world, but succeeded wildly for capitalists.

Now, this will be a subtle story, because I want to tell it to you the way it should be told. Let me begin with an example, and zoom out from there.

The world is in the midst of a great mass extinction--one of just a handful in history. Now, if we had been serious, at any point, really, about preventing climate catastrophe, we would have made an effort to “price in” this extinction--with a new set of global measures for GDP and profit and costs and tariffs and taxes and so on.

But we didn’t, so all these dead beings, these animals and plants and microbes and so on--strange and wonderful things we will never know - are “unpriced” in the foolish, self-destructive economy we have made. Life is literally free to capitalism, and so capitalism therefore quite naturally abuses it and destroys it, in order to maximize its profits, and that is how you get a spectacular, eerie, grim mass extinction in half a century, of which there have only been five in all of previous history.

But biological life was not the only unpaid cost--“negative externality” - of capitalism. It was just one. And these unpaid costs weren’t to be additive: they were to multiply, exponentiate, snarl upon themselves - in ways that we would come to find impossible to then untangle. (And all this was what economists and thinkers, especially American ones, seemed to whistle at and walk away, anytime someone suggested it.)

You see, capitalism promised people - the middle classes which had come to make up the modern world--better lives. But it had no intention of delivering - its only goal was to maximize profits for the owners of capital, not to make anyone else one iota richer.

So first it ate through people’s towns and cities and communities, then through social systems, then through their savings, and finally, through their democracies. Even if people’s incomes “rose”, cleverly, the prices they paid for the very same things which capitalism sold back to them with the other hand, the very things they were busy producing, rose even more--and so middle classes began to stagnate, while inequality exploded.

Let’s specify the unpaid costs in question: trust, connection, cohesion, belonging, meaning, purpose, truth itself.

These were social costs--not environmental ones, like the mass extinction above. And I will make the link between the two clear in just a moment. First I want you to understand their effect.

A sense of frustration, of resignation, of pessimism came to sweep the world. People lost trust in their great systems and institutions. They turned away from democracy, and towards authoritarianism, in a great, thunderous wave, which tilted the globe on its very axis. The wave rippled outward from history’s greatest epicenter of human stupidity, America, like a supersonic tsunami, crossing Europe, reaching Asia’s shores, crashing south into Brazil, cresting far away in Australia.

Nations fell like dominoes to a new wave of fascists, who proclaimed the same things as the old ones--reichs and camps and reigns of the pure. People began to turn on those below them--the powerless one, the different one, the Mexican, the Jew, the Muslim— in the quest for just the sense of superiority and power, the fortune and glory, capitalism had promised them, but never delivered.

The capitalists had gotten rich - unimaginably rich. They were richer than kings of old. But capitalism had imploded into fascism. History laughed at the foolishness of people who once again believed, like little children hearing a fairy tale, that capitalism - which told people to exploit and abuse one another, not hold each other close, mortal and frail things that they are--was somehow ever going to benefit them.

Now. Let me connect the dots of capitalism’s unpaid social and environmental costs, and how they are linked, not additively, 2+2=5, but with the mathematics of catastrophe.

When we tell the story of how capitalism imploded into fascism, it will go something like this: the social costs of capitalism meant that democracy collapsed into neo-fascism--and neo-fascism made it unlikely, if not outright impossible, that the world could do anything at all about climate change, in the short window it had left, at the precise juncture it needed to act most. Do you see the link? The terrible and tragic irony? How funny and sad it is?

The social costs of capitalism weren’t just additive to the environmental costs - they were more like multiplicative, snarled upon themselves, like a great flood meeting a great hurricane. The social costs exponentiated the environmental, making them now impossible to reduce, pay, address, manage. 2+2 didn’t equal 4--it equalled infinity, in this case. Both together made a system that spiralled out of control. Wham! The planet’s fate was being sealed, by capitalism imploding into fascism--which meant that a disintegrating world could hardly work together anymore to solve its greatest problem of all.

Let me sharpen all that a little. By 2005, after a great tussle, much of the world had agreed on a plan to reduce carbon emissions - the Kyoto Protocol. It was just barely enough - barely - to imagine that one day climate change might be lessened and reduced enough to be manageable. Still, there was one notable holdout - as usual, America.

Now, at this point, the world, which was in a very different place politically than it is today, imagined that with enough of the usual diplomatic bickering and horse-trading, maybe, just maybe, it would get the job done. And yet by 2010 or so, the point of all this, which was to create a global carbon pricing system had still not been accomplished - in large part thanks to America, whose unshakeable devotion to capitalism meant that such a thing was simply politically impossible.

So by this point the world was behind - and yet, one could still imagine a kind of success. Maybe an American President would come along who would see sense. Maybe progress was going in the right direction, generally. After all, slowly, the world was making headway, towards less carbon emissions, towards a little more cooperation, here and there.

And then - Bang! America was the first nation to fall to the neo fascist wave. Instead of a President who might have taken the country into a decarbonized future, Americans elected the king of the idiots (no, please don’t give me an apologia for the electoral college.)

This king of the idiots did what kings of idiots do: he lionized, of all things... coal. He questioned whether climate change was…real. He packed the government with lobbyists and cronies who were quite happy to see the world burn, if it meant a penthouse overlooking a drowned Central Park.

He broke up with allies, friends, and partners. Do you see the point? The idea of a decarbonizing future was suddenly turned on its head. It had been a possibility yesterday--but now, it was becoming an impossibility.

Before the neofascist wave, the world might have indeed “solved” climate change. Maybe not in the hard sense that life would go on tomorrow as it does today--but in the soft sense that the worst and most vicious scenarios were mostly outlandish science fiction. That is because before the neofascist wave, we could imagine nations cooperating, if slowly, reluctantly, in piecemeal ways, towards things like protecting life, reducing carbon, pricing in the environment, and so on. These things can only be done through global cooperation, after all.

But after the neofascist wave, global cooperation - especially of a genuinely beneficial kind, not a predatory kind - began to become less and less possible by the day. The world was unravelling.

When countries were trashing the United Nations and humiliating their allies and proclaiming how little they needed the world (all to score minor-league wins for oligarchs, who cashed in their chips, laughing ) - how could such a globe cooperate more then? It couldn't - and it can't. So the neofascist wave which we are now in also means drastically less global cooperation - but less global cooperation means incalculably worse climate change.

So now let’s connect all the dots. Capitalism didn’t just rape the planet laughing, and cause climate change that way. It did something which history will think of as even more astonishing. By quite predictably imploding into fascism at precisely the moment when the world needed cooperation, it made it impossible, more or less, for the fight against climate change to gather strength, pace, and force.

It wasn’t just the environmental costs of capitalism which melted down the planet - it was the social costs, too, which, by wrecking global democracy, international law, cooperation, the idea that nations should work together, made a fractured, broken world which no longer had the capability to act jointly to prevent the rising floodwaters and the burning summers.

(Now, it’s at this point that Americans will ask me, a little angrily, for “solutions”. Ah, my friends. When will you learn? Don’t you remember my point?)

There are no solutions, because these were never “problems” to begin with. The planet, like society, is a garden, which needs tending, watering, care. The linkages between these things - inequality destabilizing societies making global cooperation less possible - are not things we can fix overnight, by turning a nut or a bolt, or throwing money at them. They never were.

They are things we needed to see long ago, to really reject together, and invest in, nurture, protect, defend, for decades--so that capitalism did not melt down into fascism, and take away all our power to fight for our worlds, precisely when we would need it most.

But we did not do that. We were busy “solving problems”. Problems like…hey, how can I get my laundry done? Can I get my package delivered in one hour instead of one day? Wow--you mean I don’t have to walk down the street to get my pizza anymore? Amazing!!

In this way, we solved all the wrong problems, if you like, but I would say that we solved mechanical problems instead of growing up as people.

Things like climate change and inequality and fascism are not really “problems”--they are emergent processes, which join up, in great tendrils of ruin, each piling on the next, which result from decades of neglect, inaction, folly, blindness.

We did not plant the seeds, or tend to our societies, economies, democracies, or planet carefully enough--and now we are harvesting bitter ruin instead. Maybe you see my point. Or maybe you don’t see my point at all. I wouldn’t blame you. It’s a tough one to catch sight of.)

The tables have turned. The problem isn’t climate change anymore, and the solution isn’t global cooperation--at least given today’s implosive politics. The problem is you--if you are not one of the chosen, predatory few. And the solution to the problem of you is climate change. To the fascists, that is. They are quite overjoyed to have found the most spectacular and efficient and lethal engine of genocide and devastation known to humankind, which is endless, free natural catastrophe. Nothing sorts the strong from the weak more ruthlessly like a flooded planet, a thundering sky, a forest in flames, a parched ocean. A man with a gun is hardly a match for a planet on fire.

I think this much becomes clearer by the year: we have failed, my friends, to save our home. How funny that we are focused, instead, on our homelands. It would be funny, disgraceful, and pathetic of me to say: is there still time to save ourselves?

That is the kind of nervous, anxious selfishness that Americans are known for--and it is only if we reject it, really, that we learn the lesson of now. Let us simply imagine, instead, that despite all the folly and stupidity and ruin of this age, the strongmen and the weak-minded, in those dark and frightening nights when the rain pours and the thunder roars, we might still light a candle for democracy, for freedom, and for truth. The truth is that we do not deserve to be saved if we do not save them first.

The Age of the Imbecile

Medium, 10-14-2018, by Umair Haque


The World is Turning Catastrophically Stupid. Here’s How Not to Join It.

I’d bet, these days, shortly after reading the headlines, you’ve thought, shaking your head and muttering, something like: “Jesus. We live in an age of impossibly catastrophic stupid.”

You’re not wrong. About a decade or so ago, hot on the heels of the financial crisis, something happened--an old story began to be rewritten, as the world found itself poorer once again. There was an explosion, somewhere deep in the human heart, and a tsunami rippled across the globe--one boiling and bubbling with every imaginable variety of stupid: human folly, gleeful ignorance, self-destructive greed, reckless spite, dim-witted cruelty parading itself as enlightenment.

And so now a tsunami of imbecility is rolling like a slow-motion thermonuclear bomb across the globe. Lightning bolts of foolishness shiver down it. Smoke clouds of idiocy billow from it. Here are the five kinds of stupid wrecking the globe--because your first job, these days, as a human being, is to make sure you’re not being turned into an imbecile by this wave of stupid, too.

Economic stupid is nationalism, populism, or austerity, three words that craftily mean the same thing. It’s the idea that “we don’t have the money to pay for it!!”, whether “it” is school lunches, healthcare, education, parks, libraries, media, or trains. Sure we have the money. What do you think an era of zero interest rates mean? It means that there is so much money sloshing around in the treasure chests of the global economy, so much loot piled up by Jeff Bezoses and Bill Gateses, that there is nowhere left to put it. Not a single place: all the yachts, super mansions, and trophy castles have been bought.

Nada left to buy equals zilch interest to lend at. Zero interest doesn’t just means “societies can borrow for better than free and give everyone healthcare, education, an income, and savings”--it means that if they don’t, the economy will go right on cruising into oblivion, because that money will go on piling at the top, instead of doing anything remotely useful, beneficial, or necessary.

Now, who’s the prime exemplar of austerity? America, of course. There, thanks to four decades of people imbecilically destroying their very own government, those very people live in rank indignity--they have no healthcare, retirement, pensions, safety nets, and therefore, they have no mobility, opportunity, stability, security, and therefore, quite reasonably, they have no hope or optimism left, which is why they’re turning to harder and harder drugs to numb the pain of it all.

But see the point: the nationalist says: “us first!!!”, but ironically, he only means “them last!!” He is too stupid to invest in his very own society. He wants, instead, to kick out the scapegoats, exclude the minority, scorn the weak. But he doesn’t see that “us first” and “them last” are not opposites--they quite often go hand in hand in a race to the bottom of the abyss. Ah, only a true imbecile would confuse up for down.

So my next form of stupid is social stupid. Social stupid is the idea that a society can function without a social contract. That Uber can replace ambulances and hyperloops can replace buses and what next? Vending machines can replace hospitals and schools, I guess.

“Wait, Umair!”, you cry. “Who’d be stupid enough to believe that? LOL!” Alas, as it turns out, plenty. All those extremist parties arising around the globe? They look to America as an example--not as a warning. That’s what they want to become. Hence, the bombastic demagogues that run them stand for cutting public services, deconstructing governance, shredding the social contract, and replacing it with various forms of authoritarianism, kleptocracy, and feudalism, which don’t really have social contracts as much as pledges of fealty. It took human beings millennia to develop these things called social contracts--and yet here we are, timewarping backwards centuries by the month.

But it’s not just demagogues and extremists who want fealty these days, is it? I read an article in the Guardian where Elon Musk said that to survive the next World War, we have to colonize Mars. Ahahaha LOL. Elon. My dude, my dude. Maybe we could try to…prevent the next world war? You know, save millions of lives, instead of running away while they turn into radioactive dust?

That’s my third form of stupid. It’s technological. Let’s call this one techno-determinism?--he idea that we can engineer solutions to our problems, like, say going to Mars. Elon hasn’t quite considered the fact that if humans who make world wars go to a different planet, all that’s likely to happen is world wars on Mars, Venus, and Pluto. We can’t solve human problems with technology.

That’s why Twitter turned into the world’s largest emotional toiletbowl, why Facebook chose profits over democracy, and why YouTube is a place kids go to get educated on subjects like murder, bullying, and torture, not, say Renaissance literature and watercolours. Now, this form of stupid, techno-determinism, goes deeper than we think. But let me try to boil it down.

Do you think that we can even really see human problems without ever reading books, watching plays, studying ourselves, and learning history? If you do, congratulations, you’re a techno-determinist, you just don’t know it.

But techno-determinism is hardly alone in it’s raging quest for easy, comfortable solutions, that require no thought, consideration, reflection, or growth. This brings me to my fourth form of stupid. It’s cultural. Let me call it salvationism.

The rise of extremist religion, whether Islamic, Christian, or otherwise? Salvation--in the next world, so who needs this one? The rise of demagogues and strong men? Salvation--safety in daddy’s muscular arms. The rise of bizarre forms of magical thought--on both the left and right, the right-wing version being “race science” and genetic determinism, just like in the good old Nazi days, and the left version being the idea that shouting at Donald Trump on Twitter is going actually resolve problems of poverty, abuse, and violence?

Salvation, my old friend. Everwhere we look, people want a way out of this age. It’s no surprise that they look for the easiest, least painful one. You might laugh at opioid addicts--but I’d bet if you look at yourself a little more carefully, well...

And that brings me to my fifth and final form of stupid. It’s the biggest one of all, and it’s psychological. Denial. We are in deep, profound denial about... everything, more or less.

Take America again. Just a few weeks ago, kids were massacred with a machine gun. The nation went hysterical--and now it’s back to mostly caring about TV shows. Denial.

Nobody can pretend they don’t know kids massacring each other is terrible--they can only be in denial, no? But I could extend that example endlessly--because my first four forms of stupid are really also forms of denial. Nationalism, extremism, demagoguery, the rebirth of literal Nazism, salvationism, determinism--all the manifold, maddening forms of stupidity that define this age of globally catastrophic stupid--these are all strategies of denial. Denying someone else rights, dignity, a chance, a future, belonging, a self.

Denial. Self-chosen ignorance. Socially constructed mass delusions. Overweening folly. About the world, humanity, life, and each other. Things will be OK, go back to normal. We stick our fingers and cry “LA LA LA LA!!” at the merest mention of even the tiniest inconvenient truth--quick, change the channel, unlike that person, unfollow. So here are a few of those truths, now that I’ve got you in a position where you can’t squirm away so easily.

The climate is changing. Inequality is spiking. Young people’s lives are declining. The global economy is broken. Democracy is slowly fading, if not dying. We are in deep, deep shit as a world, as a species, as human beings. I could go on.

The point isn’t to depress you. Sorry, you’re not that important. The point is that it isn’t about you. What isn’t? This. All of it. The planet. Society. Democracy. Life. Even your life. Denial is a way to retain one’s egoism, really, to cling to the delusion that one is all-powerful. “If I ignore it long enough, it’ll go away!!” Sorry. You just don’t matter that much. The great truth of this age begins right there.

The world is telling us something pretty important these days, if we listen. It is that we don’t matter at all. Not this way. We have lived all wrong for the last century or so. Materialism, rationalism, individualism. What have they produced? Greed, brutality, cunning, competition. What have those produced? At a human level--beneath the festooned gadgets and the glittering spires? Loneliness, bitterness, rage, anger, fear, envy. Inequality and stagnation and immobility and decline. Despair and cruelty and misery at the meaningless of it all.

But it is we ourselves who chose all this. This meaninglessness. This futility, emptiness, hollowness. We chose it by saying nothing mattered at all, except winning, conquest, cruelty, possession. Nothing mattered except having the power to make nothing matter.

That, my friends, is the definition of imbecility. This is the age of the imbecile.

The point is to make it all matter again. Society. Democracy. Prosperity. Life. The planet. Each other. Then we will matter again, too. But if we do not make those things matter, then we will not either. We will vanish, unremembered, like the dust on the wind that we are. Tiny blind creatures who thought they were something more than that--how funny. Swept away by the oceans in the blink of an eye. And not a star in the universe wept a tear.

That is the message of this age. But we are not quite ready to hear it yet, I fear. What does it really mean, this word, “stupid”? It means something like: “what I thought would matter didn’t, and what I thought wouldn’t did. I got it all backwards. Doh! I was so stupid.” Doesn’t that describe where we are today? We made everything meaningless, a game, a contest, a reality show, including ourselves, keep right on doing it, and then wonder--“wait!! why is my life going nowhere?! Why don’t I matter?!” Ah. Well. That’s because nothing matters to you, including and beginning with you--not the planet, democracy, society, prosperity, your grandkids, nor your mind, heart, body, or soul.

Such a person is an imbecile, who cannot assign meaning to the world, only subtract meaning from it. And that’s because they swallow lies most children wouldn’t believe. Cruelty is kindness. Put your neighbour last. Scorn the weak. Despise the stranger. Such lies make fools of us--because when we believe them, soon enough, nothing means anything, except our immediate desires, but in that way, nothing much matters at all, and in the end, we are left baffled by the lack of meaning in our worlds, selves, lives.

That---assigning, giving, and deriving meaning--is the signal test of intelligence. Human beings are failing spectacularly it today. The world is engulfed in stupid, which is a way to say: nothing means anything, precisely because the only kind of power we desire anymore is the power to take meaning away from things, not give meaning to them.

A world of self-interested pleasure-maximizing robots in human flesh will happily watch everything burn for another hit of greed, envy, power, and hate. And that level of stupid, that absolute and total lack of meaning, which is what totalitarianism really is, is what must begin with changing if we are to come back to our senses again.







Charlemagne, my ancestor

Highlights from Charlemagne, by Richard Winston

the nobles lifted the fair-haired young man on their shields. Raising on the shield was an ancient pagan custom meant to remind the king that he was expected to fight, and if need be, to die for his people - for shields were also used for carrying the dead off the battlefield. Charlemagne, as we call him, simply means “Charles the Great” in French. By the middle of the eighth century, the Franks were a great nation. under the rule of a capable and bloodthirsty king named Hludowig or Clovis - the name is really the same as our modern Louis - they had conquered much of western Germany and the Roman province of Gaul. Clovis and his successors, the kings of the Merovingian dynasty, began the slow process of reuniting some fragments of the empire. Clovis had been converted to Christianity under the influence of his Christian wife, and with his reign began that special close relationship with the Christian Church that was to set the Franks apart from their neighbors. At home, Charles spoke German. He also mastered the vulgar Latin - rapidly becoming French - that was spoken by the people in the more Romanized parts of his father’s kingdom. He knew the formal Latin that was used in all writing; and he had some knowledge of Greek, although he understood it better than he spoke it. A school for the sons of nobles was part of Pepin the Short’s court, and Charles went to that, in addition to taking private lessons from Abbot Fulrad. The king and queen and all their attendants were on the move constantly, traveling from palace to palace, as the royal manor houses were called by courtesy. In reality, most of these palaces were just big farms. The king’s wealth consisted of these farms; there was no efficient system of taxation in the Frankish kingdom. It was easier for the king and his followers to use up the produce of the royal estates by moving to each place in turn than it was to have oxcart-loads of provisions and goods brought many miles over bad roads. There was another reason for “the royal progress,” as the king’s journeys were called. Only by going about the country could a ruler administer justice and make sure that his lower officials did not abuse their authority. In the summer of 754, Pope Stephen himself repeated the coronation of Pepin and Bertrada. This time, Charles and his brother also felt the drops of holy oil touch their heads. Young as they were, they were proclaimed kings of the Franks along with their father. The pope also gave Pepin and his sons the titles of Patricians of the Romans. That was a vague honor that meant whatever the holders wished it to mean. Pepin, who owed his crown to the papacy, believed it was his Christian duty to aid the Holy Father. Shortly after his second coronation in 754, Pepin - ignoring the objections of his nobles, who did not want to campaign far from home - led an army across the Alps into Italy. The Lombards met this army in the mountains; but they had little heart for fighting the ferocious Franks: Pepin’s small advance guard defeated the whole Lombard host (Pope Stephen called it a miracle); King Aistulf barely escaped capture by sliding undignifiedly down a rocky slope. The Frankish army marched on unopposed to the gates of Pavia, the capital of Lombardy. By then, Aistulf was ready to give up. Suing for peace, he offered a large sum of money in tribute. Pepin granted easy terms, and as a result, had to repeat his campaign two years later in 756. After the second expedition, he gave to the pope the lands of the Exarchate of Ravenna - twenty-three cities and castles in all. This famous Donation of Pepin, added to the Duchy of Rome, created the Papal States. In a way, the Donation still exists, for the tiny area of Vatican City at Rome remains an independent papal state. Pepin had given half of Aquitaine to each so that both would have an interest in controlling that troubled duchy. But when the indomitable Aquitanians rose in revolt once more, in the summer of 769, Carloman refused to aid his brother in suppressing the rebellion. Charles marched alone, with what forces he had, and easily won the first of the many military victories that were to give him a reputation for invincibility. Within two months, he completely pacified Aquitaine, as his father had never succeeded in doing; [Charles] married a Frankish girl of his own choice. Hildigard, the third of his five wives, was then little more than a child. She was to bear him five daughters and four sons and to form the center of the family life that Charles came to love more than war and conquest. luck can be as much a part of greatness as will and intelligence, and in Charles’s case, an untimely death proved to be a stroke of good fortune for him. At the end of 771, his brother died after a brief illness. In those days of primitive medicine, there were few remedies for disease, and all the contemporary sources make it plain that Carloman died a natural death. Charles’s reaction to it was natural too, though possibly not altogether legal. He took possession of his brother’s kingdom even though Carloman had two infant sons who might have inherited his throne - and thus further splintered Pepin’s heritage. With Carloman’s realm added to his own, Charles now ruled virtually all of present-day France, Belgium, and the Netherlands; a part of western Germany; and some of Switzerland. it is worth noting that deliberation of the assembly of notables was essential. Charles was by no means an absolute ruler who could begin a war without the consent of his people.


Spoken Words

“Life is what you do while you’re waiting to die,” Trump told Playboy in 1990. “ .?.?. We’re here and we live our 60, 70 or 80 years and we’re gone. You win, you win, and in the end, it doesn’t mean a hell of a lot.”

Or perhaps this is not a doctrine at all, but a tactic. In his “maybes” and “we’ll see what happens,” Blair hears a man hedging, refusing to promise anything — “building in deniability,” she says, so no one can ever go back to his statements and say his word was no good. O’Brien, meanwhile, sees statements that are left “intentionally wishy-washy” because “he doesn’t have enough insight into issues to actually know what he thinks about it.”

Words from a president do matter, of course, says historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, who just published a new book, “Leadership: In Turbulent Times.” In 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson said the phrase “we shall overcome” in an address to Congress, deliberately borrowing the language of black civil rights activists to trumpet a voting rights act; it changed the country. Abraham Lincoln never wanted to speak extemporaneously because he feared misusing or diluting the awesome power of a presidential utterance. The most important thing a president does, Theodore Roosevelt once stated, is set an example through his character and words.

As Goodwin sees it, “the coarseness of the words spoken and tweeted by our president are setting a negative example for our country and its citizens.” - WP, 10-19-18







Flamingos










Sex

‘Are You Done, Yet?’: Women on How Long Sex Should Last

Porn can be blamed for a lot of pathologies and false ideas about sex: That women love anal; that we like to have our pussies spat upon or smacked; that men need to bone as if they’re literally filming a porn. But I think one of the biggest myths it’s responsible for is that women expect a gentleman on the streets and a marathon runner in the sheets.

I’m all for a robust sex sesh, but I’m not gonna lie, at right about minute 22 of intercourse (or “Pound Town” as one of my friends refers to it), I start thinking about what I want to eat for dinner (or breakfast--I’m one of those freaks who loves morning sex).

Believe it or not (I couldn’t), some dudes don’t come that easily. Maybe it’s condoms. Maybe it’s meds. Maybe it’s too much masturbating and porn. Maybe their sperm has stage fright. Maybe they’re so emotionally unavailable even their dick can’t let its guard down. But for whatever reason, try as you both might, the jizz remains on lockdown, the orgasm elusive.

About a year ago I was dating a guy--we’ll call him “5K”--who had a severe case of delayed ejaculation or “rock cock” as it’s aptly called. No matter how long I blew him, screwed him or jerked him off, it didn’t matter, he could only achieve orgasm about one out of every ten sessions.

He assured me it wasn’t for lack of desire, and so, we decided to bang our way through whatever the block was, which led to marathon sex sessions. But about 45 minutes in--after reverse-cowgirl; the “lazy boy” (on the side, one leg thrown over his leg); doggystyle; bridge pose; and even slow, intimate (read: creepy), missionary--I was dry, bored and hungry.

Most people would kill for this kind of lover, right? What was wrong with me? Isn’t that why Viagra was a billion dollar industry? (Nope. It’s because old men can’t get it up.) It did get me thinking, though: How long is too long? (The duration of sex, naturally, not dick size.)

The best study done to date on “intravaginal ejaculation latency time” was completed in 2005. Researchers had 500 couples from all over the world, over a four-week period, spice up their love life by taking a stopwatch and literally hitting “start” when the penis inserted into the vagina and “stop” when the man ejaculated. Super sexy stuff, I know.

Not surprisingly, researchers found a huge variety in the times, ranging from as low as 33 seconds to as high as 44 minutes, proving there really isn’t such a thing as a “normal” amount of time people spend in Pound Town. The median time was 5.4 minutes, which is almost a full 2.5 minutes longer than back in the 1940s when famous sex researcher Alfred Kinsey deduced that three-quarters of men finished within two minutes.









Bing Crosby

How Bing Crosby bounced back from personal and professional malaise

(Little, Brown)

It’s been almost 18 years since the publication of “Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams,” Gary Giddins’s intelligent and formidably well-informed biography covering the entertainer’s life from his birth in 1903 through the film that launched his mega-grossing partnership with Bob Hope (“The Road to Singapore,” 1940). “Bing Crosby: Swinging on a Star” was worth the wait.

As in the first volume, Giddins makes Crosby’s career the framework for an astute account of broad shifts in the radio, record and movie industries. Crosby was a big star in 1940, but his fame was on another level by 1946. Giddins traces his trajectory across this eventful half-decade in a densely packed, sometimes excessively detailed narrative.

He begins with a snapshot of the troubled Crosby marriage in 1940, describing an evening when Bing came home from work on “The Road to Zanzibar” to find his wife, Dixie, drunkenly berating their four young sons. The marriage fell into a grim pattern during the World War II years: Dixie was mostly drunk; Bing was mostly gone. It didn’t help that Crosby’s personality — “impatient with introspection .?.?. stoic, manly, rarely nostalgic, never sentimental, and often flippant”— was poorly suited to dealing with a fragile spouse. Crosby twice considered divorce during this period, but each time was dissuaded by a priest; he had been raised and remained a devout Catholic.

Crosby was determined to end his relationship with “Kraft Music Hall,” the popular weekly radio program he hosted. It took five years to extricate himself, but during that time, he used his clout to get the show reduced from an hour to 30 minutes and began a long battle that would eventually transform radio from a live medium to a prerecorded one. Giddins covers this and other industry issues with his usual savvy.

His critical prose, somewhat blunted in the first volume, is back at full incisiveness in a shrewd analysis of how broadcasters’ 1941 boycott of music licensed by copyright-enforcer ASCAP solidified Crosby’s connection to older forms of American popular culture. Decca responded to the boycott by recording Crosby singing Stephen Foster tunes and other public domain material, Giddins writes, which resulted in “a distillation of his style into its purest components — the peerless Crosby baritone as national security blanket.”

Giddins’s pen is at its sharpest in his account of Crosby’s film career as he skewers Hollywood’s manifold absurdities. Starlet Marilyn Maxwell, he wisecracks, was “a girl-next-door type, if your neighborhood was MGM.”

Production Code enforcer Joseph Breen scrupulously monitored “Road to Zanzibar” to forestall any unseemly displays of female flesh, Giddins notes dryly, “while expressing no qualms about depicting a public slave market in modern-day Zanzibar.” He conveys with zest the relish Crosby and Hope took in evading such nonsense. In Crosby’s case, however, the kidding went only so far. “No matter how jolly or friendly he might seem, you knew there was that invisible line you did not cross,” commented a supporting player in another Crosby movie. “I doubt anyone knew him really well.”

Ironically, the tens of thousands of soldiers Crosby entertained during the war felt they knew him quite well. “What a guy, a regular guy, a real pal,” one man enthused in a letter to his wife. “He brought home right to your heart.” Crosby’s wartime tours form the emotional center of this volume. They poignantly show him reaching out to audiences of strangers with a warmth he seldom offered to intimates.

Crosby had been terrified of hospitals since his guitarist Eddie Lang — the only person he was truly close to, Giddins suggests — died after a botched tonsillectomy. But he gave shows to horribly wounded soldiers in field hospitals. He sang “White Christmas” over and over, even though he never sang it “without a wrench,” seeing battle-hardened men cry over a song they cherished as a reminder of home and peace. It was the least he could do for “the best audience we ever worked for,” which had rescued him from personal and professional malaise.

The reserve that frustrated his family was the key to Crosby’s popularity with the troops. “He [created] a particular kind of bond, a zone of emotional safety,” Giddins writes, adding pointedly, “A zone has boundaries.”

The stern boundaries he established at home created a fraught dynamic with his sons and wife that Giddins analyzes with nuance and empathy for all parties. Crosby was much better at being a fictional “father” in “Going My Way,” the 1944 film that won Crosby critical respect and an Academy Award for his role as a hip young Catholic priest. He entered the postwar period as “a bulwark of stability and reassurance,” a dominant presence on film, record and radio.

It must be noted, with regret, that Giddins has a terrible weakness for unnecessary material. We don’t need minute analysis of lackluster performances of trivial songs in each recording session. Twelve pages of background on “Going My Way” director Leo McCarey is too much, no matter how important a role he played in Crosby’s professional development. The worst failure of Giddins’s editorial judgment is his decision to close the book with endless excerpts from the diary of a teenage Crosby fan, who chronicles her uninteresting interactions in the winter of 1945-6 at excruciating length. Her entries bring to a jarring conclusion Giddins’s evocative portrait of a man and a historical moment, which would be even better if it were about 100 pages shorter.


Send comments to co@dadbyrn.com, Colby Glass, MAc, MLIS, PhDc, Professor Emeritus