How to win the war on Christmas

The war on Christmas is real. Some Christians suspect that the “war on Christmas” is just a symptom of a “war on Christians”, and they might be right. Christians are being mislead who is really behind it. There’s been a lot of propaganda to blame it on Muslims, in order to foment a war between Christians and Muslims that the Muslims are favored to win. Actually, it has to do with your own ruling class who set up the confrontation. Except for Wahabists in Saudi Arabia, and among them only the leadership—a tiny minority—the vast majority of Muslims worldwide don’t care if Christians celebrate Christmas. There are problems in Pakistan too, but that’s largely due to Saudi Arabs who ended up there after waging jihad in neighboring Afghanistan. They’re the same ones who blew up the Buddhist statues in the Bamiyan valley, so don’t feel too singled out.

Contrary to propaganda you might have heard, the Islamic Republic of Iran does not persecute Christians or interfere with their religious observations. Here’s a traditional Christmas celebration in Iran, broadcast by the state television network:

You can find more of them from private sources, so it’s not “Potemkin Village” propaganda.

Aleppo, Syria, has a large Christian population. Their Muslim neighbors don’t stop them from celebrating Christmas, only Saudi-backed ISIS did that while it occupied the country. Aside: please notice the colors on the flags, and compare them to the colors you see on flags in the institutional media. You are constantly being lied to regarding what really happened there. Your ruling class secretly sponsors ISIS; one of their objectives was to wipe out religious and ethnic minorities from Syria and Iraq in order to placate the xenophobic Saudis and ostensibly stabilize the region under Saudi rule.

It would be strange if Buddhists generally were offended by Christmas, given that typical Buddhist practices include training themselves not to react negatively to their experiences, and practicing empathy. Buddhist-majority countries like Thailand typically tolerate Christmas celebrations by Christian minorities.

There are some Hindu nationalists who resent religious minorities, but not a critical mass of them to impact Christmas celebrations in Goa and other Christian enclaves of India.

The Chinese government is repressive, but Chinese culture per se has long been fairly tolerant of many different religious practices, usually casual and often mixed together. In some parts of China Christmas is fairly jolly and more ostentatious than in the USA.

As far as I can tell, even most atheists don’t object to a secularized Christmas that many of them choose to celebrate. That might be a problem in itself since it displaces the actual religious holiday, but the two can certainly co-exist to the extent that practitioners are mindful of secularization and commercialization of their own practices. In other words, nobody’s forcing Frosty the Snowman on you.

Regardless of widespread tolerance for Christmas among most non-Christians, it’s pretty obvious that there are some influential people and groups who find Christmas distasteful. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, or groveling for acceptance of your holidays, I suggest a much different approach. One that might actually improve the situation. But first, bear with me as I put the situation into perspective, which has a lot to do with how the situation actually came into being.

Imagine a society in which:

  • Christians are mostly peasants or low-skilled workers.
  • Christians are not welcome at 1st or 2nd-tier universities, regardless of grades or test scores, especially not if their religious affiliation is easy to spot, such as if they graduated from a Christian high-school. It’s worth noting that in the Soviet Union, the lack of welcome was explicit.
  • If they do get in, they’ll keep their religious affiliations quiet.
  • There have been instances of professors harassing students for their Christian beliefs, and in a few cases, they’ve been expelled.
  • When Christians do become prosperous, they usually stop observing, and possibly even become hostile to their former affiliates.
  • Christians are relatively sparse among the professional classes compared to their numbers in the general population, and other-than-Christians are much more heavily represented relative to their numbers in the general population.
  • The few professionals who are Christian tend to keep quiet about it, out of fear or shame.
  • Aside from appearances for the sake of pretending to have something in common with average people, the political and ruling classes are almost entirely non-religious, and the highest of their ranks are almost entirely atheistic.
Showed up in an Afroamerican church with a photographer, then handed story to publicist, while exploring feasibility of political campaign. What do you think?
Photo courtesy Presidência do México (Flickr) via Wikimedia Commons

All of these bullet points are or have been true in various times and places. The ruling classes in most of the western countries have been usually been somewhere in the range between casually practicing but not particularly devout, to profoundly atheistic, for some centuries now. Scholars have noticed that some of them used formulaic God-talk in public speeches, but rarely or not at all in private letters. There have been some notable exceptions, but that’s just it, they were exceptions. Nowadays if anything the rule has fewer exceptions.

The Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands is a blatant fraud; the party marketed itself as Christian as a trust-building measure in the aftermath of WW2. This is a secular party actively replacing the Christian population of Germany with Muslim immigrants and shutting down or secularizing traditional public displays of Christian culture.

It’s also worth noting that the religion which the rich and famous and the political classes no longer practice is often something other than Christianity. These days a lot of them have pedigrees that never included any Christians.

What I am trying to get at is

Christians are an underclass in most countries where they live. More to the point, increasingly they are an unappreciated and even unwanted underclass. It has long been an illusion that the people in charge are like you and care about you and about the same things you care about. It doesn’t make sense to simultaneously accept an inferior role AND complain about losing the culture wars to post-Modernists and neoMarxists; things are going against you because you don’t run the system, you take orders and contribute to your own demise.

That’s an observation intended to be helpful, not critical. Some Christians have a sense that they should be an underclass, like the kinds of people that Jesus ministered to. If that’s the case, they have no basis to complain about the war on Christmas (or Christians), which explains their passivity. Regardless, that’s the basis of your war on Christmas. Your ruling class is overwhelmingly non-Christian, and furthermore, even the ones whose ancestors practiced Christianity are ashamed to associate with you.

If Christians believe that they should be poor, it turns into a self-fulfilling prophesy. You will never become prosperous unless you seek prosperity. You’ll never seek prosperity unless it occurs to you to do so.

Are Christians obliged to be poor, according to the gospels? Here are some Gospel stories and references that have been (mis?)interpreted that way:

  • The story of the rich man and Lazarus
  • The story of the rich man who congratulated himself for his abundant harvest and planned a life of luxury and ease, only to “lose his soul” that evening
  • The saying that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven
  • Jesus telling the rich young man to sell all his possessions and give the money to the poor

Calvinistic sects of Christianity tend to have the opposite idea: they tend to believe that wealth is a sign of God’s favor. One peculiarity of Calvinistic Christian sects is that they were early to ignore the Biblical prohibition on lending money for interest. As a result, they were early participants in the banking industry and therefor capitalism generally. One specific Calvinistic sect adhering to Dominionism goes further and asserts that Christians should actually take over and become the ruling class. (This is a lightning-rod for outrage, but to me seems no worse than the ruling class that actually is being the ruling class. You’ll report to one boss or another, and it’s to your advantage to report to a ruling class that is at least somewhat similar to yourself).

The result was not, however, Christian domination of wealth and finance but instead, former Christians abandon their religious practice wholesale as they become wealthier and obtain formal education from what are now overtly anti-Christian universities.

Often it turns into a strange cycle:

  • Poor people are more religious, and have more children, than rich people.
  • Some of them become rich.
  • If so they abandon religion.
  • Sometimes they devolve into coke-snorting party animals (ie, more present-oriented).
  • They stop having children, or sometimes if they do have any, they revert to poverty after the family wealth has been squandered.
  • They are replaced by formerly poor and religious people who repeat the cycle.

The full cycle usually takes several generations: grampa worked hard and put his children through college, dad got rich, son was lazy wastrel who lived off dad and then his inheritance, great-grandson (if any) grows up fatherless and impoverished.

Similar cycles occur among other religious sects, including ones that don’t embrace poverty as a virtue. It probably has to do with a correlation between religious practice or belief and present versus future-orientation, but the correlation is segmented:

  • Specific Christian sects that emphasize that your fate is a result of Divine action, instead of your own choices, tend to be present-oriented and tend to stay poor.
  • Other religious sects, Christian or otherwise, that emphasize more of a sense of conscientiousness and responsibility, that give their adherents reasons to look forward to rather than fear the future (ie, death), tend to be more future-oriented, produce better performers, and often accumulate wealth and education.
  • More generally, wealth is strongly correlated to specific religious affiliations. Zoroastrians aka Mazdayani are some of the wealthiest people on earth per-capita. Reform Jews include the highest concentration of billionaires worldwide. Hindus in the USA have the highest per-capita income but I suspect not net worth. I’m the other way around; high net worth but modest income. Lousy at finding compelling reasons for other people to give me money except when they make the mistake of taking the other side of a wager in asset markets.

The success of those who accumulate wealth and education erodes as first it’s passed along to generations that didn’t earn it themselves. They lose faith in future rewards, start becoming very present-oriented, and succumb to the temptation to pursue wealth for the sake of hedonism or power, and to assume or at least hope that hedonistic pleasures or power over others will lead to lasting happiness and fulfillment. Wealth is spiritually dangerous because it leads to temptations poor people don’t have to worry about. That’s what the Gospel is warning you about. Poor people don’t have to worry about cocaine addictions, high-maintenance mistresses, obsessions about money, or abusing their employees.

Poverty is not a virtue. The poor simply have fewer choices and temptations. If you’re impotent, chastity isn’t a virtue. Being virtuous is when you make good choices despite bad ones being within easy reach.

You could, as a conscious choice, pursue prosperity as a way of having choices and power to do good, without illusions that being rich will make you happy, or feel fulfilled.

Imagine:

  • Having lots of money in the bank and not spending it on reasons to be happy.
  • Being grateful for what you already have.
  • Saving money for opportunities when they happen.
  • Having money to have choices.
  • Doing what you want to do for a living, instead of what you have to do for a living. This will contribute far more to your happiness than “stuff”.
  • Leveraging your wealth for good. You could, for example, own a company that sells people products that improve their lives, employ people who need jobs, and treat your employees respectfully.

Now, how this strategy applies to Christmas:

  • Don’t buy stuff, from people who don’t respect you, with money you don’t have, for people who don’t want it, hoping they’ll reciprocate with feelings they don’t have.
  • If the beneficiaries of your gifts reciprocate at all, it will be with an ugly tie.
  • People love you, or not, because of the way they feel when you are in their lives.
  • Avoid giving wives, kids, or friends stuff. Give them your time and attention.
  • If you must give gifts for face-saving reasons, give small token gifts that will contribute to their enjoyment of life.
  • Preferably, things that aren’t bad for them, like candy or booze. Don’t give vices as gifts.
  • Don’t host extravagant parties.
  • Don’t buy gifts if you are already in debt! Tell your friends and family that you can’t afford gifts, because it’s the truth.
  • Don’t borrow money for gifts and entertaining! Don’t shop with a credit card!

Something I have heard is that the best gifts are things that people would buy for themselves. The problem with this theory is that they already do.

Even when they don’t, I’ve heard:

Don’t buy me anything. Give me the money so that I can buy myself exactly what I want.

People used to be ashamed to sound entitled like that, but they’re not anymore. Now we know what they really think.

Headline news:

An alarming number of shoppers are still paying off debt from last Christmas

Majority Of Americans Would Skip Holiday Gift-Giving, Survey Says

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For many people, giving and receiving gifts are one of the big parts of the holidays. However, a new survey shows that 69 percent of Americans would skip exchanging gifts if their family and friends agreed to it. The survey, conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of SunTrust Bank, also showed that 60 percent of those surveyed said they would spend more time with friends and family if they didn’t have to worry about buying or making gifts.

Then celebrate Christmas in ways that are meaningful (that usually means “non-commercial”):

  • Take your kids to visit elders. Sing carols to them like people used to do in the old days.
  • Take a goodie-bag to a sick friend or relative.
  • Call or write to someone you know to be lonely. When people are lonely, there’s usually a reason, such as having little value to offer others in exchange for their time and attention. So you give them enough time to make a call or letter and expect nothing in return.
  • Be kind and respectful to someone you don’t particularly like.
  • Invite military personnel to your home for Christmas supper.
  • Or buy gifts of necessary items (eg warm cloths) for military orphans.
  • Dedicate your acts of service to the Divine.

It’s a win-win situation. Your lower-key Christmas will attract less unwanted resentment. It’s less expensive, so it doesn’t contribute to impoverishing you and thereby relegating you to a despised underclass. And you put the meaning back into it, to make it really a special time of year, instead of a disappointment that makes people grumpy and depressed.

Enjoy a safe & jolly CHRISTMAS.

Welcome to left-brained hell!

Modern architecture, designed by le Corbusier, in Chandigarh, one of several planned cities in India.

I remember reading about Brasília when I was a boy. Brasília is Brazil’s capital. It was designed from scratch as a “new, planned city”, just like several others around the world. By many accounts, the city is ugly and boring. The feature montage I borrowed is misleading; take a closer look at those rows of monolithic slabs. Much of the city looks like that, or worse. A few key buildings in the central district have sculptural qualities, but most buildings throughout the city, including and especially apartment blocks and office buildings, are featureless boxes, hardly surprising given that the chief architect was the communist Oscar Niemeyer, who cited as his inspiration the French modernist architect Le Corbusier, notorious for his featureless monoliths.

Modern art, the inspiration for modern architecture. Composition II in Red, Blue, and Yellow, 1930, by Piet Mondrian. Post-modern art goes further; instead of being meaningless, it destroys existing meaning.

The city planners intentionally designed the city into different functional segments, instead of mixing activities as crowd-developed cities do. So, for example, if you’re in the hotel district as a visitor, you get to look at more hotels. The city was designed for driving, not walking, so pedestrians reportedly end up risking their lives dashing across thoroughfares and freeways. Between lack of pedestrian traffic and single-use zoning, there’s reportedly no significant night-life, which seems odd for a Latin-American country.

The overall plan of the city is the shape of an airplane. I don’t know how good the overland transportation facilities are, but due to some unusual geography, Brazil tends not to have extensive railroad networks. My guess is the city was designed to be served mostly by air traffic, and will be severely impacted when air traffic declines with rising fuel prices and aging air fleets.

Normal cities aren’t really “unplanned”; they ARE planned, by the conscious and unconscious choices of MANY people instead of by the conscious, excessively conceptual choices of just a few people. When an entrepreneur decides where to put his business, he thinks about what kinds of people doing what kinds of activities would be interested in his business. So, for example, an entrepreneur would put a hotel near business activities, entertainment and recreational facilities, and restaurants, instead of clustering all the hotels together.

So when a community is said to be “planned”, what that really means is that the planning has been centralized instead of dispersed. Here’s a recent story about a planned community, only they’re calling it a “smart city”:

Bill Gates buys big chunk of land in Arizona to build ‘smart city’

PHOENIX – One of Bill Gates’ investment firms has spent $80 million to kickstart the development of a brand-new community in the far West Valley. … “Belmont will create a forward-thinking community with a communication and infrastructure spine that embraces cutting-edge technology, designed around high-speed digital networks, data centers, new manufacturing technologies and distribution models, autonomous vehicles and autonomous logistics hubs,” Belmont Partners said in a news release. Bianca Buono , KPNX 11:04 AM. MST November 13, 2017

My take:

  • The USA is already over-built. We don’t need any more infrastructure; we can’t even keep what’s already built in working order!
  • American demographics are increasingly 3rd world. We’re running out of engineers but we have plenty of unskilled people and chronically unemployed people. Is that who’s going to live in Bill’s model city? What are they going to do with their high-tech toys?
  • We’re undoubtedly on the wrong side of the peak resource curve. Why would anyone build a resource-intensive new city extremely dependent on air-conditioning and piped-in water? Where’s the water going to come from, and will it be a depleting resource? Wouldn’t it make more sense to re-engineer existing cities for resource efficiency?

My prediction: the planned city, if it’s ever built, will end up being a costly sink-hole for money and resources, and an ugly, unpleasant place to live.

  • I wouldn’t invest.
  • I wouldn’t live there.
  • I wouldn’t even be curious to visit, unless to document the fiasco for posterity.
  • For long-term viability, I’d find somewhere with arable land, nearby economic production (hard to find in western countries anymore), and several lines of transportation including rail.

Bill Gates is very intelligent, probably genius. He’s skilled at math and science. My guess though is that he has an extreme “left-brain” cognitive profile: he thinks excessively in terms of pre-existing concepts, and isn’t very creative. His company’s consumer products are a reflection of that bias in his thinking.

It might be genetic, or it might be the result of living in a culture that is itself getting excessively “left-brained”. Keep reading my website for insights that are a little more cognitively-balanced.

Facing a life-threatening condition without despair

The problem is never the problem; the problem is your reaction to the problem.

If we had a big party just before we expired, with friends and family, all smiles and laughter to the end, and went out with a song in our hearts, then even death wouldn’t seem particularly tragic. It would just seem like the end of a mundane process.

It IS just the end of a process.

Death is not a problem; the problem is suffering as a result of pain and fear.

It’s not the end of any thing. As far as we’re aware, nothing comes into existence, nothing goes out of existence, things just change form. There is no self; it’s just a purposeful illusion that helps us to maintain biological integrity. When our life’s work is finished, nothing that’s real disappears!

तत् त्वम सि — Thou art that
You are the Kosmos looking back on itself. Not just part of it; you are the whole thing experiencing itself. Your sense of separateness is an illusion caused by thoughts localized around lots of different perspectives that don’t communicate directly.

There is no separate “self”; it’s an illusion. You needn’t fear losing something that doesn’t exist.

We are Awareness experiencing streams of sensory input. Sensory experiences come in and out of Awareness. But our true nature, Awareness, exists outside time and has no moving parts to wear out!

What happens is that we fall in love with individual streams of sensory input, start identifying with them, and develop an “ego”. The ego is a purposeful illusion, that helps us maintain biological boundaries and give us an incentive to fight for survival as long as possible. That part is good.

The only bad part is identifying with something that never did have any tangible existence, and then worrying about something going away, that never actually existed.

Ultimately, it’s all good. Suffering implies enjoyment. Death implies birth. Sickness implies health. We tend to think of all these conditions as “opposites”, but they are necessarily two sides of the same coin; only in your imagination, within conceptual boundaries that exist only in your mind, can you have one without the other. It’s mind-boggling, but if we never experienced suffering, we wouldn’t recognize bliss. As any artist can tell you, there’s no foreground without a background!

Without suffering there is no compassion. There wouldn’t even be love, because love implies feelings like care & loss that wouldn’t exist if there was no need for care and no possibility of loss.

Mindfulness of suffering reminds me to be compassionate to everyone, including even people I don’t like. I remember that they suffer too, and that their behaviors that cause me to suffer are a result of trying to avoid suffering themselves.

Without suffering, there would also be no compassion; we’d all be completely selfish. Some would argue “no loss”. Are they so sure about that? Would our experiences be that much less rich for not ever having experienced compassion?

What about courage? Is that worth experiencing?

If you can experience life from something closer to a God’s-eye point of view, you embrace it all, even the suffering. You kiss the wheel of Samsara, the cycle of birth, suffering and enjoyment, and death. Samsara is nothing more or less than the other side of Nirvana. Their dual nature is an illusion of your mind, which separates things out with conceptual boundaries that exist only in your mind so that it can process reality in workable chunks.

Ask for help handling pain

Pain is our friend; its purpose is to alert us to harm that needs our attention. If it’s chronic and associated with a condition you already know about, then it’s no longer needed. You can ask your doctor for help to at least take the edge off it.

Handle pain by handling suffering

I am myself in chronic pain. I don’t take any pain medications because I don’t feel any need. Maybe someday I will, but not today.

Suffering is not the same thing as pain; suffering is more like mental anguish. If you can reduce suffering, your tolerance of pain increases. This isn’t my opinion; it’s an experimentally-derived empirical fact. If people are in a good mood, their tolerance of pain is much higher than if they’re already miserable. This is how my own pain is quite tolerable to me. I am content, and happy most of the time.

You can reduce suffering by dissociating from the body. Sri Ramana Maharshi maintained peace of mind through the process of cancer. He would look at his aching arm, where the tumor was, and calmly remark “poor arm”. I do the same thing with my chronic pain. “My body is in pain. I’m OK. I enjoy life. I have work yet to accomplish (finishing raising a young daughter!), and I am grateful for the time I have left to work on it”.

  • Happiness solves all problems. Keep your spirits as high as you can.
  • Start noticing blessings. What you are grateful for, contributes to your happiness. What you take for granted, doesn’t.
  • Spend time with family and friends, doing things you enjoy, up to your ability. It doesn’t have to be expensive or extravagant. Just a phone call will raise your spirits. If that isn’t possible, recall warm, happy memories. Think loving thoughts of them, and they will ease your own mind.
  • Mindfulness training can help reduce anxiety caused by over-thinking things you have no control over.
  • Exercise if you’re up to it, and just time outdoors, at least 10 minutes twice a day, can help keep your spirits up.

You are a part of the team that’s fighting for your life. Your immune system is working hard to destroy disease and heal your body. Enjoy the comfort of rest and relaxation when you need them. This fight is part of your divine purpose.

This post is dedicated with love to my wife, who has been living with stage 4 cancer for about 5 years now, and with the warm hand of friendship across the aether that connects us to Justin Raimondo who has been diagnosed with late-stage adeenocaricinoma cancer. Justin is the editor of Antiwar.com. He has dedicated his life to the causes of peace and freedom.

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What self-driving cars mean for your future…

Revised destination: officeCar computer announcing over-ride of destination, Minority Report

The movie Minority Report isn’t really about mutants who have nightmares about future events; it’s about predictive AI (artificial intelligence). My guess is that the mutants are a way of making the AI seem sexier than something intangible that’s hard to visualize. Or, maybe the author didn’t want to tip you off any more than necessary to prime you for your future. Unlike in the movie, it won’t go away after being abused.

“Fully Self-Driving Cars Are Here” – Waymo To Begin Testing Driver-Free Autonomous Taxis In Phoenix

For most of civilized history, personal mobility has been a luxury. Most people never strayed far from where they were born, and travel was an ordeal. The whole concept of owning a car and driving wherever you want within a huge territory would have seemed like an impossible luxury.

For most of civilized history, you needed permission to travel from one place to another. In some empires, like Old China or the Inca Empire, most people were not allowed to travel except between home and work; in other words, you couldn’t just ask and get permission; the answer was a standing “NO!”. Nowadays, although there are some registration requirements left, more in some countries than others, you don’t need to ask permission up-front to travel or change residences.

Nowadays, most middle-people in the “western” countries take that level of personal mobility for granted. Now I have some bad news: it’s going away.

  • In the relatively near future, the cost of transportation will be relatively high compared to now.
  • Owning cars will be a luxury.
  • Positive and negative incentives will motivate people to give up owning a personal car.
  • Car transportation will be a rented service. You’ll call up a car you don’t own, it will take you to your destination, then drive itself away to the next customer.
  • As you lose control over your own vehicle—which is already starting—someone else will have the authority to over-ride your travel plans. This is already starting. Eventually you will be able to travel only with permission, just like in the old days.
  • Your transportation habits will be monitored. This has already started; chips in your car and your cell phone are already informing on you.
  • Once enough people go along with the plan more-or-less willingly, it will start being imposed and enforced through regulations and taxes.
  • Anyone whose job is primarily driving will probably lose it.

Personally, I accept loss of ownership of means of travel. What bugs me is loss of freedom of movement. My guess is that most of the time, we’ll get implicit permission to move around where we want to go, but live under the threat of having it taken away if we step out of line. And our smart gizmos will constantly be watching us.

How do I know this? I’m tuned in to the right channels and can read between the lines.

It will take some intelligence to come up with counter-strategies to go about our business, tip off the AI as little as possible, and make the best of our remaining choices. Subscribe and pick my brains.

Current state of financial system explained

This is X22 interviewing Jim Rickards. It’s a year old but still relevant, and in fact covers some important topics. Rickards’ claim to fame is that he was legal counsel for Long Term Capital Management when the hedge fund went bankrupt. As a result, he has a deeper understanding than most of the vulnerabilities of financial markets.

In the interview, he mentions some financial crises that didn’t crash the markets. The markets dropped a little, but recovered quickly. That’s only because of market interventions by central banks and their banking partners. Arguably, each of those market interventions made the whole system more fragile by creating moral hazard for taking on too much risk. Eventually something is going to happen that will overwhelm efforts to intervene.

What we don’t know is when it will happen. We don’t even quite know exactly what will happen, though we can make an intelligent guess of a rough approximation. The right way to approach those unknowns is to make yourself less fragile against known hazards of

  • default: someone owes you money and doesn’t pay you back. That somebody could even be a bank or a broker.
  • falling asset prices: the market price of assets you own falls, but any debt you have will still be worth the same! You might end up owing more than you own.
  • price inflation: the buying power of your money is falling. Sometimes quite rapidly.

The way to deal with the hazards of a doomed financial system is to keep some of your net worth in precious metal, because it has ZERO counterparty risk (assuming it’s physical coins or bars that you have in your own possession, not an intangible promise), some in ready physical cash in as safe a place as you can keep it away from hazards like fires, floods, pests that chew paper, and theft, and whatever you need for routine transactions in the safest place you can put it–probably an “insured” account at a bank. Check your bank’s credit rating. It’s no guarantee that your bank won’t fail, but at least you can do due diligence to make sure that yours isn’t the first domino to fall!

Someone complained in the comments under this video that Jim Rickards carries the party line about Russia invading the Crimea (for those who aren’t aware, Russia did not invade the Crimea. They have treaty rights to it, and the locals even voted to remain under Russian rule, partly because there are many local Russians, but also because they don’t want to be part of the heavily-indebted and hopelessly corrupt Ukraine). Unfortunately, someone as well-connected as Mr. Rickards is under intense pressure to tow the party line. You burn bridges by speaking truth to power. We’re just lucky that someone as well-connected as he is, is willing to talk to the serfs like us. Most people at his station in life would dole out bad advice through one of their hirelings.

Make sure it’s good as gold!

Owning precious metals that you have in your own possession is one of the best ways to protect yourself from financial crises involving either or both of default or inflation.

All bets are off if you “own” gold on paper but don’t actually have possession of it. In a crisis, which is precisely when gold is useful, there’s a big risk that whoever owes you the gold won’t be able to give it to you, because at any one time, there is more gold owed than actually exists. It’s a little like a game of musical chairs, except the odds are far worse!

One more hazard is fake gold. The element tungsten is close enough in atomic weight to gold that when cast into coins or bars and plated with gold, it’s hard to distinguish them from gold coins or bars non-destructively.

In a case that happened in Canada recently, a jewelry merchant discovered the gold bar he had just bought from the Royal Bank of Canada wasn’t gold after his goldsmith broke a tool trying to mill it for the jeweler.

The jeweler alerted the news-media when the RBC declined to do anything about the problem. First of all, the jeweler was out the money he spent on the bar. But second, he and his goldsmith realized that most customers don’t attempt to mill their gold into jewelry; they keep it in the original packaging and toss it into a safe for long-term storage. Nobody will realize they’ve been cheated until long after it’s too late to do anything about it.

Because of this risk, it’s up to the mints and the dealers to maintain high standards of quality control to keep fake gold out of their business transactions. Somewhere in the process one or two high-profile gold dealers that were assumed to be trustworthy failed to keep fake gold out of their system. Caveat emptor.


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A big decision

eigr peeked out the door and looked down a hallway whose walls were covered in carved wood paneling. He could hear activity going on in a room distant from his own. He could smell food, too. He was still in the guest-room where he’d regained consciousness the night before, restless from waiting. He’d heard activity…

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The knockout game is back.

The “knockout game” is back. That’s when young hoodlums make a game out of sucker-punching an unsuspecting victim, trying to knock him or her out with one blow. They do it to score admiration from their peers. If you’ve seen crime-surveillance video of one of these attacks, you might notice other hoodlums standing nearby watching the action. Sometimes they rob the incapacitated victim, or pose with the victim for selfies!

At least one case I have heard of resulted in the death of the victim.

Both men and women have been attacked, and even the elderly.

I expect attacks like these to get worse as social breakdown continues.

Take action:

  • If you haven’t had self-defense training and in particular situational-awareness training, get some.
  • You can find low-cost, online classes in basic self-defense, through venues like Udemy.com. Something is better than nothing. They can teach you enough to save your life.
  • If you have the resources, consider serious, in-person self-defense training.
  • Encourage your loved ones to do the same. Warn them about the danger.

 

 

 

Who is raising your kids?

ho spends more time with your kids: you, or daycare workers and teachers? What about you versus the television or computer? American elementary school students spend about 6 1/2 to just over 7 hours in school each day. Some of them stay after school for after-school programs, some come home to an empty house, and…

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Our global central planners say these are the skills you need to thrive.

The World Economic Forum works for the globalists to squeeze more flesh and blood out of the human livestock. They organize and communicate ideas for increasing economic output, and find ways of reducing the cost impact of social and demographic changes mandated by their bosses. I’ve discovered that it’s a good idea to listen to what they have to say, because they have the deep pockets and work with the right people to make things happen.

Some of their advice is good, and some of it horrible. My guess is that the better advice is the result of their brainstorming ways to run economies more efficiently, and the bad advice the result of trying to make their boss’es bad ideas work.

Here’s some of the better advice, along with my commentary:

These are the skills you should learn that will pay off forever

Here’s the short list:

Emotional intelligence (EQ): This is a bad name for a combination of good emotional self-management and empathy. Basically, if you manage your own emotions well, so that you have emotions that motivate you instead of causing trouble, that’s good, and if you can help people you work with (especially your boss!) manage their emotions, that’s even better. It’s called “EQ” in comparison to “IQ”, but for anyone of at least average intelligence, it contributes more to career success than IQ. Basically, if you’re smart enough to be competent, this is where the next biggest payoff will be.
Time management: Another misnomer. You can’t really “manage time” aside from allocating it, or wasting it. This is really about scheduling important tasks first, and making sure that your definition of “importance” covers future payoffs. What tends to happen instead is that people fall into habits (eg checking email too often), and work on routine matters instead of what’s really important. Another problem is when people find reasons to work on something other than that unpleasant, but important task.
Listening: The author already brought up the important part: keeping your attention focused on the other person, instead of what you’re going to say next.
Saying No: Oddly enough, sometimes you have to say “no” to avoid disappointing other people! Sometimes this one is hard for men, because saying “no” could be interpreted to mean that you’re lacking power or competence to do the task. Worse, that might even be true! But keeping the commitments you make is a much bigger payoff, and that means that sometimes you have to say “no” to commitments you can’t keep.
Asking for help: This is another hard one for men, because it violates the taboo on male vulnerability. You’re not supposed to let out anything that might be construed as a weakness, like, say, not knowing how to do something, or not being able to manage something alone. Women not only have no trouble with this, they often use it to their advantage (cue woman asking big, strong man to help her open jar as she bats her eyes at him). However, just like saying “no”, it’s a bigger win to keep your commitments, than to not ask for help, and then end up FAILING.
Getting high-quality sleep: This is mostly a matter of knowing when to call it quits for the day, and being able to wind down and clear your mind for the evening. Sounds simple but what most people do is they over-stimulate their brains with television, internet use, or texting late in the evening.
Knowing when to shut up: Judging from the author’s comments, this is about not needing other people to validate you. You can be right, and know you’re right, and not need for anyone else to admit being wrong. Sometimes its a matter of doing the right thing BUT letting other people who are wrong save face.
Taking initiative: This can be tricky on two counts. One is overcoming fear of taking initiative–or in some cases a habit of not taking initiative–if your childhood was over-controlled. Another problem can be when you’re in an over-controlled, bureaucratic work environment (in that case, you might consider finding a different job). One thing that helps is when you take initiative that makes your BOSS look good. Then (s)he’s more likely to back you up.
Staying positive: This can be a tricky one. It doesn’t mean only telling people what they want to hear. It also doesn’t mean being Mr. Optimist and then irritating and frustrating other people when they KNOW that things are going wrong. It means that when things do go wrong, you admit it but don’t catastrophize, don’t complain about it, and don’t blame other people over it. It’s more like “I see there’s a big problem here. I want to help solve it. Let’s figure out what went wrong, and cut our losses.” It’s also staying in a good mood so as to encourage other people who are already feeling under stress. To do this, you need to manage your own reactions to problems.

These are not skills you can learn in college, but you can learn them here. Subscribe!

Flynn…Mueller…Russiagate Hoax…Gülen terrorist network: Sibel Edmonds connects the dots!

There is a lot of back-story here. Here is my executive summary for those of you who need it:

 

  • There is a gigantic black-ops network operating primarily in Central Asia, but ultimately worldwide.
  • It doesn’t have an official name but is variously known as Gülen Movement, Hizmet Hareketi, or Cemaat.
  • They operate under the cover of a network of “moderate” Islamic schools which they use for recruiting. It’s a model similar to Muslim Brotherhood but Turkish not Arab.
  • The CIA hires it to attack Russia’s “weak underbelly” along its border with central Asia.
  • Sibel Edmonds stumbled onto it during her work at the FBI, but when she tried to blow the whistle on it, she got fired and hit with a gag order! She has hinted that it has operations in the USA involving US politicians, but she can’t tell us the details. This is at the heart of what is popularly known as “the Swamp”.
  • Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn got involved when the Flynn Intel Group was hired to investigate Gülen. This isn’t a secret and he did not hide his activities; Flynn openly published an editorial on the topic.
  • The Deep State struck back with an “investigation” designed to harass him and force him to resign, and a media smear campaign.
  • Harassment under the cover of an “investigation” has caused a financial burden not to mention a great deal of stress to Michael Flynn and his family.
  • Edmonds has discovered conflicts-of-interest that require Robert Mueller to immediately resign as special counsel on the so-called “investigation”.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. The connection to Russia is that Gülen is used to harass them in a part of the world that is rich in mineral resources. The whole Russiagate thing is nonsense which is why the “investigation” hasn’t come up with any credible evidence of wrongdoing. That’s not its purpose; it’s real purpose is harassment and a pretext for a soft or possibly even hard coup. None of this is in our national interests; it funds corruption and terrorism.

SPREAD THE WORD. MAKE THIS GO VIRAL. MAINSTREAM MEDIA WON’T COVER THE REAL STORY BECAUSE THEY’RE ON-CONTRACT WITH THE DEEP STATE.

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Help out Michael Flynn and his family under the duress of legal harassment.


Background reading:

Yes, they really want to abolish marriage & family. Here’s why.

I recently spotted a post about Israeli politician Merav Michaeli and her advocacy of forcibly abolishing marriage and family.

Equality, by the way, is a bad meme. Evolution towards higher and higher levels of biology requires distinguishing between failure and success.

I’d like to respond to the numerous astonished and scandalized reactions to her proposals.

  • This isn’t a joke. She’s serious.
  • She and her feminist lobby have made some progress towards their goals. Israel now has mandatory schooling for 3 year olds, and the law is scheduled to be enforced nationwide this year and the next. They’ve got more agenda items in progress. The point of mandatory “schooling” for 3 year olds is to shift child-rearing from parents, and particularly mothers, to the state. Ms. Michaeli is on-record for advocating that child-rearing be a government function.
  • This is nothing new. She’s not the first to advocate abolishing marriage and family, and her predecessors go back hundreds if not thousands of years. Plato at least advocated abolishing marriage and family among the ruling class.
  • It’s been tried on an experimental basis. In the early Soviet Union, some peasant families were forcibly dissolved, the members being sent to different collectives.
  • In Israel, the experiment was performed on a basis that was voluntary at least among adults in the Kibbutzim (Israeli communes). Children, however, didn’t have a choice to grow up in one. The collective child-rearing practices of the Kibbutzim mostly died out in the 1980s.
  • Ms. Michaeli and her feminist organizations are openly lobbying to turn the whole country into one big Kibbutz, with no right to opt out.
  • Ms. Michaeli is not the first or only politician who favors abolition of family and marriage; she’s just one of the few who openly admits it. They exist in other countries too.
  • Outside of Israel, politicians like Ms. Michaeli are still in hiding. However, they’re already lobbying, and they’re getting help from the Hollywood and public schooling indoctrination machines.

Here are some notes on her TEDx speech:

I want all secular states to totally eliminate all registration and regulation of marriage. I want to cancel the very concept of marriage.

It’s all about her. Why should the rest of the 6.5 billion people on the planet care about what SHE wants?!

“Simone de Beauvoire”

Why should a woman who was sexually repulsed by and sexually jealous of men, whose only relationship with a man (ironically, a marxist gigolo at that) was one of a platonic room-mate, decide what’s good for women who want to have relationships with men?

More generally, why have so many women thrown their lots in with the lesbian mafia?

De Beauvoire was, by the way, as radical as Ms. Michaeli. She was adamant that women shouldn’t be permitted to marry or raise children even if they wanted to.

“…HIS children…”

She keeps saying that over and over. HIS children (not “ours” or even “mine”). She seems to be repulsed by the whole concept of motherhood. I’ve witnessed this phenomenon among some other feminists too.

“Unpaid work”

She means “untaxed productivity”. When women work at home, or on a subsistence farm which is the case in many parts of the world, their transactions aren’t easily taxable. Getting women into wage-paying transactions was the real reason that governments began subsidizing and promoting feminists. It was (and remains) an economic scheme, not really a philosophical or ideological idea motivated by some sense of what really is for the better.

The real motivation for abolishing marriage and family is the same that farmers have for separating hens and roosters, cows and bulls, and artificially raising chicks and calves instead of letting their parents raise them. We are human livestock.

It just so happens though that there is some small fraction of the population that are keen on the idea because of their own personal psychology or sexuality (among other things, they’re losing their parenting instincts just like highly domesticated animals do), and willing to promote it.

…We have cut the links between child and parent, and between man and man, and between man and woman. No one dares trust a wife or a child or a friend any longer. But in the future there will be no wives and no friends. Children will be taken from their mothers at birth, as one takes eggs from a hen. The sex instinct will be eradicated. Procreation will be an annual formality like the renewal of a ration card. We shall abolish the orgasm. Our neurologists are at work upon it now. There will be no loyalty, except loyalty towards the Party. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother. There will be no laughter, except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. There will be no art, no literature, no science. When we are omnipotent we shall have no more need of science. There will be no distinction between beauty and ugliness. There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — for ever.’

George Orwell, 1984

The world that Merav Michaeli and her allies are creating will be an ugly and unhappy one. Even for the “farmers”, that is members of the ruling class, since they have nannies to raise their children and so are already imposing the bad idea on themselves.

I don’t have a solution, just a warning. My only suggestion is to resist.

More dangerous than real enemies

Austin’s attention zeroed in on Jason as he spotted him heading into the men’s locker room. He felt his muscles tense. He had an intense urge to punch Jason’s face bloody. He followed him into the room. Most of the crew had already headed home; this late there wouldn’t be much traffic in and out….

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Public schools: broken, or world-class?

I feel for this man:

“The System Is Broken”: Angry Baltimore Dad Lashes Out As 12th Grader Tests At 4th Grade Math Level

He says:

“They failed my son,” said Able. “Not just my son, a whole lot of kids. The system is broken. They need to stop and fix it.”

The school district says:

“We provide a unique environment that is designed to empower students, nurture a sense of belonging and gives teachers autonomy to establish a strong culture of learning. Our faculty and staff are dedicated professionals who work diligently to ensure that all students receive the best education and our best efforts.”

Which is it? Broken, or “the best education”? Well, first ask yourself what the standard is for  “the best education”. You’ll find that there isn’t one, and therefor the claim is meaningless.

The schools local to where I live use a lot of flattering superlatives to describe themselves. It wasn’t my idea, but my wife succumbed to social pressure to send one of our kids to a local public school for a few years. It was a catastrophe, and probably psychologically scarred him for life. I’m still working on undoing the damage.

Aside from the bullying and other horrors, I encountered:

  • Notes home from the teachers using “invented” (non-standard) spellings.
  • teachers who have no idea how to teach kids to read. They were doing bizarre practices like weekly word lists, where the whole class would go over a list of words every day for a week, hoping that they would learn to associate the written word with the spoken word. There were absolutely no decoding strategies, like “sound it out” taught. By mid 2nd-grade, most of the students were still profoundly illiterate. The minority of readers, like our son, were mostly the ones who learned to read from activities at home.
  • teachers who are profoundly innumerate. They can’t do arithmetic accurately or efficiently, and therefor they can’t teach it either.
  • teachers who are political and social radicals. The discovery that numerous Antifa members who were arrested for rioting turned out to be public school teachers should not have been a surprise to anyone who pays any attention to what’s been going on in the public school system for a long time now. We saw evidence of radical political activism decades ago. Even back then, the principal sent home notes reminding us not to refer to “my son” or “our daughter”; you were supposed to say “I am the caregiver of Suzy”. Xie was offended by references to biological relationships or gender. One of the teachers was a 300+ lb genderqueer who constantly wore a surgical mask and claimed to be allergic to men. I remember one poster on the wall had depictions of fatherless, “feminist” living arrangements (single mother, daughter-mother-grandmother, lesbian couple and children, multiple women and children in a “feminist” commune situation, etc), and a caption that said “Families come in all shapes and sizes”.
  • a principal who claimed that basing grades on test scores and homework completion was “racist” (sic) and “illegal” (sic). She claimed that grades were based on “ability versus effort”, which in effect meant grading students prejudicially judged to be smarter more harshly than students prejudicially judged to be less able. In other words, grades had nothing to do with actual performance.
  • a school superintendent who was profoundly incompetent and borderline illiterate. She was eventually fired not for incompetence, but because one of her cronies was caught defrauding the school system. The system is in fact plagued with chronic embezzlement.

To be clear I’m not claiming all teachers have these problems. In fact, some teachers are themselves victimized by their schools. Some common problems I have heard about:

  • Workplace bullying
  • Getting blamed for problems and performance gaps they didn’t create and have no control over
  • Being forced to comply with inane and cruel regulations, like limiting bathroom breaks for special-needs students whom it is unreasonable to expect to plan their potty breaks.
  • Rewards doled out for reasons other than actual merit. This is one way schools end up with incompetent teachers; the competent ones look for employers who will treat them better.

In some regards, even the administrators were bullied and harassed by bad policies, like holding them responsible for the performance of their students, but giving them no control over which ones they got. Another problem was that the administrators would be punished if certain protected classes of students were punished more often than other classes, without regard to actual commission of offenses. As a result, the whole schools end up plagued with violent incidents that administrators don’t know how to control without the possibility of getting into trouble themselves.

I don’t have a solution, because I don’t control the system. If I did, it wouldn’t be broken. If you happen to live in the USA or a few other countries, you have the option of opting out to either private school, or in some cases homeschooling. In some US states and most countries, homeschooling is not an option. In many districts, private schools are little better than public because the same government sets the standards for both and dominates the process for designing textbooks.

We opted out after the situation turned into constant harassment of our son. I have a lot of posts about homeschooling to share.

This is a contrary indicator

At the risk of being Captain Obvious:

Morgan Stanley: “Client Cash Is At Its Lowest Level” As Institutions Dump Stocks To Retail

—Zero Hedge

Two bad signs. Lack of ready cash means investors might be forced to sell securities to raise cash. It also means excessive optimism. Institutions selling and retail investors buying means that securities are flowing from stronger hands to weaker hands.

I’m not claiming that the stock market is either about to crash, or to enter a bear market. It might, or might not. I suspect it’s more likely to than not, but there’s always something I don’t know. I wouldn’t know if the Federal Reserve were about to inject a lot of liquidity into the market, for instance. By the way, the graphic of a chart that I used as a feature image for the article is purely symbolic and doesn’t refer to anything specific! As of this writing, nothing has crashed (yet).

But I do know there are other ways to invest, and there are smart ways to manage risk. I’ll go over them in a report I’m working on for subscribers. I hope I finish it before anything does happen!

Earning income in the post-employment economy

Two hikers ran into a bear, who started chasing them. One of the hikers yelled to the other one “You can’t outrun a bear!”. The other one yelled back “I don’t have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you!” –Old joke Question: “What can I do to help the poor?” Ayn Rand:…

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Millenial men, buck this trend…

Millennials Are Delaying Marriage Because Men Aren’t Earning Enough

Economists and social scientists have gathered multitudes of data about Millennials’ tendency to delay the traditional milestones of maturity (starting a career, getting married, buying a home, having kids) in favor of a prolonged adolescence.

But in a new study examining household formation patterns in the US, Pew Research Center has isolated the biggest factor behind the rise in those households without a partner or spouse: “The declining ability of men to earn a salary large enough to sustain a family.”

No surprise to me; “good jobs” are getting sparse, and the lack of enough to go around is probably impacting men more than women.

…men are more reluctant to marry and start families unless they’re earning above a threshold, which Pew identified as $40,000, the Hill reported.

I would bet a cookie that it’s more likely that women are more reluctant to marry them if it doesn’t look like they can support a family. In fact, I would bet it’s hard even to just get dates!

I don’t have a quick tip to pass along. My advice for the moment would simply be to make a plan to earn a “livable” income, and make it a high priority.

A new friend

Lina and Azr were rescued from a deadly riot in Seranand City by a young stranger. With the help of another young man, they’ve dragged the wounded stranger to the safety of Lina’s cousin’s home nearby. eigr felt a persistent little nudge. He wished someone would stop bothering him and let him sleep. Now that…

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Warning for November 4th, 2017

These handbills, and a similar version, are all over riot-prone neighborhoods of Seattle. I ran into them coming back from lunch to pick up my wife.

Newsweek calls reports of the events a “right-conspiracy theory” (sic). If they mention them at all after they happen, they’ll be construed as “peaceful protests” even if they turn into riots as is likely given that Antifa has been caught distributing information about makeshift weapons, and some members caught on camera showing off firearms.

Here is a list of cities where events are planned.

The posters and the organizational website explicitly state that regime-change is planned. There might actually be one, but it won’t be events in the street that overthrow the current administration; it would more likely be a high-level coup, and it will take a while to materialize. Roger Stone is on record in several broadcasts saying that a plan is afoot for staging a coup via a phoney indictment from Robert Mueller (in order to set the president up for an impeachment), and Stephen Bannon was recently quoted as saying that he estimates the president has about a 30% chance of finishing his term.

The purpose of having Antifa AND OTHER GROUPS on the streets is to create the illusion that the coup is actually a popular revolution. This is standard operating procedure for staging what are popularly known as COLOR REVOLUTIONS.

Stay away. Mixing it up with Antifa and its allies won’t help the president, the country, or anybody else; it will only get spun by the media to create sympathy for the RIOTERS.

If you live in one of the cities where events are planned, plan any and all travel to avoid likely locations for riots. Warn your family and friends. The news media is covering up and misleading.

STAY SAFE. KEEP YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS SAFE.

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