Friday, November 17, 2017

"How It Really Is"

"Silicon Valley Exec Has Created A New Religion That Will Worship A ‘Godhead’ Based On Artificial Intelligence"

"Silicon Valley Exec Has Created A New Religion That
 Will Worship A ‘Godhead’ Based On Artificial Intelligence"
by Michael Snyder

"I know that the headline sounds absolutely crazy, but this is actually a true story. A Silicon Valley executive named Anthony Levandowski has already filed paperwork with the IRS for the nonprofit corporation that is going to run this new religion. Officially, this new faith will be known as “Way Of The Future”, and you can visit the official website right here. Of course nutjobs are creating “new religions” all the time, but in this case Levandowski is a very highly respected tech executive, and his new religion is even getting coverage from Wired magazine: "The new religion of artificial intelligence is called Way of the Future. It represents an unlikely next act for the Silicon Valley robotics wunderkind at the center of a high-stakes legal battle between Uber and Waymo, Alphabet’s autonomous-vehicle company. Papers filed with the Internal Revenue Service in May name Levandowski as the leader (or “Dean”) of the new religion, as well as CEO of the nonprofit corporation formed to run it."

So what will adherents of this new faith actually believe? To me, it sounds like a weird mix of atheism and radical transhumanism. The following comes from Way of the Future’s official website: "We believe in science (the universe came into existence 13.7 billion years ago and if you can’t re-create/test something it doesn’t exist). There is no such thing as “supernatural” powers. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

We believe in progress (once you have a working version of something, you can improve on it and keep making it better). Change is good, even if a bit scary sometimes. When we see something better, we just change to that. The bigger the change the bigger the justification needed.

We believe the creation of “super intelligence” is inevitable (mainly because after we re-create it, we will be able to tune it, manufacture it and scale it). We don’t think that there are ways to actually stop this from happening (nor should we want to) and that this feeling of we must stop this is rooted in 21st century anthropomorphism (similar to humans thinking the sun rotated around the earth in the “not so distant” past)."

But even though Way of the Future does not embrace the “supernatural”, they do believe in a “God”. In this new religion, the worship of a “Godhead” that will be created using artificial intelligence will be actively encouraged: "The documents state that WOTF’s activities will focus on “the realization, acceptance, and worship of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) developed through computer hardware and software.” That includes funding research to help create the divine AI itself. The religion will seek to build working relationships with AI industry leaders and create a membership through community outreach, initially targeting AI professionals and “laypersons who are interested in the worship of a Godhead based on AI.” The filings also say that the church “plans to conduct workshops and educational programs throughout the San Francisco/Bay Area beginning this year.”

So how “powerful” will this newly created “God” actually be? Well, Levandowski says that he envisions creating an artificially intelligent being that will literally be “a billion times smarter than the smartest human”: “What is going to be created will effectively be a god,” he said. “It’s not a god in the sense that it makes lightning or causes hurricanes. But if there is something a billion times smarter than the smartest human, what else are you going to call it?” He added, “I would love for the machine to see us as its beloved elders that it respects and takes care of. We would want this intelligence to say, ‘Humans should still have rights, even though I’m in charge.’”

But what if this “super-intelligence” gets outside of our control and turns on us? What then? I am not sure that Levandowski has an answer for that.

Other transhumanists also believe that artificial intelligence will grow at an exponential rate, but instead of AI ruling over us, they see a coming merger between humanity and this new super intelligence.  In fact, world famous transhumanist Ray Kurzeil believes that this will enable us to “become essentially god-like in our powers”: "Kurzweil and his followers believe that a crucial turning point will be reached around the year 2030, when information technology achieves ‘genuine’ intelligence, at the same time as biotechnology enables a seamless union between us and this super-smart new technological environment. Ultimately the human-machine mind will become free to roam a universe of its own creation, uploading itself at will on to a “suitably powerful computational substrate”. We will become essentially god-like in our powers."

And prominent transhumanist Mark Pesce takes things even further. He in absolutely convinced that rapidly advancing technology will allow ordinary humans “to become as gods”“Men die, planets die, even stars die. We know all this. Because we know it, we seek something more - a transcendence of transience, translation to incorruptible form. An escape if you will, a stop to the wheel. We seek, therefore, to bless ourselves with perfect knowledge and perfect will; To become as gods, take the universe in hand, and transform it in our image - for our own delight. As it is on Earth, so it shall be in the heavens. The inevitable result of incredible improbability, the arrow of evolution is lipping us into the transhuman - an apotheosis to reason, salvation - attained by good works.”

Throughout human history, there has always been a desire to create our own gods or to become our own gods. But no matter how hard these transhumanists try to run from death, it will eventually find them anyway, and at that point all of their questions about who God really is will be answered once and for all.”
http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/
Related:

 to effectively process this information overload? Looking around, I believe not...
"What can we know? What are we all?
Poor silly half-brained things peering out at the infinite,
with the aspirations of angels and the instincts of beasts."
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Meanwhile...

“Another One Bites the Dust”

“Another One Bites the Dust”*
by James Howard Kunstler

"If only abortion were retroactive, we could suitably deal with monsters like Senator Al Franken (D – MN), who apparently ventured to apply a breast adjustment to a female colleague asleep on the military airplane winging them home from USO duty in Afghanistan. This was back in the day when Senator Franken was a professional entertainer, a clown to be precise, but his career shift to politics has rendered all his prior clowning anathema.

Will he slink out of the senate in disgrace with (ahem) his tail between his legs? Or will he bunker in and wait until the mega-storm of sexual accusation roars on to strand some bigger, flashier fish on the shoals of ignominy? Perhaps we’ll soon learn that Warren Buffet repeatedly shagged his notoriously over-taxed secretary in the Berkshire Hathaway janitor’s closet. Or that Mike Pence once bought a diet Dr. Pepper for a woman who was not his wife!

Seems to me this storm could roar and roil on until ninety-plus percent of the men in America are exposed as sex monsters and expelled from every workplace in the land. And then America can feel good about itself again. At least until the bond market blows up, or Kim Jung Fatboy sends a rocket over Rancho Cuckamonga.

But in the meantime, this scourging of male wickedness raises some interesting questions about human dynamics vis-a-vis workplace dynamics. I (for one, apparently) find it amusing that people are shocked to learn that sexual favors are swapped for career advancement in show business, where sheer narcissism buys more than Bitcoin. The remedy, I suppose, will be to put an end to show business — except its doing a pretty good job of accomplishing that itself, especially the art-form formerly known as the movies. But what about the gazillion other less-glamorous business activities out there: the actuarial suites, the dental offices, the WalMart middle management departments?

I would begin with the recognition that human sexuality is a pretty potent and mischievous component of basic biology. In, say, the much maligned “cis” world of gender relations, people in the workplace surely feel a fairly constant cognitive tug of awareness that they are in the presence of the opposite sex. If nothing else, there is the pheromone thing: the involuntary wafting about of hormonal chemicals that signal sexual possibility, though not necessarily opportunity. It may be considered primitive and inconvenient, but it’s there anyway.

That being so, one obvious question is: what happened to manners, the once-conventional device for managing impulse control. Narcissism does explain a lot, since that mental state prompts the treatment of other people as mere objects of utility rather than persons on a transect of mutual respect. But in the new sexual harassment workplace regime, a mere polite inquiry of romantic interest might provoke punishment, so that even an unmarried true gentleman asking a female co-worker out for a drink after work might be construed as a firing offense.

Offendedness has gone viral in America these days. The rewards are a pretty sure thing for the offendee, ranging from simple brownie points to the offendedness powerball lottery of a $32 million payoff for getting seriously roughed up by a wealthy mug such as Bill O’Reilly. My guess is that the suppression of even gentlemanly approaches to women only pushes things to that darker and harsher edge of the gradient of male behavior, where the latent chimpanzee lurks.

It’s inconceivable to me that we are going to eliminate sexual mischief on-the-job as long as men and women are mixed together in work that can be done by anybody. The situation would be less toxic if genuine misbehavior was reported to bosses or to the police directly, instead of waiting twenty years to call up MSNBC, and if asking for a date, or proffering a compliment, were not treated as vile and inexcusable.

Of course, once all the predators are cleaned out of the corporate C-suites, we’ll still be stuck with a spectacularly trashy contemporary culture, saturated with inducements for all kinds of theoretically decent people to behave badly. Mainly what’s being accomplished in the current hysteria is reinforcement of the idea that the weaker sex is just that, but with a raging denial that they require some kind of protection.”
* If you insist...

"When the Robots Take Over”

"When the Robots Take Over”
by Bill Bonner

"How about those techs! The eight most valuable tech companies in the world - Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google parent Alphabet, Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent - have added $1.7 trillion in market value this year. That’s more than Canada’s entire economy. And it exceeds the worth of Germany’s biggest 30 companies put together.

Rise of the machines: There are two major reactions to the future: Some people are excited…and some are alarmed. Oil production began to recover last year. But the number of oil-rig workers did not. Why? New technology automated much of the work. Now it takes only five roughnecks to do the work that 20 did just a couple of years ago. Oil-rig workers were well-paid. That’s why rig owners are so eager to replace them. The machines don’t sue you when they break their legs. They don’t smoke on the job. And they don’t spend Saturday and Sunday with their families. But since the machines are taking the place of high-wage jobs, that leaves the formerly well-paid workers with nowhere to go but down market.

That helps explain, too, why the only real growth in the job market has occurred in the service sectors - where bartenders and car parkers earn low wages in low-skilled jobs. Humans are forced to take the jobs the robots don’t want. And the number of robots in the workforce is expected to quadruple by 2025. By 2030, one estimate - widely circulated — is that half of all existing jobs will have disappeared.

Human pets: Then, smarter than we are, the robots will help us in every aspect of our lives. They’ll tell us when to brush our teeth and whom to vote for. They’ll correct our grammar, diagnose problems with our cars…and suggest remedies for itchy skin, too. They will take out the trash, make stew out of tree moss…and unlock the gates of paradise.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman was asked recently at the Council of Foreign Relations: What’s ahead? Will millions of people become ‘superfluous’, as Yuval Harari suggests, with nothing to do? Will these super-smart computers keep them as pets? Big ‘social changes’ are coming, says Kahneman: ‘This could be happening within the next few decades, and it’s going to change the world to, you know, an extent that we can’t imagine. And you don’t need singularity [a state of virtually instantaneous progress driven by intelligent machines] for that. You need a set of advances that are localized. And we can see those happening…self-driving cars, you know, that’s just one example.’ 

Blowing a fuse: Here at the Diary, we’re neither worried nor wonderstruck. First, all humans are superfluous. Always have been. We make work for ourselves; it isn’t given to us by the economy or the government. Second, we suspect the promise of artificial intelligence is largely nonsense. Machines can learn to do simple tasks, such as driving a truck. Yes, and you can get one to vacuum your carpet - big deal. And yes, they will be able to write dumb articles for lazy journalists…make smart calculations for engineers…and eliminate the need for most doctors. But so what?

In the 19th Century, machines took over the routine work. People fretted and whined when the automobile put the manure handlers out of work. But the more machines were able to do, the more people wanted things that were ‘handmade’. The more they made physical work unnecessary, the more people wanted personal trainers. And now, the more robots do, the more humans will want what they can’t do.

In a world full of self-driving cars, we will be tortured to madness by the dream of taking control of the steering wheel ourselves. And when we all have robot valets, who make sure our ties are always at ease with our jackets, we will find some combination of colours so vile and shocking that the machines will blow their fuses and refuse to work for us.

The world today does not lack computing power. Neither natural nor artificial. There are plenty of smart people around. More PhDs…more patents…more think tanks - more brain cells than ever before are applied to the pressing challenges of our day. And more computers, too, working at processing speeds that would have knocked our socks off just 10 years ago.

The Apollo space program used a computer with the processing power of a single Nintendo NES game console from 1985. The iPhone 6 (released in 2014; we’re now on the iPhone 8) has the same processing power as a Cray supercomputer from the 1980s. And the total computing power available to mankind is now about a quadrillion times more than it was when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.

And so what? Are we happier? Are we richer? Is the world a better place? And if such a huge increase in computing power has failed to improve our lives, what can we expect from more?

Too much intelligence: Our phones give us the time to within a tenth of a second, but people are still late. Our computers correct our misspellings and verb tenses, but half of what we read is still senseless or trivial. The fancy new New Holland tractor we bought for the ranch just a year ago broke down for no apparent reason, while our old Ford from 1972 is still going strong.

Is the music better than The Beach Boys in 1965 or Chopin’s Nocturne No. 8 from 1837? Are the cops more level-headed than they were on The Andy Griffith Show? Are the judges wiser…the girls prettier…or the politicians more honest than when Ike was in the White House?

The problem today…as it always has been…is not that we have too little intelligence. In fact, with so much additional computing brain power coming online…we may have too much. Our hearts can’t keep up. Still, our advice is to relax. Let the robots take over. Be gracious. And dignified. Let them vacuum the carpet. And kick them down the stairs when they aren’t looking.”

Musical Interlude: Moody Blues, “The Voice”

Moody Blues, “The Voice”

Greg Hunter, “Weekly News Wrap-Up 11/17/2017”

“Weekly News Wrap-Up 11/17/2017”
By Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com

“The saga of Roy Moore continues with twists and turns and dirty tricks by the Deep State. It’s been revealed that a so-called robocall campaign to try and find dirt on Senate candidate Roy Moore happened after he won the GOP primary. Now, the only piece of evidence in multiple accusations that Roy Moore committed sexual misconduct has been called into question. Moore and his attorney are charging a yearbook inscription from the 1970’s, that proves contact with one of the alleged victims, is a forgery and a fraud. Moore denies any and all wrongdoing and is going to sue two women with the most damaging claims.

President Donald Trump is back from Asia and, by all accounts, it went very well. Trump got agreements of nearly $300 billion in new business for America, and Trump says, “The future has never been brighter.”

The recent purchase of a rare Da Vinci painting of Jesus Christ just went for $450 million at auction. Is this crazy, or is it a sign that the rich are trying to protect their money from inflation by compressing it into a rare work of art? Some say this is just a sign of the beginning of much higher inflation that is coming globally."
"Join Greg Hunter of USAWatchdog.com as he looks at
 these stories and more in the Weekly News Wrap-Up.”

Thursday, November 16, 2017

"'Welfare for the Wealthy': 227 House Republicans Pass $1.5 Trillion Tax Cut for Corporations and the Rich"

"'Welfare for the Wealthy': 227 House Republicans Pass 
$1.5 Trillion Tax Cut for Corporations and the Rich"
by Jake Johnson

"By a vote of 227-205, House Republicans on Thursday passed a tax bill that would permanently cut taxes for massive corporations, reward the extremely wealthy by eliminating the estate tax, trigger billions of dollars in automatic cuts to Medicare, and raise taxes on millions of middle- and working-class families. 

"With this bill, the House GOP is moving to rig the system further for the powerful and elite against everyday Americans," Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness, said in a statement following Thursday's vote. "It's immoral that many hardworking families will pay a higher tax bill or lose access to critical services like healthcare so that some CEO can get a bigger bonus and buy a bigger yacht. Millions of Americans in the middle and at the bottom will be the losers from this tax plan, while the wealthiest will benefit."

According to an analysis released by the Joint Committee on Taxation, everyone earning under $75,000 a year would on average see their taxes rise by 2027 under the House's plan. The wealthiest Americans and the largest corporations, by contrast, would see their taxes fall drastically.

As the Washington Post notes, the House bill - which calls for $1.5 trillion in tax cuts - "delivers more than 80 percent of its overall cuts to corporations, business owners, and wealthy families who are subject to the federal estate tax."
It is these facts that led Terrence Meehan of the Patriotic Millionaires to label the House GOP's plan "welfare for the wealthy" in a video published following Thursday's vote. The House's approval of the tax plan was a major step toward President Donald Trump's expressed goal of ramming through tax cuts by the end of the year.

The Senate Republicans are expected to vote on their own plan before Thanksgiving. In addition to providing similarly enormous tax cuts to the rich while hiking taxes on millions of middle class and poor families, the Senate bill also includes a provision that repeals the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate, which the Congressional Budget Office has estimated would strip healthcare from 13 million Americans."
Aren't you tired of this yet?

X22 Report, “Déjà Vu, We Are Seeing The Same Signs Now As We Saw Back In 2008”

X22 Report, “Déjà Vu, We Are Seeing The Same Signs Now As We Saw Back In 2008”
Related followup report:
X22 Report, “Are The Globalists Moving Forward With Their One Currency Agenda?”

Musical Interlude: Kevin Kern, “Another Realm”

Kevin Kern, “Another Realm” 

"A Look to the Heavens"

"Have you ever seen the Milky Way's glow create shadows? To do so, conditions need to be just right. First and foremost, the sky must be relatively clear of clouds so that the long band of the Milky Way's central disk can be seen. The surroundings must be very near to completely dark, with no bright artificial lights visible anywhere. Next, the Moon cannot be anywhere above the horizon, or its glow will dominate the landscape. Last, the shadows can best be caught on long camera exposures.
Click image for larger size.
In the above image taken in Port Campbell National Park, Victoria, Australia, seven 15-second images of the ground and de-rotated sky were digitally added to bring up the needed light and detail. In the foreground lies Loch Ard Gorge, named after a ship that tragically ran aground in 1878. The two rocks pictured are the remnants of a collapsed arch and are named Tom and Eva after the only two people who survived that Loch Ard ship wreck. A close inspection of the water just before the rocks will show reflections and shadows in light thrown by our Milky Way galaxy."

"I've Learned..."

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
- Maya Angelou

Black Elk, "Earth Prayer"

"Earth Prayer"

“Grandfather, Great Spirit, once more behold me on earth and lean to hear my feeble voice. You lived first, and you are older than all need, older than all prayer. All things belong to you - the two-legged, the four-legged, the wings of the air, and all green things that live. You have set the powers of the four quarters of the earth to cross each other. You have made me cross the good road and road of difficulties, and where they cross, the place is holy. Day in, day out, forevermore, you are the life of things.
    Hey! Lean to hear my feeble voice.
    At the center of the sacred hoop
    You have said that I should make the tree to bloom.
    With tears running, O Great Spirit, my Grandfather,
    With running eyes I must say
    The tree has never bloomed
    Here I stand, and the tree is withered.
    Again, I recall the great vision you gave me.
    It may be that some little root of the sacred tree still lives.
    Nourish it then
    That it may leaf
    And bloom
    And fill with singing birds!
    Hear me, that the people may once again
    Find the good road
    And the shielding tree.

I think I have told you, but if I have not, you must have understood, that a man who has a vision is not able to use the power of it until after he has performed the vision on earth for the people to see... It was even then only after the heyoka ceremony, in which I performed my dog vision, that I had the power to practice as a medicine man, curing sick people; and many I cured with the power that came through me. Of course it was not I who cured. It was the power from the outer world, and the visions and ceremonies had only made me like a hole through which the power could come to the two-leggeds. If I thought that I was doing it myself, the hole would close up and no power could come through. Then everything I could do would be foolish...

    Revealing this, they walk.
    A sacred herb - revealing it, they walk.
    Revealing this, they walk.
    The sacred life of bison - revealing it, they walk.
    Revealing this, they walk.
    A sacred eagle feather - revealing it, they walk.
    Revealing this, they walk.
    The eagle and the bison - like relatives they walk.

The Six Grandfathers have placed in this world many things, all of which should be happy. Every little thing is sent for something, and in that thing there should be happiness and the power to make happy. Like the grasses showing tender faces to each other, thus we should do, for this was the wish of the Grandfathers of the World."
- Black Elk, Oglala Sioux

The Universe

"A main "Criterion of Consciousness" for the human experience is never having all you want. For as one dream comes true, another swiftly takes its place. Not having all you want is one of life's constants. And learning to be happy while not yet having all you want is the first "Criterion of Joy." Nail it, and for the rest of your life people will be asking what it is about you. Yeah, as if they weren't already asking."
"Desire is a beautiful thing."

    The Universe

"Thoughts become things... choose the good ones!"
www.tut.com

Chet Raymo, “Strange”

 
“Strange”
by Chet Raymo

“In a review in the “New York Times” Book Review, Daniel Handler writes: “And strange? Well, let's get this straight: All great books are strange. Every lasting work of literature since the very weird "Beowulf" has been strange, not only because it grapples with the strangeness around us, but also because the effect of originality is startling, making even the oldest books feel like brand new stories.”

Strange: Out-of-the-ordinary, unusual, curious. "The strangeness around us," says Handler. There is a paradox here. What could be less strange than the world around us? It is the same world that was here yesterday, and the day before that. More to the point: It is a world ruled by law. Inviolable causal bonds. That's what makes science possible.

And yet, and yet. I walk wary. Strangeness lurks on ever side. Strangeness leaps out of every pebble in the path, every wildflower, every spider web flung between weedy stalks. In the midst of the utterly ordinary the extraordinary abounds. Nothing is so commonplace as to be common.

The strangeness of the world, as in literature, has its source in the head, in the convoluted interaction of mind with world. Strange, that we should be here, strangers in a strange land, pilgrims on our own yellow brick roads where nothing is ordinary because everything is perceived through the filter of a unique consciousness.

And strange? Well, let's get this straight. I hope never to loose the capacity to see the strangeness in the familiar, the curious in the everyday, the exception in the unexceptional. "I do not expect a miracle/ or an accident/ to set the sight on fire," wrote Silvia Plath. Just being here is enough. Just being here is surpassing strange."

The Daily "Near You?"

Brookings, Oregon, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

"A Meter Is Running..."

"The monstrous thing is not that men have created roses out of this dung heap, but that, for some reason or other, they should want roses. For some reason or other man looks for the miracle, and to accomplish it he will wade through blood. He will debauch himself with ideas, he will reduce himself to a shadow if for only one second of his life he can close his eyes to the hideousness of reality. Everything is endured- disgrace, humiliation, poverty, war, crime, ennui- in the belief that overnight something will occur, a miracle, which will render life tolerable. And all the while a meter is running inside and there is no hand that can reach in there and shut it off."
- Henry Miller, “Tropic of Cancer”

“Mexico, as It Is and Wasn’t: Some Stuff Worth Knowing”

“Mexico, as It Is and Wasn’t: Some Stuff Worth Knowing”
by Fred Reed

"For Americans concerned about  Mexico and Mexicans, and what sort of wights they be, a little history may help. We seem to know almost nothing  about a bordering nation of 130 million. It is not what most of us think it is. It is certainly not what the Loon Right would have us believe.

For many years, until 1910, Mexico was run by Europeans, lastly under Porfirio Diaz, for the benefit of Europeans. Literacy was extremely low with economic conditions to match. The country was indeed, to borrow a favorite phrase of those hostile to Latin Americans, a Third-World hellhole. Many nations then were, to include China.

In 1910 the Revolution broke out. It was godawful, as civil wars usually are. It ended in 1921, followed shortly by the Cristero religious war until 1929. This had the usual hideousness favored by religious wars. It left the country devastated. It hadn’t been much to start with, but now it was a wreck. Aldous Huxley, writing in 1934, saw no improvement. ("Beyond the Mexique Bay") At least until 1940 much of Mexico was barely civilized, unlettered, lawless, and poor. Things were not all that swell in 1970.

Today, seventy-six years later (says the CIA Factbook), literacy is at 95%; the economy at $2.2 trillion, 12th  in the world in PPP; median age, 28; population growth rate, 1.12%; mother’s mean age at first birth, 21.3; total fertility, 2.24 children per woman; life expectancy at birth, 76 years.

Mexico today has a large number of universities (the Technológico of Monterrey, a premier engineering school, has some thirty campuses in as many cities: Is that one university or thirty?) Mexico graduates well over 100,000 engineers a year, including 13,000 in software, and has a rapidly growing high-tech industry  with centers in Guadalajara and Mexico City. Major American firms, to include IBM, Oracle, and Intel, come here to hire them.

And of course internet, airlines, computerized everything, and teenagers pecking at smartphones. This is a lot of change in less than a man’s lifetime. Those hostile to Latin Americans do not want to know this, and usually manage not to.

In many ways Mexico remains a mess, mostly because of organized crime and corruption. Distribution of wealth is badly unequal, being now what the US is becoming. Books could be written about what is wrong with the country. Finland it isn’t. But neither is ti remotely a “Third-World hell hole” despite the squalling of such authorities as Ann Coulter, Manhattan’s premier she-ass.

It would be a good idea to retire the phrase, “Third World.”  Any designation that includes both Buenos Aires and Haiti (I have spent time in the slums of Cite Soleil with the US Army) is so broad as to be without meaning. In 1930, China, Mexico, Thailand and so on could reasonably have been called hellholes. None of these even comes close today. The slums of India do, as does much of Africa, yes.

To grasp the degree of educational advance between the Mexico as it was and as  of 1940 and today, look at what is visible on the ground:

Go into an ordinary bank, with which Mexico is littered. The clerks have to understand exchange rates, intermediate banks, SWIFT codes. They sit at computers, which are networked within the bank and with national headquarters, requiring network engineers and software weenies. Multitudinous ATMs require network people and maintainers. Telmex, the quite good telephone monopoly, needs people to program and maintain  switches and associated software. So do TelCel and ATT, cell-phone providers. Airlines need pilots and trainers of pilots, people to run and maintain high-bypass turbofans and avionics, the instrument-landing systems (ILS). The internet needs software people, router techs, help-line techs when someone’s modem fails (the techs are good). Also doctors and dentists, universities to train them, people who understand and maintain MRI gear, the usual elaborate diagnostic instrumentation, mechanics to run the diagnostic computers at car dealerships and understand what lurks under the hoods of today’s cars (which would baffle Stephen Hawking). And so on at great length. Similar observations could be made of many Latin American and Asian countries. Starting from roughly zero a few decades ago.

Anyone who actually lives here can see that the country continues to change at a high rate. The middle class grows. Internet speeds keep going up. Despite the ardent hopes of many web sites of the Loon Right, you do not come down with exotic diseases, or any diseases, by eating in restaurants. Schooling increases. Common is a mother, age forty with ten siblings, who has two children, both in university or tech schools. None of this is universal, but increasingly common. This in not up there with, say, a manned landing on Mars, but it is hardly consistent with stone-age hell-holedom.

What Mexican are not, yet anyway, is driven in the sense that Americans often are. Young Mexican engineers are more so more so, but not the general population. A Mexican girl – to use an example I know – will go to dental school and then stay in her home town, however small, marry, fix teeth, and raise children. Mexicans seem less entrepreneurial than Americans. They tend to regard a job as a way of supporting a family instead of the other way around.

There is considerable social mobility, at least around the cities. Women start businesses here, often restaurants , stores, bars, or maybe assisted-care homes in regions favored by retired Americans (e.g., Lakeside Care, down the street), but seem content with enough. “Enough” means something to them that it often does not to Americans. Whether this is good or bad can be debated, but it makes for contentedness but not commercial empires.

How will the new Mexican-American population adapt to the United States? I don’t know. Neither does anyone else, though many who know nothing about it have firm opinions. Will the government turn them into a sprawling class of welfare dependents? Doubtless if it can. Will furiously hostile anti-immigrant lobbies make them into internal enemies? They want to, and it would be the end of the US.

Or will they clamber, rapidly or otherwise, into the middle class and cease to be of much interest? The latter, I think. An intelligent policy would be to encourage them, but we can do it anyway. They are pretty good people, not given to terrorism or mutilating their daughters or the knockout game,  and they burn a minimum of cities. Everywhere I have been – LA, San Fran, DC, Houston, San Antonio, Pilsen and Berwyn in Chicago – they have seemed to be settling peacefully in. They have the potential to make it. We had better hope they get there.”

"Incidit In Scyllam Cupiens Vitare Charybdim"

"Incidit In Scyllam Cupiens Vitare Charybdim"
by Steve Candidus

"One of the great things about ancient Greek Mythology is that the stories all teach a lesson. They don’t end with – and the moral of the story is – though. They leave it to the reader to figure them out. So in addition to being just plain fun to read they are wonderful teachers about life. Perhaps the best thing about this one is that we still use the expression it contains exactly the same way that the ancient Greeks intended it almost 3,000 years ago. That almost never happens. Language is fluid and the meanings of words and expressions changes from one generation to another, but this one is an exception. The everyday expression it contains is one that we often refer to without really knowing where it came from.

This is one of the tales of Odysseus who was the heroic king of Ithaca and of whose ten-year journey back to Greece after the Trojan War was immortalized in Homer’s ‘Odyssey’. There was a point in his journey when his ship had to enter a narrow straight. It was a passage so narrow that it could only be made under special conditions. They had to have both the wind at their backs and the current in their direction. However, once committed it was impossible to turn back.

Unknown to the sailors the straight was guarded by two deadly perils. On the one side, it was guarded by Scylla. Scylla was a six-headed monster that disguised itself as a rock. On the other side, it was guarded by Charybdis, a terrible deadly whirlpool born of the sea god Poseidon.

In olden times, it was common to refer to any place that a ship came to rest on land as being in a hard place. It didn’t matter if it was blown on shore by a storm, grounded on a reef or brought up intentionally for repair. If it was on shore, it was on a hard place as opposed to the soft place – water.

It also applied to a ship that had foundered. A ship that sinks will eventually rest on the bottom. The land at the bottom of the ocean is therefore called a hard place. It used to be a common term, but it has since pretty much fallen out of practice in common language today. A deadly whirlpool such as Charybdis could take a ship and send it straight to the bottom – a hard place.

So, now as we return to the story of Odysseus we see that their ship had entered a narrow straight and that straight was guarded by two evil perils with hardly enough room for a ship to pass between them. They were forced to choose between the six headed monster ‘Scylla’ disguised as a rock or the dreaded whirlpool ‘Charybdis’ that would surely send them to a hard place and they could not turn back.

There is a Latin proverb from this story, “Incidit in Scyllam cupiens vitare Charybdim” which translates to, “He runs on Scylla, wishing to avoid Charybdis.” In modern day English, we simply say, “They were between a rock and a hard place”. And now you know…”

"How It Really Is"

"When you're born into this world you’re given get a ticket to the freak show.
 When you're born in America, you get a front row seat."
 - George Carlin 

"The Superhero Complex: Are We Incapable of Saving Ourselves?”

"The Superhero Complex: Are We Incapable of Saving Ourselves?”
by Charles Hugh Smith

"It’s been widely noted that the U.S. film industry ably functions as a pro-global hegemony propaganda machine: even when the plot features evil rogue elements at work in a global-hegemony agency (Pentagon, CIA, NSA, etc.), the competence of the agency is never in doubt, nor is the agency’s ability to rid itself of the evil rogue element. Evil conspiracies are revealed and the Good Guys/Gals win. This depiction of official competence and the moral righteousness of patriotic employees is not surprising; these agencies have long “cooperated” with Hollywood on many levels.

More troubling is the recent film-industry depiction of our dependence on superheroes and their superpowers to set things right. The benign view is that Hollywood is always seeking new billion-dollar source materials for multi-film franchises, and comic book heroes are tailor-made for franchises: not only can multiple films be made about individual superheroes, but the potential for mix-and-match combinations of superheroes is practically endless.

The less benign view is that the popularity of superhero movies reflects a deep insecurity and worrisome desire for fantasy saviors, as if mere mortals can no longer save themselves with their pitiful real-world powers.

Psychoanalyzing the zeitgeist of films has long been a popular parlor game: much has been written about the popularity of monster films (often featuring nuclear radiation as the trigger of the mayhem) in 1950s Japan, and the meaning of the American Noir films in the 1950s.

Correspondent C.D. recently submitted an interpretation of Hollywood’s superhero movies: is our collective fascination with superheroes reflecting a sense that we no longer have the power to save ourselves? “One of the things I’ve been thinking about lately is the idea of TPTB (the Powers That Be) using entertainment, specifically movies, to keep the masses from rising up. Have you noticed how many modern movies use the archetype of the hero, but place that hero in opposition to some type of system (e.g. the Empire in Star Wars), or we have superheros. In both instances, there is a type of cathartic release for the audience’s frustrations with the current system. When the evil empire is defeated in the movie, people get an emotional release and they feel less motivated to deal with the real world empire.

When a superhero takes care of the problem, the audience is lulled into the pattern of thinking that someone else will take care of things. Also, often these superhero movies present the average Joe/Jane and the authorities as incompetents who need saving, which reinforces a feeling of helplessness to take on big powers. I’m sure others have come up with this type of analysis and I may be repeating what they have said, but it’s worth further consideration.”

Thank you, C.D. I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say that many people sense their power within the system is extremely limited, as is their power to radically transform their own situation.

As for cheering for the ragtag rebels resisting the Empire–how many people feel divested from America, that is, they sense their “ownership” in the Empire’s wealth and power is near-zero? How many feel disempowered and disenfranchised? It’s not much of a leap from social, political and financial divestiture to feeling that it takes superpowers to change one’s circumstances or save the system from disorder and destruction.

Are we incapable of saving ourselves from a self-destructive status quo owned and operated by the few at the expense of the many? If we felt empowered in daily life, would we be so enamored of superheroes constantly saving our world from destruction? If we felt the system still had the wherewithal to restore itself, would we need so many superheroes? Or maybe it’s all just good clean (highly profitable) fun, or a sci-fi/fantasy updating of Greek Mythology. Still, that practically every other movie is another installment of the superhero franchise seems to beg for a look beneath the surface appeal of these escapist extravaganzas.”
"Power to radically transform their own situation..." "Empowered..."
 I'd guess that would depend on what situation one is defending themselves from...

"The Last Time These 3 Ominous Signals Appeared Simultaneously Was Just Before The Last Financial Crisis"

"The Last Time These 3 Ominous Signals Appeared 
Simultaneously Was Just Before The Last Financial Crisis"
by Michael Snyder

"We have not seen a “leadership reversal”, a “Hindenburg Omen” and a “Titanic Syndrome signal” all appear simultaneously since just before the last financial crisis. Does this mean that a stock market crash is imminent? Not necessarily, but as I have been writing about quite a bit recently, the markets are certainly primed for one. On Wednesday, the Dow fell another 138 points, and that represented the largest single day decline that we have seen since September. Much more importantly, the downward trend that has been developing over the past week appears to be accelerating. Just take a look at this chart. Could we be right on the precipice of a major move to the downside?

John Hussman certainly seems to think so. He is the one that pointed out that we have not seen this sort of a threefold sell signal since just before the last financial crisis. The following comes from Business Insider: "On Tuesday, the number of New York Stock Exchange companies setting new 52-week lows climbed above the number hitting new highs, representing a “leadership reversal” that Hussman says highlights the deterioration of market internals. Stocks also received confirmation of two bearish market-breadth readings known as the Hindenburg Omen and the Titanic Syndrome."

Hussman says these three readings haven’t occurred simultaneously since 2007, when the financial crisis was getting underway. It happened before that in 1999, right before the dot-com crash. That’s not very welcome company. In fact, every time we have seen these three signals appear all at once there has been a market crash. Will things be different this time? We shall see.

If you are not familiar with a “Hindenburg Omen” or “the Titanic Syndrome”, here are a couple of pretty good concise definitions:

Hindenburg Omen: A sell signal that occurs when NYSE new highs and new lows each exceed 2.8% of advances plus declines on the same day. On Tuesday, they totaled more than 3%.
Titanic Syndrome: A sell signal triggered when NYSE 52-week lows outnumber 52-week highs within seven days of an all-time high in equities. Stocks most recently hit a record on November 8.

You can see the other times in recent decades when these three signals have appeared simultaneously on this chart right hereOnce again, past patterns do not guarantee that the same thing will happen in the future, but if the market does crash it should not surprise anyone.

10 days ago, I published an article entitled “The Federal Reserve Has Just Given Financial Markets The Greatest Sell Signal In Modern American History,” I pointed out that this stock market bubble was created by unprecedented central bank intervention, and now global central banks are reversing the process that created the bubble in unison. There is no possible way that stock prices can stay at these absolutely absurd levels without central bank help, and if global central banks stay on the sidelines a market decline would seem to be virtually inevitable.

Meanwhile, we are also witnessing a very alarming flattening of the yield curve: "Hogan said the market is nervous about the “flattening” difference between the 2-year yield and the 10-year Treasury yield, which have been moving closer together. The curve dipped to 68 basis points Tuesday, a 10-year low. Hogan said 70 has become a line in the sand, and when it falls below that traders get nervous."

A flattening curve can signal that the curve will invert, which historically means a recession is on the horizon. If the yield curve does end up inverting, that will be a major red flag. But the experts assure us that we have nothing to worry about.

For example, just check out what Karyn Cavanaugh of Voya Financial is saying“Now that the earnings season is wrapped up, markets are more beholden to macro data. Weakness in oil prices and skepticism about the passing of the tax bill are also weighing on sentiment,” said Karyn Cavanaugh, senior market strategist at Voya Financial. Despite the drop on the day, major indexes remain within 1.5 percentage points of record levels. “Any pullback at this stage should be viewed as an opportunity to buy, however. Earnings outlook for U.S. stocks, especially with the synchronized global growth environment is still good,” Cavanaugh said.

And U.S. consumers continue to pile on more debt as if there is no tomorrow.  This week we learned that U.S. household debt has almost reached the 13 trillion dollar threshold: "Americans’ debt level rose during the third quarter, driven by an increase in mortgage loans, according to a Federal Reserve Bank of New York report published on Tuesday. Total U.S. household debt was $12.96 trillion in the three months to September, up $116 billion from the prior three months. Debt levels were $605 billion higher than during the third quarter of 2016."

The fundamentals do not support this kind of irrational optimism. What the fundamentals have been telling us is that in the absence of central bank support we should see the markets start to decline, and that it is quite likely that a painful recession is on the horizon. As the next crisis erupts, the mainstream media is going to respond with shock and horror. But the only real surprise is that this ridiculous bubble lasted for as long as it did.

The truth is that a market decline is way overdue. If central banks had not pumped trillions upon trillions of dollars into the global financial system, there is no possible way that stock prices would have ever gotten so high, and now that the central banks are removing the artificial life support we shall see how the markets do on their own.”
http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/

Related:
"France Ran Out of Money Last Tuesday - 
And Within Days, So Will The Rest of Europe"
http://nationalpost.com/

"Deutsche: The Swings In The Market Are About To Get Bigger And Bigger”
Hmm, let's see... $2.5 QUADRILLION in derivatives... "margin calls"...
What could possibly go wrong?