Copyright Gary Edward Nordell, all rights reserved. Powered by Blogger.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Working Minds Essay #113: No More July Fourth For Me

I am an American and I love the country that I was born in. But that country no longer exists.

All three branches of the U.S. federal government are now controlled by fascists. Congress is controlled by Republicans who sold out to the Koch Brothers and A.L.E.C., to Wall Street banks, to Southern (and Northern) racists and hatemongers, to Rupert Murdoch's Fox Channel and its fake news propaganda, to religious fanatics, and to climate change-denying polluters. The U.S. Supreme Court is controlled by fascists (5 to 4): all five are members of the Federalist Society and signatories of P.N.A.C. (the latter being a violation of their oath of office, if not both). Loose cannon billionaire sex offender Emperor Donald Trump violated his oath of office as President the moment that he spoke it and is still in violation of the Constitution's Emolument Clauses. His entire administration believes that lying alters reality. And there is now enough evidence of the crime of obstruction of justice to impeach Emperor Trump – whenever the U.S. Constitution gets revived.

The U.S. Constitution is a hollow shell; it was placed on life support (metaphorically) in January 2010 when Justice John Roberts issued the ludicrous Citizens United v. F.E.C. decision declaring the United States to be a fascist government. The U.S. Constitution was finally killed when Emperor Trump took over the White House and the Executive Branch with the help of (per evidence since revealed) dictator Vladimir Putin of Russia.

Fascism was defined by Benito Mussolini in 1926 as when "the corporations and the military take the government away from the people". He later said that he should have called it corporatism, because that is what it is. Everyone in Emperor Trump's cabinet is either a general officer in the military (active or retired) or a right wing billionaire. Other officials in the Trump White House include failed TV reporters, incompetent members of the Trump family, and lobbyists and politicians sworn to dismantle the very department or bureau that they now head.

* *          * *          * *          * *

I long ago gave up celebrating 'pagan holidays' – Hallowe'en is the obvious one, but so are New Years Day, Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving. That leaves Memorial Day and Veterans Day and Labor Day, which no longer have cultural meaning and are basically excuses for three-day weekends. M.L.K. Day, Gay Pride Day, Mothers Day, and Fathers Day are irrelevant to my situation, so that left only Independence Day on July Fourth as a holiday that mattered to me.

A group of wealthy white males signed the Declaration of Independence on July Fourth in 1776, and their defiance of the British monarchy and business interests put each of them at great risk. The last phrase of that immortal document states that they "mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor."

Today's United States government has no honor. None.

Emperor Trump decreed withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement so that our corporations can freely pollute and thus increase profits. Congress is slashing Head Start and Medicare and Medicaid and cutting $5B from public education and cutting further billions from the budgets of the E.P.A. and the I.R.S. and the C.D.C and the S.E.C., and from the Departments of Health & Human Services and Housing & Urban Development so that corporations can wreak havoc without regulation. The Department of the Interior will be selling federal land and mineral rights to the LOWEST-bidding polluter. And there will be no job creation programs through infra-structure repair or renewable energy or economic stimulous – better to keep the peasants living in fear.

Here is a clue for the clueless: Privatization is fascism. Every time. Period.

So there is really nothing to celebrate on July Fourth this year. We The People are displaced, no longer free and independent individuals basking in a world of choice and prosperity. We are peasants living under the control of the same divine right aristocracy that we broke with in 1776.

And at least half of the people in America (and in New Mexico and in my Valencia County) have been brainwashed into believing that that is a good thing.

Copyright 2017 by G.E. Nordell, all rights reserved

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Elizabeth Warren says Trump’s budget is obscene

an email from Senator Elizabeth Warren today contained the following:

Trump’s budget will be devastating for working families.
It’s obscene:
• $5 billion in cuts to public education
• $73 billion in cuts to Social Security
• $191 billion in cuts to food stamps
• $610 billion in cuts to Medicaid (and that's in addition to the $880 billion that House Republicans are slashing in their so-called 'health care' bill)

== 30 ==

Sunday, May 28, 2017

May 2017 Quotations (57)

"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.”
~~ Marcus Aurelius [121-180 C.E.]

"Democracy must not be a spectator sport. The right to protest, the right to assemble freely, the right to petition one's government - these are not just rights ... these are obligations."
~~ Anthony D. Romero, May 2017 TED Talk 'This is what democracy looks like'

"The class struggle is not going to go away. Unless you abandon it, and say: Okay, [the oppressors] win."
~~ Noam Chomsky

"Action is the clearest revelation of the individual, of his temperament as well as his aims – what a man is at bottom and in his inmost being comes into actuality only by his action."
~~ 'famous dictum' of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel [1770-1831], in the posthumous "Aesthetics, Volume 1"

"Go for it now. The future is promised to no one."
~~ Dr. Wayne W. Dyer [1940-2015]

"One of the most time-consuming things is to have an enemy."
~~ E.B. White [1899-1985]

"Science fiction films are not about science. They are about disaster, which is one of the oldest subjects of art."
~~ Susan Sontag [1933-2004]

"Witchcraft is one of the most baseless, absurd, disgusting, and silly of all the humbugs.”
~~ American showman Phineas Taylor 'P.T.' Barnum [1810-91]

"Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living. And above all, all those who live without love."
~~ character Professor Albus Dumbledore, in "Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows"

“Looking back, I guess I used to play-act all the time. For one thing, it meant I could live in a more interesting world than the one around me.”
~~ Marilyn Monroe [1926-62]

"Be a voice not an echo."
~~ Albert Einstein [1879-1955]

"There ain't no answer. There ain't gonna be any answer. There never has been an answer. That's the answer."
~~ Gertrude Stein [1874-1946]

"Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving."
~~ sci-fi author Terry Pratchett [1948-2015]

"Give all the power to the many, they will oppress the few. Give all the power to the few, they will oppress the many."
~~ Alexander Hamilton [1757-1804]

"How can fear disturb me when love has dissolved me?"
~~ Persian poet & mystic Rumi [1207-73]

"The rich man is not the one who has the most, he is the one who needs the least.”
~~ Arab saying

"A guilty conscience is like a room with wall-to-wall carpeting ... You can't sweep anything under the rug."
~~ Ziggy cartoon panel 5/2017

t-shirt idea: "Some features not available in all states"

"[This is the] first administration to have top people taking the Fifth in the first 100 days. Let Trump brag about that one."
~~ The Pen at Peace Team activism website

"Data is the new oil."
~~ Jonathan Taplin, in "Move Fast and Break Things" [2017]

"I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy."
~~ Nobel-laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore [1861-1941]

"The disastrous Trumpcare plan [that] Republicans pushed through the House last week makes being a woman a pre-existing condition."
~~ Congressman Ben Ray Lujan [Dem NM-03] in May 2017

"The greatest use of a life is to spend it on something that will outlast it."
~~ William James [1842-1910]

"Real poverty is lack of books."
~~ Sidonie Gabrielle Colette [1873-1954]

"The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don't tell you what to see."
~~ Alexandra K. Trenfor of Bogotá, Colombia

"Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all."
~~ Aristotle [384-322 B.C.E.]

"Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow."
~~ Anthony J. D'Angelo

"We are shaped and fashioned by what we love."
~~ {Johann Wolfgang von} Goethe [1749-1832]

"Creativity is contagious. Pass it on."
~~ Albert Einstein [1879-1955]

"Education is not the filling of the pail, but the lighting of the fire."
~~ Irish poet William Butler Yeats [1865-1939]

"Our job is to teach the students [that] we have. Not the ones [that] we would like to have. Not the ones [that] we used to have. Those we have right now. All of them."
~~ Dr. Kevin Maxwell

"Education is the key to success in life, and teachers make a lasting impact in the lives if their students."
~~ Solomon P. Ortiz

"I am not a teacher, but an awakener."
~~ poet Robert Frost [1874-1963]

"Be more concerned with your character than your reputation."
~~ U.C.L.A. coach John R. Wooden [1910-2010]
“Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation. Your character is what you really are while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
~~ Dale Carnegie [1888-1965]

“What is straight? A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh no, it's curved like a road through mountains."
~~ playwright Tennessee Williams [1911-83], in 'A Streetcar named Desire", 1947

“Every crowd has a silver lining.”
~~ American showman Phineas Taylor 'P.T.' Barnum [1810-91]

“What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.”
~~ Salman Rushdie

“Censorship is telling a man he can’t have a steak just because a baby can’t chew it.”
~~ Mark Twain [1835-1910]

“Every assault on freedom has begun with an assault on reason and every assault on reason has begun by attacking man’s confidence that his mind, operating on the basis of sense perception, is capable of grasping reality objectively."
~~ Dr. David Kelley

“What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”
~~ Ralph Waldo Emerson [1803-82]

“The real opportunity for success lies within the person and not in the job.”
~~ salesman & speaker Zig Ziglar [1926-2012]

“If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.”
~~ Napoleon Hill [1883-1970]

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
~~ Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu [IVth Century B.C.E.]
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one tank.”
~~ ad for gasoline, 2017

“He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.“
~~ Immanuel Kant [1724-1804]

“An obstacle is often a stepping stone.”
~~ Col. William Prescott [1726-95]

“The theater is so endlessly fascinating because it's so accidental. It's so much like life.“
~~ playwright Arthur Miller [1915-2005]

"Hungry man, reach for a book, it is a weapon."
~~ Bertolt Brecht [1898-1956]

“Rare is the person who can weigh the faults of others without putting his thumb on the scales.“
~~ Byron J. Langenfeld [1909-96]

“There is no surer way to misread any document than to read it literally.“
~~ Judge Learned Hand [1872-1961]

“Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.“
~~ Joseph Addison [1672-1719]

“Men make counterfeit money; in many more cases, money makes counterfeit men.“
~~ columnist Sydney J. Harris [1917-86]

“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”
~~ {Johann Wolfgang von} Goethe [1749-1832]

“Work saves us from three great evils: boredom, vice, and need.“
~~ philosopher Voltaire [1694-1778]

“It is a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all one’s life and find at the end that one has no more to offer by way of advice than 'try to be a little kinder'.”
~~ Aldous Huxley [1894-1963]

“The past exists only in our memories, the future only in our plans. The present is our only reality.“
~~ philosopher Robert M. Pirsig [1928-2017]

“There are two kinds of light - the glow that illuminates, and the glare that obscures.“
~~ writer James Thurber [1894-1961]

{each set of posted quotations are then posted at the Working Minds website, alphabetical by author}

Saturday, April 22, 2017

April 2017 Quotations (63)

"I think that God in creating man somewhat overestimated his ability."
~~ Oscar Wilde [1854-1900]

"The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live."
~~ philosopher Ayn Rand [1905-82]

"The truth is that the insurance and pharmaceutical companies in this country are bribing the United States Congress."
~~ Sen. Bernie Sanders

"Lord, the money we do spend on Government and it's not one bit better than the government we got for one-third the money twenty years ago."
~~ Will Rogers [1879-1935]

“Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness.”
~~ James Thurber [1894-1961]

“The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.”
~~ Blaise Pascal [1623-62]

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”
~~ Sir Winston Churchill [1874-1965]

“Don't talk unless you can improve the silence.”
~~ Jorge Luis Borges [1899-1986]

“Joy shared is twice the joy. Sorrow shared is half the sorrow.”
~~ Swedish proverb

“Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness.”
~~ Bertrand Russell [1872-1970]

“If you want to be happy, do not dwell in the past, do not worry about the future, focus on living fully in the present.”
~~ Roy T. Bennett

“You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy. So let them go, let go of them. I tie no weights to my ankles.”
~~ C. JoyBell C.

"For 240 years it’s been a terrible mistake to bet against America, and now is no time to start."
~~ American capitalist Warren Buffett

“I must learn to be content with being happier than I deserve.”
~~ Jane Austen [1775-1817]

"When the other is lacking in fidelity in any and all of its forms, loyalty is foolish and as such speaks to vice, not virtue."
~~ Prof. Elly Pirocacos of Greece & Canada

"Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that."
~~ Norman Vincent Peale [1898-1993]

"All that is worth cherishing begins in the heart, not the head."
~~ Prof. Suzanne Chapin of Boston University

“Without property rights, no other rights are possible.”
~~ philosopher Ayn Rand [1905-82]

"Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions."
~~ Albert Einstein [1879-1955]

"The mind can make substance, and people planets of its own with beings brighter than have been, and give a breath to forms which can outlive all flesh."
~~ George Gordon, Lord Byron [1788-1824]

"Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope."
~~ Dr. Seuss {Theodor Geisel 1904-91}

"Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one."
~~ Terry Pratchett [1948-2015]

“I have too many fantasies to be a housewife . . . I guess I am a fantasy.”
~~ Marilyn Monroe [1926-62]

"All good stories deserve embellishment."
~~ character Gandalf, as written by J.R.R. Tolkien [1892-1973], in "The Hobbit" [1937]

“Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself.”
~~ Jean-Paul Sartre [1905-80]

"Remember, no matter where you go, there you are."
~~ Chinese philosopher Confucius [551-479 B.C.E.]

"It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends."
~~ character Professor Albus Dumbledore, as written by J.K. Rowling

"You got to do something they don't got'em in the world."
~~ Simon Rodia [1879-1965], builder of the Watts Towers, 1921-1954

"If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall."
~~ Nadine Stair {based on a 1953 poem by Don Herold [1889-1966]}

"I don't believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."
~~ J.K. Rowling

“The reason I talk to myself is because I’m the only one whose answers I accept.”
~~ George Carlin [1937-2008]

“Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities.”
~~ Aldous Huxley [1894-1963]

“The whole world is a series of miracles . . . but we’re so used to them we call them ordinary things.”
~~ Hans Christian Anderson [1805-75]

“We accept and welcome . . . as conditions to which we must accommodate ourselves, great inequality of environment; the concentration of business, industrial and commercial, in the hands of a few; and the law of competition between these, as being not only beneficial, but essential for the future progress of the race.”
~~ Andrew Carnegie [1835-1919]

“There’s a certain part of the contented majority who love anybody who is worth a billion dollars.”
~~ John Kenneth Galbraith [1908-2006]

“Money is in some respects life's fire: it is a very excellent servant, but a terrible master.”
~~ showman Phineas Taylor 'P.T.' Barnum [1810-91]

"My favorite literary heroine is Jo March. It is hard to overstate what she meant to a small, plain girl called Jo, who had a hot temper and a burning ambition to be a writer."
~~ J.K. Rowling

“Never close your lips to those whom you have already opened your heart.”
~~ Charles Dickens [1812-70]

"I have always felt that if you know in advance what you are doing, then you are not going to do it."
~~ architect Frank Gehry

"You cannot change things by fighting existing reality: To change things you must build a new model to make the existing model obsolete."
~~ R. Buckminster Fuller [1895-1983]

"At the end of the day, cinema is an art form being, at the same time, a circus, a voyage to our souls, a mirage, and an illusion of life itself."
~~ Federico Fellini [1920-93]

“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”
~~ Margaret Mead [1901-78]

"The difference between coffee and your opinion is that I asked for coffee."
~~ anonymous

"The logic of facts is always superior to any other logic."
~~ Sri Aurobindo [1872-1950]

"Don't run after this world thinking this is paradise when Adam was sent here as a punishment."
~~ Islamic proverb

"My friends tell me [that] I have an intimacy problem. But they don't really know me."
~~ Gary Shandling [ 1949-2016]

"Don't let the negatives of life control you. Rise above them. Use them as your stepping stones to go higher than you ever dreamed possible."
~~ cosmetics tycoon Mary Kay Ash [1918-2001]

"Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again."
~~ C.S. Lewis [1898-1963]

"You know that you're a book geek when you still get upset thinking about the Library of Alexandria."
~~ internet meme (with other variations)

"Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is Man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful."
~~ U.C.L.A. coach John R. Wooden [1910-2010]

"The secret of all great undertakings is hard work and self-reliance."
~~ meat-packing baron Gustavus Franklin Swift [1839-1903]

"Welders are always in heat" ~~ bumper sticker

"If you think organic food is expensive, have you priced cancer lately?"
~~ Joel Salatin

"I used to jog, but the ice cubes kept falling out of my glass."
~~ David Lee Roth

"Everyone should know how to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think."
~~ Steve Jobs [1955-2011], co-founder of Apple, Inc. [est. 1975]

"My mother said to me, 'If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.' Instead, I was a painter and became Picasso."
~~ Pablo Picasso [1881-1973]

"Quality means do it right when no one is looking."
~~ Henry Ford [1863-1947]

"I always start writing with a clean sheet of paper and a dirty mind."
~~ Patrick Dennis [1921-76], creator of "Auntie Mame" [1955]

"It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell."
~~ Gautama Buddha [5th Century BCE]

"Love and work, work and love . . . that's all there is."
~~ Sigmund Freud [1856-1939]

"Drawing on my fine command of the English language, I said nothing."
~~ Robert Benchley [1889-1945]

"If you could reason with religious people, there would be no religious people."
~~ TV character Gregory House, MD

"Anything that won't sell, I don't want to invent. Its sale is proof of utility, and utility is success."
~~ Thomas Alva Edison [1847-1931]

{each set of posted quotations are then posted at the Working Minds website, alphabetical by author}

Friday, April 21, 2017

Alternate Facts?

Only reality is real.

The concept of an alternate reality is held only by propagandists and the fools who believe them.

False realities are very common and is the source of great havoc among humans.

Individuals have true power only to the extent that their worldview is consistent with objective reality.

Groups have pseudo-power by use of the force inherent in their large numbers.

The failure of these groups derives from the use of that force, which is proof of the absence of Reason.
Copyright 2017 by G.E. Nordell, all rights reserved

Monday, April 10, 2017

Emperor Trump's Fake Missile Attack In Syria

On April 6, Emperor Trump faked a missile attack on Syria's Shayrat airfield as retaliation for the illegal chemical bombing attacks by Syrian military on civilians on April 4th. Two U.S. Navy warships were ordered to fire Tomahawk missiles at the airfield; per officials, 59 missiles were launched (one fell into the sea). Russian military later said that only 23 missiles reached their target.

So here's the math: each Tomahawk missile costs $1.87M x 59 launched, so that was $110.33 million of taxpayer money on the surface (plus costs for ships & personnel, etc.) – for no purpose other than a P/R boost for Trump.

So what's fake about this? According to several reports, Emperor Trump called his hero dictator Vladimir Putin to warn of the pending attack; Putin called his sidekick dictator Assad of Syria to warn him; Assad ordered all planes parked in their bunkers; and finally, not one missile landed on the runways, which would be the objective in a real military action. One pundit describes the event as 'Trump's fireworks show'.

While the middle steps are composed of rumor and conjecture, the White House confirmed that 'more than two dozen' members of Congress were notified in advance of the strike; the U.S. also notified several countries in advance of the strike thru international channels, including Canada, the U.K., Australia, and Russia ('to minimize any chance of Russian casualties').

The final factoid has a basis in fact: Syrian air forces launched further bombing raids from the targeted airbase the very next day: i.e. no damage to the runways.

(ADDED: Went to an appointment at the V.A. hospital the next day after posting this and an employee pointed out that Trump owns stock in Raytheon, the main manufacturer of Tomahawk missiles; not surprisingly, shares of Raytheon have spiked, meaning Trump is directly profiting from his Syria 'attack'.)

Copyright 2017 by G.E. Nordell, all rights reserved

Friday, April 07, 2017

The G.O.P. Economic Meltdown Continues . . .

You thought that the G.O.P. Economic Meltdown of 2008 was over?
Pah!

* January 2016: Barnes and Noble booksellers announced plans to close 197 bookstores over the next five years.
* January 2016: Finish Line, Inc. announced that it is closing the lowest-performing 150 of its 600 name-brand 'athleisure' clothing stores.
* January 2016: Wal-Mart, Inc. announced that it plans to close all of its 102 Wal-Mart Express stores as well as 52 full-size U.S. locations, while stepping up its digital sales efforts.
* March 2016: Sports Authority filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy and announced plans to close 140 stores.
* March 2016: After reporting a 20% drop in fourth quarter profit, the Kohl's department store chain announced that it is closing 18 stores and laying off more than 1,500 employees.
* May 2016: The Aeropostale teen apparel chain filed for bankruptcy and said that it will close 154 stores; the plan was later expanded to closing 570 of its 800 stores.
* May 2016: After failing to find a buyer, Sports Authority announced closing & liquidation of all its 460+ locations in the U.S.
* June 2016: Luxury fashion brand Ralph Lauren announced plans to cut about 1,000 jobs (8% of its workforce) while closing more than 50 stores. (The retailer's sales fell in every quarter in fiscal 2016, leading to a full-year sales decline of nearly 3%.)
* July 2016: After Hastings Entertainment filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy and failed to find a buyer, the seller of books & DVDs decided to liquidate all 126 stores.
* August 2016: After already closing 400 stores during the Office Max - Office Depot merger, Office Depot announced plans to close 300 more stores in the next three years. (The proposed merger with larger Staples was scrapped over antitrust concerns.)
* November 2016: After suffering seven consecutive quarters of declining sales, The Gap's North American operations announced plans to close 65 stores across its Gap, Gap Kids, Old Navy, and Banana Republic retail clothing brands; they already pulled the Old Navy brand out of Japan entirely, closing over 50 stores.

These chains announced closings in December 2016:
* Sears announced that it will close 17 Sears locations and 34 Kmart stores in early 2017 (liquidation sales to begin in January, closings between late March and mid-April). This latest round brings the total number of Sears stores closed this fiscal year to more than 200, and means that the retailer will have fewer than 1,500 stores left by early 2017, down nearly 60% from 2011 when Sears had more than 3,500 stores.
* Clothing retailer Children's Place closed 125 stores in 2016 and plans to close 200 more in 2017; it operates about 1,000 stores throughout the U.S.
* Tailored Brands, which operates the Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Banks stores, is closing as many as 250 stores.
* Chico’s FAS, which operates the Chico’s, White House Black Market, and Soma stores, announced that it will cut 240 jobs and close 120 stores by the end of 2017.
* American Eagle Outfitters is continuing its 2014 three-year initiative to close as many as 150 stores.

* January 2017: Macy’s Department Stores announced a plan to cut costs by closing stores and slashing 10,000 jobs.
* January 2017: The Limited women's apparel chain announced plans to close all of its 250 stores, with loss of about 4,000 jobs.
* January 2017: The Wet Seal teen fashions chain of California announced plans to close the last 170 of its stores; two years ago the chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, closed two-thirds of its locations, and laid off almost 3,700 workers.
* January 2017: Walgreens and Rite Aid revised their proposed merger deal, slashing more than $2 billion from the purchase price and pushing the closing date back six months while they await regulatory approval; the tentative deal is now scheduled to close July 31. Walgreens originally agreed to pay $9 per share for Rite Aid's common stock, but has now agreed to pay $7 per share if 1,000 or fewer stores have to be sold, and $6.50 per share if 1,200 stores must be sold.

* February 2017: J.C. Penney will close up to 140 stores, offering buyouts to many employees.
* March 2017: Staples announced plans to close 70 more stores; the latest store closings come on the heels of 48 closings last year, and a combined 242 stores closed in the two prior years; at the start of the current fiscal year, Staples had 1,255 U.S. stores and 304 Canadian locations.
* March 2017: RadioShack [est. 1921] filed for bankruptcy for the second time and is closing 552 (36 percent) of its stores.
* April 2017: Payless ShoeSource [est. 1956] filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and announced a restructuring plan that includes the immediate closure of 400 stores in the United States and Puerto Rico.
* *          * *          * *          * *
Meanwhile, the stock market continues to expand the inevitable bubble. 2016's year-end numbers were: Dow Jones Industrial Average Index closed at $19,762.60 (its best year since 2013); the Standard & Poor's 500 closed at $2,238.83; and the NASDAQ Composite Index closed at $5,383.12.

Then on January 25, the Dow Jones Industrial Average Index rose above $20,000 for the first time, closing for the day at $19,912.71 and the S&P 500 broke above $2,300 for the first time.

But in March, the stock markets suffered a week of selloffs based on the cancellation of the A.H.C.A. 'TrumpCare' vote, then recovered slightly on March 24: the Dow Jones Industrial Average Index closed at $20,596.72, the S&P 500 Index closed at $2,343.98, and the NASDAQ Composite Index closed at $5,828.74 – all still down for the week.
Those levels continued thru April.

Copyright 2017 by G.E. Nordell, all rights reserved

Monday, April 03, 2017

New Al Gore Movie "An Inconvenient Sequel"

Notice was sent out a couple days ago about Al Gore, Jr.'s new movie that is called "An Inconvenient Sequel", which is, of course, a follow-up to his 2006 hit film and bestselling book "An Inconvenient Truth". The new movie was shown at the Sundance Film Festival in January and received two standing ovations. There will be a companion book; both book & movie will be available in July.

It appears that the film begins with a report on the dire situation regarding climate changes on our planet but ends with hope that the rapidly-expanding renewable energy industry may yet save the day.

Not everyone may know that when Al Gore studied at University of California at San Diego, one of his teachers was Roger Revelle, the first scientist to use the term 'greenhouse effect'. Al Gore has stated that since he had access to the political realm thru his father, a U.S. Congressman and Senator from Tennessee, he decided to enter politics himself in order to battle climate change.

official sequel movie site
sequel movie credits at Internet Movie Database
watch 3/2017 official sequel trailer [2:31] online at YouTube

companion book by Al Gore, Jr. [2017]
Kindle Edition from Rodale Books [DUE July 2017] pre-order for $9.99
Rodale Books pb [DUE July 2017] pre-order for $16.97

Also recently added on YouTube is an Al Gore interview by Amy Goodman at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival
watch full 1/2017 segment [11:26] online at YouTube

And lots more info on the Al Gore, Jr. Page at Spirit of America Bookstore

Copyright 2017 by G.E. Nordell, all rights reserved

Sunday, March 26, 2017

News Factoids for First Quarter 2017

The Republicans' plan will reduce a middle-income 65-year-old’s Social Security benefits by 17% by 2030, without any tax increases to the richest Americans.

"Over the past eight years, the United States has sensibly reduced its nuclear weapons stockpile by 1,255 weapons."
~~ James McKeon, Policy Analyst at Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation

U.S. scientists officially declared that 2016 was the hottest year on record. That makes three in a row.
~~ Washington Post, January 2017

Donald Trump is not the first loony to reign as Emperor of The United States: there also was Emperor Norton I [1819-80] who reigned in San Francisco for twenty years.

Elmo gets fired from P.B.S. due to Emperor Trump’s budget cuts
watch video [2:19] online at Facebook/Trending

OVERKILL DEPT.
Emperor Trump’s proposed increase in the U.S. Defense Department budget is roughly equal to EIGHTY PERCENT of Russia’s entire annual military budget.

Copyright 2017 by G.E. Nordell, all rights reserved

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

March 2017 Quotations (56)

"Human rights and civil rights morally outrank states’ rights."
~~ V.B. Price

"There were so many lies in the air that [another] one more or less made little difference."
~~ F. Scott Fitzgerald [1896-1940] - in short story “The I.O.U.”

"Replace the word 'problem' with the word 'opportunity' in all your thoughts."
~~ Matthew Keith Groves

"The movies that aren't made are as revealing of the times as those that are."
~~ Richard Brody, blogger/critic at The New Yorker Magazine

“Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.”
~~ J.K. Rowling

“Getting to know someone is not a task - it’s an art.”
~~ Pierce LeBlanc

“Nothing is more wonderful than the art of being free, but nothing is harder to learn how to use than freedom.”
~~ Alexis de Tocqueville [1805-59]

"Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary."
~~ Rev. Martin Luther King [1929-68]

“So it’s true, when all is said and done, grief is the price we pay for love.”
~~ E.A. Bucchianeri

“Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. It is up to you.”
~~ Jean-Paul Sartre [1905-80]

“I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.”
~~ Plato [427-347 BCE] - in "The Republic"

"Pain nourishes courage. You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you."
~~ actress Mary Tyler Moore [1936-2017]

“If you were born with the weakness to fall you were born with the strength to rise.”
~~ Rupi Kaur of Canada

“It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness.”
~~ Seneca the Younger [4? B.C.E. - 65 A.D.]

"All of us tough guys are hopeless sentimentalists at heart."
~~ Raymond Chandler [1888-1959]

"Modern music is a sick puppy."
~~ musician Frank Zappa [1940-93]

"If you don't live it, it won't come out your horn."
~~ jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker [1920-55].

"You may already be a member!"
~~ motto of The Cacophony Society [est. 1986]

"If you could feel but a particle of Divine Love, so great would it be [that] you could not contain it."
~~ Paramahansa Yogananda [1893-1952]

"We made our mistakes back in the XXth century, Lord knows, but we never nominated a man for president who brags about not reading . . . When I envision a Trump Presidential Library, I see enormous chandeliers and gold carpet and a thousand slot machines. God help us. I mean it. We’re in trouble down here."
~~ author & radio personality Garrison Keillor

"Democracy dies in darkness."
~~ Judge Damon J. Keith, U.S. Court of Appeals, circa 1960s
and added as slogan on the Washington Post newspaper masthead in 2017

"The limits of my language are the limits of my world."
~~ Ludwig Wittgenstein [1889-1951]

"The question for America no longer comes down to Democrats vs. Republicans nor liberals vs. conservatives nor free market libertarians vs. anti-globalists, but rather to a simple formulation of the people vs. the elites ... Wake up! The Class War has already begun." ."
~~ John R. Talbott, in 2004

"Not only is it extremely unjust in itself, inequality has highly negative consequences on the society as a whole because the very fact of inequality has a corrosive, harmful effect on democracy."
~~ philosopher-activist Noam Chomsky

"The arts are enormously important. The arts bring passion and emotion to ideas . . . Art has a special and powerful role to play because it enhances people's feelings and gives strength to people's ideas and inspires people."
~~ activist-historian Howard Zinn [1922-2010]

“Happiness depends on being free, and freedom depends on being courageous.”
~~ Marie Rutkoski

“To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don't grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.”
~~ Allan W. Watts [1915-73]

"Freedom is not something that anybody can be given. Freedom is something people take, and people are as free as they want to be.”
~~ James Baldwin [1924-87]

“We cannot think of being acceptable to others until we have first proven acceptable to ourselves.”
~~ activist Malcolm X [1925-65]

“What people have the capacity to choose, they have the ability to change.”
~~ diplomat Madeleine K. Albright

“Freedom lies in being bold.”
~~ poet Robert Frost [1874-1963]

“I prefer liberty with danger than peace with slavery.”
~~ Jean-Jacques Rousseau [1712-78]

"We should never overlook the fact that the threats that we now face are the most severe that have ever arisen in human history. They are literal threats to survival ... These are very urgent concerns, they cannot be delayed ... They have to be faced directly and soon."
~~ philosopher-activist Noam Chomsky - in December 2016

"[The victory at Standing Rock] is a call to remind us that the engine can be stopped."
~~ Harry Belafonte

"I'm so glad I didn't die on the various occasions I have earnestly wished I might, for I would have missed a lot of lovely weather."
~~ Elizabeth von Arnim [1866-1941]

"Nature is as it is because this is the only possible nature consistent with itself."
~~ physicist Geoffrey F. Chew - in the 1960s

"If they were honest they would call their [TrumpCare] bill the 'Give Us All Your Money or Die Act'."
~~ The Pen at Peace Team activism website

"There have been no dragons in my life / Only small spiders, and stepping in gum . . . / I could have coped with dragons"
~~ poem circa 1970s by Niki Nymark of St. Louis

"Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them."
~~ author Lemony Snicket

"Censorship, like charity, should begin at home; but unlike charity, it should end there."
~~ Clare Booth Luce [1903-87]

“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame."
~~ Irish playwright & author Oscar Wilde [1854-1900]

"The end does not justify the means. No one's rights can be secured by the violation of the rights of others."
~~ philosopher Ayn Rand [1905-82]

"The world is not a miserable prison, it is a playground for a nonstop tournament between stupidity and imagination."
~~ poet James Broughton [1913-99]

"Behind every argument is someone's ignorance."
~~ Justice Louis D. Brandeis [1856-1941]

I swear to the Lord / I still can't see / why Democracy means / everybody but me
~~ Langston Hughes [1902-67]

"Conflict cannot survive without your participation."
~~ Dr. Wayne W. Dyer [1940-2015]

"As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the one thing left to us in a bad time."
~~ writer E.B. White [1899-1985]

“At one and the same time, therefore, society is everything and society is nothing. Society is the most powerful concoction in the world and society has no existence whatsoever.”
~~ British author Virginia Woolf [1882-1941] — in "Orlando: A Biography", 1928

"Logic, my dear Zoe, merely enables one to be wrong with authority."
~~ The Second Doctor Who

"[We're] not about ideas. [We're] about making ideas happen."
~~ Scott Belsky, co-founder of the Bëhance creativity social website [est. 2005]

"Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men."
~~ John F. Kennedy [1917-63]

"If you don't genuinely like your customers, chances are [that] they won't buy."
~~ Thomas Watson, Jr. [1914-93], longtime CEO of IBM

"Hire character. Train skill."
~~ Peter W. Schutz

"A truly great library contains something to offend everyone."
~~ Anonymous

"Educate the heart. Let us have good men."
~~ sculptor Hiram Powers [1805-73]

"We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution."
~~ Abraham Lincoln [1809-65]

"Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are."
~~ Mason Cooley [1927-2002]

{each set of posted quotations are then posted at the Working Minds website, alphabetical by author}

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Recipe of The Week: Iced Coffee

No kidding, I've had servers tell me that they either did not have 'iced' coffee or that they did not have ingredients for 'iced coffee'. The first place I saw iced coffee on the menu was at the M.G.M. Studios Commissary around 1980 - all the Hollywood studios have it, workers are quite used to ordering it.

So, as a public service, here is how to make iced coffee in its best form:

• • Fill a large glass completely with ice cubes or chips.
• • Slowly pour hot coffee from the pot into the glass until the partly-melted ice is floating.
• • Add more ice, to top of glass.
• • Sweeten to taste.

NOTE: The business of putting a dinner knife inside the glass while pouring is an old wives tale: Modern commercial or at-home glassware make this ridiculously unnecessary.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

February 2017 Quotations (60)

"The darkest day. The blackest hour. Chin up, shoulders back. Let's see what we're made of, you and I."
~~ 12th Doctor Who

"[If] Trump’s plan for managing his businesses while he’s in the Oval Office . . . doesn’t amount to premeditated corruption, it certainly paves the way for it."
~~ columnist Richard Eskow, in January 2017

“Yes, books are dangerous. They should be dangerous – they contain ideas.”
~~ Pete Hautman

"In the [XXth] century, more Americans died in murders than in wars."
~~ columnist L.M. Boyd [1927-2007]

"A successful book is not made of what is in it, but what is left out of it."
~~ Mark Twain [1835-1910]

“It is not enough to be industrious; so are the ants. What are you industrious about?”
~~ Henry David Thoreau [1817-62]

"If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves."
~~ Thomas Alva Edison [1847-1931]

"Your conscience is the measure of the honesty of your selfishness. Listen to it carefully."
~~ author-aviator Richard Bach

"Our virtues and our failings are inseparable, like force and matter."
~~ Nikola Tesla [1856-1943]

"Fighting crime? Crime fights back!"
~~ line in the "Tick" TV series, 2001

"The future is today - Worry about it tomorrow."
~~ motto of "Futurama" TV series

"There is a time to laugh and a time not to laugh, and this is not one of them."
~~ Inspector Jacques Clouseau, star of "The Pink Panther" Movies

“And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”
~~ Haruki Murakami, in the 2002 novel "Kafka On The Shore"

"Great books help you understand, and they help you feel understood."
~~ John Green

"Why hasn't [president-elect Trump] been given more respect? Here's a fair answer: He hasn't earned any."
~~ Dana Milbank, Washington Post columnist

"Writing is dreaming with your eyes open."
~~ author Dave Burns

"I'll never guess the number of buttons in a jar ever again – not ever!"
~~ B.O. Plenty character in the 'Dick Tracy' comic strip (view the panel}

"If you change the way [that] you look at things, the things [that] you look at change."
~~ Dr. Wayne W. Dyer [1940-2015]

"The only sense that is common in the long run, is the sense of change and we all instinctively avoid it."
~~ E.B. White [1899-1985]

“Humor is the first of the gifts to perish in a foreign tongue.”
~~ British author Virginia Woolf [1882-1941]

re Trump's 'Alternative Facts': "The Party told you to reject all evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command."
~~ from the 1949 novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four" by George Orwell [1903-50]

"A word after a word after a word is power."
~~ Margaret Atwood

"[President Trump] does not have a running war with the media, he has a running war with reality."
~~ Keith Olberman, G.Q. TV

"Resist the demogogue D.J.T."
~~ Joe Kensil

"We don't want equal injustice for all."
~~ Kevin Alexander Gray

“In a democracy, the individual enjoys not only the ultimate power but carries the ultimate responsibility.”
~~ writer-activist Norman Cousins [1915-90]

"Romance is everything."
~~ Gertrude Stein [1874-1946]

"In fiction, believability may have nothing to do with reality or even plausibility. It has everything to do with those things in nonfiction. I think that the nonfiction writer's fundamental job is to make what is true believable."
~~ non-fiction writer Tracy Kidder

"Our delusions own us. We can never truly break free from them."
~~ line in "Mr. Robot" TV series

"The geeks have inherited the Earth. The rest of you just don't know it yet."
~~ line from "Algorithm: The Hacker Movie" [2014] by Jon Schiefer

"Obamacare hysteria [by the Republican Party] was never anything other than racial hatred [disguised] as a policy dispute."
~~ The Pen at Peace Team activism website

"Statistics are at their most powerful when they surprise us."
~~ Alan Smith, U.K. journalist

"Sometimes even to live is an act of courage."
~~ Seneca the Younger [4? B.C.E. - 65 A.D.]

"The universe [simply] came into existence all by itself."
~~ physicist Stephen W. Hawking

“Winners lose much more often than losers. So if you keep losing but you’re still trying, keep it up! You’re right on track.”
~~ Matthew Keith Groves

“A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him.”
~~ Sidney Greenberg [1917-2003]

"Die when I may, I want it said by those who knew me best that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow."
~~ Abraham Lincoln [1809-65]

"An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it."
~~ Mahatma Gandhi [1869-1948]

"Conformists die, but heretics live forever."
~~ Elbert Hubbard [1856-1915]

"Each man has his own vocation: His talent is his call."
~~ Ralph Waldo Emerson [1803-82]

"In the halls of politics and power, most economists are like wallpaper – full of intricate details but ultimately decoration."
~~ journalist Bill Saporito

"Man is the one animal that can't be tamed."
~~ Robert A. Heinlein [1907-88]

"Talk is cheap – except when Congress does it."
~~ Ronald Reagan [1911-2004]

"There are no rules. That's the first hundred rules. As for the hundred and first rule, I haven't figured that out yet."
~~ Werner Erhard

"If you do not breathe thru writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don't write, because our culture has no use for it."
~~ Anaïs Nin [1903-77]

"One of the greatest discoveries [that] a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find [that] he can do what he was afraid he couldn't do."
~~ Henry Ford [1863-1947]

"There is never enough good writing to go around."
~~ Raymond Chandler [1888-1959]

"There are uncertain truths – even true statements that we may take to be false – but there are no uncertain certainties. Since we can never know anything for sure, it is simply not worth searching for certainty; but it is well worth searching for truth; and we do this chiefly by searching for mistakes, so that we have to correct them."
~~ philosopher Karl Popper [1902-94] in "In Search of A Better World" [1984]

"I think [that] in literature the writer must be a radical. The insight that guides the work must go the limit of felt thought, and then beyond."
~~ Vivian Gornick

"The success of a [vacation] depends on what you find for yourself on the spot, not what you bring with you."
~~ mystery author Ellis Peters [1913-95]

"Ain't no money in poetry / That's what sets the poet free"
~~ Gary Clark, lyric of song "Cold Dog Soup"

"What is this life, if full of care / we have no time to stand and stare"
~~ Welsh poet W.H. Davies [1871-1940]

"Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and fat."
~~ Alex Levine

"I believe the future is simply the past, entered thru another gate."
~~ Miguel Piñero [1946-88]

"Art is making something out of nothing and selling it."
~~ musician Frank Zappa [1940-93]

"Interest in life is the very best form of wealth."
~~ Erle Stanley Gardner [1889-1970]

"Vigorous writing is concise."
~~ William Strunk, Jr. [1869-1946]

"He who establishes his argument by noise and command, shows that his reason is weak."
~~ essayist Michel De Montaigne [1533-92]

"We are all born originals. Why is it so many of us die copies?"
~~ poet Edward Young [1683-1765]

"If you are afraid of being lonely, don’t try to be right."
~~ French author Jules Renard [1864-1910]

{each set of posted quotations are then posted at the Working Minds website, alphabetical by author}

Monday, February 13, 2017

Working Minds Essay #112: Ayn Rand's Critical Mistake

Lots of folks get Ayn Rand wrong: Ron Paul, Paul Ryan, even radio host Thom Hartmann. They mostly spread misinformation trying to refute the misinformation about Ayn Rand and Objectivism that seeps out of the Republican propaganda machine.

Ayn Rand kicked the Republicans out of her 'circle' in New York in 1968, and she kicked out the Libertarians the next year. The Republicans especially stand on the word 'selfish' and say they love Objectivism but give themselves permission to lie and cheat and steal to win elections. Any claims to Objectivism by Republicans and Libertarians are untrue.

The economies of the United States and Europe are not and never have been capitalism. Robber barons are not capitalists, but they get away with a lot by flying that false flag. Capitalism is the creation of jobs and products and services.

Ayn Rand's Objectivist philosophy is correct in the existential sense: it matches objective reality. It is also perfectly consistent with the Golden Rule. Although the philosophy is correct, Ayn Rand made one very large mistake, one which has caused a lot of mischief.

Ayn Rand was born in Petrograd, Russia in 1905; she experienced both of the revolutions of 1917; the Bolsheviks took away her father's pharmacy and her family suffered reduced circumstances thereafter. She hated communism for the rest of her life.

You can see videos of Ayn Rand from the late 1970s, mostly from televison appearances, and they are a lot of fun. What is remarkable there is that even at age seventy her Russian accent was pronounced. (She moved to America in 1926, died in New York City in 1982.) It looks on these videos like she thinks in Russian and then speaks in English. That is the source of her major mistake. The term 'selfishness' as used in her novels and her newspaper columns and her collected works is not really what the philosophy intends. The proper word would be 'selfhood', which leaves the Republicans out in the cold. A lot has been lost in that mis-translation.

One must become a (capital-S) Self in order to practice Objectivism. A Self is responsible for his/her actions. A Self has no interest in pressure to conform or to surrender to altruism – altruism is putting the interest of real or abstract strangers before the interest of one's Self or loved ones. A Self chooses and lives from his/her values without agreement being necessary.

So-called Social Darwinism is also a false concept. Charles Darwin used the term 'survival of the fittest' only once in his writingss, and that was a quote of someone else. What Darwin said was “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” Mankind's failure to adapt to the reality of climate change has our species destined for extinction in about thirty years. Conservatives use Darwin to justify raping and pillaging the planet – just as they use Objectivism to oppress regulation and civil rights.

One of the items on my Lottery List (what I'll do when I win the Big One) is to obtain the rights for "Atlas Shrugged" and edit a version with the word 'selfishness' replaced by the word 'selfhood'. While the Ayn Rand estate sells 300,000 books each year, in large part to college students, those readers give up the tough road to selfhood partly because the vocabulary in Ayn Rand's books is inaccurate. There is also the 24/7 pressure of the Culture Structure to believe all the crap that recently put a fascist in the White House.

Being a Self provides major advantages in dealing with a sometimes-hostile and often-irrational culture. You should try it.
Copyright 2017 by G.E. Nordell, all rights reserved

Saturday, February 11, 2017

News Factoid Report: O.R.N.L. Team Converts CO2 to Ethanol

This story seems to have fallen through the cracks and has not been reported except by scientific media.

Back in October 2016, a team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory accidentally discovered a nano-process that combines CO2 dissolved in water (club soda?) and a carbon-copper catalyst to produce the fuel ethanol. They were attempting to invoke the first stage of production of methanol, but the process completed itself and produced the ethanol, at an efficiency rate of 60-70%. N.A.S.L. set up a webpage article and uploaded a nice two-minute video short to YouTube, which you can view here.

Fact-checker website Snopes confirms the event, but warns that it is much too early to proclaim any commercial fuel conversion process. The O.R.N.L. team suggests that commercial licensing can not possibly begin for a year at best, and that the O.R.N.L. team will next work on the problem of scalability - the difference between producing a few drops in a laboratory versus gallons per hour.

O.R.N.L. set up a second webpage article in January that emphasizes the work needing to be done. The scientist team also suggests that the probable first use of their discovery will be to remove carbon dioxide from power plant emissions and also to utilize any excess electricity made during the day from wind and solar (that otherwise is lost for lack of storage methodology).

Early stages, yes, but a breakthrough is a breakthrough: Congratulation to American scientists!

Copyright 2017 by G.E. Nordell, all rights reserved

Monday, January 30, 2017

News Factoid Report: Trump Owns 19% of Russian Oil Company?

On Wednesday, Reuters reported (in great detail) how 19.5% of Rosneft, Russia’s state oil company, has been sold to parties unknown. This was done through a dizzying array of Cayman Islands shell companies, so that the most that can be said with certainty now is that the money in play was originally loaned out to the shell layers by V.T.B., the Russian government’s official bank.

Why is this interesting or important to Americans? Let's connect a few dots here.

The much-maligned recent 35-page Steele Dossier included at least three topics of concern: damaging sexual allegations that, if true, would be potential cause of blackmail against President Trump; financial allegations that, if true, would also be possible cause for blackmail against President Trump; and allegations of treasonous communication and payments between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. The document's contents have enough veracity that U.S. intelligence officials delivered a 2-page analysis brief on the matter last Summer to then-candidate Trump, VP Biden, and President Obama.

James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence (2010-2017), described the leaks as damaging to U.S. national security but said that the intelligence community had as yet made no judgment on the truth or falsity of the information.

The Steele Dossier reports that Vladimir Putin offered Donald Trump 19% of Rosneft if Trump became America's president and removed sanctions. The dossier said this in July, and the sale didn’t happen until early December. And 19.5% surely is a match for '19% plus a brokerage commission'.

So Emperor Trump is in a bind: if he removes or reduces the sanctions against Putin and other Russian oligarchs, then he proves the allegations of the Steele Dossier true; and NOT reducing those sanctions is likely to make Putin very, very mad.

Copyright 2017 by G.E. Nordell, all rights reserved

Monday, January 23, 2017

Working Minds Essay #111: "Told You So, 2021"

Back during the 2012 election cycle before Barack Obama was re-elected, I kept being confronted with the Republican meme that 'no one could have predicted' the G.O.P. Economic Meltdown of 2008, still very real. Well, economist Paul Krugman had and economist Nouriel Roubini had, and so had I, the intuitive economist. So I looked over my prior WMail Ezine and Dateline Chamesa blogposts and found a bunch of my predictions slash warnings, which began in 2004. I put them together as a blog post called "Patting Myself On The Back" that was posted on Sunday 9 September 2012.

Here we are again. The blind and propagandized rabble have elected (more or less) idiot billionaire and fascist Emperor Donald J. Trump to occupy the White House for the next four years. OMG, right?

Donald has no clue, the Republicans control both houses of Congress, things are going to get much worse very quickly. (It's really very simple: Take what the fascist kleptocrats want to do and predict what will result when they do it.)

VERY PREDICTABLE

The banks will be deregulated and either the inflated rental home mortgage market will collapse or too many citizens will be unable to pay their outrageous student loans, and the student loan derivatives market will collapse. Or both.

E.P.A. regulations will be rolled back and oil companies and other polluters will destroy the rivers and lakes and aquifers and farmland of America, transforming Middle America into Third World economic hellholes.

Scientists have named 2016 as the hottest year on record, which makes three in a row. Together with devastations from pollution, food crops will shrink and groceries will become scarce, as will potable water in extended areas.

Ruptures occur on existing pipelines every day due to fiscal irresponsibility, as do railroad tankcar wrecks. ('Hell, repairs and maintenence cost money!'). There will be several major pipeline and-or railcar failures that leave large landscapes poisoned forever.

When Barack Obama took office as President, the unemployment rate that he inherited from George Dubya Bush was ten percent - America was losing as many as 770,000 jobs per month. When Barack Obama left office, the unemployment rate was around 4.5%, and his policies created as many as 250,000 new jobs each month. With or without a repeat of the G.O.P. Economic Meltdown of 2008, expect the policies of Emperor Trump and the troglodytes in Congress to return America to 10% unemployment, possibly within his first year. For example, cancelling Obamacare will eliminate as many as 3 million jobs in the health sector alone.

UNCLEAR BUT LIKELY

George W. Bush was warned about al Qaida in Summer of 2001, but he blew it off and the terrorists crashed four hijacked passenger planes in Pennsylvania and Virginia and New York City on September 11th. Trump cares even less about national security or being briefed on military intelligence than Bush, so Trump is going to miss something or other and hundreds of non-combatant Americans will die.

The Women Against Trump rallies were surprisingly peaceful. Even though Washington, DC cops had to deal with the anarchist (not liberals) rioting on Inauguration Day, only a handful of TV reporters and print journalists were rounded up 'by mistake' over the weekend. As the economy gets worse and demonstrations get larger and more intense, the civil rights violations that were unleashed against the Occupy Movement will reappear. TV pseudo-news will be showing weather maps and also riot maps every evening. Airports and commuter rail centers will be closed, further directly messing with lives of the innocent.

There is already grounds for impeaching Trump, since he refuses to transfer his businesses to blind trusts in conformance with the Emoluments Clauses. Not a good plan, however, because impeachment of Trump makes Mike Pence the President. Impeach Pence (no reason yet known) and you get Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who campaigns on the destruction of Social Security and of Medicare, as the new President. And the already unhappy sexist, racist, fascist rabble won't like any such events one bit.

WORST CASE SCENARIO

Emperor Trump's ego really, really wants to suspend all civil liberties. He truly believes that he deserves to declare martial law, the problem will be how long his handlers can prevent him from doing so. He can't stand the low turnout for his inauguration and parade (empty stands!) and his team has worked hard to lie into existence 'alternative facts'. Any little riots here and there can be used as the excuse for autocratic counter measures, no doubt termed as acts of 'anti-terrorism'.

The military will have to make a choice: obey the Supreme Commander or obey the Constitution. Truly, it could go either way, essentially by region or city. Civil war is entirely possible with Emperor Trump in the Oval Office.

* *          * *          * *          * *
I also predict that sales of Nyquil and prescription opioids will go thru the roof as these events become real.

Predictions are now in place. We will know how right I am by 2021 or before.

My preference is that I am wrong on every single item, but that result is surely a fantasy.

Copyright 2017 by G.E. Nordell, all rights reserved

Friday, January 06, 2017

2016 Year-End Website Statistics

Total page count on my various domains is now 1,508 (up 47), total coded Amazon-link book, DVD, et cetera covers now 25,849 (up 1,900); now 593 connections on LinkedIn; now 199 friends on two Facebook accounts (up 88); and 30 postings this year to my Dateline Chamesa weblog [est. 2005] {all-time total now 358}.

Part of this task is adding the details on a webstats page: anyone who wants to know the details can go to http://www.genordell.com/webstats.htm.

That's it, gotta get back to work updating even more stuff . . .

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

January 2017 Quotations (51)

"I finally found some affordable health insurance. Unfortunately, the annual deductible is four hundred thousand dollars."
~~ G.E. Nordell

“The white working class is about to be betrayed.”
~~ Paul Krugman, New York Times columnist

"The ability to quote is a servicable substitute for wit."
~~ W. Somerset Maugham [1874-1965]

"Du lieber Gott! was so ein Mann / Nicht alles, alles denken kann!"
"Dear God! The things that such a man / Can think of! Nothing! Everything!"
~~ {Johann Wolfgang von} Goethe [1749-1832] - in "Faust Part 1, Chapter 16" [1809]

"Your [Working Minds] website has always had the best collection of thoughtful quotations anywhere, ever."
~~ reader and T.E.D. speaker Dan Pallotta

"Doubt everything or believe everything: these are two equally convenient strategies. With either we dispense with the need for reflection."
~~ French polymath Jules Henri Poincaré [1854-1912]

"When even the brightest mind in our world has been trained up from childhood in a superstition of any kind, it will never be possible for that mind, in its maturity, to examine sincerely, dispassionately, and conscientiously any evidence or any circumstance which shall seem to cast a doubt upon the validity of that superstition. I doubt if I could do it myself."
~~ Mark Twain [1835-1910]

"There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation."
~~ British philosopher Herbert Spencer [1820-1903]

"If a man is in too big a hurry to give up an error he is liable to give up some truth with it."
~~ Wilbur Wright [1867-1912], in 1902

"It's like religion. Heresy [in science] is thought of as a bad thing, whereas it should be just the opposite."
~~ astrophysicist Dr. Thomas Gold [1920-2004]

"Nothing is thoroughly approved but mediocrity. The majority has established this, and it fixes its fangs on whatever gets beyond it either way."
~~ Blaise Pascal [1623-62]

"The good is slow because going uphill; evil is fast because going downhill."
~~ Alexander Dumas, fils [1824-95]

"A woman is like an artichoke, you must work hard to get to her heart."
~~ Inspector Jacques Clouseau, star of "The Pink Panther" Movies

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.”
~~ Albert Einstein [1879-1955]

“Always do what you are afraid to do.”
~~ Ralph Waldo Emerson [1803-82]

"There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book."
~~ Marcel Proust [1871-1922]

"I cannot live without books."
~~ Thomas Jefferson [1743-1826]

"Change is not merely necessary to life – it is Life."
~~ futurist Alvin Toffler [1928-2016]

“Nothing that comes easy is worth a dime.”
~~ Wayne Woodrow 'Woody' Hayes [1913-87], football coach at Ohio State University

“When you win, say nothing. When you lose, say less.”
~~ Paul Brown [1908-91], coached the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns football teams

"If you can't stay sober to write, who will stay sober to read you?"
~~ advice to young Ernest Hemingway [1899-1961] while in Paris

"The right to vote is a consequence, not a primary cause, of a free social system – and its value depends on the constitutional structure implementing and strictly delimiting the voters' power; unlimited majority rule is an instance of the principle of tyranny."
~~ philosopher Ayn Rand [1905-82]

"It is amazing how lovely common things become, if one only knows how to look at them."
~~ Louisa May Alcott [1832-88]

"Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That's what we're doing."
~~ Wikimedia founder Jimmy Wales, in July 2004

"some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly."
~~ Sir Francis Bacon [1561-1626]

"Trump [is] a fascist. Not in the sense of an all-purpose bad guy, but in the sense of somebody who sincerely believes that the toxic combination of strong government and strong corporations should run the nation and the world."
~~ columnist Michael Kinsley

"If I want your opinion, I'll give it to you."
~~ line in the movie "The Last Word" [2017], also gangster Al Capone [1899-1947]

"Farting is such sweet sorrow."
~~ 'Billy Bob' Shakespeare

“The nuclear arms race is like two sworn enemies standing waist deep in gasoline, one with three matches, the other with five.”
~~ Carl Sagan [1934-96]

“Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.“
~~ James Baldwin [1924-87] , in "Giovanni's Room" (1956 novel)

“There is no comfort anywhere for anyone who dreads to go home.“
~~ Laura Ingalls Wilder [1867-1957], in "Little Town On The Prairie" (1941 novel)

“You can go home again, the General Temporal Theory asserts, so long as you understand that home is a place where you have never been.“
~~ Ursula K. Le Guin, in "The Dispossessed" (1974 novel)

“Procrastination most often arises from a sense that there is too much to do, and hence no single aspect of the to-do worth doing. Underneath this rather antic form of action-as-inaction is the much more unsettling question whether anything is worth doing at all.”
~~ Canadian philosopher Mark Kingwell

"Cultivate your curves – they may be dangerous but they won't be avoided."
~~ entertainer Mae West [1893-1980]

"One must think like a hero to behave like a merely decent human being."
~~ poet May Sarton [1912-95]

“Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying [that] you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say."
~~ Jason Schaefer, computer consultant in Santa Fe, New Mexico

"Never does not exist for the human mind . . . only Not yet"
~~ opening title of 1929 silent movie "Woman In The Moon" by Fritz Lang [1890-1976]

"Nobody deserves Donald Trump, not even his supporters."
~~ Wisconsin journalist Bill Leuders

"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel [within] ourselves, poetry."
~~ Irish poet William Butler Yeats [1865-1939]

"All good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings."
~~ William Wordsworth [1750-1850], in 1802

"We're all alone in a meaningless world."
~~ Joy Williams

"That's the real trouble with the world. Too many people grow up."
~~ Walt Disney [1901-66]

"Revolutionary justice is not based on legal precepts, but on moral conviction."
~~ Fidel Castro [1926-2016], in 1959

"Write a short story every week. It's not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row."
~~ Ray Bradbury [1920-2012]

"Conformity is that jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth."
~~ John F. Kennedy [1917-63]

"The only way to do great work is to love what you do."
~~ Steve Jobs [1955-2011]

"When you truly love your journey, the destination is just a bonus."
~~ motivational speaker Katrina Mayer

"Politicians are the lowest form of life on earth. Liberal democrats are the lowest form of politicians."
~~ Gen. George S. Patton [1885-1945]

"All artists are egotistical maniacs with inferiority complexes."
~~ singer-songwriter Lionel Ritchie

"The first principle of architectural beauty is that the essential lines of a construction be determined by a perfect appropriateness to its use."
~~ Gustave Eiffel [1832-1923]

"Honk if you love Jesus. Text while driving if you want to meet Him."
~~ roadside church marquee

{each set of posted quotations are then posted at the Working Minds website, alphabetical by author}