Category: history and heritage


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ODE to JOY

The carefully choreographed “flash mob” at Sabadell, Spain’s Plaça de Sant Roc includes performers from the Vallès Symphony Orchestra, the Cor Lieder Camera, Amics de l’Opera de Sabadell, and Coral Belles Arts.

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Cyprus’ 56-member Parliament voted to seize  a percentage of private individual deposits. Why should we care about a tiny Mediterranean island? Because Cyprus could be the canary in the coal mine.

Cyprus’s banks, like many banks in Europe, are bankrupt. Cyprus went to the Eurozone to get a bailout, the same way Ireland, Greece, and other European countries have.The Eurozone powers-that-be gave Cyprus a bailout — but with a startling condition that has never before been imposed on any major banking system since the start of the global financial crisis in 2008.The Eurozone powers-that-be (mainly, Germany) insisted that the depositors in Cyprus’s banks pay part of the tab.

Not the bondholders.

The depositors. The folks who had their money in the banks for safe-keeping are now being forced to surrender private funds.

When Cyprus’s banks reopen this morning, every depositor will have some of his or her money seized. Accounts under 100,000 euros will have 6.75% of the funds seized. Accounts over 100,000 euros will have 9.9% seized. And then the Eurozone’s emergency lending facility and the International Monetary Fund will inject 10 billion euros into the banks to allow them to keep operating

Cyprus’s government tried to explain this deal by observing that it was better than the alternative: Immediate bankruptcy and closure of the major banks. In that scenario, depositors would lose a lot more of their money. Businesses would go bankrupt. And tens of thousands of people would be instantly thrown out of work.

But, still, not surprisingly, news that deposits in Cyprus’s banks would be seized triggered an immediate run on the banks.

Depositors rushed to ATMs and tried to withdraw their money before it could be seized.But the ATMs weren’t working. And the government has now made it impossible to transfer money out of the country. Since the Great Depression wiped out a big percentage of the world’s banks, vaporizing the bank depositors’ savings in the process, banking system regulators have tried to do everything they can to protect bank depositors. And they are smart to do so. Because the moment depositors think that there is risk to their savings, they rush to banks to yank their money out.

That’s called a run on the bank.

And since no bank anywhere has enough cash on hand to pay off all its depositors at once, runs on the bank cause banks to go bust.

That’s what happened to hundreds of banks in the Great Depression.

But now, thanks to Eurozone’s bizarre decision in Cyprus, the illusion that depositors don’t need to yank their money out of threatened banks because they’ll be protected has been shattered.

update: The Cyprus representitives voted the plan down under heavy public pressure.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/19/cyprus-rejects-eurozone-bailout-savings-tax

Lucky Limerick

Patrick’s not the man that they told ya

In the legend  Erin Go Bragh

He went as a slave

But The Island he saved

Was never a home to the cobra

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At the turn of the 20th century, Socialist Author and rabble rouser Jack London shared some advice on writing and work.
From “Getting Into Print,” 1903
By Jack London
Don’t dash off a six-thousand-word story before breakfast. Don’t write too much. Concentrate your sweat on one story, rather than dissipate it over a dozen. Don’t loaf and invite inspiration; light out after it with a club, and if you don’t get it you will none the less get something that looks remarkably like it. Set yourself a “stint,” [London wrote 1,000 words nearly every day of his adult life] and see that you do that “stint” each day; you will have more words to your credit at the end of the year.
Study the tricks of the writers who have arrived. They have mastered the tools with which you are cutting your fingers. They are doing things, and their work bears the internal evidence of how it is done. Don’t wait for some good Samaritan to tell you, but dig it out for yourself.
See that your pores are open and your digestion is good. That is, I am confident, the most important rule of all.
Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain. Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter, and lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.
And work. Spell it in capital letters. WORK. WORK all the time. Find out about this earth, this universe; this force and matter, and the spirit that glimmers up through force and matter from the maggot to Godhead. And by all this I mean WORK for a philosophy of life. It does not hurt how wrong your philosophy of life may be, so long as you have one and have it well.
The three great things are: GOOD HEALTH; WORK; and a PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE. I may add, nay, must add, a fourth—SINCERITY. Without this, the other three are without avail; with it you may cleave to greatness and sit among the giants.

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Hurricane Isaac brought mostly rain and some property damage. The dilapidated structure next door ;riddled with termite damage, failed and crushed my roof. It damaged several rafters and roof deck planks. Took out some of my toys and left us a ridiculous mess.

It also brought with it an opportunity I was not expecting and am delighted to share. It introduced me to an interesting fellow we will call Freddy.

Freddy is from Veracruz Mexico. He is about 35 years old and a master craftsman. Polite, professional,talented and a perfect example of why America Is still the last best hope of the world.  Veracruz sits on the gulf of mexico in southern mexico about 2 hours from mexico city. It looks like paradise. Tropical sandy white beaches and blue water. It is a resort town with wealth but rife with corruption.  Freddy cant make a living there. The corrupt mexican government allows those “kingpins” (as freddy calls ’em) to run every permit and construction job. Its described to me as a fiefdom, where the local warlord and his cronies dole out favors upon the serfs and swim in graft and kickbacks as the general population live as peasants. The situation is so bad, Freddy has abandoned his teaching job at some sort of Vo-tech school to come to these United States and make a living. He works with  family here. A son, cousins and an uncle. His wife is there, unwilling to leave her mother and that part of the family behind. Freddy  and the men here support the entire clan with what they earn here but its a constant scheme of skullduggery and concealment from the local criminals who operate with the state’s authority. It is a heartbreaking story of oppression and exploitation. It is also a great story of  moral triumph. Freddy is a good man and rejected the temptation to exploit others for his own comfort. He is so intelligent he could have easily have fallen in with the gangs and been a gang leader. He shows his leadership skill while working his crew. He has rejected that life of crime and traveled to the land of opportunity  where he now teaches his son the craft of homebuilding and the most important lessons a father can teach . That on how to be not just a man of wealth, but a man of value. Those American values of Life , Liberty and the pursuit of happiness is what attracts people like Freddy to these United States. Where still he can ply his trade and provide a vital service. Where he can  be compensated fairly for his labor and operate free from the specter of the state confiscating all of his labor to line their own pockets.

We must be vigilant against those who would undermine our birthright and limit our freedoms as American Citizens.

Freddy may be a mexican citizen but most importantly, he is a shining example of American exceptionalism.

 

The United States government is using social media and new face recognition software to conduct surveillance on the citizens.  http://rt.com/usa/news/fbi-recognition-system-ngi-640/

“FBI has officially started rolling out a state-of-the-art face recognition project that will assist in their effort to accumulate and archive information about each and every American at a cost of a billion dollars”

” Facial recognition “is more accurate with a Google or a Facebook, because they will have anywhere from a half-dozen to a dozen pictures of an individual, whereas I imagine the FBI has one or two mug shots,” he says. When these files are then fed to law enforcement agencies on local, federal and international levels, intelligence databases that include everything from close-ups of eyeballs and irises to online interests could be shared among offices.”

” the FBI said that the technology could be used for “Identifying subjects in public datasets,” as well as “conducting automated surveillance at lookout locations” and “tracking subject movements,” meaning NGI is more than just a database of mug shots mixed up with fingerprints — the FBI has admitted that  their intent with the technology surpasses just searching for criminals but includes spectacular surveillance capabilities. Together, it’s a system unheard of outside of science fiction”.

Additional to  the 4th amendment concerns is the very real (inevitable) possibility of abuse for political purposes. The totalitarian aspect of the current administrations disregard for constitutional restraints can not be overstated. Given this surveillance power, it’s chilling to consider the skullduggery and violations of privacy we are in for.  We know that drones already patrol the United States for various reasons, and we can expect this NGI technology to be onboard as well.

Little by little,  as we surrender our sovereignty to the state, The remorselessly expanding state consumes evermore of our and our children’s birthright of Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by imposing crushing deficits & generational theft and  now systems that monitor our every move.

This is Orwellian, and we’re all Winston Smith.

As O’Brian tells Smith in the Book 1984 ,”If you want a vision of the future, Winston, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever”

It is with great humility and sincere thank yous that I today write to those kind folks from around the world who have send their best wishes and words of inspiration and encouragement this past week. I am very new to blogging and am amazed the reach my little site has achieved. Thank all of you for following this blog and wishing me well.

A category 1 Hurricane is a serious storm. Years ago I learned that nature is much more powerful than man and is not to be trifled with. We survived very well and tolerated the inconvenience of hurricanes as best we could. The electricity was out for 5 days, but we maintained fresh water supply and that is more important than electricity.

We did suffer some property damage. when  a section of our neighbors house

collapsed on top of our house. It took out a portion of the roof. It also killed one of our boats and my motorcycle.

Some inside damage occurred after impact.

Sheetrock fell and the like, but I quickly tarped the damage as the storm would allow, offering some relief from the squalls, so the loss was contained to the falling bricks and not exacerbated by rain damage. It was an exhilarating challenge to tarp that roof during a hurricane but I managed to do just that.                             Good times… Good times….

 

I write this while in the bullseye of a hurricane. Not a massive storm (like Katrina in 2005)  just a minor threat and major inconvenience. We have these often and am used to them. I have been through dozens of hurricanes and respect their power. But  I dont evacuate. I tend to stay home and tend the neighborhood. I have the cats to see after and the dog to care for. My family has decided that a couple of days of heavy rain and the very real expectation of being without electricity for at least a couple of days was a good enough excuse to go visit family in the midwest.  They view it as a mini-vacation. They just left.

I Cant blame them.  It’s a challenge here in august without electricity and air conditioning. It may be out a week or more.

Ironic that 7 years ago today I was traveling into new orleans to extract my stubborn father, who also never would evacuate. That was the start of an odyssey  we will never forget.

Not expecting to spend the next 5 weeks like I did in 2005, but if it comes………

Semper Paratus

Runaway Slave