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...there is a growing apprehension that existence is a rat-race in a trap: living organisms, including people, are merely tubes which put things in at one end and let them out at the other, which both keeps them doing it and in the long run wears them out. So to keep the farce going, the tubes find ways of making new tubes, which also put things in at one end and let them out at the other. At the input end they even develop ganglia of nerves called brains, with eyes and ears, so that they can more easily scrounge around for things to swallow. As and when they get enough to eat, they use up their surplus energy by wiggling in complicated patterns, making all sorts of noises by blowing air in and out of the input hole, and gathering together in groups to fight with other groups.

In time, the tubes grow such an abundance of attached appliances that they are hardly recognizable as mere tubes, and they manage to do this in a staggering variety of forms.

There is a vague rule not to eat tubes of your own form, but in general there is serious competition as to who is going to be the top type of tube.

All this seems marvelously futile, and yet, when you begin to think about it, it begins to be more marvelous than futile. Indeed, it seems extremely odd.

It is a special kind of enlightenment to have this feeling that the usual, the way things normally are, is odd—uncanny and highly improbable. G. K. Chesterton once said that it is one thing to be amazed at a gorgon or a griffin, creatures which do not exist; but it is quite another and much higher thing to be amazed at a rhinoceros or a giraffe, creatures which do exist and look as if they don't.

This feeling of universal oddity includes a basic and intense wondering about the sense of things.

Why, of all possible worlds, this colossal and apparently unnecessary multitude of galaxies in a mysteriously curved space-time continuum, these myriads of differing tube-species playing frantic games of one-upmanship, these numberless ways of "doing it" from the elegant architecture of the snow crystal or the diatom to the startling magnificence of the lyrebird or the peacock?

-- The Book: On The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are (.PDF), Alan Watts

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Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 12:54 PM PDT

Libya: Enough To Make You Cry

by Edger

GRAND RAPIDS, MI—Americans across the nation told reporters Wednesday that with the collapse of Muammar Qaddafi’s despotic regime, they were preparing to savor the next month or so of Libya seeming like an inspirational symbol of freedom.

“We’ve got a nice four weeks of thinking Libya represents a triumph of liberty before the situation begins to deteriorate and some new form of authoritarianism inevitably asserts itself,” said Michigan-based architect Wes Reinhorn, adding that while he was looking forward to the nation potentially serving as a model for other Arab countries, he would eventually realize the situation in the region was very complex, and any hope he had of Libya transforming things for the better would presumably fade away by October.

“We should all enjoy this stirring image of Libya as a beacon of democracy before Islamists or a new military strongman moves in to fill the power vacuum.” Other Americans, however, said that after a month of looking to Libya as a symbol of freedom, they planned to simply stop paying attention to the nation altogether.

-- America Gets Set To Enjoy Month Or So Of Libya Seeming Like Symbol Of Freedom

Paragraph breaks added for emphuhsis

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Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 09:18 AM PDT

Meh: Another Photo Diary

by Edger

I read the news this morning. I wasn't impressed.

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This was written by Ellen Brown back on April 14. We shall see a few years from now whether Libyans will still be cheering and throwing flowers like Iraqis and Afghanis and Bahraini's are now...

Several writers have noted the odd fact that the Libyan rebels took time out from their rebellion in March to create their own central bank - this before they even had a government. Robert Wenzel wrote in the Economic Policy Journal:
I have never before heard of a central bank being created in just a matter of weeks out of a popular uprising. This suggests we have a bit more than a rag tag bunch of rebels running around and that there are some pretty sophisticated influences.

Alex Newman wrote in the New American:

In a statement released last week, the rebels reported on the results of a meeting held on March 19. Among other things, the supposed rag-tag revolutionaries announced the "[d]esignation of the Central Bank of Benghazi as a monetary authority competent in monetary policies in Libya and appointment of a Governor to the Central Bank of Libya, with a temporary headquarters in Benghazi."

Newman quoted CNBC senior editor John Carney, who asked, "Is this the first time a revolutionary group has created a central bank while it is still in the midst of fighting the entrenched political power? It certainly seems to indicate how extraordinarily powerful central bankers have become in our era."

[snip]

Whatever might be said of Gaddafi's personal crimes, the Libyan people seem to be thriving. A delegation of medical professionals from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus wrote in an appeal to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that after becoming acquainted with Libyan life, it was their view that in few nations did people live in such comfort:

[Libyans] are entitled to free treatment, and their hospitals provide the best in the world of medical equipment. Education in Libya is free, capable young people have the opportunity to study abroad at government expense. When marrying, young couples receive 60,000 Libyan dinars (about 50,000 US dollars) of financial assistance. Non-interest state loans, and as practice shows, undated. Due to government subsidies the price of cars is much lower than in Europe, and they are affordable for every family. Gasoline and bread cost a penny, no taxes for those who are engaged in agriculture. The Libyan people are quiet and peaceful, are not inclined to drink, and are very religious.

They maintained that the international community had been misinformed about the struggle against the regime. "Tell us," they said, "who would not like such a regime?"

[snip]

And that appears to be how the Libyan system works. According to Wikipedia, the functions of the Central Bank of Libya include "issuing and regulating banknotes and coins in Libya" and "managing and issuing all state loans". Libya's wholly state-owned bank can and does issue the national currency and lend it for state purposes.

That would explain where Libya gets the money to provide free education and medical care, and to issue each young couple $50,000 in interest-free state loans. It would also explain where the country found the $33 billion to build the Great Man-Made River project. Libyans are worried that North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led air strikes are coming perilously close to this pipeline, threatening another humanitarian disaster.

So is this new war all about oil or all about banking? Maybe both - and water as well. With energy, water, and ample credit to develop the infrastructure to access them, a nation can be free of the grip of foreign creditors. And that may be the real threat of Libya: it could show the world what is possible.

Most countries don't have oil, but new technologies are being developed that could make non-oil-producing nations energy-independent, particularly if infrastructure costs are halved by borrowing from the nation's own publicly owned bank. Energy independence would free governments from the web of the international bankers, and of the need to shift production from domestic to foreign markets to service the loans.

If the Gaddafi government goes down, it will be interesting to watch whether the new central bank joins the BIS [Bank of International Settlements], whether the nationalized oil industry gets sold off to investors, and whether education and healthcare continue to be free.

Libya all about oil, or central banking?, Ellen Brown

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Sat Aug 27, 2011 at 12:00 PM PDT

It's A Mathematical FACT

by Edger

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Sat Aug 27, 2011 at 07:40 AM PDT

Intermission: The Two Party System

by Edger

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Fri Aug 26, 2011 at 08:04 AM PDT

Intermission: Liberate This

by Edger

For decades the US Government has been liberating the living sh*t out of oppressed peoples all over the world.

It's the free market at work, you know.

To be able to deliver liberation they first need to create the market demand for liberation, of course.

And there's no reason, in their eyes, that Americans shouldn't have first dibs on liberation, right? It's even in the constitution, if I recall correctly.

They do it because they care, you know?


Now all the authorities
They just stand around and boast
How they blackmailed the sergeant-at-arms
Into leaving his post
And picking up Angel who
Just arrived here from the coast
Who looked so fine at first
But left looking just like a ghost

I started out on burgundy
But soon hit the harder stuff
Everybody said they’d stand behind me
When the game got rough
But the joke was on me
There was nobody even there to call my bluff
I’m going back to New York City
I do believe I’ve had enough

-- Just Like Tom Thumbs Blues

Poll

Feeling liberated yet?

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| 6 votes | Vote | Results

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Update: Thu Aug 25, 2011 at  3:46 AM PT:

British special forces are on the ground in Libya helping to spearhead the hunt for Col Muammar Gaddafi, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

As a £1 million bounty was placed on Gaddafi’s head, soldiers from 22 SAS Regiment began guiding rebel soldiers after being ordered in by David Cameron.

For the first time, defence sources have confirmed that the SAS has been in Libya for several weeks, and played a key role in coordinating the fall of Tripoli.

With the majority of the capital now in rebel hands, the SAS soldiers, who have been dressed in Arab civilian clothing and carrying the same weapons as the rebels, have been ordered to switch their focus to the search for Gaddafi, who has been on the run since his fortified headquarters was captured on Tuesday.

-- The Telegraph, August 25, 2011, Libya: SAS leads hunt for Gaddafi

"When rebels ransacked Moammar Gadhafi’s compound and paraded gleefully with his military hats and golf cart in Tripoli this week, the scenes sparked memories of the looting of Baghdad in 2003. It was a reminder that Libya could plunge into the same post-war anarchy that terrorized Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein, when thousands of civilians were killed" is the opening paragraph of Geoffrey York's Globe and Mail article this afternoon.

But Ghahafi, or Gaddafi, or Quaddafi, or whatever his name is, is gone and Freedom and Democracy has been delivered to Libyans by western humanitarian bombers, without "boots on the ground" - except CIA spook boots that aren't really there, right? Hasn't it?

Well, almost, but things are never quite as clearcut and simple as they're made out to be.

York goes on to explain that, in order to assure that only true Humanitarian BrandTM Freedom and Democracy is delivered to Libyans, the coalition of opportunists, sorry I mean coalition of the willing, have decided that it ain't over until the Libyan population is pacified happy and secure with their newfound 'self-determination', and the only way to accomplish self-determination for them since they aren't really capable of self-determination themselves of course (but it sounded good when it was needed), is to is to send in the police to protect them from each other.

This is all part of the no-fly resolution of course - it's just the baggage that wouldn't fit in the luggage compartments of the bombers dropping freedom bombs - the fine print, as it were.

Call it "Mission Yet To Be Accomplished", for short.

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Wed Aug 24, 2011 at 08:34 AM PDT

In Depth Earthquake Report

by Edger

The earthquake swarm that was centered in Washington DC and ravaged eastern North America from Toronto to Atlanta, GA on Tuesday had deep seated causes, not all of which were natural causes, according to a new analysis of Drudge Report stories released by The Gateway Pundit yesterday...
Epicenter was situated at the convergence of Bush's Fault, Congress's Fault, Teaparty Fault, and Itsnotmy Fault.

There are widepread concerns that ripple effects will spread across the globe undermining the foundations of human civilization, crumbling infrastructure everywhere, leaving us all on shaky ground, while President Tim Geithner of Goldman Sachs has promised that he will order the White House and the US Treasury to bail out anyone of any consequence, not including you and me of course, though he did chuckle softly and advise that while groceries are beyond your means, biting a bullet if you can afford one may help relieve hunger pangs...

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Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 06:15 PM PDT

Defiant Gaddafi Issues Statement

by Edger

Earlier various new agencies had reported that Muammar Gaddafi had vanished before or as Libyan rebel fighters entered his Tripoli compound.

A few minutes ago, however, the BBC reported that Gaddafi has issued a statement through a Tripoli radio station broadcast:

Col Muammar Gaddafi has vowed death or victory in the fight against "aggression", reports say, after Libyan rebels seized his Tripoli compound.

Pro-Gaddafi al-Urubah TV said the colonel - whose whereabouts remain unknown - made an audio speech, saying the retreat from the Bab al-Aziziya compound was a "tactical move".

Speaking on a local Tripoli radio station on Wednesday, Col Gaddafi pledged "martyrdom or victory" in the fight against Nato and the Libyan rebels, al-Urubah said.

Col Gaddafi also said that his compound was destroyed by 64 Nato air strikes.
[snip]
Al-Urubah also broadcast what it said was a live telephone interview with government spokesman Musa Ibrahim.

He said Libya would be turned into a "burning volcano and a fire under the feet of the invaders".

The spokesman also said that 6,000 volunteers had arrived to Libya to fight for Col Gaddafi.

The claim has not been independently verified.

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Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 04:15 PM PDT

Gaddafi Gone, But No One Knows Where...

by Edger

Channel 4 News reports from Tripoli a few minutes ago today, Aug 23, 2011:

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Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 07:56 AM PDT

It Takes Awhile To Make A Man

by Edger

Or to make a woman, or to make anything else for that matter, because everything, including all men and women, is all the same thing, and it just takes awhile to, you know, create the illusion that there are separate people and things.

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