Tag Archives: education

What do we really want?- redux

This was one of my very first posts.  It seems so long ago.  It’s also more relevant today than it was then.  It seems like the right time to re-read this math.

It is about time that we finally face this question, isn’t it?   Shit and fan have already collided and the only unknown at this point is whether or not the splatter which covers everything will leave even the tiniest space to squeeze through or to make camp in.   The few who try to speak about the issue are exactly that: too few and perhaps they have lost faith in the rest of us to do anything at all, even though they can clearly see what is happening and they are trying to do the right thing by following the natural, human instinct to DO something .

Our generation stands of the brink of the next, the biggest and very possibly the most important change in the human condition, ever.  This is the first time in our collective history where all of us know where all of us are and how to communicate with any one of us.  In spite of the bitter taste in our mouths which is the by-product of what we have done to ourselves, we are also waking up to something totally new and it is good and sweet.  We all carry with us this new sense of us – the real us: all 6.8 billion of us give or take, not the very old and tired version of “us” based on political boundaries.  If a sentence, an idea or even thinking includes an “us’ and a “them”, then that isn’t the real “us” because there is no “them”.  We are all we have and we have such an incredible opportunity to restructure what we do and what we think we know into something that works, if we really want to.  It is incomprehensible to look out upon our world and see almost everyone doing NOTHING about the only thing that really matters; the tiny speck of time that we are here, alive and human.  The machinery that runs the day-to-day life of humanity fell apart completely and yet we don’t even ponder the significance of the moment.  We simply watch everything that we think we know crumble around us and do what?  Wait to see what happens?  Hope that someone will figure out a way to fix the world that we created and which shatters our very humanity but which we refuse to let go of?  There are enormous pockets of people everywhere who are angry, or terrified, or depressed or just plain lost, and not a one of us can spark a conversation which contemplates something different?  Is it because what we are angry about is that “I never got my turn to enjoy money and success?” Is the thought that we might actually become inspired to do something new which would do away with money as we know it what terrifies us? Could it be that what we are depressed about is the harsh reality that nothing we’ve ever come up with to run our world has ever worked and even though we know better we can’t help but to covet money, because it’s all we know?  Finally, are we lost because we don’t know how to let go of our addiction to the concept of money and wealth and what it allows for us to do:  purchase other people’s envy and impose our will on those around us.  Is that it?  It this the best we got? Are we going to let everything that we are and have been and might possibly be, simply fade away into nothingness?  Have we become that weak and lazy and complacent and full of ourselves and so idiotic?  Have we become a world of pussies? If that’s what we want, that’s what we’ll get, unless we choose something different.

I think that we can do better and I REALLY WANT for us to have that chance. That’s a start.

So what do you really want?

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Any minute now…

A little boy gets down from his school bus on his way home. The boy saw his mother about halfway down the block and ran, as fast as he could, to where she was.  He jumped into her arms, trembling and with tears streaming down his cheeks.

The boy’s Mother hugged him close and tightly and spoke to him warmly and in the way that only a Mother can.  She said:

-“There, there, my little man.  What’s this all about?  What’s got you so upset?

The little boy lifted his head from his mother’s shoulder and between sobs, managed to ask her:

-“Mommy, today at school I heard some grown ups talking and they said that the world is coming to an end.  Is that true, Mommy?  Is this the end of the world?”

Without any hesitation, the boy’s Mother giggled and then kissed his forehead and said:

-“Come, come now, you silly willy!  The world is fine, it’s not ending at all – it’s only  human civilization that’s collapsing all around us and a lot of people can’t tell the difference between one and the other, but don’t fret my little man, at least now you know and you don’t need to be afraid.”

 

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How I learned about Shinola

This is the way that the story was told to me, it is the way I remember it and the way it made sense, it still does.  I don’t know this actually happened or not, but it doesn’t matter, it puts the lesson into perspective. It will tell you the tale in the same exact way; after all it is one of the most important rules of all time.

The story of shit and Shinola.

The stock market crash of 1929 and the great depression that followed was undoubtedly one of the most horrifying and impacting things to happen to a people, ever. By 1933 it had reached its peak.  Most of the pictures that we are familiar with from the “Great Depression” were taken during this time; the soup kitchens, the lines of unemployed people seeking a meal, the apple vendors.  1933 was indeed a very bad year for many. Not everyone was affected, however.  “Most” of the rich from Wall Street is not the same as “all” of them.  There were a few who weathered the catastrophe and they may not have been as wealthy in 1933 as they were in 1928, but they were still “people of means”.

The story takes place during this time.  Among the hardest hit were shoe-shine boys.  No one thinks about this much, but shoe shine boys were as much a fixture on Wall Street as stockbrokers and bankers, after all, during the 1920’s, walking was still the method of transportation of choice and on Wall Street, this meant looking sharp; a tailored suit and shoes that were shined to a mirror gloss on a daily basis by the army of shoe shine boys lining Wall Street.

In 1929, to be exact, a new product was patented and put to market.  It was called Shinola.  It was a shoe polish with a wax base that gave birth to the “spit shine”.  Within a year of being introduced, even during and after the crash, it became the only shoe polish desired by anyone who could still pay for a shine.   By 1933, however, the army of shoe shine boys sat idly, their shine boxes, rags and brushes ready, but not one cent with which to buy Shinola.  They simply did not know what to do and so they took to assembling in the mornings near the Northwest end of Wall Street, where it meets Broadway.  They assembled quietly and just sat throughout the day; during the time that they would normally be shining shoes.  At the end of the business day, they would head back to wherever it was they called home, with nothing more than what they had in the morning.

By the same token, the few wealthy Wall Street gentlemen simply went without their beloved “shines”.  One day, during this time, one of the shoe shine boys decided to not walk up the street to where all of the others would be waiting with an ominous silence. On this day, this one particular shoe shine boy decided to walk the other way, and he walked.  He walked until he got to the Brooklyn Bridge and kept walking.  Back then, there were still cow pastures in Brooklyn, even though it is hard to imagine nowadays. The shoe shine boy walked until his feet hurt and then he sat down.  He put his shine box on the ground as sat on it like one would sit on a crate.  It was only then that he looked up and realized how far he had walked.  He looked in the direction from where he had come and could see the Manhattan Skyline.  He turned to look around and realized that he was in a vacant lot with some grass and a few cows.  The cows looked at the boy with a bored expression as they chewed.  Directly in front of where the boy had put his box on the ground, he saw a fresh, steaming and aromatic “cow patty”.  For a moment, he thought that if he had taken two more steps before stopping and sitting down, he would have stepped right into the pile of dung.  He sat and stared at the pile of shit; there was nothing better to do anyway and this way he did not have to share his misery with anyone, he could take the full brunt of how bleak life was.  So he sat, for an immeasurable and uncounted period of time, just looking at the pile of dung and then suddenly, like a bolt of lightning, he had a strange thought.  In some ways, the cow manure reminded him of the one thing he so needed and desired; the instrument with which he practiced his craft; Shinola.  He stared at it and stared at it and thought;
-“They’re almost the same color, and from here they could even have the same texture.”

That’s when it occurred to him.  He looked left and right so as to make sure no one was watching and reached out.  He grabbed a handful of the cow shit and swished it around in his hand, thinking.   He wasn’t sure exactly what he was thinking just yet, but he was thinking.  After a while, he just couldn’t take it anymore, he had to try and see what would happen so he scooped up some of shit in his Shinola tin, took his rag, dabbed it in the brownish goop and shined up the tip of left shoe (it was all that was left that could be shined).  He used his best moves and lo and behold, the poop gave a great shine, in fact it was so good that for just a moment, he could swear it was the shine that only Shinola could muster and for just a moment, he believed it.  That was all it took.  He filled up his tin and two empty cans he found in some trash and whatever else he could fill with cow dung.  Once he had all he could carry, he made his best effort to cover up the smell and ran back towards Manhattan, as fast as his feet could carry him.

The next day, the boy’s cries of
-“SHINE! GET YER SHOE-SHINE RIGHT HERE! ONLY FIVE CENTS!” greeted the rising sun, to the great surprise, and joy, of many.  Within seconds, the first man to get a shoe shine on Wall Street in almost 3 years, stepped up to the boy and said:

-“Well!  Just in time, too!  Looks like I’m first!”  The man boasted as he hoisted himself up onto one of the high stool-benches that were placed by the very patrons of the shoe shine boys, so that everyone walking by could see them and know that it was they whose shoes were being shined.

-“Coming right up, sir!”  The boy smiled back.  He took out his rag and his Shinola tin and got to work as if ne’er a day had passed since he last shined a pair of leather uppers.  The boy had let the cow dung dry out a bit during the night, and covered the tin quickly after dipping his rag so the smell wouldn’t give him away.  Once it was on the shoes, no one could tell the difference.  The boy was good; hunger is an excellent teacher.  In no time at all, the gentleman’s shoes where like two mirrors, gleaming in the morning sun.

-“There you go, sir.” the boy said, shyly and just for a moment, he almost hesitated, but he didn’t; he reached his hand right out, palm up where a shiny dime landed firmly, almost as if choreographed.  A dime!  A dime for a five cent shines!  None of the boys had EVER been given an entire nickel as a tip before!  The boy’s entire face lit up almost as much as his benefactor’s, who slowly got up from his perch, ruffled the boy’s hair and said: -“See you tomorrow, kid.” before continuing his walk; much slower now and making sure to greet everyone he passed.  Word spread quickly and by noon, the boy’s hands hurt.  He huddled backwards into a niche between buildings, and emptied out his pockets.  He had nearly three dollars!  THREE DOLLARS!  That would feed him, his parents and his two brothers for a week, and it wasn’t even high noon!  By the end of the day the boy added another two dollars to his daily total and it was only then that he realized that he has shined one hundred pairs of shoes and could expect the same every day!  He loved that cow manure!

One by one, the other boys approached him, simultaneously in awe and shock.  The boy looked at his friends coming towards him and reacted; covering up his tin and protecting it, like a prized treasure.  One boy asked:  “Where’d you get the Shinola?”  The boy hugged his box tighter and said “Leave me alone, all of you!  You’re not going to take it from me!”  He ran off like a bolt, straight home and fell right to sleep, exhausted.

The next morning, he gave his mother $4.50 of the $5.00 he had made.  People say that she cried tears of joy for a solid month. He kept fifty cents, thinking to buy a supply of Shinola and continue his journey towards his good fortune.  On the way to the general store, he thought; “Wait a minute!  Nobody knew the difference!  Why should I spend this money on real Shinola when the cow shit is free, after all, they do the same thing!”  He turned the other way and went to the Candy Store and had himself a Malted Milk with two scoops of ice cream for breakfast!  He had actually believed his own lie.

The boy shined another 100 pair of shoes that next day, and 100 more for each day after that for 5 days.  His grin was so wide it challenged the great breadth of Broadway itself.  Everyone was HIS regular customer and he was only shoe shine boy on Wall Street, all thanks to cow’s four stomachs and what they left behind.  He would run to the field in the late afternoons, filling up his tin with more of the precious brown goo that had made him so happy.  Yeah, it wasn’t really Shinola, it was better than Shinola!  He laughed to himself all the way back across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Now, all of this took place in late July, did I mention that?  Oh, yes, it was the dead of summer – and a hot one.  Manhattan was hotter than anyone wanted to even guess at, and then some.  The few rich men who had been getting their daily shines from the boy paraded themselves back and forth on Wall Street; to their meetings, their lunches and dinners, their offices and their homes.  None of them were the wiser; no harm, no foul thought the boy.  The summer sun thought otherwise however, and after five days and five layers of cow shit on all of those shoes it began, to cook – actually to bake.  Baked cow shit on leather; I don’t know if I can even imagine what that would smell like.

On the fifth day after shining his first pair of shoes with the manure, the benefactor of that shine was having a luncheon meeting with another businessman together with their respective wives.  They were in the fanciest restaurant around, high noon on a Wednesday.  The place was packed with the few businessmen left in a country gone bankrupt.  At exactly 12:07 pm.  The caked on dung on that first man’s left shoe, where the first dab of cow shit was so carefully applied five days before, finished baking and cracked, a slim plume of heat escaped from the crack, rising higher from the ground.  In seconds the other shoe also cracked and a plume of shit-steam began to rise from it as well – and then another, and another!  In ten minutes, the restaurant smelled like an outhouse.  When it no longer became possible to ignore, it was that first man to have his shoes shined who spoke first.  He threw his napkin on the table in a fit of rage and gave his lunch companion the foulest stare he could muster and blurted:  ”Well, Sir!  I never…”  The sheer insolence of the accusation brought the other man to his feet immediately and he retorted “What say you, man?  Me? Look to your own loins for the source of the stench, non to mine!”  Almost immediately, the same scene played out at virtually every table, and the few rich men left in America, found themselves having a knock-down, dragged-out bar-type brawl in the fanciest eatery on the Lower East Side.

Back to the first man, the one who got the first shine and who started this brawl, he received a jarring left hook that floored him.  The man landed with a THUD, right at his opponent’s feet.  After recovering his wits, he realized he was no more than two inches from the man’s shoes and saw the cracks that had formed where earlier there was the shimmering mirror-like shine.  The man took in two enormous breaths of the stench before recognizing it and screamed; “Bull Shit! This man shined his shoes with bull shit!” and laughter roared from his belly.  It spread quickly too, calming heated tempers with the thought of a man resorting to bull shit to shine his own shoes!  That lasted for about thirty seconds before every other man realized they were in the same predicament.  The laughter suddenly came to a screeching halt and a dumbfounded silence hung in the air – no one knew what to say, they had all played the fool that day.  Once again, it was the first man who spoke:  “The shoe shine boy!  We all got our shoes shined from him; he’s the only one out there!  He’s made fools of all of us.”   The men stormed out of the restaurant and straight towards the boy’s spot on the side of the road.  When the boy saw the literal stampede of men coming at him, he didn’t have time to even react.  They were upon him at once and literally kicked the boy’s ass all the way to the Brooklyn Bridge where they warned him to never show his face on Wall Street again or they might just forget he was a boy.  He was never heard from again.   His first customer was ridiculed by all of his peers for being the first sucker to buy the cow shit shine and the ensuing lambasting ruined him and few others as well.  These were tender times, after all, there was a Great Depression going on – but not so great that an entire city couldn’t stop to laugh at one man who could not tell the difference between the cow shit that was used to shine his shoes and the Shinola that he thought adorned them.   Sure, you could hardly tell the difference in the shine.  In the end, they both shined your shoes, but one of them is SHIT.   No one is allowed to make that mistake, ever.  And so it was that it came to be that to know the difference between shit and Shinola is one of the more important things, literally or metaphorically, that we must all never forget.

That is how I head the tale, one warm day in December in 1973; I now give it to all of you.  Share it if you like, remember it or forget the story, but never forget the lesson.  Shit can imitate many things, but in the end, its shit and we know this from the onset.  Remembering this will save your life; more than once, without fail.

I always say that we can do better.  Maybe this is a start.   I love you all; all 7 billion of you.

Ctwfrank.

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Change

Change [cheynj]

Source: Dictionary.com Unabridged

verb (used with object)

  1. to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone: to change one’s name; to change one’s opinion; to change the course of history.
  2. to transform or convert (usually followed by into ): The witch changed the prince into a toad.
  3. to substitute another or others for; exchange  for something else, usually of the same kind: She changed her shoes when she got home from the office.
  4. to give and take reciprocally; interchange: to change places with someone.
  5. to transfer from one (conveyance) to another: You’ll have to change planes in Chicago.
  6. to give or get smaller money in exchange  for: to change a five-dollar bill.
  7. to give or get foreign money in exchange  for: to change dollars into francs.
  8. to remove and replace the covering or coverings of: to change a bed; to change a baby.verb (used without object)

  9. to become different: Overnight the nation’s mood changed.
  10. to become altered or modified: Colors change if they are exposed to the sun.
  11. to become transformed or converted (usually followed by into ): The toad changed into a prince again.
  12. to pass gradually into (usually followed by to  or into ): Summer changed to autumn.
  13. to make a change or an exchange: If you want to sit next to the window, I’ll change with you.
  14. to transfer between trains or other conveyances: We can take the local and change to an express at the next stop.
  15. to change one’s clothes: She changed into jeans.
  16.  (of the moon) to pass from one phase to another.
  17.  (of the voice) to become deeper in tone; come to have a lower register: The boy’s voice began to change when he was thirteen.
  18. the act or fact of changing; fact of being changed.
  19. a transformation or modification; alteration: They noticed the change in his facial expression.
  20. a variation or deviation: a change in the daily routine.
  21. the substitution of one thing for another: We finally made the change to an oil-burning furnace.
  22. variety or novelty: Let’s try a new restaurant for a change.
  23. the passing from one place, state, form, or phase to another: a change of seasons; social change.
  24. Jazz . harmonic progression from one tonality to another; modulation.
  25. the supplanting of one thing by another.
  26. anything that is or may be substituted for another.
  27. a fresh set of clothing.
  28. money given in exchange  for an equivalent of higher denomination.
  29. a balance of money that is returned when the sum tendered in payment is larger than the sum due.
  30. coins of low denomination.
  31. any of the various sequences in which a peal of bells may be rung.
  32. Also, ‘change. British . exchange ( def. 10 ) .
  33. Obsolete . changefulness;  caprice.

Verb phrase

  1. change off,
    1. to take turns with another, as at doing a task.
    2. to alternate between two tasks or between a task and a rest break.

Idioms

  1. change front, Military . to shift a military force in another direction.
  2. change hands. hand ( def. 47 ) .
  3. change one’s mind, to change one’s opinions or intentions.
  4. ring the changes,
    1. to perform all permutations possible in ringing a set of tuned bells, as in a bell tower of a church. T
    2. o vary the manner of performing an action or of discussing a subject; repeat with variations.

 

Origin:
1175–1225;  (v.) Middle English cha ( u ) ngen  < Anglo-French, Old French changer  < Late Latin cambiāre, Latin cambīre  to exchange; (noun) Middle English cha ( u ) nge  < Anglo-French, Old French,  noun derivative of the v.

Synonyms

1.  transmute, transform; vary, mutate; amend, modify. Change, alter  both mean to make a difference in the state or condition of a thing or to substitute another state or condition. To change  is to make a material difference so that the thing is distinctly different from what it was: to change one’s opinion.  To alter  is to make some partial change, as in appearance, but usually to preserve the identity: to alter a dress  ( to change a dress  would mean to put on a different one).

3.  replace, trade.

4.  trade.

7.  convert.

10.  vary, mutate, amend.

18.  transmutation, mutation, conversion, vicissitude.

21.  exchange.

25, 26.  replacement.

Antonyms

10.  remain. 18.  permanence.

change  (tʃeɪndʒ) 

Source: Collins World English Dictionary

— vb  (sometimes foll by to or  into ) (when intr, may be foll by  into or  out of )

  1. to make or become different; alter
  2. ( tr ) to replace with or exchange for another: to change one’s name
  3. to transform or convert or be transformed or converted
  4. to give and receive (something) in return; interchange: to change places with someone
  5. ( tr ) to give or receive (money) in exchange for the equivalent sum in a smaller denomination or different currency
  6. ( tr ) to remove or replace the coverings of: to change a baby
  7. to put on other clothes
  8. ( intr ) (of the moon) to pass from one phase to the following one
  9. to operate (the gear lever of a motor vehicle) in order to alter the gear ratio: to change gear
  10. to alight from (one bus, train, etc) and board another
  11. change face  to rotate the telescope of a surveying instrument through 180° horizontally and vertically, taking a second sighting of the same object in order to reduce error
  12. informal change feet  to put on different shoes, boots, etc
  13. change front
    1. military  to redeploy (a force in the field) so that its main weight of weapons points in another direction
    2. to alter one’s attitude, opinion, etc
  14. change hands  to pass from one owner to another
  15. change one’s mind  to alter one’s decision or opinion
  16. change one’s tune  to alter one’s attitude or tone of speech
    n
  17. the act or fact of changing or being changed
  18. a variation, deviation, or modification
  19. the substitution of one thing for another; exchange
  20. anything that is or may be substituted for something else
  21. variety or novelty (esp in the phrase for a change ): I want to go to France for a change
  22. a different or fresh set, esp of clothes
  23. money given or received in return for its equivalent in a larger denomination or in a different currency
  24. the balance of money given or received when the amount tendered is larger than the amount due
  25. coins of a small denomination regarded collectively
  26. archaic  ( often capital ) a place where merchants meet to transact business; an exchange
  27. the act of passing from one state or phase to another
  28. the transition from one phase of the moon to the next
  29. the order in which a peal of bells may be rung
  30. sport  short for changeover
  31. slang  desirable or useful information
  32. obsolete  fickleness or caprice
  33. change of heart  a profound change of outlook, opinion, etc
  34. slang get no change out of someone  not to be successful in attempts to exploit or extract information from someone
  35. ring the changes  to vary the manner or performance of an action that is often repeated

[C13: from Old French changier,  from Latin cambīre  to exchange, barter]

Word Origin & History
change

early 13c., from O.Fr. changier, from L.L. cambiare, from L. cambire “to exchange, barter,” of Celtic origin, from PIE base *kamb- “to bend, crook.” The financial sense of “balance returned when something is paid for” is first recorded 1620s. Phrase change of heart is from 1828.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Slang Dictionary

change definition

n.

money. (See also and change.) :  It takes a lot of change to buy a car like that.

Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Richard A. Spears.Fourth Edition.
Copyright 2007. Published by McGraw Hill.

 Notes:

Dictionaries are so cool; they’re keepers.  Look at the slang definition!

Now, you know what it is, there’s no need to be afraid of it.

ctwfrank

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An observation as to death

“I fear not death, nor the fact that it will, one day, visit me; but I cannot bear even the thought of not living.”

ctwfrank

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Six ideas that will never work to fix the global crisis: (this is only a partial list).

  1. Anything containing the words “they”, “them”, “somebody” or “someone”, as in; “They should increase the enforcement of the xxxx law, that will reduce the burden on XXX or “Someone better make sure that they stop printing so much money.”  We shouldn’t forget that it was them who got us into this mess to begin with.
  2. Anything that would use an existing law, social mechanism, or system as part of a solution to anything, as in:  “If they backed off a bit on quantitative easement and balanced it out with a payroll tax credit stimulus, then small businesses would be motivated to hire workers.”  Nothing that we have come up with so far, not one law, social tool, government, political ideology or anything else has ever worked; if any one of them would have worked, we wouldn’t be in this situation, so what good is it to use something that we already know doesn’t work?  We need a new way of thinking to solve the global crisis.
  3. Anything that would allow for people to continue believing that the debt that we suddenly seem to be saddled with and which is slowing strangling us all is real. There is no debt, they are just numbers on a ledger that people believed were real dollars and let the banks use them as real dollars.  According to global authorities, when added together, there is approximately $84 Trillion in debt in the world and $32 Trillion in wealth (money, gold and things that have value) – that isn’t even POSSIBLE.  How can we owe more than what there is. It’s like claiming to be “a little bit pregnant.” it’s just not possible.
  4. Anything that would promote inaction and prevent actual change, as in; “What can anyone do? It’s not like I can make a difference in anything.” Or “We’re just going to have to wait this out and see what happens.”    It would behoove us to remember that if we do not change the direction in which we are all headed as a global civilization, what lies ahead is the utter obliteration of the human condition as we know it.
  5. Anything that deposits our trust and confidence in luck, magic, and especially unbelievable stories, as in; “Things are definitely bad, but eventually, they will figure something out; they always do, and then everything will be back to normal, it always does”.    Not this time.
  6. Anything that promotes the idea that a “good, old-fashioned war” or any action based on violence will provide the incentive and stimulus that we need to improve the global crisis.  I certainly hope that there’s no one left in the work who actually believes THAT.

These are all things that definitely will not work to provide a solution to our global crisis; so what will work?   We simply haven’t come up with that yet, but we CAN.  We can do better.

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…and while we’re on the subject of GOLD

Okay, let’s continue being serious for a moment about GOLD.  The gold phenomenon, as I like to call it, is very closely tied to the events that led to where we are today, which can accurately be described as a cluster fuck, but on a planetary scale.  If we take this disease that is killing the human race (because our idiocy has become a disease) and boil it down to the simplest possible explanation, it would be this:  When we developed trade and commerce and an economy, it was good – very good; we shouldn’t forget that the human race went from being little more than a handful of half-starved nomads always moving and looking for food to having excesses, luxuries, slaves, titles, position and properties in the span of a couple of thousand years.  After 250,000 years of looking for food and water all the time, this was the blink of an eye.  Civilization, as it were, was gourmet fare for the human ego, which ate it up with gusto; the way only we can:  by gorging on what felt good now without giving a second thought as to…well, as to anything.  We just kept heading in the direction of MORE!  Why should anyone think that we could run out of anything – the first 3,000-4,000 years after the Neolithic revolution was phat!  There was plenty for everyone, in fact we wouldn’t come up with the concept of poverty for some time; remember, you have to be free to be poor and you would be surprised at the percentage of the human race that were slaves and for how long.  We acted without thinking, planning or considering the consequences.  Doesn’t that sound familiar?  It was the same 12,000 years ago.  We may have airplanes and computers but we have not curtailed our insatiable appetite for irresponsibility by even a little.  You can count on a human being to fuck something up, and that we did, especially when we picked a metal: gold, to be the raw material for this new thing we called MONEY.  Money was such an incredibly addictive and irresistible goodie that it simply froze our minds.  No one and I mean no one thought about or worried about what we would do when we ran out of gold.  Maybe there was some ignorance involved, but anyone who has ever been in charge of anything since we’ve had money had to have known that people multiplied, quickly, but not gold, in fact every year, it became just a tiny bit more difficult to find new gold.  We didn’t need to pinpoint a specific year, but just knowing that at some point in the future it just wouldn’t work anymore because there would be more people needing to use money than there was gold to be money was enough to act on.  It’s typical of us.  Right now, even at this stage of our descent into who-knows-what, if by some chance a huge asteroid made of pure gold were to pass within range of our rockets and we lassoed that planet-sized nugget of the stuff that dreams are made of, anchored it to the moon, took its measurements, and started to figure out exactly how much hold was on the asteroid, we would get to “more than what we need right now” and just stop counting.  Why bother?  We hit our nut!  We filled up the hole that we made!  We would, and we all know it.  We would have gold orgies and the filthy rich would become indescribably rich and be happy, and the poor and downtrodden would still be poor and downtrodden but happy because they would still have that shitty job that barely paid them enough to live on – the one that they lost at some point between 3 years ago and today.  We would continue to ignore half of all of us – the ones that there was never enough for in the first place and they would continue to starve to death because even though our own stupidity is killing us, we don’t want to change because change requires thinking and actual work and those things make our brains hurt – unless there’s money involved.

So we ignored the math and based our wealth on gold.  Fine, so how did the whole wealth thing work?  How was new money made?  Up until possibly the 1960’s (that’s a guess, but I think a good one) for there to be new money, there had to be new wealth. This requires a quick recap of the history of human wealth.   If you recall, the wealth  of the world and of nations had always been food, which may very well remain as the only real thing of value in human history, and then we came up with the concept of money to use as a medium of exchange because it was simply too cumbersome and tedious to trade in food directly.  We chose gold as the material from which we would make the money that would represent the wealth (food) and be much easier to carry and transact since it is a soft metal and easily formed into coins.  Then we got so used to dealing and transacting gold, that we forgot it only represented wealth and, just as Aristotle warned, we confused it with wealth – but no one said anything, we just took it as a given that gold was the wealth of the world and when food came up in conversation, it would quickly be referred to as a commodity, usually in the futures market – yes, futures, as in; not yesterday or today, but the future, you know that thing that we can not predict but for some strange reason can buy and sell.  This continued and evolved until trade and commerce became so widespread (because we love to fuck and reproduce like rabbits) that a sub-category of money had to be created: currency (including paper money).  The first bank notes appeared sometime in the 16th century of thereabouts, in Scandinavia (That’s an interesting story, remind me to write about it sometime.) and it caught on quickly.  By the 19th century, paper money was in common used and was valued at par with gold because they were redeemable for gold at just about any bank.  During all this time, gold was wealth.  Paper notes were portable representations of gold and therefore notes were only printed based on how much gold there was.  At some point we realized that the amount of gold was finite; that’s when wealth became a privilege and we began to acquire it by using war or theft or fraud, you know good old fashioned proven techniques.  Then, all of a sudden, just like that:  there was no more new gold.  That was it.  All the money there was, was all the money there was, but the human progress train didn’t notice, it kept right on going.  Oh Shit!  What do we do now!  There’s no more gold to make more money!  If people find out, it will be a freaking disaster!  What to do?  What to do?   It didn’t take us very long, we figured:  what the heck, if we’ve screwed the pooch, then let’s screw it properly!  Nobody said anything, not a word, then, suddenly (and I mean suddenly) in August of 1972, the President of the United States of America went on the air (TV and radio) early in the morning, before the markets opened and rattled off a list of “executive decisions” which included:  “a 90 day freeze on prices and wages, an immediate 10% import surtax and the severing of the link between the dollar and gold (meaning that one could no longer want into a Federal Reserve bank with a $20 and walk out with however much gold that got them).  It got a little attention at the time, it’s getting A LOT of attention now.  That single act literally killed the concept that we know as money.  The price of gold was fixed in dollars and the US dollar is the reserve currency of the world (gold being the official currency).   Here’s the part that we MUST understand if we are to survive this.  The link between the dollar and gold was cut, not because of any of the reasons given (which don’t matter); it was cut because WE RAN OUT OF GOLD and someone at some point realized that there were more bank notes floating around that there was gold, not much, but just enough to blow the whole thing to kingdom come if anyone found out.  They didn’t have to do it, they chose to do it because the alternative was to do what we’re going to have to do shortly:  build a new economic infrastructure.  They figures, what the heck?  Nobody knew what was going on, it would take YEARS before the decision would begin to stink as it does today, so they cut the link between gold and the dollar and the wealth that was gold stopped at however much there still is.  That did not stop us from propagating our species however and developing technology and adding more people every year to that exclusive club made up of people addicted to excess and other people’s envy.  We continued forward and our economy GREW.  (Screeching record sound)  Wait a minute; didn’t I just say that we had run out of gold?  How could our economy grow if there was no new gold?  No new gold, no new money, remember?  But there was new money.  Crisp and freshly printed dollars were pouring out of the US mint and currencies all over the world continued to be incrementally printed and introduced into circulation.  But how could anyone get away with this?  It was easy, we printed money based on new gold that was BORROWED (it also didn’t exist, because there was no actual gold to borrow, that was just how they did the math).  This fictitious quantity of borrowed gold didn’t exist; therefore the convertibility of paper currency to gold HAD to be cut – because there wasn’t enough gold, get it?  This new “way” of printing money based on the assumption that if there were gold that could be borrowed, we would, but there isn’t, but we would if there were, so we’ll act as if we did and print money based on the value of this new DEBT.  And there is was, that’s how the DEBT was born.  We owe nobody approximately 52 trillion dollars worth of  “borrowed” gold, which never existed but was used to print currency that was spent as legal tender.  It was made possible because our banks created this money by issuing, buying and selling LOANS.  In some part of our non-functioning brains, it could be said that these loans were what created the “borrowed gold”.  At first, loans were made by banks with our deposits; yes, the loan that you had for your car or for anything, 25 to 30 years ago was actually other people’s money, deposited at the bank that gave us the loan.  They had permission to do this and, after all, we weren’t using the money, we deposited it, remember?  Very quickly however, the banks didn’t need our money, the money that they created by lending out our money and charging interest on it was re-deposited by the banks, and by the 1980’s, they didn’t need our deposits.  They were making new money left and right, lending out larger and larger portions of this gold that doesn’t exist to themselves and then transacting money on that DEBT.  Our governments told us, “don’t worry about it, we’re good for it, trust us.” Maybe this is why it’s called fiat currency, because fiat means “authority” in the dictionary (sic), but authority is the basis for credibility and credibility is the foundation of trust. You see, the root morpheme fiat also forms part of two words that came from Latin and are used by romance languages:  confiar; which is Spanish for TRUST and fiar: which is also Spanish for TO EXTEND CREDIT TO, TO LEND.  Wow, is all of this a coincidence? I don’t think so.  Am I a conspiracy theorist?; hardly.  This is simply what we did.  When we ran out of gold and we borrowed the gold that we would need if the gold actually existed, but it didn’t, so the only way to get away with it was to treat the DEBT as real.  This would make the “borrowed gold” real, as it were.  And they did, and we bought it and theydid it more and we bent over and took it all.  

This “debt” that took Greece and Italy from our world (because they are no more) is not real, but it is killing us and it might just succeed.  Now if you’re thinking, if it’s not real, then it can’t kill us, then you get detention and here’s why.  It’s like WATER.

WATER?  Yes, water.  We need water in order to survive.  Without water, we die, quickly, of dehydration, this is a commonly known fact and the visual image that comes to mind is of a person in a hot and arid place like a desert, dropping dead from the thirst.  Scratch that image for a moment and replace it with this one:  You are in a life raft, floating in the ocean, lost and adrift.  You are the sole survivor of a shipwreck and you’ve been out at sea for two days now, in the raft, in the sun with no provisions left.  You start to get thirsty, very thirsty.  You become delirious and suddenly you realize Wait a minute!  I’m floating in an ocean of WATER!  You laugh and you drink and drink and drink and 8 to 10 hours later, your kidneys shut down and you die, of what is essentially DEHYDRATION, because it’s not really WATER, it’s SALT WATER.  Oh, they’re both wet, but the salt water is poison and will kill you.   The DEBT is our salt water.  We ran out of fresh water and just began drinking that salty debt water up in our delirium for more.  If you can imagine some math to convert salt water to debt and establish a parallel between the time it takes salt water to kill a person and the time it will take the debt to kill what’s left of the human race, you could say that we’re in the 6th hour of the last 8 hours of our life as we know it.  If we keep drinking the salt water for 2 more hours, we DIE, but if we stop drinking the fucking salt water we will have landed on a sandy beach with a beautiful fresh water spring nearby and we will LIVE.

I want to LIVE and I think that you do too.  Please, stop drinking the salt water, it’s NOT REAL WATER.  If we stop feeding this nightmare called the debt and stop believing that it’s real, then we can just throw away the civilization that we broke and BUILD ANOTHER ONE.  After all, whose planet is this, ours or the debts?

We can do better.

ctwfrank

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Let’s be serious…just for a moment

Seriously now, it’s already hard enough having to sit and watch us bullshit ourselves to the point of idiocy, but I just finished a tag surfing session and in addition to the usual endless droning about GOLD this and GOLD that, I just saw (for the first time) an article regarding a country that was “repatriating” its gold from the vaults in London and New York where the countries of the world have kept their gold since WWII.  The article stated that the decision to repatriate the gold had been made by the leader of the country “in view of the volatile nature of the world’s economy’.  That was just a bit much.  Up until now, the math more or less indicated that everyone knows that the whole GOLD thing is bullshit, but all of a sudden I’m not sure if I should doubt that math.  Is it possible that people actually BELIEVE this shit and are not just playing along because that’s what we think we must do?  I don’t know, but it’s scary.  Scary enough to motivate me to post this message:

Just in case anyone actually believes that GOLD has any actual value that makes it immune to anything that might happen to the economy or to human civilization, it should be noted that GOLD is actually worthless.  It is a fairly unremarkable metal that we selected to use as the stuff that we would manufacture MONEY from back when we decided that WEALTH (which has always been FOOD) should have a standardized measure of exchange to facilitate commerce.  We picked GOLD to be the “material” used to manufacture money because it was PLIABLE and we could shape it into coins more easily than other metals. In other words, GOLD became the manufacturing material for money because it was SOFT, period.  That’s about all there is to GOLD, the rest we made up and believed.  In summary; if the U.S., European or global economy should collapse (they actually already have, but I won’t go against the “grain”, I’ll play like it hasn’t happened yet) then what in the world is that country I mentioned earlier going to do with all of their repatriated GOLD?  It’s time for everyone to begin to digest the truth because it is the truth, regardless of how we feel or what we believe and the truth is that there IS no more money.  We spent all the money that there was, that there is and that there will be in the next 500 years and there is nothing left to substantiate any math that supports the concept of money.  The machinery that moves civilization is running today (albeit poorly) only because we BELIEVE that those little pieces of paper and GOLD are actually worth something, but this hallucination is quickly fading and sooner than we can imagine, MOST of us will have no choice but to face this truth and deal with it.  So I ask you:  when the MACHINERY that runs the “world”; the one that runs on “money” finally peters out and shuts down, ending commerce and production globally, what can anyone do with GOLD?  With no infrastructure in place, there will be no system in place to grow and distribute FOOD OR WATER and in 3 months there will be mayhem.  What good will 10 or 11 billion dollars worth of GOLD do when everyone is STARVING?  Who in their right mind would trade a can of beans that they found in the back of some forgotten cabinet somewhere for a mountain of GOLD at that point?  You can’t EAT the stuff!  It’s a freaking METAL, no different than tin, bronze or iron and no more or less valuable than whatever WE decide.  It was hard for me to digest, but I did.  This means that you can too, because we’re all the same.  I know that it’s hard to let go of the world as we know it, but WE BROKE IT and we need to build a new one, so we need to grow up, quickly, or in the simplest of terms, we’re fucked.  YOU know this, I know this and we ALL know this.  I refuse to believe that we are all idiots, but we are dangerously close to proving that to be true – and that applies to me as well, if we end up screwing ourselves because of idiocy, then that makes me an idiot too.  I don’t want to be an idiot.

We CAN do better.

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The righteousness parable

Recently, I applied the final touches to my latest book and decided that there was nothing more that I could change, improve, fix or be paranoid about, which meant that it was good enough.  It’s called “The Sixty-seven Rules: A promise kept.”  I gave it that title because I was keeping a promise (to you; cool beans!).  This post is not about my book however, it is best example of rule #2 that exists, and rule #2  is very, very important right now.  Just to recap; rule #2 says: “Never confuse shit with shinola.”

For as long as anyone can remember, people have confused, substituted or treated as synonyms; the words Truthfulness and Righteousness.  It is not very difficult to understand how this occurred, given our track record for using heaping portions of convenience and hypocrisy in the building of our social structures and languages.  The fact that the origins of the phenomenon are easily understandable does not make it any less unacceptable.

A simple application of the basic scientific process yields some very enlightening answers.  We have a fascinating love/hate relationship with truth, we always have, ever since whenever it was that we understood what it was; because we all understand what truth is.  For the sake of clarity, truth is an intransigent absolute in the universe, which means that it just is.  It can’t be changed, modified, corralled, manipulated or swayed, in fact as far as we humans are concerned, when it comes to truth; there are only two ways that we can interact with it:  we can accept it or ignore it, but that’s about it.  That is what has always fascinated us about truth: its unquestioned validity.  A truth simply is, above all else and in spite of anything else.  That particular quality is irresistibly desirable to us: to be unquestionable, indisputable and publicly acknowledged as right above all else. The mere thought of a person possessing the intransigent qualities of truth is so powerful that it overpowers and overshadows all human emotions, even lust.  We simply had to incorporate it into the human condition, so we came up with truthfulness; a human trait also referred to as honesty.  In reality, both terms are misnomers; what is claimed by the use of the words truthfulness and honesty is far from what we actually do when we’re being truthful and honest because we lie, continuously.  We can’t help but lie, it’s so easy to get away with.  The only problem is rule #1:  “Do not lie.”   This rule is not “optional”, it is not something that one can casually decide to acquire or to partake of, it is a requirement for happiness.  Hold on… wasn’t I writing about truth just a moment ago?  How did I end up here?  Do you see how easily we confuse things?  Regardless of this, neither word has anything to do with truth, they are just one way that we have attempted to “humanize” one of the absolute qualities of the universe.

It turns out that truthfulness and honesty simply did not provide the same amount of pleasure to the ego as truth.  They were good qualities, but while they leaned towards aspects of actual truth, they became synonymous with humility and as anyone can tell you, humility is a WEAKNESS.  It’s what a person should claim to be, when in fact they desire to be and are expected to be ruthless and imposing and above all else:  right.  Yes, that is what makes human flesh tremble with desire and makes the knees weak:  to be right – and for everyone else to know that I’m right.  Oh yes!  That’s good, that’s very good!  All it needed was a little math to establish the parallel and all of a sudden; there it was:  To be right one had to possess truth, otherwise they were wrong.  Being right became the membership ID card that was shown when we wanted to be treated by others with the same unyielding and unquestionable validity as truth, and it worked!  All one had to be was right and BAM! – the same endorphins and pheromones that are set off when we imagine what it must be like for a person to be as omnipotent as truth itself coursed through the body.  We humans have always been so resourceful.

In this manner, we created righteousness and immediately upon doing so, we did something to ourselves that will haunt us to until we reconcile the truth; we created and set loose a construct capable of giving the human ego an orgasm, as it were.

[Note: Keep in mind that a human ego having an orgasm is probably the most horrific thing that can be imagined.  Without our egos, we’re not human, but when you take into account that the ego is such a ferocious and inconsiderate beast that the only way that a person can remain human is to keep their ego on a very short leash and feed it a very low calorie diet to keep it weak, lest it consume everything in its path, the thought of that same thing having an orgasm is overwhelmingly addictive.]

Following is the definition that we assigned to the word; righteous, and just in case it pops into your mind:  it’s no joke:

right·eous

[rahy-chuhs]

adjective

  1. Characterized by uprightness or morality: a righteous observance of the law.
  2. morally right or justifiable: righteous indignation.
  3. acting in an upright, moral way; virtuous: a righteous and godly person.
  4. Slang . absolutely genuine or wonderful: some righteous playing by a jazz great.
  5. noun
  6. the righteous, ( used with a plural verb ) righteous persons collectively.

 

World English Dictionary

righteous  (ˈraɪtʃəs)

-adj

  1. characterized by, proceeding from, or in accordance with accepted standards of morality, justice, or uprightness;
  2. virtuous: a righteous man(as collective noun ; preceded by the):
  3. the righteous morally justifiable or right, especially from one’s own point of view: righteous indignation

And so it is that right there, in the last definition of righteous, in the same line item where the concept of righteous indignation is established that the math unravels completely.  We started out with truth; a universal constant that contains, among other things, the attribute of indisputable and absolute validity and veracity and attempted to define a human version which we called truthfulness or honesty, but they resulted in humility which we interpret as “weak”.  We then embellished truthfulness by adding the premise of being right based on a “solid moral foundation” and gave birth to righteousness, which takes the entire concept straight down the toilet, where we reach righteous indignation, or “I’m right, you’re wrong, therefore I own the truth.”

So then, what have we accomplished?  We are a world of 7 billion people who each believe that they are right. We attempted to emulate truth and came up with righteousness, which allows for everyone to be right and for everyone to also be wrong, depending on the desire for convenience.  This is then further extrapolated into “I’m right, therefore I’m telling the truth and you are lying because you’re wrong.”  Other than the clear errors in this psychotic math, it’s not even possible!  Everyone can’t be right and wrong at the same time!  That would be…impossible and paradoxical, right?  Reality would shatter and all life on earth would immediately come to an end.  I can clearly hear a voice, it sounds like the voice of an older woman, saying:  “Well, I’m very sorry.  I guess the world will just have to end then, because I’m RIGHT.”   None of us are right or wrong, just human.  Isn’t that right?  Come on now, tell the truth!

”Being right serves no purpose, whatsoever.”

ctwfrank

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That which has value

The whole of human existence has become blindly obsessed with the issue of having possession of, if not the right to possess (by virtue of debt) those things that have value, specifically; money.  No thing has any more or less value than what we assign it and it is woeful to contemplate that we would, individually or collectively, assign a higher value to any thing than what we reserve for ourselves, yet we have.

In the universe, there are only two values, these being the same ones we should concern ourselves with, lest we lose all reason and rationality:  There is that which is TRUE and that which is FALSE and to count them as two values is only insofar as there are two different words to count, for they are in essence, opposite views of the same value; its validation and its negation.  The only actual and real value that exists is truth which is simultaneously the only thing of value, yet we have come to value money more we value ourselves and even more than truth, and because of these we are all but lost in our own lie.

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