<![CDATA[Cubicle Monster - Blog]]>Fri, 19 Feb 2016 11:09:41 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[NOT Winning]]>Thu, 18 Feb 2016 21:29:56 GMThttp://cubiclemonster.weebly.com/blog/not-winning
Image: www.becauseimacat.com
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See that look you're giving me?  It's that dubious and pityingly fearful look I've seen before, and I'd thank you to knock it the hell off...right now!  Seriously, I couldn't train for the triathlon three weeks ago because I was on vacation.  It's impossible to put in miles on cobblestone.  Besides, even if I tried, those Italians would've thrown espressos and insults at me  for trying to bob and weave around them.  And I couldn't train last week because I had this nasty sinus thing that made me look and feel like Slimer. It was that delicious sort of illness that starts with a faucet nose, then bulges your eyes from sinus pressure, then ends with hacking aliens up in the shower and having your dog come in and give you that curious look because he does not recognize what sort of hell beast you have become, and why you are trying to drink a mug of Theraflu in the shower with one hand while brushing your teeth with the other.

Look, I know it's easy to make excuses, and I know that my ass is already registered to do 2 triathlons, 1 duathlon, and 2 road races this spring. Nothing will solidify a commitment like the usage of an over-loved credit card. I'm scared, too, Mr. Internet Cat who is making that face at me.  But here's the thing - I'm still going to do it!  Seeing as how I'm already registered and my new tri kit still has it's tags on, I know I have to go Full Crazy Ass WildeBeest Mode in my training in order to make it happen.  I have to go Full Retard in the gym in order to get shit done in short order.

Here's my plan: in the AM, I will wake up stupid early and get my weights and cycling done.  The weights will consist of the Big 5 compound moves done slowly, with an emphasis on form and safety.  I will not thrust up as much weight as possible, then slam it to the floor and yell "O'Doyle Rules!" like I usually do.  In the PM, I shall alternate hooves-stomping (aka, running), and walrus-bobbing (aka, swimming).  Weekends will be for the long run/long ride and 1-man pizza-eating and beer-drinking contest.  In this way, I shall become a triathlon goddess in a month and a half (cuz that's all the time I have). 

Behold!  I dare thee to lay witness to my athletic feats!  Watch, as I go from sub-par athlete to only-slightly-sub-par athlete in record time!  YES!  Let's ride that enthusiasm!!  ...I mean, I may die.  But, it's worth a try.


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<![CDATA[I Fear Tight Things]]>Wed, 03 Feb 2016 16:14:21 GMThttp://cubiclemonster.weebly.com/blog/i-fear-tight-things
Image: www.mo-kenyan.com
So, I received my first tri kit in the mail yesterday.  I was so afraid I'd look like this dude.  And, to my body-dismorphic mind's eye, I DID look like this dude.  In reality, I looked like an athlete with just a few doughy bits - like warm soft dinner biscuits...slathered in butter.  Now, my first triathlon is not until March, so I have a little over a month to build some confidence in that Take A Look At Me Now triathlon gear.  To wear down my own defenses, I'm going to start wearing that motherfucka everywhere.  It will be on me in the pool, in Spin class, out on a run, and even once to the gas station, "pretending" I didn't have time to change.  If I can do these things, then come triathlon time I'll be able to feel quite comfortable in my new uniform.

Outfit aside, I only have my training to worry about now.  I was proud of my leg presses this morning until I almost killed myself using the bathroom.  I wish I was joking.  And dig this - it wasn't my muscles that hurt.  Rather, I went to hob-a-squat on ye olde throne and this tendon or something in my knee felt suddenly like a live electrical wire spitting out volts of vengeance upon my poor leg.  I shrieked in pain and shock, on the verge of tears.  The ladies in the office came running. "Are you okay in there?"  They asked.  "Yeah, sure, fine - just doing my morning duty."  I explained.  I realize I made myself sound like some hemorrhoid bedeviled geriatric, but I didn't know how to say, "I sat down to pee and got Voodoo knee."  It's okay - they already think I'm odd.

My damn husband got a PR at our 10k this weekend, and I'm still reliably average in performance.  I promised myself that after our vacation next week (Mardi Gras...fuck yeah), I'd kick it into high gear - cut out the cookies and up the mileage.  Yet, at the end of rough day at work, wine and cheese sounds like the best medicine.  Still working on that balance thing, obvs.  To be continued...

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<![CDATA[Privatization: Friend or Foe?]]>Mon, 01 Feb 2016 18:36:13 GMThttp://cubiclemonster.weebly.com/blog/privatization-friend-or-foe
Image: www.cartoonmovement.com
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Flint, Michigan, and its current water scandal is a perfect microcosm of the whole shitty economic state of affairs our nation is in.  A private water company, Veolia, had tested the water and found it worthy.  This company was hired by the city in response to complaints about the water.  Hell, even the General Motors plant stopped using the stuff when it saw how the water prematurely rusted auto parts.  The crap ain’t good enough for our cars, but don’t tell the citizens that! Flint’s emergency manager decided not to switch to cleaner pipes because it would cost the city too much money.  And thus we see the conundrum: privatize the system, or compound debt.  Per Donald Cohen of the Huffington Post,

“So when people say Flint's tragedy is a failure of government they really mean it's a failure of running government like a business…But giving private corporations a stake in Flint's water system is clearly not the answer. That would be like trying to put out a fire with more fire.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/donald-cohen/is-the-tragedy-in-flint-a_b_9103320.html

In Cohen’s analysis, then, danger is imminent when governments make decisions solely on profit and loss, and deciding to privatize essentially condemns a system to that very danger.

The parking meters of Chicago provide a good warning against privatization.  In 2008, the city signed a 75-year lease agreement with Morgan-Stanley, giving it control of some 36,000 meters.  Not only did Chicago accept a deal for far less than it was actually worth, but it also has to pay the Morgan-Stanley group for any lost meter revenue – such as when new parking facilities are constructed or when streets are closed for festivals.  So, why did Chicago sign such a crappy deal?  Because they were desperate to fill a budget gap caused by the recession.  The deal was supposed to get Chicago out of a sticky situation at the time, but it did so “by effectively robbing the future to pay for the needs of the present. (By mid-2011, the city had spent all but $125 million of the $1.2 billion parking-meter payment.)”

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/04/city-state-governments-privatization-contracting-backlash/361016/

Not only did Chicago fail to correct the budget deficit that got it into trouble in the first place, it used a bad deal with a private-sector entity to bail it out.  Who hurts the most in such a deal?  The taxpayer.  The supposed appeal of privatization is that it is thought to cut out Big Evil Inefficient Government.  Instead, the meter situation in Chicago caused protest and boycotts.  Citizens of Chicago found that meter rates were hiked, meters failed to function correctly, and free parking on Sundays was removed.  Privatizing the meters cost Chicago money, it angered the citizens and cost them even more money, and Morgan-Stanley gained almost 10-fold profit on the deal.
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2010-08-09/morgan-stanley-group-s-11-billion-from-chicago-meters-makes-taxpayers-cry

Now, Privatization does not have one meaning, and it is not wholly bad.  Its definition, from the Library of Economics and Liberty:

“Broadly speaking, it means the shift of some or all of the responsibility for a function from government to the private sector. The term has most commonly been applied to the divestiture, by sale or long-term lease, of a state-owned enterprise to private investors. But another major form of privatization is the granting of a long-term franchise or concession under which the private sector finances, builds, and operates a major infrastructure project.”
(http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/Privatization.html)

In the broadest analysis, we can think of a situation like BLM land in the West and conceive how it might be beneficial for the feds to cede that land back to private land holders.  One is also seduced by the idea that privatization cuts out much red tape, increases efficiency, improves quality, and encourages competition.  As much as I’d like to believe in the privatization ideology, the fruits of this tree just seem rotten.

Phineas Baxandall, a senior analyst at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, is quote in The Atlantic:
"Privatization has potential rewards, but a lot of it is really just about shifting money around for political reasons …  There are a lot of dangers in terms of loss of control over public policy, not getting enough revenue for these assets, as well as a lack of transparency.”

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/04/city-state-governments-privatization-contracting-backlash/361016/

Baxandall warns of the “loss of control over public policy.”  I would not say “loss of control,” so much as I would say “sale of control.”  Cohen opined that governments that act for profit are not doing their job.  So, if governments are acting for the sake of profit, and the private sector investors are doing the same, who is looking out for the citizenry?

Before we address that question, let’s look at a few more examples of privatization in action.  You know that huge military budget we always hear about?

“One of the reasons for the escalation in the cost of the US military budget is its privatization. The privatization of the US prison system has resulted in huge numbers of innocent people being sent to prison, where they are forced to work for Apple Computer, IT services, clothing companies that manufacture for the US military, and a large number of other private businesses. The prison laborers are paid as low as 69 cents per hour, below the Chinese wage.”

http://www.unz.com/proberts/the-west-is-reduced-to-looting-itself/

Another yummy quote from the same source (Paul Craig Roberts):

“This is America today. Corrupt police. Corrupt prosecutors. Corrupt judges. But maximum profits for US Capitalism from prison labor. Free market economists glorified private prisons, alleging that they would be more efficient. And indeed they are efficient in providing the profits of slave labor for capitalists.”

Privatization affects the quality of every sector of life in America, from hospitals and schools, to the corrupt prison system.  Hospitals cut staff and over sell surgeries in order to make profit.  Schools are encouraged to diagnose more disabilities in order to get more funding.  The criminal justice system is nothing more than a chain link of private profit.

http://www.inthepublicinterest.org/private-companies-profit-from-almost-every/
http://www.inthepublicinterest.org/?everything=everything

Yes, privatization has a very seedy underbelly and the ideology out of Reagan-era politics to popularize it reeks of vested interest.  After all, this is a system that rewards Morgan Stanley at the expense of Chicago citizens.  This is a system that keeps money flowing into the New Orleans School System, but continuously fails the city's students.  This is a system that encourages incarceration without rehab or medicinal care.  I see no evidence of a greater society as a result of privatization.  Rather, I see Morgan Stanley get richer and the taxpayer get poorer.  I see institutions that need to be treated with the utmost care, simply auctioned off to the highest bidder. 

The word privatization, as an economic policy, first started making rounds in Nazi Germany.  The privatization initiative was meant to focus money in the hands of the few, perpetuating an inequality of wealth.  It is not surprising, then, that we see that system alive today – our nation is, indeed, a party to the conspiracy of focusing money and power into the hands of the very few.  You might cry that I just drew a comparison between Nazism and current politics, but in some ways, it certainly walks like a duck. Since the moral capacity of privatization lies completely in its context, I see the necessity of discouraging the practice until the players in the game – until the whole game – has shifted more toward the care of the nation’s citizenry, and further from the cult of money for its own sake.

http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2006/09/the_origins_of_.html
 
 
 
 


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<![CDATA[The Plight of the Average Athlete]]>Fri, 29 Jan 2016 17:13:45 GMThttp://cubiclemonster.weebly.com/blog/the-plight-of-the-average-athlete
You can't become a decent triathlete if you're hungover all the time; that's the moral of this story.  I figured I'd begin this post with the lesson, rather than save it for the end, because I want you to know from the very beginning that I'm aware of my own stupidity.

I've been really frustrating myself.  I have 2 events already booked and I want to do well in them.  But, here's the thing - I drink too much.  I'm not going to go all AA on you and say shit like, "I am Cubicle Monster, and I am an alcoholic."  Not only do I not believe that's true, but also it makes for a truly dull post.  I am also not going to say that I put my trust in a higher power in order to see myself through this struggle.  That's weak sauce, if you ask me.  Nope, I created the devil and I'm going to beat that son of a bitch.

A drink or two here and there is epicurean and medicinal.  6-8 drinks here and there is just a ticket to failure.  I noticed my skin has started to look crappy, as though I don't need makeup in order to be an extra in a zombie movie.  And although my pants still fit, there has grown a softness around my belly that has makes me violently and volcanically angry.  But the worst part is that drinking has begun to interfere with my training.  I can't go on a long run on Sunday when my head is pounding.  And I can't go to my Thursday morning spin class when I'm nauseous.  The look and feel of drinking too much is bumming me out, man.

I know what you're thinking:  then just stop drinking, you fool!  Yes, you are right - stopping makes sense.  And I have excuses galore why I shouldn't stop: my best friends are brewers; I'm Italian and Italians need wine to live; post-race festivities always have free beer (why pay to run otherwise?); the other kids are doing it; I like the sauce, it is yummy in my tummy.  It all boils down to what you want most, though, right?  I mean, the ladies in my office can't go a day without eating cakes or donuts, and then they complain about being overweight.  I don't have that problem.  My problem is that I get drunk once or twice a fortnight and then I complain that my tri-athletic abilities are sub-par.   In its most simple formulation, big-butt office girls prefer sugar to thinness, and I prefer Happy Hour to being a better athlete.

I hate to admit that about myself because it sounds so asinine.  Plus, then I have to remind myself of that current state-of-being every time I whine and feel sorry for myself.  I am sure that I could get my 5k time back down below 27 minutes (it's been an embarrassing 33 lately) if I just stopped going to the pub every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday (hey, at least I'm saintly Monday through Wednesday!).  The thing is, triathlons are better for you than whiskey, so I need to adjust my mind to want triathlons more.  I need to start preferring the long run over the Sunday morning mimosa.  I'm not there yet, but I will be.

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<![CDATA[Smith and Lee: Neo-Segregationists]]>Wed, 20 Jan 2016 16:24:54 GMThttp://cubiclemonster.weebly.com/blog/smith-and-lee-neo-segregationists
Image: www.cafemom.com
 I’m gobsmacked that Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee dare to boycott the Oscars in the name of Martin Luther King, Jr.  MLK stood up for his belief that blacks should not be lynched, nor have to use separate doors, nor be kept from receiving an education, etc…  The fact that Smith and Lee believe they can even draw a comparison between not receiving a little bullshit statue for sub-par acting skills and MLK’s life-long work for non-violent civil protest is just, frankly, egoism run amok.

Oh, you think a stupid award ceremony is unfair?  Boo-fucking-hoo.  Every award ceremony is unfair.  Every single award ceremony is a subjective process.  But that’s not what Smith and Lee are crying alligator tears over.  Their beef is that, according to Lee:

"We cannot support it and [I] mean no disrespect ... But, how is it possible for the second consecutive year all 20 contenders under the acting category are white? And let's not even get into the other branches…Forty white actors in two years and no flava at all. We can't act?! WTF!!"

http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/18/entertainment/oscars-boycott-spike-lee-jada-pinkett-smith-feat/index.html

To recap, then, Lee wants more “flava” at the awards.  But what does that even mean?  If we are to keep a tally and declare that at least 5 African American actors be nominated, does that make the process more fair (I doubt that fair is even what Smith and Lee are seeking, here)?  Do we then make sure to have 5 Japanese Americans, 5 Native Americans, 5 Irish Americans, 5 women, 5 disabled?  As you can see, they whole thing becomes absurd.

Smith and Lee do not recognize the absurdity of their stance.  Per Smith:
“Begging for acknowledgement, or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power. And we are a dignified people, and we are powerful…So let's let the Academy do them, with all grace and love. And let's do us, differently."

http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/18/entertainment/oscars-boycott-spike-lee-jada-pinkett-smith-feat/index.html

So, you’re not supposed to ask for acknowledgment, but isn’t that exactly what you’re doing when you make a public declaration of your boycott?  You, Mrs. Smith are completely talking out of your ass.  You want attention, and in begging for it in such a pathetic way (as opposed to, you know, earning it through stand-out acting), you diminish your own dignity and power.

Apparently what Smith and Lee want is for blacks to get nominations whether they earn them or not – just for the sake of “flava”.  How is that any less racist?  They’re essentially saying that some “lily white” people who worked their asses off to create brilliant characters are undeserving because their skin color isn’t dark enough.  The hypocrisy does not end there.  As reported in CNN:

“A longtime critic of the academy, Lee received an honorary Oscar at a banquet in Hollywood in November, where he said, ‘This industry is so far behind sports, it's ridiculous. It's easier to be president of the United States as a black person than be head of a (movie) studio. Honest’.”

http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/18/entertainment/oscars-boycott-spike-lee-jada-pinkett-smith-feat/index.html

Lee cries when he gets an Oscar and cries when he doesn’t.  And I won’t even go into how asinine his comparison to sports and the office of the presidency is.  Lee is just a shallow-thinking blowhard.
Thankfully, there are other voices in this discussion.  Enter: Aunt Viv of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air fame.  Janet Hubert completely calls the Smiths out, saying Will’s accent was “all over the place” in Concussion, and pointing out what should be obvious – that just because a performance is good, that does not mean it is “academy worthy.”  Hubert makes an even better point when she says “Some actors love the work for the work itself, and not to win some bullshit statue that does not validate them as actors.”  True enough, Aunt Viv, true enough.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/01/19/aunt-viv-drags-will-smith-and-jada-pinkett-smith-over-oscars-boycott.html

If Smith and Lee focused on the work, and the love of the work, they wouldn’t have room in their hearts to bitch and moan about whether or not they receive some award for it.  Sure, winning awards and the receipt of recognition are nice, but that can’t be the reason you do something.  There are plenty of incredible actors of all skin colors that haven’t received an Oscar: Donald Sutherland and Danny Glover, to name a few.  Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp have also done some incredible work and did not receive an Oscar.  Did they boycott?  Did they whine and cry?  Negative.

I think Stacey Dash at Fox News hits the nail on the head.  Quoting an interview on Fox:
“I think it’s ludicrous,” she opined. “Because we have to make up our minds. Either we want to have segregation or integration. If we don’t want segregation then we need to get rid of channels like BET and the BET Awards and the [NAACP] Image Awards, where you are only awarded if you are black.”
“So you say there should not be a BET channel?” Fox News host Steve Doocy wondered.
“No, just like there shouldn’t be a Black History Month,” Dash replied. “You know, we’re Americans. Period. That’s it.”

http://www.rawstory.com/2016/01/stacey-dash-rips-hypocrite-jada-pinkett-smith-black-actors-must-earn-oscars-because-segregation-is-over/

The most important thing Dash said is “we’re Americans. Period.”  I think that’s the reason Smith and Lee piss me off so much – this country has backslid, in terms of race relations, and their bullshit boycott is only making it worse.  Invoking MLK for their crap is an insult to his honor.  And even the trivial aspects of our culture – the Academy Awards – are part and parcel of the total picture.  Smith and Lee are, essentially, negating MLKs work and asking for new segregation – black-only awards, black-only movie production companies, etc.  These neo-segregationists are completely counter to a integrated, harmonized society.  We may not all like each other, or get along all the time, but I for one would rather have a colorful, Melting Pot, kind of country, not a each-to-his-own, color-divided country.  I’m with Dash – we’re all Americans.

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<![CDATA[Dieting: How to Resist Temptation]]>Wed, 13 Jan 2016 15:11:00 GMThttp://cubiclemonster.weebly.com/blog/dieting-how-to-resist-temptation
How to resist temptation?  I don't fucking know.  I didn't make any New Year's resolutions, so get that trite crap out of your head right now.  Rather, I've been trying to adjust my lifestyle for some time.  I'm far from obese, but I have these wobbly bits that I'm just not fond of.  On top of that, my husband and I have been training for our first triathlon.  Sounds pretty cool, right?  Hmmph.

So we're in this group that trains and works out together.  But while they're doing Century rides, I'm done at 18 miles because my shoulders and ass bones are all screaming at me.  Every time we pass the brewery, I just want to kick my hooves up and pour that refreshing bubbly elixir down my average-athlete throat.  And while they're clocking 6 minute miles on half-marathon distance "fun" runs, I'm bleeding out the eyes to get a sub 11-minute mile.  They look elegant pulling on their speedos, while I'm contorting like a salt-sprinkled slug to stuff myself into my gear.

I can accept that these people have been doing triathlons years longer than I have, and therefore have the process more dialed in.  And I can accept that, because they have it dialed in, their bodies are far more Front-Cover ready than mine.  However, do you know how goddamn hard it is to show up everyday, knowing you look and perform like Average Jane, meanwhile being surrounded by the fittest, most beautiful people on earth?  It sucks giant wads of ass nuggets.

My coach tells me to get out of my head about it, that everyone has to put in the work to get where they are.  Yeah, I understand, man.  And every last one of them is kind and supportive - which only pisses me off more, of course.  The other challenge I face is that my husband has given up the hooch, so he started baking mounds of cookies as a substitute.  He can have one or two, but my banana-grabbing monkey fingers think I'll die if I don't keep reaching for those chocolate-chip-laden heroin disks.

What's a girl to do?  Every day I have to figure out how to swallow my pride and just show up.  Every day I have to try - I have to compete against me and not them.  I know what to eat and what not to eat - I understand all that.  But, I could quit, you know.  I could just let it all go; let go of all the expectations, challenges, and comparisons.  My ego could take a break from the constant let-down.  My coach would get a break from pep-talking me.  I could try to just accept my wobbly bits.  Wouldn't that be nice?  Sure it would. But I'm not going to do that.  I'm going to show up again tomorrow. 

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<![CDATA[Buyer Beware: Climate Change is a Financial Tool]]>Fri, 08 Jan 2016 22:21:24 GMThttp://cubiclemonster.weebly.com/blog/buyer-beware-climate-change-is-a-financialtool Picture
I’ve been really on the fence about the climate change issue.  On the one hand, I can see how humans can have a negative effect on the environment.  On the other hand, “the environment” is such a nuanced, ever-changing beast that it seems hubristic to believe humanity can decide how it moves.  The chart above is a pretty convincing picture of how the climate undulates as it will, regardless of mans’ input.  If we pretend for a moment that everyone is aware of just how powerless man is against this beast, what are we to make of the recent climate summit in Paris?  How are we to understand the multi-national political interest in how the climate is behaving?  Put more pointedly:  why do politicians give a shit?  I mean, with all the crappy things happening in various nations across the globe that we CAN control, why is so much effort being put towards something we really don’t know how to control, like climate change?

In researching this issue, I’ve come upon some interesting theories.  One idea, posted by Karl Denninger on Market Ticker, is that the climate change initiative is nothing more than a veiled taxing system:

“The real reason to impose carbon taxes and similar nonsense is to disadvantage the west and our modern society for the purpose of control while giving huge sums of money to favored people to redistribute under the guise of ‘leadership.’  What it really amounts to is theft at gunpoint used for ‘global welfare payments’.”

https://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?singlepost=3394147

Whether you believe in the One World Order conspiracy or not, Denninger’s tax theory still has merit considering how the money will be moving.  Essentially, countries that lack the infrastructure to monitor their greenhouse emissions would receive money from…you guessed it…the US taxpayer!  It had been hoped by some that private investors would make up the bulk of the funding, but it remains to be seen whether enough funds could be collected from the private sector. 

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/14/world/europe/a-climate-deal-6-fateful-years-in-the-making.html

Green Bonds were created around 2010 as one way to attract private investors.  The idea is that the purchase of a Green Bond at a flat rate would provide investment funds for climate-friendly initiatives. Thus, one could achieve yields with a clear conscience. It is essentially a 2-for-1: you get to make some money and still be cool to all your friends because you can legitimately wear your “I Heart The Environment” t-shirt made with organic, slave-free cotton.

According to Kieran Cooke:

“The Green Climate Bonds would, in effect, be another form of money creation similar in some respects to what’s called quantitative easing – increasing money supply to stimulate the economy. Only in the case of the climate bonds, this new money would be used to combat climate change
.”
http://climatenewsnetwork.net/key-role-urged-on-central-banks-in-climate-fight/

But, there are a few problems with these bonds.  The most obvious issue is oversight.  Just because you are told that funds are used to help the planet does not necessarily mean they are.  A PR tool called “greenwashing” is used to make an entity look more environmentally friendly that it actually is.  Another problem is more meta-, more macro-, more economics-as-Godzilla.  That is to say, the current status of the bond market, in general, as well the on-going creation of more and more debt makes one loathe to encourage the bank creation of new asset bonds.

For those of you who are starting to feel as though the climate initiative is the brain child of the Bilderberg group, you’ll be delighted to learn who the key players are in the Green Bond market:

“BlackRock joins the likes of Barclays, Citi Group, and HSBC to partner with the Climate Bonds Initiative. BlackRock manages $4.5 trillion in assets globally. According to the Climate Bonds Initiative, the Bank of America Merrill Lynch has been the largest underwriter for labelled green bonds in the first three quarters of this year, followed by JP Morgan and the Citi Group.”

http://cleantechnica.com/2015/11/04/worlds-largest-investor-blackrock-eyes-green-bonds-market-partners-climate-bond-initiative/

The jury is out on the nature of Green Bonds; they are part noble idea, part fraud, part investment strategy, part central bank bullshit.  Yet, they are easily avoidable.  If you don’t want it or don’t trust it, you don’t have to buy it.  There is, however, a more sinister aspect to the financing of the climate initiative.  In Kent Covington’s interview with Christopher Monckton on The World and Everything in It, Monckton says:

 “Governments want new ways of raising taxation. They want some kind of moral justification for the very excessive amounts of taxation they now tend to levy worldwide. When this global warming story came out, it was manna from heaven for governments and for bureaucracies and for scientific and academic establishments. This was money all around from the ordinary, poor taxpayer. … This was a huge transfer of wealth and power away from democratic control by ordinary people keeping the money in their own pockets and deciding what kind of light bulbs they could use and how much petrol to use. Now all of this is prescribed by governments, which have grown huge, new bureaucratic enterprises to tell people exactly how much carbon dioxide they’re allowed to [emit]. You soon won’t be allowed to fart without permission in quintuplicate from some bureaucrat somewhere. It’s gotten completely out of hand. But what is interesting is that there is no—and I mean no—scientific basis for the exaggerated predictions of future global warming that the usual suspects have been making.”

http://www.worldmag.com/2014/07/who_benefits_from_overblown_climate_change_forecasts

Now, plenty of people accuse Monckton of being a crackpot.  Maybe he is a loon, but that doesn’t mean he’s wrong about this.  Actually, I believe he has hit the nail on the head. And Monckton is not alone on an island with this viewpoint, though the media would like you to think that.  There are others who are wondering what the true motivations are for the climate initiative. Quoting the post “Nobel Chutzpah Prize 2015: UN, World Bank need ‘$89 Trillion’ to fix climate” on joannenova.com:

“Part of the trick for such a grand grab is the invisibility of the bill. The bureaucrats sneak silently into bank accounts around the world, a dollar here and a dollar there. Funds come from taxpayers and then through higher electricity, fuel and grocery bills, the money flows from seniors, retired folk, children and the unemployed. Through loans issued by governments and central banks, the payments come through silent inflation, as the value of purchasing power and currencies fall. The payments are almost never labeled. No product is ever produced that needs to be delivered.  No one gets a bill in the mail to change the weather.

If they did, there would be riots in the streets.”

http://joannenova.com.au/2015/05/nobel-chutzpah-prize-2015-un-world-bank-need-89-trillion/

The thing is, Nova and Monckton are the very people mocked and ridiculed by the mainstream media these days.  If you don’t fully believe the climate theories, you’re accused of being uneducated, blind, or politically motivated.  But their arguments are very sound.  We see the silent inflation, the devaluation of currency, the lack of a checking mechanism, vested interests, and the transfer of wealth that Nova and Monckton warn us about.  If it’s blatantly all around us, how can we go blindly along with the climate initiative?

To close, I’d like to end with a parting shot against the climate fear-mongering.  Here is another chart demonstrating the natural ebbs and flows of the climate.  The Modern Warm Period is not the highest peak.  Note also that there are plenty of relative ice ages.  Humans can come up with complicated financial systems and they can fuck up politics and world affairs, but I am not convinced our invention of Aqua Net has irreparably affected Earth’s climate cycles.



Image: Reference: Part 8: Dynamic Solar System - the actual effects of climate change. Future Development and the temperature fluctuations. EIKE - Europäisches Institut für Klima und Energie
http://www.eike-klima-energie.eu/klima-anzeige/teil-8-dynamisches-sonnensystem-die-tatsaechlichen-hintergruende-des-klimawandels/ (in German) English Translation Link.

http://www.lunarplanner.com/SolarCycles.html
 

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<![CDATA[Oregon: A David Vs. Goliath Story]]>Tue, 05 Jan 2016 16:14:07 GMThttp://cubiclemonster.weebly.com/blog/oregon-a-david-vs-goliath-story Picture
I love that scene in the movie Far and Away when Tom Cruise’s character runs like hell to plant his flag, declaring that plot of land to be his.  Little Irish boy fighting and dreaming for a slice of land, a slice of possibility in the still-new America.  Equally so do I enjoy the tales of pioneers going West searching for their own spot on Earth, or the ‘49ers who seized upon those gold nuggets and traded them for homesteads.   Those are the inspiring, tragic, beautiful stories that made America more than a country – they made it an ideal.  Now, I could start quoting Rousseau about the role of private property in a man’s sense of worth, or I could quote Thoreau to underscore the importance of land and home to a man’s soul.  However, I think it’s a point we all are innately aware of – that a piece of land, a home, is intrinsic to health and happiness – especially as pertains our idea of life in America.

What, then, are we to make of the Oregon situation?  If you listen to any major news source, then you’re probably prone to believe that a angry group of armed “militia” have taken over something that does not belong to them and are defending men who do not want their help.  According to CBS News:

“The Hammonds said they have not welcomed the Bundy's help.”

" ‘Neither Ammon Bundy nor anyone within his group/organization speak for the Hammond Family,’ the Hammonds' lawyer W. Alan Schroeder wrote to Sheriff David Ward.”


http://www.cbsnews.com/news/oregon-ranchers-reject-cliven-bundy-family-occupation/
CBS, and the other biggies, frame this portion of the story the same way.  There is no actual quote where the Hammonds reject the Bundy family and their supporters.  Rather, the Hammonds are merely distancing themselves from the “militia” group, via their lawyer, to show that they are complying with the law. (The usage of that word, militia, just cracks me up.  The media loves to pick key words in order to color readers’ perception before one even has a chance to consider the facts!)

Now, the Hammond story is a whole different animal from the Bundy story.  It is the Bundy story I would like to consider first.  The media uses the word “militia” – they want you to picture angry men with guns who are illegally occupying a space they don’t own in a town to which they do not belong.  They want you to know that Clive Bundy owes the government $1m in fees that he refuses to pay.  They want you to picture these people as violent, unreasonable…even animal.  I have yet to hear or read a news story that is sympathetic to the Bundy/Hammond cause from one of the major news outlets.

However, the non-major new sources (read: blogs, etc., not owned by a vested interest) provide a much clearer picture of what’s happening in Oregon.  What we have here is a David and Goliath story in which hard-working ranchers are pitted against the BLM and the Feds.  In its essence, the ranchers simply want the freedom to work on and take care of their land.  We like a good underdog story – we pull for David 99% of the time.  But the media is savvy, see.  They know it’s far easier for the Feds to win this one if the populace thinks ill of the Hammond/Bundy plight. 

Per Justin Raimondo at Anti-War:
“What is clear is that the government is out to make an example of the Hammonds. Their case represents the resistance of rural ranchers and farmers to the aggressive tactics of the government and the radical ‘environmentalist’ movement, which aim at eliminating the few private landowners remaining in the region. The Hammonds are the last holdouts in an area that has seen the Bureau of Land Management revoke permits, block water usage, and use every means to harass them and force them to move out.”

http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2016/01/03/the-war-against-the-cowboys/

Mr. Raimondo is not just throwing out an opinion regarding government harassment and inconsistency in this case.  A nice, thorough timeline of the events can be read here:

http://theconservativetreehouse.com/2016/01/03/full-story-on-whats-going-on-in-oregon-militia-take-over-malheur-national-wildlife-refuge-in-protest-to-hammond-family-persecution/

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  So, to more clearly understand the BLM issue in the West, consider the map below.  Notice a trend?  If it looks like the West is almost completely owned by the BLM, then you see correctly.  In their own words, “The BLM’s responsibilities include managing the 27 million-acre National Landscape Conservation System and managing about 700 million acres of underground minerals like oil, gas and coal.” Ah!  That’s the ticket!  The BLM controls an underground cornucopia of riches!  No wonder why they want the ranchers to fuck off! 

Map & quote: http://wilderness.org/article/blm-lands-faqs#sthash.egWeQbwB.dpuf

It has become quite clear to me that the ranchers – no matter how imperfect their lives and choices may be – are fighting for a cause that they believe is right and just.  They have the same love of land as Thoreau, the same hunger to own and protect as Tom Cruise’s character in Far and Away.  What are the Fed’s motives? Resources and control – same as always.  So, when Mr. Bundy calls for Patriots to support his cause, he’s being a true American.


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<![CDATA[The Feds Hunt for Ranchers in Oregon, Part 1]]>Mon, 04 Jan 2016 22:19:52 GMThttp://cubiclemonster.weebly.com/blog/the-feds-hunt-for-ranchers-in-oregon-part-1Much more needs to be said about this, but for now, the main question that’s nagging me is: why did U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall feel the need to make the Hammonds serve a full five years when a previous judge decided such a punishment was way overboard?

“Amanda Marshall: Former U.S. Attorney for Oregon. Marshall recommended that the federal government challenge the Hammonds’ original prison sentences. By law, the convictions come with mandatory five-year sentences, but U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan in 2012 balked at the punishment and instead sentenced Dwight Hammond to three months and Steven Hammond to one year. Marshall called Hogan’s punishments “unlawful.” The solicitor general authorized a rare appeal of an Oregon judge’s order. The appeals court sided with the prosecution, and the Hammonds returned to federal court last year to face a second sentencing. At that hearing, U.S. Chief District Judge Ann Aiken ordered the pair to finish five-year terms.”
http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2016/01/militia_standoff_in_oregon_key.html

In another article on Oregon Live, Marshall is quoted as saying:

"If the government stands by and doesn't pursue the statutorily mandated sentence in this case, what kind of precedent does that set?" Marshall asked. Hogan, she said, imposed "an unlawful sentence."
http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2015/12/ranchers_fight_with_feds_spark.html

How sweet of her to stand up for the little guy—the government—and make sure that the two Oregon ranchers suffer to the fullest extent of the law.  One has to wonder to what extent any of these judicial branch operators even trust each other, and if they have the same understanding of the law, when such cases get volleyed about.  Marshall and her bad decision making is only one layer of this shit-cake. 


I plan to write a full post on this very shortly.

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<![CDATA[Human Nature Antithetical to Christmas Spirit]]>Tue, 22 Dec 2015 15:35:18 GMThttp://cubiclemonster.weebly.com/blog/human-nature-antithetical-to-christmas-spirit
I drop in on Scott Abel's blog & receive his newsletters.  He mainly writes about fitness/nutrition, but the newsletter linked below tells the story of Good Samaritans doing him & his folks a solid.  It also urges "drive-thru kindness."  The example he gives is how he'll drive through Starbucks and pre-pay for the two cars behind him.  He says it's a small act, but gives him the warm fuzzies.  He also urges us all to tap into that Christmas Spirit and engage in random acts of kindness - not just during this holiday season, but all year.  Scott is not being pithy, however.  There  is a string of philosophical thought running through his post.  Namely, he ponders the synchronicity and meaning behind the appearance of religion at a time in his life when he is receptive to it.
http://scottabelfitness.com/a-special-christmas-blog-post/

Now, I gave that notion of kindness some thought.  I wondered if people, by and large, have the kindness gene at the ready this time of year, though it might lay dormant most of the time.  Remember how the movie Pay It Forward was all about that sort of thing - do something nice for the next person?  The idea was that it was supposed to activate and inspire kindness, then go on ad infinitum and make the world a better place.  What a glorious thought - especially at Christmas time.  However, reality is so much different.  There are people like the examples in Scott's blog post who helped his elderly parents, and like Scott's Starbucks Surprise, but the other 99% are not so giving.  If you just look around and watch people, the majority do not behave in a way that resembles or inspires kindness.  Watch how they drive, how they move around stores, how they treat each other - hell, watch the news!  It's a nice thought to believe that little acts of kindness will inspire the same in others, but that takes for granted that people are like you - that they feel kindness is rewarding in any sense.  Most behave more in a every-man-for-himself way, or even worse they behave in a I-just-got-one-over-on-you way.

Just the other day, I was standing in a Starbucks line and someone decided to pay for the person behind him.  "Oh this is interesting," I thought.  "This will be science in action!  Hypothesis: 'pay it forward' scenario at Starbucks will last no longer than 3 people (I was 5th in line)."  So, first person to receive the gift was pleasantly surprised (apparently no one was paying attention to the situation - I'm sure she was staring at her cellphone rather than take in the surroundings), and gleefully told the girl behind her that she was buying her coffee because one was just bought for her.  The recipient said a cool thank you (not even a smile!) and the line of giving ended right there.  It did not even last 3 people down the line.

By the time it was my turn, the people who were behind me were fed up with waiting so they ditched out (I can't blame them - do you really need 6 frapp-a-fucking-ccinos when a line of people waits behind you?).  I thought about whether it mattered if I could see the face of the person for whom I would buy the surprise coffee.  I mean, if I knew someone was behind me, and I could see their eyes light up, would that make a difference?  Further, would it matter if the person appeared to be a rich business man or a hungry student - one without need vs. one with need?  It didn't matter.  It didn't matter because I did not, in fact, buy a surprise coffee. 

If I was the recipient of the gift, I would definitely pay it forward, but when the playing field is equal, I stick to my own thing.  Therefore, I realize that I am neither extraordinarily selfish (like the recipient who didn't continue the game), nor am I particularly giving (I didn't opt to re-start the game of my own accord).  I'd like to think that if it were something less trivial than coffee, that I would be right there to give what I had and help where I could, but honestly, I haven't exactly been putting in time at a Soup Kitchen or anything.  Nope, I am very aware of where I am on the spectrum between Scrooge McDuck pre-Xmas spirits and post-Xmas spirits. 

Here's the sad thing, though: I'm not sure if Pay It Forward, Drive-Thru Kindness is worth much.  If the whole game only lasts 2 people, does that drop in the bucket ultimately make any difference to an angry, selfish, war-torn, police-battered, race-card playing world?  Do only the Grand Gestures make a dent in our consciousness?  I honestly don't know.  It's rather difficult to tell.  For, as Thomas Hobbes wrote in Leviathan: "And the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short."  That was as true in the 17th century as it is today.  We have not evolved into Nietzsche's Ubermensch. 

But, it's Christmastime, so I do not want to leave this post on a sour note.  Scott Abel wondered at synchronicity and was inspired by the gift of religion and kindness that exists DESPITE our humanity.  If the mere notion of goodness, kindness, peace, and sympathy exist, let alone the actions taken for the sake of such notions, then the world is not such a bleak place.  Ubermensch may not be the overarching behavior and sentiment of the majority of people, but it's a possibility in any given moment.  So go ahead, be better than me and buy that faceless stranger a damn Frappuccino.

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