Rest In Peace Big Man In Black

May 28, 2023

I got the call almost a week ago, early in the morning, the sunlight just starting to poke around the towering skyscrapers. When I saw the call was from Fernando, being that early, when he lives out in Los Angeles, I answered with just three words:

“F*^k. Dude. Who?”

“John Tovar man.”

“No way man… Seriously?”

“Yeah man…. Heart attack.”

“Jeez. Dude. F*^k.”

“Only 65 man.”

“Hold on. What?”

“Yeah man. He was 65 years old.”

“Jesus. Dude how is that possible?”

“We gotta get you healthy brother.”

“Nice segue. Dick. But I’m only 63.”

“So we have time for at least 4 or 5 more albums. Hahaha…!”

“Dude, seriously, i really thought John was older than that…”

“Yeah man,” he sighed.

“God this is so sad. John is a huge part of everything we accomplished man. Even hooking the two of us up together! You know…..”

“Oh yeah! That’s right! I know how much he meant to you bro. I called you first.”

“I appreciate that man. Yeah… he was the man. And now… jeez… It’s the end of an era.”

Our conversation continued a little longer. After we hung up, I quickly sank into this deep depression. And mourning. The reality was settling in… the memories starting to leak in from the walls and ceiling… the finality of it. Truly the end of an era…. For so many of us, and in so many ways.

The saddest news of this past week, the most heartbreaking, Tina Turner notwithstanding, won’t mean a thing to most people around the world. In fact for most people who even live in Miami or South Florida, the home and stomping grounds of longtime music manager John Tovar, it won’t mean much to them either.

For anyone in the music industry on the other hand, no matter where they live, it’s devastatingly sad news. Especially for those of us in the music industry AND from Miami.

A sad quiet stillness dominated my days after i got that call. It continued into each successive day since. All week. I’m guessing it’s been that way for pretty much everyone that knew him. I still haven’t called anyone. I havent wanted to talk about it. Didn’t want to write about it. Not yet. Didn’t want to see the rush of folks trying to be the first to post it to social media or say something pithy or profound.

John would’ve hated that himself. Frankly I wish we all would have made the time to say it to his face or hell, even over the phone, when he was alive. This is a regret I’ll have for the rest of my life.

At some point though, sooner than later, i knew I’d have to let it out, release the grief and the sorrow and, more importantly, celebrate the man who was a local legend for 40+ years, and nationally…, the best thing you could say about someone in the business: they always took his calls.

John Tovar was a huge part of my life, personally and professionally, as he was to so many artists and music business folk from the South Florida music scene. During different eras, it seemed like the whole scene was balancing on his shoulders.

For longtime readers of these Transcendence Diaries, you know him as The Big Man In Black. Or oftentimes just The Big Man. Someone I’ve written about extensively. Now you know. It was and always will be John Tovar.

The man entered our lives when we were still teenagers. And he continued to be there for over 30 years. God those years have flown by, haven’t they… Those initial years, in the beginning, when we were just kids playing in bars long before we were old enough to get into those bars. Still feels like yesterday in certain ways.

To many music lovers, they may not know the name, but they know the music he was responsible for bringing to the world — most notably just in terms of cash box or coverage, The Mavericks and Marilyn Manson. Just like those artists do, we all owe John a huge debt of gratitude. Especially considering that that’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of artists that we all know and love who HE introduced us to.

That’s one of the many things that made John such a standout person. He was responsible for escorting hundreds of notable artists to the finish line. Many you’d know of. Others you wouldn’t. From there it was up to them what they did with it, what we all did with it.

I’ve heard people say that Tovar, which is what everybody called him back in the day, was at the right place at the right time. But I’ve always thought that was bullshit. Plenty of others were in those exact “right places at the right times” and they never had the impact John Tovar had on the scene. Nor the success for so many artists.

With John it was more than that. He happened to have great ears, an impeccable eye for talent, and this relentless thirst for justice, in an industry that never cared for such a thing as justice. For John Tovar it was a mission.

John recognized talent immediately. And he would do anything he could to fight and claw his way to the top to make sure that talent got heard and got the justice they deserved. By getting them as far up the ladder as he could. This is another aspect of the man that made him one of the greats. In an industry where there are very few of those.

If you signed with Tovar, you knew he would do everything he could for you. We, and when I say “we” here I’m referring to our first band, Broken Spectacles, signed with John in our late teens. We had worked hard for it, because by the time we came on the scene, John Tovar was already a legend.

At least to us he was, back then. He was physically large, in every measure. Long black hair that was always seemingly more greasy than it needed to be, black mustache and goatee, black jeans, black button down shirt or T-shirt, big black boots and a black sports coat. And compared to our short little lanky frames, usually wearing nothing but boxer shorts and T-shirts, he was a physically huge presence.

He was just as imposing in his manner. He was generally a quiet dude if you didn’t know him. And if he didn’t know you, he didn’t care nor pretend to. He didn’t see you in a club and flash you a smile. As so many tend to do. Most of the time he wore a kind of grimace, as if he were bothered by something. It’s funny looking back at it now. But back then, it was just intimidating as hell.

You couldn’t help but notice him everywhere you went that was musically bent. Because he was everywhere. Always looking for talent. Or because he needed his nightly fix of good music.

In the beginning we would see Tovar out and about. He was one of the few somebodies in that little scene. We continued to play out every chance we got.

Then suddenly he started showing up at every show. “Look… guys, we love what you’re doing… Eddie and Matt, this two headed monster thing you guys have…. We want to work with you. What can we do?” he said over a 3 to 4 plate meal at Dennys that filled half his side of the table. He spoke these words alongside his partner back then, Rich Ulloa. A legend in his own right.

This was a big moment. Signing with Tovar or Rich was a rare occurrence back then… they were just getting their engine warmed up for what was to come. Signing with these guys was a right of passage of the Miami music scene that every artist aspired to…. It put you on the map. Said something about you.

It wasn’t just that John could possibly get you somewhere, get you that big break you’d been dreaming about since you were in diapers. It was way more than that. At least to us. Something way more important.

John knew music. Good music. Great music. At a time when the only way to even access good music was on Sunday nights on Matt Pinfield’s 120 Minutes on MTV. Hair Metal or boy bands were what dominated popular music. For a while there it seemed like good music was dead and would never return.

Of course as we all know now, a small group of guys and gals from out in the Pacific Northwest changed all that. Someone called it “Grunge” and it quickly became co-opted, over played and over-powered by big money and commerce. But it did the trick. It got us all out of the hair metal rut we were stuck in.

None of this mattered to John. Not in the big picture. Because he still believed in great music. You could talk about the last 80 years of great music with him all night and into the next day. He knew it all. And if you just sat and listened, you learned a lot from the man.

But it was more than that if you were a still-unknown up and comer. Because John knew all the great music, and dug all the great music, and didn’t mind stating loudly and unequivocally how shitty the modern music of the day was, working with him had this effect of making you start to believe that maybe you had a chance of one day being great too. Not rich or popular or famous. He never talked about those things. But you could be great. At making music. And to a lot of us that’s all we cared about.

More than that. Deeper than that. Bands like us were constantly being courted back then, but with a bunch of casually-said and tricky little caveats. They wanted to turn us into a kind of quasi “rock-n-roll boy band” in those first few years.

Or they wanted us to keep writing the songs, keep singing the songs and keep fronting the band, but “just have older, better, more experienced musicians play the instruments on the tracks.” Or they’d want only one of us to stand in the middle and sing all the songs.

These caveats were countless and endless. If we would only make these small changes, platinum records were guaranteed. But John never once wanted to change a thing. And when he heard these stories, he would become palpably angry on our behalf. “Eddie Eddie Eddie. These guys are so full of shit… they wouldn’t know good music if it….”

It was precisely because of this, his integrity, his commitment to authenticity, that artists of all ages and musical genres wanted to impress him, wanted to please him, wanted to blow his mind. And frankly John wasn’t known for being the friendliest guy around. Kind of the polar opposite of it really. He was downright grouchy if things weren’t going his way.

So if you did a good show and had John smiling ear to ear ten to fifteen minutes afterwards, it meant a lot.

We started working with John and Rich pretty quickly after hitting the scene. The two of them set up a few showcases for us, major label execs flying down all the time. I’ll never forget that first one. Nor the many that came after. Because being so young and dumb, we believed we were “too damn good to “showcase” for anyone”.

So we continuously proceeded to sabotage every showcase these two generous men set up for us for a good year or two. To put it bluntly, we were unappreciative little monsters. John and Rich, eventually just John, flew down every big-time record label exec who had a name in the industry. And we just kept deliberately screwing around, to prove to the world that we were “too good to have to showcase for anyone”. Not kidding.

We’d drop acid a few hours before the shows, or play 20 minute versions of “Heard it through the grapevine” or “Stella Blue”, or get so drunk we could barely play or fall off the stage, or sometimes just yell at the record label execs till they got up and left the table.

We obviously didn’t get any of those deals. But that didn’t stop us. We continued to pound away, growing up a little bit, growing in size and scope and staff members. Becoming as much an organization as we were a band.

The reason i recount these stories and this phase of the band is because it illustrates something really profound, important and beautiful about John Tovar.

Even after all of that, after everything we put him through by being such ungrateful little assholes, we hooked back up with Tovar again and again and again. He wasn’t just a manager. He was a mentor, an advisor, an advocate, a cheerleader… a resource, in reality more of a secret weapon. He was also a friend. And he never gave up on us.

Seeing that very first debut show of the Mavericks was a revelation for all who witnessed it. A masterpiece of a moment. It’s all anyone could talk about that week. Just like seeing The Goods or Nil Lara or Diane Ward and Voidville or Natural Causes or Amanda Green for the first time.

What a lot of people outside the music business wouldn’t know is that John and Rich took a huge gamble on this Mavericks venture.

See, the guys in The Mavericks had already been in the Miami music scene for years, working out of various other popular bands. Which meant that they were “older”. In reality they probably weren’t more than 25-26. But trying to promote a band that “old” was a death wish. Yet John and Rich did it anyway. And it was a grand slam for both of them.

John Tovar was extremely generous in that way. He didn’t let on to it very often, especially not in public, but he had a huge heart. After Broken Spectacles broke up we all went out on our own. I quickly ended up in New York, sleeping on whoever’s couch i could find and living on one McDonald’s cheeseburger a day for months.

Why? Because John was headed there for some meetings and told me to get my ass up there, he’d pay for it if that was needed (it was), and he’d shop me to some execs when he could on his downtime. That’s how Acoustic In New York came to be. He finally got me the deal that had been so elusive for so many years. We got to the point of recording a full length album on the record label’s dime, but in the end, the release date kept getting pushed back. Eventually indefinitely.

This happens to artists all the time. In fact it happened to several of us from the scene that very year. The stories were sad. And hilarious.

You’d think that would’ve stopped John at that point. Working with me at least. But Tovar was loyal. To a fault sometimes. He was coming from a different era. Back when relationships in the business mattered, when they were cherished. But the business had changed. And he hated that.

Just to prove a point or because he really was the coolest guy from the business side in the music industry, about two years later, John called me and said something to the effect of “So Mr. Ed…. what’s this I hear about you recording a new album in a bunch of different languages? And calling yourself “the ambassador”?” He laughed. Heartily.

“Well you know… just trying to keep things interesting man”, I replied.

“And you’ve got… what’s her name… Uhhh… you know… Mrs Trophy Wife….”

“Karen Feldner,”

“Yes. Now she has a beautiful voice Eddie.”

“Yeah she does. She’s awesome. And I’m telling you John… it gives things a really different sound with her…It’s special.”

“Well Mr Ambassador, you know I’ve got to hear it.”

We were doing the new album, Rise and Shine, at Cliff Rawnsley’s place, Sunflower Studios. John was working with Richard Clarvit by then, both of who had a tremendous effect, and influence, on us over the next few years.

Richard had no problem informing me that I was far too old to be still making music. I was 28. For the record, Richard was being helpful. It was the first of years worth of valuable advice. He suggested I go into management or something else behind the scenes to “reflect my new maturity”. But I wasn’t ready for it.

And Tovar wasn’t hearing it. Didn’t give it a second thought. Or even a first. He never cared about age. Or how old an artist was. Or better put, he may have cared, but he never mentioned it to me. He felt like it was something the music business would grow out of. And he was right. Just ahead of his time, as with so many things.

[As an aside, just because every time I remember it, I laugh. I called Zach Ziskin to vent about all this new talk I was hearing about me being “too old” to make music. I’ll never forget it. Zach says, “dude just remember the two rules. One, you’re always 28 years old. No matter many years pass. And two, if someone asks, you’re always either in the studio working on a new album or on tour.”]

Tovar and I signed yet another agreement with each other, A very different kind of deal. With different goals.

We all realized that John had collected a ton of knowledge about the business and how it operated. What was success? Was it getting a record deal? Well obviously not, as many of us proved four years earlier where we all got deals, recorded albums and never got to see them get released.

Success was in reality a collection of successful achievements, hit records, large fan bases, great album reviews, great press, massive radio airplay, etc. With a label or without one.

This time John was signing on to be a Consultant. In all facets of our career and the business. To help us achieve those goals. And in time, we did. One by one we checked off most of those boxes. And we couldn’t have done any of it without John Tovar. He was the difference maker.

And we were just one out of many many others he did the same things for. How he found the time or the energy, no one knows… But the man was unstoppable once he put his mind to something, once he went after seeking justice for an artist he believed deserved success. The man was a legend because his actions were legendary.

Looking back over the last 5-6 days, the thing I oddly keep remembering the most about John Tovar, out of all these years, decades, that have passed, is those Saturdays or Sundays where we’d have to speak real quick about something related to business and we’d end up talking for hours about the history of great music and the great artists who made it.

Because in the end it was more just coincidence that I was an artist and he was an artist manager. What both of us really were, more than anything else, were obsessed music fans. And there was nothing more enjoyable than just sitting around for hours talking to John about music

America Has Only One Political Party Left — What Happened to Republicans

May 15, 2023

Disclaimer: For clarity and context, the author of the essay below was raised Republican. His grandfather was a career higher-up in the Republican Party. It was and still is “the family political party”. He himself has been a lifelong Independent. He has never been a Democrat or a Republican. He’s voted for both sides intermittently depending on geographic location and what the vote was about.

Anyone who lacks basic knowledge of current affairs in the United States enough to ask you why the once-sufficient Republican Party is now so despised here in the U.S., and a laughing stock everywhere else, save the article linked below and forward it to them. The headline sums it up well enough. [DeSantis signs bill to defund Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs at Florida’s public colleges. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill into law Monday barring the state’s colleges and universities from spending money on diversity, equity and inclusion programs, and limiting how race can be discussed in many courses.]

Of course, you could also just google any one of the hundreds of elected Republicans current or former on any given day, especially the former president, and find equally damning & infuriating evidence of the lost and dangerous party and its followers.

This of course does not equate to the Democratic Party being “good”. People often make that mistake. It just makes them “better”. Truth be told, you’d be hard pressed to not be Independent at this point, though the Dems are doing fine at the moment in terms of performance and at the very least being aligned with the basic views of at least half the American people and most of the world.

But at a time like this, when the very system itself and the government it creates is so awash in greed, corruption and ineptitude on both sides, Independent makes sense. It’s the only intelligent option for a people long overdue for an actual solution to the broken system that was once envisioned to serve them.

With that said, Independent or not, anyone not disturbed by and terrified of the collection of criminals and crackpots who have no place to go in American politics but the Republican Party now should be viewed questionably.

They’ll give you plenty of excuses why they don’t see the insanity taking place all around them by these lunatics and thieves…. And that, right there, is enough to question anyone’s intelligence or sanity. They’ll say they don’t see the ignorance, corruption, greed, bigotry, duplicity, deceit, or stupidity in Republicanism ….. Love them or not, there’s something terribly wrong with this person.

Or they’ll acknowledge some of it and claim to be terribly distraught about it, and then say “but it’s better than the alternative” (meaning the Dems), which in itself is absolutely terrifying. You don’t choose a racist homophobic lying stealing uncompassionate heartless criminal to care for your kids because you disagree with a few ideas of the well-educated, responsible and compassionate babysitter down the block.

I have plenty of Republican friends. When I question how they can still support such a sewer pit of the worst humanity has to offer, the answers I’m given are: 1. “I was raised Republican.” These r the types who believe politics is no different than American football. They want their team to win. They feel bad when it doesn’t. 2. It’s the money. I.E. “I don’t want to pay more taxes. I want to stop all those entitlement programs.” (we’ll get to this — and indeed it’s the only reason there still is a Republican Party considering how far it’s fallen. But the wealthy 1% don’t need a government for anything except military protection from foreign invaders. So they care not who’s in office except for one issue: taxes. So they alone (including the corporations) donate the majority of the money to the party knowing full well they’re voluntarily in bed with the unwashed uneducated masses from the slave states but they don’t care, as long as their taxes stay low, or their company gets the write offs or exemptions or laws changed that they requested. If they cause a civil war ala January 6th or something worse through their irresponsibly keeping republicans in office, they’ll be on the first plane out of here. But it won’t be a plane. It’ll be a private jet. Theirs. This is how the wealthy inadvertently cooperate with and support millions of people they’d never agree with on anything, never associate with or even talk to. Because they don’t talk to or associate with them. They just know the Republican Party needs them or they can’t win and hence has absolutely no morals scruples or values. So they know they can get whatever they want out of said party. Their own personal views are liberal and intelligent. But they secretly or even publicly support the Repubs for financial reasons only, having almost zero allegiance to any country, especially not this one. They’ve transcended nationality due to financial status. 3. They’re religious and they think homosexuality or abortion is sinful. 4. They “care about the kids” and think LGBTQ is all harmful to kids. Many of them equate LGBTQ with pedophilia automatically. 5. They say they don’t see anything wrong with the current state of republicanism or those serving under its banner. They either really don’t see Desantis, Santos, Geatz, Taylor-Greene, Cruz, Trump, et al., or they do see them and actually agree with them. Besides the soulless wealthy who support current republicans knowing they’re destroying the country, this group is by far the most dangerous. It’s the same group we’ve been fighting since before, during and after the civil war. These are the real life Slave-Staters we’ve been battling since before the founding, who now choose to call themselves red-staters to deflect who they really are, but who they are comes through loud and clear every damn day, as it just did with this new law Desantis passed. If it ain’t white straight christian and born in the USA, they don’t like it. To them, that’s what republicanism and “the good old days” means. 6. They want to be tough on crime, as if democrats don’t. This is thinly veiled racism. 7. They care about keeping their guns and their second amendment. Meaning, no matter how many mass gun murders there are in the country, no matter how many die, they don’t care, until one of theirs gets killed. They will continue to overlook both the global record breaking gun violence in the US and the the fact that it’s only the republicans who participate in the soulless and criminal NRA bribery that takes place (they call it “lobbying” so as not to call it bribery). 8. They “care about the border and immigration”. Ask them where their family came from before they got to America. They’ll smile wide and happily recall their family’s own immigration story. But that doesn’t matter to them now. They’re here now. Besides, everyone in their family allegedly came in legally. And this may be true. But what’s really at the heart of the passionate anger against illegal immigration since it’s only Hispanic South Americans who are trying to get in? And why can’t the government on either side set up a few giant Ellis Island like immigration centers at the Mexican border to expedite the process? Why is the answer more walls and a big NO?

9. They’ll start recounting a variety of different conspiracy theories only aimed at democrats, like Pizzagate. The problem with this view, as aligned as many of us might be with it, is that there are just as many conspiracies about the American government involving the Republicans, as any decent theorist will tell you. Both parties are filled with conspiracy rumors that would make anyone shudder. The assassinations of the five most prominent leaders in the United States in the 1960s is just one example. Most American conspiracies transcend political party and speak to a more ominous conclusion about the government itself. 10. They want to “make America strong again” globally and militarily and “keep it safe”. These are what we call the Hawks. They want a stronger more aggressive foreign policy, more money spent on weapons of war and what they wrongly call “defense spending”. They want to be tougher on communism. Yet there is so much wrong with this viewpoint… Briefly… Traditionally sure the Republican Party once upon a time represented the Hawks. Both the Reagan and the Cheney-Bush White Houses illustrated this. But both the Clinton and Obama administrations changed that narrative. Both White Houses were notoriously brutal in regards to their foreign policy and American exceptionalism speak and practices. Both ran rampant around the world doing whatever they thought was best for the United States and attacked or killed whoever got in the way. Democrats could no longer be called patsies or soft. America itself became a Hawk with no difference between the parties. Until Donald Trump appeared. He said he was Republican. But he cozied up to communist Russia as if it were a democracy. He gleefully danced like a child to impress the Saudi family, one of the most barbaric and monstrous groups of fascists in human history. In regards to China or North Korea he made intelligent observations like “I think he really likes me”. This was no hawk. This was no dove. This was a buzzard.

You certainly don’t choose a political party because you were raised that way (even though most do), or because “that’s your family’s team” and “you want your team to win”. Those days are over unfortunately. For all of us.

As much as we long for the old days when we had at least two teams to choose between in governance in America (which in an of itself is a tragic aspect of American governance. It’s damn close to authoritarianism, 370 million people having only two choices to pick between regarding who controls every aspect of their lives from the local all the way to national level) we don’t now, have two teams that is. We’ve only got one viable political party in America, and another disaster of an organization whose sole concern at this time is its survival — knowing full well the mess it’s in and how harmful, divisive and dangerous it is to the country it ostensibly is supposed to serve (the recent FOX News revelations being just one example of this).

Republicanism no longer looks or acts like a political party, but instead more like a collection pit of the worst types of human beings the world has to offer. Civility, respectability, decency, nobility, honor, truthfulness are all gone. Relics from a past very few even remember. The likes of Eisenhower or William F. Buckley or even Ronald Reagan, with all his administration’s crimes and misconduct notwithstanding, wouldn’t be caught dead being associated with the Republican Party of today. Truth is, they wouldn’t even recognize it.

The looks on the faces of all the traditional, long serving Republican civil servants on the stage during the first few debates of 2015 said it all. They can best be summed up by humored, entertained, shock and horror whenever Donald Trump spoke. They literally would trade smirks with each other because the man was so lacking in knowledge, education, experience and so ill-prepared to lead. He thought he was on a game show or another reality show. And perhaps he was.

But as poll after poll started coming in, the reality set in. The looks of being humored and entertained disappeared. Left only with shock and horror. Americans were coming out of the woodwork who were definitely not republicans. Yet they were calling themselves republicans. And choosing to support this clownish and corrupt mess of a manchild. Completely disowning the basic principles of republicanism, once the party of the rich and refined. Now they were seriously considering someone who notoriously had gold toilet seats in his home, beyond nouveau riche wannabe. This was white trash with a sudden influx of cash on hand but never bothered to get the training in protocol and etiquette that usually goes along with it.

One by one we witnessed traditional republicanism vanish before our eyes as each potential candidate succumbed to the reality that they didn’t stand a chance against this sloppy, uncouth newcomer. And what his eventual election win did was open the floodgates of the Republican Party to allow anybody and everybody in without heart soul or brain.

The Paul Ryans of the party left quickly. Others like McCain or Romney stayed and tried to hold things together as best as they could. But they all experienced the same thing. The complete disillusion and devolution of a once very proud and modestly adequate political party.

Very quickly in, the American people began to see things it never had before. Republicans running people over and killing them. Republicans kidnapping governors or congress people, republicans proudly admitting they were white supremacists and the president gleefully condoning it. Trump administration members or those associated with him started piling up in jails and prisons as it became more and more clear how deeply entrenched he and his friends were in crime and criminal behavior. World leaders mocked and laughed at him. At us. How could it get any worse was the thought that kept occurring to most Americans, day after grueling day. And then it did.

In a flash of a moment, on January 6th, it all became tearfully clear just how dangerous he was and just how irresponsible and deadly the Republican Party was and still is. Those of us alive and old enough to understand what we saw at the time will never forget that day.

The problem? The Republican Party never changed. For a moment it appeared they were going to. Members like McCarthy and Pence and even McConnell implied in their speech and actions that they’d had enough. Then like all power hungry cowards, they caved and back pedaled and started to tow the part line again. Good little doggies.

Republicans don’t have any better alternative to even run for office. For any office. The party has been destroyed. Anyone decent or respectable wouldn’t dare get near them; they’ll stay in the private sector.

This leaves the United States left with no real choices for its governance. The democrats offer intelligence decency and respectability, sure. But viewpoints and platforms many may not necessarily agree with. The other side, the Republican side is all barbarians at the gate now, drooling and growling, wild eyed and rabid, hungry for self aggrandizement and power and money. The George Santoses and Donald Trumps of the world.

Romney/Ryan seems like a dream from centuries ago. But who’s left to vote for them now anyway? Those republicans are gone. They’ve switched sides. These new republicans…. One begins to wonder how this could possibly have a happy ending for the United States or the world at large.

In the next installment we will attempt to explore how this happened.

The Great Divide Between the Religious And The Divine

May 12, 2023

Hi Viking,

As you may have noticed, Princess Little Tree subtly cut me off mid-sentence with a “uhh…” this morning in our meeting. I’m accustomed to this, so it would be understandable if you didn’t notice it. And because I trust her implicitly, i stopped speaking. She felt I “was just about to get too passionate” in her words, and felt it best to cut me off.

I recognize My views are extreme and can be viewed as harsh because I dare To point out what would be the obvious to anyone who is not religious in the world, but I do so in a christian environment filled with christian people. That’s the only thing that makes it controversial in the least. And yet I admit I do Feel a tad of compunction for doing so, just out of consideration for the feelings of others who may not be aware of the things I say. 

But I get the feeling you do…

The problem for me, the problem for so many all over the world right now, are the people who vote to disaffiliate — why can’t they just say separate? — from the Methodist Church, ostensibly because they don’t support the church because they are about to revolutionarily change its 200 year bylaws to openly accept the LGBTQ community… and personally yes, I’ve been having a very tough time with this.

Hence my tens of hours of studies this past week trying to understand the whole big picture of why more than half the Methodist community nationally is right this very minute voting to leave Methodism…. I wanted to understand. Turns out, it appears they just don’t like gay people. Or at least they believe their “god” doesn’t like gay people.

And as many people have pointed out, there are only 3, at best, references to homosexuality in the entire Bible. So this idea that it’s “sinful” “in the eyes of a god” is a bit far fetched seeing how human beings wrote the damn thing in the first place. And even they didn’t dedicate more than 2-3 sentences to it in a book that’s thousands of pages and was written over a span of time of more 800 years.

So are human beings really anti-homosexuality because it’s Bible based or against their religion, or is it something else?

Princess Little Tree felt that I was On the verge of letting my passion get the best of me, saying something out of line or offensive to some folks. She recognized immediately that I was Aiming my speech toward certain kinds of people…. Which I was In a way. Trying to understand more than anything… because it breaks my heart. It’s NOT what I signed Up for. But she was right. Despite my own beliefs and feelings, it wasn’t appropriate for me to start demonizing others so outspokenly.

I started attending Christ Church in New York for research purposes because of that supernatural spiritual experience I speak of, yes. Voices whispering in your ear “What you’re feeling is God’s love. Ed God loves you so much…”, an event that last for a good 4-5 minutes. Over and over again they whispered these kinds of ideas into my ears. Who wouldn’t pay attention to something like this? Only a fool wouldn’t return that Sunday a few days later after an experience like that…. At the very least just to see if it happened again.

(And it did. This time the voices said things like “this is your home Ed. These people are your family…come closer to God who loves you. Stay…” So i stayed a little longer. Kept coming back. I was still skeptical and cynical of religion… But I kept Coming back. Out of respect of and honor to “my idea of a potential God” and this experience of these voices, not a “normal” thing and I recognized that. I did not want to be one of those people we read about who miss out on some incredible divine gift because they’re stubborn or close minded. And I was Right to do what I did. It was indeed some kind of divine blessing. I get it. And I have been blessed multiple times by the decision i made.

I can honestly say I believe in a Divine Force, that which others call “God”. And though my view is that this Divine Force is a scientific phenomenon like gravity or electricity and yet at the same time is also conscious like sentient beings i.e. think dark matter and energy if you want the major key to understanding God, I still believe we are all speaking about the same thing. And though no I have not figured out the puzzling problem of Theodicy, I believe we will eventually… it’s most likely due to what we vibrate in our consciousness… combined with higher purposes that we are not or can not fathom from this level of Awareness….

And yes I can often FEEL the presence of, hear the voice of and connect with this Divine Force. I get what a gift that is. So yes in that respect I am “religious” or at least spiritual or “of God”, or “of believing in a God”. But again, as “a force with sentience and consciousness.”

But I became a Methodist precisely BECAUSE the church had such a wide diversity and gays were a big part of the congregation. It was the opposite of how “Christianity” is and is viewed in this country. Gay people serving me Communion?!?! Work trips alongside blacks and Hispanics and Indians and Asians?!?! It was a revelation to me. Black people taking me and welcoming me to their home country in africa?!?! So humbled. So grateful for those whispers…

But then all this. The plastic bags come off the faces and it is revealed that nothing’s changed. 

American Christians for the most part are still exactly what the rest of us, the majority of us, in America believe them to be. Using religion to be the problem, and never part of the solution. Always dragging the rest of us back hundreds of years. 

And trust me when I say that the rest of us, the majority of the American population are extremely resentful of having to deal with Christians and these shenanigans. Whether it’s Trump or Israel or gays or immigration or abortion, Americans do not look fondly on religious people, specifically Christians and the negative influence they have on society as a whole.

Then there are people like me who totally don’t make sense and boggle the mind of the “regular folk”. After 20 years they still think I’m “undercover for some secret project” or why else would I “attend a church”… when I’m clearly on the opposite side on all the issues, including the intellectual side of proclaiming there to be some invisible all knowing higher power. It doesn’t go over well in academic or intellectual circles. It’s baffling to 99.9% of my friends.

But I try to explain that “some churches are different” AND “because I had a supernatural spiritual experience” they would be perfectly fine had that happened to me through Krishna Consciousness or Buddhism or Avatar or Baha’i or Hinduism etc…. 

So why not accept that it happened to me through Christianity?!? Hell, I get it. It’s not optimal. It’s not what we expected. It’s not aligned with being “cool” nor “intellectual”. I get it. But it’s real. And it’s honest. 

And it’s better to be honest about finding God through something as uncool as American Christianity than it is to walk around pretending that you’ve found God through practicing buddhist meditation yoga and sat sangs when you’ve never even heard the whispers or felt the Presence, which is what so many do.

The point is it’s worked up until this point because CC has always been so progressive, so ahead of the curve, caught up (almost) with modern society and the progress we’ve made. As you stated, we are still in perpetual repentance because of some of the mistakes we made in the past. I LOVE that. I can totally get on board with that. Especially if we continue. As has been hinted at regarding this 2024 General Conference and the potential changes the church might make. 

Do people have any idea how revolutionary that is?!?! How exemplary that is to the world? The leadership it shows and will show? 

For once the christian church actually shows the world it supports what’s RIGHT instead of old-world backwoods dogma?!? 

People like me can step out of the shadows and consider the idea of embracing and connecting with a divine force…tens of thousands of them… hundreds of thousands worldwide. Hungry for spiritual fulfillment but far too ashamed to get even close to a religion because religions are far too close minded and exclusionary and harmful.

Because “the church”, i.e. “religion” will no longer be “the dark hearted uncompassionate unintelligent enemy” we’re always fighting. Religious people have no idea they’re viewed that way. Or maybe they do, but they just persist in their “who cares? We’re right because we have Jesus on our side and we’ll be proved right when He returns or in the afterlife”…. Which just further stokes the flames of the viewpoint that “religious people are ignorant and batshit crazy”. That’s the general viewpoint of Christians in America or Jews or Muslims. There are simply way too many fallacies involved in leaping toward embracing it.

I haven’t minded being part of that group in the minds of some because at CC we are NOT part of that group. We stand out and rise above because we truly are different. 

But all this “separating from the UMC Organization because it’s too progressive” threatens the ability of people like me to stay true and loyal to the whole affair, not just Methodism, but Christianity as well.

After all, if it’s always going to be on the side of stifling equality and human rights then how can people like me stay a part of it? Let alone not openly fight it publicly? 

So yes I got a little too passionate. I said some things in the wrong way. I was a bit too challenging… but it’s precisely because I’m fully on board with us aligning with the ideals of the Gospels. And I’d like us to preserve that. 

Banning abortion or banning pastors from marrying gay couples or banning gay people from becoming clergy is NOT aligned with the ideals Jesus preached while he was alive. 

And yes I’ve read what Paul says in Romans about gay people and I could Care less what Saul-Paul said. He’s not the foundation of the faith and practice. Jesus is. 

I’m tired of this. Tired of the fight. Tired of the struggle. Tired of talking about it. Tired of writing about it.

More later.

What Language Do African Americans Speak? Ebonics Versus African American Vernacular Versus Standard English

May 8, 2023

Below are a few good primer articles on Ebonics, what linguists and schools in America used to call what American blacks speak. That was changed to Black Vernacular English. Now that’s been changed to African American Vernacular English and is considered a dialect of English rather than a separate language.

I remember years ago hearing that there was a name for the language that black Americans spoke, called Ebonics, the idea implying that they spoke a different language than English. Now on the surface this makes sense. Living in New York City, the most culturally diverse city on planet earth (statistically speaking), in a variety of different mixed neighborhoods, I freely admit that I cannot necessarily carry on a conversation in “black”.

I know this to be true because we live in a neighborhood that is 65% black. (As an aside, this particular neighborhood is also THE famous anti-Israel orthodox Jewish neighborhood that’s been here forever and is always in the news. Orthodox Jews make up approximately 20% of the neighborhood. And the rest is white. We are a small minority here.

As I’ve mentioned in other essays here, whites and blacks do encounter each other here, a lot. New York City is a very OPEN community leaning place to live. Some say it’s because our homes are so small. It is true. We live in tiny little apartments the size of most of the rest of American’s TV room. So we are always outside. Or on the roof. Or at some diner or restaurant or cafe. Or just sitting on a bench or at a park or walking. Anything to get outside and out of our apartments.

We share the same neighborhood after all, the same subways, streets, sidewalks, and bodegas… but interestingly we rarely frequent the same stores or restaurants. Where they go for these things is as mysterious to me as where we go is to them probably.

But the point is all of us hear each other speaking when we are out. And at the risk of sounding racist or ignorant, I’ve noticed for decades that black people do speak differently than I do. And vice versa. I’ve been made fun of a few times by black people because of how I speak when I’m hanging out in or have wandered into a particular area. They’ll mock or mimic the way I speak. Usually in jest. So it obviously goes both ways. And it’s not just an accent thing, like with people from Alabama or Wisconsin or Boston or North Dakota. It’s more than an accent.

It’s the pronunciation of words and the way the sentences are formed and the words that are used. I usually can only understand about half of the sentences in terms of what was said and what was meant. But I always took it for granted. I use google all the time to look up phrases I hear black people say in order to learn what they mean, or why they’re saying a word or phrase like that.

Then one day, going back about ten years, a friend of mine asked me “why black people pronounce the word ask like axe”. I said “I dont know. but maybe it’s part of the whole Ebonics thing. I’ve heard that linguists consider that black Americans have their own language.”

Examples like: “it’s been a minute”. “My moms” instead of “my mom”. “I gots” instead of “I have”. “Ima” instead of “I’m going to”. “My nigga” instead of “dude” or “man”. “Exspecially”. “Esactly”. “Gonna”. “Gotta”. “Shorty”.

There are thousands of examples of this in a google search. People are genuinely interested in this topic now. And yes it is surprising once you start studying the language just how different it is grammatically and in vocabulary and pronunciation than standard English. There are hundreds of examples of stark contrasts that one would have to learn from being raised speaking it or have to study formally.

The original question opened my ears to the phenomenon and started me on a ten year journey of research and study about this subject. And sure enough, there is a raging debate amongst academics and public schools nationwide about just this very topic. It is agreed on that the majority of black Americans, not all of them, do speak a form of English that is different than other groups of Americans, and broadly different than what is known as Standard English.

Hence the origination of the term Ebonics in the 1970s to try to give this special language a formal name. The term was changed to Black Vernacular English (BVE) first, and then to African American Vernacular English (AAVE).

Some schools want to teach both Ebonics — to those who speak it naturally and those who don’t, AND have special classes for Standard English, the idea being that there’s a great divide between the two languages and it’s not just linguistic but cultural, i.e. how can a student who has spent his whole life only speaking reading and writing AAVE then enter a school and be expected to speak read write and learn in what is essentially almost an entirely different language i.e. standard English. But the point has been made that American TV is almost all standard English, so “everybody has access to standard English in their day to day life”. Of course this presupposes that “everybody” watches TV and watches the same shows. Not so sure about that.

Some people want the term(s) to equate to nothing more than a dialect of English. Similar to an accent, but with its own set of different words and grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. Personally I think it’s somewhere in between. But because people like me, the average white person, can still understand someone when they are speaking to me in Ebonics or AAVE, the argument that it’s not a different language but only a dialect holds true. A

nd heck look at people from Louisiana. Or for that matter people from Great Britain. Tell me they aren’t hard to understand when they are “speaking English”.

“This seemingly separate language African Americans speak is what they speak at home and in their neighborhoods; it is a symptom of separation and separatism, not the cause of it.”

Thus teaching classes in both AAVE (Ebonics) and English in schools can be seen to increase inclusiveness, not exclusiveness. I would tend to lean this way. It certainly cannot hurt and if anything it would foster more communication and understanding between the differing groups… of all colors — because not all American blacks speak anything other than Standard English.

“Most linguists think of black English, or African American Vernacular English (AAVE) as a dialect of English, not a separate language.”

Read PBS article here

Read Urban Dictionary Article Here

Conference on College Composition and Communication Statement On Ebonics

What is Ebonics (African American English)? By Linguistic Society Of America

At Its Core Royalty Is An Attempt To Legitimize Human Abominations and Those Who Commit Them – But Does It Work?

May 6, 2023

Yesterday a man called Charles in Great Britain paid for one of the most lavish and expensive parties of all time to have the people around him call him “king”. Never mind that “king” is as made up as the Easter Bunny and at this point in time his new title won’t have any actual value or meaning to the other inhabitants of the country. He paid for a truckload of media attention, the affair lasted hours and filled the streets for miles. For a few brief hours you had people as important as prime ministers talking about something as imaginary and unimportant as Superman.

There were two kinds of people in attendance. Those who were paid to be there, like priests, pastors, bishops, magistrates, various politicians and civil servants, press people, handlers, costume designers, most dressed up in the most ridiculous costumes that looked right out of Alice in Wonderland — all there to lend legitimacy to the ridiculous claims being made. Then there were the masses. Some well known and successful, most not so much. They just wanted to be at the party. Or get a glimpse of it.

Manmade things tend to come and go in human societies, based slightly on the mood of the people, and more impactfully the power of whoever’s in control at the time, and the willingness to wield that power, to perpetuate the myths that keep these ideas in circulation. Marvel Comics superheroes are an example of the first. People who walk around calling themselves royal are an example of the latter.

The most important thing to understand about what some call “royalty” is that it isn’t real. It’s as unreal and manmade as Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy. It doesn’t matter that millions of people say they believe in it… unlike facts… people, places, things, scientific realities, etc., royalty does not actually exist. As with any other manmade things, royalty only exists for as long as other people decide to go along with it.

If you have any doubt, run it by the Alien Test. If a being from another planet that was more intelligent than our’s visited earth, there’d come a time when they’d want to understand everything about us and our home. Perhaps we’d even explain some of it to them. Though I doubt it. They’d view and handle us the same way we view and handle insects or animals. For the most part, earth and the various living beings that inhabit it would be easy to understand within hours to this alien. He’d collect and categorize data about the natural elements that exist here, how much water, oxygen and hydrogen there was, the force of gravitational pull and solar rays would be measured, anything remarkable or useful about the living organisms, humans being one of them. Most importantly the alien would be looking for real data about real things that have value of some kind.

At no time would this alien ever be able to understand or be talked into understanding this idea that humans call “royalty”. There are plenty of human beings the alien would probably have an interest in or at least find real and valuable enough to sort and categorize. Scientists, those with special abilities like athletes or musicians, maybe the best of the best thinkers… Politicians of only the highest order — presidents and prime ministers — would be sorted, but viewed as nothing more than a means to communicate to the masses of living organisms and to keep the peace during his exploration. He would not care what they had to say.

Those labeled “royalty” by themselves and others would not be given a second thought. No data collected. Nothing to learn. Nothing to categorize. They would not be separated from the pack of billions of other humans.

The Alien Test is always a good go-to to ascertain the reality or importance of something.

The ideas surrounding royalty have only been around for a few thousand years, and though not based in reality and completely manmade, are forced upon a people through a variety of different means. This would be a good launching point to discuss indoctrination and mind control to explain how small groups of humans are able to control large masses of millions of people.

At its essence, when broken down to its core for ease of understanding, “royalty” implies two things: one who possesses the most wealth (of whichever assets and currency are most valuable at the time, in that region of the world), and one who possesses the most power… power to control the most people, power to pass and veto the very laws that govern whole countries or empires, power to influence the most people of wealth and influence, and power to inspire the most fear.

These are the makings of king, queen, prince, princess, et al. All made up words that in reality refer to nothing real except the people who refer to themselves with these labels. The people are real, sure. The labels are not. People have just been talked into believing they are.

People ask me all the time how we can claim royalty is not real after they just witnessed some so called queen die or a guy who calls himself a “prince” gallivanting through California with a Hollywood actress promoting a tell-all book. “They’re real people,” they proclaim. And yes of course they are real people. And yes they refer to themselves as being “royal” and hope others do too. But it’s a myth they made up. It’s fairytale. The more people go along with it, the more real it seems to become. But it never becomes real like gravity, or heart disease, or radiowaves or chimpanzees.

You or I could walk around starting today demanding everyone call us the Hope Saviors. And I guarantee you nobody is going to do it. It’s going to be pretty obvious that we made it up. But what if we had a vast fortune and we paid for hundreds of press releases to be announced as “news” every day around the world about us? Yes then people would actually start to walk around talking about the Hope Saviors. We could easily become “something”, because human beings can be talked into just about anything if you keep telling them to. But it wouldn’t be perceived as being real. It would still just be a name we gave ourselves.

But within months they’d start to pay us millions of dollars to make public appearances, be guest stars on their TV shows, endorse their products. Hope Saviors would be a thing. That’s how easy it is to make something up completely from scratch and get everybody to start referring to it as if it’s real.

After that we could go deeper into the myth making. We could say we were descended from great gods from other solar systems. We would need no proof. People would automatically start talking about it and accept it as reality. There are plenty of “gods” right now who don’t exist but modern humans claim are real. The key is, and this might be one of the most important points of the matter, it isn’t difficult to brainwash a whole people into believing whatever you want them to. But it does take time. And money. And the threat of force and harm.

Getting back to so called royalty, they started to perpetuate similar myth making regarding gods early on in their creation of the idea of royalty. But “gods” too were a fairly new manmade concept. So they could be equally played with and manipulated.

Because of these so called “royal people” possessing such vast sums of wealth and power collected through the millennia they took to equating themselves with imaginary “gods” and “goddesses” that were invisible but lived way up high in the skies in order to further confuse and confound simpler people and inspire even more obedience and fear. It’s one thing to declare one’s agency and sovereign rights and disobey someone who calls themselves a king or shah or pharaoh or emperor. It’s another thing to disobey a “god”. This was the idea. They could also attribute magical powers to these gods and claim they would harm or torture you in an imaginary afterlife if you didn’t obey the king. Crafty.

Many of these manmade ideas still hold sway over the hearts and minds of modern peoples in todays world. They haunt and disturb them. It’s a harmful practice, perpetuating these ideas for some selfish personal or organizational gain; gaslighting at the extreme.

In the early days, the first kings — those from the Mesopotamian region of the world and later the Middle East, took it one step further and chose to declare that they themselves were gods and goddesses. Human on the outside, but a “god” on the inside. They’d throw around the word “divine”, another manmade concept.

When the world sped ahead of these primitive ideas of “human gods” who call themselves “royal”, these self described royals began to tone down the fairytales and instead started going with the idea that they were put into their position of power by “divine mandate” i.e. an invisible god or goddess demanded that they and only they should be the “king” or “Queen”. An equally unrealistic and ridiculous idea. But plenty of people still fall for it.

And what did they mean by that exactly? They meant that they were in charge. Of everything. Even the modern so called royal family of Great Britain still abides by this belief and expects the millions of the country’s inhabitants to do so as well.

During this guy Charles’s big to-do yesterday in England, he had a variety of different religious guys dressed up in a variety of colorful costumes participating in a whole host of different manmade rituals to conflate the royalty concept with the religious. They weren’t just trying to include religion in the elaborate ceremony. They were deliberately using misleading language and convoluted sentences to conjoin the two, as if royalty and religion were one and the same thing.

Truth be told, they aren’t too far apart. Both were invented by ambitious humans, lustful for wealth, power and control in outrageous power-grabs. Neither has any basis in fact or reality. Both are the stuff of myths and fairytales. Both’s sole purpose is to gain and control as much wealth, power and influence as possible. Over the last 1500 years, the Catholic religion, which was and is still just a different and more manipulative way of saying Roman Empire, was so interbred with royalty — the pope is a kind of king himself, or king of kings, that it was hard to discern who had more power, the so called pope of the Roman Catholic Church or the so called emperor of the Roman Empire.

The amount of control they’ve wielded in everyday people’s lives through the centuries is shocking. In perhaps the biggest con of all time, religion and royalty are still allowed to exist.

One might ask, how on earth does one measly human get hundreds of thousands or even millions of other humans to believe in such childish non-factual drivel? History answers the question with ease. Through any means necessary.

The very first step usually comes in the form of brute force, violent domination and subjugation. The very first humans who called themselves “king”, those men in Mesopotamia who changed their names to Sargon to symbolize they were “kings” (there was no word for king at the time… Calling yourself “Sargon” had the same meaning) were all able to do so because they killed anyone who got in their way. Once they killed someone, they could then steal their land and assets, which added to their personal fortune. They also could do this to whole villages, kill, enslave those not killed and steal their belongings to increase their fortune.

Eventually words did begin to be invented for these kinds of men. Both the Sumerian words Ensi and Lugal formed in the 3rd or 4th millennia to describe these men who killed raped tortured enslaved and stole enough to be rulers of small areas of land and peoples. The loose translation to English is King. There was also pharaoh and emperor. And so it began.

Eventually men of equal ambition, heartlessness and ignobility rose up from other areas because they wanted what these other men, these so called kings, had. Their goal: kill them, steal what they had and call themselves king. And this goes on up until the present day. Manmade or not, there is absolutely nothing more vile nor more dangerous or deadly in the human species throughout its history than those who call themselves “royal”.

As the idea of “royalty” and its many benefits to the self-named receiver of the title spreads throughout human societies on planet earth, brute force is still the primary manner which is used to obtain said title. They use their stolen wealth to hire soldiers and assassins, amassing whole armies, raiding and pillaging other towns or cities, eventually whole other regions and countries, to kill their so called “royals” or rulers or leaders, and to steal yet more wealth for themselves. This turns into what we now refer to as war. Something very real indeed. By the time they are done, these so called royals possess more of the world’s wealth than anyone on earth. And people will call them anything they demand they do.

Eventually it becomes more complicated and nuanced to stay “royal” for long. After all, everyone wants it, nobody can explain exactly what it is or means because it’s all manmade, so they change the rules all the time. Brute force and domination is still the primary way to get it… you steal it for yourself.

Pretty soon becoming and staying “royal” begins to demand simultaneous assassinations bribes and payoffs in addition to raiding and conquering. Anyone who poses a threat to someone’s claim to rule is killed off, oftentimes their family killed as well. Others who still pose a threat but are almost as strong or powerful in their own right i.e. those who also have large sums of wealth and influence and can thus afford an army of their own, are offered large sums of money that may also come with some meaningless title and some land. This is where we get the ideas of dukes and duchesses, lords and ladies. “The court” as it is called. Manmade and unreal. Just made up crap to justify being a murderous monster or someone who assists a murderous monster. But very “real” in how this imaginary title affects the lives of others.

In this light, one can begin to see that the invention of the idea of royalty is 1, a way to communicate to large masses of people who’s in charge. Who’s in charge equates to who has the means and the lack of character enough to murder a lot of people or do anything else they need to in order to stay in charge, and 2, “royal” is a way to begin to legitimize the ghastly deadly and inhumane things people do to stay in power.

They call themselves “royal”. They say they’re descended from invisible “gods”. They wear elaborate costumes to deliberately stand out and not fit in, as if at a costume party. They invent a large catalogue of manmade legends and myths about what it means to be “royal”… in reality it means they are vastly more evil and wicked than even mass murderers or serial killers, but they take deliberate aims to legitimize their cruelty, murdering and domination of others. They come out into the open as they steal bribe blackmail rape enslave and murder and claim it all as “divine right” to do so… because they’re “royal”.

It’s a fascinating paradox. Society lives by a set of laws which apply to everyone to keep things civil. Except those who call themselves royal. For them these laws don’t apply. Why? Because they’re royal. After a while you begin to see the picture. Royals are known for being as stupid as rocks due to the inbreeding; but the original invention of the idea was a rather ingenious one. Create a way to legitimize the most criminal behavior on earth by the sheer ungodly amassing of wealth through any means necessary, use wealth to pay everybody off, kill whoever gets in your way, bribe or blackmail others, all the while claiming to be doing such by a demand from some invisible god or gods.

At one point, this man Charles who threw the lavish party yesterday to name himself “king”, recites some phrases expressing allegiance to The Church Of England, religion itself being another pillar of this vastly wealthy and corrupt empire, saying something to the effect of “The ways of gentleness and the paths of peace….” which had me laughing out loud uncontrollably, because the United Kingdom, or Great Britain, is one of the most notoriously barbarous, wicked and deadly empires in human history. There hasn’t been anything gentle or peaceful about it since Rome found and conquered it 2000 years ago.

Some may ask, if royalty doesn’t exist, then why am I able to see it? Hear it? Read about it? Watch it on TV? Well that’s the thing… as with many ideas and concepts that are manmade, we can have experiences of such things… and yet at the same time recognize that they aren’t real, are not based in fact. The various manmade religions throughout human history are also seen from this point of view. They come and they go over time, their existence only recognized as it suits the rulers of the world to continue perpetuating the idea. When they, the rulers of the world, are done with said religion, the people are told to stop recognizing it, and it rather quickly fades away, after a generation or two, transforms from ideology to idea to memory to dust.

From such knowledge, we can gather a few truths about what is meant by people who refer to themselves as “royalty”. They are by the very nature of their willingness to do so unabashedly ambitious, competitive, self-serving, greedy, selfish and corrupt. More so they are what we would normally call dark-hearted, primitively evil, barbaric, unwavering in their lust for power at all costs, human or otherwise.

The very title itself exists as a way of acknowledging the deceit, thievery, bribery, extortion, kidnapping, rape, murder, and plundering of such people. Due to the massive wealth that these individuals are able to collect when they abandon all human decency, human values and moral codes, and by the end any human attributes whatsoever, they needed a way to describe and title themselves to distinguish themselves from everyone else in their region.

The so-called British royal family is said to rule over the people of Great Britain, and also the entire so-called United Kingdom. (Granted there isn’t much left of this kingdom left…). In return the people pay approximately $100 million dollars a year to “maintain them” so to speak, though their personal salaries are upwards of $90-100 million per year. Their collected personal wealth is surprisingly low at least by American standards at only $30 billion. But who really knows…?

This current family, the Sax-Coburgs, who occupy the title of “royalty” in Great Britain are Germans. And they’ve ruled Great Britain for over 350 years. They changed their name from Sax-Coburg to Windsor, naming themselves after a Castle, once again to fool the people they ruled over, this time into forgetting they were being ruled by Germans. They chose to do this just before the First World War, since after all that war was being fought against Germany. By that point in history the Germans had ruled over most of europe and its people for over 900 years. Occupying both seats of power of the United Kingdom and the Roman Empire — ever since King Charlemagne was crowned emperor of the Roman Empire.

The fact that an entire “royal” family can just change its name and decree everyone forget their old name and their heritage and start referring to them as another name is amazing really…. But also a sad and shocking testament to just how weak willed and distracted human beings are. And why they are so easily controlled.

There are at present 25 other so called royal families ruling over countries besides Great Britain, the people’s of said countries just as aware of the barbarous histories of these ruling families — the Saud family of Arabia is one of them, and just as aware of how unreal and manmade the concept of “royalty” is. One day in the not too distant future humanity will rid itself of this wretched tradition and create for itself a world composed of regional democracies worldwide where Justice freedom liberty equality and human rights are a given. Royalty will be viewed with as much distaste as slavery or the Inquisition. Hopefully this will be soon.


DNA from 25,000-year-old pendant reveals woman who wore it — But Not So Much

May 5, 2023

There was news late this week about some archeologists who had allegedly found a 25,000 year old pendant in a cave in Siberia that belonged to a woman. It was even purported that DNA testing taught us a lot about that mysterious woman. Unfortunately, not much of the news piece is actually true, which we dig into in some depth below.

The article was written by Katie Hunt for CNN on May 3, 2023 — Traces of ancient DNA contained in old bones have spilled fascinating secrets about the past.

I must admit that when I first saw this headline I was a bit peeved. Not even confused — though granted if taken at face value the headline would be confusing if someone didn’t know much about the science and actually believed it… but really it was just downright annoying and anger inducing if you’re a lifetime subscriber to these subjects.

And I’ll tell you why. We, modern humans of the homo sapien variety, that is, don’t find “jewelry” or anything as ornate or complex or artistic from the peoples who existed 25,000 years ago. We find stone tools, in reality mostly bone tools, spear heads or arrow heads or hand axes, but that’s it. A pendant?!?! Not a chance.

Well as it turns out the article IS misleading, and thus that’s where the confusion comes in to any reader who has a full or even healthy grasp of this field.

Firstly, they didn’t find a pendant. They found a deer tooth that has a tiny hole poked through it. they’re guessing that it may have been worn as some kind of jewelry, like a pendant or bracelet or any number of other things — since all they found was a deer tooth. The picture that accompanies the article is also completely misleading. It’s not a photograph of what they found. It’s a drawing by a modern artist of what a necklace made of metal (that’s still 20,000 years away…) with a pendant dangling from it made out of a rather fancy deer bone. Having nothing to with anything remotely realistic or possible 25,000 years ago

They were able to find traces of human DNA on the tooth they say, and from that they are concluding that one of the people who wore it may have been female. Because of this, they assume it may have been used as a pendant.

This is THE aspect of these sciences that bothers me the most. Let me make it clear, as any longterm readers already know, that out of all the myriad sciences human beings have created over the last 10,000 years, anthropology, archeology and paleontology are right up there with cosmology, ontology, astrophysics and quantum mechanics as my favorite. I am thoroughly obsessed with them and spend far too many hours per week studying and keeping up with these particular subjects — for someone who doesn’t actually work in any of those fields that is.

The biggest drag about the three aforementioned “earth sciences” is that unlike the others, they incorporate a LOT of guessing and assumption in their work. If you started studying any of them, you’d be immediately taken with, and perhaps slightly pissed off by, just how much guessing is involved in coming up with certain ideas that we were taught were truths when we were kids — and yet at least 40-50% of the ideas are formed around guesswork and assumption and not truths or facts at all.

That’s an important point. Something real and solid that everyone should know and can use as a stable reference point. My personal feeling is that they should stop with all the ventures into imagination mode and just stick with science the way the other human sciences do.

To make it clear and hammer this important distinction home, look at the headline of the article. But it should read:”DNA from a 25,000 year old deer tooth perhaps reveals a woman who possibly may have worn it in some manner, or not.” Now that would be accurate. And truthful.

Now we’re all familiar with the Denisovan caves of Siberia. It’s the home to one of the five different human species who all walked the earth at the same time. Most people don’t know this fact. But indeed FIVE different human species existed, all at the same time, and walked the earth together. Only one survived to modern day, Homo sapien sapiens. That’s us. But there were also the Neanderthals, the Tomai Man, Homo Florenciensus, and The Denisovans.

Imagine an earth for a moment when all five different humans were roaming around, hunting gathering protecting procreating all at the same time. That reality boggles the mind no matter how many times one ponders it.

Because this deer tooth is so new, or recent, it’s too new to belong to the Denisovans, who lived in earlier times. So they claim ownership belongs to a group they call the Eurasians, a group of Homo sapiens who would have been in that area approximately 18,000 to 25,000 years ago. BUT they were living in what was once home to a different human species, the Denisovans.

This deer tooth is still an incredible find. And the DNA testing showing extracts from a female who may have worn it is intriguing, because it is one of the only times we’ve been able to extract any human DNA from a stone or bone artifact from the prehistoric age. But other than that, the actual facts underlying the article wipe away all the glitter and glamour the headline portends.

World War III Watch — May 2 – 24, 2023

May 4, 2023

Chinese Malware Hits Systems on Guam. Is Taiwan the Real Target?

The code, which Microsoft said was installed by a Chinese government hacking group, set off alarms because Guam would be a centerpiece of any U.S. military response to a move against Taiwan.

US response to Putin using nuclear weapons would put us at the ‘doorstep of World War III’ —

Curtin University political analyst Professor Joe Siracusa says America’s response to if Russian President Vladimir Putin used tactical nuclear weapons would “put us right at the doorstep of World War III”. 

Professor Siracusa’s remarks come after the United States decided to allow the allies to supply F-16 fighter jets to Kyiv. 

“I believe that President Putin is very seriously considering his options – one of them might be a tactical nuclear weapon,” he told Sky News Australia. 

“I heard in Europe last week that what would be the American response if President Putin actually used tactical nuclear weapons. 

“The word I heard was that the Pentagon has informed the Kremlin through backchannels that the United States would respond with a massive conventional attack on the Russian Black Fleet which of course would put us right at the doorstep of World War III.”

With Ban on Micron, China Escalates Microchip Clash With U.S.

A Chinese government block on Micron Technology’s memory chips marks how far apart the two economic powers, the United States and China, are drifting on tech policy.

“The Chinese government barred companies that handle critical information from buying microchips made by the Boise, Idaho-based Micron. The company’s chips, which are used for memory storage in all kinds of electronics, like phones and computers, were deemed to pose “relatively serious cybersecurity problems” by China’s internet watchdog after a review.”

China’s $23 Trillion Debt Mess Is About To Get Much Worse

Could be something. Could be nothing. 23 trillion dollars is a lot money. Worse if it’s a country’s debt. Coincidentally it also happens to be just about the same amount as the United States national debt. Countries do crazy things when their debt begins to outweigh their fiscal ability to pay it back, as is and has been the case for the US for a few years now. Truth is, the United States will never be able to pay down its debt. Hell, they won’t even be able to make their annual interest payments on said debt, a disturbing fact that the majority of Americans don’t know, haven’t even thought about, but everyone in government does and has. Obsessively. By far one of the most worrisome aspects of keeping the nation alive without going to war. China, the second largest economy on planet earth is quickly joining the U.S. in regards to its own national debt. Not a cheery or hopeful piece of news.

This Wall Street Journal article below is slightly major. Not unlike many events we’ve observed around the world over the last few months regarding a potentially impending global military conflict. Are we going to wake up tomorrow and see the news flooded with reports about a world war breaking out somewhere? No, definitely not. But the fact that China, Russia and the U.S. are willing to play tit for tat and even attempt to outdo each other in cold war styled retaliations or unprovoked attacks on one another or even make an involuntary mistake that causes major but unintended consequences is enough to raise the hair on the back of your neck. In other words it continues to escalate, as the leaders of said countries continue to wave and smile as if nothing is going on is disturbing. Click link to read whole article

China Puts Spymaster in Charge of U.S. Corporate Crackdown

By Lingling Wei. May 18, 2023, 11:06 am EDT

China’s crackdown on overseas firms has made clear that leader Xi Jinping values security over economic growth. To eradicate any doubt, according to people familiar with the matter, he has put state-security czar Chen Yixin in charge.

The campaign, which has included raids on Chinese offices of U.S. due-diligence firms and questioning of staff at the Bain consulting firm, is sending shock waves across global businesses.

Italy has signaled to the US that it intends to pull out of a controversial Chinese Belt and Road Investment Pact before the end of the year. Read Bloomberg Article Here

For the United States and other Allied Nation Coalition countries the above is good news. Italy is the only G7 country involved in China’s controversial Belt and Road Initiative. It’s controversial because it’s a clear play to become the world’s largest most powerful superpower by offering free money, infrastructure, buildings, transportation systems, airports, railways, skyscrapers, basically anything a country could want or need to conduct business. (To learn more about Chinas Belt and Road Initiative, something everyone should have a knowledge and understanding of, click here.) In return they would indirectly if not overtly owe a debt to China. And in the meantime China would have yet more transportation routs and trade deals all over the world, guaranteeing it to be the worlds largest economy and business entity in the world. Italy exiting the deal would be a good thing for those not wanting to see the world too communist. Though what it might inspire China to feel, knowing it was pressure by the United States that compelled Italy’s move, is up in their air. They certainly won’t feel good about it. But overall, good news.

BREAKING: Imran Khan: Ex-PM arrested outside court in Pakistan

Polarized Politics Are Tearing Pakistan ApartIts economy is on the brink, society is politically polarised, millions are still recovering from last year’s devastating floods, terror attacks are increasing and, as inflation soars ever higher, many are struggling to feed themselves and their children.

Two More American Regional Banks On Verge Of Collapse — Marking Three This Week, Six In Last Three Months

BREAKING: After the news that First Republic Bank was failing earlier this week, its limited assets being picked up up JP Morgan for Pennie’s on the dollar, it appears that two more may be soon to follow, Pac West $PACW which has lost 61% of its value in After Hours trading and trading today, and Western Alliance $WAL, which is now down 62% so far today. Both companies’ stocks have been halted numerous times already today. Metropolitan Bank Holding Corp $MCB and Zions Bank $ZION have also been halted because they too are sinking fast on the open market.

ONGOING BREAKING: Western Alliance is denying the articles… If true, this is good news.

New Mind-Reading Machine That Turns Peoples’ Thoughts Into Text Invented

May 2, 2023

One of the prevailing themes of life on planet earth over the last few years has been the idea of information overload. That’s the general consensus of what word combination might work best to describe this ever-growing and disturbing trend. There was a time when watching the nightly news and reading a daily newspaper kept one in the know, at least about the most important topics. But that’s all changed. The hard cold truth is there is no way now to “be in the know”. 15 years ago, in the book We Are the Revolution — Welcome to the Personal Expression Age, I predicted one of the primary Signatures of this coming new age would be “Information Overload”. And so too did a lot of other people. It was obvious, seeing it coming. It’s boiled over now. With no apparent end in sight.

Now that we’re neck deep in the middle of it with no visible signs it will ever change in the future, the real questions are, what are the implications of this trend? What will be the ramifications? And what can we do about it?

If the biggest challenge or most frustrating obstacle to information overload is not being able to keep up with what’s happening in the world, or not being able to learn and know everything one wants to or believes they should…. We can see at least two different methods one might employ to handle it.

One method would be to go small. Or go specific. Focus on your own personal community geographically, demographically, financially, spiritually, socially, etc. and then take it even further — choose a handful of subjects topics issues and industries one is most interested in and then using apps and other forms of media, design a personal information delivering system around this community and these issues, deliberately leaving out a large majority of information one is either not interested in or that doesn’t affect one’s personal or professional life directly.

This is what most people are already doing now…. Using their phone, computer, apps, various media, YouTube, etc. Go small. Go specific. Be deliberate about it. And you may have a chance of not feeling left out all the time. Because at the very least you’ll know about the most important things happening in the world that YOU primarily exist in.

And remember, this is a challenge we are all facing at this time. Every human being on planet earth and elsewhere is suffering from an inability to hear about and know a majority of what’s happening in the world on a day to day basis. There’s just too much happening now.

Another method to deal with this challenge would be to go big. Go really big. Instead of trying to design a personal information delivery system based on your own community and preferences and stuff as much information into your mind on a daily basis as possible, head in the opposite direction. Take a big step back and recognize that life is short, and compared to being dead, it’s a gift, at least while you’re here… there are no real rules to it (despite what everyone around you claims) especially once you discover the secret of all secrets: the goal of our short lives here in human form is to be as happy and enjoy ourselves as much as humanly possible.

From this perspective, one would be hard pressed to want to stuff their mind on a daily basis with every little or even big thing happening in the world around them — even if that world was just their own small community based world filled with their own personal preferences.

This would be akin to tuning in and dropping out in a way. Focusing more on the ontological and cosmological, attempting to connect with the forces at play in and of the universe as much as possible, communing more with one’s own idea of The Divine… on personal well being, on feeling good, on consciousness expansion, on enlightenment. On acknowledging, appreciating and enjoying the gift of life.

From this perspective, from this point of view, the idea of “not keeping up enough with what’s going on in the world” would seem rather shallow and petty.

Regardless of how we eventually come to deal with the challenge of information overload, a prime example of it in today’s world right this very minute: we’ve had three major regional banks in the United States collapse in the last three months, UFOs begin to be openly discussed by the American government and a newly energized China, along with a seemingly ever growing collection of other countries, begin openly challenging the United States as the world’s superpower, and yet we barely speak about these things as a national community.

We do of course… a little. But we’re also engaged in conversation about a hundred other things at the same time. So no one subject no matter how important it might be to us now or in the future gets it’s fair share of coverage or thought.

We’ve also seen the official introduction of long awaited Artificial Intelligence (AI) into the mainstream world of the masses, that alone being a “something” that ten years ago would have had the whole world talking about nothing else for months — the Singularity is actually here now, 25 years earlier than Kurzweil predicted, and now the invention of a mind reading machine that converts human thoughts into text.

Our human society is now moving at a breakneck speed in so many different sectors industries and arenas and in so many different geographical locations around the world that it has become impossible to keep up with everything going on in the minds and workshops of our billions of other human brethren. By the time we’re just beginning to touch the surface of exploring the uses and implications of a mind reading machine, there will be tens of other inventions or world events that will be announced that will require but not receive our full attention.

That’s a symptom or side effect of the kind of freedom and security we now enjoy as a species. And truth be told we are capable of infinitely more. Just watch. Will it reach a point where the freedom for this kind of rampant ingenuity will become dangerous with the potential for self harm or mass self destruction? One might say that just the rapid introduction of artificial intelligence into the hands of hundreds of millions of people overnight already hints at this. And a mind reading machine..?

See below for a copy and paste of the full article by the good folks at 1440. It will take all of us some time to digest and contemplate this latest event…. Of a machine and a set of hardware and software that can read the mind’s thoughts and convert them to text… even at this rudimentary level, it may be the most impactful invention of all time. And the most dangerous.

From a few minutes of contemplation, if we continue to head in this direction, if more and more universities and communities, public and governmental organizations, private corporations, all join the fray and begin investing in, exploring and building out this technology, what comes to mind…

First and foremost it’s the end of privacy as we ever knew it. “Privacy as we know it” ended 20 years ago. Just as we all said it would. With the so-called war on terror, and the ensuing advent of CCTVs on every street corner in the name of safety and security, plus the recent addition of spy-drones buzzing about everywhere we will ever go geographically, physical privacy is gone. For good. And it doesn’t matter where we are, what country we’re in, whether we’re in the mountains or the desert, at this point it’s safe to assume we’re being watched and recorded at all times.

(Do you remember when this was an actual issue people cared about? Privacy? The anger and furor over “being watched all the time”? It is amazing to look back and see how quickly people gave up that fight. If you’re younger and living in the world today where everything you do and everywhere you go is being monitored 24 hours a day, you’d have no idea that this was an actual major issue of the day that people used to fight over. It was. But the people caved. And quickly.)

The kind of privacy we’re talking about here is far more precious and valuable than protecting where our physical body happened to be one shady drunken Friday night. We’re now talking about our MIND. Our thoughts. Even our dreams and our imagination.

We knew it was coming. All dolled up in 1984 cosplay attire. We just didn’t know it would be here so fast. For the defense industry it will be the biggest thing since splitting the atom. Every country in the world will want a hundred of these devices. And they won’t care how much they cost.

The whole world of spy craft will break apart and transform into something entirely different. It won’t matter how you coded the information or the message or who you gave it to or where you hid it or how you delivered it. The fact of the matter is the information will still be in your mind. And sometime very soon, based on the speed at which human technology advances and evolves, it won’t be that difficult to access anything in the mind or in our thoughts.

The idea of civil rights will be rewritten, because they won’t exist in the manner we are accustomed to anymore. We will be told that nothing has changed, that we still have the same right to civil rights that we’ve always had, but just as with privacy over the last 20 years, they will slowly erode in the name of peace, safety and national security.

Our most basic civil right — what we now consider it at least, that of agency over our physical body, will seem quaint compared to having no agency or control over our thoughts. Imagine a time not too long from now when wishing our human body would or could be violated as a trade if it meant protecting the content of our thoughts or mind. Dire and dramatic I know. But now an actual possibility.

Of course there a variety of positive and helpful ramifications that may spring from a mind reading machine. For creatives such as myself I’ve been dreaming of a miraculous technology such as this for decades. A way to tap into what’s in my mind, convert it to text or even pictures and be able to read it and more importantly save it…! There is simply no way that I or anyone else, not even a team of people, can keep up with how fast a creative’s brain works and how fast it creates new information and ideas.

Two primary limits. Typing while I think here. Which I often do. Precisely because of the phenom we’re discussing. After having lived with or inside my mind for the last few decades I can observe that one giant limitation is that my mind processes organizes and sorts current data and then creates new data and new ideas at such a hyper speed that there’s simply no way for me or even a team of people to get it down. Even if we invented a way to give other people access to my mind. Which is another entirely different challenge. Right now I’m the only person who has access to my mind. So when it’s just me trying to dictate and record as many new ideas as I can that are coming out of my mind, I’m only able to get about 10% of them out, typed up or written down or recorded into something. Imagine having a team of five to ten folks all doing it at once. We would definitely be able to get more of it out HERE, out of my mind and into the world. Now imagine if we had a computer doing it. A machine that could process those new ideas as fast as my mind could produce them. It sounds fantastical frankly. Impossible. But we’ve learned that with computers there really are no limits. So yes, just thinking about this and typing it up here excited the hell out of me. Because I’ve been living with this limit for decades. Literally.

Example. Right now I am limited as I compose this essay by nothing else than my fingers and my energy level. My mind has already composed this essay. Hours ago. Finished it. Completely. This essay was done in my mind approximately ten minutes after I first got the idea for it. But here I am three hours into it still typing. And yes I’ve tried dictating audio. And that does work a little bit faster. But then I’m stuck going back and having to edit the whole thing manually due to the technological limitations of dictation software.

With a computer hooked up to my mind spitting out my thoughts as fast as I was thinking them, with no human physical limitations impinging on our ability to produce, we could easily see me writing a few hundred pages a day. More really when you think about it. It would be a dream. A true miracle.

The same applies to writing new songs. At present I am limited to writing approximately 1-2 songs a day. IF I do absolutely nothing else but sit in the same place and work on writing those two new songs. In reality my mind has already finished the songs a few minutes after hearing them in my head and getting the idea for them. But the songs’ completion is always limited by my own physical body limitations. How fast I can play, how fast I can write, how much time patience and energy I hVe in me to sit there hour after hour to do just that one thing.

If instead we had a computer hooked up to my mind reading my thoughts and spitting them out as fast as I was thinking them, we could get that number up to 5-6 new songs per day. Or probably more. 9-10. Simply because we wouldn’t be physically limited by my humanity. The mind has already done all the work. I take a lot of steps on a daily basis to slow it down enough for me to be able to dictate it and get it out of my mind and into the world. Imagine if that were no longer an issue. Again, a marvel. A true miracle.

Obviously this is just the beginning…. The machine and the software is in its infancy stages. The thoughts and ideas that it inspires are infinite. But this is a good start. More later. Article below….

ARTICLE :: Researchers have revealed a new artificial intelligence system capable of translating a person’s brain activity into a continuous stream of text in a noninvasive way for the first time. New research from the University of Texas at Austin shows the brain-computer interface can generate word sequences that recover the meaning of perceived speech, imagined speech, and brain responses while watching silent videos.

Unlike previous language-decoding systems, the new decoder doesn’t rely on surgical implants. The study focused on three participants whose brain activity was measured using an fMRI scanner, which utilizes changes in blood flow to produce brain scans, as they listened to podcasts, thought about stories, and watched short silent films.

A large language model (see 101), similar to OpenAI’s GPT-4 and Google’s Bard, then matched patterns in the participants’ brains to words and phrases they heard and translated the brain’s response to hearing new words into corresponding text. The decoded text is not a word-for-word transcript but rather a gist of a person’s thoughts.

What a Better World This Would Be

May 1, 2023

“Let the churches of the world [and the religions] stop trying to outstrip each other in the number of their adherents, the size of their sanctuary, the abundance of wealth. If we must compete, let us compete to see which can move toward the greatest attainment of truth, the greatest service of the poor, and the greatest salvation of the soul and bodies of men. If the Church entered this type of competition we can imagine what a better world this would be.” — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.

World War III Watch — Week Of April 24, 2023

May 1, 2023

First Republic Bank Is Seized, Sold to JPMorgan in Second-Largest U.S. Bank Failure In History and the Third U.S. Bank To Go Bankrupt In the Last Three Months

By Rachel Louise Ensign and Ben Eisen Updated May 1, 2023, 4:35 am EDT for Wall Street Journal —

As I’ve stated in previous posts, although financial and economic news doesn’t immediately inspire images of a “world war” to the mind and senses as much as overtly war-like conflict events, these events may pose more of a threat to global peace than military skirmishes in Ukraine or Taiwan or Syria et al. The working theory being that countries accustomed to decades of peace and prosperity, as we’ve had on planet earth for decades now, may and usually will do everything they can to de-escalate military conflicts to avoid large multinational wars, even when attacked in some way — consider the American journalist just captured and imprisoned by Russia in the last few weeks…, or consider the absolute clusterfu+*k of America’s embarrassing escape out of Afghanistan after 20+ years of fighting and then handing it right back over to The Taliban… all those lives lost…. But no world war…. but when economic desperation sets in in a country, watch out — all cards are off the table and a nation’s typical reaction is to lean hard right nationalistic, start chest thumping about “national pride” and “protecting the homeland from foreign threats” and before we know it, someone somewhere does something to what they perceive as a weaker someone and off to war we go. Despite what they say it’s always economically and financially motivated. They need. And when someone needs, all bets of diplomacy or compromise are off. The United States sadly, as many nations around the world, is facing some scary impending economic consequences. We’re just not talking about it yet. (Insert the potential commercial real estate debt crash that is being discussed under the radar at the moment; if you’re aware of it…..). That’s why this sudden trend of large regional banks going bellyup is important.

Concerns Grow as Tighter Lending Threatens $20 Trillion Commercial Real Estate Market

By Ephrat Livni for the New York Times April 6, 2023

The recent banking turmoil added scrutiny to a sector already weighed down by office vacancies, rising interest rates and mounting debt. The turmoil that drove Silicon Valley Bankand Signature Bank out of business last month, rocking the wider banking sector, has analysts bracing for the next possible crisis: the $20 trillion commercial real estate market. Read whole article here

Russian pilots tried to ‘dogfight’ US jets over Syria, US Central Command says

By Oren Liebermann, CNN —

US risky business in China

Doing business in China has never been straightforward. But now it’s becoming dangerous for (some) American companies.

On Wednesday, Chinese cops raided the Shanghai offices of US consulting firm Bain, questioning local employees and taking away computers and phones. No explanation was given by the police or the Boston-based firm, but the search was carried out the same day that China expanded its espionage law, giving authorities greater powers to inspect premises and digital devices of local businesses. (This comes a month after China arrested five Americans working at the due-diligence firm Mintz and shut down its Beijing HQ.)

These episodes highlight the increasingly risky environment for US businesses operating in China. As US-China relations get frostier, a whopping 87% of US execs surveyed by the AmCham industry group say they’re pessimistic about the future. [From GZERO MEDIA]

Paraguay holds presidential election with geopolitical ripples

Paraguayans go to the polls Sunday to pick their next president. Domestically, the big story is whether centrist opposition leader Efraín Alegre can beat Santiago Peña from the right-wing Colorado Party, which has almost monopolized power since the country ditched military rule in 1989. But there are also two geopolitical angles to keep an eye on.

First, the election is being closely watched in Taipei and Beijing. If he wins, Alegre has suggested he might switch diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China — meaning that the self-ruled island would lose its last friend in South America. The presidential candidate believes that Taiwan has not invested enough in Paraguay to offset the immense cost of not doing business with China, so he’s made it clear to Tsai Ing-wen: Show us the money or we’ll call Xi Jinping. [From GZERO MEDIA]

First Republic Bank Teeters on the Brink of Collapse — [By Mack Wilowski for Investopedia Published April 26, 2023]. [Transcendence Diaries editorial intro by Ed Hale… Yet another large regional bank in the United States hangs by a nail on its way to bankruptcy. In what might be the third, fourth or fifth (it’s hard to keep track now) major regional bank in the U.S. to head belly-up in the last two months, money’s disappearing faster than The Fed can print or loan it, but it’s still not major news to the majority of Americans. Why? Maybe it’s because there’s no celebrity gossip attached to it. Maybe it’s because it’s not trending on TikTok. Maybe it’s because Americans don’t think anything is important unless the government interiors their regularly scheduled programming — except that no longer exists — to advise them that something really IS important. And the American government isn’t going to do that here. Not now. They’ll let every small, city, county, state and regional bank in America go bankrupt before they’ll ever say a word to the unsuspecting public. By then it’ll be too late. The rich will have gotten all their money out and both The Federal Reserve and The US Treasury will announce that there’s no more money left for the working class. That’s how it always goes. In return, Americans get to claim they enjoy all the benefits and fruits of Capitalism. Strange game. Horrible odds. Why is it important in regards to an impending World War III? The answer seems obvious. When a large regional bank of a country suddenly goes bankrupt, it should be concerning and front page news. Something isn’t right. When 4-5 of them do in a matter of 8-10 weeks, Mission Control we have a serious problem. The last thing in the world you want when confronting an enemy that’s insane and has nothing to lose (Russia), another who literally thinks youre “evil” and calls you The Great Satan (Iran) and another who hold the very financial and economic stability in the palm of its hand (China) is to be going broke faster than you can keep track of. And sure maybe this is just business as usual capitalist housekeeping… But what if it’s not?]

First Republic Bank (FRC) is teetering on the brink of collapse as shares fell to new all-time lows on reports the federal government and the nation’s biggest banks are reluctant to put together a rescue package.

The beleaguered lender reported deposit outflows of more than $100 billion in the first quarter, or 40% of the total.1 That figure would have exceeded 50% if not for a $30 billion injection of uninsured deposits from 11 of the nation’s biggest banks in March.2

In response, shares of FRC plunged almost 50% yesterday, and are down another 30% today. The bank’s market cap fell below $1 billion in intraday trading, a small fraction of its $40 billion peak in November 2021. Its price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio fell as low as 0.7. The stock’s volatility prompted the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to halt trading of FRC 12 times Wednesday.3

To make matters worse, First Republic faces the prospect of losing access to the Fed’s lending facilities if a private deal isn’t reached soon, Bloomberg reported.4 U.S. regulators prefer a private rescue that wouldn’t involve federal authorities seizing the bank, which could further deplete the FDIC’s insurance fund.

Management is scrambling to convince regulators and executives of bigger banks to provide one more financial lifeline. Executives are engaged in a last-ditch effort to improve the bank’s financial standing.

Its options include transferring troubled assets into a “bad bank” or selling off assets at above-market rates. However, other banks may be reluctant to intervene for fear of losing their uninsured deposits and would prefer the FDIC assume control of part of First Republic’s assets.5

First Republic Bank ran into financial difficulty shortly after the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and Signature Bank in March, as it had the third-highest share (behind the two collapsed lenders) of uninsured deposits that exceeded the FDIC’s $250,000 limit.

FRC shares tumbled 60% in the first trading session after SVB and Signature Bank’s collapse. They’ve since extended their decline, and are down more than 95% year-to-date.

EARNINGS REPORTS AND NEWSFirst Republic to Cut Staff After 40% Plunge in Deposits

BREAKING: U.S. sanctions Russian and Iranian security services for “holding Americans hostage”

The U.S. is imposing sanctions on the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and the intelligence arm of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), plus four IRGC leaders, for their roles in the wrongful detentions of U.S. citizens, senior U.S. officials told reporters on Thursday.

Why it matters: The officials said this was the first of multiple rounds of sanctions in the works to punish and deter those who would hold Americans hostage. The practical implications of this step are unclear as both organizations are already under U.S. sanctions.

What they’re saying: “We do think it’s significant that the first round of sanctions are being announced specifically for this type of behavior, because we’re really concerned about this type of behavior,” a senior official said.

Bloomberg News :: BREAKING :: April 27, 2023 5:56 am Germany in Talks to Limit the Export of Chip Chemicals to China — The move could affect German companies including Merck, BASF. Chancellor Scholz has been striking a harder line on China. Germany is in talks to limit the export of chemicals to China that are used to manufacture semiconductors as Berlin steps up efforts to reduce its economic exposure to the Asian nation.

April 27, 2023 4:10 am With Zelensky call, Xi Jinping steps up bid to broker peace – but does he have a plan?

Hong Kong (CNN) — A long-awaited phone call between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday has received a tentative welcome in Washington and parts of Europe for its potential to increase dialogue toward resolving Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine. It also marks the most concrete step made to date by China to take up the role of mediator that it has for months alluded to playing. But the hour-long conversation, believed to be the first between the two leaders in the fourteen months since Russia invaded Ukraine, also comes with few tangible proposals for how China might help to bridge the devastating, war-torn divide between the two countries. And its timing – at a moment when Beijing is acutely focused on strengthening ties with Europe amid cratering relations with the United States – also suggests there are more drivers than just peace in China’s calculus, analysts say. Ties have been frayed thin since the outbreak of the war, as European leaders have watched in dismay while Beijing refused to condemn the invasion and instead bolstered its economic and diplomatic ties with Moscow, including joining the Kremlin in blaming NATO for fueling the conflict. Efforts from Beijing to repair those relations took a major stumble earlier this week after China’s top diplomat in Paris suggested in a televised interview that former Soviet states have no status under international law – seen as a potential nod to Putin’s view that Ukraine should be part of Russia.

One of China’s most popular and downloaded apps on the App Store, Pinduoduo, listed on the NASDAQ Exchange, has the ability to spy on its users, say experts —-