The Essential Role Of Volatility, Stress And Dissent

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Charles Hugh Smith from Of Two Minds

The Essential Role of Volatility, Stress and Dissent

The individual or system that never experiences dissent, volatility or stress is systemically unhealthy and increasingly prone to sudden "gosh, I didn't see this coming" collapse.

To say that volatility, stress, dissent are not just healthy, but essential for maintaining health sounds counter-intuitive. On an individual level, we try to avoid exertion, stress and crisis, and on a larger systemic level, our institutions devote enormous resources to minimizing systemic volatility and suppressing dissent.

In other words, the notion that stress and dissent are to be avoided is scale-invariant: it works the same for individuals, households, enterprises, economies, governments and empires.

What got me thinking about this was some recent research that suggests short bursts of physical exertion several times a day yields the equivalent positive results as 20+ minutes of strenuous workout in the gym.

Doing some strenuous exercise for 60 seconds a few times of day appears to trigger the same immune response and repair systems that longer duration exercise engenders.

Why does this matter? On a practical level, many of us have a hard time finding time to go to a gym every day. Those of us over 50 find that sustained vigorous exercise increases the odds of injury.

On a natural-selection level, the benefits arising from short bursts of strenuous exercise fits into our basic survival need to be ready to sprint, lift a heavy object, etc., that is, perform some brief exertion to escape danger or obtain the necessities of life.

In the hunter-gatherer world that shaped the human genome, calories are too scarce to squander on 20+ minutes a day of vigorous workout; the payoff simply isn't worth the costly expenditure of calories.

So the fact that three 60-second bursts of exertion are enough to maintain strength and endurance makes sense in a natural-selection analysis in which the minimum number of calories are consumed to maintain the optimum sustainable fitness for survival.

There is another form of survival fitness, of course, the ability to walk/jog for miles/kilometers a day, day after day. We clearly need both types of fitness to be resilient and healthy.

The key to the benefits of short bursts of exertion (fort example, 50 jumping jacks or 20 burpees, etc.) is that this stress signals the body to rebuild muscle tissue and activate multiple immune responses to the damage caused by the exertion.

In terms of systems, stress, volatility and dissent are essential because only these forces trigger systemic reform, repair and rebuilding.

Anecdotally, I've found that a regime of brief exertions maintain strength despite significant gaps in sustained exercise; missing a week or so (due to illness, travel, etc.) doesn't degrade one's core strength much, once a certain level of fitness is reached.

Exertion also stresses the heart-lung systems, in effect pushing all the major systems out of low-volatility steady-state default settings.

This aligns with what we've learned about how systems respond when feedback and information is limited or suppressed. This is one of the key insights of Nassim Taleb's work on black swans and risk. In manipulating systems to maintain a steady-state of financial stability, the Federal Reserve and the central state have doomed the entire system to collapse.

The same can be said of a political system that suppresses dissent, punishes whistleblowers and treats its entire citizenry as potential enemies of the state: the greater the suppression of dissent and transparency, the greater the certainty of eventual crisis and collapse.

In effect, the central state/bank insure the economy and society have lost the ability to respond positively to volatility and stress. Suppressing dissent and volatility guarantee systemic failure and collapse.

Taleb explained why in the June 2011 issue of Foreign Affairs: “Complex systems that have artificially suppressed volatility become extremely fragile, while at the same time exhibiting no visible risks.”

As Taleb has explained, the very act of suppressing volatility and dissent renders systems extremely prone to large-scale disruptions that are viewed as low-probability events, the infamous “black swans.”

In terms of human health, the systemic fragility that arises from a low-exertion lifestyle is masked by steady-state normalcy that appears superficially low-risk. The fragility is only revealed when the individual does some strenuous work, and the brittle systems are unable to respond to the stress and fail (for instance, a heart attack).

Political economies in which dissent, volatility and the stress of financial panics have been suppressed or eliminated by manipulation (for example, allowing banks to mark their assets to fantasy rather than to the market value of the assets) become increasingly fragile, as the repair/reform responses triggered by stress, dissent and volatility have been systematically eliminated.

In a healthy economy, dissent and the volatility of market-clearing insolvency act just like bursts of exertion, stressing the system enough to trigger repairs/reforms. Stripped of these signals, the systems ossify and become too brittle to absorb the shock of dissent/volatility/stress when these forces break through centralized suppression.

Diseases such as diabetes seem to be fostered by a steady-state lifestyle of a corrosive diet and no strenuous exercise. Since no signals of repair/reform are triggered, the individual/household/enterprise/economy gets more brittle and prone to failure with every passing day, even as risks of collapse appear minimal on the surface.

(It is important to note that anyone who is out of shape cannot just jump into a routine of strenuous exercise. Resilience, flexibility, strength and endurance must be built up slowly over time. Check with a doctor who is familiar with your medical history before starting a fitness program.)

The individual or system that never experiences dissent, volatility or stress is systemically unhealthy and increasingly prone to sudden "gosh, I didn't see this coming" collapse. The individual who walks daily (i.e. aerobic exercise) is healthier than the couch potato, but the individual who routinely engages in short bouts of strenuous activity has the added benefits of triggering rebuilding/repair responses.

Political economies, government agencies, enterprises and communities are no different, as all systems respond the same way: either growing brittle and vulnerable by suppressing dissent and volatility or maintaining strength, resilience and adaptability by encouraging dissent and volatility.

Our centralized government and bank have spared no expense to ruthlessly suppress these essential forces of healthy systems at every turn. The cost of their gross incompetence has yet to be paid, but it will be paid, and in full, in the years ahead.

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Eyeroller's picture

One black swan event and these money changers will be brought to their knees.

Unfortunately, short of black swan, this will go on indefinitely.

El Vaquero's picture

Unfortunatly, our choices are a black swan that brings the whole thing down, and we suffer for their hubris, or a long, grinding decline where we suffer for their hubris.  


I'm betting on the black swan.

CH1's picture

C'mon CHS, say it one time clearly: The Institution of The State Is Evil!

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

El Vaquero

I would look at the choices or outcomes as a spectrum of possibilities that would include a some kind of a grinding decline with one or more large or small Black Swans along the way.

I gave up prediction, and now have weakened my prognostications to guessing.  But, I am still trying to prepare the best I can (within reason and within the strict parameters my wife will put up with, smile,,,).

9/11 was a huge Black Swan.  But, in some ways, "things are still as they have always been".  A little something here (gold), a little something there (Bitcoin, guns & ammo, food & water) and something way over "there" (farm land, foreign holdings) covers about as many possiblities as a Bearing Guy can think of.

And always consider and plan for the long run if you have children.

El Vaquero's picture

Betting, guessing, it's all the same in this.  But you do have a point about 9/11 being a black swan and it being more large or small swans along the way.  We have been in decline for a while.  I suppose, I should say, I expect the rate of decline to suddenly accelerate.  We'll go along with the fradulent faux status quo until it literally can no longer be maintained, and things will break.  I say that because government is increasing in complexity when we all need to start decreasing complexity.  It is doing the opposite of what it needs to do, and this tends to lead to decay that suddenly increases rapidly.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

My guess is that you are right.  Bravo.  It may be very disorderly and ugly when TSHTF.  Complex systems, as you note, are prone to catastrophic failure.  It will likely catch us by surprise, as again you note.

That is why we prepare ahead of time.  Because we do not know when the wheels will come off.

Ctrl_P's picture

Sorry, but complex systems are inherently stable. It is the feedback that comes from variety within the system that gives it it's stability. The more complex the system, the more it relies on feedback. This article really skims the surface of complex systems and the primacy of feedback.It also misses concepts such as a change in one area is noticed in a seemingly unrelated concequence. And it changes all the time.

Don't fall into the trap of thinking that Large = Complex. Complexity is an emergent phenomena derived from simple rules repeated many times.

When you remove the repetition of large numbers as well as feedback, such systems are relying on a small set of variables to resopnd to a wide variety of causes. This is the fragility the author is talking about. And these black swan events are the variable outside the range of the system to deal with. Hence the cliches like "Noone saw it coming" "This time it's diferent". "But they were so healthy" "He looked like such a nice person"

Economics changes fashion, the economy is endless.




aka_ces's picture

And if you consider and plan for the long run, remember that no child asks to be born.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

" child asks to be born."  And yet they are born.  So those of us with children should plan carefully for their futures.

No child asks to be aborted either.

Oops, did I just push the Red Button?  I imagine we will see soon...

aka_ces's picture

same observation applies whether you have kids or are considering to.  If there's one thing ZH should motivate, it's gettting beyond red-blue skirmishes.

Radical Marijuana's picture

As your original article pointed out, Dublinmick, almost all of the possible lists of mega-diasters now also have added the threat of nuclear power stations becoming the worst longer term consequences of those initial disasters. The Fukushima disaster was a harbinger of how many other natural disasters could now cause man-made disasters that were even worse! The development of the atomic energy was the most extreme leading edge, or spear point, regarding everything else that this Hugh-Smith article discussed about growing systemic risks.

The basic mechanism I always see as the paradox that lies can become socially successful in the short-term, while those lies can be backed up with violence, however, that violence never makes those lies become true.

Our centralized state/bank, murder/money, system is due to the success of enforced frauds. Everything that Hugh-Smith wrote about in his article above can be seen to be an expression of the paradoxical ways that enforcing frauds drives civilization insane. The most extreme examples of that process were the enforced frauds which directed the development of atomic energy, to be done in ways which were able to deliberately ignore and discount their longer term consequences, while also denying that their actual design was primarily about their covert goals of building weapons.

There are lots of different natural disasters which could now cause man-made atomic disasters to happen which were far worse, because their effects would last longer! Those are the most extreme examples of the general pattern of social facts, that civilization is controlled by lies, backed by violence, and therefore, paradoxically, the more successful that process becomes in the shorter term, the worse the final consequences become in the longer term.

The suppression of volatility, stress and dissent is the expression of the ability of social violence to promote social lies. The degree to which the biggest bullies' bullshit social stories become enforced frauds dominating civilization, that civilization becomes like an insane asylum controlled by the most criminally insane inmates. Moreover, these days, those most criminally insane people have been directing the development of atomic energy to be the cherry on top of all the rest of their smorgasbord of social insanities.

Meanwhile, my view is that after the people who were the best at being dishonest, and backing that up with violence, for generation after generation, have achieved their goals in the form of enforced frauds, the vast majority of people become mainstream morons, or Zombie Sheeple, whose personalities are the result of having been brainwashed to believe in the biggest bullies' bullshit for generation after generation. Since the overwhelming vast majority of people are deeply adapted to living inside of criminally insane social systems, which they almost totally take for granted, with hardly any critical thought devoted to the reasons how and why that happened, there are no apparently better resolutions of the problems that civilization has become controlled by criminal insanities, multiplied trillions of times by technology.

I guess there was never anything that could stop civilization from developing in ways which flowed along its path of least action, or least morality. There was never anything which could stop the most criminally insane people from dominating civilization, and thereby directing that civilization as a whole to become more and more criminally insane. The vicious spirals of the social successes from enforcing frauds has been like a Black Swan breeding project, with the development of atomic energy being the single simplest symbol of that project. We are approaching times when we are not going to merely see the occasionally surprising Black Swan Event, that appears to be unprecedented, and therefore, unexpected, instead, we are approaching times when flocks of Black Swans will fly over our heads.

aka_ces's picture

"There are lots of different natural disasters which could now cause man-made atomic disasters to happen which were far worse, because their effects would last longer!"

=> nuclear mine-fields that "we" have made of "our own" lands.


aka_ces's picture

"a Black Swan breeding project" indeed.  

=> the cumulative, historical selection-effects, of parallel and successive evolutionary advantages, manifesting themselves locally and then expanding to global reach -- RM you present a persuassive view of a terrifyingly human-biological intertia, which by definition refuses to change course.  

Radical Marijuana's picture

Yeah, aka_ces!

I tend to be terrified by the prospect of apes with atomic power!

Dublinmick's picture

We can ignore reality but we cannot escape the consequences of reality.

kchrisc's picture

The American people can and should induce this "black swan" event.

All they have to do is just Stop paying these thieves and the whole skyscraper of cards will come down like Building 7. Then all that would be left to do is clean up the mess with guillotines.


The Four Rs
Rejection: Quit paying, quit obeying, quit playing
Revolution: It is inevitable, so prepare, as they are.
Retribution: The guilty must answer for their crimes against the American people and the Constitution.
Restoration: Restore the American people, country and Constitutional republic.

Quus Ant's picture

"The individual or system that never experiences dissent, volatility or stress is systemically unhealthy and increasingly prone to sudden "gosh, I didn't see this coming" collapse."

And the opposite is true as well, Hugh. An individual or system that experiences constant dissent, volatility or stress is systemically unhealthy and increasingly prone to sudden "gosh, I didn't see this coming" collapse.  Some societies existed with very little change for thousands of years.  The mythof progress.  We're gonna progress our way right out of the picture.

Are we suffering from too little stress or too much?

Zoomorph's picture

Too little. You can tell by glancing at the biggest problems on the minds of America: Who should I text with my iPhone? What should I watch on T.V. tonight? Why didn't my horrible parents give me a car for Christmas? Why am I too squeamish to eat the flesh of an animal? How can we cure poverty and remove all suffering from planet Earth?

Not only is our society far too comfortable with low tolerance for discomfort, but we have zero respect for discomfort as well. We are permeated with weakness.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Too little.  Yes.

People at Wal-Mart.



Quus Ant's picture

For having such a low tolerance for discomfort people continue to live in incredibly uncomfortable ways and means.  It's bitched about on a daily basis right here at ZH.   Low wages, crappy healthcare, incompetent leadership, nuclear mishaps, fracking fuckups, petulant presidents, bulging and yet it continues.  It would seem, rather, we have a high tolerance for discomfort. 

We lose ourselves in complexity.  Keeps us from looking at the big picture.

Zoomorph's picture

I don't see many people starving to death, being tortured, having to struggle for their lives, having to believe in anything and actually fight for it, etc. People in our society live more comfortably than at any time in history. At the same time, they probably complain about their "discomforts" more than anyone in the past. This is hardly "high tolerance" - it is rather high weakness and high sickliness! The biggest real discomfort in our society is probably nihilism, boredom, and the feeling of meaningless (and maybe this alone is our salvation and makes all else worthwhile). But that is only for the more intelligent individuals (note: these may be ones who were lucky to have rarely discomforting or challenging developments), not for the increasingly stupid majority.

Keep in mind that it's all relative. Humans will always experience some level of discomfort unless we degenerate to the point that we no longer have emotions, consciousness, or brains. Without the downs we would not experience the ups and would not have to make choices and so forth. Use it or lose it: we would be perfect vegetables. The only question is of the intensity or duration of the ups and downs. As we make life more and more comfortable, we water ourselves down and our society grows weaker and stupider. Those who engage in bitching and complaining will always find something to bitch and whine about. As one discomfort is "cured", there is surely another, smaller, more ridiculous one lurking in the shadows behind it that now comes to the foreground.

The fact that people bitch at all is also very telling. What is complaining, really? Has it not traditionally been the one comfort of the lowest, most powerless, worthless, pessimistic people, allowing them to passively cry and spew bile about their existence on the sidelines, hoping that someone else would throw them a bone? Is it not the way that the weak attacked the strong by trying to evoke pity in them? ZH is no exception (time for another pile of down votes). Do strong, intelligent, healthy people ever engage in such bitching and complaining? I think not.

If you want to see the bigger picture you must include history and our evolution in it. Only looking at the present is very deceptive. The present is somewhat unique in that the bile and sickness of humanity is more in the foreground than it has ever been before.

Quus Ant's picture

So you don't see hunger, torture, or struggle?  That tells me about you- nothing about the world.   20% of US kids live in poverty. 

Half the world lives on less than 2.50 a day. 

And I don't buy that suffering is required to know happiness.  Sounds like religious bullshit.  Suffering does, however, help you appreciate the suffering of your fellow man.  Like the half living on less than 2.50 a day.  Americans are suffering, but they have found clever ways to distract themselves. They're still unhappy, confused, fat, lonely and empty.  Just distracted. 



Zoomorph's picture

I don't buy that suffering is required to know happiness.  Sounds like religious bullshit.

Can you also conceive of hot without cold? All of these concepts are relative. The most elated pleasures that I've experienced so far in life have come after the desolate and frantic droughts. Therefore, I value suffering. I certainly wouldn't want eliminate it from my past or future if given the choice, nor would I want to steal the opportunity from others.

20% of US kids live in poverty. 

And 100% were in poverty a century or two ago (if we use the same standard). Our lives are much more comfortable. Poverty nowadays means that you get free food and have to use an older version of the iPhone.

Half the world lives on less than 2.50 a day.

I was talking primarily about our society in my earlier post, but you're right - there is still plenty of discomfort in many other societies. I'm sure this fact comforts both of us. For me, it gives hope that the entire world isn't in as sickly a state as our society, and for you it gives a modicum of meaning (an injustice to complain about), without which you'd be even emptier and in more dire need of entertainment.

Quus Ant's picture

Well, the Buddha- a major contributor to all that "can you conceive of hot without cold?" nonsense- discovered suffering as a gateway to enlightenment was bunk.  I'm with him.  

Here- this is for you:

People.  Actually.  Go.  Hungry. 

I know that's really hard to believe in a society that gives you the iPhone 4. 

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

The reason people are so stressed today is that the stressors are intangible. Historically, when your crop failed you knew you faced starvation unless you had an alternative source of food. Therefore,you planned for that contingent. If you are out in the woods and encounter a mountain lion you either escape or become its dinner. The stress, though intense, is momentary. If you live through the encounter, you learn to be prepared for it in the future. There is a connection to the real world.

Stress today is completely different. Now it's " I may lose my job to outsourcing" " I can't pay my rent this month" " my kids lack direction". Yes, this is not as intense as being possibly masticated by a lion, but it is continual and insidious. Human beings are not designed to cope with non stop low level stress, especially without strong community support. I think this is the cause of much of the malaise today as well as the seeking of inane momentary pleasures and distractions so common now as well. The bitching and complaining to me are a symptom of this malaise not the sign of petulant children. The abscess is truly deep.

Solution? Very difficult and painful the way I see it. It is a return to fundamentals that were the basis of life on this planet for thousands of years. I do not mean to imply we need to return to cave dwelling but in a manner harmonious with our resources not false manipulations that hide true costs. That we have come so far away from reality make the journey back all the more challenging.


Zoomorph's picture

I don't buy that stress in the past was only momentary. How about the stress that wild animals could attack you at any time, without having secure shelter? Or that disease could fall on you without any medicine or cures? Or that enemy tribes could come from nowhere, without any satellites to see them coming? Man in the past was less in control of his environment which means he was more at mercy to it.

If we are more stressed today, it's probably due to increased complexity. In the past we could resign ourselves to all the things beyond our control. In modern times, things are so complex that we have to pick and choose what we dedicate our time and resources to, and if we pick wrong we might make a mistake.

Human beings are not designed to cope with non stop low level stress

We'll evolve and learn to handle it. (Or if not, maybe we'll perish?) I don't think stopping innovation, advance, growth and evolution because it's challenging is the "answer". That's only the "give up" answer that would be advocated by those too weak to continue the journey. If we give up, then hopefully something else will completely wipe us out (the world around us hasn't stopped evolving for millions of years and isn't likely going to give up if we do).


Problem? ;-)

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

I don't view it as increased complexity. What is truly unique today is the bombardment of knowledge and events. Throughout human history, life was primarily local. People married and lived their lives in small geographical areas. Problems were local. Rarely did a larger world intrude and when it did the results were often catastrophic. Perhaps people were not as stressed living in ignorance and it's hard to prepare for an event if you have no foreknowledge so why stress over it? You focus on fundamentals: food, clothing, shelter and a way to survive the environment. And you have the knowledge that your community will support you and you will support them in times of need.

I think you'd be surprised if you were to go to a primitive culture and query them as to what stresses them. Having had a few friends go to South America in very primitive locations was illuminating to me how less stressed people were there than I am. My brother goes regularly to Sri Lanka and is amazed at people living in abject poverty can be happy. I am not saying I wish to trade lives but I can appreciate that my life as an American is not necessarily a key to happiness and tranquility. It comes with a price.

As a microbiologist I have seen many people die of terrible bacterial infections today so believe me when I tell you you better start stressing over this because it is now not much better than in impoverished little village without sanitation in Sri Lanka. ;-)


ebworthen's picture

Too muich of the wrong kind of stress, and too little of the right kind of stress.

Agree with you about the myth of progress; too much and too many people. 


Quus Ant's picture

An animal in his natural environment is never stressed.  Life is simple; Love, food, shelter. 

Zoomorph's picture

Love, food, shelter, and eating one another. Not stressful in the least.

Dewey Cheatum Howe's picture

Speaking of volatility and China including stopping dollar transactions with banks.

Earlier this week, the Intercept revealed another bombshell from Edward Snowden's cache of government secrets: The NSA soaks up all the mobile phone calls from the Bahamas and another country. When they didn't name that country, Wikileaks did. The question now is: why the secrecy?


Wikileaks took umbrage at that omission and early this morning identified the so-called "Country X" in a post and a tweet:


Wikileaks' argument, essentially, was that the U.S. could use its phone-record data to deliver drone strikes against Afghans, and the people of Afghanistan deserved to know that:


Is it really surprising that the U.S. uses its tapping capabilities to soak up phone communications in Afghanistan, a country where American troops are fighting a war? Despite overwhelming public opinion against the war—and public criticism of NSA spying—that sort of intelligence-gathering might actually be reassuring to many Americans, particularly those with loved ones working there.

Wikileaks points out, fairly, that they're concerned not about U.S. troops but about Afghans. Yet is this Afghanistan revelation really that surprising or helpful to Afghans, considering the state of the fractured, violent nation they've lived in under a decade and a half of foreign invasion—not just by the U.S.-led coalition, but by bin Laden's "Arab Afghans" and Pakistan-based insurgents?

Greenwald et al said they had "specific, credible concerns that" identifying Afghanistan in their report "could lead to increased violence" there. But what violence, and against whom? The vagueness of both their report and Wikileaks' wouldn't seem to bring any opprobrium down on a particular person, company, or organization that couldn't already have been branded as collaborators by warring groups in Afghanistan.

The Intercept passage seems to imply that there was more of a concern that this news would simply arouse anti-U.S. anger and result in violence in Afghanistan. But that wouldn't be anything new, either—certainly no newer than earlier revelations about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, out of the Wikileak



You can read more about this here and also the implications are wikileaks and Assange are already sitting on the same information plus...


Laura S.'s picture

I agree, it is impressive to see how the US government condemned Edward Snowden for his whistle-blowing activity. Government and his claims of security and protection of military secrets are no longer viable. However, as we can see from the vast empirical evidence, this type of behavior is common, and works always against the civil society or random individuals, who try to change its features. This is why I support Snowden and others who stood up to challenge the Leviathan.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture




That is an interesting review of the conflicting agendas of the leakers, thank you for your post.

For those of us here, not fighting, not spying, not manipulating markets, this might all be a tempest that does not directly affect us much now.

Until demonstrated otherwise, we should just assume that all international calls are monitored and act accordingly.  Since most people are not in the 1% nor dangerous to TPTB, hiding away some of your money (physical gold, even carefully hidden Bitcoin), I think you will be left alone.  "Little fishez"

After all, who has been actually directly hurt by these leaks, other than players in those arenas (Afghanistan, spies, etc.)?

El Vaquero's picture

I wouldn't be so sure about it not directly affecting us now.


The undated documents show that federal agents are trained to "recreate" the investigative trail to effectively cover up where the information originated, a practice that some experts say violates a defendant's Constitutional right to a fair trial. If defendants don't know how an investigation began, they cannot know to ask to review potential sources of exculpatory evidence - information that could reveal entrapment, mistakes or biased witnesses.


"Remember that the utilization of SOD cannot be revealed or discussed in any investigative function," a document presented to agents reads. The document specifically directs agents to omit the SOD's involvement from investigative reports, affidavits, discussions with prosecutors and courtroom testimony. Agents are instructed to then use "normal investigative techniques to recreate the information provided by SOD."


A dozen current or former federal agents interviewed by Reuters confirmed they had used parallel construction during their careers. Most defended the practice; some said they understood why those outside law enforcement might be concerned.

"It's just like laundering money - you work it backwards to make it clean," said Finn Selander, a DEA agent from 1991 to 2008 and now a member of a group called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, which advocates legalizing and regulating narcotics.


One current federal prosecutor learned how agents were using SOD tips after a drug agent misled him, the prosecutor told Reuters. In a Florida drug case he was handling, the prosecutor said, a DEA agent told him the investigation of a U.S. citizen began with a tip from an informant. When the prosecutor pressed for more information, he said, a DEA supervisor intervened and revealed that the tip had actually come through the SOD and from an NSA intercept.

"I was pissed," the prosecutor said. "Lying about where the information came from is a bad start if you're trying to comply with the law because it can lead to all kinds of problems with discovery and candor to the court." The prosecutor never filed charges in the case because he lost confidence in the investigation, he said.

So, the question remains:  Is the NSA running every phone call through some voice recognition system and letting that flag calls, which then lead to these tips, or were they looking at the drug dealer specifically?  I can't answer that, but we can safely say that the NSA is being used for domestic law enforcement purposes that have ZERO to do with national security.  That they would abuse their power like this is as obvious as it was that they were spying on everything when we learned about the Bluffdale, Utah building that uses something like 65MW of power before Snowden leaked.  He just provided details.  It was obvious that something big was going on.

JR's picture

…the greater the suppression of dissent and transparency, the greater the certainty of eventual crisis and collapse.—Charles Hugh-Smith

One man stands as evidence of the shutdown of dissent against a ruling system in the United States: Ron Paul.

Once he tried to run against the system as a Third Party candidate, his ideas and campaign were closed off by the mainstream. Then, he ran as a Republican candidate, drawing huge crowds and lining up delegates from coast to coast. But in the end, a corrupt Republican Party not only stole delegates from him to keep him from the final competition, but he was visibly and completely shut out from the Republican Convention because his ideas were so dangerous to the rulers.

These rulers are the people who own and operate the financial system of the United States. It is money from the Federal Reserve that is the corrupting river touching not only the political parties but the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of the United States government.

This is the real tragedy of the censorship of ideas and dissent.

Striking evidence of the power of this money was the primary victory of Mitch McConnell in Kentucky – a man who supports most major issues that Republicans don’t want, i.e., immigration amnesty, Obamacare, big government – put back in the running by the corruption and special interest money.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture




That is a brilliant comment.  Ron Paul was indeed thrown under the bus despite huge Republican support, among people I know (some mis-labeled as "sheeple" even).

The media, the Republican Establishment and his fellow House Reps worked to stifle the ideas of this man who probably had the best ideas and programs to save America as we knew her.

Mitch McConnell is a fantastic example why the Republicans can't be trusted (I had been snookered by Bush).  Of course, the D-Team is even worse.


It's every man (woman, family) for himself now.  At some point, we do have to unite to take our country back, but I would suggest we each get stronger first, more resilient, more antifragile...

El Vaquero's picture

Why rig the elections when you can rig the candidates?

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Touché, good point. It's all rigged.

moneybots's picture

"Striking evidence of the power of this money was the primary victory of Mitch McConnell in Kentucky'


Money?  People complain about congress- approval rating 15% or so, then vote the same people back into office.  If i lived in Kenucky, money would not get me to vote for McConnell.  All people have to do is vote for the non incumbant.  It is that simple.

In California, i have seen candidates spend a ton of money and lose.  Incumbants generally have the edge and people just kneejerk vote for the familiar name, regardless how much money is spent by candidates.

El Vaquero's picture

Well, it's not my senator that is bad, it is everybody elses!



But seriously, a lot of the problem is that the candidates themselves are rigged, and if they aren't corrupt when they get to DC, they have to become corrupt to get anything done, and once they get to that point, it's too late.  In order for "voting the bums out of office" to have any chance of changing things, you would first need to roll your guillotines down K-Street.  And then you would need to be prepared to do it again every decade or two.

RabbitOne's picture

In a former life (now retired) I was a Manager of Database Administration. As Charles Hugh Smith reminded me older systems are often the ones prone to sudden collapse from neglect. For example as relational database systems (that is SQL Server, Oracle and IBM’sDB2) took over for older databases in the 1980s and 90s the older ones (like IBM’s IMS) would often have sudden collapses with business people screaming at IT. This sudden collapse in “safer” older databases would often drain the whole organization because no one was skilled at getting these “old pigs” back up and running quickly.


The damage done by these sudden collapse events often ending up sucking up half my budget and set other projects back for months (that is why I changed to proactively kicking the frick out of these old products on a regular basis).


I see many parts of the U.S. government, in the near future, going in to the same “sudden collapse” mode.  A good example in the last few weeks is the VA system that just collapsed because throwing money at the VA did not solve its systemic problems. The VA is just a small collapse. As we all know the U.S. is loaded with systemic monetary problems that are ticking time bombs that may be more than just a systemic collapse needing band-aids but are instead black swan events which will change all of our lives forever.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture




+ 17 trillion FIAT$

I have to remember to come back to ZH more often early on Saturdays, I have seen excellent comments just on this thread alone.

Your analogies of what may happen in a .gov meltdown (whose scale you hinted at by your examples of old database systems that no one *new* knew anything about and your VA example) do give us a hint of things to come.

As one of my favorite ZH-ers ("Rock On Roger") often comments:

Stack On

TBT or not TBT's picture

The VA is working just as expected, rationing care. Obama worshippers hate the military, so we should expect system wide deterioration in the treatment of vets. They are enemies, and this is an alinskyite bunch in power in DC doing their machine politics.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

We have seen a vision of the future: the VA is the future of us under Obamacare.

Kreditanstalt's picture

But logic would dictate that the heart and circulatory system can gain little training benefit from such short bursts of activity.  There's a physiological REASON why activity should be of a lengthier duration...

q99x2's picture


Mannequins hanging from nooses... McCain and his brain and the rest of our prison gaurds in Washington D.C. that arrested the Drug Cartel leader a few months ago and opened the southern border and released all the illegal immigrant murderes are about to meet some Mexican mafia members that will be knocking on their doors. Hurray for Washington. They are doing for a change what Americans really want.
MedicalQuack's picture

Yeah our healthcare system seems to be following the same models as the markets with software, illusions and smart coders outdoing what the public as a whole can understand.  I was solicited with an email about paying money to attend a conference on "how Disney does healthcare", so is every big corporation on this trend to make money and talk about their expertise?  Probably if they can make a buck at it.  I just figured we are down to Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck for our healthcare experts:)  I'm probably the stupid one here being my surname is "Duck" in not teaming up with Donald Duck:)

Someone talked me into getting in front of the camera which very rarely do and I talk about privacy and the addictions we all have with stats and over reliance we have on their accuracy.  I call it "The Grays" and I just ramble on a bit so it might be boring on this YouTube thing. I kind of chat about how volatility is created with marketing, etc.  There's a little pitch for the Killer Algorithm page there.  

When I see seminars that make money out there that address what we all used to use "common sense" for decision making, well that tells me we have a lot of duping going on with data that does make you feel insecure too.  Again I used to write software and am well aware of the "duping" sensation people can use and it's all around us.  I'm not that smart but years ago I ate some of my own dog food too on designs I thought would be the cat's meow with software design only t have my beta doctors tell me it sucked and "its now how we work"...and that was years ago in the early days of medical records so lessons I learned a long time ago and when you are a query monster you know exactly what you are creating but the end uses are what counts.  

I see it plain as day with software intelligence being used against people and there's a few others out there that will chime on that, mostly former Quants that I have found but it's true.  The Grays...that make rich wealthier as they can afford to hire and pay the folks who write the addictive and sometimes misleading code.

I have no clue on who in the heck would want to run for President next time around as they will have this all on their doorstep too just as Obama does.  Congress seems to be big pawns anymore for the likes of Google and so on since they are #2 in lobbying expenses, so they can dupe the GOP, sucker them in, get they want and then leave and the illits can sit around and do what they like best, talk about abortions or some other nonsense.


michigan independant's picture

x= social interaction death rate design. They already know.

Previously noted was Freedman suggested a different conclusion, though. Moral decay resulted “not from density, but from excessive social interaction,” Ramsden explained. “Not all of Calhoun’s rats had gone berserk. Those who managed to control space led relatively normal lives.” Striking the right balance between privacy and community, Freedman argued, would reduce social pathology. It was the unwanted unavoidable social interaction that drove even fairly social creatures mad, he believed. Culture and upbringing also play key roles in adapting to environment, others suggested. Assholes of the left and right in sum.


GardenWeasel's picture

This could have been written a lot better. You lost a lot aof readers with boring, irrelevant crap.  Next time, give the task to someone more capable.