The Nine Alignments of Guardians of the Galaxy

Pretty awesome!

Comparative Geeks

On our poll of what we should do for an alignment grid, the top result was the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Well, I tried to come up with one for the MCU, but that is a tough nut to crack. A lot of characters, so how to pick?

I didn’t pick yet. Instead, I did one just from Guardians of the Galaxy. I hope you enjoy.

The Nine Alignments of Guardians of the Galaxy

For more of an explanation of alignment grids (and for several examples), please check out this post. And if you have comments on this one, or ideas for a Marvel Cinematic one, let us know in the comments below!

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Doug Casey on Cuba

by Doug Casey | May 29, 2015
Half the fun of Cuba is getting there.

I was there in the 1990s with about a dozen financiers from Europe. The contingent from England, Norway, and Switzerland came over together from London, changing planes in Miami for Panama. When an impertinent customs clerk asked one of them where he was going, he innocently responded “Cuba.” All six men were hustled into a locked room, with all kinds of armed and uniformed types milling about, and were detained there for two hours while agents ran background checks on them. The government couldn’t have cared less if they missed their connection. Your tax dollars at work, winning friends and influencing people for America.

It used to be there were no restaurants, no shops, no cars, and few hotels in Cuba. People were malnourished, and even at a couple of official receptions the staples were olives and Spam, because that was what they were able to barter for.

That was 1994, and things were especially grim because the recent collapse of the USSR was starting to bite in earnest. The bankrupt Soviet government had been subsidizing the even more bankrupt Cuban government for the equivalent of billions of dollars a year for several decades, in a historic example of the blind leading the doubly dismembered. The cutoff of Soviet subsidies resulted in an acute depression within the chronic depression Cuba had experienced since 1960.

The Embargo

The US embargo on trade with Cuba was put in place by Kennedy in 1962. A window into Kennedy’s venal character is offered by his having sent White House Press Secretary Pierre Salinger out to scrounge up scores of boxes of Cuban cigars the day before he announced the embargo; JFK didn’t want to be even slightly inconvenienced by something he hoped would devastate thousands.

Perversely, the embargo has helped those it was intended to hurt, and hurt those it was intended to help.

In theory, the embargo was supposed to economically strangle Cuba and help unseat Castro. In fact, it helped entrench him, because Castro was able to effectively blame the country’s myriad economic problems on an outside source instead of the idiotic economic policies he instituted. And it had the additional advantage of making the Americans look like aggressive and irrational bullies.

If the US government really wanted to see Castro deposed, it would instead have encouraged travel to Cuba. Cubans would have discovered that the average American doesn’t grow horns and have a forked tale. His ideological purity would have been corrupted with imported books, magazines, and videos, and his revolutionary fervor dulled by the prospect of wearing Italian shoes, driving a German car, and taking pictures with a Japanese camera. It was these things, not just the internal contradictions of socialism, and far more than the insane levels of military spending, that caused the collapse of the Soviet empire.

In reality, the embargo has just been a silly, destructive, and massively inconvenient public relations scheme. The Cubans have been at liberty to buy anything in the world they wanted over the last 55 years, including American products, as long as they didn’t buy from an American. They lacked goods not because of the US embargo, but because they simply didn’t have the money to buy from anyone.

But the cat’s out of the bag and the embargo is soon going to be history. And I expect growth to be hyperbolic.

A Word on Castro

Some made the point that I seemed somewhat star-struck when I met Fidel years ago. I’ve thought about it, and perhaps the allegation is true. Having made a practice over the years of meeting the thugs who run a lot of the world’s countries, I find my taste runs to the ex-revolutionaries. True, they’re almost all misguided, destructive, and completely corrupted by the power they’ve gained. But apart from any other considerations, it takes real courage, ability, and vision to violently overthrow any established government; the type of people who do it are like a force of nature. They’re a far cry from the loathsome publicity seekers and despicable popularity contest winners that woo the masses with lies and promises of stolen booty during elections.

Revolutionaries play for the highest stakes, and make things of world historic importance happen. It’s not a question of who’s good or who’s evil, who’s right or who’s wrong. The important thing in a revolution, and what the world remembers, is that few stood against many, and triumphed.

Of all the revolutionaries of recent history, Castro (along with Che Guevara, who may cut an even more romantic figure) is in a class by himself. Intellectual, athlete, raconteur, bon vivant, and war hero, he’s the kind of guy you’d love to have at a cocktail party. I see Castro as a Jedi knight fallen prey to the temptations of the Dark Side, a Latin Darth Vader. Too bad he cottoned to a dumb philosophy, and then overstayed his welcome. But his essence isn’t the reality; it’s the myth.

Do I respect him? About 100 times more than every politician in the Republicrat and Demopublican parties put together. He’s done more harm than good, but so have Clinton, Bush, and Obama. And in absolute terms, they have done far more harm, and are far more dangerous, simply because they’re so much more powerful. Sure, Castro is a dictator who’s killed hundreds of people and arbitrarily imprisoned thousands; but that puts him in the minor leagues, with people like Franco, or Pinochet, or Batista. Not Stalin, Mao, or Hitler. And any world leader inevitably has blood on his hands. At this point, Castro is as much a media figure as anything else. People who get hot under the collar when they think of him and Cuba as the Communist Menace, are just as out of touch with reality as Fidel himself.


You may recall the scene from the movie The Godfather, where Michael Corleone visits Cuba in the late 50s, during the Batista regime, to determine whether his family should invest there. All reports were enthusiastically optimistic, but he begged off after witnessing a street fight in which one of Castro’s rebels didn’t hesitate to sacrifice himself to take out a couple of soldiers. Michael concluded that if Castro’s people were that motivated, they were certainly more than just opportunistic bandits. The point stuck with me and I’m always on the alert for something that gives me a clue I should be zigging instead of zagging.

There are only two areas where Cuba has a competitive advantage: tourism and cigars. As you might guess, cigars are a major foreign-exchange earner for Cuba, and the only one, other than tourism, that has a future in my opinion.

I’ve long been a cigar aficionado. Unlike cigarettes, which are simply a nervous habit, and evidence of stress, a good cigar is a mellowing, contemplative experience.

Good cigars signal market tops because they’re expensive. People don’t send money up in smoke when the market’s down, or they can’t make the mortgage payment.

Cuba has historically cranked out about 100 million cigars a year. I think there’s been some diminution of quality, which evidences itself in cigars that don’t draw well and wrappers that come undone easily, among other things. What’s likely to happen is that Cuban production will peak just as the world enters the Greater Depression and people stop smoking cigars because (a) they can’t afford them, and (b) they don’t want to be characterized as an undeserving and malevolent rich person. The popularity of cigars is as cyclical as the popularity of stocks.

What is a good cigar? That depends to a large degree on what you like. Personally, I prefer a mild smoke in the shape of a panatella (relatively long and thin). The premier Cuban brand is the Cohiba, which is what Fidel used to smoke before he gave up smoking. They’re excellent smokes, but not really worth the cost. My own choice is the Rey del Mundo, and to my taste it’s actually superior.

Two tips: beware of buying cigars on the street in Havana; you’ll could get a box for phony Cohibas that are completely unsmokable garbage. Get a good humidor; if cigars are allowed to dry out they can be totally ruined and have to be thrown out.


I’m pretty familiar with the Caribbean, and I’ll give you the bottom line. There are a few bright spots that are friendly, pretty, progressive, and upmarket, but on the whole the place is very expensive, racially charged, and regressing economically. Very little merits consideration for a vacation, much less an investment. Cuba, however, is a special situation. Prices are extremely low. The place is completely undeveloped and in dire need of capital. The population has been isolated from the rest of the world for more than 55 years, and even around Havana it’s going to be years before they learn to resent tourists. But things will really explode when, and this is absolutely inevitable, the place becomes legal for Americans. At that point millions of gringos will pour in annually. Why would anyone go to Florida when Cuba is only 90 miles offshore? The US government itself estimates 12 million visits from Americans the first year the embargo com es down. But that’s an impossible number, since only a fraction of them could be accommodated with facilities that are even in the planning stages.

I look at businesses and real estate from an investment perspective all over the world, and I can tell you that Cuba is all you need to know about how to make an absolute killing for at least the next generation. There are various places in Africa, Asia, and South America, many of which I’ve discussed, that may have more of some desirable things and less of some undesirable things. But there’s no place that has the mix that Cuba does, plus one overwhelmingly huge factor: It’s right on the doorstep of the US.

The good news is that Cuba is all an intelligent property speculator needs to know for the next generation. The bad news is that the Cuban government is only allowing commercial investment, where it acts as a joint venture partner. The standard deal is that a foreigner puts up 100% of the capital for his 50% interest; the Cubans put up the property for theirs. The investor is exempt on import duties and pays no income tax until he’s received 100% of his capital back. This is a fair deal, but it precludes passive investment. A real pity in a country with over 2,000 miles of pristine seacoast; priced, when it trades, at a pittance.

The fact is that around a third of the land in Cuba is still privately owned and theoretically can be transferred. The problem is finding out what there is, and who owns it. And even if you can jump those hurdles, it will be a real problem getting permission to buy and transfer title. In other words, it’s completely impractical to try buying land. Too bad, because some beachfront will be a 100-1 shot over the next decade.

Overseas Cubans with relatives on the island should get those relatives working on the problem; there could hardly be a more productive way for them to spend their time. A word to the wise.

Editor’s Note: This was an excerpt from Crisis Speculator, which uncovers the deep-value investment opportunities waiting behind the news that frightens others away. Written by Nick Giambruno with regular contributions from Doug Casey, Crisis Speculator identifies and shows readers how to act on crisis-born, international investment opportunities.

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Macedonia Coup Attempt – War Against Russia & China (LRL12)

Thank you for sharing this timely insight! Is it true that Macedonia, pressured by Western interests/ EU, may drop out of Turkish Stream pipeline project? It seems Washington is sending a strong message to Russia, will the other Balkan republics fall under these threats, like Bulgaria- forcing Russia to cancel South Stream. Please keep us appraised with your insider connections and reports Lada. Many thanks!

Futurist Trendcast

New LadaRayLive 12 episode on YouTube is up!


What is really behind the recent attempted color revolution in Macedonia? How is it connected to Kosovo, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkish Stream? What does Russia has to do with all this? How is the largest foreign US military base Camp Bondsteel connected to the Macedonia’s Skopje events? (More about Camp Bondsteel in the upcoming LadaRayLive 14 episode!)

Click link to watch:

Macedonia Coup Attempt – War Against Russia & China (LRL12)

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I’m deeply disturbed by the anti-freedom trend sweeping the West

I came across an interesting story from India recently.

In a landmark animal rights case, the High Court there ruled that birds can no longer be kept in cages.

The judges asserted that birds have a fundamental right to live with dignity and be free.

Incredible. If only we humans had the same fundamental right.

Many of us come from a country that claims to be free.

We grow up singing songs about our freedom, and we are told by our governments that evil men in caves hate us because we are so free.

This is powerful propaganda that starts practically from birth and stays with us for our entire lives.

Even Hollywood does its part with heroic action movies portraying the homeland as strong and free, with evil villains who invariably have foreign accents.

But it’s all a ruse.

Most of us don’t even have the most basic freedom to choose what we can / cannot put in our own bodies, or decide how to educate our children.

The volume of rules, regulations, and laws is so vast now that you can hardly breathe without committing a crime.

And when they’re not busy confiscating private property through ‘civil asset forfeiture’ or shooting defenseless citizens, police now drive around shutting down children’s lemonade stands for failing to have the appropriate permit.

Just this morning the US government’s publication of all the new rules, laws, and regulations totaled 313 pages.

And that’s just for today. Tomorrow there will be more.

Each of these new rules covers the most ridiculous topics– like regulating the way that dishwashers can be sold.

I’m sure we can’t even begin to imagine how horrifying life would be with a rogue dishwasher salesman on the loose.

And many of them come with severe penalties for non-compliance. You can’t even apply for a passport in the Land of the Free anymore without being threatened with fines and imprisonment.

That’s not freedom. Not even close.

Nowhere is this more clear than with the USA PATRIOT Act, the freedom-destroying law from 2001 that authorized all sorts of unconstitutional government powers.

Some of the worst provisions from the USA PATRIOT Act are set to expire this weekend.

But the Obama administration doesn’t want that. And they’ve channeled their inner-Cheney to roll out the same fear-mongering tactics that got this law passed 14 years ago.

Without sweeping powers to spy on Americans, the administration claims that the country would be left utterly defenseless against terrorists.

They have suggested that any dissent to the provisions is “playing national security Russian roulette”, and that the opposition will be blamed *when* there’s another terrorist attack in America.

What’s incredible is how many people believe them… how many people are so afraid of the boogeyman that they support extending the most destructive legislation of their time.

This was a huge litmus test for liberty in America. And I’m dismayed at how little people seem to care about privacy and freedom anymore.

Across the Atlantic, things aren’t looking much better.

In the UK, Prime Minister David Cameron recently stated:

“For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone.”

Apparently leaving law-abiding citizens alone is being ‘too tolerant’.

Cameron then unveiled a number of new measures to combat “extremism”, including putting people on a government watch list to have their Tweets approved by the police before being posted.

We’re no longer talking about actual terrorist activity, but so-called extremist thought.

It took 31 years, but it appears that the origins of 1984 are finally upon us. It’s happening all across the West at an alarming pace, and people are willing to allow it.

That’s the funny thing about freedom.

True freedom means that you are free to be an idiot. That people are free to make the greatest mistake of all and trade their liberty for security.

And that’s their choice. But they’re not free to trade mine.

What I do with my liberty is my choice. Not anyone else’s. And I have no desire to trade it away for excessive government power masquerading as fake security.

Each of us has that choice.

Unfortunately most people in the West are caged birds. It might be a nice cage with plenty of Starbucks and Bed, Bath, and Beyond megastores.

But it’s a cage… filled with clueless birds chirping away about how free they are.

The truth is that there’s still freedom to be found in the world. No one is going to give it to you. You have to break your own chains, seek it out, and plan for it.

But it’s there. It’s still possible to deliberately live free.

So if you’re one of the few people who still cares about personal liberty and living with dignity, never forget that the cage door is wide open for anyone paying attention.

And that you can fly.

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Publisher of Sovereign Man
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Singapore, Singapore – No State 049712

♪Summertime Sadness – Music Theme

This week Johnny chose “Summertime sadness” as our theme. To be honest i’m not sure how to approach this theme b/c the subject seems almost contradictory. However upon visiting my fellow blogger’s post, i see that seasonal affective disorder/ depression can overwhelm us anytime of the year. Perhaps we can be there for each other more, offer support, understanding, a sympathetic ear, or shoulder to cry on. Here are a few oldies i’d like to share. ♥

PINK FLOYD – Hey You (vinyl)

♪Hey you out there in the cold
Getting lonely getting old
Can you feel me?
Hey you standing in the aisles
With itchy feet and fading smiles
Can you feel me?
Hey you don’t help them to bury the light
Don’t give in without a fight.

Hey you, out there on the road
Always doing what you’re told,
Can you help me?
Hey you, out there beyond the wall,
Breaking bottles in the hall,
Can you help me?
Hey you, don’t tell me there’s no hope at all
Together we stand, divided we fall.♪

SANTANA – Samba Pa Ti

Billy Joel – Honesty & My Life

Fleetwood Mac – Dreams

♪Thunder only happens when it’s raining
Players only love you when they’re playing
Say… Women… they will come and they will go
When the rain washes you clean… you’ll know, you’ll know

Now here I go again, I see the crystal visions
I keep my visions to myself
It’s only me
Who wants to wrap around your dreams and…
Have you any dreams you’d like to sell?
Dreams of loneliness…♪

Valentina Lisitsa – Moonlight Sonata Op.27 No.2

The Piano Sonata No.14 “Quasi Una Fantasia” Opus 27 No.2 (Moonlight Sonata)
Movement 1: Adagio sostenuto
Movement 2: Allegretto
Movement 3: Presto agitato

Enjoy! ♥

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