Even in absurdity, sacrament. Even in hardship, holiness. Even in doubt, faith. Even in chaos, realization. Even in paradox, blessedness
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"Life expands or shrinks in proportion to one's courage." ~Anain Nin
The sign outside is painted on a section of a refrigerator door. The floor is bare plywood. There's no heat. But there are thousands upon thousands of books. "The Complete Works of Shakespeare." "Treasure Island." Trixie Belden and "The Happy Valley Mystery." Zane Grey's westerns, every one of them, lined up across two shelves. Homer. Tennyson. Amy Tan. Goethe.
Elsie's late husband, Rudy, read them endlessly. He farmed and tended bar, he ran a grain elevator, he delivered gas to filling stations, and when the town was down to just him and Elsie, he served as mayor too. But he always found time to read ó science fiction, history, the classics ó anything but a Harlequin romance. When he got sick with cancer two years ago, Rudy confided a dream to Elsie: He wanted to turn his collection into a public library.
...and still fasting. I'll probably break around 4ish (90 hours), but I'm frighteningly hyper right now and not very hungry. I'm really proud I made it this far, and certainly didn't expect to get to this point without food. I really think that I'm going to make a monthly thing, but going for this length of time on a regular basis is not advised. The overall effects of this project continue to amaze.
UPDATE: Not long after posting this, my body communicated pretty clearly that it was time to break. I left the office and had a small salad without dairy (a miracle), some fruit, and a piece of barbecued tofu as a treat. I savored every bite, chewing slowly and with a sense of wonder at how sitting down to nurture oneself has become such a sterile and mindless act. Total time without food: 89 hours, 30 minutes, besting my previous record by 25 hours.
In April, I will shoot for 120 in preparation for the Peru/Bolivia trip.
From Here to Alternity and Beyond
For most of her life, the young woman hated sports. And though she was born and raised in Tucson, she never liked Mexican food. She craved Italian and was a pasta junkie. But three years ago, all that changed for Jaime Sherman, 28, when she underwent a heart transplant at University Medical Center, after battling a heart defect since birth. "Now I love football, baseball, basketball. You name it, I follow it," said Sherman, a psychology student at Arizona State University. "And Mexican food is by far my favorite." She'd heard similar stories - of people who get donor hearts, develop new and surprising tastes and traits, then trace them to the donor. It's an eerie phenomenon that has triggered controversy and skepticism. Could it be happening to her?
...and surprisingly, I'm still fasting. This was the earliest goal I had set for myself, and had halfway expected to break with some fruit by now. It now looks like tomorrow morning, past the 80 hour mark, or possibly around lunch. Or dinner, who knows? The effects of the detox are beginning to become apparent, though I won't trouble you with those details, because they're somewhat nasty. I've obviously and visibly dropped some weight, though I can't guess how much. I'll assume, based on the averages and reports from the studies, that I'm about nine pounds lighter. My body and skin are tighter and despite periods of fatigue, my mind is clear.
The "can I do it?" thoughts are phasing out, replaced with "how long will I do it?" The thought of what lies within the fridge does make me drool, though I know that it will take time before I can sample any of them. Raw fruit and veg will be my food for a day or two as my digestive system is gently reawakened.
My thanks for those of you in my daily life who've expressed support, and though one colleague called it 'stupid,' it is certainly an unusual undertaking, in this society anyway.
Onward to tomorrow!
I Channel in order to Create
last night the rain spoke to me
by Mary Oliver
in a new way
smelling of iron,
and the grass below.
under a tree.
and there were stars in the sky
my right hand
and the soft rainó
...at 59 hours and feeling fine, though I could've slept a lot longer. I really am going to try to make it to Monday at lunch, possibly Tuesday. I break my record of 64 hours sometime after noon, and enter the 72 threshold tonight. I did not go dancing last night as I'd hoped, fearing the toxicity of the cigarette smoke and my body was telling me to rest instead. It's important to heed your body when fasting, and the trick to remember is to listen after fasting as well. We usually tend to let the mind dictate what the body wants, but when fasting it becomes clear that the body has its own signals which are often drowned out by the brain's loud clammoring. Fasting helps set the two in balance.
Halpern's first big foray into psychedelic research was aimed at risk-assessment. In the late 1990s he launched a study of members of the Native American Church, who are permitted by US law to consume peyote. Halpern examined 210 residents of a Navajo reservation in the south-west US, who fell into three categories: church members who had taken peyote at least 100 times but had had little exposure to other drugs or alcohol; non-church members who abstained from alcohol or drugs; and former alcoholics who had been sober for at least three months.
Halpern tested the subjects' IQ, memory, reading ability and other functions. His interim results showed that church members had no cognitive impairment compared with the abstainers, and scored significantly better than recovering alcoholics. Church members also reported no "flashbacks" - sudden recurrences of a psychedelic's effects long after the initial trip. Halpern believes this study, which he expects will be published soon, shows that contrary to the 1971 editorial, peyote at least can be taken repeatedly without adverse effects.
with groovy intention
At 43 hours I'm feeling fine, better in fact than yesterday. I'd love to study the physiology of fasting, and understand what's being released right now that gives me energy and clarity despite being food-less. After chaperoning the youth group sleepover, I came home and experienced an hour or so or weariness. But without much energy to go on, I undertook one of the more massive apartment cleanings I've done in some time... thorough scrubbing, mopping, attention to details that my life doesn't normally allow. Taking out the mountain of recycling. I was surprised to find that it took so long for me to catch the metaphor; cleansing is happening without as within. I'm processing the excesses, the forgetfulness, and the mindlessness of certain ruts that a human will fall into, and these things will not resolve themselves. I wanted the recycling to take itself out, but I had to do the work. For spiritual truths, it's a rather big "duh," but one of the easiest truths to misplace when we become absorbed in un-real realities.
It is conceivable that I may go dancing tonight? In this state of being, chances look good. And dancing without the buzz of alcohol will invite a greater buzz, the kind the shamans speak of, the kind that comes from innocent, spinning children who know how easy it is to find magic.
Sacred Poetry from around the world
A chaikhana is a teahouse along the legendary Silk Road pilgrimage and trading route linking China to the Middle East and Europe. It is a place of rest along the journey, a place to shake off the dust of the road, to sip tea, and to gather together to sing songs of the Divine...
30 hours on...
I'm feeling good, fairly brain-sizzled, but no longer hungry. This has been one of the easiest fasts yet. Luckily there haven't been any real unpleasant side effects of foodlessness.
We just took the youth group extreme bowling (I won't confess how miserable my scores were), and most of the crew is settling down to sleep. I'm one of them. Others are playing hide and seek, and other randomness. I'll be doing that same activity in mere minutes, but with my subconscious...
Reporting live from a teen lock-in, holding my own against the forces of physiology...
get 'em while they're cold
A new type of organism discovered in an Arctic tunnel came to life in the lab after being frozen for 32,000 years. The deep-freeze bacteria could point to new methods of cryogenics, and they are the sort of biology scientists say might exist on Mars and other planets and moons.
I'm approaching the 24 hour mark with little side effects other than the obvious hunger and a slight sense of being dazed and airheaded. All sorts of unnatural cravings are beginning to surface, especially deep-fried foods and general crapola. I'm a bit tired but also have that antsy energy associated with bodily anxiety about the conditions that are causing this sudden lack of food.
I'm going to take a long hot shower, then head over to the lock-in and continue to starve with about a dozen teenagers.
get 'em while they're hot
The past four weeks have been heady ones in the planet-finding world: Three teams of astronomers announced the discovery of 12 previously unknown worlds, bringing the total count of planets outside our solar system to 145.
Just a decade ago, scientists knew of only the nine planets - those in our local solar system. In 1995, improved detection techniques produced the first solid evidence of a planet circling another star. A proliferation of discoveries followed, and now dozens of ongoing search efforts around the globe add steadily to the roster of worlds. Most of these planets differ markedly from the planets in our own solar system. They are more similar to Jupiter or Saturn than to Earth, and are considered unlikely to support life as we know it. [Ha! Our knowledge is still so cosmically scant!]
Most of us can appreciate the fact that we make up our minds about things based on thinking that takes place somewhere just out of our reach. But today, scientists are finding neural correlates to those processes, parts of the brain that we never gave their due, communicating with other parts, triggering neurotransmitters, and driving our actions. Says Clinton Kilts, a professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory, "There is nothing that you do, there is no thought that you have, there is no awareness, there is no lack of awareness, there is nothing that marks your daily existence that doesn't have a neural code. The greatest challenge for us is to figure out how to design the study that will reveal these codes."
Cleansing for a Cause
At around 8 last night, I had my last meal before the fast. It was wonderful. So was the beer that washed it down and helped produce that bizarre poem posted earlier. This morning, I'm preparing my body to go as long as possible without food, and I'm hoping to meet or break my record of 80 hours. I've learned in these marathon fasts, however, that you break when your body tells you to break. It happens when it happens.
I'll be drinking gallons of water today, and throughout the experience, adding in juices some time tomorrow. Tea is acceptable for this fast, in moderation, as are mild supplements and medications. Late tonight I'll begin to have a low-range headache, which may build into a crushing one my mid-day tomorrow. The key is to ride it out, and sleep through it if necessary.
I'm doing this not only for cleansing, but in solidarity with those who truly hunger daily in the world. Malnourishment and starvation certainly happens worldwide, but also right here at home. It's only fair that a thirty-something gay white American should hold off on the gravy train for a few days in respect for those millions, or billions, living in misery.
In that spirit, I'd like to challenge my readers to sponsor me by the hour, with proceeds going directly to Timonthy House in Haiti. This orphanage was devastated by last year's floods, and the young adult program in my spiritual community is hoping to raise funds to help this orphanage rebuild. If you choose to support this effort, please donate via the left sidebar and I'll give every penny to the cause.
My subconscious played a fun food trick on me in my dreams last night: I was watching a video from Iraq of an American firing a heat-seeking missile at a helicopter. People on the ground were screaming that it was the wrong target. The 'copter crashed to the ground, with black smoke and flame shooting all about. Once the dust settled, everyone ran to the downed chopper, which turned out to be an aerial Chinese restaurant, and everyone inside was only slightly dazed. The wok was fired up, the startled crew straightened themselves up, and a line quickly formed for fried rice.
I'll post regular updates regarding the fast your your entertainment and my recollection.
"God Bless the child..."
Forget breaching "certain words,"
the mechanics of thought
...We seem to think in sentences. It is very hard to imagine thinking about anything without framing the thought in words. When I wonder whether I am having a bad hair day, my mindís eye sees the phrase swimming in front of it. It almost comes to my lips. In fact, much of what I ponder slips into vocal form, an unfortunate trait that has occasionally led me to be less tactful than I would have wished. But this habit also seems to confirm Noam Chomskyís thesis that we think in words and grammar. Indeed, there is evidence that the part of the brain that deals with language is roped in to assist with mathematical tasks, suggesting the overarching presence of linguistic ability in all things neural.
However, a trio of brain-damaged patients have cast doubt on this widely accepted theory... the patients could tell the difference between similar mathematical expressions. For example, they could distinguish between 30/90 and 90/30. They could also handle arithmetic inside brackets, such as (90 - ((3 + 17) x 3)), that resemble the clauses inside sentences. They could not, however, decipher the sentence, ďthe man who killed the lion was angry.Ē The patients could also read numerals, but not written numbers, such as ďthreeĒ. The results... challenge the idea that language is the master ability required for all types of cognitive processing. The study also raises the possibility that aphasic patients could be taught a ďwords by numbersĒ language that would allow them to communicate with others.
No Gene Is An Island
On the one hand, the Global Brain is as easy to understand as can be. Put one gigantic microprocessor to work and you have a pretty potent computer. But put 60 together in parallel and you have something only governments and a few top universities can afford, a supercomputer. The earth is a mesh of processors working in parallel. It's been that since a single chemical family rose and started a land-grab for the planet 3.85 billion years ago. That family is an imperialistic intermesh that specializes in transformation, invention-swapping, and collective smarts. The territorially greedy chemical family I'm talking about is the clan of life, the clan of cells, and the clan of DNA.
For 3.85 billion years, biomass has worked full tilt on the imperialistic enterprise of transforming the inanimate atoms of this huge hunk of stone ó the earth ó into biomass. That's a big job. And biomass has pulled this off by lacing masses of micro-intellects into planet-spanning macro-intellects. It sounds like a goofy and exaggerated notion. But think for a second. To kick off this thinking process, let's start with Richard Dawkins' idea of The Selfish Gene. Dawkins is a brilliant thinker. And his "let's turn this upside down and see what new insights appear" approach was great a quarter of a century ago. But the gene-worship that's taken over since then misses a basic point. No gene is an island. No gene can afford to be totally selfish.
hope springs eternal
Modern America, like Rome at the time of Christ, is in a period of rising secularism and religious chaos. Christianity has lost the power to shape our culture, and no rival religion or philosophy seems able to take its place. I argue that this period of tension will end as the Roman one did--with the advent of a new religion that will synthesize the best features of our current religions into a whole greater than the sum of its parts.
dark side of the matter
Plans to trace the Moon's orbit with extraordinary new accuracy could reveal kinks in Einstein's theory of gravity and help explain the mysterious accelerating expansion of the universe, says a US researcher. The acceleration cannot be explained by known forces in the Universe. To account for the behaviour, cosmologists have introduced the concept of a new, as yet unseen, force - dark energy. But Gia Dvali... believes there could be another explanation. He thinks the accelerating expansion might be caused by unexpected properties of gravity, which are only seen over very large distances. Taking inspiration from string theory, which proposes the existence of several extra dimensions, Dvali... suggests that gravity may leak into an extra dimension on this large scale. "The accelerated universe can be a window of opportunity for understanding the most fundamental aspects of gravitation, and may signal the modification of standard laws of gravity at very large distances,"
All About Power
Most of what has been written about change -- by political theorists as well as business gurus -- is about revolutionary change. It is about creating a sense of popular urgency for change. Writers on social and business innovation, by contrast, are (perhaps subconsciously) writing about change that incapacitates. Clay Christensen speaks candidly about 'disruptive innovation', the kind that catches successful businesses off guard, just like a virus or undetected parasite, and brings it to its knees. A huge amount of money and energy is being spent these days -- on so-called 'anti-terrorist' programs, on physical and computer security, on fighting file-sharing, on patenting anything even vaguely innovative to prevent a competitor bringing it to market, on the search for vaccines and cures for AIDS, BSE, Avian Flu etc., on anti-fraud measures like Sarbanes-Oxley -- all designed to fight incapacitating, rather than popular, revolutionary, enemies. Actions that are aimed to incapacitate are called guerrilla (meaning 'little war') actions. Since the Vietnam war debacle in the 1960s the very term has struck fear in the hearts of the power elite, because they know that, in today's heavily concentrated, centralized, interconnected, 'grid-locked' society, this is where they are most vulnerable, most powerless to defend themselves.
Tantra, or more properly tantrika, is a diverse and rich spiritual tradition of the Indian sub-continent. Although in recent years, in the Western world, it has become almost exclusively associated with sex, in reality this is one aspect of what is a way of life. In India itself, tantra is now, nearly always, associated with spells and black deeds.
Neither of these views is correct, and each wildly underestimates the wide-ranging nature of the different traditions. Further, there remains an ocean of tantrik and agamic literature still to be discovered and translated, spanning a period of time which at least reaches back to the 10th century of the common era (c.e.). The tradition, or perhaps better, the traditions, underwent many phases and schools over this period of time, ranging from an extremely heterodox viewpoint to, in some cases, a very orthodox standpoint...
Although some tantras appear at first glance to be straightforward, most, if not all of them, employ a type of language which can be taken on many levels. According to the tradition, everything has a gross, a subtle and a supreme meaning and as the Devi is the goddess of letters, she can bewilder with her Maya as well as enlighten.
the paradox cluster
Astronomers say they have discovered an object that appears to be an invisible galaxy made almost entirely of dark matter. The team... claimed it is the first to be detected. A dark galaxy is an area in the Universe containing a large amount of mass that rotates like a galaxy, but contains no stars.
The unknown material that is thought to hold these dark galaxies together is known as 'dark matter', but scientists still know very little about what that is.
Baffled by the expansion of the universe?
The expansion of the universe may be the most important fact we have ever discovered about our origins. You would not be reading this article if the universe had not expanded. Human beings would not exist. Cold molecular things such as life-forms and terrestrial planets could not have come into existence unless the universe, starting from a hot big bang, had expanded and cooled. The formation of all the structures in the universe, from galaxies and stars to planets... has depended on the expansion.
Forty years ago this July, scientists announced the discovery of definitive evidence for the expansion of the universe from a hotter, denser, primordial state. They had found the cool afterglow of the big bang: the cosmic microwave background radiation. Since this discovery, the expansion and cooling of the universe has been the unifying theme of cosmology, much as Darwinian evolution is the unifying theme of biology. Like Darwinian evolution, cosmic expansion provides the context within which simple structures form and develop over time into complex structures. Without evolution and expansion, modern biology and cosmology make little sense...
"The full extent and richness of this picture [the hot big bang model] is not as well understood as I think it ought to be ... even among those making some of the most stimulating contributions to the flow of ideas."
yes, but is it ethical?*
Whenever the president talks about Social Security, I think about the 5,000-Year-Old Woman. I can see her right now, cruising down some sunny highway in Florida in her convertible Mini Cooper, laughing into the wind. The 5,000-Year-Old Woman is supposed to give us hope. But sometimes, she scares me. Here we are talking about the federal retirement system facing possible disaster because a lot of people are living into their 80s and 90s. Meanwhile, out in the real world of science, medicine, and hypercompetitive Americans, 90 years old is already peanuts.
*As magical as it all sounds to live damn near forever, I'd have to say that no, it's not ethical, at least for me. I already despise the fact that our major curable diseases have been abandoned on the research front by greedy PharmaCorps who pursue permanent erections of instantaneous weight loss pills to ease and comfort the First World, much like Huxley's "soma." Life extension tends toward a Utopian ideal that ultimately becomes racist and classist unless you're willing to extend the same benefits to, say Haiti or Bangladesh. Their quality of life and infrastructure is already billions of dollrs behind ours, so why bother? It doesn't take long with an objective eye to determine there's a problem with this sort of thinking; the desire for LE is often shared by we leftists, artists and neo-think types. Good for us, but what about them? Where is the line between individualism and conscience? It's blurred by the West's fear of death in a life where most other "problems" are a pill away.
Now, as far as Leary's S M I(2) L E Principle, life extension for the purpose of getting off the planet makes sense, but only when we've hit an equilibrium of resource distribution on this radically disparaged little planet, where the main problem isn't life extension, it's staying alive.
"Better a dram than a damn." ~Brave New World
the frog and the peach
DM: We'd like to ask Sir Arthur actually about his rather unique
PC: Good evening.
DM: Good evening. If you would tell us something about it, Sir. Arthur.
PC: Yes, well, ah, the idea for the Frog and Peach came to me in the
DM: These premises, in fact.
PC: In these precise premises. Good evening.
skating away on the thin ice of a martian day
A huge, frozen sea lies just below the surface of Mars, a team of European scientists has announced. Their assessment is based on pictures of the planet's near-equatorial Elysium region that show plated and rutted features across an area 800 by 900km. The team think a catastrophic event flooded the landscape five million years ago and then froze out.
art/life imitates life/art
Images and articles focus on successive retellings of the Pygmalion story after Ovid's Metamorphoses. Topics include how the myth is linked to many wider themes, including artistic creativity.
Reality is whatever we make of it, our perceptions are shaped by the ways we approach the world and the filters we use to see the world through. Quantum physics points to innumerable different views on what the underlying reality could be, whether as shaped by our perceptions, an infinity of possible worlds, as a hologram, or colliding waves of energy. Any or all of these views could (or not) be correct in describing reality as we can know it, and may all just be different methods of interpreting the patterns we discover in the world. In this sense, anything we can imagine can be possible, as long as we develop the filters to perceive the world in a certain way. This means reforging the connections between our senses in order to perceive the subtle aspects of reality. We are raised and trained to perceive the world from certain points of view that fit together in the consensual reality, that is, our senses remain isolated from each other and we remain oblivious to patterns of energy and events that point to some higher-level structures in the organization and movements of the world.
However, we humans have the ability to imagine different realities and do so each time we create subjunctive worlds in order to prophecy our futures. These alternate realities can be simple or wild as our imaginations, and as possible as the amount of energy required to bridge the state differences. This ability to create our worlds can be turned inward to posit realities in which we can gather quite different information with our senses, These worlds are quite possible, to the extent that we can put energy into forming and maintaining perspectives which surpass those we typically use to interpret and perceive reality.
sleep now, warble later
A good night's sleep helps young birds master the art of singing, but only after a rather groggy start, Nature magazine has reported. When adolescent zebra finches first wake up in the morning, their singing voices are decidedly rusty. But, strangely, the most tuneless early birds go on to become the best singers. Scientists believe the birds practise songs in their dreams, which pays dividends in the end, despite causing a temporary "loss of direction".
i'll take appendix for a thousand
The presence of an organ in one organism that resembles one found in another has lead biologists to conclude that these two might have shared a common ancestor. Vestigial organs have demonstrated remarkably how species are related to one another, and has given solid ground for the idea of common descent to stand on. From common descent, it is predicted that organisms should retain these vestigial organs as structural remnants of lost functions. It is only because of macro-evolutionary theory, or evolution that takes place over very long periods of time, that these vestiges appear.
simplistic but interesting
The notion of a genetic inclination toward religion is not new. Edward Wilson, the founder of the field of sociobiology, argued in the 1970s that a predisposition to religion may have had evolutionary advantages. n recent years evidence has mounted that there may be something to this, and the evidence is explored in "The God Gene," a fascinating book published recently by Dean Hamer, a prominent American geneticist. Hamer even identifies a particular gene, VMAT2, that he says may be involved. People with one variant of that gene tend to be more spiritual, he found, and those with another variant to be less so.
Long Live Gonzo!
"America... just a nation of two hundred million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable."
mapping through song
Whales sing to each other across thousands of miles of ocean and use sound to create their own mental 'A to Z' of the sea floor... 'There is a time delay in the water, and the response times for their communication are not the same as ours... Suddenly you realise that their behaviour is defined not by my scale, or any other whale researcher's scale, but by a whale's sense of scale - ocean-basin sized.'
Meet and greet my new sidebar links by visiting their sites, offering baskets of cheese and fruit:
Can't help but to laugh
I can't help but to laugh. It's impossible to dam the chortles and guffaws that echo off of the latest circumstances of living. The past few days have provided a fair amount of muck: a painful back injury, a speeding ticket, long and unrewarding days on the treadmill of vocation, and the cliche of longing for loving during a certain mid-winter holiday. But today, where these elements could manifest as burden or pathos, they only seem to be transmutable through embracing the comedy of our daily ping-pong, and the codicils and edicts of Murphy.
Too many times I've bundled my woes into a sack and hurled them into a river of wine from the overpass of forget. The rewards of not-confronting pain or eluding it through clever self-deception are maybe physical numbness at night and wine-stained lips in the morning, with the same heathen worries waiting to resume their boogey-party on the doorstep. Is laughter evasion? I don't think so, I think it's a natural response to the temporal gnomes of inconvenience when realizing their miniscule scope in the expanse of life. I will not be defined on that fateful day I pass by a speeding ticket, it's only a turnstile I move through in my rush to the temple. Thus I must size-up all the other ridiculous problems I must face with the same energy... move through it, not be defined by it, realize its tiny impliciation. Too often we choose to let our burdens become our badges, and I once lived in a way that chose that fashion statement for me. It's tiresome, and moving from a place of victimhood to the place of victor-hood is a very long and agonizing journey. It's easier to remain in a place of personhood, and accept all these potholes and triviaities for what they are...
Jokes to keep us on our toes and aware that the world is too big to be consumed with your issues. Jokes to remind us that our nature is energetic and interconnected, and that no matter the struggle, it's as resolved as we choose it to be with our openness and exertion. Jokes to knock self-importance on its ass so it can see that the world was not made for us, but made with us, and in order to exist we've got to play along and accept the inevitabilities of consciousness. Jokes where we are the punchline and the gist is to keep us humble.
A good reason why I've got this new back injury is that I chose to go snow-boarding, which I knew would involve falling a lot at rather high speeds. I put my trust in my friend Kim to show me what to do, then I had to trust my equipment and the snow to work with my intentions. Is it foolish to do such things? Yes. But for me it's just as foolish to avoid adventure. I took a risk, and it didn't culminate into a real, anxious pain until I dropped my tea cup in the office yesterday, and I bent down to pick it up. I was floored by the storm in my nerves, and while I had to focus very hard to manage the pain and breathe easily, I couldn't help but laugh. Perhaps it was an automatic reaction, but I did find humor in my sudden helplessness. Rather than feeling my survivability threatened, it was enlivened by the signals I was receiving: while there was excruciating pain, everything in my body was working the way it was supposed to... you receive pain when there is a problem. If we can experience that so easily in our bodies, why do we refute it so commonly in our daily lives? We do so much to drown the pain, and that something wrong will only grow in size and dysfunction until it overwhelms us.
There's so much to laugh about, so much to be assured by through the antics of fate and the slapstick of destiny. Rather than choosing to let lonliness on Valentine's take me for a ride, I'll ride instead through the warm eyes of a beautiful stranger, like one I met this morning, and realize that love is coming but the way there will likely involve even more pratfalls and goofiness, and that's alright by me. Rather than let a speeding ticket ruin my day, I choose to accept that it's just another bureaucratic broomstick to jump over, and whatever the repercussions of that will be, it won't make the sky any less blue. This isn't a brave or novel way to see life, but rather a coping mechanism just as valid as any other. I just can't use some other mechanisms any more, so I'll make do with what I got. Happily, laughably.
So, did you hear the one about the Zen hotdog vender? He'll make you one with everything.
Magic and Cyberspace
As we embrace the new millennium, it is surely worth considering how the rapidly unfolding technologies of cyberspace and the ancient magical approaches to sacred space can actually connect with each other...
The Internet is providing us with a new concept of space that did not exist before - the interconnected 'space' of the global computer network . And, as she points out, this is a very recent phenomenon indeed. During the early 1980s few people outside the military and academic field of computer science had network access, but now there are billions of webpages on the Internet. ' As of mid-1998,' writes Wertheim, ' there [were] over 100 million people using the Internet regularly, and it is estimated that in the next decade, there will be close to one billion people online. In just over 25 years, this space has sprung into being from nothing, making it surely the fastest-growing territory in history.'
However, it is the actual nature of the cyberspace experience that Wertheim finds so fascinating. When one person communicates with another online there is no sense of physicality, for cyber-journeys cannot be measured in a literal sense. ' Unleashed into the Internet,' she says, ' my "location" can no longer be fixed purely in physical space. Just "where" I am when I enter cyberspace is a question yet to be answered, but clearly my position cannot be pinned down to a mathematical location.' So all we can really confirm about the nature of cyberspace itself is that it involves a form of digital communication where information is relayed back and forth from one computer site to another, and where people share the outpourings of each other's minds.
romance as social grace
Love, sings Carmen in Bizet's opera, is a gypsy child who has never recognized any law. Take guard against him, though it will do no good. Any of us may become his helpless, fated victim, and the old cards of the fortune-teller will alone declare our destinies. Passion leads nearly always to suffering, madness and death. Even the most respectable may grow ardent and reckless, paying no heed to consequences. Who cares about anything else when the sex is hot and sweaty and feverishly intense? There is a cost, though. When jealousy suddenly pierces us like a knife, every affair risks ending up a blood wedding.
universe as canvas
An art expert says Hubble telescope images are a modern proxy for romantic 19th Century landscape paintings - carefully balancing art and reality. Hubble's raw images are carefully processed to produce the stunning colour representations that appear on the front pages of newspapers.
"The Hubble images are part of the romantic landscape tradition. They fit that popular, familiar model of what the natural world should look like."
gonzo gamma rays
Monster star burst detected
Stunned astronomers have described the greatest cosmic explosion ever monitored - a star burst from the other side of the galaxy that was briefly brighter than the full Moon and swamped satellites and telescopes. The high-radiation flash, detected last December 27, caused no harm to earth but would have literally fried the planet had it occurred within a few light years of home... [The star] spewed out about 10,000 trillion trillion watts, or about 100 times brighter than any of the several "giant flares" that have been previously recorded.
How to Build Impossible Snow Things
i didn't do it
FBI agents have traced another airline laser incident to a gay nightclub, this one in Dallas, TX. Last year, after pilots began complaining of laser beams penetrating their cockpits, investigators linked the green beams to gay nightclubs around the country, where laser wielders use the green rays to shine a light on club Ďhotties.í
The Rise of the Indian Rope Trick
The Grift of the Magi
When you're certain you cannot be fooled, you become easy to fool. Indian street magicians have a repertory of earthy, violent tricks designed for performance outdoors -- very different from polite Victorian parlor and stage magic. So when well-fed British conquerors saw a starving fakir do a trick they couldn't fathom, they reasoned thus: We know the natives are too primitive to fool us; therefore, what we are witnessing must be genuine magic.
definately past retirement age
A new analysis of bones unearthed nearly 40 years ago in Ethiopia has pushed the fossil record of modern humans back to nearly 200,000 years ago -- perhaps close to the dawn of the species. Researchers determined that the specimens are around 195,000 years old. Previously, the oldest known fossils of Homo sapiens were Ethiopian skulls dated to about 160,000 years ago.Genetic studies estimate that Homo sapiens arose about 200,000 years ago, so the new research brings the fossil record more in line with that...
A pair of NASA scientists told a group of space officials at a private meeting here that they have found strong evidence that life may exist today on Mars, hidden away in caves and sustained by pockets of water.
What [the pair] found, according to several attendees of the private meeting, which took place Sunday, is not direct proof of life on Mars, but methane signatures and other signs of possible biological activity remarkably similar to those recently discovered in caves here on Earth... Researchers have long theorized that the Martian subsurface could harbor biological organisms that have developed unusual strategies for existing in extreme environments.
woman carrying water
The pumpkins are gone,
The engineers have reversed the river:
The sun does not dissuade her,
This woman, who girds her neck
What's Happening Now
As is nearly standard, when things get rather busy in my life, details and reports of such don't make this page and remain tucked away in my brain or scattered across the calendar in chickenscratch. I certainly like to share my goings on, but time often lays waste to me by the end of the day and I'm asleep by the time the blog autoposts a nifty link. The alarm clock goes off, and the cycle continues. Since this website serves a dual purpose (content for you and a journal for me), I must mark the following ten items as newsworthy in the space-time of my finite life in the infinite Universe:
So, that's ten little bits from this side of the screen. I'll do my best to keep regular contact with the true and fantastic bits as human time warbles on in it's damned linear track through the circuitous nature of the Really Real.
historical citations of teleportation
The most famous example of teleportation in the history of paranormal phenomena is the Filipino guardia civil during the Spanish era, who suddenly disappeared from his post in the governor general's palace and appeared in Mexico City half way around the world. The bewildered soldier could not explain how he got there.
When asked by Mexican authorities, he told them he was a guard at the Philippine governor general's palace and said the governor was assassinated. He was brought before church authorities who concluded he must be possessed by the devil and promptly put him in jail.
from the Philippines arrived with a Philippine official who identified the guardia civil and confirmed everything he said. The Filipino was released and sent home on a ship.
ten famous names ignorant on a.i.d.s.
Dick Cheney and John Edwards: ...Moderator Gwen Ifill said she wanted to hear about AIDS -- "and not about AIDS in China or Africa," she made clear. "But AIDS right here in this country, where black women between the ages of 25 and 44 are 13 times more likely to die of the disease than their counterparts." At an obvious loss, Cheney mumbled about the global AIDS pandemic before admitting, "I had not heard those numbers, with respect to African-American women." The incidence of HIV infection among African-American women has far exceeded HIV cases among white women for at least a decade. How the vice president missed that is a mystery -- unless he never cared to know in the first place. Edwards fared no better, completely missing an opportunity to skewer the Bush administration for flat-funding the Ryan White CARE Act, ignoring prevention efforts for African-Americans and neglecting the AIDS Drug Assistance Program. Well, at least neither of them sputtered, "AIDS? I thought that was a gay disease!"
Ignore the vanity of the Bushites
What time is it for America? If the Boston Tea Party was first light and the Gettysburg Address dawn, where between the sunrise and sunset of empire is the United States now? To judge from his inauguration speech... President Bush thinks it is about time for morning coffee: much to be proud of but big tasks ‚ÄĒ maybe the proudest of all ‚ÄĒ still ahead. To end tyranny on Earth is no small ambition...
I think it‚Äôs about half past four. For America-2005-Iraq, think of Britain-1899-Boer War. Ever-heavier burdens are being loaded upon a nation whose economic legs are growing shaky, whose hegemony is being taunted and whose sense of world mission may be faltering. ‚ÄúOvercommitted?‚ÄĚ is the whisper.
Not that you would hear it in the din of drums and trumpets. More display is made in the spending of an inheritance than in its quiet accumulation, and the perfumed blossoms of July and August are heaviest after the nights have already begun to draw in. Like economic booms or summer solstices, empires have a habit of appearing at their most florid some time after their zenith has passed. Of the rise and fall of nations, history tends to find that the era of exuberance occurs when the underlying reasons for it are beginning to weaken. There is a time lag between success and swagger.
On a recent trip to the Galapagos Islands, I was astonished when our guide showed us how damselfish (family Pomacentridae) farm algae on their own. It was also amazing to see how aggressively protective they were of their farms. To demonstrate, our guide took a sea urchin and dropped it into the damselfish‚Äôs algae farm, and within seconds the damselfish pushed the sea urchin out of the farm. Some damselfish farm algae on coral heads and nip the coral to create cuts that encourage the algae to grow. Apparently, they are known even to attack human beings that swim near their farms.
The Soul of Science
The atoms in my brain and body today are not the same ones I had when I was born. Nevertheless, the patterns of information coded in my DNA and in my neural memories are still those of Michael Shermer. The human essence, the soul, is more than a pile of parts‚ÄĒit is a pattern of information.
As far as we know, there is no way for that pattern to last longer than several decades, a century or so at most. So until a technology can copy a human pattern into a more durable medium (silicon chips perhaps?), it appears that when we die our pattern is lost. Scientific skepticism suggests that there is no afterlife, and religion requires a leap of faith greater than many of us wish to make.
Whether there is an afterlife or not, we must live as if this is all there is. Our lives, our families, our friends, our communities (and how we treat others) are more meaningful when every day, every moment, every relationship and every person counts. Rather than meaningless forms before an eternal tomorrow, these entities have value in the here-and-now because of the purpose we create.
scrollbar your way to a cosmic sense of perpective
1 pixel = ~1,000 km; images are to scale with each other (This page does not display properly in Safari and Opera; they do not support super-wide tables or images, apparently.)
living in a theocracy
...They had guys wearing the traditional US (military) uniforms over time walk out in order while scenes from a Jesus movie I cant recall played... I know it's ridiculously bad taste but yes, that really is Jesus on the cross in the first picture‚Ä¶in behind our troops. When the final modern troop stepped out too the front and center he thrust his rifle one handed into the air to shouts of approval, the Jesus footage was still playing, and at that particular point even my dad was uncomfortable.
Footage of what look to be flying humanoid entities, or 'hombrecitos volodaros', is a very recent development in Mexico's ongoing UFO activity and is 'high strangeness' of the truly phenomenal kind... 'Montezuma is said to have patrolled the roof of his palace every night, scanning the skies fearful of hostile influences from the air - fears well-founded, for the belief in aerial demons kidnapping people persists in Mexico to this day.'
Upinsky on Madness
"In this world, there are natural limits and orders of things for a reason, and the most predominant of these is to maintain safety and security, throughout all paradigms, from hut to empire. Those limits affect most of our actions, and one may take notice without great observational ability of those who are prone to hop the fence of decency. Without haste these rapscallions will gain a reputation in the tiniest fractal of society. For example, one must be utterly, completely, thoroughly, infinitely and irredeemably mad, foolish, rascally, idiotic, and dangerous to write, create, and most especially to love at will, all for the sake of invoking Deeper Meaning in the Universe.
Damn it, why aren't there more fools in the world?"
~Isadore M. Upinsky, "Sophism on a Tricycle and Other Paralogical Gyspy Fishmongering."
Yup, love you too.
There is a lot of debate and disagreement among scholars about the exact origins of Valentine's Day, and this is the sort of thing where we'll probably never be able to disentangle all of the cultural and religious threads in order to reconstruct a complete and coherent story. The origins of Valentine's Day simply lie too far in the past to be sure about everything. Despite this, there are a number of speculations we can make which are reasonably sound.
Oh, and in honor of we lonely hearts, here's some Flash self-deprecation and angst with bunnies on this day of days.
weaving cosmic timelines
We've probably all heard about hyperspace by now, but what about hyper-time? Is there such a thing? Well, most likely. Each bubble universe by definition has its own space-time continuum, and so it would only make sense that other bubble universes have their own space-time continuums. Since they have their own self-contained space-times, why then would these timelines synchronize with ours? Logically, since they are separate, they wouldn't. Which means each timeline operates independently of our own. Although in a way it's a meaningless statement, while millions of years passed there, no time at all would pass here. The same could be true from their perspective. It's possible, as hard as it might be to imagine, universes with 3 time dimensions and 6 spatial ones. Better still, why not universes without space and time at all, but something altogether different and more extraordinary? Why not intelligences from realms where time and space would be completely alien to them, even restrictive from their perspective?
We exist and perceive our universe within certain boundary conditions. However, we have also noticed that if you change our perspective those boundary conditions can be broken or transcended. For example the universe has become a lot larger over the last century as our technologies have improved to probe it. Now we can send probes out of earth atmosphere, and in turn have greatly expanded our ability to understand and perceive the universe.
what's autism like?
Daniel Tammet is calculating 377 multiplied by 795. Actually, he isn't "calculating": there is nothing conscious about what he is doing. He arrives at the answer instantly. Since his epileptic fit, he has been able to see numbers as shapes, colours and textures. The number two, for instance, is a motion, and five is a clap of thunder. "When I multiply numbers together, I see two shapes. The image starts to change and evolve, and a third shape emerges. That's the answer. It's mental imagery. It's like maths without having to think."
Tammet is a "savant", an individual with an astonishing, extraordinary mental ability. An estimated 10% of the autistic population - and an estimated 1% of the non-autistic population - have savant abilities, but no one knows exactly why. A number of scientists now hope that Tammet might help us to understand better. Professor Allan Snyder, from the Centre for the Mind at the Australian National University in Canberra, explains why Tammet is of particular, and international, scientific interest. "Savants can't usually tell us how they do what they do," says Snyder. "It just comes to them. Daniel can. He describes what he sees in his head. That's why he's exciting. He could be the Rosetta Stone."
Through the Gates of Heaven
the wisdom of a crazed monk
Ikkyu celebrated the joy in human love, and within sexuality there lies a profound sacred practice, similar to Tantric Buddhism. He infused Zen for the first time with a feminine element that had long been missing. When Ikkyu was about 80 years old that he was asked to be the abbot of Daitokoji, which is one the great temples in Japan. At that time it was completely in ruin from a civil war, so it was an extraordinary thing to do at 80 years old, to rebuild Daitokoji: which he did. He had an extraordinary enlightened mind.
very deep life
Tiny single-celled creatures, many of them previously unknown to science, have been found at the deepest point in the world's oceans, almost 11km down. The soft-walled foraminifera, a form of plankton, were recovered by the Japanese remote submersible Kaiko... The organisms have become adapted to the crushing pressures that exist in a location of the Marianas Trench known as Challenger Deep.
there is no lonliness...
Who has time for regrets, it's already tomorrow...
Slough off the wintry recusal of pleasure,
A block and a half down the road there's dancing,
Imagine the orchestra of heartbeats inside,
Tonight, withdrawn from that holy press of flesh.
Hunger for the communion of beautiful people
From so far away it seems, a glass is raised to honor those in love,
There is no true lonliness,
Persistence is the finest romance.
How To Talk When You Can't Speak
This week, Neurology published an unsettling study of two brain-damaged men who are "minimally conscious"‚ÄĒable to breathe on their own but otherwise generally unresponsive. When neuroscientists scanned the patients' brains as they played audiotapes of loved ones, the activity was strikingly normal. The visual cortex of one of the men even lit up in a way that suggested he was visualizing the stories that his relatives told. One of the researchers told the New York Times that they've repeated the experiment on seven more patients and found the same results.
If the study holds water, we may need to rethink how we treat the estimated 300,000 Americans who are regarded as unreachable.
old question, new question
Physics tells us that the ‚Äúout there‚ÄĚ is an interference pattern of quantum magnetic fields. Our individual interfaces give it form, solidity, and meaning. Our human sensory apparatus, constructed from shared genetics, provides us all with a roughly equivalent representation of the interference pattern ‚Äúout there". We all see the sun and the moon and buildings and cats, but cultural and psychological factors layer associative relationships on top of the shared forms. My sun is paternal and reminds me of desert sand and circling hawks. Another‚Äôs sun might be harsh and dessicating, inspiring melanoma. The interface becomes personalized. The reality we rely on is an exposure on the neurocortex painted by associative emotional complexes.
random number prognostication?
Deep in the basement of a dusty university library in Edinburgh lies a small black box, roughly the size of two cigarette packets side by side, that churns out random numbers in an endless stream. At first glance it is an unremarkable piece of equipment. Encased in metal, it contains at its heart a microchip no more complex than the ones found in modern pocket calculators.
But, according to a growing band of top scientists, this box has quite extraordinary powers. It is, they claim, the 'eye' of a machine that appears capable of peering into the future and predicting major world events. The machine apparently sensed the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre four hours before they happened - but in the fevered mood of conspiracy theories of the time, the claims were swiftly knocked back by sceptics. But last December, it also appeared to forewarn of the Asian tsunami just before the deep sea earthquake that precipitated the epic tragedy.
"The story has wound on
The song was pure Grateful Dead style, and the ancient-Chinese-pleasure-god-channeled-Garcia and Bob Weir were belting out the vocals. This trend is getting bizarre.
a new place at the table?
NOTE: The site has exceeded its bandwidth so here's a link to the Google cache, which is far less exciting, I'm afraid.
Upon inspection of the image area detailed in (figure 2), it was determined that an outline figure existed between the figures of St John and Christ, the figure being apparently smaller than that of others within the image. The standing figure is apparent facing Christ, with head and torso visible directly in front of the darker area of the pillar. Additionally, the figure appears to have two arms, the left being raised, the right lower, the forearms extending into the lighter area of the pillar to the right. Although no right hand is apparent, lightness of the area of Christ's robe at the point at which the hand would extend from the figure's right arm suggests that the right hand may, originally, have been touching the robe at this point.
How many generations of mushrooms can you create with varying the planting of your spores? Additionally, here's a page of a man who replaces everyday objects with mushrooms.
living cells from scratch
Using a simple experiment, they now demonstrate that one of the key steps‚ÄĒcreating a simple growing cell by tucking self-reproducing molecules into a membrane‚ÄĒmay be startlingly simple.
The new research rebuts the widespread belief that cells have to evolve elaborate molecular machinery to enable them to grow, one of the basic characteristics of living things. Szostak and his colleagues started with chemicals thought to have been common on early Earth: nucleic acids (the building blocks of DNA) and fatty acids. One interesting property of fatty acids is that they spontaneously form bubbles, or vesicles, that allow water molecules to pass back and forth but trap larger molecules. In the Harvard experiment, vesicles that contained relatively high concentrations of nucleic acids expanded like balloons, while nucleic acid-poor vesicles shrank. The growing vesicles cannibalized fatty acids from the shrinking ones, so they were able to keep growing without popping.
We are the final frontier
Humans have always thought of themselves as special, and with good reason. As far as we know, we are alone in the universe in churning out great works of art and literature, in formulating the laws of physics, and in creating the spectacle that is morris dancing.
But our view of ourselves as the pinnacle of life has suffered huge blows at the hands of science. Every now and again comes an idea so revolutionary that it rocks the foundations on which our hubris is built.
It is a terrible thing that science has grown so distant from the rest of our intellectual life, for it did not start out that way. The writings of Aristotle, for example, despite their notorious inaccuracies, are beautifully clear, purposeful, and accessible. So is Darwin's Origin of Species. The opacity of modern science is an unfortunate side effect of professionalism, and something for which we scientists are often pilloried -- and deservedly so. Everyone gets wicked pleasure from snapping on the radio on the drive home from work to hear Doctor Science give ludicrous answers to phone-in questions such as why cows stand in the same direction while grazing (they must face Wisconsin several times a day) and then finish up with, "And remember: I know more than you. I have a master's degree in science." On another occasion my father-in-law remarked that economics had been terrific until they made it into a science. He had a point.
The conversation about physical law started me thinking about what science had to say about the obviously very unscientific chicken-and-egg problem of laws, organizations of laws, and laws from organization. I began to appreciate that many people had strong views on this subject, but could not articulate why they held them. The matter had come to a head recently when I realized I was having the same conversation over and over again with colleagues about Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe (W.W. Norton, 1999), a popular book about string theory -- a set of speculative ideas about the quantum mechanics of space. The conversation focused on the question of whether physics was a logical creation of the mind or a synthesis built on observation.
An interview with the man who reformulated science
My ambition was not to create a new field, but I would have welcomed a permanent group of people having interests close to mine and therefore breaking the disastrous tendency towards increasingly well-defined fields. Unfortunately, I failed on this essential point, very badly. Order doesn't come by itself. In my youth I was a student at Caltech while molecular biology was being created by Max Delbr√ľck, so I saw what it means to create a new field. But my work did not give rise to anything like that. One reason is my personality ‚ÄĒ I don't seek power and do not run around. A second is circumstances ‚ÄĒ I was in an industrial laboratory because academia found me unsuitable. Besides, creating close organized links between activities which otherwise are very separate might have been beyond any single person's ability.
one year after the winter of love
The Democrat who allowed nearly 4,000 gay couples to tie the knot one year ago in defiance of California law is marking the anniversary by holding a reception for them at City Hall this weekend, by making it clear he has no regrets, and by criticizing his own party as too timid. "I can't stand my party right now," he said Tuesday in an address at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. "Is it political expediency? Is it accommodation that we're after? Or is it about standing up on principles and values?"
variations on a theme
"That is SO gay!" I've been thinking about that expression a lot lately. What does it mean? I'm hearing it from kids, on television, and even around my office. Did the expression trickle up from the middle schools? Is it a playground epithet that is simply in vogue with the grown-ups? Or is it a sign that gay culture is so integrated into the pop culture that even the hets now see the evidence of homo-style in their everyday lives, and make jokes about it? And IF gay culture is being mainstreamed to this degree, what does that mean to us? I put a call out to some fellow bloggers and asked them this: "What is the GAYEST thing you've EVER done?" The answers I received were at once predictable and surprising. There were mentions of doing drag, of course. And of pervy, slutty sex...of course. As for the other things...well, they're all listed below. You will love it. Feel free to let us know who YOU think is the MOST gay of the gay. Or contribute your own extra faggy moment in gayness.
Matisyahu: Hasidic Reggae Superstar
A person who was once skeptical of authority and rules, Matisyahu began to explore and eventually fully take on the Lubavitch Hasidic lifestyle. He thrived on the discipline and structure of Judaism, making every attempt to abide by Jewish Law. The Chabad-Lubavitch philosophy proved to be a powerful guide for Matisyahu. It surrounded him with the spiritual dialogue and intellectual challenge he had been seeking for the past decade. The turmoil and frustration of his search subsided, and now, 2 years later, Matisyahu lives in Crown Heights, splitting his time between the stage and his yeshiva.
See a short QT documentary here.
dolphin's toy vortices
The young dolphin gives a quick flip of her head, and an undulating silver ring appears--as if by magic--in front of her. The ring is a solid, toroidal bubble two feet across--and yet it does not rise to the surface! It stands erect in the water like the rim of a magic mirror, or the doorway to an unseen dimension. For long seconds the dolphin regards its creation, from varying aspects and angles, with its vision and sonar. Seemingly making a judgement, the dolphin then quickly pulls a small silver donut from the larger structure, which collapses into small bubbles. She then "pushes" the donut, which stays just inches ahead of her rostrum, perhaps 20 feet over a period of up to 10 seconds. Then, stopping again, she regards the twisting ring for a last time and bites it--causing it to collapse into a thousand tiny bubbles which head--as they should--for the water's surface. After a few moments of reflection, she creates another.
gettin' jiggy pre-79 a.d.
The frescoes with their scenes of explicit sex are expected to resurrect the debate over "scandalous" Roman art that raged last year when curators unveiled a collection of ancient erotica that had been kept under lock and key for two centuries. In that exhibition, more than 300 artefacts unearthed from Pompeii, Herculaneum and other ancient Roman towns outraged the Roman Catholic Church.
With steamy ancient pics!
art and history through fabric scraps
Gee's Bend is a small rural community nestled into a curve in the Alabama River southwest of Selma, Alabama. Founded in antebellum times, it was the site of cotton plantations, primarily the lands of Joseph Gee and his relative Mark Pettway, who bought the Gee estate in 1850. After the Civil War, the freed slaves took the name Pettway, became tenant farmers for the Pettway family, and founded an all-black community nearly isolated from the surrounding world. During the Great Depression, the federal government stepped in to purchase land and homes for the community, bringing strange renown - as an "Alabama Africa" - to this sleepy hamlet
bill moyers on apocalypticism
Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a worldview despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. When ideology and theology couple, their offspring are not always bad but they are always blind. And there is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts.
Ten Underreported humanitarian crises
the american devolution
For the conservative forces engaged in the struggle for America's soul, the true battleground is public education, the laboratory of the next generation, and an opportunity for the religious right to effect lasting change on popular culture. Officially, the teaching of creationism has been outlawed since 1987 when the supreme court ruled that the inclusion of religious material in science classes in public teaching was unconstitutional. In recent years, however, opponents of evolution have regrouped, challenging science education with the doctrine of "intelligent design" which has been carefully stripped of all references to God and religion. Unlike traditional creationism, which posits that God created the earth in six days, proponents of intelligent design assert that the workings of this planet are too complex to be ascribed to evolution. There must have been a designer working to a plan - that is, a creator.
Has this country become so small that there is no longer room for independent thought? Must we stunt the analytical minds of children for the zealotry of the parents?
Counterculture, Commodification, and Social Change
RU: Human beings, even outside Kansas, define themselves by more than their economic interests. I could take you to a "Rainbow Gathering" where aging "hippies" who have spent their entire lives as poor as Wal Mart workers feel pretty good about their experiences (albeit they're still politically pissed off.) Even the poorest people in the world value ceremonies and other forms of shared cultural expression; they're passionate about music and maybe art; they care deeply about religious or spiritual matters; they have taboos and various levels of liberality or conservatism around sexuality; they like to be entertained, ad infinitum.
TF: There are countless examples through history of people overlooking their economic interests in favor of cultural/religious/ values factors. The present is one of them. The reason I emphasized this point so much... is, first of all, because almost nobody talks about right-wing politics in this way anymore. The problem in America is not that we have an excess of Marxists or Chicago-schoolers or anybody else ramming economics down our throat and forcing us to be rational economic choosers; it's just the opposite. In our culture, economic interests are not believed to be primary; the first thing you are supposed to care about is how flash you look in your new convertible or with that bag of xtreme corn chips in your hand.
hanuman makes life interesting
Delhi suffers from a serious monkey menace, with scores of animals seen across the city, particularly near top government offices. The monkeys who have moved into residential areas and official enclaves due to Delhi's shrinking forests, are said to have become a 'security threat'. Last year, the ministry of defence found some of its top secret documents scattered all over the place one morning.
cultural destuction for cheap
On a planet crowded with six billion people, isolated primitive cultures are getting pushed to the brink of extinction. Against this backdrop, a new form of adventure travel has raised an unsettling question: Would you pay to see tribes who have never laid eyes on an outsider? ...
When I originally heard about First Contact, a trip offered by Woolford's trekking company, Papua Adventures, I couldn't believe he was really doing what he claimed to be doing. An easygoing American expat from Springfield, Missouri, who jokingly describes himself as a "hillbilly," Woolford marches into the jungle in search of uncontacted native tribes who have never seen outsiders‚ÄĒand who aren't supposed to mind tourists barging into their lives. I had trouble buying the idea that, in the 21st century, there were still nomadic hunter-gatherers out there using stone tools and rubbing sticks together to start a fire. But there are, Woolford assured me. From his home in Ubud, Bali, he explained the strategy behind his First Contact trips.
When the temperature soars, coral reefs might cool off by creating their own clouds. Research from the Great Barrier Reef off the Australian coast shows that corals are packed full of the chemical dimethyl sulphide, or DMS. When released into the atmosphere, DMS helps clouds to form, which could have a large impact on the local climate.
In the air, DMS is transformed into an aerosol of tiny particles on which water vapour can condense to form clouds. This sulphur compound is also produced in large amounts by marine algae and gives the ocean its distinctive smell. Algae play a vital part in regulating Earth's climate, but no one had looked at whether coral reefs might have a similar role.
star nosed food eater
A study published this week in the journal Nature reveals that this mysterious mole has moves that can put the best magician to shame: The energetic burrower can detect small prey animals and gulp them down with a speed that is literally too fast for the human eye to follow. It takes a car driver about 650 milliseconds to hit the brake after seeing the traffic light ahead turn red. The star-nosed mole, operating in the Stygian darkness of its burrow, can detect the presence of a tasty tidbit, such as an insect larva or tiny worm, determine that it is edible and gulp it down in half that time.
Around 5pm, I got incredibly tired and decided to nap for an hour or two. Lo, it's almost 1am, and that's 8 slept-through hours already. My time feels quite distored, and the stars are brighter tonight than I ever saw them.
"There's whole worlds going through my mind tonight,
The song is incredible, and it's on repeat in my head tonight. Where do these things come from?
The scene cuts to a strange assembly of robed figues, I think they are personifications of the elements, or gods. They are asking just the same question of one man in a dark cloak. He pulls back his hood to reveal a bitter and weathered face with a long beard, and he says in madness that he was spurned, that his unrequited love did him injustice, and he wanted his anger "to be felt throughout the entire Universe, that only one atom would remain unshaken."
Closeup on that atom.
So intense, vivid, and as if from another mind entirely, I have to repeat the question (perhaps to those bright stars), where do these dreams come from? The song, especially, it's so musically perfect, but I know nothing about how to compose music. Yet it's in key, and the singer of that song has a familiar yet powerful voice.
"A living hall of people?"
UPDATE: From the second half of sleep... Two brothers decide to travel the world. Both will travel in spirals across the sphere; one will travel vertically, the other horizontally, until they meet at some intersection somewhere.
Arthur C. Clarke on the post-tsunami world
The New Year dawned with the global family closely following the unfolding tragedy via satellite television and the Web. I was... reminded of what Bernard Kouchner, former health minister of France and first UN governor of Kosovo, (who) once said: "Where there is no camera, there is no humanitarian intervention." Indeed, how many of the millions of men and women who donated generously for disaster relief would have done so if they had only read about it in the newspapers? But cameras and other communications media have to do more than just document the devastation and mobilize emergency relief. We need to move beyond body counts and aid appeals to find lasting, meaningful ways of supporting Asia's recovery.
The Ecotheology of Annie Dillard
The point of the dragonfly's terrible lip, the giant water bug, birdsong, or the beautiful dazzle and flash of sunlighted minnows, is not that it all fits together like clockwork- for it doesn't particularly, not even inside the goldfish bowl- but that it all flows so freely wild, like the creek, that it surges in such a free, fringed tangle. Freedom is the world's water and weather, the world's nourishment freely given, its soil and sap ....
another silly poem
God bless Billie Holliday
God bless the old Gods,
God bless the near-empty jug of wine
God bless that comet I can't seem to find
God bless sarcasm, irony, doubt and wit;
God bless late night silly poem writing,
Our dream is to return
joy of joys!
Finally, the database corruption has been defeated and bird on the moon rises again, albeit with patience and care. I've increased security big-time, not catching some previous vulnerabilities (I ain't tellin' what they were). Please report any bugs you see, and I'll know you'll see a few. I'm about 10% on correcting an import glitch on my entries: MT automatically added titles to untitled posts. That's going to be a long, boring fix.
Flightpath and Wingspan are online, but not yet functional... I'll be bringing them into the new install tomorrow. Unfortunately, I accidently hit delete in my FTP client and lost all the files in my index directory named A through M. Luckily, I had a backup of all my directories on disk, but it was a few months old. I figured everything out the best I could.
It's been a fun learning experience in database integration and repair, and in file importing. Thank the great gods of SixApart for that feature. I especially have to thank Anil Dash: he helped get the ball rolling on the tech support side. I'd like to thank Ursula for not sitting on the keyboard.
If you're intrigued in what I blogged in the interrim, go here for my "emergency" blogger page. That helped a tish with the post-withdrawl shakes. Bear with any strange server responses, still gotta stabilize this puppy, but it's good to be back!
This is a test post. Is this thing on?
Brian Swimme: Comprehensive Compassion
For mathematical cosmologist Brian Swimme, the universe is a continuous, radiant, numinous revelation...
These are the ways in which I think we will be moving. How do you organize your technology so that as you use the technology, the actual use of it enhances the community? That's a tough one. So long as we have this worldview in which the earth itself is just stuff, empty material, and the individual is most important, then we're set up to just use it in any way we like. So the idea is to move from thinking of the earth as a storehouse to seeing the earth as our matrix, our fundamental community. That's one of the great things about Darwin. Darwin shows us that everything is kin. Talk about spiritual insight! Everything is kin at the level of genetic relatedness. Another simple way of saying this is: Let's build a civilization that is based upon the reality of our relationships. If we think of the human as being the top of this huge pyramid, then everything beneath us is of no value, and we can use it however we want. In the past, it wasn't noticed so much because our influence was smaller. But now, we've become a planetary power. And suddenly the defects of that attitude are made present to us through the consequences of our actions.
Ethiopian royals paid tribute to late reggae icon Bob Marley at his 60th anniversary celebrations for championing their cause long after the ouster of Emperor Haile Selassie ended centuries of imperial rule... "Marley struggled in favor of history in defending Emperor Haile Selassie even in the dark days when it was almost considered as a subversive act to utter the name Selassie I," said Prince Beedemariam Mekonnen, the emperor's grandson. "It is only a matter of justice that Marley, who defended him vengefully, would be celebrated today in Ethiopia,"
Guess the dateline: United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in XXX's presidential election despite a XXX terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.
I'm taking a sick day so I can make soup, meditate, and breathe easy for a change. The past few weeks have been so hectic and packed with emotionally intense stimuli, a little gray-day downtime will be nice. We were supposed to get an icestorm, so I feel like the world may as well be iced over, keeping me indoors to re-center, re-ground and realize the direction I want to take through this merry-go-round of meteorlogical ephemera.
Consciousness: The Factory Of Illusions
The mystery is no longer in our surroundings: it is inside ourselves. What we still cannot explain is precisely that: "ourselves". We may have a clue to what generates reasoning, memory and learning. But we have no scientific evidence and no credible theory for the one thing that we really know very well: our consciousness, our awareness of being us, ourselves.
No scientific theory of the universe can be said complete if it doesn't explain consciousness. We may doubt the existence of black holes, the properties of quarks and even that the Earth is round, but there is no way we can doubt that we are conscious. Consciousness is actually the only thing we are sure of: we are sure that "we" exist, and "we" doesn't mean our bodies but our consciousness. Everything else could be an illusion, but consciousness is what allows us to even think that everything else could be an illusion. It is the one thing we cannot reject.
The Anatomy of a Magickal Human
If you stop and think about it for just a moment, and at some point most of us have, you will readily recognize that the old adage, "me, myself and I" really does apply. However, for most of us, we know and understand the individual aspects of our being about as well as we know our neighbors across the fence next door.
How do you know that you are not a brain in a vat? [via reality carnival]
While you were sleeping last night, an evil scientist sneaked into your room, anesthetized you, kidnapped you, and took you back to her laboratory. Once there, the scientist removed your brain, put it in a vat, and hooked it up to a sophisticated computer with a remarkable program that allows it to feed your nerve endings signals that duplicate the sensory impulses that usually inform your brain about what your body is doing and where you are.
happy birthday, birdonthemoon.com!
It was a mere two years ago when I made my first post here, using Greymatter and struggling with the coding. The switch to MT was a breeze, just after returning from Haiti in May '03. About a month ago I upgraded to MT 3.14, flawlessly.
It's been good times, folks, and thanks for the memories and the support. It will be interesting to see what life is like on the third birthday...
/blows out candles, makes wish.
Hiawatha, Synergic Pioneer
His conceptions were beyond his time, and beyond ours; but their effect, within a limited sphere, was very great. For more than three centuries the bond which he devised held together the Iroquois nations in perfect amity. It proved, moreover, as he intended, elastic. The territory of the Iroquois, constantly extending as their united strength made itself felt, became the ďGreat AsylumĒ of the Indian tribes. Of the conquered Eries and Hurons, many hundreds were received and adopted among their conquerors. The Tuscaroras, expelled by the English from North Carolina, took refuge with the Iroquois, and became the sixth nation of the League. From still further south, the Tuteloes and Saponies, of Dakota stock, after many wars with the Iroquois, fled to them from their other enemies, and found a cordial welcome. A chief still sits in the council as a representative of the Tuteloes, though the tribe itself has been swept away by disease, or absorbed in the larger nations. Many fragments of tribes of Algonquin lineageóDelawares, Nanticokes, Mohicans, Mississagasósought the same hospitable protection, which never failed them. Their descendants still reside on the Canadian Reservation, which may well be styled an aboriginal ďrefuge of nationsĒóaffording a striking evidence in our own day of the persistent force of a great idea, when embodied in practical shape by the energy of a master mind.
Revenge of the Right Brain: Logical and precise, left-brain thinking gave us the Information Age. Now comes the Conceptual Age - ruled by artistry, empathy, and emotion.
...Abundance has produced an ironic result. The Information Age has unleashed a prosperity that in turn places a premium on less rational sensibilities - beauty, spirituality, emotion. For companies and entrepreneurs, it's no longer enough to create a product, a service, or an experience that's reasonably priced and adequately functional. In an age of abundance, consumers demand something more...
Liberated by this prosperity but not fulfilled by it, more people are searching for meaning. From the mainstream embrace of such once-exotic practices as yoga and meditation to the rise of spirituality in the workplace to the influence of evangelism in pop culture and politics, the quest for meaning and purpose has become an integral part of everyday life. And that will only intensify as the first children of abundance, the baby boomers, realize that they have more of their lives behind them than ahead. In both business and personal life, now that our left-brain needs have largely been sated, our right-brain yearnings will demand to be fed.
The Center for Tactical Magic engages in extensive research, development, and deployment of the pragmatic system known as Tactical Magic. A fusion force summoned from the ways of the artist, the magician, the ninja, and the private investigator, Tactical Magic is an amalgam of disparate arts invoked for the purpose of actively addressing Power on individual, communal, and transnational fronts. At the CTM we are committed to achieving the Great Work of Tactical Magic through community-based projects, daily interdiction, and the activation of latent energies toward positive social transformation.
Esref Armagan was born both unsighted and to an impoverished family. As a child and young adult he never received any formal schooling or training; however, he has taught himself to write and print. He draws and paints by using his hands and primarily oil paints. In this manner, Mr. Armagan has been perfecting his art for the past thirty-five years.
contained within this website, excluding external links and items listed
are Copyright 2005 by theodore "jay" joslin and joyous jostling studios. Thank you, Wanderer, for All.
i am jay joslin: a spirit-fed mountain hopping lover of everything, an ordained lefty-veggie-homo, and bon-vivant go-go dancing with all the messenger mockingbirds of morning.
Progressive Voice of the Mountains
Free Radio Asheville
Eclectic Music for Mountain Folks
(see rights notice at bottom)
Keep it even,
"Not all who wander
You contain everything
Everything contains you
If you desire the Infinite,
look no further than the window.
Ten Considerations for Being Well n this Goofy Universe
0. If you find yourself
wonderstruck, donít forget to return the favor. 1. Always be of service to
the whole and the Holy. Youíll find that the Holy will reciprocate by being
of service to your becoming Whole. 2. You will be called upon
to use your mind and your vision in ways I cannot possibly glimpse. Never
turn down an offer to shine that light so uniquely yours to help others in
their darkness, and youíll find that when itís your turn to be in the night
that thereíll be someone along the way who happens to have a little glow to
share . 3. The rewards of being
true to yourself are infinite, even when outwardly your efforts are met
with nothing. 4. Youíll also see that
knowledge and wisdom will come from within yourself through your own
struggle and curiosity... your loved ones may guide you to insight, but
yours is the power to choose it. 5. Youíll find that some of
your choices couldíve been better, or at times were downright stupid. Thatís
okay... I have a closet full of reckless decisions, but without making them
I wouldnít have the slightest idea of what a good one might feel like if I
tried it on. 6. Your growth will be a
mysterious, comic, ecstatic and sometimes scary ride, and I pray that you
strive to savor each minute of it, even the most difficult or embarrassing
minutes. Donít count on second chances. 7. In those times when
everything collapses around you, and whatís left wonít go right, donít
forget your chances of being alive in this solar system, in this galaxy, are
a little on the slim side. So slim in fact that it could be called a miracle
to breathe this air, drink this water, and have whet ever predicament youíre
having no matter how you shake, rattle and roll it. So go with the cosmic
flow and always choose something over nothing, while remembering that
thereís a little of each one hidden in both. 8. Respond as best as you
can with love to adversity rather than reacting with fear... Love, in any
situation and being the primordial source and essence of ALL THIS STUFF,
leaves / enters us with the most possible ways out / in. 9. Whatever youíre doing,
celebrate the process of doing as much, if not more, than what youíve got
when youíre done. Magic lives in the action. 9 Ĺ . All matter is energy.
All energy is infinite. We are but raindrops falling to the ocean, a short
time in this shape until weíre reunited with the expanse from which we came.
Your delicate yet sturdy, resilient body is a temporary shelter of energy
that has swam the universe eternally and will continue eternally. You are a
sudden crystallization of the infinite. One must ask themself, therefore,
why be bored? 9 3/4 . Choosing to live in
the moment is courageous but becomes effortless once you begin...feeling
obligated to survive in the past or future is dangerous and is difficult to
continue. Itís one of the few risks Iíd recommend not taking, right up there
with trusting icons and shrugging off coincidences. 10. The Universe itself it
not confusing, we humans just like it that way. Do frogs seem bewildered ,
butterflies befuddled and amoebas addled? Nope, just us, my child. So,
whenever things just donít make sense, just take a deep breath and laugh as
best you can, because thatís what you get for choosing this goofy,
unpredictable place called Earth to embody yourself upon.
0. If you find yourself wonderstruck, donít forget to return the favor.
1. Always be of service to the whole and the Holy. Youíll find that the Holy will reciprocate by being of service to your becoming Whole.
2. You will be called upon to use your mind and your vision in ways I cannot possibly glimpse. Never turn down an offer to shine that light so uniquely yours to help others in their darkness, and youíll find that when itís your turn to be in the night that thereíll be someone along the way who happens to have a little glow to share .
3. The rewards of being true to yourself are infinite, even when outwardly your efforts are met with nothing.
4. Youíll also see that knowledge and wisdom will come from within yourself through your own struggle and curiosity... your loved ones may guide you to insight, but yours is the power to choose it.
5. Youíll find that some of your choices couldíve been better, or at times were downright stupid. Thatís okay... I have a closet full of reckless decisions, but without making them I wouldnít have the slightest idea of what a good one might feel like if I tried it on.
6. Your growth will be a mysterious, comic, ecstatic and sometimes scary ride, and I pray that you strive to savor each minute of it, even the most difficult or embarrassing minutes. Donít count on second chances.
7. In those times when everything collapses around you, and whatís left wonít go right, donít forget your chances of being alive in this solar system, in this galaxy, are a little on the slim side. So slim in fact that it could be called a miracle to breathe this air, drink this water, and have whet ever predicament youíre having no matter how you shake, rattle and roll it. So go with the cosmic flow and always choose something over nothing, while remembering that thereís a little of each one hidden in both.
8. Respond as best as you can with love to adversity rather than reacting with fear... Love, in any situation and being the primordial source and essence of ALL THIS STUFF, leaves / enters us with the most possible ways out / in.
9. Whatever youíre doing, celebrate the process of doing as much, if not more, than what youíve got when youíre done. Magic lives in the action.
9 Ĺ . All matter is energy. All energy is infinite. We are but raindrops falling to the ocean, a short time in this shape until weíre reunited with the expanse from which we came. Your delicate yet sturdy, resilient body is a temporary shelter of energy that has swam the universe eternally and will continue eternally. You are a sudden crystallization of the infinite. One must ask themself, therefore, why be bored?
9 3/4 . Choosing to live in the moment is courageous but becomes effortless once you begin...feeling obligated to survive in the past or future is dangerous and is difficult to continue. Itís one of the few risks Iíd recommend not taking, right up there with trusting icons and shrugging off coincidences.
10. The Universe itself it not confusing, we humans just like it that way. Do frogs seem bewildered , butterflies befuddled and amoebas addled? Nope, just us, my child. So, whenever things just donít make sense, just take a deep breath and laugh as best you can, because thatís what you get for choosing this goofy, unpredictable place called Earth to embody yourself upon.