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
You rush headlong into it
Youíre weary from the road;
With a flick of an old and arthritic wrist
The shelter to which you have temporarily moored
We come out of the world, emerging from it like springís first delicate butterfly,
You came from that deeply impossible to express light.
You carefully mind the turn in the highway,
Happy New Year.
Returning to the return
It's taken a little bit of rest and, frankly, doing next to nothing to refreshen my spirit and to prepare for this next week of transition. I had my big job interview on Wednesday, and I'll hear back next week. I'm very hopeful, yet cautious... I'm not conditioned to doing group interviews, and being in a monkey suit, no less. I do have another job offer which would seriously suck financially (I'd have to get a third job), but it would be that all important something. I can see that unemployed life would get very boring very fast, so I'm motivated either way.
I've got a lot to do over the next few days, so I don't expect blogging to come on full until next week. I have been doing a bit more of the personally relevatory blogging on metachat.org. I did take time to redesign my gateway site (an hour) and now have to plough through a big paper for school and I've got a major poem to deliver on Sunday... so I ought to get around to writing it. Heck, I do well under deadline pressure.
I've got to get back to focused activity now (damn it), and tomorrow will post my year-end wrap up. I'm feeling really over 2005, neat as that number may be, and as arbitrary as it all really is.
This could be your next tattoo. I'm testing some moblogging features, bear with me.
Moblogging is posting from a cellphone or other wireless device- if a picture, it's taken from the phone.
Gibran: Your thought and mine
Your thought is a tree rooted deep in the soil of tradition and whose branches grow in the power of continuity. My thought is a cloud moving in the space. It turns into drops which, as they fall, form a brook that sings its way into the sea. Then it rises as vapour into the sky. Your thought is a fortress that neither gale nor the lightning can shake. My thought is a tender leaf that sways in every direction and finds pleasure in its swaying. Your thought is an ancient dogma that cannot change you nor can you change it. My thought is new, and it tests me and I test it morn and eve.
You have your thought and I have mine.
Your thought allows you to believe in the unequal contest of the strong against the weak, and in the tricking of the simple by the subtle ones. My thought creates in me the desire to till the earth with my hoe, and harvest the crops with my sickle, and build my home with stones and mortar, and weave my raiment with woollen and linen threads. Your thought urges you to marry wealth and notability. Mine commends self-reliance. Your thought advocates fame and show. Mine counsels me and implores me to cast aside notoriety and treat it like a grain of sand cast upon the shore of eternity. Your thought instils in your heart arrogance and superiority. Mine plants within me love for peace and the desire for independence. Your thought begets dreams of palaces with furniture of sandalwood studded with jewels, and beds made of twisted silk threads. My thought speaks softly in my ears, ďBe clean in body and spirit even if you have nowhere to lay your head.Ē Your thought makes you aspire to titles and offices. Mine exhorts me to humble service.
You have your thought and I have mine...
I'm a bit overwhelmed by catching up at the moment, but I'm home and very glad to be. I'll debrief soon. Meanwhile, I've got a few pics (mostly abstracty-arty) from the trip up at my Flickr photostream.
Heading home- mile 169 of 590
all done in delaware
Helluva day- did the wedding, lotsa driving, exhausted. Laptop still down. Ready to drive home in the morning. Will check in from the road.
Looks like my laptop's HD is haxx0red, so all updates will be by phone, and i'm a slow txter. If you're familiar w/ this kinda error, plz leave a comment. Hope all is well out there!
I got in to Delaware late last night; 574 miles in 8 hours, 43 minutes, which is four minutes shy of the record. I obviously take the drive rather seriously. Traffic was thick most of the way, with plenty of speed traps. I listened to a music mix that I'd randomly cobbled before I left (no time to score a book on cd), and I've got to say it was fabulous.
I met up with old friends last night and indulged a wee bit too much, so today is kinda sleepy/swimmy. I'm at my father's right now on some unprotected wifi net and driving into town I saw a lady walking down the highway covered head to toe in plastic wrap. I'm unsure if she was making some kind of statement intentionally or not. My father is out right now, and his mangy cat is chewing on my head; I really think this cat is a chimera... she's just too much cat.
I really haven't had time to put on my mystic hat here yet, but certain regions of the brain long since inactive are beginning to awaken- names, faces, long forgotten scenarios, ghosts of memory on nearly every street.
Today, I'll see my mother too, and my cousin to plan for her wedding. I'll file another report once the stimulus overbrims, which won't be long.
593 miles, give or take
I'm within about 20 minutes of making the annual 9-hourish drive to northern Delaware. It's a beautiful day for driving, and I actually enjoy the time alone for reflection, and the zen of watching the world buzz by.
I return next week, and I'll try to post daily when I'm back. I've got my first job interview, one which I'm very excited for, yet I refuse to jinx by talking about what it is. I'm just hopeful, and hope, right now, is the mere foundation for thrusting my life deep into the land of transition. Such a strange and misty place, I go there with my lantern bright and my head high.
Anyway, everyone take care, travel safely, and may we all unite in the accord that all days, minutes, and seconds are holy; let us revel in creation together with the abandon of fools, and the wisdom of ages.
Accelerating toward a journey
I'm in the midst of getting ready for the annual crawl to Delaware to visit family (and this time, to perform my cousin's wedding), so posting will now be somewhat scattered until next week. I'll check in whenever I get WiFi, and if need be, I'll post from my phone. The pace of my trip will be rather breakneck, with lots of ground to cover, limited resources, and the usual hesitation to plod about too much on my old metaphorical gameboards.
This trip comes at a time of great personal transition, as I move from one job to another as yet unfound vocation, and with great concern over financial viability. Yet, in speaking with one of Asheville's great poets last night, even if this process reduces me to trolldom under bridges, I'll still have the big blue sky.
As a result of the challenge of transition, I've been a bit moody and inconsistent, though these are kinda givens, given the weight of the flux. As a result of my sensitivities, there are ripples in the pond of my friendships, and all I can hope for is understanding and openness. I struggle at times with those who struggle with confronting feeling. My own dichotomies make me a person who sometimes acts on emotion over logic, and while I love logic, I don't do well when I am constrained by it. I simply hope that the right dose of reason infects me and the right dose of feeling makes similar vector with those I love.
Today, I unpack from the car the contents of my office and repack it with the vital contents of this home for the next few days, and of course, I'm not he only one. We're all in motion, somehow gravitating toward what we deem important. May these millions and millions of transits across the world and even down the street be safe, may happiness be your roadmap, and may we be guided ahead- in struggle and in contentment- by the values of friendship and family, because as far as we know, this is 'it' and so are they.
Shakespeare's smoke and mirrors tricks solved
“You notice at once that Macbeth is full of optical illusions — there are floating daggers, the ghost of Banquo, ghostly kings, and ghostly cauldrons. I thought, surely if that’s the case, Shakespeare is probably saying to himself, ‘What sort of special effects are available to make these more spectacular?’.”
This train of thought took Professor Wright to the library at the University of Cambridge where he picked up a copy of Euclid’s Geometry edited by John Dee. A contemporary of Shakespeare, Dee is now regarded as one of the fathers of the modern age because of his talent for what was then called natural magic – science. He was especially interested in how specially modified mirrors could create tricks of the light, making things appear as if by magic.
Professor Wright argues that Shakespeare would undoubtedly have been aware of such tricks of the light when writing Macbeth, and may even have used a device like Dee’s to create the effect of a floating dagger. Similar optical effects might also have been deployed to create the many ghosts who pop up during the play.
The Icelandic Yule Cat
The oldest written sources on the Yule Cat are from the Nineteenth Century. These refer to the fact that those who do not get a new item of clothing for Yule are destined to become offerings for the Yule Cat. It may sound strange that the deprived ones will also become the sacrifices, but this tradition is based on the fact that every effort was made to finish all work with the Autumn wool before Yule. The reward for those who took part in the work was a new piece of clothing. Those who were lazy received nothing. Thus the Yule Cat was used as an incentive to get people to work harder.
A woman describes a scene from her youth in the last century thus: "We were lazy doing this chore. Then we were reminded of the Yule Cat. We thought that was some terrible beast and the last thing we wanted was to be one of his offers".
One of Iceland's most beloved poets in this century, Jůhannes ķr KŲtlum, wrote a lay about the Yule Cat. It follows in the translation of Vignir Jůnsson, who says: "You'll have to forgive me but I didn't make it rhyme - I'm not much of a poet."
The lore of Yule
"I do not know how the forty years I have been away have dealt with Jule-nissen, the Christmas elf of my childhood....He was pretty old then, gray and bent, and there were signs that his time was nearly over. When I was a boy we never sat down to our Christmas Eve dinner until a bowl of rice and milk had been taken to the attic, where he lived with the martin and its young, and kept an eye upon the house--saw that everything ran smoothly. I never met him myself, but I know the house cat must have done so. No doubt they were well acquainted, for when in the morning I went in for the bowl, there it was, quite dry and licked clean, and the cat purring in the corner.....the Nisse, or the leprecawn--call him what you like--was a friend indeed to those who loved kindness and peace."
Science of the Solstice
The Sun will always rise and set furthest to the south during the day of Winter Solstice, and furthest to the north during Summer Solstice. Today is Winter Solstice, the day of least sunlight in the Northern Hemisphere and of most sunlight in the Southern Hemisphere. In many countries, the Winter Solstice brings a change in season, as it is the first day of winter in the North. The solar heating and stored energy in the Earth's surface and atmosphere is near its lowest during winter, making it usually the coldest months of the year.
Science of the Solstice
The Sun will always rise and set furthest to the south during the day of Winter Solstice, and furthest to the north during Summer Solstice. Today is Winter Solstice, the day of least sunlight in the Northern Hemisphere and of most sunlight in the Southern Hemisphere. In many countries, the Winter Solstice brings a change in season, as it is the first day of winter in the North. The solar heating and stored energy in the Earth's surface and atmosphere is near its lowest during winter, making it usually the coldest months of the year.
Much as the northern wind beckons these skelatal trees
Much as the ice makes daunting the smallest of steps
Much as we curse the biting chill which teases our skin
Solstice whispers that there is hard work aread in knowing the soul.
We are not mere witnesses to the spectacle-
Turn down the heat: Inuit sue US over climate policy
People living in the Arctic have filed a legal petition against the US government, saying its climate change policies violate human rights. The Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC) claims the US is failing to control emissions of greenhouse gases, damaging livelihoods in the Arctic.
Its petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights demands that the US limits its emissions. Temperatures in the Arctic are rising at about twice the global average. The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, a vast scientific study which took four years to compile, found that the region will warm by four to seven degrees Celsius by the end of the century, with summer sea ice disappearing within 60 years.
Children Learn by Monkey See, Monkey Do. Chimps Don't.
Dr. Horner and Dr. Whiten described the way they showed young chimps how to retrieve food from a box.
The box was painted black and had a door on one side and a bolt running across the top. The food was hidden in a tube behind the door. When they showed the chimpanzees how to retrieve the food, the researchers added some unnecessary steps. Before they opened the door, they pulled back the bolt and tapped the top of the box with a stick. Only after they had pushed the bolt back in place did they finally open the door and fish out the food.
Because the chimps could not see inside, they could not tell that the extra steps were unnecessary. As a result, when the chimps were given the box, two-thirds faithfully imitated the scientists to retrieve the food.
The team then used a box with transparent walls and found a strikingly different result. Those chimps could see that the scientists were wasting their time sliding the bolt and tapping the top. None followed suit. They all went straight for the door.
The researchers turned to humans. They showed the transparent box to 16 children from a Scottish nursery school. After putting a sticker in the box, they showed the children how to retrieve it. They included the unnecessary bolt pulling and box tapping.
The scientists placed the sticker back in the box and left the room, telling the children that they could do whatever they thought necessary to retrieve it.
The children could see just as easily as the chimps that it was pointless to slide open the bolt or tap on top of the box. Yet 80 percent did so anyway. "It seemed so spectacular to me," Mr. Lyons said. "It suggested something remarkable was going on."
A humpback whale freed by divers from a tangle of crab trap lines near the Farallon Islands nudged its rescuers and flapped around in what marine experts said was a rare and remarkable encounter.
"It felt to me like it was thanking us, knowing that it was free and that we had helped it," James Moskito, one of the rescue divers, said Tuesday. "It stopped about a foot away from me, pushed me around a little bit and had some fun."
Toys, toys! First Mass Producible Quantum Computer Chip
Researchers at the University of Michigan have produced what is believed to be the first scalable quantum computer chip, which could mean big gains in the worldwide race to develop a quantum computer.
Using the same semiconductor fabrication technology that is used in everyday computer chips, researchers were able to trap a single atom within an integrated semiconductor chip and control it using electrical signals, said Christopher Monroe, U-M physics professor and the principal investigator and co-author of the paper, "Ion Trap in a Semiconductor Chip." The paper appeared in the Dec. 11 issue of Nature Physics.
Quantum computers are promising because they can solve certain problems much faster than any possible conventional computer, owing to the bizarre features of quantum mechanics. For instance, quantum computers can process multiple inputs at the same time in the same device, and quantum circuitry can be wired via the quantum feature of entanglement, dubbed by Einstein as "spooky action-at-a-distance."
Good behavior: I Broke the Law at Walden Pond--Twice
So I camped in the trees surrounding Walden Pond that night. Aware that I might be breaking some regulation, I snuck into the forest, the leaves rustling under my tires. I felt like one of Robin Hood’s band of merry men, gleefully trespassing in Sherwood Forest. I broke the law, crushed a few autumn leaves in the process, brought no harm to anyone, and left the next morning.
We break laws every day and neither the world nor our souls are worse for wear. Indeed, to be a law-abiding citizen often requires a citizen to either commit crimes ourselves or become silent accomplices to crimes committed by those we’ve foolishly empowered. The biggest lawbreakers are usually powerful state officials, those who formulate malignant laws that require others to perform felonious tasks and then penalize anyone who resists.
As Thoreau noted, in such cases: “I say, break the law.”
We are older than we think: Ancient civilization unearthed in Syria
An excavation project on the Syrian-Iraqi border has uncovered an ancient settlement wiped out by invaders 5,500 years ago.
Discovered in northeastern Syria, the ruined city of Hamoukar appears to have been a large city by 4,500 B.C., said archaeologists Clemens Reichel and Salam al-Quntar, who co-directed Syrian-American excavations on the site...
They said Hamoukar was a flourishing urban center at a time when cities were thought to be relegated hundreds of miles to the south.
The site is in the upper edges of the Tigris and Euphrates Valleys, near the Iraq border. Reichel said it may have been settled as long as 8,000 years ago.
Link upon link: Deconstructing the great chain being
Let me begin with a fact that has continued to surprise me for nearly twenty years. Many of the world’s great mystics, regardless of their cultural and intellectual traditions, have advocated versions of the Great Chain of Being. There are notable and important differences in the particular theories introduced, but the fact remains that the Great Chain provides the ontological foundation (or superstructure) for the great majority of mystics. Similarly, many theorists of the Great Chain of Being (if not all) explicitly articulate a commitment to the experiential reality and ontological significance of mystical experience. The connection between the Great Chain of Being and mysticism is indeed so pervasive and runs so deep that Huston Smith has suggested that these two positions are fundamentally identical.
You Are What You Think: How You Use Your Brain May Determine How Healthy or Unhealthy It Is
If we are what we eat, as the old saying goes, we may also be what we think. Or how we think, as well as how much we think. One treatment for some of our mental ills may well lie in the practice of meditation, an awareness of sensations, feelings and state of mind.
The latest evidence comes from an impressive group of researchers from some of the leading institutions in the world who have found that a serious effort at meditation can physically change the brain, leading to reduced stress, better mental focus, and possibly fewer effects from aging.
"The structure of the brain is very complex and it is constantly changing," says Sara Lazar, a psychiatrist and research scientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University. "It is well documented that around the age of 20 to 25 the whole front of the brain starts to get thinner with age, and other parts of the brain continue to grow, and all sorts of things are happening, all of the time."
Working the board tonight
It's concert season. I've done several shows and have a few more coming, which is good, because it's very predictable income. And, most of the time, really, really fun too.
Moblogging is posting from a cellphone or other wireless device- if a picture, it's taken from the phone.
That old curse again
"May you live in interesting times."
Yeah, got that. Check. Filed and considered.
I'm in those times, eyeball deep in them. My job ended a little sooner than I anticipated (I'd planned on leaving mid-January), with more than a little drama and some unplanned financial distress thrown in the mix. My last day is Monday, and this is in thanks to someone poking a stick in a hornet's nest without a hint of the potential implications for the agency, let alone jobs already at stake. What's been done can't be undone, and as my friend Jen says, I was given a push to get out of my comfort zone since I seemed to be getting too comfortable there. So be it.
This has resulted in a bit of a renewed depression thing, but I'm taking measures to endure what may be harder times ahead. The "holidays" exacerbate my already trigger-happy lows, and I'm looking for methods which eclipse simple self-preservation and bring me to renewal through the struggle. And while I'm not grovelling for anything, your thoughts are always appreciated.
Amid these pains, there have been the pleasures of watching the cats play, the mysteries of weather, and the hardening of the Earth in preparation for the dark, severe cold ahead. All these things are good, and are in good time. They assure me that I am indeed capable of feeling, and therefore that I live, despite the lack of pleasant stimuli in Reality. So, I know that I will and must persist, and that I will only grow while foraging uphill for my next bounty, or for a nook to shelter me as the storms of winter brew.
I know I'll make it, and I thank you, dear reader, for your patience and support.
Happy Friday: High Owl Hides Out In Christmas Tree
O RLY? YA RLY? NO WAI!
A bird with a buzz found in a Florida family's Christmas tree is getting ready to go back into the wild. The little screech owl was found in the tree, which the family had kept for five days before deciding to decorate it.
[more: "Just kind of laying there as happy as could be..."]
Shocked scientists find tsunami legacy: a dead sea
A "dead zone" devoid of life has been discovered at the epicentre of last year's tsunami four kilometres beneath the surface of the Indian Ocean. Scientists taking part in a worldwide marine survey made an 11-hour dive at the site five months after the disaster.
They were shocked to find no sign of life around the epicentre, which opened up a 1000-metre chasm on the ocean floor. Instead, there was nothing but eerie emptiness. The powerful lights of the scientists' submersible vehicle, piercing through the darkness, showed no trace of anything living.
A scientist working on the Census of Marine Life project, Ron O'Dor, of Dalhousie University in Canada, said: "You'd expect a site like this to be quickly recolonised, but that hasn't happened. It's unprecedented."
The Narwal: It's sensitive. Really.
Narwhal tusks, up to nine feet long, were sold as unicorn horns in ages past, often for many times their weight in gold since they were said to possess magic powers. In the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth received a tusk valued at £10,000 - the cost of a castle. Austrian lore holds that Kaiser Karl the Fifth paid off a large national debt with two tusks. In Vienna, the Hapsburgs had one made into a scepter heavy with diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds.
Scientists have long tried to explain why a stocky whale that lives in arctic waters, feeding on cod and other creatures that flourish amid the pack ice, should wield such a long tusk. The theories about how the narwhal uses the tusk have included breaking ice, spearing fish, piercing ships, transmitting sound, shedding excess body heat, poking the seabed for food, wooing females, defending baby narwhals and establishing dominance in social hierarchies.
But a team of scientists from Harvard and the National Institute of Standards and Technology has now made a startling discovery: the tusk, it turns out, forms a sensory organ of exceptional size and sensitivity, making the living appendage one of the planet's most remarkable, and one that in some ways outdoes its own mythology.
Deep Wonder: A Cosmic Season's Greetings
I remember it like it was yesterday: Speeding through the empty Texas prairie, Dec 26th, 1968 at 2 AM. I'm laying above and behind the back seats, my six-year old body easily stretched out on the old style rear console, staring up through the slanted glass of a Ford sedan at a crystal clear nightscape. The Milky Way spilled across the sky like powdered sugar. In a moment of pure Synchronicity the radio played a static filled, crackling Season's Greeting carried a quarter million miles on the gossamer wings of invisible light, conducted by bone to my inner ear via the speaker beneath my head, as I stared into the starry infinitude...
An incredible top-notch science post at Kos, wonderfully written by newcomer DarkSyde. Read it!
At a friend's funeral,
"You're the kind of person who will really enjoy this," Ina said.
Now, I have this looking glass,
Now, I have these seeds, these tufts of wishes,
As the mourners disperse, out into the cold,
Peru redux from out of the blue
This picture I took this May in Pisaq, Peru is being featured for the next month on the entry page of the United Nations Population Fund website. I'm really honored, especially by the mission of the organization.
Yesterday, we had a flurry of snow, and many of the flakes were in perfect, hexagonal "Star of David" shapes, and other beautiful geometries. I was told that such shapes often presage unusual weather.
It would seem, in my story anyway, there are all manner of odd fronts, queer winds and mysterious forecasts casting about. Synchronicities and niceties bandy for attention, whilst impending change is as real as the trees bending under the weight of today's ice. Certainly, we are always undergoing serious transformation, from a molecular level of up. And while I can't see what's going to change, I know it's coming.
May this sheen of glassy ice reflect and reveal what is to come.
Peekaboo: Is the Pentagon spying on Americans?
“It means that they’re actually collecting information about who’s at those protests, the descriptions of vehicles at those protests,” says Arkin. “On the domestic level, this is unprecedented,” he says. “I think it's the beginning of enormous problems and enormous mischief for the military.”
Some former senior DOD intelligence officials share his concern. George Lotz, a 30-year career DOD official and former U.S. Air Force colonel, held the post of Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Oversight from 1998 until his retirement last May. Lotz, who recently began a consulting business to help train and educate intelligence agencies and improve oversight of their collection process, believes some of the information the DOD has been collecting is not justified.
Itchy: How Safe Are Nanoparticles?
[R]elatively little is known about the potential health and environmental effects of the tiny particles -- just atoms wide and small enough to easily penetrate cells in lungs, brains and other organs.
While governments and businesses have begun pumping millions of dollars into researching such effects, scientists and others say nowhere near enough is being spent to determine whether nanomaterials pose a danger to human health.
Michael Crichton's bestselling book Prey paints a doomsday scenario in which a swarm of tiny nanomachines escapes the lab and threatens to overwhelm humanity. Scientists believe the potential threat from nanomaterials is more everyday than a sci-fi thriller, but no less serious.
Studies have shown that some of the most promising carbon nanoparticles -- including long, hollow nanotubes and sphere-shaped buckyballs -- can be toxic to animal cells. There are fears that exposure can cause breathing problems, as occurs with some other ultrafine particles, that nanoparticles could be inhaled through the nose, wreaking unknown havoc on brain cells, or that nanotubes placed on the skin could damage DNA.
Fuel's paradise? Power source that turns physics on its head
It seems too good to be true: a new source of near-limitless power that costs virtually nothing, uses tiny amounts of water as its fuel and produces next to no waste. If that does not sound radical enough, how about this: the principle behind the source turns modern physics on its head.
Randell Mills, a Harvard University medic who also studied electrical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, claims to have built a prototype power source that generates up to 1,000 times more heat than conventional fuel. Independent scientists claim to have verified the experiments and Dr Mills says that his company, Blacklight Power, has tens of millions of dollars in investment lined up to bring the idea to market. And he claims to be just months away from unveiling his creation.
The problem is that according to the rules of quantum mechanics, the physics that governs the behaviour of atoms, the idea is theoretically impossible. "Physicists are quite conservative. It's not easy to convince them to change a theory that is accepted for 50 to 60 years. I don't think [Mills's] theory should be supported," said Jan Naudts, a theoretical physicist at the University of Antwerp.
What has much of the physics world up in arms is Dr Mills's claim that he has produced a new form of hydrogen, the simplest of all the atoms, with just a single proton circled by one electron. In his "hydrino", the electron sits a little closer to the proton than normal, and the formation of the new atoms from traditional hydrogen releases huge amounts of energy.
This is scientific heresy. According to quantum mechanics, electrons can only exist in an atom in strictly defined orbits, and the shortest distance allowed between the proton and electron in hydrogen is fixed. The two particles are simply not allowed to get any closer.
According to Dr Mills, there can be only one explanation: quantum mechanics must be wrong. "We've done a lot of testing. We've got 50 independent validation reports, we've got 65 peer-reviewed journal articles," he said. "We ran into this theoretical resistance and there are some vested interests here. People are very strong and fervent protectors of this [quantum] theory that they use."
Happy Place: Bush in the Bubble
Bush may be the most isolated president in modern history, at least since the late-stage Richard Nixon. It's not that he is a socially awkward loner or a paranoid. He can charm and joke like the frat president he was. Still, beneath a hail-fellow manner, Bush has a defensive edge, a don't-tread-on-me prickliness. It shows in Bush's humor. When Reagan told a joke, it almost never was about someone in the room. Reagan's jokes may have been scatological or politically incorrect, but they were inclusive, intended to make everyone join in the laughter. Often, Bush's joking is personal—it is aimed at you. The teasing can be flattering (the president gave me a nickname!), but it is intended, however so subtly, to put the listener on the defensive. It is a towel-snap that invites a retort. How many people dare to snap back at a president?
It's on: The war on Winter Solstice
For thousands of years humanity had celebrated the beginning of days getting longer in a peaceful and celebratory manner:
The Romans honored Saturn, the ancient god of agriculture, each year beginning on December 17 in a festival called the Saturnalia. This festival lasted for seven days and included the winter solstice, which at that time fell on December 25 (today, following calendar reform, it falls on December 21). During Saturnalia the Romans feasted, postponed all business and warfare, exchanged gifts, and temporarily freed their slaves. With the lengthening of daylight, these and other winter festivities continued through January 1, the festival of Kalends, when Romans marked the day of the new moon and the first day of the month and religious year (the secular year began in March).
No longer. There is a war on. Historians generally agree that the Cult of Christ started the War on Solstice. They began by coopting the symbols of this most ancient of celebrations: holly, evergreen trees and the Yule log. Those cultists even moved the date of their god's birth from summer to winter! Moreover, they outright plagarized the story of how the greek god Dionysus was born in a cave in the presence of three shepherds.
You might think humanity would be pissed, but you know what? Nobody really gave a damn. Oh, those silly christers would have you think otherwise, but Winter Solstice was a time of diverse celebration all over the planet. What did the rest of us care if one more faith was participating? A Roman might shout "Io, Saturnalia!" [io, pronounced "yo"] to another Roman, while all over Persia cheerful greetings of "Merry Mithras" rang out. Jewish peoples could wish each other a "Happy Hannaukah," and Christians could say, "Merry Christmas" to one another.
Seeing is Beeing: Bees can recognize human faces
Honeybees may look pretty much all alike to us. But it seems we may not look all alike to them. A study has found that they can learn to recognize human faces in photos, and remember them for at least two days.
The findings toss new uncertainty into a long-studied question that some scientists considered largely settled, the researchers say: how humans themselves recognize faces.
The results also may help lead to better face-recognition software, developed through study of the insect brain, the scientists added.
Many researchers traditionally believed facial recognition required a large brain, and possibly a specialized area of that organ dedicated to processing face information. The bee finding casts doubt on that, said Adrian G. Dyer, the lead researcher in the study.
He recalls that when he made the discovery, it startled him so much that he called out to a colleague, telling her to come quickly because “no one’s going to believe it—and bring a camera!”
Researchers have compiled a global map of sites where animals and plants face imminent extinction. The list, drawn up by a coalition of conservation groups, covers almost 800 species which they say will disappear soon unless urgent measures are taken. Most of the 800 are now found only in one location, mainly in the tropics.
Writing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers say protecting some of these sites would cost under $1,000 per year. "This is a whole suite of species threatened with extinction... Most of them are living on single sites and are therefore highly vulnerable to human impacts..."
Vonnegut: Your Guess Is as Good as Mine
Most of you, if not all of you, like me, feel inadequately educated. That is an ordinary feeling for a member of our species. One of the most brilliant human beings of all times, George Bernard Shaw said on his 75th birthday or so that at last he knew enough to become a mediocre office boy. He died in 1950, by the way, when I was 28. He is the one who said, “Youth is wasted on the young.” I turned 83 a couple weeks ago, and I must say I agree.
Shaw, if he were alive today, would envy us the solid information that we have or can get about the nature of the universe, about time and space and matter, about our own bodies and brains, about the resources and vulnerabilities of our planet, about how all sorts of human beings actually talk and feel and live. This is the information revolution. We have taken it very badly so far. [via metafilter]
Desire is only shy on the outside
In the latest, last possible minute of night,
Before the Big Bang, There Was . . . What?
What was God doing before he created the world? The philosopher and writer (and later saint) Augustine posed the question in his "Confessions" in the fourth century, and then came up with a strikingly modern answer: before God created the world there was no time and thus no "before." To paraphrase Gertrude Stein, there was no "then" then.
Until recently no one could attend a lecture on astronomy and ask the modern version of Augustine's question - what happened before the Big Bang? - without receiving the same frustrating answer, courtesy of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, which describes how matter and energy bend space and time.
If we imagine the universe shrinking backward, like a film in reverse, the density of matter and energy rises toward infinity as we approach the moment of origin. Smoke pours from the computer, and space and time themselves dissolve into a quantum "foam." "Our rulers and our clocks break," explained Dr. Andrei Linde, a cosmologist at Stanford University. "To ask what is before this moment is a self-contradiction."
But lately, emboldened by progress in new theories that seek to unite Einstein's lordly realm with the unruly quantum rules that govern subatomic physics - so-called quantum gravity - Dr. Linde and his colleagues have begun to edge their speculations closer and closer to the ultimate moment and, in some cases, beyond it.
Some theorists suggest that the Big Bang was not so much a birth as a transition, a "quantum leap" from some formless era of imaginary time, or from nothing at all. Still others are exploring models in which cosmic history begins with a collision with a universe from another dimension.
All this theorizing has received a further boost of sorts from recent reports of ripples in a diffuse radio glow in the sky, thought to be the remains of the Big Bang fireball itself. These ripples are consistent with a popular theory, known as inflation, that the universe briefly speeded its expansion under the influence of a violent antigravitational force, when it was only a fraction of a fraction of a nanosecond old. Those ripples thus provide a useful check on theorists' imaginations. Any theory of cosmic origins that does not explain this phenomenon, cosmologists agree, stands little chance of being right.
Fortunately or unfortunately, that still leaves room for a lot of possibilities.
Matthew Fox: 95 Theses
1. God is both Mother and Father.
And 88 more...
Rehearsing, a party, et al. See you tomorrow.
...albeit somewhat overwhelmed and addled by the diverse stimuli of a week in full-on tumult mode. Loss of job, death of a significantly wise woman, severe back pain, and ample doses of both self-doubt and self-assuredness make for confusing stimuli. Like Lebowski, this dude is choiceless but to abide, and hope, and begin to pick the self up by the bootstraps (not the petard by which I've been somewhat self-hoisted via mesmerizing dashes of complacency) and begin the work of reexamination and situation-appraisal.
I know that life is good- I've preached it vehemently- and must somehow knit that knowledge into the messy crochet job of emotion and reaction. I know that survival is assured, though a frozen lump of airplane effluvia might topple from 35,000 feet and give a migraine a run for the proverbial money. I know that the sun will rise, lest a comet of God-effluvia somehow plummets unseen and knocks the whole circus off course. Faith in these essential things is a test, and I've got to begin to study. My mixed fortunes hasve meant that that book has received little studious attention so the events of this week dictate that I bloe off the dust and get cracking.
Thanks to everyone offering such support and warmth to a bit of a wet-blanket week. It helps me to know that, somewhow, this journey is mine alone but many are following my adventure with wise advice and high hopes.
Pinter: Art, truth and politics
It's a strange moment, the moment of creating characters who up to that moment have had no existence. What follows is fitful, uncertain, even hallucinatory, although sometimes it can be an unstoppable avalanche. The author's position is an odd one. In a sense he is not welcomed by the characters. The characters resist him, they are not easy to live with, they are impossible to define. You certainly can't dictate to them. To a certain extent you play a never-ending game with them, cat and mouse, blind man's buff, hide and seek. But finally you find that you have people of flesh and blood on your hands, people with will and an individual sensibility of their own, made out of component parts you are unable to change, manipulate or distort.
So language in art remains a highly ambiguous transaction, a quicksand, a trampoline, a frozen pool which might give way under you, the author, at any time.
But as I have said, the search for the truth can never stop. It cannot be adjourned, it cannot be postponed. It has to be faced, right there, on the spot.
Hatsheput: The Woman Who Would Be King
The story of Hatshepsut is a remarkable one. She led armies and trade expeditions, built one of the greatest monuments in Egypt, and switched her appearance from female to male in order to rule as pharaoh. In a fundamentally patriarchal society, she ruled for nearly twenty years.
After her death, someone tried to erase the memory of Hatshepsut as king. She was left off lists of rulers; her statuary was demolished; her image was systematically erased; and her name on monuments and reliefs was covered over by the names of other kings. For nearly two thousand years, she was forgotten, and she may have remained that way except for the discovery of her mortuary temple.
In 1828, Jean Francois Champollion, famous for deciphering the Rosetta Stone, made his one and only trip to Egypt. Among the places he visited was Deir al-Bahri, where a nearby temple had been buried under centuries of desert sand and piles of rocks fallen from the cliffs above. There he noticed a curious inconsistency. He discovered the partially erased name of a king, Amenenthe, accompanied by feminine titles and forms. Pictorially, the king was shown as male, bearded and dressed as a pharaoh, but hieroglyphically, he seemed to be a she.
Puzzled, Champollion wrote: "I found the same peculiarity everywhere. Not only was there the prenomen of Amenenthe preceded by the title of sovereign ruler of the world, with the feminine prefix, but also his own name immediately following on the title of 'Daughter of the Sun.'"
The Bitter Pill
My position is being eliminated effective next month. In a way, there's a real blessing to this... yet the usual bane of financial worry is a big gaping maw of concern. Nonetheless, this is good medicine for me, as there's so much I can do and so much opportunity (well, at least in the mystic sense) on the theoretical horizon.
Here's to making something of it. (***wince***)
Environmental researchers are preparing to capture what they call a new, mysterious species of carnivore on Borneo, the first such discovery on the wildlife-rich Indonesian island in over a century.
Swiss-based environmental group WWF said on Monday its researchers photographed the strange animal, which looks like a cross between a cat and a fox, in the dense, central mountainous rainforests of Borneo. "This could be the first time in more than a century that a new carnivore has been discovered on the island..."
bustle and hustle
Because of yesterday's birthday brouhaha and preoccupying shenanigans, I don't really have the time to blog much today. I'm sure the Overlogs of Blogolalia will forgive this one indulgence.
With deep gratitude to every human that's been with me, in any way, in any context.
It was an awesome birthday.
Birthday: Biding Time, Abiding Timelessness
My mother went into labor as Apollo 17 left for the moon, that mystery ball later to become my guiding light, or guiding reflection. I joined a family frought with problems but bent on promise, and was daignosed early on as being "learning disabled," which later became "sufficiently bored with modern educational techniques," and like some sidewalk-crack dandelion, I grew on my own, with little help. Through good fortune, I've managed to evade capture by monotony and homogenous duldrum, though living in constant spectacle and celestial confrontation does take a wee bit of exertion.
The passing of this most physical marking of time has occasionally been missed by obscuring minutiae, gliding past windows as my eyes gazed elsewhere or nowhere. The scrapbooking of the soul is organized by season, forever ensconced in the lights and darks of temperate or brutal days and nights. I remember my summers well, and winters seem to be a blur of off-white and sleep, yet there is a sweetness as cold rushes in to fill the gaps of what I've let go of. Each turning of the Earth forces me to jettison away the debris that litters the workshop of the heart, revealing the work achieved in the blood and ardor or love and hope.
School was, as a youth, the yardstick by which a month was measured; Always inching toward the relative freedom of summer breaks, always cringing aghast at the gaping maw of yet another year in the hallways of factory-style academe. We gestate for a mere nine of these, awaiting the grand entry into who-knows-what. For the mother, it passes slow and ends with a flourish, yet for the being within, forming in the juice and brine of mammalian body-knowledge, it's a timeless place. We wait to begin, and as an adult, these measures of time fly by with the carelessness of a paper airplane.
Here's the number becomes truly relevatory. How many of these were total wastes, thoughtless and senseless? How many of these were marked by anger, indecision, fear and withdrawl? How many were, contrariwise, marked by puppy-love, exultation and the wild fucking abandon that ought to be the daily routine to prove to the Universe that we exist at all? Rather than stirring a dark broth of regret, there is only the day before me, and the first hours of that day are the trunk of a tree, make it an Oak. Bound by the roots beneath, there's only up, based on the ebb and flow of decsion and the movement of the self upon the unpredictable topography of a planet in spin. Rather than muse hard upon those thouands of gone days, I will muse upward, for the hours, minutes and seconds to come.
Nearly one hundred thousand of these I cannot speak for, save a tens of dreams that have remained in the drifting net of memory all these years. Last night, through that weird art, I held in my hands my own cremation urn, with bits of me leaking all about the place. A tooth fell out, and I tongued my mouth- it was still with me. Who was I then? My spirit, a bright colorful thing, considering the ashes, all that was left of a temporal body packed into a awkward container? Perhaps that's what dreams are for- for the gazing of the holy within and about us at the short-term lease upon this world and the vehicle that moves us through it? Of the remaining hours, awake and counting, how many are spent connected to that facet of Self that Knows, but speaks in the most foreign of tongues?
I'm watching these right now. I govern most of the day in minutes, gaveling down inaction as the clock does its poorest to imitate the dervish. These are the slipperiest of jewels, yet most of the great memories in my life consist of jew a few of these on a single strand. I cannot reply hour upon hour, but abide in the soul's scrapbook with great numbers of these, scattered about the place like wildflowers in the sun, ready for the pollenation of the attentive mind.
Impossible to consider mere seconds, they are as fickle and as numerous as starlight, I abound with these, and the human brain learns most of its routes and turns in fractions of these. The sheer number of these leads to the sheer absurdity of dicing time to little bits, it's almost profane. I cannot dare to imagine you all, let alone the bilion that have supported my story thusfar.
It's a silly notion, birthdays, and fixed points in time. It's an arbitrary dance we do, but perhaps that's what makes life so beautiful- we chose to be arbitrary in the great eternal wash of it all, we choose moments of lucidity and arrow-pointy action to name and live paticular moments in a special way. Today, desipte the flow and flux of infinite tides, is such a day for me. I dare to set it aside, and with these temporal hands and feet, will move through it in gratitude that I've defied the odds to be here. I fought my way to exist, and now that I'm here, I may as well party a bit.
Pinchbeck: Gurdjieff's Vision
Most of my life, I have been chained to cities where night is, for the most part, a muted void and the elements are reduced to abstractions. On the other hand, in Manhattan, it is very easy to have the uneasy awareness of being a miniscule cog in a vast machine, a "cybernetic pulse engine," accelerating outside of human control. I now suspect that Gurdjieff is right: the cosmic apparatus of swirling constellations and planetary bodies and radiating moon exerts a direct and causal influence on human destiny -- that those forces might be responsible for the running of the entire mechanism.
Dolphin games: more than child’s play?
After years of studying dolphins at play, Kuczaj and his colleagues have reached some surprising conclusions: dolphin games show remarkable cooperation and creativity. Dolphins seem to deliberately make their games difficult, possibly in order to learn from them. And such pastimes may play a key role in the development of culture and in evolution—both among dolphins and other species, including humans.
Games “may help young animals learn their place in the social dynamics of the group,” wrote Kuczaj, a psychologist with the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Miss., and colleagues in a paper to appear in the International Journal of Comparative Psychology.
“The innovations produced during the interactions of young animals may be important sources for the evolution of animal traditions, as well as the adaptations that may lead to more successful individuals and species,” they added.
Bill Hicks: What would he say now?
Bill Hicks, the most scathing comedian of his generation, died 11 years ago at age 32, but he hasn't gone away. On the contrary, the mischievously shifting sands of history have granted an eerie afterlife to some of his material — you can play a recording of a Hicks routine from 1991 or '92 and hear him going after President Bush and the war in Iraq.
But Hicks' growing stature as a comedic beacon isn't because of a quirky recurrence of a name and war zone. Hicks went deeper than any of his contemporaries, and he did it with missionary zeal and fearless brilliance...
"Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There is no such thing as death, life is only a dream and we are the imagination of ourselves…. Here's Tom with the weather."
With that, Hicks reveals the vision of harmony and serenity that lies on the other side of his rage, hitting a sublime metaphysical plane where he dances in the clouds with the great hipster monologist Lord Buckley.
The best comedians can make you feel euphoric, giddy and enlightened, provoked, challenged and inspired. You can get all that from Hicks, and one thing more: Bathed in the fiery torrent of his words, you just might feel saved.
Tribute: Patte Mitchell
Patte, a beloved founding member of the Jubilee Community, is in a coma from a massive stroke at the time of this writing. She is a walking light, a simmering transcendant beauty of a person, a woman who walks with a dance and speaks with a song. Her work here is done, and was done with utter grace and care. She was always a wide-open warmth spirit, whose inviting eyes gave me strength and joy every time she passed by. In fact, I always said as she passed by "I hear the fluttering of angelic wings, it must be Patte!"
Truly, it must be. Good journeys, dear one.
Symbiots Rising: Species Take Care Of Each Other In Ecological Communities
Species must meet certain conditions to live in a community. Understanding the rules that make up community assemblages is one of the most challenging scientific questions facing scientists today. Niche theory, which assumes species differ from one another in various aspects, has been traditionally used to explain community assemblages. However, this theory offers little to predict community assemblage patterns -- the way species share a limited space.
Dr. F. He's work attempts to address community assembly rules based on Hubbell's recently developed neutral theory. "The basic idea of the neutral theory is that community membership is determined by five fundamental processes: birth, death, immigration, speciation and random drift. Furthermore, the theory assumes that every individual in the community, regardless of species identity, has the same rates of birth, death, immigration and mutating into a new species," said He, who is a Canada Research Chair from the Department of Renewable Resources.
Cosmic Crapshoot: Does God play dice?
If there is any preconceived notion concerning the laws of nature - one that we can rely on without any further questioning - it is the assumption that they are controlled by strict logic. Under all conceivable circumstances, the laws of nature should dictate how the universe evolves. Curiously, however, quantum mechanics has given a new twist to this adage. It does not allow a precise sequence of events to be predicted, only statistical averages. All statistical averages can be predicted - in principle with infinite accuracy - but nothing more than that.
Einstein was one of the first people to protest against this impoverishment of the concept of logic. It has turned out, however, to be a fact of life. Quantum mechanics is the only known realistic description of the microscopic parts of our universe like atoms and molecules, and it works just fine. Logically impoverished or not, quantum mechanics appears to be completely self-consistent.
But how does quantum mechanics tie in with particles that are much smaller than atoms? The Standard Model is the beautiful solution to two fundamental problems: one, how to combine quantum mechanics with Einstein’s theory of special relativity; and two, how to explain numerous experimental observations concerning the behaviour of sub-atomic particles in terms of a concise theory. This model tells us how far we can go with quantum mechanics. Provided that we adhere strictly to the principles of quantum field theory, nature obeys both quantum mechanics and special relativity up to arbitrarily small distance and time scales.
Just like all other successful theories of nature, the Standard Model obeys the notions of locality and causality, which makes this theory completely comprehensible. In other words, the physical laws of this theory describe in a meaningful way what happens under all conceivable circumstances. The standard theory of general relativity, which describes the gravitational forces in the macroscopic world, approaches a similar degree of perfection. Einstein’s field equations are local, and here, cause also precedes effect in a local fashion. These laws, too, are completely unambiguous.
But how can we combine the Standard Model with general relativity? Many theorists appear to think that this is just a technical problem. But if I say something like "quantum general relativity is not renormalizable", this is much more than just a technicality. Renormalizability has made the Standard Model possible, because it lets us answer the question of what happens at extremely tiny distance scales. Or, more precisely, how can we see that cause precedes effect there? If cause did not precede effect, we would have no causality or locality - and no theory at all.
Frankenfuel: World's next fuel source could be designer organisms
The scientist who cracked the human genome now hopes to exploit the properties of DNA to solve the world's pending energy crisis. J. Craig Venter, who gained worldwide fame in 2000 when he mapped the human genetic code, is behind a new start-up called Synthetic Genomics, which plans to create new types of organisms that, ideally, would produce hydrogen, secrete nonpolluting heating oil or be able to break down greenhouse gases.
The initial focus will be on creating "biofactories" for hydrogen and ethanol, two fuels seen as playing an increasing role in powering cars in the future. Hydrogen also holds promise for heating homes and putting juice into electronic devices. The raw genetic material for these synthetic micro-organisms will come from a diverse set of genes from a variety of species, according to the company. While many of the genes will come from some of the aquatic micro-organisms that Venter and his colleagues discovered during extensive ocean voyages in the last two years, the company will also experiment with genes from large mammals such as dogs.
"Rapid advances in high throughput DNA sequencing and synthesis, as well as high performance computing and bioinformatics, now enable us to synthesize novel photosynthetic and metabolic pathways," Venter said in a statement earlier this year. "We are in an era of rapid advances in science and are beginning the transition from being able to not only read genetic code, but are now moving to the early stages of being able to write code."
Another sign: Evidence of Slowing Ocean Currents Alarms Scientists
The powerful ocean currents that transport heat around the globe and keep northern Europe's weather relatively mild appear to be weakening, according to a new scientific report. A group of British oceanographers surveyed a section of the Atlantic Ocean stretching from Africa to the Bahamas that has been studied periodically since 1957 and found the overall movement of water had slowed 30% in the past five decades. The report, published in the current issue of the journal Nature, is the first evidence of such a slowdown.
Computer models have long predicted that the warming of the oceans and the "freshening" of the seas with water from melting glaciers and increased precipitation — all linked to the warming of the Earth by greenhouse gases — could slow the currents, but scientists did not expect to see such changes so soon.
I've told the alarm clock I'm disinterested in its antics,
I wave it off as I succumb to sleep, that most wicked panacea.
Meanings for the Coming Winter
[reflections from a rant I got into this morning]
It seems as if the sky is conspiring to do what would be seasonally appropriate... to cover us in ice.
We bark at the cold as dogs greet knocking strangers,
Odd gifts, to be sure, for the cold reduces the world out the window to its most essential, and these bare trees become sleeping metaphors for seeing the world in its most pure, skelatal form.
The cold of deepest space is echoed in a sudden pause in backyard entropy, as the world is paused, frozen in place, and goes dark.
And this coming darkness is a paradox; we shall be as close as ever to the sun, and yet it hides, and we light fires in homage to that voyaging god, to give us a light of some kind to affix to.
Yet, we should know that light and dark are false dichotomies- like time, this is a gradient too.
we make maps out of such a massive flood of information and filter it down to almost nothing, sensitive creatures indeeed.
We must be near to each other, feel each other's warmth, to prove that in these darkest days and night, that light and heat persist.
Despite our great attempts to separate ourselves from the world,
Winter forces us to reckon with this animal nature,
Triggering the Total: From the Unreal to the Real
We all experience ‘higher states of consciousness’ from time to time, when an inner peace seems to fill us and the world around us seems magically transformed. Everything seems much more real and more beautiful, we feel like we’re actually part of our surroundings, and there seems to be a meaning in things which we aren’t normally aware of. The world seems a benevolent, harmonious place, and we may even become aware of a kind of force or presence which seems to pervade all things. We also have a sense that we’re seeing the world in a wider and truer way than normal, as if a veil has been pushed aside and we’re catching a glimpse of how things really are.
Studies show that, while these ‘higher states of consciousness’ can occur for no apparent reason, they are often ‘triggered’ by certain things: they often occur when we’re amongst natural surroundings, for example, or when we do meditation and yoga, or after periods of emotional turmoil and depression. They also sometimes occur when we do certain sports (such as long-distance running); people who suffer from epilepsy often experience them in the moments before seizures.
It's Friday: Babies to be freed from limbo
It is an odd place. The inhabitants include Plato, Moses, Abraham and lots of babies. Now after more than 700 years of shadowy existence, limbo faces closure. The world's 30 leading Roman Catholic theologians were meeting behind closed doors in the Vatican yesterday to discuss a document which would sweep the concept out of the church's teaching.
Limbo was concocted in the 13th century as a solution to the theological conundrum of what happened to babies who died before they were christened. [via metachat]
Hark the Herald Yeti Stalk, Glory to Cryptozoology!
A backpacker from Vancouver, Washington, took these photos on Silver Star Mountain in Gifford Pinchot National Forest on November 17. He says he doesn't know what the figure was, but he does not believe it was another hiker or backpacker. The photos are inconclusive, but they are potentially relevant. [via metafilter]
The Eighth Circuit Revealed: New Research Reveals That Thoughts Affect Genes
Until recently, it was thought that genes were self-actualizing…that genes could ‘turn themselves on and off.’ Such behavior is required in order for genes to control biology. Though the power of genes is still emphasized in current biology courses and textbooks, a radically new understanding has emerged at the leading edge of cell science. It is now recognized that the environment, and more specifically, our perception (interpretation)of the environment, directly controls the activity of our genes. Environment controls gene activity through a process known as epigenetic control.
During the first six years of life a child unconsciously acquires the behavioral repertoire needed to become a functional member of society. In addition, a child’s subconscious mind also downloads beliefs relating to self. When a parent tells a young child it is stupid, undeserving or any other negative trait, this too is downloaded as a ‘fact’ into the youngster’s subconscious mind. These acquired beliefs constitute the ‘central voice’ that controls the fate of the body’s cellular community. While the conscious mind may hold one’s self in high regard, the more powerful unconscious mind may simultaneously engage in self-destructive behavior.
"The rewards system is involved in regulating behavior based on previous experiences of rewards and punishments," d'Avossa says. "It also may help us build up predictions of what the world should be like and how certain events go together. When it works well, the world makes sense to you."
Sapir noted that the reward systems' predictive abilities may be damaged or missing in some patients with mental illness, causing these patients to perceive the world as alien and unpredictable.
I like it: Nerve Growth Factor
Your heartbeat accelerates, you have butterflies in the stomach, you feel euphoric and a bit silly. It's all part of falling passionately in love -- and scientists now tell us the feeling won't last more than a year. The powerful emotions that bowl over new lovers are triggered by a molecule known as nerve growth factor (NGF), according to Pavia University researchers. The Italian scientists found far higher levels of NGF in the blood of 58 people who had recently fallen madly in love than in that of a group of singles and people in long-term relationships.
Heavy Surf: Science to ride gravitational waves
This is precision engineering at the extreme. To have any hope of detecting gravitational waves, it has to be. Unlike electromagnetic waves - the light seen by traditional telescopes - gravitational waves are extremely weak. If one were to pass through your body it would alternately stretch your space in one dimension while squashing it in another - but the changes are fantastically small. Any moving mass will send gravitational waves radiating outwards at the speed of light; but only truly massive bodies, such as exploding stars and coalescing neutron stars, can disturb space-time sufficiently for our technology to pick up the signal.
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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.
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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.