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

{ Friday, 28 April, 2006 }

The Children of Dagon


1955 was a busy year for the Children of Dagon, amphibious bipedal creatures that are said to dwell in the Ohio River and it’s tributaries. In May of that year, a man driving home at 3:30 AM in Loveland OH, located northeast of Cincinnati, pulled over his car on the shoulder of the road when he sighted three frog like reptilian creatures, one of which was waving a wand device that shot sparks out of it. The driver notified local police authorities of what he had witnessed in those three minutes of terror before the mysterious beings disappeared. No substantial proof for the creatures was ever found and the witness was labeled an imaginative quack.

Three months later the Children of Dagon struck again during the sweltering heat of a hot August 21st day in Evansville, Indiana. Mrs. Darwin Johnson had decided to cool off by taking a refreshing swim in the polluted Ohio River. From out of the murky depths her aquatic assailant gripped at her knee with its menacing claws, pulling her under. Struggling with this unseen fiend, she managed to fight her way out of its horrible grip. Yet not soon after her first gasp of air was she dragged down below into what almost became her watery grave. With a stroke of heaven sent luck Mrs. Johnson was able to reach out her hand and grab onto the inner tube of a nearby friend. The thumping noise she made when pulling herself up and landing on it, amidst her wailing splashes and screams, seemed to have scared her attacker off, sending it back down to its underwater lair where it still may be hiding to this very day waiting for other would-be victims. The creature left a green stain on Mrs. Johnson’s knee, along with a few scratches where the beast had groped at her, for which she sought the advice of a medical doctor.

[via corpus mmothra]

jaybird found this for you @ 12:28 in Forteana, Phenomena & the Bizarre | | permalink

Catastrophe: Arms still pouring into Sudan's Darfur

Arms are still pouring into Sudan's embattled Darfur region in violation of a U.N. arms ban, U.N. experts said on Thursday.

The arms come from neighboring countries as well as nations outside the African continent, the panel of four experts said. They urged the Security Council to strengthen the embargo and better enforce it.

Their latest report mentioned by name only Chad as an arms source, but earlier reports have also cited Eritrea and Libya.

The council imposed an arms embargo on all non-government forces in Darfur in July 2004, to help end a civil war that has raged in the region since February 2003.

The conflict has pitted Sudanese rebels against government forces and allied militias, who have killed tens of thousands and driven 2 million people from their homes into miserable camps in Sudan and neighboring Chad.

jaybird found this for you @ 08:24 in News, Opinion & Politique | | permalink

{ Thursday, 27 April, 2006 }

The root of language is everywhere (look around)

If there is one quality that marks out the scientific mind, it is an unquenchable curiosity. Even when it comes to things that are everyday and so familiar they seem beyond question, scientists see puzzles and mysteries.

Look at the letters in the words of this sentence, for example. Why are they shaped the way that they are? Why did we come up with As, Ms and Zs and the other characters of the alphabet? And is there any underlying similarity between the many kinds of alphabet used on the planet?

To find out, scientists have pooled the common features of 100 different writing systems, including true alphabets such as Cyrillic, Korean Hangul and our own; so-called abjads that include Arabic and others that only use characters for consonants; Sanskrit, Tamil and other "abugidas", which use characters for consonants and accents for vowels; and Japanese and other syllabaries, which use symbols that approximate syllables, which make up words.

Remarkably, the study has concluded that the letters we use can be viewed as a mirror of the features of the natural world, from trees and mountains to meandering streams and urban cityscapes.

The shapes of letters are not dictated by the ease of writing them, economy of pen strokes and so on, but their underlying familiarity and the ease of recognising them. We use certain letters because our brains are particularly good at seeing them, even if our hands find it hard to write them down. In turn, we are good at seeing certain shapes because they reflect common facets of the natural world.

jaybird found this for you @ 21:08 in Consciousness, Psychology & Philosophy | | permalink

Identity and Violence : Why we can't get along.

One might have been tempted--had one been consulted--to suggest a renaming of this latest book by Amartya Sen. "Identity and Violence" is much too lurid. "Sen and Sensibility," by contrast, would have been a perfect title, reflecting better the author's exquisite concern for everyone's personal feelings and his desire to make large-hearted accommodation for every political and social bent--except, notably, the religious and nationalist kind.

Mr. Sen, now a professor at Harvard, was awarded the 1998 Nobel Prize in economics for his contributions to the field of welfare economics. He has a CV so seriously good that everyone, surely, knows of his being (in his previous post) the Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, the apex of the British academic pyramid.

Everyone, that is, except a British immigration official at Heathrow Airport a few years ago who, on looking at Mr. Sen's Indian passport and then at his home address on the immigration form--"Master's Lodge, Trinity College, Cambridge"--asked whether Mr. Sen was a close friend of the Master. This question made Mr. Sen enter into a private contemplation, rather self-indulgent in the circumstances, of whether "I could claim to be a friend of myself."

As the seconds ticked away without answer, the immigration officer asked whether there was an "irregularity" with Mr. Sen's immigration status. And can you blame the man? Yet Mr. Sen--in his amused-but-chippy recall of the episode--says that the encounter was "a reminder, if one were needed, that identity can be a complicated matter."

jaybird found this for you @ 17:04 in Consciousness, Psychology & Philosophy | | permalink

That dang bang: The First Few Microseconds

For the past five years, hundreds of scientists have been using a powerful new atom smasher at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island to mimic conditions that existed at the birth of the universe. Called the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC, pronounced "rick"), it clashes two opposing beams of gold nuclei traveling at nearly the speed of light. The resulting collisions between pairs of these atomic nuclei generate exceedingly hot, dense bursts of matter and energy to simulate what happened during the first few microseconds of the big bang. These brief "mini bangs" give physicists a ringside seat on some of the earliest moments of creation.

During those early moments, matter was an ultrahot, superdense brew of particles called quarks and gluons rushing hither and thither and crashing willy-nilly into one another. A sprinkling of electrons, photons and other light elementary particles seasoned the soup. This mixture had a temperature in the trillions of degrees, more than 100,000 times hotter than the sun's core.

But the temperature plummeted as the cosmos expanded, just like an ordinary gas cools today when it expands rapidly. The quarks and gluons slowed down so much that some of them could begin sticking together briefly. After nearly 10 microseconds had elapsed, the quarks and gluons became shackled together by strong forces between them, locked up permanently within protons, neutrons and other strongly interacting particles that physicists collectively call "hadrons." Such an abrupt change in the properties of a material is called a phase transition (like liquid water freezing into ice). The cosmic phase transition from the original mix of quarks and gluons into mundane protons and neutrons is of intense interest to scientists, both those who seek clues about how the universe evolved toward its current highly structured state and those who wish to understand better the fundamental forces involved.

The protons and neutrons that form the nuclei of every atom today are relic droplets of that primordial sea, tiny subatomic prison cells in which quarks thrash back and forth, chained forever. Even in violent collisions, when the quarks seem on the verge of breaking out, new "walls" form to keep them confined. Although many physicists have tried, no one has ever witnessed a solitary quark drifting all alone through a particle detector.

jaybird found this for you @ 12:58 in Science, Quantum & Space | | permalink

"What Is Occurring Today Is a Mimetic Rivalry on a Planetary Scale."

The error is always to reason within categories of "difference" when the root of all conflicts is rather "competition," mimetic rivalry between persons, countries, cultures. Competition is the desire to imitate the other in order to obtain the same thing he or she has, by violence if need be. No doubt terrorism is bound to a world "different" from ours, but what gives rise to terrorism does not lie in that "difference" that removes it further from us and makes it inconceivable to us. To the contrary, it lies in an exacerbated desire for convergence and resemblance. Human relations are essentially relations of imitation, of rivalry.
What is experienced now is a form of mimetic rivalry on a planetary scale. When I read the first documents of Bin Laden and verified his allusions to the American bombing of Japan, I felt at first that I was in a dimension that transcends Islam, a dimension of the entire planet. Under the label of Islam we find a will to rally and mobilize an entire third world of those frustrated and of victims in their relations of mimetic rivalry with the West. But the towers destroyed had as many foreigners as Americans. By their effectiveness, by the sophistication of the means employed, by the knowledge that they had of the United States, by their training, were not the authors of the attack at least somewhat American? Here we are in the middle of mimetic contagion.

jaybird found this for you @ 08:51 in Consciousness, Psychology & Philosophy | | permalink

{ Wednesday, 26 April, 2006 }

Uh-oh, thanks Windows!

My tower bluescreened and passed out this morning, and its now waiting patiently for some loving care from the compu-surgeon. This after installing the latest Windows upgrade that appeared in the toolbar this morning. BEWARE OF THIS UPGRADE. So posting today will be eratic (or this may indeed be it) as I'm now at work and about to be swamped.

Regular posting will resume tomorrow, regardless. In the meantime, if you are a friend and regular correspondant, please send me your email address via the contact link, as one of the things not backed up is my address book. Thanks!

jaybird found this for you @ 08:55 in Journaling the Infinite | | permalink

{ Tuesday, 25 April, 2006 }

Better living through heresy: The Knights Templar

The real Templars bear little resemblance to their fictional re-creations. They were founded in the Holy Land in 1119 by two French knights, who swore to devote themselves to the protection of Christian pilgrims visiting Jerusalem and the holy places. Crusaders had captured Jerusalem in 1099 and then struggled to establish an effective military and political structure to protect their conquests. The contribution of these founding knights was tiny, but they quickly captured the imagination of the Western Christian world. Soon, they were given a base in the al-Aqsa Mosque, which Christians believed had been the site of the Temple of Solomon. They received papal recognition at the council of Troyes in Champagne in 1129, where they were described as a "military order," a quite unique institution at the time, for they not only swore the usual monastic vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience but made a fourth key promise—to defend the holy places from the infidel.

From then on they grew rapidly into an international order, receiving lands in the West that they developed into a great network of preceptories. This enabled them to supply men and money for the cause of the Holy Land, as well as to offer a range of services to crusaders, most important help with finance, a role that they expanded into something like a modern banking service. Such an order might seem invulnerable, but by the early 14th century, the Knights Templar faced a serious crisis. In 1291 the Christians had been driven out of Palestine by the Mamluks of Egypt and were thus obliged to wage the holy war from their remaining base in Cyprus. This expulsion was particularly serious for the Templars, whose prestige and functions were so closely identified with the defense of the sites associated with Christ's life, death, and resurrection. They were desperate to see papal plans for a new crusade take concrete form. In 1307, in response to a request from Pope Clement V, James of Molay, the grand master, therefore traveled to the West to advise the papacy and gather support in the courts of Christendom.

It was thus that on Oct. 12, 1307, James of Molay was present in Paris, holding one of the cords of the pall at the funeral of Catherine, wife of Charles of Valois, brother of King Philip IV, "the Fair," of France. But the master had no idea what awaited him. Without warning, royal officials, acting on secret orders from Philip, fell upon the Templars living in France, in a coordinated operation that took hundreds into custody. The order for the arrests said that the Templars were not a force dedicated to the defense of the Holy Land, willing to endure martyrdom for their beliefs—they were in fact apostates who denied Christ, spat on crucifixes, engaged in indecent kissing and compulsory sodomy, and worshipped idols.

Although rulers outside France initially found the allegations difficult to believe, and the pope was outraged because he had not been consulted, at first sight the charges seemed justified. Most of the Templars confessed to one or more of the allegations, including Molay himself, who repeated his admissions in public in the presence of a select gathering of university theologians. In the end, neither the papal attempt to take over the trial, nor a robust defense of the order led by two Templar lawyer-priests, could shake the impact of these first confessions.

jaybird found this for you @ 20:26 in Consciousness, Psychology & Philosophy | | permalink

Growing popularity of Sufism in Iran

The lights are dimmed in a home in northern Tehran. The men, women and teenagers gathered in the large living room close their eyes and rock back and forth to the beat of live music. As the tambourine and drums beat louder and faster, some members of the group climb to their feet. They begin to swirl slowly in circles and raise their hands to the ceiling. A few fall into trances.

"You can somehow touch relaxation," says 22-year-old Mahsa, who believes that music and dance can provide a direct route to Allah.

"It's a very good sensation, and you think your soul is flying, that somehow you're not in your body."

These Iranians consider themselves Shia Muslims, as do most Iranians, and look to the first Shia Imam, Ali, as a spiritual guide.

But they also call themselves Sufis.

Sufis believe that at the core of all religions lies the same truth and that God is the only reality behind all forms of existence.

They also believe that the individual, through his or her own efforts, can reach spiritual union with God.

jaybird found this for you @ 16:24 in Spirituality, Religion & Mythos | | permalink

Lost at sea on a flotilla of enlightenment

I guess what we're on now is an island. A drifing island. The abbot says the drift was the closest they could get to sovereignty, so they accepted it and went back to their prayers. We have no rudders or giant sails, though sometimes a robe will flare up and catch a breeze, sometimes twenty robes at once, and the island drifts a little faster. This is what nostalgia feels like, like I have borrowed the ocean in a small squeeze bottle, squeezed the salt water up my nose twice a day so I can feel the tide, whoosh, back and forth, inside my head. Somewhere between the Pacific currents, I'd like to think the island has a purpose, that it wants to find its way back to its natural latitudes, but I know we can't control it.

jaybird found this for you @ 12:21 in Spirituality, Religion & Mythos | | permalink

Dark Star: Evidence mounts for sun's companion

The recent discovery of Sedna, a small planet like object first detected by Cal Tech astronomer Dr. Michael Brown, provides what could be indirect physical evidence of a solar companion. Matching the recent findings by Dr. Brown, showing that Sedna moves in a highly unusual elliptical orbit, Cruttenden has determined that Sedna moves in resonance with previously published orbital data for a hypothetical companion star.

In the May 2006 issue of Discover, Dr. Brown stated: "Sedna shouldn't be there. There's no way to put Sedna where it is. It never comes close enough to be affected by the sun, but it never goes far enough away from the sun to be affected by other stars... Sedna is stuck, frozen in place; there's no way to move it, basically there's no way to put it there – unless it formed there. But it's in a very elliptical orbit like that. It simply can't be there. There's no possible way - except it is. So how, then?"

"I'm thinking it was placed there in the earliest history of the solar system. I'm thinking it could have gotten there if there used to be stars a lot closer than they are now and those stars affected Sedna on the outer part of its orbit and then later on moved away. So I call Sedna a fossil record of the earliest solar system. Eventually, when other fossil records are found, Sedna will help tell us how the sun formed and the number of stars that were close to the sun when it formed."

Walter Cruttenden agrees that Sedna's highly elliptical orbit is very unusual, but noted that the orbit period of 12,000 years is in neat resonance with the expected orbit periodicity of a companion star as outlined in several prior papers.

jaybird found this for you @ 08:17 in Science, Quantum & Space | | permalink

{ Monday, 24 April, 2006 }

Murtha: Nobody can believe these guys anymore

U.S. Rep. John Murtha, continuing his criticism of President Bush's handling of the Iraq war, said today it would take more than Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's resignation to restore Bush's credibility in the Middle East and with the American public.

The only way Bush can show he is ready to seriously change direction and pursue a diplomatic solution to the war is if he makes "substantial" changes in his administration, Murtha told about 100 people attending a luncheon sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh at the DoubleTree Hotel, Downtown.

"Nobody can believe these guys anymore," Murtha, D-Johnstown, told reporters after his speech, in which he listed the reasons he believes the Bush administration has "mishandled, mischaracterized and misrepresented" the planning and management of the war.

Whether it's Bush's fault or not that things are going badly in Iraq, Murtha said, "he's getting blamed for it, so he needs to make some substantial changes" in his top staff. "He's got to let loyalty and friendship take a subservient position to the good of the country."

Unless "we replace the people responsible for the failed plan" the U.S. will not be able to get the international help and cooperation it needs, Murtha said during his half-hour speech. He also again criticized Rumsfeld, saying he andBush "were wrong when it came to Iraq" but "won't admit it."

Though the president touts the elections in Iraq as evidence of success in the war, Murtha said in reality "we have lost the hearts and minds of both the Iraqi people, and as the polls indicate, of the American public and, obviously, of the world."

jaybird found this for you @ 21:03 in News, Opinion & Politique | | permalink

Indian tribe, downwinders: Stop Nevada blast

Members of an Indian tribe and two nuclear fallout "downwinders" are asking a federal court to halt plans for a huge non-nuclear explosion that is expected to generate a mushroom cloud over the Nevada desert in June.

"This is a worst nightmare come true for downwinders," said Robert Hager, a Reno-based lawyer representing four members of the Nevada-based Western Shoshone tribe and two residents of Utah.

He said the June 2 detonation of a 700-ton ammonium nitrate and fuel oil bomb at the Nevada Test Site would kick up radioactive fallout left from nuclear weapons tests conducted from 1951 to 1992... The 21-page request for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction predicts a 10,000-foot mushroom cloud, and calls the blast a "clear and present danger" to the health of people living to the east, or downwind of the vast Nevada Test Site.

The document names as defendants Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Linton Brooks and James Tegnelia, the directors of two federal agencies planning the test.

Defense Department, National Nuclear Security Administration and Defense Threat Reduction Agency officials each declined comment Thursday, saying they had not immediately seen the court documents submitted to U.S. District Court in Las Vegas.

The court filing claims the test, dubbed "Divine Strake," would irreparably desecrate land the Western Shoshone tribe has never acknowledged turning over to the U.S.

jaybird found this for you @ 16:59 in News, Opinion & Politique | | permalink

John Dean: If Past Is Prologue, George Bush Is Becoming An Increasingly Dangerous President

Bush is following the classic mistaken pattern of active/negative presidents: As Barber explained, they issue order after order, without public support, until they eventually dissipate the real powers they have -- until "nothing [is] left but the shell of the office." Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon all followed this pattern.

Active/negative presidents are risk-takers. (Consider the colossal risk Bush took with the Iraq invasion). And once they have taken a position, they lock on to failed courses of action and insist on rigidly holding steady, even when new facts indicate that flexibility is required.

The source of their rigidity is that they've become emotionally attached to their own positions; to change them, in their minds, would be to change their personal identity, their very essence. That, they are not willing to do at any cost.

Wilson rode his unpopular League of Nations proposal to his ruin; Hoover refused to let the federal government intervene to prevent or lessen a fiscal depression; Johnson escalated U.S. involvement in Vietnam while misleading Americans (thereby making himself unelectable); and Nixon went down with his bogus defense of Watergate.

George Bush has misled America into a preemptive war in Iraq; he is using terrorism to claim that as Commander-in-Chief, he is above the law; and he refuses to acknowledge that American law prohibits torturing our enemies and warrantlessly wiretapping Americans.

Americans, increasingly, are not buying his justifications for any of these positions. Yet Bush has made no effort to persuade them that his actions are sound, prudent or productive; rather, he takes offense when anyone questions his unilateral powers. He responds as if personally insulted.

jaybird found this for you @ 12:44 in News, Opinion & Politique | | permalink

Further Proof: "The war in Iraq was coming, and they were looking for intelligence to fit into the policy..."

What did this high-level source tell him?

"He told us that they had no active weapons of mass destruction program," says Drumheller.

"So in the fall of 2002, before going to war, we had it on good authority from a source within Saddam's inner circle that he didn't have an active program for weapons of mass destruction?" Bradley asked.

"Yes," Drumheller replied. He says there was doubt in his mind at all.

"It directly contradicts, though, what the president and his staff were telling us," Bradley remarked.

"The policy was set," Drumheller says. "The war in Iraq was coming. And they were looking for intelligence to fit into the policy, to justify the policy."

Drumheller expected the White House to ask for more information from the Iraqi foreign minister.

But he says he was taken aback by what happened. "The group that was dealing with preparation for the Iraq war came back and said they're no longer interested," Drumheller recalls. "And we said, 'Well, what about the intel?' And they said, 'Well, this isn't about intel anymore. This is about regime change.'"

"And if I understand you correctly, when the White House learned that you had this source from the inner circle of Saddam Hussein, they were thrilled with that," Bradley asked.

"The first we heard, they were. Yes," Drumheller replied.

Once they learned what it was the source had to say — that Saddam Hussein did not have the capability to wage nuclear war or have an active WMD program, Drumheller says, "They stopped being interested in the intelligence."


jaybird found this for you @ 08:40 in News, Opinion & Politique | | permalink

{ Sunday, 23 April, 2006 }

The Move Ceremonially Begins

This weekend, the first symbolic object made the move to the new home. As per tradition (mine), the space from which the dragon came was cleaned to the nines, and the dragon left to sit in the new space for a week prior to anything else... to clear, cleanse, purify and introduce my energy to the space.

This week, the home I've known for just about two years will begin the process of emptying into boxes or into curbside giveaway piles, and a new place will begin to accumulate the objects which hold my memories.

Good times.

jaybird found this for you @ 21:58 in Journaling the Infinite | | permalink

{ Friday, 21 April, 2006 }

Outrage, again: The Billion-Dollar Baghdad Embassy

That's the estimate, though only half of it has been appropriated so far, a billion dollars to build a new embassy in Iraq . It will be the largest on the globe, the largest the world has ever seen, the size of Vatican City in Italy .

U.S. embassies typically cover ten acres. This one, a 104-acre complex, will be comprised of 21 buildings, its own water wells, an electricity plant and wastewaster-treatment facility that makes the huge compound completely independent of Iraq , whose "interim government" sold the land to the U.S. in October 2004. Terms of the agreement do not appear to be readily accessible.

The massive compound will include two major diplomatic office buildings, homes for the ambassador and his deputy, apartment buildings for staff, and a recreational facility that will provide a swimming pool, gym, commissary, food court and American Club.

In this case, the devil is less in the details than in the monumental size and cost of the endeavor. The likeness to a small fortified city is frightening to those who object to a permanent presence of the U.S. in Iraq, already destroyed by American bombs and depleted uranium, and the core of such fear lies in the question of WHY the U.S., already dangerously in debt back home and dangerously despised in Iraq and most of the mideast, is pounding its chest with such a noisy bravado. Is this the finale of "Shock and Awe"?

Those working in the embassy-city are protected by extraordinary security, overseen by U.S. Marines. Structures will be reinforced to 2.5 times the standard. There will be five high-security entrances as well as an emergency entrance/exit, according to a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee report.

Foreign relations? Presumably the hope was at some point to look for olive branches, the U.S. and Iraq shaking hands and agreeing to go back to "go" and start all over. So from whom is such vast and expensive protection necessary? Were we ever within even shouting distance of being "liberators"? What kind of thinking would pour so much into a country that the White House says we want to turn over to the Iraqis as soon as possible? After all, we're the folks who brought "freedom" to Iraq . So why this elaborate expenditure at the same time that the people of the U.S. have finally awakened and turned against the invasion and occupation of a country that we now know never posed a threat to the U.S. or anyone else?

It's a hair past income tax time. Shouldn't those of us who filed have a word to say about where our checks are going? We've said, "No more. We want out as soon as possible." And yet the building goes on, about a third completed as of this writing.

Shall we take comfort in Mr. Bush's reassurances and hope he has a secret plan? Shall we look at the bright side and wonder how this impressive compound of compounds would work as an orphanage for the children whose parents we've blown to bits?

jaybird found this for you @ 20:54 in News, Opinion & Politique | | permalink

'When we turn the current on, the patients report the emptiness suddenly disappears'

Sufferers from depression who do not respond to existing treatments could soon benefit from a new procedure in which electrodes are inserted into the core of the brain and used to alter the patient's mood.

Later this year, scientists at Bristol University will conduct the first trials of the so-called deep brain stimulation method on sufferers from depression. They will use hair-thin electrodes to stimulate two different parts of the brains of eight patients who suffer from an extreme form of recurrent unipolar depression - where mood only swings in one direction.

If the trials are successful, deep brain stimulation could be extended to the estimated 50,000 people in the UK who suffer from depression but cannot be helped by drugs or electroconvulsive therapy.

"There are thousands of people in this country who have depression who are not responding, who are disabled by it," said Andrea Malizia, a consultant senior lecturer at Bristol University's psychopharmacology unit. He will lead the experiments with David Nutt, head of Bristol's psychopharmacology research unit, and Nik Patel, a surgeon at the nearby Frenchay hospital.

Deep brain stimulation is already used to treat people suffering from Parkinson's disease, a neurodegenerative disorder that results in uncontrollable tremors and affects mobility. Thousands of people worldwide have benefited from the surgery, which involves implanting the electrodes several centimetres into the brain. Brain scans are used to pinpoint which parts of the brain are acting incorrectly, and the electrodes then interfere with the electrical activity there, blocking the signals and easing the symptoms.

Currently, last-resort measures to help people with intractable depression have included cutting out or lesioning parts of the brain. Deep brain stimulation would largely give the same results, without the need for such drastic surgery.

jaybird found this for you @ 16:53 in Consciousness, Psychology & Philosophy | | permalink

Take this down: Thoughts Trigger Mental Typewriter

A computerized typewriter that translates electrical impulses from brainwave signals into letters and words could be available in the next five years.

In the short term, the technology will allow its developers, from the Fraunhofer Institute and the Charité Hospital in Berlin, Germany, to watch a thinking and behaving brain function in real time.

But in the long term, such a brain-machine interface could replace the joystick in electronic gaming or serve as a communication tool for people unable to speak or sign.

"We are dreaming of something like a baseball cap with electrodes in the cap that can measure the brainwaves," said one of the scientists behind the project, Klaus-Robert Mueller of the Fraunhofer Institute.

"People could just put on the cap and have a wireless connection from these electrodes to a computer and they can play video games."

jaybird found this for you @ 12:45 in Consciousness, Psychology & Philosophy | | permalink

Clap off: Watching the brain 'switch off' self-awareness

Everybody has experienced a sense of “losing oneself” in an activity – being totally absorbed in a task, a movie or sex. Now researchers have caught the brain in the act.

Self-awareness, regarded as a key element of being human, is switched off when the brain needs to concentrate hard on a tricky task, found the neurobiologists from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel.

The team conducted a series of experiments to pinpoint the brain activity associated with introspection and that linked to sensory function. They found that the brain assumes a robotic functionality when it has to concentrate all its efforts on a difficult, timed task – only becoming "human" again when it has the luxury of time.

Ilan Goldberg and colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan the brains of nine volunteers during the study. Participants were shown picture cards and told to push buttons to indicate whether or not an animal was depicted.

The series was shown slowly the first time, and at three times the rate on the second run through. On its third showing, the volunteers were asked to use the buttons to indicate their emotional response to the pictures. The experiment was then repeated using musical extracts, rather than pictures, and asked to identify whether a trumpet played.

Goldberg found that when the sensory stimulus was shown slowly, and when a personal emotional response was required, the volunteers showed activity in the superfrontal gyrus – the brain region associated with self-awareness-related function.

But when the card flipping and musical sequences were rapid, there was no activity in the superfrontal gyrus, despite activity in the sensory cortex and related structures.

“The regions of the brain involved in introspection and sensory perception are completely segregated, although well connected,” says Goldberg, “and when the brain needs to divert all its resources to carry out a difficult task, the self-related cortex is inhibited.”

jaybird found this for you @ 08:41 in Consciousness, Psychology & Philosophy | | permalink

{ Thursday, 20 April, 2006 }

A Quantum Blender: Life, the Universe, and Everything

Q: You've jumped from working on quantum computers to saying, oh, by the way, the universe is a gigantic quantum computer.
A: When you zap things with light to build quantum computers, you're hacking existing systems. You're hijacking the computation that's already happening in the universe, just like a hacker takes over someone else's computer.

Q:What is the universe computing when we are not hijacking it for our own purposes?
A:It computes itself. It computes the flow of orange juice as you drink it, or the position of each atom in your cells.

Q:Um, how many times have you seen The Matrix?
A:Sadly, only once. In The Matrix, what you see is fake - a simulation of bits - which is only a facade of what is real beneath it. But our universe is a simulation so exact that it is indistinguishable from the real thing. Our universe is one big honking quantum ­mech­anical computer.

Q:When did you first start having these visions?
A:It's not a new idea, or my idea. The notion that the universe is a computer is as old as Isaac Asimov's story The Last Question in the '50s and work by computer scientists Ed Fredkin and Konrad Zuse in the '60s.

Q:How do you explain Programming to your kids?
A: I tell them that it says everything in the universe is made of bits. Not chunks of stuff, but chunks of information - ones and zeros.

Q: Do they believe you?
A: My daughter Zoey says, "No, Daddy, everything is made of atoms, except for light." So I tell her, "Yes, Zoey, but those atoms are also information. You can think of atoms as carrying bits of information, or you can think of bits of information as carrying atoms. You can't separate the two."

Q:I've just put on your magic glasses, and looking around I see that, oh my gosh, everything is computing. Is this just fashionable?
A: Computers are our favorite metaphor at the moment, so maybe we see everything as com­puters. But this view is not that facile. Statistical mechanics, which underlies all chemistry, grew out of the realization that the world is information. The mathematical definition of a bit was first ­postulated not during the 1930s and '40s when Claude Shannon and Norbert Weiner started information theory but by James Clerk Maxwell and Ludwig Boltzmann during their 19th-­century explorations of the nature of the atom. They were working on thermo­dynamics, but they discovered that the world was made of information.

jaybird found this for you @ 20:12 in Science, Quantum & Space | | permalink

Ours: Beyond Property

(scroll down)

If we humans are going to solve our fossil fuel energy/global warming crisis, it will require that we take action. We can expect no help from big government and big business. They created this crisis and they have no interest in solving it. Big government's only goal is to be re-elected so they can retain political power, and the only goal of big business is to make money. These two forces have combined to create the present law of society one dollar = one vote.

If we humans with no political or economic power want to solve our problems, then we will have to take charge of our society. What is our authority for taking such action? We must begin by seizing the moral highground. And, taking the moral highground requires that we face the truth.
Truth #1-Possessions are not necessarily property.

The possession of an object does not mean that the possessor has a moral or rational claim to ownership of the object. The political, economic, and social structures of our present world are all based on our concept of ‘property’ and property rights. Recall from the Basics section, my discussion of the shifting of human values as humanity evolves from adversary processing to neutral processing to synergic processing. Adversary wealth is physical force. Neutral wealth is money. And, synergic wealth is mutual life support. Therefore adversary ‘property’ is property obtained by force or fraud, and then held with physical force. Neutral ‘property’ is property purchased in the fair market, and held by right of law enforced by neutral government.

Remember Neutrality was an evolutionary advance from Adversity, at the time of Neutrality’s inception most possessions were adversary. They had been obtained through force or fraud and held with physical force. The new institutions of Neutrality never made any attempt to correct what by the new values of Neutrality would be past injustices. Neutral values would prevail in future, but the past was left alone.

This resulted in the legal precedent wherein possession is 9/10 of the law.

In other words, at the time Neutrality was institutionalized, all existing ‘property’ whether adversary or neutral was made legal ‘property’. However, all new ‘property’ was required to be neutral ‘property’–that is ‘property’ acquired by paying a fair price in a free market to the rightful owner, or that ‘property’ which is created directly by the mind and labor of the owner.

Most of the founding fathers of Neutrality were beneficiaries of ‘adversary’ property and in no hurry to give it up. They also believed that in the long run these injustices would slowly be corrected, and all property would eventually come to be ‘neutral’ property. We will see later that this was not the case.

While synergic ‘property’ is not yet defined, it would have to be property that was obtained without hurting or ignoring anyone, and even more importantly, it would have to be property that was mutually life supporting–that is it would have to be property that had a beneficial effect for self and others. If humanity is to advance to Synergy, our concept of ‘property’ and property rights must change radically in the future. How this could work will be explained in the Future section, but now let us examine ‘property’ as it exists today.

jaybird found this for you @ 16:09 in Consciousness, Psychology & Philosophy | | permalink

Nanoparticles armed to combat cancer

Ultra-small particles loaded with medicine - and aimed with the precision of a rifle - are offering a promising new way to strike at cancer, according to researchers working at MIT and Brigham and Women's Hospital.

In a paper to appear the week of April 10 in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team reports a way to custom design nanoparticles so they home in on dangerous cancer cells, then enter the cells to deliver lethal doses of chemotherapy. Normal, healthy cells remain unscathed.

The team conducted experiments first on cells growing in laboratory dishes, and then on mice bearing human prostate tumors. The tumors shrank dramatically, and all of the treated mice survived the study; the untreated control animals did not.

"A single injection of our nanoparticles completely eradicated the tumors in five of the seven treated animals, and the remaining animals also had significant tumor reduction, compared to the controls..."

jaybird found this for you @ 12:03 in Health, Medicine & Bio-Happiness | | permalink

The Point-I and the Space-I

A new way of approaching the subject of Nirvana has come to my mind which may be helpful in clarifying certain difficulties relative to the nature of this State. The usual idea of Nirvana seems to be that It is a sort of blissful State produced by an extinguishing of life through the elimination of the will-to-live and the desire for enjoyment. Since ordinarily men find themselves unable to conceive of consciousness unrelated to personality and the various cravings associated with sentient life, Nirvana appears to be something like an absolute nonexistence or an annihilation in the full sense of the word. If, on the other hand, it is granted that Nirvana is some sort of State of Consciousness, it is often thought of as something undesirable.

There is much misconception in all this. Anyone who has ever touched even the hem of Nirvanic Consciousness would not regard It as an undesirable State and most certainly would Know that It did not imply the cessation of Consciousness, although It is a kind of consciousness quite different anything to be found within the relative field. Now the difficulty seems to me to grow out of a misunderstanding of what is meant when we say 'I,' and I believe I can say something that will make this matter clearer.

Approached from the usual standpoint of relative consciousness, the T seems to be something like a point. This 'point' in one man is different from the T in another man. One T can have interests that are incompatible with the interests of another 'I,' and the result is conflict. Further, the purpose of life seems to center around the attainment of enjoyment by the particular I-point which a given individual seems to be.

jaybird found this for you @ 07:59 in Consciousness, Psychology & Philosophy | | permalink

{ Wednesday, 19 April, 2006 }

L-Ron-Unit: "Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wants to make a million dollars he should start his own religion."

Posing as an interested disciple, I first call into the Scientology Centre on London's Tottenham Court Road where I fill out an Oxford Capacity Analysis Test, designed to measure emotional state in order to highlight areas that Scientology can improve. Although the test is free, I am encouraged to purchase a copy of Hubbard's Dianetics (for £6.99) and to contact them when I finish reading it.

My results apparently prove that I am depressed, nervous, critical, anxious and unable to communicate. I am told that I am in dire need of spiritual enlightenment and that only Scientology can help me.

I telephone the Church of Scientology's headquarters at Saint Hill, claiming that I am concerned by my test results. I am invited to attend a "church" service, a "group processing session", and to have a guided tour by a "recruitment expert" of the building and grounds at Saint Hill, known to those inside as "The Castle".

Two days later, I am standing on the manicured lawns of the beautiful Jacobean building that is home to Scientology's version of the civil service - the Sea Organisation. My guide for the day, Ron, appears. He tells me has been a member for seven years and sold his home in Norwich six years ago "to be closer to the Sea Organisation". He works at Saint Hill every evening and weekend. He has a day job as an electrician and seems surprised when I ask him if he has time off. "Why would I want to do that?" asks the 33-year-old. "I love it here."

jaybird found this for you @ 20:30 in High Weirdness | | permalink

Rumsfeld Potentially Liable for Torture

A December 20, 2005 Army Inspector General’s report, obtained by Salon.com this week, contains a sworn statement by Lt. Gen. Randall M. Schmidt that implicates Secretary Rumsfeld in the abuse of detainee Mohammad al-Qahtani. Based on an investigation that he carried out in early 2005, which included two interviews with Rumsfeld, Gen. Schmidt describes the defense secretary as being “personally involved” in al-Qahtani’s interrogation.

Human Rights Watch urges the United States to name a special prosecutor to investigate the culpability of Rumsfeld and others in the al-Qahtani case.

“The question at this point is not whether Secretary Rumsfeld should resign, it’s whether he should be indicted,” said Joanne Mariner, Terrorism and Counterterrorism Program director at Human Rights Watch. “General Schmidt’s sworn statement suggests that Rumsfeld may have been perfectly aware of the abuses inflicted on al-Qahtani.”

Gen. Schmidt said that Secretary Rumsfeld was “talking weekly” with Gen. Miller about the al-Qahtani interrogation, and that the secretary of defense was “personally involved in the interrogation of [this] one person.” Schmidt’s statement indicates that Rumsfeld maintained a high level of knowledge of and supervision over al-Qahtani’s treatment. Although Schmidt said that he believed that Rumsfeld did not specifically order the more abusive methods used in the al-Qahtani interrogation, he concluded that Rumsfeld’s policies facilitated the abuse.

jaybird found this for you @ 16:22 in News, Opinion & Politique | | permalink

How Bush's Bad Ideas May Lead to Good Ones

If, like me, you are in the business of ideas, the presidency of George W. Bush is a dream come true. That is not because the president is fond of the product I produce; on the contrary, he may be the most anti-intellectual president of modern times, a determined opponent of science, a man who values loyalty above debate among his associates. But governance is impossible without ideas, and by basing his foreign and domestic policies on so many bad ones, President Bush may have cleared the ground for the emergence of a few good ones...

It is beyond my powers to know whether America's next president will be a Republican or a Democrat. But I do know that some future president will be faced with undoing the damage of a man sufficiently lacking in intellectual curiosity to question the bad ideas upon which he built his administration. Academics and intellectuals with an independent cast of mind — whether liberal or conservative — have played little role in the Bush administration, given, as it is, to reiterating talking points and insisting on absolute loyalty to the man in charge. But that is all the more reason why academics and intellectuals will find themselves in great demand when the leaders of this country eventually decide that their foreign and domestic policies will have to confront the real world around them, not the imaginary one bequeathed to them by their ideology. When that happens, future historians will look back on the Bush years as paving the way for a golden age of intellectual inquiry.

jaybird found this for you @ 12:12 in News, Opinion & Politique | | permalink

Thunder and Mockingbirds

Sweet rain,
Leaking, innocently, into my dreams,
Themselves as beyond me
As the random tickle of lightening.
Storms come and clear the way-
A torrent erases yesterday from the street
The wind blew away what I was thinking about.
This greening Earth...
My bones...
The conversation of the rain...
This house and its queer angles...
It's the storm, coming from the southwest,
Coming to awaken you.

jaybird found this for you @ 07:59 in Journaling the Infinite | | permalink

{ Tuesday, 18 April, 2006 }

Zinn: America’s Blinders

If we don’t know history, then we are ready meat for carnivorous politicians and the intellectuals and journalists who supply the carving knives. I am not speaking of the history we learned in school, a history subservient to our political leaders, from the much-admired Founding Fathers to the Presidents of recent years. I mean a history which is honest about the past. If we don’t know that history, then any President can stand up to the battery of microphones, declare that we must go to war, and we will have no basis for challenging him. He will say that the nation is in danger, that democracy and liberty are at stake, and that we must therefore send ships and planes to destroy our new enemy, and we will have no reason to disbelieve him.

But if we know some history, if we know how many times Presidents have made similar declarations to the country, and how they turned out to be lies, we will not be fooled. Although some of us may pride ourselves that we were never fooled, we still might accept as our civic duty the responsibility to buttress our fellow citizens against the mendacity of our high officials.

We would remind whoever we can that President Polk lied to the nation about the reason for going to war with Mexico in 1846. It wasn’t that Mexico “shed American blood upon the American soil,” but that Polk, and the slave-owning aristocracy, coveted half of Mexico.

We would point out that President McKinley lied in 1898 about the reason for invading Cuba, saying we wanted to liberate the Cubans from Spanish control, but the truth is that we really wanted Spain out of Cuba so that the island could be open to United Fruit and other American corporations. He also lied about the reasons for our war in the Philippines, claiming we only wanted to “civilize” the Filipinos, while the real reason was to own a valuable piece of real estate in the far Pacific, even if we had to kill hundreds of thousands of Filipinos to accomplish that.

President Woodrow Wilson—so often characterized in our history books as an “idealist”—lied about the reasons for entering the First World War, saying it was a war to “make the world safe for democracy,” when it was really a war to make the world safe for the Western imperial powers.

Harry Truman lied when he said the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima because it was “a military target.”

Everyone lied about Vietnam—Kennedy about the extent of our involvement, Johnson about the Gulf of Tonkin, Nixon about the secret bombing of Cambodia, all of them claiming it was to keep South Vietnam free of communism, but really wanting to keep South Vietnam as an American outpost at the edge of the Asian continent.

Reagan lied about the invasion of Grenada, claiming falsely that it was a threat to the United States.

The elder Bush lied about the invasion of Panama, leading to the death of thousands of ordinary citizens in that country.

And he lied again about the reason for attacking Iraq in 1991—hardly to defend the integrity of Kuwait (can one imagine Bush heartstricken over Iraq’s taking of
Kuwait?), rather to assert U.S. power in the oil-rich Middle East.

Given the overwhelming record of lies told to justify wars, how could anyone listening to the younger Bush believe him as he laid out the reasons for invading Iraq? Would we not instinctively rebel against the sacrifice of lives for oil?

jaybird found this for you @ 21:02 in News, Opinion & Politique | | permalink

The Fate of the Ocean

Concerns about weather are part of what’s sending us to sea in the first place. By studying the ocean’s chemistry, which affects currents and, in turn, weather, Curry hopes to better understand how we humans might be affecting the critical elements of our own life-support system. Data from physical oceanography, marine biology, meteorology, fisheries science, glaciology, and other disciplines reveal that the ocean, for which our planet should be named, is changing in every parameter, in all dimensions, in every way we know how to measure it.

The 25 years I’ve spent at sea filming nature documentaries have provided a brief yet definitive window into these changes. Oceanic problems once encountered on a local scale have gone pandemic, and these pandemics now merge to birth new monsters. Tinkering with the atmosphere, we change the ocean’s chemistry radically enough to threaten life on earth as we know it. Making tens of thousands of chemical compounds each year, we poison marine creatures who sponge up plastics and PCBs, becoming toxic waste dumps in the process. Carrying everything from nuclear waste to running shoes across the world ocean, shipping fleets spew as much greenhouse gases into the atmosphere as the entire profligate United States. Protecting strawberry farmers and their pesticide methyl bromide, we guarantee that the ozone hole will persist at least until 2065, threatening the larval life of the sea. Fishing harder, faster, and more ruthlessly than ever before, we drive large predatory fish toward global extinction, even though fish is the primary source of protein for one in six people on earth. Filling, dredging, and polluting the coastal nurseries of the sea, we decimate coral reefs and kelp forests, while fostering dead zones.

I’m alarmed by what I’m seeing. Although we carry the ocean within ourselves, in our blood and in our eyes, so that we essentially see through seawater, we appear blind to its fate. Many scientists speak only to each other and studiously avoid educating the press. The media seems unwilling to report environmental news, and caters to a public stalled by sloth, fear, or greed and generally confused by science. Overall, we seem unable to recognize that the proofs so many politicians demand already exist in the form of hindsight. Written into the long history of our planet, in one form or another, is the record of what is coming our way.

jaybird found this for you @ 16:51 in Environment, Ecology & Nature | | permalink

Tzaddikim: The Thirty Six Unknown

In later Kabbalistic (Kabbalah) folklore, the thirty six hidden ones have the potential to save the world, they appear when they are needed, and one of them might be the Messiah. They come at times of great peril, called out of their anonymity and humility by the necessity to save the world. Because they can, and because we need them.

We Jews began to get familiar with them, referring to them in Yiddish as the "lamed vov-niks" (lamed vov is Hebrew for thirty six), and seeing them everywhere in the anonymous acts of good people who rise to great acts in difficult circumstances. And because one of the lamed vov-niks, one of the anonymous thirty six might be the Messiah, we tended to treat strangers with kindness and the possibility that he or she could be the one. It could be the person we least suspect, because the thirty six, like all the sustaining notions of the world in the Kabbalah, are hidden. They may appear, they may not appear. If they do appear, they may be known, they may be unknown. In each generation, we look for them everywhere.

Who are your Tzaddikim? [via mygothlaundry]

jaybird found this for you @ 12:47 in Spirituality, Religion & Mythos | | permalink

Burning: Some still remember the day Mississippi was nuked

I had no idea this ever happened...

Billy Ray Anderson remembers the day the earth kicked up waves, the ground cracked, chimneys tumbled and the creeks turned black in this corner of the Deep South.

"The ground swelled up," said Anderson. "It was just like the ocean - there was a wave every 200 feet or so."

It was the day the government nuked Mississippi.

At precisely 10 a.m. on Oct. 22, 1964, a nuclear bomb exploded 2,700 feet beneath the loblolly pines of Lamar County. Within a microsecond, the clash of plutonium atoms heated an underground salt dome to the temperature of the sun.

On Saturday, the world will mark the 60th anniversary of the first atomic bomb test at Alamagordo, N.M. The anniversary is significant to Anderson and his neighbors because no Americans live closer to a nuclear-test site. The 1,052 other U.S. nuclear blasts occurred in sparsely populated sections of Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and Alaska or in the Pacific Ocean.

Time has erased much of the evidence and memory of two underground nuclear explosions here - the only times the United States detonated atomic bombs east of the Mississippi River.

Some residents fear that the bomb has caused cancer. Others think that's just a bunch of hooey.

Federal and state officials say that residents are safe.

Of course they do. [via mefi]

jaybird found this for you @ 08:44 in News, Opinion & Politique | | permalink

{ Monday, 17 April, 2006 }

Rudolph Steiner: Dweller on the Threshold

In matter-of-fact terms, (Steiner) introduced them to his teaching – 'anthroposophy', as he called it – telling them along the way about ancient Atlantis, life after death, astral and ætheric bodies, the true meaning of Christianity and much, much more. Yet this humble, self-effacing character became one of the most influential – and simultaneously vilified – forces in the spiritual and cultural life of early 20th-century Europe. And his ideas are still powerfully influential today. Steiner's efforts to lead "the Spiritual in the human being to the Spiritual in the Universe" have produced remarkably concrete results. Since his death, more than 1,000 schools around the world work with Steiner's pedagogical principles, not to mention the many "special needs" schools, working along lines developed by Steiner more than a century ago. There are also the hundreds of 'bio-dynamic' farms, employing Steiner's agricultural insights, developed decades in advance of our interest in ecology and organic foods. The practical application of Steiner's ideas have also informed very successful avenues in holistic healthcare, the arts, architecture, economics, religion and other areas.

So, given these achievements in the 'real world', which certainly exceed those of other 'esoteric teachers', why isn't Steiner better known? You would reasonably expect the average educated person to have some idea of who, say, Jung is, or Krishnamurti, or the Dalai Lama; possibly even Blavatsky, Gurdjieff and Crowley. But Steiner? He remains something of a mystery, a name associated with a handful of different disciplines and endeavours, but not solidly linked to any one thing. He remains, as one of his most eloquent apologists, the Inkling Owen Barfield, called him, "the best kept secret of the 20th century." It's certainly time that he was better known.

jaybird found this for you @ 20:40 in Consciousness, Psychology & Philosophy | | permalink

Knowledge and Care: Technologies of the Self

When I began to study the rules, duties, and prohibitions of sexuality, the interdictions and restrictions associated with it, I was concerned not simply with the acts that were permitted and forbidden but with the feelings represented, the thoughts, the desires one might experience, the drives to seek within the self any hidden feeling, any movement of the soul, any desire disguised under illusory forms. There is a very significant difference between interdictions about sexuality and other forms of interdiction. Unlike other interdictions, sexual interdictions are constantly connected with the obligation to tell the truth about oneself.

Two facts may be objected: first, that confession played an important part in penal and religious institutions for all offenses, not only in sex. But the task of analyzing one's sexual desire is always more important than analyzing any other kind of sin.

I am also aware of the second objection: that sexual behavior more than any other was submitted to very strict rules of secrecy, decency, and modesty so that sexuality is related in a strange and complex way both to verbal prohibition and to the obligation to tell the truth, of hiding what one does, and of deciphering who one is.

The association of prohibition and strong incitations to speak is a constant feature of our culture. The theme of the renunciation of the flesh was linked to the confession of the monk to the abbot, to telling the abbot everything that he had in mind.

I conceived of a rather odd project: not the evolution of sexual behavior but the projection of a history of the link between the obligation to tell the truth and the prohibitions against sexuality. I asked: How had the subject been compelled to decipher himself in regard to what was forbidden? It is a question of the relation between asceticism and truth.

Max Weber posed the question: If one wants to behave rationally and regulate one's action according to true principles, what part of one's self should one renounce? What is the ascetic price of reason? To what kind of asceticism should one submit? I posed the opposite question: How have certain kinds of interdictions required the price of certain kinds of knowledge about oneself? What must one know about oneself in order to be willing to renounce anything?

Thus I arrived at the hermeneutics of technologies of the self in pagan and early Christian practice. I encountered certain difficulties in this study because these practices are not well known. First, Christianity has always been more interested in the history of its beliefs than in the history of real practices. Second, such a hermeneutics was never organized into a body of doctrine like textual hermeneutics. Third, the hermeneutics of the self has been confused with theologies of the soul-concupiscence, sin, and the fall from grace. Fourth, a hermeneutics of the self has been diffused across Western culture through numerous channels and integrated with various types of attitudes and experience so that it is difficult to isolate and separate it from our own spontaneous experiences.

[via corpus mmothra]

jaybird found this for you @ 16:35 in Consciousness, Psychology & Philosophy | | permalink

Move it: Getting Evolution Up to Speed

New evidence suggests humans are evolving more rapidly -- and more recently -- than most people thought possible. But for some radical evolutionists, Homo sapiens isn't morphing quickly enough.

"People like to think of modern human biology, and especially mental biology, as being the result of selections that took place 100,000 years ago," said University of Chicago geneticist Bruce Lahn. "But our research shows that humans are still under selection, not just for things like disease resistance but for cognitive abilities."

Lahn recently published the results of a study demonstrating that two key genes connected to brain size are currently under rapid selection in populations throughout the globe.

"The jury is still out on what this means because we aren't entirely sure what these genes do," said Lahn. "It's possible they just control size and shape of the brain, rather than cognition. But the data is pretty compelling that the brain is evolving."

Some radical thinkers suggest human evolution needs to move even faster, with a little help from science.

"Biological evolution is too slow for the human species," said Ray Kurzweil, futurist and author of The Singularity Is Near. "Over the next few decades, it's going to be left in the dust."

jaybird found this for you @ 12:34 in Science, Quantum & Space | | permalink

Mystery tremors detected deep within Earth

Tremors deep inside the Earth are usually produced by magma flowing beneath volcanoes, but a new study suggests they can also be produced by the shifting and sliding of tectonic plates.

Scientists have recorded vibrations from underground tremors at a geologic observatory along the San Andreas Fault, an 800-mile (1,280-kilometer) scar in the earth that runs through California. The fault marks the boundary between the Pacific Tectonic Plate and the North American Plate.

jaybird found this for you @ 08:15 in Science, Quantum & Space | | permalink

{ Sunday, 16 April, 2006 }

Blog Zzzzzzzs

The blog was heavily fed today, and needs a nap.

jaybird found this for you @ 16:19 in Misc. Babble | | permalink

{ Saturday, 15 April, 2006 }

Blog break today

The blog is very busy doing other things. Let's see if it get around to doing something tomorrow. Probably will.

jaybird found this for you @ 23:58 in Misc. Babble | | permalink

{ Friday, 14 April, 2006 }


It's called Good Friday, which is interesting as many, many days seem to stand out as Good, ancient allegories notwithstanding. Much is indeed good- the sweet breath of spring blowing through my home, the slow day which brings peace, a silence which heals.

I've begun the babysteps toward transition to the new home. The closets are open, and their contents sorted. I will, and must, part with much, which is Good. I've moved from home to home shedding this and that, but this time, it is time. Time to purge. Time to let go. Time to summon forth the courage to cut, in order to grow. Garderners of tender flowers know this- you must prune to blossom. So much is changing that this must be done, and oh, the surprises I'll find, and the curbside eulogies I'll give...

Phoenix is a burning bird that must crash and be scattered to the winds in order to find and arise its soul. Same goes here. Shakespeare knew the sweetness of sorrow, and there's a sense of that intimate feeling here. This home, this street, these trees, they have been Good. Once a stone is cast into a lake, the lake changes, forever. My soul, a lake, ripples with the sight of these walls, and shall forevermore. The cat very purpsefully sits beside me now. Everything looks the same but everything is changing. She knows this, and humans are the last to catch on, perhaps because we fear the heat of the Phoenix fire. Other creatures are driven by change, it is their blood, and the landscape whereupon they prowl.

We mere humans, we have a lot of growing to do. Thus, we make intentional and drastic changes, that we taste our own long supressed urges to migrate- on the land and within something more mysterious. Moving houses or tents is either undertaken as a matter of course or a matter of faith, a grand movement of choice and daring. As we do this, everything about the Universe and the Earth is ribald with flux.

A few boxes here, a pile of personal flotsam there. Doesn't seem like much. And as heavy as it may be to prepare the way for closing the door one last time, I do this because it is Good, even in the bittersweet coming weeks. Change. Transformation. Metamorphosis. Or simply moving... it's all Good.

And so it begins.

jaybird found this for you @ 16:40 in Journaling the Infinite | | permalink

{ Thursday, 13 April, 2006 }

Gases in one dimension -- not your typical desk toy

Physicists at Penn State University have performed the first laboratory experiment with a system of many colliding particles whose motion never becomes chaotic. The achievement provides a deeper understanding of conditions that govern the boundary between order and chaos in physical systems. The research also has the potential to improve the accuracy of modern communication and navigation systems, which rely on high-precision gyroscopes or force sensors.

"A fascinating thing about this system is the remarkable stability of its momentum profile, which does not change even after each atom in the system has collided thousands of times," says Professor of Physics David Weiss, leader of the research team.

Unlike every-day experiences with colliding atoms--for example, a small heater that eventually warms the air in an entire room--Weiss's system does not reach the state physicists call thermal equilibrium, even after a long time. "We are not really making time stand still in our system--but it does look that way," Weiss says.

jaybird found this for you @ 20:06 in Science, Quantum & Space | | permalink

In Defense of French Dirigisme

Tierney's recent column on French social unrest caught my eye—not only because I'm half-French, but also because I'm interested in the public-relations tactics of the pro-Bush crowd. As Tierney's ideological predecessor (and former Republican press agent) William Safire well understood, when things get rough for your side, it's useful to change the subject.

Tierney finds it amusing that France is in upheaval over a new labor law, the Contrat Premiere Embauche (contract for first-time hires), that would make it easier for businessmen to fire young workers within the first two years of their employment. Private employers in France pay a heavy price for firing anybody—in justifying paperwork and money—so the theory is that they would hire more raw, untested types if it weren't so hard getting rid of the deadbeats.

If you're an employer, this makes perfect sense; if you're a member of France's “rightist” government, it's a great way to satisfy your corporate backers, as well as appearing to address the problem of high youth unemployment. If, on the other hand, you're a college student or trade unionist, the new labor law sounds like what it doubtless will be: discrimination permitting bosses to exploit and churn the lowest-paid people with the least seniority.

In “Who Moved My Fromage?,” Tierney labors too hard to be satirical about the French “facade of arrogance,” so the jokes turn labored very quickly: “Someone needs to rescue France from its self-proclaimed malaise. Close to a quarter of its young people are unemployed, but they're too busy burning cars to look for jobs.” There goes the drum in Doc Severensen's Tonight Show band: ba-dum-bump!

But underneath Tierney's strained humor (he suggests a new Marshall Plan, of American self-help wisdom) lies authentic hostility toward France's highly centralized social-support system: “Today's French can't even stand up to unarmed foreigners. When French young adults were asked what globalization meant to them, half replied 'fear.' ” Now that's really funny, especially contrasted with fearless post-9/11 America.

jaybird found this for you @ 16:01 in Culture, People & Customs | | permalink

Study, in a First, Explains Evolution's Molecular Advance

By reconstructing ancient genes from long-extinct animals, scientists have for the first time demonstrated the step-by-step progression of how evolution created a new piece of molecular machinery by reusing and modifying existing parts.

The researchers say the findings, published today in the journal Science, offer a counterargument to doubters of evolution who question how a progression of small changes could produce the intricate mechanisms found in living cells.

"The evolution of complexity is a longstanding issue in evolutionary biology," said Joseph W. Thornton, professor of biology at the University of Oregon and lead author of the paper. "We wanted to understand how this system evolved at the molecular level. There's no scientific controversy over whether this system evolved. The question for scientists is how it evolved, and that's what our study showed."

Charles Darwin wrote in The Origin of Species, "If it would be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down."

Discoveries like that announced this week of a fish with limblike fins have filled in the transitions between species. New molecular biology techniques let scientists begin to reconstruct how the processes inside a cell evolved over millions of years.

jaybird found this for you @ 12:00 in Science, Quantum & Space | | permalink

You: Universalist or relativist?

Are you U or non-U? By which I mean, are you a universalist or a relativist? Forget left and right; the defining political divide of the global era is between those who believe that some moral rights and freedoms ought to be universal and those who argue that each culture to its own. This new frontline of contemporary debate runs across issues as diverse as race, faith, multiculturalism, feminism, gay rights, freedom of speech and foreign policy. In each instance, the argument eventually comes down to whether you have a universalist or relativist view of the world.

Universalists argue that certain rights and protections - freedom of speech, democracy, the rule of law - are common or, at least, should be available to all people. Relativists maintain that different cultures have different values and that it's impossible to say that one system or idea is better than another and, moreover, it's racist to try.

If all of that sounds a little abstract and theoretical, then a quick glance at government policy is enough to show that these contradictory principles underpin many of the most significant developments of recent years. For example, the interventions in Kosovo, Sierra Leone and, most controversially, Iraq were predicated, give or take a few WMD, on the notion that the inhabitants of those countries should be extended the democratic rights that most people in the West take for granted.

jaybird found this for you @ 07:56 in Consciousness, Psychology & Philosophy | | permalink

{ Wednesday, 12 April, 2006 }

Prieur: Fall Down Six Times

Spring, 2006. The attack on Iran is canceled when the UAE, stung on the port deal, refuses to offer their territory as a staging ground. Tony Blair, after being given a huge dose of ecstacy by Russian agents, reveals that he supported the Iraq war because the Bush administration blackmailed him with disturbing sex photos. Hundreds of other blackmailees come forward, and suddenly the American elite have no leverage. The rest of the world pulls the rug out from under our economy, and we can no longer afford to occupy the colonies or import anything.

This disaster cuts deep enough that most Americans pass right through indignation and outrage, into humility and cooperation to help each other get through it. The neocons fade away, the Republicans become a minority party of religious fundamentalists, and Howard Dean survives three assassination attempts to be elected president in 2008. Using Bush-era strong-president laws, he begins a Hugo Chavez-style redistribution of wealth and political power. By 2010, he has survived seven more assassination attempts, most of which are tied to the old elites, who, incidentally, are are also being revealed as a pack of child-raping Satan-worshippers.

The dying industrial farm system is nationalized, distribution is handled by autonomous volunteers, and it's kept going just long enough to feed us while we learn to grow food locally without oil-derived chemicals. Residents of places where food cannot be grown locally use their last gasoline to drive to places where it can, and live in their cars until they build their own shelter from indigenous and scavenged materials, turning parking lots into thriving encampments with dense gardens...

jaybird found this for you @ 19:55 in Conjecture & Speculation | | permalink

Why Are Letters And Other Human Visual Signs Shaped The Way That They Are?

In a new study forthcoming in the May 2006 issue of The American Naturalist, Mark A. Changizi and his coauthors, Qiang Zhang, Hao Ye, and Shinsuke Shimojo, from the California Institute of Technology explore the hypothesis that human visual signs have been cross-culturally selected to reflect common contours in natural scenes that humans have evolved to be good at seeing." [We] analyzed one hundred writing systems, Chinese characters, and non-linguistic visual signs, and found that these very different types of human visual signs possess a similar shape structure," explain the researchers.

Comparing human visual signs to natural scenes, the researchers demonstrate a high correlation between the most common contour combinations found in nature and the most common contours found in letters and symbols across cultures...

[via vortex egg]

jaybird found this for you @ 15:53 in Consciousness, Psychology & Philosophy | | permalink

The Universe is Trapped in its Own Web

Astronomers from the University of Nottingham, UK, and the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (Spain), have found the first observational evidence that galaxies are not randomly oriented.

Instead, they are aligned following a characteristic pattern dictated by the large-scale structure of the invisible dark matter that surrounds them.

This discovery confirms one of the fundamental aspects of galaxy formation theory and implies a direct link between the global properties of the Universe and the individual properties of galaxies.

Galaxy formation theories predicted such an effect, but its empirical verification has remained elusive until now. The results of this work were published the 1 April issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Nowadays, matter is not distributed uniformly throughout space but is instead arranged in an intricate “cosmic web” of filaments and walls surrounding bubble-like voids. Regions with high galaxy concentrations are known as galaxy clusters whereas low density regions are termed voids.

This inhomogeneous distribution of matter is called the “Large-scale distribution of the Universe.” When the Universe is considered as whole, this distribution has a similar appearance to a spider’s web or the neural network of the brain.

jaybird found this for you @ 11:50 in Science, Quantum & Space | | permalink


We all believe that we have minds - and that minds, whatever they may be, are not like other worldly things. What makes us think that thoughts are made of different stuff? Because, it seems, thoughts can't be things; they have no weights or sounds or shapes, and cannot be touched or heard or seen. In order to explain all this, most thinkers of the past believed that feelings, concepts, and ideas must exist in a separate mental world. But this raises too many questions. What links our concept about, say, a cat with an actual cat in the physical world? How does a cause in either world affect what takes place in the other world? In the physical world we make new things by rearranging other things; is that how new ideas come to be, or were they somewhere all along? Are minds peculiar entities, possessed alone by brains like ours - or could such qualities be shared, to different degrees, by everything? It seems to me that the dual-world scheme creates a maze of mysteries that leads to problems worse than before.

We've heard a good deal of discussion about the idea that the brain is the bridge between those worlds. At first this seems appealing but it soon leads to yet worse problems in philosophy. I maintain that all the trouble stems from making a single great mistake. Brains and minds are not different at all; they do not exist in separate worlds; they are simply different points of view--ways of describing the very same things. Once we see how this is so, that famous problem of mind and brain will scarcely seem a problem at all, because ...

Minds are simply what brains do.
I don't mean to say that brains or minds are simple; brains are immensely complex machines-and so are what they do. I merely mean to say that the nature of their relationship is simple. Whenever we speak about a mind, we're referring to the processes that move our brains from state to state. Naturally, we cannot expect to find any compact description to cover every detail of all the processes in a human brain, because that would involve the details of the architectures of perhaps a hundred different sorts of computers, interconnected by thousands of specialized bundles of connections. It is an immensely complex matter of engineering. Nevertheless, when the mind is regarded, in principle, in terms of what the brain may do, many questions that are usually considered to be philosophical can now be recognized as merely psychological-because the long-sought connections between mind and brain do not involve two separate worlds, but merely relate two points of view.

[via bruce eisner's vision thing]

jaybird found this for you @ 07:45 in Consciousness, Psychology & Philosophy | | permalink

{ Tuesday, 11 April, 2006 }

Discovered: the missing link that solves a mystery of evolution

Scientists have made one of the most important fossil finds in history: a missing link between fish and land animals, showing how creatures first walked out of the water and on to dry land more than 375m years ago.

Palaeontologists have said that the find, a crocodile-like animal called the Tiktaalik roseae and described today in the journal Nature, could become an icon of evolution in action - like Archaeopteryx, the famous fossil that bridged the gap between reptiles and birds.

As such, it will be a blow to proponents of intelligent design, who claim that the many gaps in the fossil record show evidence of some higher power.

Richard Dawkins, the evolutionary biologist, said: "Our emergence on to the land is one of the more significant rites of passage in our evolutionary history, and Tiktaalik is an important link in the story."

Tiktaalik - the name means "a large, shallow-water fish" in the Inuit language Inuktikuk - shows that the evolution of animals from living in water to living on land happened gradually, with fish first living in shallow water.

jaybird found this for you @ 21:03 in Science, Quantum & Space | | permalink

Saturn's moon 'best bet for life'

Saturn's tiny moon Enceladus may be the best place to look for life elsewhere in the Solar System.

That is the view of a senior scientist working on the Cassini spacecraft, which has been studying Saturn and its moons for nearly two years.

Dr Bob Brown told a major conference in Vienna, Austria, Enceladus contains simple organic molecules, water and heat, the ingredients for life.

He raised the possibility of future missions to probe inside the moon.

jaybird found this for you @ 17:01 in Science, Quantum & Space | | permalink

On the streets of Cairo, saving the gods' cats

In the times of the ancient pharoahs, the cat was almost an equal of the gods. Pilgrims would place mummified cats around statues of cat-headed goddess Bastet, along with written prayers. The temple would periodically be cleared of these mummies, which would then be buried in a special necropolis designated for cat burial.
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And in 5 BC, a Greek historian observed that the members of an Egyptian household had shaved off their eyebrows to mourn the family cat's demise.

The cat even had a place in hieroglyphics, where it was written as "miu,” not unlike the noise it made as it hunted birds in the marshes, gnawed on a fish under its mistress' chair or slayed serpents — all scenes recorded for eternity on tomb walls more than 3,000 years ago.

But take a short walk in Cairo today, it is clear to see that the former demi-gods have indisputably fallen from grace. Feral cats are everywhere — prey for cars, abuse, disease and starvation.

One woman, though, is fighting a largely lone battle to take Egyptian cats off the streets and put them into homes with people who appreciate their legendary heritage. Her greater dream is to see theses native animals revered for what many believe them to be: modern descendants of cats domesticated in Pharaonic times.

jaybird found this for you @ 12:59 in Culture, People & Customs | | permalink

Philippines: Two new species discovered

Scientists have discovered two new species -- a parrot and a mouse -- that live only on a small island in the Philippines. This island, Camiguin, is the smallest Philippine island, of which there are 7,000, known to support a bird or mammal species that is endemic... These new discoveries and the biological diversity they document strengthen the case for preserving the small area of natural rain forest still found on the island.

"Knowing that at least 54 species of birds and at least 24 species of mammals live on Camiguin, and that some of these animals are found nowhere else on earth, makes us realize how important this island is in terms of conservation," said Lawrence Heaney, Curator of Mammals, at The Field Museum and a co-author of several of the reports in this publication. "For these animals to survive, we've got to save the dwindling forests where they live."

The island was once almost entirely covered by rain forest, but by 2001 only 18% was still forested, Heaney said. That amount has dropped since then, as logging, agriculture and human settlement have continued to erode the forests. In fact, almost half the island is now covered with coconut plantations.

jaybird found this for you @ 08:56 in Environment, Ecology & Nature | | permalink

{ Monday, 10 April, 2006 }

Take care of this, willya? Bush Left Leak Details to Cheney

Bush merely instructed Cheney to "get it out" and left the details to him, said the lawyer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case for the White House. The vice president chose Libby and communicated the president's wishes to his then-top aide, the lawyer said.

It is not known when the conversation between Bush and Cheney took place. The White House has declined to provide the date when the president used his authority to declassify the portions of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, a classified document that detailed the intelligence community's conclusions about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The new information about Bush and Cheney's roles came as the president's aides have scrambled to defuse the political fallout from a court filing Wednesday by the prosecutors in the complex, ongoing investigation into whether the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame was disclosed to discredit her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, an Iraq war critic.

jaybird found this for you @ 20:25 in News, Opinion & Politique | | permalink


The Bush Administration, while publicly advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon, has increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack. Current and former American military and intelligence officials said that Air Force planning groups are drawing up lists of targets, and teams of American combat troops have been ordered into Iran, under cover, to collect targeting data and to establish contact with anti-government ethnic-minority groups. The officials say that President Bush is determined to deny the Iranian regime the opportunity to begin a pilot program, planned for this spring, to enrich uranium.

American and European intelligence agencies, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.), agree that Iran is intent on developing the capability to produce nuclear weapons. But there are widely differing estimates of how long that will take, and whether diplomacy, sanctions, or military action is the best way to prevent it. Iran insists that its research is for peaceful use only, in keeping with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and that it will not be delayed or deterred.

There is a growing conviction among members of the United States military, and in the international community, that President Bush’s ultimate goal in the nuclear confrontation with Iran is regime change. Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has challenged the reality of the Holocaust and said that Israel must be “wiped off the map.” Bush and others in the White House view him as a potential Adolf Hitler, a former senior intelligence official said. “That’s the name they’re using. They say, ‘Will Iran get a strategic weapon and threaten another world war?’ ”

jaybird found this for you @ 16:10 in News, Opinion & Politique | | permalink

Top Pentagon Brass: "Why I Think Rumsfeld Must Go"

In 1971, the rock group The Who released the antiwar anthem Won't Get Fooled Again. To most in my generation, the song conveyed a sense of betrayal by the nation's leaders, who had led our country into a costly and unnecessary war in Vietnam. To those of us who were truly counterculture—who became career members of the military during those rough times—the song conveyed a very different message. To us, its lyrics evoked a feeling that we must never again stand by quietly while those ignorant of and casual about war lead us into another one and then mismanage the conduct of it. Never again, we thought, would our military's senior leaders remain silent as American troops were marched off to an ill-considered engagement. It's 35 years later, and the judgment is in: the Who had it wrong. We have been fooled again. From 2000 until October 2002, I was a Marine Corps lieutenant general and director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After 9/11, I was a witness and therefore a party to the actions that led us to the invasion of Iraq—an unnecessary war. Inside the military family, I made no secret of my view that the zealots' rationale for war made no sense. And I think I was outspoken enough to make those senior to me uncomfortable. But I now regret that I did not more openly challenge those who were determined to invade a country whose actions were peripheral to the real threat—al-Qaeda. I retired from the military four months before the invasion, in part because of my opposition to those who had used 9/11's tragedy to hijack our security policy. Until now, I have resisted speaking out in public. I've been silent long enough.

I am driven to action now by the missteps and misjudgments of the White House and the Pentagon, and by my many painful visits to our military hospitals. In those places, I have been both inspired and shaken by the broken bodies but unbroken spirits of soldiers, Marines and corpsmen returning from this war. The cost of flawed leadership continues to be paid in blood. The willingness of our forces to shoulder such a load should make it a sacred obligation for civilian and military leaders to get our defense policy right. They must be absolutely sure that the commitment is for a cause as honorable as the sacrifice.

jaybird found this for you @ 12:08 in News, Opinion & Politique | | permalink

Cutting and Running in Baghdad

As usual, President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and their stalwart secretaries of state and defense, are johnnies-come-lately in their ability to understand how far gone Iraq is. Perhaps, as has been the case in the past, that is because they continue flagrantly to disregard what they are told by analysts in the U.S. intelligence community. Before, during, and after the invasion of Iraq, with a rising sense of alarm, the CIA, the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), and other agencies warned the Bush-Cheney team that the destruction of Iraq's central government could tumble the country into a civil war. In 2004, of course, the president famously dismissed such CIA warnings as "just a guess." Well, guess what, Mr. President? It's civil war. And it isn't pretty.

jaybird found this for you @ 08:51 in News, Opinion & Politique | | permalink

{ Sunday, 09 April, 2006 }

Here I go again

I've made a decision to move, my fifth since landing in Asheville nine years ago. Damn, I've been here that long? I finalized it earlier this evening, will be living downtown in walking distance to everything in a great neighborhood loaded with good vibes.

I've been just north of town since the April 1 1997 emigration with Joshua (who's now in Black Mountain with Ms. Robin). Woodfin, to be exact, and it can be rather tedious here. I'm thrilled to leave it and finally be within city limits. The apartment is fantastic, and the perks substantial.

This, of course, will dredge up all sorts of memory, wonderment, and letting go as I slide southward down the highway into a new way of life. Yet things have been changing remarkably so much in the past month that a move is just par for the course.

As always, the very first thing to go will be the ceramic Chinese dragon which has preceded every move, to hold and protect the space. This will be a full and challenging time.

And I'm a big believer of putting the cha-cha-cha into challening. Onward and upward.

jaybird found this for you @ 23:27 in Journaling the Infinite | | permalink

{ Saturday, 08 April, 2006 }

Severe Weather Alert

The anthem we know
Was written under the flash and thunder of cannon
An ode to a republic
Never truly born, never fully imagined.

Tonight, there were fireworks
Which rattled the city
A sudden dashing of light
High above the baseball stadium, and hundreds of mesmerized eyes.

And the wind is blowing.
And a storm is coming.
And the lightening is quicksilver.
And the thunder is forceful and true.

This country, these mountains
Mere plots on the weatherman’s map
Hapless, we are told,
Against the sheets of rain and gale.

And in the flowering of the trees, uprising.
And in the cadence of the mockingbird, freedom.
And in the rapture of the creek, power.
And in the heady anticipation of night, justice.

A nation is as much stands of ancient forest
As it is to stand with my friends.
A nation is as much an expanse of awakening people
As it is the resplendent violet of the sky.

Hopeless it may be
To pick off falling bombs with a slingshot
It’s worth a chance to have a dream
To write a new anthem with only one word.

They say you can’t change the weather
But have never said anything about becoming it-
O come, hailstorm of truth,
O come, dustdevil of rebellion!

So, as the storm approaches
And flags tatter as warm and cold share atmospheric passions
Recall that long night of now-forgotten ideal
And what stood above the wasteland come dawn’s early light.

What stood was the sun,
Bright and gallant in the sky
Above a holy planet of teeming young ideals
Clamoring for some noble vista, to dare the Infinite with the temporal.

The sun rose above a battlefield of smoke and soldier’s ash
The defiant warmth of nature
Summoned from the crags blossoms,
And the cackling of playful crows.

It could be any war.
It could be any nation.
It could be any time.
It is here, it is now, it is but springtime in the city.

With spring come the storms,
And these, called for by the weatherman,
Will shake the glass of your window with a reminder
That the rains of your desires will wash out the footprint of your fears.

jaybird found this for you @ 01:13 in Journaling the Infinite | | permalink

{ Friday, 07 April, 2006 }

To kook or not to kook: Report from Iron Mountain

By 1980, the book was out of print. The controversy seemed forgotten. World peace had not materialised. But in the 1990s, Lewin discovered that bootleg editions of his book were being distributed by and to members of rightwing militia groups who claimed it was an authentic report. His 1972 admission seemed to have bypassed rightwing America. Lewin sued for copyright infringement, though the groups argued it was a public domain document – i.e. an official document – and that Lewin’s name as author was part of the government deception. In short, they argued that the publication was genuine, but, once leaked, the government did damage control and claimed it was a hoax, asking Lewin to admit to it.
The judge ruled in favour of Lewin, and all remaining copies were turned over to him. But… In 1993, the book made an appearance in the controversial movie JFK, in such a way that it was one of the most powerful scenes of the movie; a scene that “explained” why there was – could be? – a conspiracy why the “military-industrial complex” would want to kill Kennedy. How did this happens? Because Col. Fletcher Prouty believed the Report was authentic and cited it as such in his book, JFK: The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy –which was worked into the film script, Fletcher being portrayed by Donald Sutherland, meeting Kevin Costner (Jim Garrison) in Washington – a meeting that never occurred in reality. Stone used a section from Prouty’s book that comes from the Report and worked it into the dialogue: “The organizing principle of any society is for war. The basic authority of a modern state over its people resides in its war powers. . . . War readiness accounts for approximately a tenth of the output of the world's total economy.” For Stone – and many others – it was clear that the government was a co-existence of various interest groups: the oil industry; the pharmaceutical industry; but mainly, the military-industrial complex… warmongers.

jaybird found this for you @ 20:50 in News, Opinion & Politique | | permalink

Chaos=Order: Physicists make baffling discovery

According to a computational study conducted by a group of physicists at Washington University in St. Louis, one may create order by introducing disorder.

While working on their model — a network of interconnected pendulums, or "oscillators" — the researchers noticed that when driven by ordered forces the various pendulums behaved chaotically and swung out of sync like a group of intoxicated synchronized swimmers. This was unexpected — shouldn't synchronized forces yield synchronized pendulums?

But then came the real surprise: When they introduced disorder — forces were applied at random to each oscillator — the system became ordered and synchronized.

"The thing that is counterintuitive is that when you introduce disorder into the system — when the [forces on the pendulums] act at random — the chaos that was present before disappears and there is order..."

jaybird found this for you @ 16:49 in Science, Quantum & Space | | permalink

Professor Predicts Human Time Travel This Century

With a brilliant idea and equations based on Einstein’s relativity theories, Ronald Mallett from the University of Connecticut has devised an experiment to observe a time traveling neutron in a circulating light beam. While his team still needs funding for the project, Mallett calculates that the possibility of time travel using this method could be verified within a decade...

To determine if time loops exist, Mallett is designing a desktop-sized device that will test his time-warping theory. By arranging mirrors, Mallett can make a circulating light beam which should warp surrounding space. Because some subatomic particles have extremely short lifetimes, Mallett hopes that he will observe these particles to exist for a longer time than expected when placed in the vicinity of the circulating light beam. A longer lifetime means that the particles must have flowed through a time loop into the future.

“Say you have a cup of coffee and a spoon,” Mallett explained to PhysOrg.com. “The coffee is empty space, and the spoon is the circulating light beam. When you stir the coffee with the spoon, the coffee – or the empty space – gets twisted. Suppose you drop a sugar cube in the coffee. If empty space were twisting, you’d be able to detect it by observing a subatomic particle moving around in the space.”

And according to Einstein, whenever you do something to space, you also affect time. Twisting space causes time to be twisted, meaning you could theoretically walk through time as you walk through space.

jaybird found this for you @ 12:46 in Science, Quantum & Space | | permalink

Judas Priestly: Lost Gospel Revealed

After being lost for nearly 1,700 years, the Gospel of Judas was recently restored, authenticated, and translated. Some biblical scholars are calling the Gospel of Judas the most significant archaeological discovery in 60 years.

The only known surviving copy of the gospel was found in a codex, or ancient book, that dates back to the third or fourth century A.D. The newly revealed gospel document, written in Coptic script, is believed to be a translation of the original, a Greek text written by an early Christian sect sometime before A.D. 180.

jaybird found this for you @ 08:38 in Spirituality, Religion & Mythos | | permalink

{ Thursday, 06 April, 2006 }

Busy day...

So I overslept and awoke right into an impossibly busy day. But, I like it... when I was unemployed, I craved this. It's doing wonders for me, hopefully enabling me tohave my way at a few wonders as well. I'll try to check in later.

jaybird found this for you @ 12:49 in Misc. Babble | | permalink

Mishap! Your Loyal Editor Oversleeps!

As such, I can't guarantee that I'll be able to post anything substantial today. I will try, but it's a tight schedule with teaching a class late into the night.

Oi vey!

jaybird found this for you @ 07:17 in Misc. Babble | | permalink

{ Wednesday, 05 April, 2006 }

Wadjet: Serpent Goddess of Justice, Time, Heaven and Hell

Wadjet is primarily a snake-headed protector of Lower Egypt - the delta region. However, the ancient people of northern area worshiped Wadjet as a vulture Goddess. Wadjet was revered as the goddess of childbirth, and protector of children, and in later years she became the protector of kings. Wadjet's role was often seen as a forceful defender, while her sister, Nekhebet, was seen as the motherly defender. This contrast provided the counterpoint seen in many of the Egyptian deities. The symbol of justice, time, heaven and hell, Wadjet is one of the oldest Egyptian goddesses.

Often shown as a cobra, or as the head of the cobra, Wadjet can be seen rearing from the forehead of the rulers. Evidence of her protection is most notable upon the funerary mask of Tutankhamen. Occasionally, she has been shown in the guise of her "eye of divine vengeance" role, as a lioness. In later years, the royal crowns were often decorated with two or more depictions of cobras in deference to her role as protector.

While Wadjet was sometimes depicted as the lioness-headed goddess, she was often seen in the image of a mongoose, represented on the funeral urns of ancient Egypt. The mongoose was revered as her sacred animal. Along with the shrew mouse, they were mummified and entombed in statuettes of the goddess. It is believed that the mongoose, and the shrew mouse were representative of the day and night cycle. The mongoose representing daylight, and the nocturnal shrew mouse representing night.

jaybird found this for you @ 20:01 in Spirituality, Religion & Mythos | | permalink

Tweet: Are birds trying to tell us things?

Rupert Sheldrake, a London-based biologist, biochemist, philosopher and author, who trained at Cambridge and Harvard, researches unexplained perceptiveness in animals, such as telepathy, sense of direction and premonition.

He repeatedly tested N'kisi, a captive African Grey parrot who seemed to respond telepathically to the thoughts and intentions of his owner, Aimee Morgana. He wanted to find out whether the bird would use words matching randomly chosen pictures Morgana was looking at in another room.

"These findings are consistent with the hypotheses that N'kisi was reacting telepathically to Aimee's mental activity," Sheldrake reports on his website...

"The fact that these experiments statistically prove that N'kisi's use of speech is not random also give evidence of his sentience and intentional use of language."

jaybird found this for you @ 15:55 in Environment, Ecology & Nature | | permalink

Burroughs: My Mother and I Would Like to Know

“We been tipped off a nude reefer party is going on here. Take the place apart, boys, and you folks keep your clothes on or I'll blow your filthy guts out.”

We put out false alarms on the police short wave directing patrol cars to nonexistent crimes and riots which enables us to strike somewhere else. Squads of false police search and beat the citizenry. False construction workers tear up streets, rupture water mains, cut power connections. Infra-sound installations set off every burglar alarm in the city. Our aim is total chaos.

Loft room, map of the city on the wall. Fifty boys with portable tape recorders record riots from TV. They are dressed in identical grey flannel suits. They strap on the recorders under gabardine topcoats and dust their clothes lightly with tear gas. They hit the rush hour in a flying wedge, riot recordings on full blast, police whistles, screams, breaking glass, crunch of night sticks, tear gas flapping from their clothes. They scatter, put on press cards, and come back to cover the action. Bearded Yippies rush down a street with hammers, breaking every window on both sides, leave a wake of screaming burglar alarms, strip off the beards, reverse collars, and they are fifty clean priests throwing gasoline bombs under every car - WHOOSH a block goes up behind them. In fireman uniforms, arrive with axes and hoses to finish the good work.

In Mexico, South and Central America, guerrilla units are forming an army of liberation to free the United States. In North Africa, from Tangier to Timbuktu, corresponding units prepare to liberate Western Europe and the United Kingdom. Despite disparate aims and personnel of its constituent members, the underground is agreed on basic objectives. We intend to march on the police machine everywhere. We intend to destroy the police machine and all its records. We intend to destroy all dogmatic verbal systems. The family unit and its cancerous expansion into tribes, countries, nations, we will eradicate at its vegetable roots. We don't want to hear any more family talk, mother talk, father talk, cop talk, priest talk, country talk or party talk. To put it country simple, we have heard enough bullshit.

jaybird found this for you @ 11:51 in Authors, Books & Words | | permalink

Brother Wayne Teasdale: Transforming the Seeds of Corruption

"We have a universal responsibility to speak out when we see injustice, oppression, and the abuse of human rights, the rights of the earth, and other species," writes an impassioned Brother Wayne Teasdale in his book The Mystic Heart. "Personally, I find the silence [on the crisis in Tibet] disturbing and morally indefensible; it indicates a lack of courage and moral strength that hides behind considerations of prudence and discretion."

There are few souls as gentle as Brother Wayne Teasdale, "lay monk" and pioneer of the interfaith movement, who also speak as stridently and compellingly as he does about the necessity for all spiritual leaders to actively respond to the crises facing the world. But for Teasdale, the result of any true and deep mystical experience must be an active and engaged response to the cries of a suffering humanity and an embattled earth. Brother Wayne Teasdale has devoted much of his life to facilitating understanding, respect, and practical cooperation among spiritual leaders. Serving on the board for the Parliament of the World's Religions, he was instrumental in bringing almost eight thousand people of different faiths together for the 1993 Chicago Parliament, an event that led, among other things, to the pivotal signing by two hundred spiritual leaders of Guidelines for a Global Ethic. He also organized the Synthesis Dialogues, an interreligious, interdisciplinary forum moderated by H.H. the Dalai Lama, designed to bring key figures from diverse professions together to explore the value and implications of mystical experience. And, together with His Holiness, he helped to draft the influential Universal Declaration on Nonviolence.

jaybird found this for you @ 07:47 in Spirituality, Religion & Mythos | | permalink

{ Tuesday, 04 April, 2006 }

Viva Hugo! Chávez spending billions abroad to counter Bush Administration

President Hugo Chavez is spending billions of dollars of his country's oil windfall on pet projects abroad that are aimed at setting up his leftist government as a political counterpoint in the region to the conservative Bush administration...

With Venezuela's oil revenues rising 32 percent last year, Mr. Chávez has been subsidizing samba parades in Brazil, eye surgery for poor Mexicans and even heating fuel for poor families from Maine to the Bronx to Philadelphia. By some estimates, the spending now surpasses the nearly $2 billion Washington allocates annually to pay for development programs and the drug war in western South America.

The new spending has given more power to a leader who has been provocatively building a bulwark against what he has called American imperialistic aims in Latin America. Mr. Chávez frequently derides Mr. Bush and his top aides. In March, he called Mr. Bush a "donkey," a "drunkard" and a "coward," daring him to invade the country.

But with the biggest oil reserves outside the Middle East, Mr. Chávez is more than an irritant. He is fast rising as the next Fidel Castro, a hero to the masses who is intent on opposing every move the United States makes, but with an important advantage.

"He's managed to do what Fidel Castro never could," said Stephen Johnson, a scholar at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "Castro never had an independent source of income the way Chávez does. Chávez is filling a void that Castro left for him, leading nonaligned nations."

jaybird found this for you @ 20:06 in News, Opinion & Politique | | permalink

Yawn: Bush shuns Patriot Act requirement

When President Bush signed the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act this month, he included an addendum saying that he did not feel obliged to obey requirements that he inform Congress about how the FBI was using the act's expanded police powers.

The bill contained several oversight provisions intended to make sure the FBI did not abuse the special terrorism-related powers to search homes and secretly seize papers. The provisions require Justice Department officials to keep closer track of how often the FBI uses the new powers and in what type of situations. Under the law, the administration would have to provide the information to Congress by certain dates.

Bush signed the bill with fanfare at a White House ceremony March 9, calling it ''a piece of legislation that's vital to win the war on terror and to protect the American people." But after the reporters and guests had left, the White House quietly issued a ''signing statement," an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law.

In the statement, Bush said that he did not consider himself bound to tell Congress how the Patriot Act powers were being used and that, despite the law's requirements, he could withhold the information if he decided that disclosure would ''impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative process of the executive, or the performance of the executive's constitutional duties."

Bush wrote: ''The executive branch shall construe the provisions . . . that call for furnishing information to entities outside the executive branch . . . in a manner consistent with the president's constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch and to withhold information . . . "

jaybird found this for you @ 16:00 in News, Opinion & Politique | | permalink

Good ol' Canada: U.S. deserter tells of atrocities

A "trigger-happy" U.S. army squad leader shot the foot off an unarmed Iraqi man and soldiers kicked a severed head around like a soccer ball, a U.S. war deserter told an Immigration and Refugee Board hearing Thursday.

Joshua Key, the first U.S. deserter with combat experience in Iraq to apply for refugee status in Canada, told the board he witnessed numerous atrocities committed by U.S. forces while serving eight months as a combat engineer.

Key, 27, said he was never trained on the Geneva Convention and was told in Iraq by superior officers that the international law guiding humanitarian standards was just a "guideline."

"It's shoot first, ask questions later," Key said of his squad's guiding principles. "Everything's justified." (Sounds like typical Bush rhetoric)

Key is one of five members of the U.S. armed forces asking for asylum in Canada... With visible bags under his eyes, Key told the hearing he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and frequently has nightmares over what he witnessed in Iraq. He recalled participating in almost nightly raids on homes of suspected insurgents in Ramadi and Fallujah as a member of the 43rd Combat Engineer Company.

He said that while the raids seldom turned up anything of interest, he often saw soldiers ransack the homes and steal jewelry or money, while superior officers looked the other way.

He also said several Iraqis were shot dead, and that they were cases of soldiers "shooting out of fear and inventing reasons afterward." In Ramadi, Key said he saw the beheaded bodies of four Iraqis beside a shot-up truck and witnessed several members of the Florida National Guard kick a severed head "like a soccer ball."

jaybird found this for you @ 12:56 in News, Opinion & Politique | | permalink

Keep 'em guessing: Insulating Bush

Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political adviser, cautioned other White House aides in the summer of 2003 that Bush's 2004 re-election prospects would be severely damaged if it was publicly disclosed that he had been personally warned that a key rationale for going to war had been challenged within the administration. Rove expressed his concerns shortly after an informal review of classified government records by then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley determined that Bush had been specifically advised that claims he later made in his 2003 State of the Union address -- that Iraq was procuring high-strength aluminum tubes to build a nuclear weapon -- might not be true, according to government records and interviews.

Hadley was particularly concerned that the public might learn of a classified one-page summary of a National Intelligence Estimate, specifically written for Bush in October 2002. The summary said that although "most agencies judge" that the aluminum tubes were "related to a uranium enrichment effort," the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research and the Energy Department's intelligence branch "believe that the tubes more likely are intended for conventional weapons."

Three months after receiving that assessment, the president stated without qualification in his January 28, 2003, State of the Union address: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production."

Really, shouldn't this kind of thing be reserved for mindless TeeVee speculative drama? Chimp looks more and more like a Manchurian Candidate every passing day of his utterly contemptuous "administration."

jaybird found this for you @ 08:51 in News, Opinion & Politique | | permalink

{ Monday, 03 April, 2006 }

Bohr's Complementarity

"But what is light really? Is it a wave or a shower of photons? There seems no likelihood for forming a consistent description of the phenomena of light by a choice of only one of the two languages. It seems as though we must use sometimes the one theory and sometimes the other, while at times we may use either. We are faced with a new kind of difficulty. We have two contradictory pictures of reality; separately neither of them fully explains the phenomena of light, but together they do."

jaybird found this for you @ 20:25 in Science, Quantum & Space | | permalink

Know Thyself some more: Becoming real

Consciousness becomes fulfilled in the light of being, and like the moon moves into fullness with the sun's light, but the moon does not become the sun. The fulfillment of consciousness is a great thing: so great that one might think one is absolute being. But just as the moon wanes, so the consciousness will inevitably recede from being until it returns to the zero point and the long dark night of the soul.

How terrible it is to lose being. But how less confusing if one knows it is only a phase. If, however, you think you now are eternal being when your consciousness has filled to the maximum, then it will be especially painful. Consciousness is forever becoming. Whatever it becomes does not last. So when it becomes being, it immediately starts becoming not-being. Its mutability is what makes human life beautiful. Beauty resides in the veil thrown over the light. Life needs both the light and the veil.

jaybird found this for you @ 16:23 in Consciousness, Psychology & Philosophy | | permalink

Uplifting Bafoonery: 24 End of the World Prophecies


1999 to 2009: Jerry Falwell predicted in 1999-JAN that Jesus could return within ten years. But before that can happen, he said that the Antichrist must appear. Referring to the Antichrist, Falwell said: "Is he alive and here today? Probably. Because when he appears during the Tribulation period he will be a full-grown counterfeit of Christ. Of course he'll be Jewish. Of course he'll pretend to be Christ. And if in fact the Lord is coming soon, and he'll be an adult at the presentation of himself, he must be alive somewhere today." Rabbi James Rudin of the American Jewish Committee suggested that Christians should be careful about making such comments. His said that Falwell's statement "plays into some latent and historical anti-Semitism from the past." Rev. Falwell later apologized for his comment.

[via technoccult]

jaybird found this for you @ 12:17 in Conjecture & Speculation | | permalink

Morning Thunder

It was the rumblings
of a passionate affair
That tossed me, crazy-haired,
Into the morning.
Drop upon drop, exhales, inhales,
A storm is lovemaking
Between earth and sky
Forcing us to emerge from our viscera
And feel, at once,
The weather which stirs
So deep within our own
World and atmosphere of a body.

jaybird found this for you @ 07:59 in Journaling the Infinite | | permalink

{ Sunday, 02 April, 2006 }

Bird on the Moon is recovering from April Fools

Seriously, I'll be back tomorrow.

jaybird found this for you @ 12:29 in Misc. Babble | | permalink

{ Saturday, 01 April, 2006 }

Bird on the Moon Sells Out

I am turning over daily administration of this blog to Jesus.

April Fools!

jaybird found this for you @ 12:26 in Misc. Babble | | permalink

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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. 



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Letter Excerpt:


Ten Considerations for Being Well n this Goofy Universe


0. If you find yourself wonderstruck, don’t forget to return the favor.

1. Always be of service to the whole and the Holy. You’ll 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 you’ll find that when it’s your turn to be in the night that there’ll 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. You’ll 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. You’ll find that some of your choices could’ve been better, or at times were downright stupid. That’s okay... I have a closet full of reckless decisions, but without making them I wouldn’t 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. Don’t count on second chances.

7. In those times when everything collapses around you, and what’s left won’t go right, don’t 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 you’re 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 there’s 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 you’re doing, celebrate the process of doing as much, if not more, than what you’ve got when you’re done. Magic lives in the action.

9 ½ . All matter is energy. All energy is infinite. We are but raindrops falling to the ocean, a short time in this shape until we’re 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. It’s one of the few risks I’d 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 don’t make sense, just take a deep breath and laugh as best you can, because that’s what you get for choosing this goofy, unpredictable place called Earth to embody yourself upon.