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
When I was little,
When my hands were small and still knew innocence,
It could have been a glut of wasted days,
"Whatever," one can say breathlessly,
This is the whim of all incarnate, the mountains seem to say,
LeConte, Wayna Picchu, Looking Glass, Shasta, Olympus, Devil's Tower-
I am here, but...
The Sky: Yes, it's Blue: But why?
Why is the sky blue? It is a question children ask. Yet it also intrigued Leonardo da Vinci and Isaac Newton, among many other legendary thinkers. As late as 1862, the great astronomer John Herschel called the colour and polarization of skylight "great standing enigmas." Even today, our perception of sky blue is little understood by laymen.
Plato speculated that the sky's colour emerged from the interaction of the air with the celestial darkness beyond. Ancient Muslim thinkers speculated that the colour came from particles or "vapors" in the air, perhaps thinking of the dust-filled desert sky. Ibn al-Haytham noted that its hue is not uniform but deeper at the zenith, and whiter near the horizon, even on very clear days. Al-Biruni climbed the highest mountain in Persia and noticed the deep blue, almost black, skies at high altitudes.
These writings reached the West, where the 12th century monk Ristoro d'Arezzo connected sky blue with the way skilled painters can make the appearance of pale blue by delicately washing pure black pigment over white. Leonardo da Vinci followed Ristoro's speculations and their artistic implications. He noted the distinct blue of smoke and also the progressively deeper blue of distant mountains, the "aerial perspective" often used in the backgrounds of his paintings. He climbed Monte Rosa and speculated that its blue skies were due to "minute, imperceptible particles" suspended in the air like a fine smoke.
Drawing on his love of tennis, Rene Descartes compared blue skylight to balls without spin, and analogized red sunsets to balls spinning because of their passage through a longer reach of the atmosphere. (He never seems to have questioned whether his explanation was really true or merely ingenious.)
In contrast, Newton drew on the beautiful blue he noted in thin films of oil or in soap bubbles, concluding that water droplets suspended in air could explain sky blue. Yet Newton does not seem to have asked himself the obvious question: How could water droplets remain suspended sufficiently long to explain the blue sky, especially on dry days when the sky seems particularly blue?
The reason folk science so often gets it wrong is that we evolved in an environment radically different from the one in which we now live. Our senses are geared for perceiving objects of middling size--between, say, ants and mountains--not bacteria, molecules and atoms on one end of the scale and stars and galaxies on the other end. We live a scant three score and 10 years, far too short a time to witness evolution, continental drift or long-term environmental changes.
Causal inference in folk science is equally untrustworthy. We correctly surmise designed objects, such as stone tools, to be the product of an intelligent designer and thus naturally assume that all functional objects, such as eyes, must have also been intelligently designed. Lacking a cogent theory of how neural activity gives rise to consciousness, we imagine mental spirits floating within our heads. We lived in small bands of roaming hunter-gatherers that accumulated little wealth and had no experience of free markets and economic growth.
Folk science leads us to trust anecdotes as data, such as illnesses being cured by assorted nostrums based solely on single-case examples. Equally powerful are anecdotes involving preternatural beings, compelling us to make causal inferences linking these nonmaterial entities to all manner of material events, illness being the most personal. Because people often re-cover from sickness naturally, whatever was done just before recovery receives the -credit, prayer being the most common.
Who's Counting? The Diebold Bombshell
Recently, computer security expert Harri Hursti revealed serious security vulnerabilities in Diebold's software. According to Michael Shamos, a computer scientist and voting system examiner in Pennsylvania, "It's the most severe security flaw ever discovered in a voting system."
Even more shockingly, we learned recently that Diebold and the State of Maryland had been aware of these vulnerabilities for at least two years. They were documented in analysis, commissioned by Maryland and conducted by RABA Technologies, published in January 2004. For over two years, Diebold has chosen not to fix the security holes, and Maryland has chosen not to alert other states or national officials about these problems.
Basically, Diebold included a "back door" in its software, allowing anyone to change or modify the software. There are no technical safeguards in place to ensure that only authorized people can make changes.
Viddy Thursday: Powerful female singer songwriters part 3
Joan Armatrading drops the pilot and delivers such soul and warmth... I discovered her by accident about 15 years ago, and so glad for it.
Viddy Thursday: Powerful female singer songwriters part 2
I consider Carole King's "I Feel the Earth Move" to be a bit of a theme song.
Viddy Thursday: Powerful female singer songwriters part 1
Ah, Joni Mitchell. She has given me songs to sing forso many summers now.
Fish from heavens rain on India
The people of Kerala in India's southwest are famed for turning fish into spicy feasts fit for gods, but last week the heavens turned provider as fish rained down on the village of Manna, a newspaper reported on Monday.
The mad fishmonger strikes again!
After giving us a basic overview of what would happen, the santero began the ritual. He started by sprinkling Florida Water (an old perfume which became popular as a tool in Santeria) on the mat, in order to “sweeten the reading.” He encouraged us to apply a little to ourselves as well. Then began a long prayer in the Yoruba language. One by one, he pulled the cowrie shells from the bowl, dowsing each one with water from the bowl, and calling down the blessings of the Orishas, of spirit guides, of our ancestors, of all those who have died, of priests both living and dead. The list went on and on rhythmically. I began to feel myself fall into the rhythm of it all, my head nodding slightly almost of its own accord. I felt the distinct sensation too of a heaviness pushing slightly but not uncomfortably down on the top of my head, perhaps the beginning of a trance.
He then took the shells and touched them to my feet, my knees, legs, stomach, shoulders and head – connecting them to me and my particular destiny and energy. Also mixed in there somewhere (I forget where chronologically) were offerings to Eleggua of rum sprayed from his mouth, a cigar smoked backwards so that the orisha could in effect taste it himself, and the $121 that I had been instructed to bring. I folded the money three times over, which was a sign for it to come back to me threefold. The santero kissed it, crossed himself with it and left it in Eleggua’s little dish. Thus began the ritual. The prayers and actions which we took to begin had put me into a very calm and focused state of mind, with no trace of fear or apprehension. I had chosen my santero wisely, it seemed. I trusted him completely.
The Dilogun consists of two main throws of the cowrie shells. Each of these is associated with a number, an odu, and a proverb. The first throw establishes the main theme and the second describes the variations of that theme. The first throw found a number of cowrie shells sitting face up, like little mouths smiling up from the mat. The name and number of that odu I am choosing to keep hidden from the public eye, as I understand that these things are intended to be private keys to the energy currently operating in my life. As much as I feel the desire to share my experiences fully with others, I also want to respect the tradition and the spirits invoked by it. In any event, after only the first throw, the reading was already making sense to me. The next throw brought another round of shells smiling up at us. Between the two throws, a compelling picture of my life was beginning to unfold. And I’ll share as much of it as I feel comfortable doing so here...
Oceans in Distress
Pollution and overfishing are damaging the oceans, especially the deep oceans, the United Nations warns in a new report [1-3]. Time is running out to save them, and urgent legislation is required to halt this wanton destruction of the planet’s “cradle of life”.
More than 90 percent of the earth’s living biomass (weight of living matter) is found in the oceans, and 90 percent of that is made up of single cell and microbial species. With 90 percent of the oceans yet to be explored, the scale of devastation already happening has become all too obvious
In 2005, 84.5 million tonnes of fish were taken from the world’s oceans, 100 million sharks and related species were butchered for their fins, 250 000 turtles got tangled up in fishing gear and 300 000 seabirds including 100 000 albatrosses were killed by illegal long-line fishing. Nineteen out of 21 albatross species are now threatened with extinction.
During the same period, 6.4 million tonnes of litter was thrown into the oceans, and 38 000 pieces of discarded plastic float on every square kilometre. There are up to 6 kg of marine litter to every kg of plankton.
A Dying Planet (Can We Do Something About It Now, Please?)
Weather-related disasters like Hurricane Katrina—or the intense heat wave now hitting the United States—are on the rise. The toll of these catastrophes is exacerbated by growing ecological stresses and the future health of the global economy. The stability of nations will be shaped by our ability to address the huge imbalances in natural systems that now exist. While governments and businesses around the world are beginning to take action to stem the damage, our future demands more aggressive responses.
Earlier this month, we at the Worldwatch Institute released a new report, "Vital Signs 2006-2007," examining trends that point to unprecedented levels of commerce and consumption, set against a backdrop of ecological decline in a world powered overwhelmingly by fossil fuels. In 2005, the average atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration increased 0.6 percent over the high in 2004, representing the largest annual increase ever recorded. The average global temperature reached 14.6 degrees Celsius, making 2005 the warmest year ever recorded on the Earth’s surface.
Our report shows that some 40 percent of the world’s coral reefs have been damaged or destroyed, water withdrawals from rivers and lakes have doubled since 1960, and species are becoming extinct at as much as 1,000 times the natural rate. While ecosystems can be overexploited for long periods of time with little visible effect, many ultimately reach a “tipping point” after which they begin to collapse rapidly, with far-reaching implications for all who depend on them.
Abrupt change was evident in southern Louisiana and Mississippi in 2005. For decades, the flow of the Mississippi River had been altered, the wetlands at its mouth destroyed, and massive amounts of water and oil extracted from beneath the delta. Only an unheeded minority noticed that this gradual destruction of natural systems had left New Orleans as vulnerable as a sword-wielding soldier on today’s high-tech battlefields. Thanks to a combination of human and geological causes, a city that was at sea level when the first settlers arrived in the 18th century had sunk as much as a meter below that level when the hurricane season began in 2005.
Weather-related catastrophes have jumped from an average of 97 million a year in the early 1980s to 260 million a year since 2001. This mounting disaster toll has several causes, including rapid growth in the human population and the even more dramatic growth in human numbers and settlements along coastlines and in other vulnerable areas.
Climate change may be contributing to the rising tide of disasters as well, according to several scientific studies published in 2005. Three of the 10 strongest hurricanes ever recorded occurred last year, and the average intensity of hurricanes is increasing, recent research concludes.
This is not surprising, considering the main “fuel” driving hurricanes is warm water. Temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico were at record-high levels in the summer of 2005, turning Hurricane Katrina in just over 48 hours from a low-level Category 1 hurricane to the strongest Atlantic storm ever recorded. (In September 2005, Hurricanes Wilma and Rita each broke Katrina’s record as the strongest storm ever in that region.)
100º for the UK- get used to it
On this side of the pond, 100º is all the more reason to go shopping! Ya see, Republicans do have a plan- get into some air conditioning and consume!
They were the images that finally demonstrated the irreversible climate change now taking hold in Britain. Where green parklands once provided cool refuges in our cities, newspaper photographs last week showed them to be bleached, white landscapes. Reservoirs were revealed as cracked, arid deserts. And from Cornwall, pictures of the nation's first cage-diving trips for shark-watching tourists, an experience normally confined to Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
Amazon rainforest 'could become a desert'
The vast Amazon rainforest is on the brink of being turned into desert, with catastrophic consequences for the world's climate, alarming research suggests. And the process, which would be irreversible, could begin as early as next year.
Studies by the blue-chip Woods Hole Research Centre, carried out in Amazonia, have concluded that the forest cannot withstand more than two consecutive years of drought without breaking down.
Scientists say that this would spread drought into the northern hemisphere, including Britain, and could massively accelerate global warming with incalculable consequences, spinning out of control, a process that might end in the world becoming uninhabitable.
The alarming news comes in the midst of a heatwave gripping Britain and much of Europe and the United States...
REVERSING AND ACCELERATING THE SPEED OF LIGHT
Physicist Costas Soukoulis and his research group at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory on the Iowa State University campus are having the time of their lives making light travel backwards at negative speeds that appear faster than the speed of light. That, folks, is a mind-boggling 186,000 miles per second – the speed at which electromagnetic waves can move in a vacuum. And making light seem to move faster than that and in reverse is what Soukoulis, who is also an ISU Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said is “like rewriting electromagnetism.” He predicted, “Snell’s law on the refraction of light is going to be different; a number of other laws will be different.”
However, neither Soukoulis nor any other scientist involved in efforts to manipulate the direction and speed of light can do so with naturally occurring materials. The endeavor requires exotic, artificially created materials. Known as metamaterials, these substances can be manipulated to respond to electromagnetic waves in ways that natural materials cannot. Natural materials refract light, or electromagnetic radiation, to the right of the incident beam at different angles and speeds. However, metamaterials, also called left-handed materials, make it possible to refract light at a negative angle, so it emerges on the left side of the incident beam. This backward-bending characteristic of metamaterials allows enhanced resolution in optical lenses, which could potentially lead to the development of a flat superlens with the power to see inside a human cell and diagnose disease in a baby still in the womb.
The challenge that Soukoulis and other scientists face who work with metamaterials is to fabricate them so that they refract light negatively at ever smaller wavelengths, with the ultimate goal of making a metamaterial that refracts light at visible wavelengths and achieving the much-sought-after superlens. Admittedly, that goal is a
Redesigning Life to Make Ethanol
On January 31, Ari Patrinos was sitting in his living room in Rockville, MD, listening to the State of the Union speech and slowly nodding off. Suddenly, he was jolted awake.
"We'll also fund additional research for cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol," President Bush was saying on the television, "not just from corn but from wood chips and stalks or switchgrass. Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years."
Unlike most of the legislators who gamely applauded the president's words, Patrinos understood exactly what they meant. In fact, he had dashed them off himself days earlier at the harried request of his boss, unaware that they were destined for the State of the Union speech. Patrinos, then associate director of the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Biological and Environmental Research, had been touting cellulosic ethanol as an alternative energy source for years, only to be met with indifference or ridicule. Now, it seemed, even the most petro-friendly of politicians was convinced.
Producing ethanol fuel from biomass is attractive for a number of reasons. At a time of soaring gas prices and worries over the long-term availability of foreign oil, the domestic supply of raw materials for making biofuels appears nearly unlimited. Meanwhile, the amount of carbon dioxide dumped into the atmosphere annually by burning fossil fuels is projected to rise worldwide from about 24 billion metric tons in 2002 to 33 billion metric tons in 2015. Burning a gallon of ethanol, on the other hand, adds little to the total carbon in the atmosphere, since the carbon dioxide given off in the process is roughly equal to the amount absorbed by the plants used to produce the next gallon.
Afghanistan close to anarchy, warns general
The most senior British military commander in Afghanistan today described the situation in the country as "close to anarchy" with feuding foreign agencies and unethical private security companies compounding problems caused by local corruption.
The stark warning came from Lieutenant General David Richards, head of Nato's international security force in Afghanistan, who warned that western forces there were short of equipment and were "running out of time" if they were going to meet the expectations of the Afghan people.
The assumption within Nato countries had been that the environment in Afghanistan after the defeat of the Taliban in 2002 would be benign, Gen Richards said. "That is clearly not the case," he said today. He referred to disputes between tribes crossing the border with Pakistan, and divisions between religious and secular factions cynically manipulated by "anarcho-warlords".
Corrupt local officials were fuelling the problem and Nato's provincial reconstruction teams in Afghanistan were sending out conflicting signals, Gen Richards told a conference at the Royal United Services Institute in London. "The situation is close to anarchy," he said, referring in particular to what he called "the lack of unity between different agencies".
He described "poorly regulated private security companies" as unethical and "all too ready to discharge firearms". Nato forces in Afghanistan were short of equipment, notably aircraft, but also of medical evacuation systems and life-saving equipment.
Why I love this town
Moments So Far
Two rainstorms, now there's sun-
Such is mid-afternoon on the sixth day of the week,
The cat contemplates the light through the door-
Viddy Thursday: Mae West
Viddy Thursday: Marx Brothers
Viddy Thursday: Three Stooges
You live in the big here
Wherever you live, your tiny spot is deeply intertwined within a larger place, imbedded fractal-like into a whole system called a watershed, which is itself integrated with other watersheds into a tightly interdependent biome... At the ultimate level, your home is a cell in an organism called a planet. All these levels interconnect. What do you know about the dynamics of this larger system around you? Most of us are ignorant of this matrix. But it is the biggest interactive game there is. Hacking it is both fun and vital.
The following exercise in watershed awareness was hatched 30 years ago by Peter Warshall, naturalist extraordinaire. Variations of this list have appeared over the years with additions by Jim Dodge, Peter Berg, and Stephanie Mills among others. I have recently added new questions from Warshall and myself, and I have edited or altered most of the rest. It's still a work in progress. If you have a universal question you think fits, submit it to me.
I am extremely interested in hearing from anyone who scores a 25 or better on the quiz on their first unassisted try. I'd like to know how you got your Big Here education. I have a few small prizes for anyone who scores (on the honor system) a perfect 30, without Googling.
The intent of this quiz is to inspire you to answer the questions you can't initially...
A complete list of things caused by global warming
Here's just A through D:
Air pressure changes, allergies increase, Alps melting, anxiety, aggressive polar bears, algal blooms, Asthma, avalanches, billions of deaths, blackbirds stop singing, blizzards, blue mussels return, boredom, budget increases, building season extension, bushfires, business opportunities, business risks, butterflies move north, cannibalistic polar bears, cardiac arrest, Cholera, civil unrest, cloud increase, cloud stripping, methane emissions from plants, cold spells (Australia), computer models, conferences, coral bleaching, coral reefs grow, coral reefs shrink, cold spells, crumbling roads, buildings and sewage systems, damages equivalent to $200 billion, Dengue hemorrhagic fever, dermatitis, desert advance, desert life threatened, desert retreat, destruction of the environment, diarrhoea, disappearance of coastal cities, disaster for wine industry (US), Dolomites collapse, drought, drowning people, drowning polar bears, ducks and geese decline, dust bowl in the corn belt...
Each entry on the page is a link to more info.
jaybird found this for you @ 14:44 in | | permalink
Watch out, AARP: Rare Whales Can Live to Nearly 200
Scientists have looked into the eyes of rare bowhead whales and learned that some of them can outlive humans by generations—with at least one male pushing 200 years old.
"About 5 percent of the population is over a hundred years old and in some cases 160 to 180 years old," said Jeffrey Bada, a marine chemist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California.
"They are truly aged animals, perhaps the most aged animals on Earth," he continued.
Bowheads, also known as Greenland right whales, are baleen whales, meaning that instead of teeth they have bonelike plates that they use to strain food from gulps of water.
The whales live in the Arctic (virtual world: Arctic interactive feature). Adults can reach 60 feet (18 meters) long and weigh more than a hundred tons (89 metric tons).
Happy Birthday, Little One
I raise a toast of apple juice to one whose life brings great joy to a family, and great hope to the world. Happy 3rd, L.
The Distance from Guernica to Lebanon
On April 26, 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, the German Air Force, siding with fascist dictator Francisco Franco, began a bombing campaign against the city of Guernica. Some 1,600 people were killed, and the city was reduced to rubble. Guernica is remembered as the first time air power was used against a civilian population with the intent of causing complete destruction.
When it happened, Guernica shocked the world. Today, we do not shock so easily. Lebanon is being sacrificed without so much as a casual protest.
Israel has bombed power plants, roads, and bridges all across Lebanon. Israel has bombed gas stations and fuel depots, grain silos, lighthouses, the seaports in Beirut, Tripoli, Jounieh and Tyre. Beirut's airport is in flames. Beirut's Shi'a suburbs have been almost completely demolished. Firefighters are pleading for help, because they do not have enough water to put out the blazes. (1)
I think of Guernica.
Israel has ordered all of the people living in Southern Lebanon to flee their homes and villages. Avi Dichter, Israel's Minister of Internal Security, told us that "tens of thousands of Lebanese who will flee towards the north will create the right pressure on Hezbollah." (2)
Two nights ago, eighteen people in the South were burned alive when Israel bombed their fleeing convoy with incendiary shells. Eleven of the dead were children under the age of twelve. Mahmoud Ghannam, the father of two of the killed children, broke down when he saw their bodies. He struck himself in the head repeatedly and cried, "my God, my God. I can't make out the faces of my children. They are burnt black... Which ones are my children?"
A copy of Pablo Picasso's famous painting of the annihilation of Guernica was hung outside the chambers of the UN Security Council, as a reminder of why the United Nations was created, and of what the Security Council is supposed to prevent. In 2003, the United States ordered the eleven foot painting covered, so as not to even subtly embarrass American diplomats pressing for a war against Iraq.
Living in Lebanon today, I cannot forget. I remember Guernica.
Gorbachev: 'Americans Have a Severe Disease'
Mikhail Gorbachev is generally regarded as the man who broke down the "iron curtain" that separated the communist world from the West and thawed the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.
Now, 15 years after a coup removed him from power and the Soviet Union dissolved, he has some stern words for the United States, whose relationship with Russia has soured lately.
"We have made some mistakes," he said, referring to recent attacks on Russia's democracy. "So what? Please don't put even more obstacles in our way. Do you really think you are smarter than we are?"
The former general secretary of the Soviet Union Communist Party accused Americans of arrogance and trying to impose their way of life on other nations.
"Americans have a severe disease -- worse than AIDS. It's called the winner's complex," he said. "You want an American style-democracy here. That will not work." ...The former Soviet leader had severe criticism for two of the most important people in the Bush administration: Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
"They are just hawks protecting the interests of the military -- shallow people," he said.
Is he drinking again?
All of his blunders, missteps and gaffes at the G8 must leave one to wonder: is our fount of moralistic bombast sliding rather quickly off the wagon? Or is he purely delusional? The pig? The massage? The endless diversions during press conferences? His behavior is quite unpresidential. He certainly didn't have many of his handlers with him this time. Is this what happens when the man with his finger on the button rolls up his sleeves and gets to work on solving the world's greatest dilemmas? Good thing his peepee and doodoo are classified as secret.
Scientists Question Nature's Fundamental Laws
Public confidence in the "constants" of nature may be at an all time low. Recent research has found evidence that the value of certain fundamental parameters, such as the speed of light or the invisible glue that holds nuclei together, may have been different in the past.
"There is absolutely no reason these constants should be constant," says astronomer Michael Murphy of the University of Cambridge. "These are famous numbers in physics, but we have no real reason for why they are what they are."
The observed differences are small—roughly a few parts in a million—but the implications are huge: The laws of physics would have to be rewritten, not to mention we might need to make room for six more spatial dimensions than the three that we are used to. The evidence for varying constants focuses primarily on quasar studies.
Quasars are extremely luminous objects, powered by giant black holes. Some of them are so far away that their light was emitted 12 billion years ago. Astronomers study the spectra of this ancient light to determine if the early universe was different than now. Specifically, they look at absorption lines, which are due to gas clouds between us and the quasars. Astronomers study the spectra of this ancient light to determine if the early universe was different than now. Specifically, they look at absorption lines, which are due to gas clouds between us and the quasars.
The lines reveal exactly what is in the clouds, since each type of atom has a "fingerprint"—a set of specific frequencies at which it absorbs.
In 1999, Murphy and his colleagues found the first convincing evidence that these fingerprints change with time. Using data from the Keck observatory in Hawaii, they detected a frequency difference between billion-year-old quasar lines and the corresponding lines measured on Earth.
Some of these Earth-bound lines were not well characterized, so Murphy and others recently performed careful lab experiments to confirm that there is indeed a shift in the quasar spectra. A spectra is basically light split into its component frequencies, much like when white light goes through a prism to produce a rainbow.
Finches on Galapagos Islands Evolving (imagine that!)
Finches on the Galapagos Islands that inspired Charles Darwin to develop the concept of evolution are now helping confirm it - by evolving.
A medium sized species of Darwin's finch has evolved a smaller beak to take advantage of different seeds just two decades after the arrival of a larger rival for its original food source.
The altered beak size shows that species competing for food can undergo evolutionary change, said Peter Grant of Princeton University, lead author of the report appearing in Friday's issue of the journal Science.
Grant has been studying Darwin's finches for decades and previously recorded changes responding to a drought that altered what foods were available.
It's rare for scientists to be able to document changes in the appearance of an animal in response to competition. More often it is seen when something moves into a new habitat or the climate changes and it has to find new food or resources...
The discovery that a wide variety of bacteria can be persuaded to produce wire-like appendages that conduct electricity could prove vital to the development of more efficient biological fuel cells.
Bacteria that use sugars and sewage as fuel are being investigated as a pollution-free source of electricity. They feed by plucking electrons from atoms in their fuel and dumping them onto the oxygen or metal atoms in the mixture. The transfer of the electrons creates a current, and connecting the bacteria to an electrode in a microbial fuel cell will generate electricity, although not necessarily very efficiently.
A species of bacterium called Geobacter sulfurreducens, which dumps electrons onto metal, has previously been persuaded to grow nanowires to make contact with distant atoms. A deficit of metal atoms in the close vicinity of the bacteria can cause a bottleneck, so the proliferation of nanowires allows the bacteria to consume more fuel, potentially boosting the current produced by a microbial fuel cell.
Now a study by Yuri Gorby of Pacific Northwest National Laboratories in Washington State, US, and colleagues reveals that several other kinds of bacteria produce similar nanowires.
Alan Watts on Time
Scenes from Saturday
As the bike and I made our way through the intersection on this thick July moon-as-peach-half-in-syrup night, the gentleman leaned out of his car window and asked, without the typical niceties of such a request, if I "suck dick." Now that information is not typically available for public digestion, so a wry smile was the only answer I felt was needed without even bothering with introductions, or discourses upon the weather. The smile, it sees, was deemed a provocation (touché!), and the gentleman in the car sent the remainder of his icy beverage after me, with the cubes rolling down the hill by the Federal Building as I slid further into the night, unscathed by projectile refreshments or by the obvious juvenile jabe which initiated our brief interaction. Fortunately, the bike prefers speed to dilly-dally among the many struggling comedians of summer.
The higher you are above water, the harder it is to get the body to cooperate and dive, all graceful and swan-like. Perhaps that's why diving is an Olympic sport. At the lake house, I tried, from varying distances, many permutations of the dive, and had many sweet successes, gliding through the water with the aquatic elegance of a carp, all the hydrodynamic pizzazz of a barge. Yet the brief flight through the many strata of the lake (dark green and cold, yellowing and warm, surface with mist atop) was an exhilerating thrill ride and gill wish. Yet many attempts to perfect the dive from higher and higher heights were comical. Socially, it's much easier to explain that you're perfecting the belly flop, and to suck up the mid-flight change of plans. This body still remembers that last year, on July 9, water almost killed it... so this skiddishness at the edge is perhaps a mechanistic response to old programming. Perhaps, however, it just isn't that into the facial shock resulting from the impacting of water schoz first from twenty feet up. I watched a Kingfisher do its thing today but its nose is rather built for parting the water below with ease. How very like me, to have bird envy.
The morning was all fits and starts, bouncing from dream to dream like a debutante at the ball. Something idyllic was about the place... it was the very quintessence of Saturday morning; bright, distant sound of lawnmowers, NPR in every room, cleaning the house naked with an omelet (mushrooms, garden pick'd tomatoes, garlic and Swiss) in the pan. Yes, cleaning the house buck nekkid. Please don't feign shock because I know you've done it too. Clothed, of course, I wandered through Marjorie's garden, and was astounded atthe ecosystem that is the front of our house... bees knee deep in squash blossoms, ladybugs doing aphid drivebys, the momentary glimpse of a curious rabbit. The sunflowers were audacious in their height, let alone their broad petal finery. It was quite a way to wake up, nevermind what's in your cup.
Then, I gathered myself to examine the day's news. Pitiful. Another bloody Mideast war on our hands, thanks in part to the policies on this side of the pond. Talk about ripples. I have to wonder at this point why the phrase "if it ain't broke don't fix it" does not have a contrarian relative in modern parlance. It is ALL broke, can we please fix it? We have enough tragedies going on already, quota fulfilled, do not pass 'Go.' This crude exchange has the potential to blow the lid off of the whole region, and our president (?) is busy talking about eating pig in Germany? WTF? Sorry, I forgot that the humor was meant to be 'folksy.' My omelet was slightly below par while worrying that the Neocons have finally set the stage for the Armageddon they've so thirsted for.
At least the orange juice was good.
blogging off for Friday
I'm down with allergies- know that it looks really sexy right now.
It's 2025. Where Do Most People Live?
The innovative map shows a world with large areas of population loss in parts of Eastern Europe and Asia, but significant gains elsewhere.
The work, Mapping the Future, is the result of collaboration between CCSR, Hunter College and Population Action International (PAI) and was released this spring in conjunction with an update of PAI’s Web feature, People in the Balance, investigating the relationship between human population and critical natural resources.
The map indicates that the greatest increases in population density through 2025 are likely to occur in areas of developing countries that are already quite densely populated. In addition, the number of people living within 60 miles of a coastline is expected to increase by 35 percent over 1995 population levels, exposing 2.75 billion people worldwide to the effects of sea level rise and other coastal threats posed by global warming.
The map also projects that much of southern and Eastern Europe and Japan will experience significant and wide-spread population decline. Surprisingly, the map further suggests small areas of projected population decline for many regions in which they might be least expected: sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South America, the Philippines, Nepal, Turkey, Cambodia, Burma and Indonesia — areas that have to date been experiencing rapid-to-modest national population growth.
Researchers, working with colleagues at St George’s, University of London, are developing drugs designed to stop allergens from entering the body, so rendering them harmless.
Professor David Garrod said the research – recently shortlisted for the Northwest Regional Development Agency’s Bionow Project of the Year – takes a completely new approach to the treatment and prevention of allergies.
“The technology is based on our earlier discovery of how allergens, the substances that cause allergy, enter the body through the surface layer of cells that protect the skin and the tubes of the lungs,” he said.
“Allergens from pollen or house dust mites are inhaled and then dissolve the binding material between the cells that form these protective linings; they can then enter the body by passing between the cells to cause an allergic response.
“The drugs we are developing – called Allergen Delivery Inhibitors (ADIs) – are designed to disable these allergens so they can no longer eat through the protective cell layer and block the allergic reaction before it occurs.
“The effect will be like avoiding allergens altogether. Removing carpets and rigorous cleaning of homes are established ways to avoid allergens, but they are only partially effective because their effects do not ‘travel’ with allergy sufferers.
Bees: The Vanishing
The domesticated European honeybee was introduced to North America 400 years ago by colonists at Jamestown and Williamsburg to provide their settlements with honey; few bees native to the continent produced enough honey to make harvesting viable. Since then, the honeybee has spread into every farmable corner of North America. The cultivation of honey is an age-old pursuit: To maximize its production, beekeepers in Egypt during the time of the pharaohs floated their hives down the Nile to areas of abundant bloom, with some success. Early American beekeepers also transported their colonies -- on buckboard wagons, Mississippi River steamboats, and trains -- also with mixed results; the hives could not always be moved at the right times, the wax in the honeycombs often melted, the worker bees were sometimes left behind while their homes drifted downriver. In the 1940s, when new interstate highways and reliable long-haul trucks made it practical, beekeepers began regularly migrating long distances with their hives, following the flow of nectar as crops bloomed with the changing seasons.
In the boom years following World War II, large swaths of natural habitat across the United States were devoured by suburban development and agriculture. Patches of wild woodland, shrubs, and flowers that had supported native bees dwindled. The common practices of modern agriculture -- the widespread use of pesticides and the tendency to wipe out every wild flowering plant in sight -- began to destroy the pollinators that make farming possible. Beekeepers, accustomed to paying farmers for the privilege of stationing their beehives on land with blooming crops, started to receive payment from farmers for their pollination services. Today, migratory beekeepers follow this trail of money back and forth across the country as pollination fees continue to rise.
The United States and Canada are home to at least 4,500 species of native bee, from the sleek, iridescent blue mason to the plump, lemon-yellow bumblebee. All are at risk. "Where we live in Minnesota," says Anderson, "the local farmers will let their second cutting of alfalfa or red clover bloom, to feed the bees. A number of those people will tell you that the native bees just aren't there anymore."
Shine on, Syd, pt. III
Syd Barrett represented to my young idealistic mind the very purpose of art: to push the mind beyond its simpler constructions and into the sweet madness of being open to the beauty of every possible turn of phrase. There was freedom in very melody, sorcery in every measure. G'night, old man, and shine on.
Shine on, Syd, pt. II
There is no other day Let's try it another way You'll lose your mind and play Free games for may See Emily play
Shine on, Syd, pt. I
Arnold Layne had a strange hobby...
NEW MODEL OF BRAIN SHEDS LIGHT ON CAUSES OF AUTISM
“Autism involves multiple genes and correspondingly, people with autism are known to have multiple cognitive, emotional, and motor symptoms – such as impaired development of speech and difficulty expressing emotions,” said Dr. Grossberg. “The iSTART model describes the various brain mechanisms that underlie autism and how they may give rise to the symptoms of the condition.”
iSTART, which stands for Imbalanced Spectrally Timed Adaptive Resonance Theory, is derived from the earlier START model developed by Grossberg to explain how the brain controls normal behaviors. The new model describes how brain mechanisms that control normal emotional, timing, and motor processes may become imbalanced and lead to symptoms of autism. START and its imbalanced version iSTART are a combination of three models, each one of which tries to explain fundamental issues about human learning and behavior.
The first, called Adaptive Resonance Theory, or ART, proposes how the brain learns to recognize objects and events. Recognition is accomplished through interactions between perceptually-driven inputs and learned expectations. Inputs attempt to match expectations which helps prompt the brain to anticipate input/expectation patterns.
“When a match occurs, the system locks into a resonant state that drives how we learn to recognize things; hence the term adaptive resonance,” explained Grossberg.
The degree of match that is required for resonance to occur is set by a vigilance parameter which controls whether a particular learned representation will be concrete or abstract. Low vigilance allows for learning of broad abstract recognition categories, such as a category that is activated by any face; high vigilance forces the learning of specific concrete categories, such as a category that is activated by a particular view of a familiar friend’s face. iSTART proposes that individuals with autism have their vigilance fixed at such a high setting that their learned representations are very concrete, or hyperspecific.
“Hypervigilance leads to hyperspecific learning which perpetuates a multitude of problems with learning, cognition, and attention,” said Grossberg.
Some scientists take the position that dreaming probably has no function. They feel that sleep, and within it REM sleep, have biological functions (though these are not totally established) and that dreaming is simply an epiphenomenon that is the mental activity that occurs during REM sleep. I do not believe this is the most fruitful approach to the study of dreaming. Would we be satisfied with the view that thinking has no function and is simply an epiphenomenon--the kind of mental activity that occurs when the brain is in the waking state?
Therefore I will try to explain a current view of dreaming and its possible functions, developed by myself and many collaborators, which we call the Contemporary Theory of Dreaming. The basic idea is as follows: activation patterns are shifting and connections are being made and unmade constantly in our brains, forming the physical basis for our minds. There is a whole continuum in the making of connections that we subsequently experience as mental functioning. At one end of the continuum is focused waking activity, such as when we are doing an arithmetic problem or chasing down a fly ball in the outfield. Here our mental functioning is focused, linear and well-bounded. When we move from focused waking to looser waking thought--reverie, daydreaming and finally dreaming--mental activity becomes less focused, looser, more global and more imagistic. Dreaming is the far end of this continuum: the state in which we make connections most loosely.
Some consider this loose making of connections to be a random process, in which case dreams would be basically meaningless. The Contemporary Theory of Dreaming holds that the process is not random, however, and that it is instead guided by the emotions of the dreamer. When one clear-cut emotion is present, dreams are often very simple. Thus people who experience trauma--such as an escape from a burning building, an attack or a rape--often have a dream something like, "I was on the beach and was swept away by a tidal wave." This case is paradigmatic. It is obvious that the dreamer is not dreaming about the actual traumatic event, but is instead picturing the emotion, "I am terrified. I am overwhelmed." When the emotional state is less clear, or when there are several emotions or concerns at once, the dream becomes more complicated. We have statistics showing that such intense dreams are indeed more frequent and more intense after trauma. In fact, the intensity of the central dream imagery, which can be rated reliably, appears to be a measure of the emotional arousal of the dreamer.
Therefore, overall the contemporary theory considers dreaming to be a broad making of connections guided by emotion. But is this simply something that occurs in the brain or does it have a purpose as well?
Scientists sound alarm for world's amphibians
Fearing a mass extinction of the world's frogs, toads, newts and salamanders, 50 international amphibian experts are sending out an unprecedented SOS calling for an urgent global mission to avert a cataclysm.
The plea, published in Friday's edition of the journal Science, is meant to be a wake-up call for a broader range of scientists and policymakers about threats to the earth's amphibians, considered canaries in the coal mine for all of nature.
"For the first time in modern history, because of the way that humans are impacting our natural world, we're facing the extinction of an entire class of organisms," said Claude Gascon of Conservation International. "This is not the extinction of just a panda or a rhino, it's a whole class of organisms."
Amphibians are more susceptible to changes in the environment than other animals because they have permeable skin that absorbs water and oxygen, and their lives depend on clean, fresh water. Almost a third of the 5,743 known amphibian species worldwide already are threatened by a combination of habitat loss, climate change, pollution, pesticides, ultraviolet radiation and invasive species, with up to 122 having become extinct since 1980. But scientists believe both figures could be underestimates because they cannot evaluate species quickly enough.
Ornithopter! Aviation history is made by 'flapper'
For an aeronautical engineer it was the perfect day and a perfect end to a quest that has consumed his life for more than 30 years.
Yesterday Dr. James DeLaurier, an aeronautical engineer and professor emeritus at the University of Toronto's Institute for Aerospace Studies, fulfilled a lifelong dream, seeing his manned mechanical flapping-wing airplane, or ornithopter, fly — a dream first imagined by Leonardo da Vinci.
And with the successful flight DeLaurier has been lucky enough to touch what many describe as the Holy Grail of aeronautical design, achieving a place for himself, his team of volunteers and students in aviation history.
The flapper, as it's affectionately known, sustained flight over about a third of a kilometre for 14 seconds at about 10:20 a.m. before being hit by a crosswind and almost flipping over, damaging the nose and front wheel on the runway at Downsview Park.
But the flight was long enough to prove DeLaurier's mechanical flapping-wing design for a manned, jet-boosted aircraft works. The successful test flight was longer than the first powered flight by aviation pioneers the Wright brothers in December 1903 that lasted 12 seconds over a windswept beach in North Carolina. Beating that record was enough for DeLaurier.
"It is a perfect day," he said after the flight. "If I have the big one now, I'll die happy."
After four attempts at getting the ornithopter in the air, the fifth brought glory. The ornithopter, which looks like a cross between an old-fashioned plane and a Canada goose, took off and flew about two metres in the air. DeLaurier whooped and hollered from a truck by the side of the runway, watching it with complete wonder and joy.
Consciousness: East & West
Looking at computers as metaphor, where did computer technology come from that gave these new more powerful ideas? Obviously it emerged out of ongoing historical technological trends. However, all of this progress is the result of scientific minds working on things. Whose minds were they, and what was inspiring them to work on the things they did? I think this is the more important question. When you examine the historical roots of the PC revolution you'll find that things like PC's and the World Wide Web came from a very particular group of people. As pointed out in What the Dormouse Said: How the 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer, it was the insights gained from higher states of consciousness, specifically those unique to LSD, that gave rise to the PC revolution. As many people who have taken LSD, you experience your brain has a large set of programs, that you in turn can program, and better still, metaprogram "who" and "what" you want to become. Please read our online book by John Lilly, Programming and Metaprogramming the Human Biocomputer, for a pioneering work in this area. It's also no secret that the 60's is often equated with a turn to Eastern mysticism for guidance. There's was good reason for this embrace, as many very intelligent people felt current Western ideas on the nature of reality were woefully incomplete in describing, let alone assisting in integrating these sometimes powerful and overwhelming transpersonal experiences.
When I was 17 I experienced a profound and spontaneous (non drug) shift in consciousness myself. It lasted all of about 10 seconds. At the time I had no knowledge of eastern thought. I made every attempt to recapture the experience. Having read Gödel, Escher, Bach my sophomore year of high school, I often resorted to using Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem as a launching pad into understanding this transcendent state of consciousness. One night while trying, in a rather ridiculous and humorous way, to describe all of this to one my friends, I somehow "tricked" my brain back into this state. For the next hour I laughed my ass off at the cosmic joke of it all. I've tried unsuccessfully many times since to explain this state.
I believe my failure to adequate explain this state is rooted in our language and way of looking at the world, which itself is rooted in the Greek ideas of atomism, reductionism and materialism. This way of perceiving and understanding the universe eventually became what we now call science and forms the bedrock of Western philosophy. Barring the recent emergence of Eastern thought into this dialog, the only other alternative explanation of the universe are the beliefs of religious extremism of various stripes. (be it Christian, Islam or New Age). Scientists, being all too human that they are, seeing the believers at the gates, understandably defend their turf with as much zeal. However, this citadel of science as RAW liked to call it, similar to the Catholic Inquisition before it, believes, just like the religious extremism they oppose, that they, and they alone, have a monopoly on all knowledge. If it can't be objectively verified scientifically, then it doesn't really exist. Yet, ironically science has *created* just as many ephemeral concepts as any religion. Energyfor example is a fantastic and highly useful and utilitarian concept, but that's all it really is. The difference in this case, is western concepts like energy have "real-world" objectively verified effects. Understanding these effects and knowing how to predict and utilize them has tremendous power as evidenced by our current technological civilization.
Couch: Anarchist Therapy
It was during the dictatorship that a clandestine anarchist activist named Roberto Freire, who also was a psychoanalyst, (anti)psychiatrist and author of books and plays, confirmed the destructive effects of repression on people’s behavior and psychological and mental health. Freire believed that micro-social relationships are the genesis for macro-social authoritarianism and he aimed for understanding the politics of modern society through people’s behavior in their everyday life. He realized that the fact that one believes in a certain ideology and has a libertarian view of the world doesn’t always lead one to have a libertarian behavior in his/her personal relationships with his/her fellows – there is something else, like an unconscious barrier, that determines the attitudes of the individuals towards life and other people. Freire, then, broke with psychoanalysis and over the next decades researched and developed Somatherapy – a therapy form in shape of a pedagogy, or a kind of pedagogy with therapeutic effects. That means that the way of dealing with neurosis is shifted from a medical perspetive to an educational one. The goal is to liberate those who have been subjected to repression (all of us). Somatherapy supports itself in theory and praxis with the social and corporeal psychology of Wilhelm Reich, Antipsychiatry, Gestalt Therapy, Anarchism and with the Afro-Brazilian art form of the people called Capoeira Angola.
The technique that he created consists of assembling a group of people to form a collective with limited duration (about a year and a half) that, through self-managed and non-hierarchical dynamics, will search to explore, understand and develop their capabilities to be creative, self-regulated, to love and to be loved and to be confident in the defense of their own desires and needs towards a society hostile to independent individuals.
All of this happens in a methodology composed of four elements: (1) experience of exercises created by Freire and carried out by the therapist in charge of the group (Freire or a disciple of him); (2) meetings of the group without the presence of the therapist (that guarantees the group’s and each person’s independence and responsibility for the therapeutic process); (3) practice of Capoeira Angola; (4) interaction of the group’s members in various social activities, either for fun or any kind of collective work.
Rescuing a Planet Under Stress
Our global economy is outgrowing the capacity of the earth to support it, pushing our early twenty-first century civilization ever closer to decline and possible collapse. In our preoccupation with quarterly earnings reports and year-to-year economic growth, we have lost sight of how large the human enterprise has become relative to the earth’s resources.
A century ago, annual growth in the world economy was measured in billions of dollars. Today it is measured in trillions. As a result, we are consuming renewable resources faster than they can regenerate.
Forests are shrinking, grasslands are deteriorating, water tables are falling, fisheries are collapsing, and soils are eroding. We are using up oil at a pace that leaves little time to plan beyond peak oil, or the period during which demand for oil far exceeds all available supply. And we are discharging greenhouse gases into the atmosphere faster than nature can absorb them, setting the stage for a rise in the earth’s temperature well above any since agriculture began.
Fortunately, there is a consensus emerging among scientists on the broad outlines of the changes needed. If economic progress is to be sustained, we need to replace the fossil-fuel-based, automobile-centered, throwaway economy with a new economic model. Instead of being based on fossil fuels, the new economy will be powered by abundant sources of renewable energy: wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower, and biofuels.
The throwaway economy will be replaced by a comprehensive reuse/recycle economy. Consumer products from cars to computers will be designed so that they can be disassembled into their component parts and completelyrecycled. Throwaway products such as single-use beverage containers will be phased out.
We can already see glimpses here and there of what this new economy looks like. We have the technologies to build it—including, for example, gas-electric hybrid cars, advanceddesign wind turbines, highly efficient refrigerators, and water-efficient irrigation systems.
With each wind farm, rooftop solar panel, paper-recycling facility, bicycle path, and reforestation program, we move closer to an economy that can sustain economic progress. But there is still a long way to go and a very short time to get there. Our success will depend on learning from the changing world around us and implementing those lessons we have already learned.
Understanding of Human Body Clock Reworked
The bodies of humans and other mammals know what time it is by constantly measuring the concentration of a protein called PER in the body. Drug companies are currently working on ways to manipulate the level of PER in the body to treat disorders caused by disruptions to the body's clock, or "circadian rhythm."
The degradation of PER is regulated by another protein, called CK1e, whose production is controlled by the gene casein kinase 1, or CK1. A mutation called "tau" in CK1 was previously thought to lead to the production of defective CK1e proteins that break down PER slower than is normal, causing the protein to accumulate in the body.
The buildup of PER, it was thought, sped up a mammal's internal clock, causing it to have shorter days.
However, the new study finds that actually the opposite occurs: The tau mutation doesn't slow down PER degradation—it speeds it up. Thus, it is not excess PER that leads to shorter days in affected animals, but not enough PE
Dodging punishment may be its own reward
Is the carrot or the stick the more effective encouragement? Both are equally effective, suggests a new study that found an important reward centre in the brain responds similarly to avoiding punishment or gaining a prize.
The brain area is known as the medial orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). Damage to this area – caused by anything from car accidents to tumours – can cause a person to develop behavioural problems, explains John O’Doherty of Caltech in Pasadena, California, US. He recalls one patient, a karate expert, who after damage to the medial OFC began inappropriately practicing karate moves on hospital staff.
The new insight into how the undamaged medial OFC reacts in people may pave the way for researchers to explore whether habitual rule breakers, such as career criminals, have abnormal activity in that part of the brain.
Behavioural experiments had previously suggested that dodging punishment is a reward in itself. But researchers had not verified that punishment avoidance registers as an actual reward in the brain.
Dawkins on Evolutionary Engineering
Richard Dawkins discusses how ideas borrowed from biological evolution may be used to arrive at optimal adaptive solutions in engineering.
Roots of Human Family Tree Are Shallow
Whoever it was probably lived a few thousand years ago, somewhere in East Asia - Taiwan, Malaysia and Siberia all are likely locations. He - or she - did nothing more remarkable than be born, live, have children and die.
Yet this was the ancestor of every person now living on Earth - the last person in history whose family tree branches out to touch all 6.5 billion people on the planet today.
That means everybody on Earth descends from somebody who was around as recently as the reign of Tutankhamen, maybe even during the Golden Age of ancient Greece. There's even a chance that our last shared ancestor lived at the time of Christ.
"It's a mathematical certainty that that person existed," said Steve Olson, whose 2002 book "Mapping Human History" traces the history of the species since its origins in Africa more than 100,000 years ago.
It is human nature to wonder about our ancestors - who they were, where they lived, what they were like. People trace their genealogy, collect antiques and visit historical sites hoping to capture just a glimpse of those who came before, to locate themselves in the sweep of history and position themselves in the web of human existence.
But few people realize just how intricately that web connects them not just to people living on the planet today, but to everyone who ever lived.
With the help of a statistician, a computer scientist and a supercomputer, Olson has calculated just how interconnected the human family tree is. You would have to go back in time only 2,000 to 5,000 years - and probably on the low side of that range - to find somebody who could count every person alive today as a descendant.
Not Your Average Summer Camp
In the summer of 1954, twenty-two fifth-grade boys were taken out to a campground at Robbers Cave State Park, Oklahoma. Admittance had been quite selective. None of the boys knew each other. They were taken to the park in two separate groups of eleven. Ostensibly it was an unremarkable summer camp.
In fact, what the boys were heading to wasn't that at all. They did have a very normal camp experience, certainly, but what they had really done for two and a half weeks was unwittingly take part in an elaborate and fascinating psychological experiment. Their parents had okayed it: the twenty-two boys of Robbers Cave were actually the basis of social psychologist Muzafer Sherif's landmark study of group conflict.
There were two parts to Sherif's hypothesis:
(2) If two in-groups thus formed are brought into a functional relationship under conditions of competition and group frustration, attitudes and appropriate hostile actions in relation to the out-group and its members will arise and will be standardized and shared in varying degrees by group members.
After conceiving of the experiment and working out the logistics of its program and setting– a Boy Scouts' campground– Sherif and his colleagues had chosen their campers carefully. To decrease the potential impact of variables (other factors that could prompt hostility), Sherif and his colleagues had looked for boys of similar age and intelligence, all Caucasian and Protestant, all middle-class, none from insecure homes and none known to be troublemakers. They had aimed for a balance of different kinds of mental and physical strengths. It was also very deliberate that the boys had never met before; this was in accordance with the first part of Sherif's hypothesis. Any preformed alliances would throw off the study.
The aim was to establish immediately a sense of group unity within each group of eleven boys. Taking the two groups to Robbers Cave separately was a major part of this; it also kept the other side wholly unknown. None of the boys were even aware yet that there was a second group. That would only be revealed once a strong sense of group identity had been forged.
Once at the park, the activities continued to encourage the groups to work together. These were typical aspects of camp: preparing food, putting up the tents, etc. They also played sports, went swimming, and performed for each other. This was all very successful - in fact, as the boys bonded each of the two groups chose to give itself a name, which was not an intentional part of the experiment. One became the Eagles, the other the Rattlers. Precisely as Sherif had hypothesized, there came to be a social order very quickly in each group. Clear leaders emerged from both. And, as the boys became vaguely aware that theirs was not the only group, they actually asked to be put into competition with them.
This, of course, was exactly what the psychologists had planned to happen.
Who's Counting: Cheney's One Percent Doctrine
In his heralded new book, "The One Percent Doctrine," Ron Suskind writes that Vice President Dick Cheney forcefully stated that the war on terror empowered the Bush administration to act without the need for evidence or extensive analysis.
Suskind describes the Cheney doctrine as follows: "Even if there's just a 1 percent chance of the unimaginable coming due, act as if it is a certainty. It's not about 'our analysis,' as Cheney said. It's about 'our response.' … Justified or not, fact-based or not, 'our response' is what matters. As to 'evidence,' the bar was set so low that the word itself almost didn't apply."
There is a complex interplay between an act's possible consequences, evidence, and the probabilities involved. And sometimes, of course, the probability justifying action of some sort is even less than 1 percent. Vaccines are routinely given, for example, even for diseases whose risk of being contracted is much less than 1 percent.
That being granted, the simplistic doctrine of "if at least 1 percent, then act" is especially frightening in international conflicts, not least because the number of threats misconstrued (by someone or other) to meet the 1 percent threshold is huge and the consequences of military action are so terrible and irrevocable.
Zinn: Patriotism and the
In celebration of the Fourth of July there will be many speeches about the young people who "died for their country." But those who gave their lives did not, as they were led to believe, die for their country; they died for their government. The distinction between country and government is at the heart of the Declaration of Independence, which will be referred to again and again on July 4, but without attention to its meaning.
The Declaration of Independence is the fundamental document of democracy. It says governments are artificial creations, established by the people, "deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed," and charged by the people to ensure the equal right of all to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Furthermore, as the Declaration says, "whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it." It is the country that is primary--the people, the ideals of the sanctity of human life and the promotion of liberty.
When a government recklessly expends the lives of its young for crass motives of profit and power, while claiming that its motives are pure and moral, ("Operation Just Cause" was the invasion of Panama and "Operation Iraqi Freedom" in the present instance), it is violating its promise to the country. War is almost always a breaking of that promise. It does not enable the pursuit of happiness but brings despair and grief.
Mark Twain, having been called a "traitor" for criticizing the U.S. invasion of the Philippines, derided what he called "monarchical patriotism." He said: "The gospel of the monarchical patriotism is: 'The King can do no wrong.' We have adopted it with all its servility, with an unimportant change in the wording: 'Our country, right or wrong!' We have thrown away the most valuable asset we had -- the individual's right to oppose both flag and country when he believed them to be in the wrong. We have thrown it away; and with it, all that was really respectable about that grotesque and laughable word, Patriotism."
If patriotism in the best sense (not in the monarchical sense) is loyalty to the principles of democracy, then who was the true patriot? Theodore Roosevelt, who applauded a massacre by American soldiers of 600 Filipino men, women and children on a remote Philippine island, or Mark Twain, who denounced it? Today, U.S. soldiers who are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan are not dying for their country; they are dying for Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld. They are dying for the greed of the oil cartels, for the expansion of the American empire, for the political ambitions of the president. They are dying to cover up the theft of the nation's wealth to pay for the machines of death. As of July 4, 2006, more than 2,500 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq, more than 8,500 maimed or injured. With the war in Iraq long declared a "Mission Accomplished," shall we revel in American military power and insist that the American empire will be beneficent?
Our own history is enough to make one wary. Empire begins with what was called, in our high school history classes, "westward expansion,"a euphemism for the annihilation or expulsion of the Indian tribes inhabiting the continent, in the name of "progress" and "civilization." It continues with the expansion of American power into the Caribbean at the turn of the 20th century, then into the Philippines, and then repeated Marine invasions of Central America and long military occupations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. After World War II, Henry Luce, owner of Time, LIFE, and Fortune, spoke of "the American Century," in which this country would organize the world "as we see fit." Indeed, the expansion of American power continued, too often supporting military dictatorships in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, because they were friendly to American corporations and the American government. The record does not justify confidence in Bush's boast that the United States will bring democracy to Iraq.
Palast: GRAND THEFT MEXICO
The election race south of the US border is officially too close to call. Now, where have we heard that before?
As in Florida in 2000, and as in Ohio in 2004, the exit polls show the voters voted for the progressive candidate. The race is “officially” too close to call. But they will call it - after they steal it.
Reuters reports that, as of 8pm eastern time, as voting concluded in Mexico, exit polls showed Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the “leftwing” party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) leading in exit polls over Felipe Calderon of the ruling conservative National Action party (PAN).
We’ve said again and again: exit polls tell us how voters say they voted, but the voters can’t tell pollsters whether their vote will be counted. In Mexico, counting the vote is an art, not a science - and Calderon’s ruling crew is very artful indeed. The PAN-controlled official electoral commission, not surprisingly, has announced that the presidential tally is too close to call.
Calderon’s election is openly supported by the Bush administration.
On the ground in Mexico city, our news team reports accusations from inside the Obrador campaign that operatives of the PAN had access to voter files that are supposed to be the sole property of the nation’s electoral commission. We are not surprised.
An Open Letter to the Motorists of Route 280
[WARNING: extremely rare graphic verbal content]
Today, there was a tragedy on the road, and you were directly responsible for the painful, agonizing death of one sad, misplaced creature. Today, I impugn a slurry of care-free motorists for failing to stop and aid the creature in its misery, and I accept no excuses pertaining to your rush to attend barbeques, picnics, pool parties, 24 hour sales in the next county over, monster truck pulls or any other dubious attempt at leisure making. Out of scores of passing cars, none pulled over or even slowed down- the doe died slowly, with tortured undulations, without dignity, after being hit not once but twice by the passing fancies of a four day weekend. Blood, cherry red as a Corvette, exploded from the animal, and I just stared in awe as such an elegant creature suffered convulsive fits under a motherfucking McDonald's billboard. It struggled to make sense out of the dual 50 MPH blows which landed it across the street, whereupon I rest my next indictment to the driver of the white truck.
The driver of the white truck, with his aviator glasses, Carhart boots and mullet, did stop, and I was filled with hope that someone will either a) be a little proactive in flagging other drivers to avoid re-injuring the creature, or b) will deliver swift mercy to the terrified, heaving, and even-in-death magnificent being. No. The gentleman kicked the deer in the back of the head, the way a car buyer kicks the tired of a jalopy to-be. Not a kick intended to relieve the doe of her torment, but an asinine boot thrust of a callous coward immune to the extreme pain which lay in a golden coat beneath his feet. As if to say "you're mine, bitch," his kicked and the deer quivered in an attempt to life her head. Had she the ability, she would've certainly kicked back. I know this man saw only meat before him, not a confused refugee of shrinking forest, I know he was butchering the creature with his eyes, and I certainly know that I will be counter-accused of Bambi-like over-sentiment. I've honestly never seen the film, but I do feel greatly that there is a sick injustice at work here, the injustice of man's purported rise above the thickets, woodlands, and marshes of his ancestry. Man inhabits artifice: white trucks, pavement, restaurants and shelters which seem so promisingly fortified against the wilderness. Yet man is entirely interwoven with wilderness, the twain are inseparable.
The doe, utterly in the wrong place at the wrong time, represents to me the great, unbridled spirit of the early years of the American experiment. This nation was lauded by the likes of Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman and Wilde for its brave open expanses, for the idea of cohabitating with the wilderness rather than the need to have dominion over it, to crush it with interstates and outlet malls. We lost the balance and entertained the power of greed, and greed of power. We lost the respect for the bear, the elk, the buffalo, and saw them instead as in the way of our industrial hard-ons which sought ever-ripe ripe valleys for their profit and prophet motivated pleasure. The doe, the walking wild, no longer has her place within our world, unless she is meat. I was mightily disturbed a few months ago when the most popular arcade game played by the kiddies was a simulated hunt; the pixilated creatures do not thrash about after getting virtually shot, they do not meet your own eye with their own glassy upturned gaze, they merely disappear in a bright cartoon explosion, and you’ve got points. Have we so over-saturated ourselves as humans on the destruction of the natural world that we must now simulate its slaughter in air conditioned comfort? What the hell? Thoreau, will you come to cradle the dying deer? Who will stand for compassion? May America stop a moment to wipe its dying brow?
I know full well that I’m oversimplifying and at the same time aggrandizing a simple accident with an animal. I know that the man in the white truck is conditioned against these pansy sensitivities of mine, and I can’t find him truly at fault, for he’s never known otherwise. Once born into the machine, it takes a major malfunction of sorts to see beyond it. I am grateful that the machine of my incubation was faulty enough to allow me to see the system from outside, yet as a human on this planet where the system is the predominant political and social paradigm, I am dependant upon it, weakened by its gravity and spellbound by its latest products. At times I am the frightened doe, calculating danger as it crosses the highway. At times, I cannot help it, I am the man in the white truck, kicking my quarry, sold to the material moment, lost in the drool of utter predation. Yet I sense deeply and possibly recklessly that the ever elusive purpose for our presence here is to evolve, passionately, and to think, and reason… to be the neural mechanism for this organism we call Earth, to be the cat that catches its own tail, to be sensory organs to witness with our lives the expanse of Creation. To say that I don’t believe that we exist to tear apart the flesh of this world with our psychic teeth does not mean that we are above the cycle of predator and prey; indeed we are animals, and as such, have a place within the mammalian/chordate dance of hunter and hunted. We are peer to (and in the wild needfully respectful to) the beings of claw, talon, fang and hoof. Their presence is essential to the balance and sustainability of this amazingly intricate ecology which comprises of billions of organic metaphorical gears, pulleys, and levers per square mile. The does, falcons, turtles and amoebas are the body of this world, and we may very well exist to be the mind of it, the self-experiential engine of its time incarnate. The soul is another thing entirely.
So America, as represented by the motorists of NC 280 Southbound, will you be mindful of the brakes within your artifice? Will you be mindful of the teeming, verdant and quintessential state of affairs from which you emerged, bipedal and curious, oh so long ago? Can you take notice that the quiet ideas that keep you awake at night might just be more meaningful than the deadlines which split your life up into a clutter of parentheses? Just, for the Love of it All, attend and heed to your actions and consequences, and strive against casual pain, lest we find ourselves on the road, dodging the density of our own machinations, imperiled by the pretense of being what we’re not, by the haste to complete a defeatist game of our own design.
A human whose pansy sensitivities won’t preclude him from speaking bluntly, when needed.
Mixed Picture Emerges of Global Gay Rights
While cities around the world hosted upbeat gay pride parades in recent weeks, human-rights activists kept watch on a contrasting set of developments: gays beaten by demonstrators in Moscow, convicted on sodomy charges in Cameroon, targeted by sweeping anti-gay legislation in Nigeria.
"It shows there are still dangers in just being gay _ and dangers in speaking out," said Paula Ettelbrick, executive director of the New York-based International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.
"You need people willing to stand up and claim their space, even against tremendous odds _ country by country, city by city."
Ettelbrick's commission, along with other human rights groups and some members of Congress, are intensifying their efforts to monitor and protest abuses and oppression of gays and lesbians overseas. Results have been mixed.
Regions of concern include Africa, where many politicians engage in anti-gay rhetoric; Islamic countries where gay sex is illegal and sometimes punishable by death; and certain Eastern European countries where gay pride marches have been banned or targeted by harassment and violence.
"In a lot of countries, you've got gays and lesbians enjoying new visibility, but at the same time the opposition forces become more angry," said Scott Long of Human Rights Watch. "People need to be aware of the possible backlash."
Ha Ha: True Origin of Christian "FISH" Symbol
...[C]ontemporary Jesus worshippers might be surprised, even outraged, to learn that one of their preeminent religious symbols antedated the Christian religion, and has its roots in pagan fertility awareness and sexuality. Barbara G. Walker writes in "The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects," that the acronym pertaining to Jesus Christ was a "rationale invented after the fact... Christians simply copied this pagan symbol along with many others." Ichthys was the offspring son of the ancient Sea goddess Atargatis, and was known in various mythic systems as Tirgata, Aphrodite, Pelagia or Delphine. The word also meant "womb" and "dolphin" in some tongues, and representations of this appeared in the depiction of mermaids. The fish also a central element in other stories, including the Goddess of Ephesus (who has a fish amulet covering her genital region), as well as the tale of the fish that swallowed the penis of Osiris, and was also considered a symbol of the vulva of Isis.
Along with being a generative and reproductive spirit in mythology, the fish also has been identified in certain cultures with reincarnation and the life force. Sir James George Frazer noted in his work, "Adonis, Attis, Osiris: Studies in the History of Oriental Religion" (Part Four of his larger work, "The Golden Bough") that among one group in India, the fish was believed to house a deceased soul, and that as part of a fertility ritual specific fish is eaten in the belief that it will be reincarnated in a newborn child.
Well before Christianity, the fish symbol was known as "the Great Mother," a pointed oval sign, the "vesica piscis" or Vessel of the Fish.
World's Rarest Animals
Northern Hairy Nosed Wombat, 113 left in existence.
Fost and Lound
So, I just went to retrieve the wallet which I discovered went missing this morning, when I rolled out of bed still in shock over a humid hour of unexpected kissing and companionship at the club last night. I emerged from slumber late for Jubilee, exhausted, and so reactivly allergic to something that my eye was damn near swollen shut. I think, for that span of sneezing and awful hours, I was allergic to the very air we breathe.
I spent the day, when conscious, anxious over the missing wallet and all the drudgery of having to replace all of this thin pieces of paper and plastic that somehow cement my identity in the 21st century. All was there, execpt for about $100 in cash. What a weird mixed blessing, y'know? The hundred clams were gone, but they (the ubiquitous they) could've destroyed my bank account with the debit card, or stolen my identity with everything else. The cash came from a wedding I'd performed earlier, and I was quite thrilled at the time not to get a check as I could spend it with a quickness. Yet had I gotten a check, I probably would'nt have gone to the club and thus wouldn't have gotten into the extended make-out session, which was quite pleasurable, as you can imagine. I was also pleased with the pay out as I got stiffed for the last wedding I'd done (by my family, no less). It's a mixed bag of no gain, no loss, and making for damn sure that my pocket is buttoned whilst tongue jousting amid a sea of drag queens and trance tramps. I just hope that the cash went to a worthwhile cause rather than up the nose, and I'm sure that I'm somehow working off a karmic debt load on an installment plan.
Seriously, though, I am thankful that most everything is there, but I am pissed that people can't just return lost objects without finder's fees. C'mon, peeps, there is something called decency and doing what's right, is there not? I know the deathknell for Chivalry has been rung for some time now, but I've not yet seen it listed in the obits. I have found several wallets over the years, sometimes with much cash inside 'em. I call the police and turn it in, without so much as thumbing a single because it's just plain right. Don't we as a society engage in enough interpersonal theft (intentional and otherwise), and aren't we collectively the victims of enough institutional pickpocketing to be turned off from emulating it in our own little self-governing spheres?
Then again, nothing gained and nothing lost, really. Behind that lost cash is a newly married couple and warm fuzzies of a garden ceremony. And in the moment that the wallet left my back pocket, I was all a'smooch to the bass of drums on a warm, sweetly dark Saturday night. So, I reckon, despite my curmudgeonly misgivings over the loss of cash, the memories which bracket the day last far longer than five pieces of paper. Call it "memory tax."
3 weird fortunes
At the Chinese restaurant tonight:
It's a little too bright out there today
It looks hot out there. The sun is full tilt, Americans are bracing for an orgiastic celebration of codependence, and I've got an outdoor wedding to do in a few hours. It caps a week of being "on," and I'm hoping to be off, quite off, very soon. It seems that tomorrow is a day completely bereftof schedule, dayplanner scribble, or anything even masquerading as a responsibility. There is much writing to do, which usually falls under the leisure header, though tomorrow I might just go completely visceral and instead do things to spurt creative juices (ahem) rather than force them.
Right now, however, I've got to see if I can unwrinkle the wedding shirt and get into matrimonial mode. Meanwhile, here's pictures of wonderfully silly summer kitties:
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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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Keep it even,
"Not all who wander
You contain everything
Everything contains you
If you desire the Infinite,
look no further than the window.
Ten Considerations for Being Well n this Goofy Universe
0. If you find yourself
wonderstruck, 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.
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.