Monday, October 31, 2005
Sunday, October 30, 2005
THERE IS NO MATTER AS SUCH!
All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particles of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter."
Saturday, October 29, 2005
A garden inside me, unknown, secret,
neglected for years,
the layers of its soil deep and thick.
Trees in the corners with branching arms
and the tangled briars like broken nets.
Sunrise through the misted orchard,
morning sun turns silver on the pointed twigs.
I have woken from the sleep of ages and I am not sure
if I am really seeing, or dreaming,
or simply astonished
walking toward sunrise
to have stumbled into the garden
where the stone was rolled from the tomb of longing.
Friday, October 28, 2005
The same statistics also suggest that this girl’s parents believe -- at this very moment -- that an all-powerful and all-loving God is watching over them and their family. Are they right to believe this? Is it good that they believe this?
The entirety of atheism is contained in this response. Atheism is not a philosophy; it is not even a view of the world; it is simply a refusal to deny the obvious. Unfortunately, we live in a world in which the obvious is overlooked as a matter of principle. The obvious must be observed and re-observed and argued for. This is a thankless job. It carries with it an aura of petulance and insensitivity. It is, moreover, a job that the atheist does not want.
It is worth noting that no one ever need identify himself as a non-astrologer or a non-alchemist. Consequently, we do not have words for people who deny the validity of these pseudo-disciplines. Likewise, “atheism” is a term that should not even exist. Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make when in the presence of religious dogma. The atheist is merely a person who believes that the 260 million Americans (eighty-seven percent of the population) who claim to “never doubt the existence of God” should be obliged to present evidence for his existence -- and, indeed, for his benevolence, given the relentless destruction of innocent human beings we witness in the world each day. Only the atheist appreciates just how uncanny our situation is: most of us believe in a God that is every bit as specious as the gods of Mount Olympus; no person, whatever his or her qualifications, can seek public office in the United States without pretending to be certain that such a God exists; and much of what passes for public policy in our country conforms to religious taboos and superstitions appropriate to a medieval theocracy. Our circumstance is abject, indefensible, and terrifying. It would be hilarious if the stakes were not so high.
Consider: the city of New Orleans was recently destroyed by hurricane Katrina. At least a thousand people died, tens of thousands lost all their earthly possessions, and over a million have been displaced. It is safe to say that almost every person living in New Orleans at the moment Katrina struck believed in an omnipotent, omniscient, and compassionate God. But what was God doing while a hurricane laid waste to their city? Surely He heard the prayers of those elderly men and women who fled the rising waters for the safety of their attics, only to be slowly drowned there. These were people of faith. These were good men and women who had prayed throughout their lives. Only the atheist has the courage to admit the obvious: these poor people spent their lives in the company of an imaginary friend.
Of course, there had been ample warning that a storm “of biblical proportions” would strike New Orleans, and the human response to the ensuing disaster was tragically inept. But it was inept only by the light of science. Advance warning of Katrina’s path was wrested from mute Nature by meteorological calculations and satellite imagery. God told no one of his plans. Had the residents of New Orleans been content to rely on the beneficence of the Lord, they wouldn’t have known that a killer hurricane was bearing down upon them until they felt the first gusts of wind on their faces. And yet, a poll conducted by The Washington Post found that eighty percent of Katrina’s survivors claim that the event has only strengthened their faith in God.
As hurricane Katrina was devouring New Orleans, nearly a thousand Shiite pilgrims were trampled to death on a bridge in Iraq. There can be no doubt that these pilgrims believed mightily in the God of the Koran. Indeed, their lives were organized around the indisputable fact of his existence: their women walked veiled before him; their men regularly murdered one another over rival interpretations of his word. It would be remarkable if a single survivor of this tragedy lost his faith. More likely, the survivors imagine that they were spared through God’s grace.
Only the atheist recognizes the boundless narcissism and self-deceit of the saved. Only the atheist realizes how morally objectionable it is for survivors of a catastrophe to believe themselves spared by a loving God, while this same God drowned infants in their cribs. Because he refuses to cloak the reality of the world’s suffering in a cloying fantasy of eternal life, the atheist feels in his bones just how precious life is -- and, indeed, how unfortunate it is that millions of human beings suffer the most harrowing abridgements of their happiness for no good reason at all.
Of course, people of faith regularly assure one another that God is not responsible for human suffering. But how else can we understand the claim that God is both omniscient and omnipotent? There is no other way, and it is time for sane human beings to own up to this. This is the age-old problem of theodicy, of course, and we should consider it solved. If God exists, either He can do nothing to stop the most egregious calamities, or He does not care to. God, therefore, is either impotent or evil. Pious readers will now execute the following pirouette: God cannot be judged by merely human standards of morality. But, of course, human standards of morality are precisely what the faithful use to establish God’s goodness in the first place. And any God who could concern himself with something as trivial as gay marriage, or the name by which he is addressed in prayer, is not as inscrutable as all that. If He exists, the God of Abraham is not merely unworthy of the immensity of creation; he is unworthy even of man.
There is another possibility, of course, and it is both the most reasonable and least odious: the biblical God is a fiction. As Richard Dawkins has observed, we are all atheists with respect to Zeus and Thor. Only the atheist has realized that the biblical god is no different. Consequently, only the atheist is compassionate enough to take the profundity of the world’s suffering at face value. It is terrible that we all die and lose everything we love; it is doubly terrible that so many human beings suffer needlessly while alive. That so much of this suffering can be directly attributed to religion -- to religious hatreds, religious wars, religious delusions, and religious diversions of scarce resources -- is what makes atheism a moral and intellectual necessity. It is a necessity, however, that places the atheist at the margins of society. The atheist, by merely being in touch with reality, appears shamefully out of touch with the fantasy life of his neighbors.
This is an excerpt from An Atheist Manifesto, to be published at www.truthdig.com in December
"So Who Are You?"
The witnessing of awareness can persist through waking, dreaming and deep sleep. The Witness is fully available in any state, including your own present state of awareness right now. So I'm going to talk you into this state, or try to, using what are known in Buddhism as "pointing out instructions." I am not going to try to get you into a different state of consciousness, or an altered state of consciousness, or a non-ordinary state. I am going to simply point out something that is already occurring in your own present, ordinary, natural state.
The question of what cloud nine must be like for Chicago’s Manager Ozzie Guillen, in this element of surprise caught on camera after the World Series win against the Houston Astros Wednesday night in this spontaneous celebratory kiss must have been answered. Surely either Geralso Rivera or (more likely) Shep Smith had something to do with the jury-rigging of this photo op, ya think?
Thanks to Fox News...
FROM JOSEPH FARAH'S G2 BULLETIN
of nuclear Osama
Heavenly signs, bin Laden's Mahdi complex raise current threat of 'American Hiroshima'
Signs in the heavens and a popular notion in the Islamic world that Osama bin Laden is the "Mahdi," a long-awaited messianic deliverer, increase this month's risk of mega-terror attacks on the U.S. – including raising the threat of al-Qaida's nuclear "American Hiroshima" plan, says an author and expert in a report released today to WND.
Paul L. Williams, author of "The Al Qaeda Connection" and a former FBI consultant, warns in a report that first appeared in Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin terror attacks on the U.S. before Nov. 2 would have special spiritual significance.
"Islamic clerics point out that the signs in the heavens are propitious for such an event," writes Williams. "This year, Muslims will experience solar and lunar eclipses during the holy month. These great heavenly signs, according to Islamic visionary Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Sahib, foretell the coming of the "Mahdi," the mighty warrior of the Apocalypse, who will defeat the army of Yajuj wa-Majuj ("the infidel unbelievers"), led by the Dabbah or "the Beast." He will lead the Muslims to great victory and bring forth the Day of Islam, when all of creation falls before the throne of Allah."
Millions of Muslims worldwide already regard bin Laden as the "Mahdi," say Williams and other analysts of Islam.
"Islamic tradition says that the Mahdi will be a descendant of Muhammad through his daughter Fatima," writes Williams. "He will have a distinctive forehead, a prominent nose, and a black mole on his face. He will arise from Arabia and will be called from a cave by Allah to serve as the savior of all true believers."
Thursday, October 27, 2005
A unique system that can produce Hydrogen inside a car using common metals such as Magnesium and Aluminum was developed by an Israeli company. The system solves all of the obstacles associated with the manufacturing, transporting and storing of hydrogen to be used in cars. When it becomes commercial in a few years time, the system will be incorporated into cars that will cost about the same as existing conventional cars to run, and will be completely emission free. (Or is this a cruel hoax)
Also, from the same company. Hydrogen from the Sun.
...The waking state comes and goes, but the Witness is ever-present. The dreaming state comes and goes, but the Witness is ever-present. The deep sleep state comes and goes, but the Witness is ever-present. Extraordinary and remarkable states of consciousness can be reached and practiced and attained in the gross, subtle, and causal realms. But the Witness cannot be attained, because it is ever-present. The Witness cannot be practiced, because it is ever-present. The Witness cannot be reached, because it is ever-present. As Sri Ramana Maharshi often said, "There is no reaching the Self. If Self were to be reached, it would mean that the Self is not here and now but that it has yet to be obtained. What is got afresh will also be lost. So it will be impermanent. What is not permanent is not worth striving for. So I say the Self is not reached. You are the Self;you are already That." Or the great Zen Master Huang Po, " That there is no reaching enlightenment is not idle talk, it is the truth. Hard is the meaning of this saying!" You can no more reach enlightenment or attain the Self than you can attain your feet or acquire your lungs.
Notice: the clouds float by in your awareness, thoughts float by in your mind, feelings arise in the body, and you are the Witness of all of those. The Witness is already fully functioning, fully present, fully awake. The enlightened Self is one hundred percent present in your very perception of this page. Enlightened Spirit is that which is reading these words right now: how much closer can you possibly get? Why go out and start looking for the Looker? The great search for enlightenment is not just a waste of time; it is a colossal impossibility because the enlightened Self is ever-present, as the Witness of this and every moment...
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
On the 9th of February of this year, the construction of Federation Tower began in Moscow and projected to be completed in 2007. The 500 million dollar building was designed by German architect Peter Schwegar of Schweger Assoziierte Architekten and by Russian transplanted in Germany, Sergei Tchoban of NPS Tchoban Voss.
The building will rise to a height of 440 meters including the antenna, and will be the tallest in Europe. More here...
On September 22 I published a blog on a group of single, bright and upcoming male TV news types or pundit/authors and called it Talking Heads, read it here.
However, there was a fellow named Jake Tapper, 36ish, who should have been included as a member of that group, but alas was left out pending the grand launching of his much touted (in some circles, hint, wink, nudge) new blog, DownAndDirty, for some reason having it's opening several months later than announced. It's happened, DownAndDirty had it's first post around the first of this month, (October).
Jake appears at Amazon with Down and Dirty: The Plot to Steal the Presidency.
Also word out he's engaged to be married.
Several videos out, One Here....
Interesting woman, Harriet Miers. She was a Democrat, found God and then became a
Republican. Which is kinda Backwards. Usually in Washington, you become a Republican, get indicted, go to jail and then find God. ~Jay Leno
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
The ground of being is empty of everything. It is an objectless, spaceless, timeless, thoughtless void. But everything that exists has come from this no-place, including you and me. This empty ground that we all emerged from is the womb of the entire universe. When something came from nothing fourteen billion years ago, the nothing didn't disappear. That unborn, unmanifest dimension is the ever-present ground out of which everything is constantly arising.
The experience of meditation enables you to know this empty ground within your own self. Even in the midst of the chaotic movement of thought and feeling, you can discover a current of stillness that is the echo of the ground of being. And there is a great mystery in that current—a miraculous, enlightening depth that seems to answer all questions and relieve all doubts.Traditionally, enlightenment has been defined as this profound awakening to the ground of being—an awakening in which the seeker finds liberation through transcending the world of time and space. But in the new enlightenment, which is redefined in an evolutionary context, the discovery of this primordial ground is not an end in itself. It becomes the essential foundation from which the individual is freed to participate wholeheartedly in the evolutionary process. What arises out of that ground is an impulse to evolve, an impulse that is not separate from the explosion in motion that emerged from nothing when the universe was born. I call this the Authentic Self, and the goal of Evolutionary Enlightenment is to liberate this creative principle in human consciousness so that it can transform us and the world around us.
Tony Cohen web site...
Monday, October 24, 2005
Here an excerpt from Amazons' review:
In honor of the United Nations-sponsored International Year of the Family in 1994, award-winning photojournalist Peter Menzel brought together 16 of the world's leading photographers to create a visual portrait of life in 30 nations. Material World tackles its wide subject by zooming in, allowing one household to represent an entire nation. Photographers spent one week living with a "statistically average" family in each country, learning about their work, their attitudes toward their possessions, and their hopes for the future. Then a "big picture" shot of the family was taken outside the dwelling, surrounded by all their (many or few) material goods.Also an optimistic take from a blog about US garbage problem called Garbage Land, which gives great advice on what we can all do.
LONDON -- Telecom giant Inmarsat is weeks away from launching the second in a series of two super-satellites -- designed to be among the most powerful commercial communications spacecraft in orbit -- that will beam broadband data and voice services to almost any location on the planet.
The I-4 satellites will serve as switchboards in the sky for Inmarsat's Broadband Global Area Network, or BGAN, service, scheduled for rollout in 2006. Instead of cruising for a Starbucks, BGAN subscribers can hit the road with a portable terminal as small as their laptop computer and surf the web -- or connect with the office LAN -- at broadband speeds of up to 492 Kbps.
"The network will cover 88 percent of the globe's landmass," said Chris McLaughlin, vice president of corporate communications for Inmarsat in London.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Traditionally, the spiritual seeker would aspire to become enlightened, which means to transcend ego, in order to escape from the suffering of this world and abide in the timeless ground of being. But enlightenment itself is evolving. I don't think that what the world needs now is more people resting in the timeless ground of being. I think we have to resist the temptation to get lost in timelessness and begin to embrace the overwhelming urgency of the evolutionary crisis we're in—which is a crisis of consciousness, a crisis of understanding, a crisis of development. Many of us can intellectually appreciate our predicament, but that's not enough. We have to bridge the gap between our capacity to cognitively appreciate the problem and our willingness to actually become the solution as ourselves, as truly enlightened human beings.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Traditional transparent armor is thick layers of bonded glass. The new armor combines the transparent ALONtm piece as a strike plate, a middle section of glass and a polymer backing. Each layer is visibly thinner than the traditional layers.
ALONtm is virtually scratch resistant, offers substantial impact resistance, and provides better durability and protection against armor piercing threats, at roughly half the weight and half the thickness of traditional glass transparent armor, said the lieutenant.
~Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
The horrors of the Pakistan-Kashmir October 8 earthquake continues to unfold and the destruction of human life and property is indescribable. As of today the estimated deaths are over 41,000, and that number continues to rise, tens of thousands of severely injured unable to receive medical care, and the homeless count is well over 2 million with winter’s bad weather moving in.
This area of the world sits on major fault lines and has in the past been the scene of earthquake devastation which begins to beg the question, why is it not possible for engineers and architects in this the 21st century to create designs for earthquake proof housing for these people living in these tremor areas worldwide.
Housing which could built from inexpensive materials available in the area and with simple plans easily followed. Why couldn’t this be a prime objective for say the UN, or, even the USA, desperately needing goodwill as we do since the Iraq debacle.
Several articles today are focusing on the lack of tents for these people, and Wired Magazine mentioned an “origami” tent specifically geared for disaster relief which is being shown at, of all places, MOMA.
Monday, October 17, 2005
One of many hobbies my mother did when I was a child was stenciling, which was the rage for homemakers in the 50's. These were not one page stencils, but a form of stencil multi layering. A rose edging a tablecloth could have 5 layering sheets with 5 colors. That was then, this is now. Check out this site...
Instant street cred lurks just a few clicks away at this hip gallery of stencil-based graffiti art. Found on urban sidewalks and walls throughout Europe and North America, stencils tend to feature political screeds ("I Heart Sweatshop Labor," "Buy! Buy!"), Warhol-like portraits of icons (Marilyn Monroe with a black eye, a leering Richard Nixon, good ol' Andre the Giant), or unique, standalone images (a skeleton in a grass skirt over the caption "Born to Hula"). Stencil art burst onto the scene in Paris during the `80s, and then quickly spread to Berlin, New York City, and other metropolises, welcoming or not. Naturally, trendy advertising firms have picked up on the style and are now using spray-paint stencils for their own nefarious purposes. So, check these out before they're lost to the corporate beast. (in Graffiti and Street Art
"Mysticism is a rational enterprise, religion is not."
This is the second of two postings by Sam Harris, posted to The Huffington Post, titled The Politics of Ignorance.
You can read part one here...
It is time that scientists and other public intellectuals observed that the contest between faith and reason is zero-sum. There is no question but that nominally religious scientists like Francis Collins and Kenneth R. Miller are doing lasting harm to our discourse by the accommodations they have made to religious irrationality. Likewise, Stephen Jay Gould's notion of "non-overlapping magisteria" served only the religious dogmatists who realize, quite rightly, that there is only one magisterium. Whether a person is religious or secular, there is nothing more sacred than the facts. Either Jesus was born of a virgin, or he wasn't; either there is a God who despises homosexuals, or there isn't. It is time that sane human beings agreed on the standards of evidence necessary to substantiate truth-claims of this sort. The issue is not, as ID advocates allege, whether science can "rule out" the existence of the biblical God. There are an infinite number of ludicrous ideas that science could not "rule out," but which no sensible person would entertain. The issue is whether there is any good reason to believe the sorts of things that religious dogmatists believe -- that God exists and takes an interest in the affairs of human beings; that the soul enters the zygote at the moment of conception (and, therefore, that blastocysts are the moral equivalents of persons); etc. There simply is no good reason to believe such things, and scientists should stop hiding their light under a bushel and make this emphatically obvious to everyone. Imagine President Bush addressing the National Prayer Breakfast in these terms: "Behind all of life and all history there is a dedication and a purpose, set by the hand of a just and faithful Zeus." Imagine his speech to Congress containing the sentence "Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty have always been at war, and we know that Apollo is not neutral between them." Clearly, the commonplaces of language conceal the vacuity and strangeness of many of our beliefs. Our president regularly speaks in phrases appropriate to the fourteenth century, and no one seems inclined to find out what words like "God" and "crusade" and "wonder-working power" mean to him. Not only do we still eat the offal of the ancient world; we are positively smug about it. Garry Wills has noted that the Bush White House "is currently honeycombed with prayer groups and Bible study cells, like a whited monastery." This should trouble us as much as it troubles the fanatics of the Muslim world. The only thing that permits human beings to collaborate with one another in a truly open-ended way is their willingness to have their beliefs modified by new facts. Only openness to evidence and argument will secure a common world for us. Nothing guarantees that reasonable people will agree about everything, of course, but the unreasonable are certain to be divided by their dogmas. It is time we recognized that this spirit of mutual inquiry, which is the foundation of all real science, is the very antithesis of religious faith.
The new Kirsch Pink plant is reportedly 1.3 times more effective at absorbing NOx, SO2 and other air pollutants than its parent stock, the Cherry Sage. Toyota is targeting first-year sales of Kirsch Pink at 10,000 plants, priced at ¥380 (US$3.34) each.
The new plant, which flowers between May and November, also diminishes the urban heat-island effect 1.3 times more effectively than the Cherry Sage, according to the company.
Grandma was having 3 girlfriends over the coming Tuesday for cards and was justifiably proud of her table setting. She asked grandpa to take a photo with his new digital camera and download it to the computer when he had time, which he willingly did, whereupon she proudly emailed the photo with some other photos grandpa had taken to the kids and grandkids and 20 or so friends which she included in her weekly email to friends and family.
But the next day one of her granddaughters in college emailed her back and suggested she remove the dining table photo and wouldn't give a reason why.
Can you see what the granddaughter saw?
Here for a larger photo.
Thanks to Kinda Steele
Sunday, October 16, 2005
Star Pitcher of LA Angels Injured in First Inning of American League Playoff
22 Year Old Rookie Ervin Santana Replaces Star Pitcher Against Mighty Yankees to Win 5th of AL Playoff
Santana Unlikely Athletic Hero for "Halos"
Santana Starter In Third Against White Socks
Cinderella Story Goes Wrong.
Ervin Flops Against Socks
Socks over Angels 8-2
Our friend Sam Harris has been blogging for the Huffington Post, the new ultra liberal mega-blog site started by the longtime media personality Arianna Huffington.
Sams first post was August 2, 05 titled The Politics of Ignorance, the theme being Bush's pseudo-scientific notion of "intelligent design" being the legitimate alternative to the theory of evolution,
and great reading it is and a good introduction of Sam to liberals preparing the way for his later radical blogs on religion.
Here is the first of two post from The Politics of Ignorance.
President Bush has now endorsed the pseudo-scientific notion of "intelligent design" (ID) and declared it to be a legitimate alternative to the theory of evolution. This is not surprising, as he has always maintained that "the jury is still out" on the question of evolution. But the jury is not out -- indeed it was well in before President Bush was even born -- and anyone familiar with modern biology knows that ID is nothing more than a program of political and religious advocacy masquerading as science.
It is for this reason that the scientific community has been divided on just how (or whether) to dignify the spurious claims of ID "theorists" with a response. While understandable, I believe that such scruples are now misplaced. The Trojan Horse has passed the innermost gates of the city, and scary religious imbeciles are now spilling out.
According to several recent polls, 22 percent of Americans are certain that Jesus will return to earth sometime in the next fifty years. Another 22 percent believe that he will probably do so. This is likely the same 44 percent who go to church once a week or more, who believe that God literally promised the land of Israel to the Jews, and who want to stop teaching our children about the biological fact of evolution. As the President is well aware, believers of this sort constitute the most cohesive and motivated segment of the American electorate. Consequently, their views and prejudices now influence almost every decision of national importance. Political liberals seem to have drawn the wrong lesson from these developments and are now thumbing scripture, wondering how best to ingratiate themselves to the legions of men and women in our country who vote mainly on the basis of religious dogma. More than 50 percent of Americans have a "negative" or "highly negative" view of people who do not believe in God; 70 percent think it important for presidential candidates to be "strongly religious." Because it is taboo to criticize a person’s religious beliefs, political debate over questions of public policy (stem-cell research, the ethics of assisted suicide and euthanasia, obscenity and free speech, gay marriage, etc.) generally gets framed in terms appropriate to a theocracy. Unreason is now ascendant in the United States -- in our schools, in our courts, and in each branch of the federal government. Only 28 percent of Americans believe in evolution; 68 percent believe in Satan. Ignorance in this degree, concentrated in both the head and belly of a lumbering superpower, is now a problem for the entire world.
The second and final edition tomorrow.
News of a “plasma pencil” developed by Old Dominion University researcher Mounir Laroussi was flashing through the World Wide Web in late September, adding to his reputation as a pioneer in the field of cold plasmas.
PhysicsWeb noted Laroussi’s creation of a “hand-held device that can produce room-temperature plasmas … to kill bacteria, heal wounds and treat plaque.”...
Plasmas, sometime called the fourth state of matter along with solids, liquids and gases, are generated anywhere atoms are stripped of electrons, creating soups of neutral particles, charged ions and electrons. Plasmas can be found in solar flares and around lightning bolts, and, in fact, make up 99 percent of the known universe because of their common presence in interstellar space. In the denser Earth’s atmosphere, most plasmas are super hot and hard to control.
During the last decade numerous researchers have produced low-temperature plasmas, but Laroussi, since the mid-1990s, has been at the forefront of the research. His focus has been on ease of use and low-cost generation of plasmas. Business Week magazine named him an “expert” in cold plasmas, and gave the same designation to Karl H. Schoenbach, ODU’s eminent scholar of electrical and computer engineering, who is director of the Reidy Center and holds the Batten Endowed Chair of Bioelectric Engineering.
Cold plasmas are generated when an electrical source is tailored to kick lighter electrons into high speeds without doing the same for heavier ions. This can be done with electricity that is turned on and off—or pulsed—thousands of times a second. The relative inactivity of the ions eliminates the high heat that plasmas can develop in the Earth’s atmosphere and gives researchers the more manageable cold plasmas.
During the Punic Wars, Roman consul Gaius Cecilio Metello wanted to march elephants into Sicily across a wooden bridge; in 1870 a 2-mile tunnel was proposed to link the island with the mainland; and in 1971 a fixed link was declared a “prevailing national interest.” But the area’s 100 active seismic faults—including four directly through the Strait of Messina itself—and powerful winds and ocean currents have long been formidable engineering obstacles.
Advances in computer modeling mean structures can be designed lighter and stronger, making possible a single 2-mile-long, 10-lane span suspended from 4-foot-diameter cables hanging from 1,000-foot towers built on the mainland and the island. The span would beat the current world-record holder, Japan’s Akashi Kaikyo suspension bridge, by 66 percent. The land-based towers eliminate the problem of building support bases in the turbulent water.
Saturday, October 15, 2005
If your running Windows, click Start>>Run. Type in "msconfig" (without the quotes). Click OK. This launches the System Configuration Utility. Select the Startup tab. Uncheck boxes for programs you don't need to have running (RealTray, Winamp or other audio utilities are good candidates). You're not deleting the program, just preventing it from automatically launching. But be careful, as there are a few programs that should be running (including SystemTray and your firewall, anti-spyware and anti-virus software). If you are trying to figure out what something does in your startup, you can find a list of entries and explanations here: http://www.sysinfo.org/startuplist.php
Tell a wise person, or else keep silent,
because the mass man will mock it right away.
I praise what is truly alive,
what longs to be burned to death.
In the calm water of the love-nights,
where you were begotten, where you have begotten,
a strange feeling comes over you,
when you see the silent candle burning.
Now you are no longer caught in the obsession with darkness,
and a desire for higher love-making sweeps you upward.
Distance does not make you falter.
Now, arriving in magic, flying,
and finally, insane for the light,
you are the moth and you are gone.
And so long as you haven't experienced this: to die and so to grow,
you are only a troubled guest on the dark earth.
Friday, October 14, 2005
Jonathan Rauch of the National Journal has a great take...
A cloudy afternoon on a recent Saturday in western Massachusetts. Rain sprinkles the Berkshire hills. Strolling in twos and threes along paths between broad lawns, 80 or so wedding guests make their way to a performance barn on the grounds of Jacob's Pillow. Rustling, cheerful, curious, they take their seats. Gray light filters through high windows and casts soft shadows among the rafters. The barn is not a sanctuary, but it feels like one today.
A violinist, one of the relatives, begins a Corelli prelude, and the wedding party enters. Both grooms wear tuxedos and boutonnieres. The minister, a young seminarian in the United Church of Christ, tall in his robes, begins. Under order of the state Supreme Court, same-sex marriage is legal in Massachusetts, and today the minister will marry Jamie Beckland and Michael Pope.
"Every relationship of love is holy, sacred, and worthy of public affirmation and celebration," he says, with a touch of emphasis, slight but sufficient, on the word every. "We pray that this couple will fulfill God's purpose for the whole of their lives." Emphasis again, this time on the word whole. Not everyone in the hall picks up the inflection, but the grooms do.
Jamie is 27, originally from Wisconsin, now a development officer at the Brookings Institution in Washington. Michael, also 27, works at a private research company. They plan to move to Massachusetts, the place where Jamie lived when they met and the only state where their marriage has legal force. Jamie is taller, blond, bespectacled, thin, with the bearing of the former dancer that he is. Michael is dark, heavyset, as reserved as Jamie can be bubbly, a product not of the liberal Upper Midwest but of conservative southwestern Virginia, a state notorious for its gratuitously anti-gay legislation.
For all the differences, Jamie and Michael and their families have this in common: divorce. The newlyweds' immediate families count eight divorces between them, four on each side. Michael's parents divorced when he was 6, Jamie's when he was 10. "I think there's a whole generation of kids from broken homes who only want to be married once," Michael says. This marriage of two men, so radical by some lights, aspires to reconsecrate the deepest of marital traditions.
A few weeks before the wedding, over coffee at Starbucks, I asked Jamie why he wanted to marry. For my generation of gay men (I am 45), legal marriage was unthinkable, and emerging into the gay world often meant entering a cultural ghetto and a sexual underworld. Jamie, who could just about be my son, replies with an answer that turns the world of the 1970s and 1980s upside down. Once he realized he was gay, he says, he simply expected to marry.
"Why does anybody get married?" he asks. "I wanted the stability, I wanted the companionship, I wanted to have a sex life that was accepted, I wanted to have kids. For me, it's not a choice. A marriage evens you out."
"Mysticism is a rational enterprise. Religion is not."
I have quite a bit to say about this author, philosopher, teacher (aren't these 3 discriptives the same?) SAM HARRIS, but the words just haven't been there. I've been trying to write an introduction for several days and have been severely blocked, and after each attempt of 5 or 10 minutes, nothing, then I return to his book, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, And the Future of Reason which is taking a very long time to read because every paragraph is so rich, (after purchaseing the book, check out the bibliography, years of reading) that I have to put the book down and come back at it a later time after sadly, sparse assimilation. So up until now going nowhere fast.
This morning I was goggling for a photo, and the photo I've used here popped up, a common photo of Mr. Harris, let's call him Sam, surprisingly the article attached to the photo had been posted only minutes before I did the search, and the article, a review of the book, a run of the mill review, but the kicker for some reason was it was in the Sikh Times, which added an entirely new level to this story, (and by the by, filled with excellent essays). I read the review, and the wow of the timing somehow unblocked the block and this beginning of a "study" of Sam and the following review just tumbled out.
A Fear of the Faithful Who Mean Exactly What They Believe
by DANIEL BLUE (The review first appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, August 15, 2004) (And sorry to say I can find nothing about DANIEL BLUE)(Could he be a Porno Writer?)
Sam Harris is tired of being nice to religious people. Why, he wonders, should we be expected to respect individuals who in the year 2004 still believe in virgin birth? And Christians rarely return the favor. Instead, they're down in Washington holding prayer breakfasts and smiting 'sinners' through mandatory drug sentences, intrusive sex laws and prohibitions against stem cell research.
If Harris mistrusts Christians, he's openly mocking of Muslims, whose beliefs, he suggests, 'belong on the same shelf with Batman.' In fact, he doesn't like any religion much at all. As he points out in The End of Faith, believers of every denomination constantly engage in civil wars. They are also responsible for such historical lows as the Inquisition, witch hunts and the sustained anti-Semitism that eased the way for the Nazis.
What most annoys Harris, however, is that the faithful are averse to development and change. Fixated on ancient scriptures, they ignore the accumulating insights that have transformed the world. Every other field redefines its positions in the light of fresh data. Only religion takes increasing pride in being backward.
There, indeed, exist moderate clergy and flocks who try to accommodate their faith to the times. Harris, however, dismisses such people as decoys who distract our gaze from their dangerous brethren. The true believers are the fundamentalists, and they want to turn the clock back 2,000 years.
At this point, the reader's eyes may begin to glaze. Writers have been arraigning religion for 300 years, and much of this has been said already. Never before, however, have weapons of mass destruction been so available. For Harris, the apocalypse arrived on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, which he believes commentators misunderstood. 'The evil that has finally reached our shores is not merely the evil of terrorism. It is the evil of religious faith at the moment of its political ascendancy.'
The point for Harris is that religious people mean exactly what they say, and this does not bode well for the rest of us. Curiously, principles of faith are often discounted by political observers, who ascribe the deeds of religious people to any motive but religion itself. The rebellions of fundamentalist Christians are often treated as reactions of the disenfranchised. Islam-inspired terrorist groups are seen as acting out of political grievance. Harris takes fundamentalists at their word. 'The men who committed the atrocities of September 11 were . . . men of faith - perfect faith, as it turns out - and this, it must finally be acknowledged, is a terrible thing to be.'
Under pressure, Harris reveals ideological biases that will trouble some readers. He has nothing but good to say of Samuel P. Huntington's notorious The Clash of Civilizations. He quotes with approval a rhapsodizing comment about Israel's treatment of Palestinians, even though one might think that religion plays a role in that country's troubles, too. He seems to loathe Islam with a fury the more surprising because he doesn't seem to know much about it. (His quotes on the subject stem mostly from the works of Bernard Lewis and a university Web site.)
Harris is also wont to speak with a dogmatism that suggests that he might be a person of faith himself. The reader may be startled when he announces, 'It is time we recognized that belief is not a private matter.' Pat Robertson and the ayatollahs might have said the same.
How, then, does Harris distinguish himself from the competition? In later chapters he argues that Hindu and Buddhist meditation practices, when stripped of their metaphysical overtones, offer measurable insights that can underpin ethics. In short, his view has a scientific justification that no theologian can match. This is a clever tactic, but there is a difference between entertaining a hypothesis and proving it. Scientists have begun to explore the claims of meditation, and perhaps someday they will bear out Harris' belief to the letter. But until 'the science of good and evil' regularly appears on the biology syllabus, his claims will appear more wishful thinking than accomplished fact.
The End of Faith offers something to offend everyone and is certainly not for those who read only what they agree with. Yet, despite its polemic edge, this is a happy book - Harris is obviously tickled by his own intelligence - and he writes with such verve and frequent insight that even skeptical readers will find it hard to put down.
Besides, we might all check our belief systems for deadwood. Because it touches a nerve, The End of Faith is a good place to begin. The fundamentalists' greatest asset is that they believe what they say. If Harris is right, the rest of us will be sitting ducks unless we discover - and then live - what we really believe as well.
Stay tuned, much more coming!
A friend and I were talking about a CD which was damaged and the conversation expanded to the general mechanics of the technology. I knew very little, and later did a goggle and the longtime computer techie Kim Komando's web site popped up with this simple and beautiful explanation. So read and learn.
"CDs are a great example of how fast technology moves. Ten years ago, CDs were high technology. I remember buying an expensive computer just to get a CD player (CD-ROM). Today, we burn CDs at the drop of a hat, to play in our cars. But it's still good to know how this stuff works. The technology is pretty cool.
Digital information, including music, is stored in binary (1's and 0's). To represent all those 1's and 0's, a CD contains tiny spots that are highly reflective or poorly reflective. A laser is used to read the sequence of spots. The sequence can then be interpreted as sounds.
A CD-R disc has two important layers of material sandwiched between plastic. One is a layer of metal, typically aluminum. In front of that is the other layer, a special dye. The aluminum layer is highly reflective. The dye is mostly transparent, so overall the disc is completely reflective. But the dye can be changed by the laser in your CD-R drive.
The laser heats and burns tiny spots on the dye layer. The burned spots become nontransparent. They block light from reaching the aluminum layer. So a finished CD-R ends up with both highly reflective and poorly reflective spots. These are the 1's and 0's, respectively.
Your CD-R drive uses a strong laser to burn a disc's dye layer. Typically, CD-Rs have a second, weaker laser, used for playing. It is too weak to affect the dye's transparency. CD-ROMs also have only a weak laser.
The chemicals used for the dye layer eventually degrade, ruining the disc. Disc manufacturers use various dye formulas, some sturdier than others. But the cheapest last only a couple years. And price tag aside, it's difficult to discern the quality of CD-R brands. I always buy name brands.
Rewritable discs use a layer of crystallized material instead of a dye. A CD-RW drive's laser melts tiny spots of the layer. The spots cool too fast to re-crystallize; that makes them opaque. Those spots are 0's, because they do not reflect light. Crystallized spots, which are transparent, are 1's.
When data is erased on a CD-RW, the spots are melted again. But they're heated to a lower temperature and cool slowly enough to re-crystallize.
Commercially produced discs like software or music albums are not burned. They use tiny bumps or dips to represent 1's and 0's. The dips and bumps are molded directly into a disc's plastic. The sequence is then coated by a layer of metal, usually aluminum. These discs can last for decades.
Thanks to Kim Komando...