Saturday, January 27, 2007

Poem: Sylvia Plath

Winter Landscape, With Rooks

Water in the millrace, through a sluice of stone,
plunges headlong into that black pond
where, absurd and out-of-season, a single swan
floats chaste as snow, taunting the clouded mind
which hungers to haul the white reflection down.

The austere sun descends above the fen,
an orange cyclops-eye, scorning to look
longer on this landscape of chagrin;
feathered dark in thought, I stalk like a rook,
brooding as the winter night comes on.

Last summer's reeds are all engraved in ice
as is your image in my eye; dry frost
glazes the window of my hurt; what solace
can be struck from rock to make heart's waste
grow green again? Who'd walk in this bleak place?

Cool Site: Omniglot

This is probably old news, but I just found it. Omniglot is heaven for word and language buffs.

This is the main page:
a selection of glyphs from various writing systems

About this site

What's new?

Writing systems
Abjads, Alphabets, Syllabic alphabets, Syllabaries, Complex, Undeciphered, Alternative, Your scripts,
A-Z index, Direction index, Language index

Tips on learning languages

Language-related articles

Multilingual pages
Language names, Country names, UDHR, Tower of Babel, Numerals, Useful phrases

Multilingual book store

Gallery of language-related art

Omniglot - the blog

Very cool. They also offer lots of links to other sites.

The Iraq Story CBS Won't Televise

AlterNet has the story about Lara Logan's Iraq piece that CBS won't televise. She's their chief foreign correspondent, so it's rather unusual that they wouldn't run her story. You can watch it on the CBS site. CBS claims the images are too "strong" for the evening news, but AlterNet sees this as another example of the media bowing to pressure from the Bush administration not to show the reality of what is happening in Iraq.

From AlterNet:

The segment in question -- "Battle for Haifa Street" -- is a piece of first-rate journalism but one that appears only on the CBS News website -- and has never been broadcast. It is a gritty, realistic look at life on the very mean streets of Baghdad and includes interviews with civilians who complain that the U.S. military presence is only making their lives worse and the situation more deadly.

"They told us they would bring democracy, they promised life would be better than it was under Saddam," one told Logan. "But they brought us nothing but death and killing. They brought mass destruction to Baghdad."

Several bodies are shown in the two-minute segment, "some with obvious signs of torture," as Logan points out. She also notes that her crew had to flee for their lives when they we were warned of an impending attack. While fleeing, another civilian was killed before their eyes.

This is the text of the email from Lara Logan that AlterNet received and that inspired this story:

From: lara logan
Subject: help

The story below only appeared on our CBS website and was not aired on CBS. It is a story that is largely being ignored, even though this is taking place every single day in central Baghdad, two blocks from where our office is located.

Our crew had to be pulled out because we got a call saying they were about to be killed, and on their way out, a civilian man was shot dead in front of them as they ran.

I would be very grateful if any of you have a chance to watch this story and pass the link on to as many people you know as possible. It should be seen. And people should know about this.

If anyone has time to send a comment to CBS -- about the story -- not about my request, then that would help highlight that people are interested, and this is not too gruesome to air, but rather too important to ignore.

Many, many thanks.

Read the whole article.

Satire: Bin Laden’s State of the Jihad Address Short on Specifics

From Andy Borowitz, but found at Truthdig.

Bin Laden’s State of the Jihad Address Short on Specifics

By Andy Borowitz

Al-Qaida terror mastermind Osama bin Laden delivered his annual State of the Jihad address last night and immediately faced criticism that the speech was short on specifics and little more than a laundry list of vague threats.

Speaking from his cave in an undisclosed location in the mountainous region between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the world’s most wanted man began his address with an upbeat assessment of the global jihad against the infidels.

“Friends, terrorists, extremists and madmen,” Mr. bin Laden began. “The state of the jihad is strong.”

The al-Qaida leader’s 50-minute address was interrupted by applause at least 35 times, usually when Mr. bin Laden punctuated his remarks by saying, “Death to America.”

Mr. bin Laden sounded themes that were familiar to audiences of previous State of the Jihad addresses, such as his warning that “al-Qaida must become less dependent on foreign sources of chaos.”

As is his tradition, he also used the address to acknowledge several “heroes of the jihad,” including one terrorist, Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, who risked his life by pulling another terrorist out of the path of a charging donkey.

But the al-Qaida kingpin was in for some blistering criticism in the official response to the State of the Jihad address, which this year was delivered by opposition lunatic Hassan el-Medfaii.

“What we heard tonight was little more than ‘stay the course,’ ” said Mr. el-Medfaii. “As a madman, I had to ask, ‘Where’s the beef?’ ”

Elsewhere, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., bowed out of the 2008 presidential race, stating, “I decided to run for president before I decided against it.”

Eddie Izzard: Definite Article

Jay at Zero Boss just recently discovered Eddie Izzard, the funniest man alive. The piece he posted reminded me how much I enjoy Izzard's comedy.

Here are the first three of five parts to this performance -- could not find the last two on YouTube. You can watch the whole thing at Google, but that one isn't available as embed.

Friday, January 26, 2007

What Is Your Love Type?

I thought this was kind of interesting since I just recently did the Myers-Briggs test. It seems my relationship type is different than my overall type. I guess that makes sense -- different subpersoanlities will exhibit different types, and different subs are active in different contexts of our lives.

Your Love Type: INFP

The Idealist

In love, you crave a long term, harmonious relationship.
For you, sex doesn't come quickly - it takes time for you to open up.

Overall, you are supportive, nurturing, and expressive.
However, you tend to be shy and protective of your personal space.

Best matches: ENFJ and ESFJ

The Devil's Dictionary and Beyond

When Ambrose Bierce published The Devil's Dictionary, I'm sure he pissed off a few people. As it should be for any satirist. His work has become a classic of satire that has spawned many imitators, which I will get to in a moment.

As a lover of words, and satire, I am very easily amused by this stuff. If you are easily offended, you may not find this stuff as amusing as I do. You have been warned.

First, here are a few entries from the Devil's Dictionary (provided by Wikipedia):
A weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure. A total abstainer is one who abstains from everything but abstention, and especially from inactivity in the affairs of others.
Formally to detain one accused of unusualness.

God made the world in six days and was arrested on the seventh

-The Unauthorized Version

An ingenious instrument which indicates what kind of weather we are having.
A person who talks when you wish him to listen.
An instrument employed in the rectification of national boundaries.
A soft indestructible automaton provided by Nature to be kicked when things go wrong in the domestic circle.
One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor. One who follows the teachings of Christ in so far as they are not inconsistent with a life of sin.

I dreamed I stood upon a hill, and, lo!
The godly multitudes walked to and fro
Beneath, in Sabbath garments fitly clad,
With pious mien, appropriately sad,
While all the church bells made a solemn din --
A fire-alarm to those who lived in sin.
Then saw I gazing thoughtfully below,
With tranquil face, upon that holy show
A tall, spare figure in a robe of white,
Whose eyes diffused a melancholy light.
"God keep you, strange," I exclaimed. "You are
No doubt (your habit shows it) from afar;
And yet I entertain the hope that you,
Like these good people, are a Christian too."
He raised his eyes and with a look so stern
It made me with a thousand blushes burn
Replied -- his manner with disdain was spiced:
"What! I a Christian? No, indeed! I'm Christ."
- G.J.

The civility of envy.
An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.
A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be. Hence the custom among the Scythians of plucking out a cynic's eyes to improve his vision.
That which discloses from the wise, and disguises from the foolish, their lack of understanding.
The cause of all natural phenomena not known to be caused by something else.
A wife, or bitter half.
A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in human affairs has always been dominant and controlling.
The stomach, heart, soul, and other bowels.
An unsuccessful revolution.
A commodity which in a more or less adulterated condition the State sells to the citizen as a reward for his allegiance, taxes and personal service.
The kind of ignorance distinguishing the studious.
The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding.
A temporary insanity curable by marriage.
The state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress and two slaves, making in all, two.
One of the sauces that serve the French in place of a state religion.
A minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue.
A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.
To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.
Devoid of all delusions save those of observation, experience and reflection.
A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.
A strip of land along which one may pass from where it is too tiresome to be to where it is futile to go.
A weekly festival having its origin in the fact that God made the world in six days and was arrested on the seventh.
The instrument and symbol of a freeman's power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country.
The Period of Possibility, when Archimedes finds a fulcrum, Cassandra has a following and seven cities compete for the honor of endowing a living Homer.
Youth is the true Saturnian Reign, the Golden Age on earth again, when figs are grown on thistles, and pigs betailed with whistles and, wearing silken bristles, live ever in clover, and cows fly over, delivering milk at every door, and Justice is never heard to snore, and every assassin is made a ghost and, howling, is cast into Baltimost--Polydore Smith.
A certain nervous disorder afflicting the young and inexperienced.
You can access the whole book online at Project Gutenberg or at this site.

Two of the more recent variations are The Devil's Dictionary 2.0, which seems to be a more web-world approach, and Devil's Dictionary X, which is more general.

Here are some samples from the 2.0 version:
blog, verb
To noisily and simultaneously void one’s spleen, stomach, bladder and bowels.
“Get outta my way! I think I’m gonna blog!”

caffeine, noun
A contract, wherein a regular heartbeat is exchanged for the ability to introduce subtle bugs, late at night, the day before a product ships.

copyright, noun
The notion that you can protect from the future what you stole from the past.
“The Devil’s Dictionary (2.0) is copyright © 2003 Greg Knauss.”

instant message, noun
The shortest path between a middle-aged man and a conviction for statutory solicitation.

MSM, acronym
An acronym for “mainstream media,” or a crutch that bloggers have leaned on so often that they’ve squashed it down to three tiny letters.
And here are a few samples from the X version (these are some of the newest definitions):
Feng Shui
1. expensive Chinese fertilizer.
2. Mandarin for “Sinophilic pansy.”

open thread
a blogosphere burnout mainstay which combines the sentiments, “I’ve got nothing,” with, “You jerks go ahead and fill up another page for my Google ads in the meanwhile, okay.”

Santa Claus
the champion of secular tyranny; the Agnostic’s answer to church-based behavioral modification techniques for children; training wheels for Jesus.

pejorative for unproductive.

1. instructional word on how to proceed when a woman brings up the topic of her weight.
2. instructional word on how to proceed when a woman brings up a topic.
3. a highway signpost, useful in alerting one to the proximity of the landmarks of the deaths of town officials’ drunk-driving relatives.
4. n, the act of supplying those crack dealers upstairs with enough bong hits per week to keep them from robbing and/or raping you out of irritated, sober boredom.

serial killer
1. one who feels liberated by his first kill, with a slight tendency toward anal retention; a serialist.
2. a graduate of any creative writing program; a writer.
3. a near graduate of any music program; a musicologist.
4. a combination psychopath/crossword puzzle enthusiast, extroverted and self-actualized; some particularly successful examples are quoted on the back of Anthony Robbins’s latest books.

the Turing complete alphabet of the Devil which can be used to spell any word written after 1 January 1970.

Annunciation, the
the incredible event from which proceeds the expression, “Holy fuck.”

courtesy flush
a round of lay-offs which calms the shareholders long enough to slip them the old Chapter 11 a few months down the road.

1. a middle-aged housewife who has discovered that writing a novel is more difficult than Harlequin’s back catalog might lead one to conclude.
more at mother.
2. an affected and overly sensitive young man who has discovered a field in which he will never face harsh judgement as no one in the world reads poetry and will ever see his work.
more at relativity, genius, and suicide.
3. a tone-deaf rapper.
compare with rapper

Owning Our Emotions

This was yesterday's Daily Om:
Owning Your Emotions
Name It And Claim It

Our feelings can sometimes present a very challenging aspect of our lives. We experience intense emotions without understanding precisely why and consequently find it difficult to identify the solutions that will soothe our distressed minds and hearts. Yet it is only when we are capable of naming our feelings that we can tame them by finding an appropriate resolution. We retake control of our personal power by becoming courageous enough to articulate, out loud and concisely, the essence of our emotions. Our assuming ownership of the challenges before us in this way empowers us to shift from one emotional state to another-we can let go of pain and upset because we have defined it, examined the effect it had on our lives, and then exerted our authority over it by making it our own. By naming our feelings, we claim the right to divest ourselves of them at will.

As you prepare to acknowledge your feelings aloud, gently remind yourself that being specific is an important part of exercising control. Whatever the nature of your feelings, carefully define the reaction taking place within you. If you are afraid of a situation or intimidated by an individual, try not to mince words while giving voice to your anxiety. The precision with which you express yourself is indicative of your overall willingness to stare your feelings in the face without flinching. Naming and claiming cannot always work in the vacuum of the soul. There may be times in which you will find the release you desire only by admitting your feelings before others. When this is the case, your ability to outline your feelings explicitly can help you ask for the support, aid, or guidance you need without becoming mired in the feelings that led you to make such an admission in the first place.

When you have moved past the apprehension associated with expressing your distressing feelings out loud, you may be surprised to discover that you feel liberated and lightened. This is because the act of making a clear connection between your circumstances and your feelings unravels the mystery that previously kept you from being in complete control of your emotional state. To give voice to your feelings, you must necessarily let them go. In the process, you naturally relax and rediscover your emotional equilibrium.
I think this is good advice to a point. There is a lot to be said for the naming of things, a practice by which we assume control over that which is named. This is a common motif in shamanic cultures, wherein the shaman often has a much bigger vocabulary than the average member of the group and hence has the power of naming. We even see this in the Old Testament with Adam being given the power to name, and with it power over all he has named.

But naming is a left-brain activity, necessarily rational and not very connected to feeling. While it helps to name our feelings, and gives us a certain sense of control over what can seem overwhelming at times, it also separates us from the feeling being named.

To truly own our emotions, we must be able to sit with them and let them move through us. This is much more of a right-brain activity. As we experience the energy moving through the body, and see whatever images come up in our minds, if we can just let that be okay and allow the energy to dissipate through the breath, then we can name it ("hello there fear") and release it.

It feels strange that I am even talking about this. Emotional awareness has been one of my biggest challenges over the years -- it has cost me relationships and created all manner of problems. Live and learn, isn't that the point.

Hating on the Goths

I found this at Neatorama, and I think they sum it up pretty well:

Turns out there is a group called "Parents Against Goth" with a website called (really), where they rail against the Goth subculture [wiki] and provide tips on how to "degoth" your children.

And of course, this being the internet, a counter website has sprung up, creatively called,

Can’t we all just get along? Link - Thanks Andrew!

See also: Blue Spring Youth Outreach Unit combatting the goth problem with government money in Government Fund the Darnedest Things.

Having once been a goth, though without the ghoulish white make-up and the other freaky make-up, this makes me laugh. This little bit of wisdom is from the "Gothic Child Abuse" section of the GodGatesGoth site:

My point is that a mother who looks and dresses like a sick circus freak, who self harms in front of her child, who is obsessed with death and suicide, who holds BDSM parties that consist of bondage and rape, is hardly a fitting role model for children. That is why we are campaigning for all goth parents to be investigated by the child protection authorities.

We believe that goths are not fit to be parents in any way. Goths should have their children taken from them after they are born, and given to good clean-living Christian families who have decent morals and a good standing in the community.

Yeah, because there is nothing scary about eternal damnation in the fires of hell.

Out of all the possible people to go after (rapists, pedophiles [most of whom are Christian], drug abusers) they chose goths. And then they make them out to be horrible human beings, when in reality they have probably never even talked to a goth. What a strange form of enthocentrism.

I've posted on my own experience in Portrait of the Buddhist as a Young Goth, so you can check that out if you're interested.

A site called Goth Help Us seeks to set the record straight:
"Goth Help Us" started out like any other organization; with a simple idea. During a conversation with a depressed friend, Founder and CEO Rebecca Hohm said they needed a cause. They needed to get out of the house, and go help someone else because that is the only true way to feel better about one's self. They had also been discussing how they were truly bothered by the world's misconception that "gothic people are abnormal individuals who look scary." From that simple conversation, Goth Help Us was born.
Their mission is centered around the phrases, "Serving humanity from the underground up," "Turning darkness into light," and "Opening closed minds."

I find all of this very amusing. And I find it sad that adults are still into the us/them dichotomy that kids pass through when they are young, usually out-growing by high school or college. But then, I'm guessing the goth haters didn't ever go to college.

Ron Fricke: Baraka

I found this at Video Shift. This is just a 10 minute clip from Baraka, an amazing film with no dialogue. It's all time-lapse photography. It was directed by Ron Fricke and took place in 24 countries, with scenes from cities bustling with life to manufacturing assembly lines to (non-human) chicks on a conveyor belt (this is disturbing to me for some reason).

From Wikipedia:
Baraka's subject matter ... includes footage of various landscapes, churches, ruins, religious ceremonies, and cities thrumming with life, filmed using time-lapse photography in order to capture the great pulse of humanity as it flocks and swarms in daily activity. The film also features a number of long tracking shots through various settings, including ones through former concentration camps at Auschwitz (in Nazi occupied Poland) and Tuol Sleng (in Cambodia) turned into museums honoring their victims: over photos of the people involved, past skulls stacked in a room, to a spread of bones.

You can watch the full movie here.

Speedlinking 1/26/07

Quote of the day:

"Estimated amount of glucose used by an adult human brain each day, expressed in M&Ms: 250."
~ Harper's Index

Image of the day:

~ BONUS: Custom Hypertrophy Progression -- A great article from Chad Waterbury at T-Nation.
~ New Glycemic Index (GI) Standard Will Help Consumers Reduce The Risk Of Diabetes -- "In a world first, Standards Australia have released a standard for determining the glycemic index (GI) of carbohydrates in foods for use by food manufacturers, accreditation bodies, regulators, educational institutes, testing laboratories, and research organizations."
~ Calcium & Vitamin D May Help Lower Cholesterol -- A brief but good look at a new article.
~ Can't Cure Common Cold, But Coffee Benefits Perk -- "Its caffeine can bring jitters and its color can stain teeth, yet moderate consumption of coffee an all-world beverage if ever there was one is being shown to have generally positive and protective effects on the emergence of disease conditions according to this month's issue of Food Technology magazine." Ah, the beautiful bean.
~ Basic differences among fats explained -- Basic but useful.

~ ~Omni-Peephole: David Lynch: Consciousness, Creativity, and the Brain -- From ~C.
~ Distress and SAD -- From Aaron at Anxious Living.
~ Help for Postpartum Depression -- "There are many treatment options for mothers who experience postpartum depression including medication and counseling, in addition to alternative therapies."
~ A pilot study on mindfulness based stress reduction for smokers -- This is just an abstract, but the results are promising: "The results of this study suggest that mindfulness training may show promise for smoking cessation and warrants additional study in a larger comparative trial."
~ Agitated Behavior In Dementia Significantly Reduced By Regular Acupressure -- "Acupressure can significantly reduce agitated behaviour in older patients with dementia, according to a study published in the February issue of the UK-based Journal of Clinical Nursing." Gotta love those endorphins.
~ Perceptual binding takes time -- A geeky article, but interesting: "The binding problem is one of the great mysteries of modern neuroscience. Briefly, we know from a variety of studies in humans and primates that the specific features of the sensory world -- particularly the visual world -- are broken down into their separate components by the brain to be processed in parallel. This means that information for say color and information for say orientation are processed separately by the brain."
~ Kindness In A Cruel World -- "What do mutual grooming, politeness, priestly celibacy, military heroism, car insurance, and overwork have in common? All are probable examples of the recently discovered evolutionary mechanism called "reciprocal altruism." Put simply, the concept means, "You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours." Although rare in animals, reciprocal altruism colors much of human emotion and social behavior."
~ Prefrontal Cortex Holds the Key to Conquering Fear -- "When a human or animal encounters an object or entity that may be seen as dangerous, the eyes and other sensory systems send neural messages directly to the amygdala, a small walnut-shaped structure located in the lower brain."
~ The Confidence to be Yourself -- "In his book, Dr Brian Roet listed 22 traits of self-confident people - how many can you check off? Plus, 5 ways to boost your esteem."
~ Coding for cognition -- "Cognitive scientist Sacha Barber has created a three-part guide to the mechanics and mathematics of neural networks."

~ Ebert's four-star films of 2006 -- Courtesy of The Daily Goose.
~ Gay Sheep in the New York Times -- The scientist at the heart of the controversy sets the record straight, so to speak.
~ Eartha Kitt: Material Girl -- "Eartha Mae Kitt—the original material girl, known for seductive renditions of characters (Catwoman) and pop hits ("Santa Baby")—can slay a man with a single look."
~ The 2007 Grammy Awards: Your Complete Guide.
~ Bush's Purge of Federal Prosecutors/Replacement with Sycophants Is Challenged in Court.
~ Obama Calls for Universal Coverage -- "Every American should have health care coverage within six years, Democratic Sen. Barack Obama said, previewing what is shaping up to be a theme of the 2008 Democratic primary." This is one issue where Hillary can say, "I was working on this in 1993, where were you then?"
~ As always, The Daily Show has a hysterical take on Bush's State of the Union and the Democratic response.
~ Do 'You' really matter? -- "User-generated content is all the rage right now. But the thought of "You" controlling the media and marketing world is little more than breathless hype."

~ U.S. cities don't make the intelligence cut -- "For the second year running, no U.S. city has made the list of the world's top Intelligent Communities of 2007, as selected by global think tank Intelligent Community Forum."
~ Scientists Build Memory Chip as Small as Blood Cell -- "Scientists have built a working memory chip with 160,000 bits capacity that is roughly the size of a white blood cell — about 1/2000th of an inch on a side."
~ Why are taxpayers funding a fringe right-wing blog? -- "How is it that taxpayers are funding what looks like an official Senate committee blog dispensing far-right agitprop? Here's the story."
~ More polling data on climate change -- "The Pew Center has released new polling data on climate change. The report shows that while 77% of people believe the earth is warming, only 47% believe there is solid evidence that humans are responsible."
~ Robots of the Future: Soft and Flexible -- "Robots of the future may be able to bend and twist in more flexible ways, thanks to a new research initiative aimed at developing soft-bodied robots."
~ Photo in the News: Spiders' Glowing Key to Courtship, Mating -- "Both female and male ornate jumping spiders are dependent on ultraviolet light to kick off the courtship process—but in entirely different ways."
~ Video: How Dogs Became Man's Best Friend -- "Watch an anthropologist as he works with both wild wolves and down-home pups to discover how dogs evolved to become man's best friend."
~ Military Shows Off New Ray Gun -- "The military has a new weapon: a ray gun that shoots a beam that makes people feel as if they are about to catch fire." This is just scary.

~ 10 Days to a Better Life -- "What seems to separate those who find success in life from those who do not, is not a lack of talent, but rather a lack of action."
~ Spirituality in the Modern World (DVD) -- Vince got a heads up on a new Ken Wilber DVD.
~ A Shamanic Breathwork Vision -- From Gary at Integral Seattle.
~ Unlearning Helplessness -- From How to Save the World.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Image in Front of You is Not What It Seems

My blogging friend Aeryck, after seeing my post yesterday on "The Real Me," reminded me of this cool Dove film about the transformation of a model to a billboard image.

If you've never seen this, it's pretty cool.

How many young women, or girls really, do you guess look at that image (which probably appeared in magazines as well as on the billboard) and want to look like that? What must happen to their self-esteem when they see images like this and realize that they can never look that way?

The insidious thing is that most of this happens before they have the rational thinking capabilities to understand what has been done to them. Young girls start very early to want to look like the images they are drawn to. I've seen three year old little girls swear they want to look like The Little Mermaid, and feel bad that they can't.

How much of this stuff scars their fragile psyches?

More and more, the same thing is happening to young boys. These kids are feeling the pressure to be muscular, thin, and have ripped abs. Most of the teen boys and young men using steroids (and the numbers aren't, yet, as bad as the media suggests) are doing so for cosmetic reasons, not for sports.

Men are getting pec implants and glute implants (women are doing this too) the way women are getting breast jobs and nose jobs. Guys are paying thousands of dollars to have the fat sucked out of their abs, called ab etching.

This is all very insane to me.

Pema Chodron: The Boat

Tricycle's Daily Dharma: January 25, 2007:

The Boat

There's a Zen story in which a man is enjoying himself on a river at dusk. He sees another boat coming down the river toward him. At first it seems so nice to him that someone else is also enjoying the river on a nice summer evening. Then he realizes that the boat is coming right toward him, faster and faster. He begins to get upset and starts to yell, "Hey, hey watch out! For Pete's sake, turn aside!" But the boat just comes faster and faster, right toward him. By this time he's standing up in his boat, screaming and shaking his fist, and then the boat smashes right into him. He sees that it's an empty boat. This is the classic story of our whole life situation.

~ Pema Chodron, in Start Where You Are, from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book.

Stunning Time Lapse Video of the Sky of Edinburgh

Something else I've stolen from Neatorama, but I don't feel as bad because this is available at YouTube.

Here is the text that went with the video:
From VideoSift, the grandpappy of video aggregators, is this YouTube clip - a tribute to Ron Fricke [wiki] who filmed Koyaanisqatsi [wiki] with composer Philip Glass. The clip is a spectacular time lapse of the sky of Edinburgh from morning to night, that took two years to make. (The rainbow, moon and stars scenes are absolutely stunning!)

Cool Site: Godchecker

Do you want to make an offering to the Aztec fertility god, but you just can't remember his name? Fear no more, Godchecker is here to solve all your divinity problems with its handy database of gods.

Okay, seriously. This site has a pretty good collection of pantheons from different cultures, as well as lots of other fun stuff, including resources for many world mythologies.

And you can add their deity of the day to your blog sidebar if you swing that way.

Check it out -- it's a cool site.

Fun Facts About the End of the World

As is usual these days, I lifted this from Neatorama -- there's plenty more good stuff to go look at over there, so please visit them. This is taken from Mental Floss' book, Scatterbrained, published in Neatorama with permission.

Fun Facts About The End of the World

Whether it’s two billion years from now, when the Sun will no longer provide enough heat to support life on earth, or two hours from now in a nuclear holocaust, life on earth will inevitably come to an end. All religious traditions grapple [wiki] with this fact. Here’s what they’ve come up with so far.


Things Get Bad: At least according to the Book of Revelation, things will be very bad indeed. Weeping, gnashing of teeth, rending of garments, blood in the streets, etc. All of this will occur during "the Tribulation [wiki]."

And Then: the Second Coming of Christ, wherein Christ - to quote the Nicene Creed - "comes again in glory to judge the living and the dead."

Until: the Rapture [wiki], wherein all Christians (or at least good ones, depending on your particular denomination) are moved from earth directly to heaven with no dying or passing Go.


Things Get Bad: The Last Judgment in Islam is known as the Qiyamah [wiki]. At a time of God’s choosing - no one knows when - Jesus (yes, that Jesus) will come down from heaven, end all wars, and kill ad-Dajjal [wiki] (Islam’s equivalent to an Antichrist).

And Then: Each and every person who ever lived will be bodily resurrected and judged by God. Those found wanting will be sent to hell either temporarily or permanently; those who have been good and faithful go to heaven.

Until: No, that’s it, actually. For the record, most Muslims do believe that some "People of the Book," that is, Christians and Jews, will also get to heaven.


Things Get Bad: The end of days [wiki], or acharit hayamim, will be marked by conflict and tumult. When? Well, the Talmud states that the world will only last 6,000 years - so many Orthodox Jews believe the world as we’ve always known it will end in 2240 CE.

And Then: All of Israel’s enemies will be defeated, the twice-destroyed Temple will be rebuilt [wiki], the dead will be resurrected, and the Jewish Messiah will become King of Israel.

Until: God intervenes in the Battle of Armageddon, saving the Jews, evil leaves the world, and earth becomes perfect. It’s like Belinda Carlisle song: "They say in heaven love comes first/We’ll make heaven a place on earth."


Things Get Bad: According to the Buddhist holy scripture, the Tipitaka, we’ll know the end of the world is coming when morality disappears and people start following the "10 Amoral Concepts." Those concepts? Theft, violence, murder, lying, evil speaking, adultery, idle talk, covetousness, greed, and perverted lust. Um, uh-oh.

And Then: Once morality disappears, things will degenerate into misery.

Until: A Buddha named Maitreya (known in English as the "future Buddha"), the successor to the Buddha we all know and love, will arrive on earth and begin teaching the pure Dharma.


Things Get Bad: Most Hindus believe that we are currently living in Kali Yuga [wiki], the Iron Age, or age of darkness. Unfortunately for us, that means that evil is on the upswing. Eventually, Vishnu will become incarnate for the 10th and final time. By then, karma will have been completely turned on its head, with good people suffering needlessly and the evil rising to ranks of power.

And Then: Shiva [wiki], "the Destroyer," will dissolve the evil and corrupt universe. And then, because all things are cyclical, the universe will simultaneously be reborn.

Until: We start getting evil again and get ourselves into another age of darkness. Most Hindus are careful not to put an exact time frame on eschatological matters. If you do, you can end up looking awfully foolish …

Not the End of the World: People and Groups Who Falsely Predicted the End-time

Can’t Keep Those Davidians Down

In 1942, a Seventh-day Adventist named Victor Houteff [wiki] broke away from the church with 11 followers and founded a "Davidian" branch of the church in Waco, Tex. Davidian. Branch. Waco. You see where this is going. But what a winding path the church took.

After Houteff died, his wife prophesied that the world would end on April 22, 1959. In point of fact, about the most interesting event of April 22, 1959, was the Yankees’ Whitey Ford [wiki] striking out 15 Washington Senators en route to a 1-0 victory. Several hundred members of the Davidians left after the non-Apocalypse, but - remarkably - dozens remained faithful. In 1962, Benjamin Roden [wiki] became the group’s leader and proclaimed himself successor to not only Ms. Houteff, but also to King David, noted star of the Hebrew Bible. Roden’s wife became the new Davidian (get it?) when she took over the church. She quickly declared that in the Second Coming, Christ would assume the body of a woman.

You’d think by now the group would have theological whiplash, and yet it stayed together until 1981, when Vernon Howell, who would later rename himself David Koresh [wiki], showed up. By the time the ATF raided the compound in 1993, the Branch Davidians had 130 members. While their numbers dwindled after the massacre, Davidianism is still alive: A few people still claim to follow Koresh’s teachings.

Go Ahead, Drink the Kool-Aid.

Jim Jones, cult leader of the People’s Temple [wiki], portrayed as
the loving father of the "Rainbow Family"

By now, "Don’t drink the Kool-Aid" is a well-known admonishment not to buy into collective wisdom. It derives from the 1978 Jonestown massacre, when 914 followers of Jim Jones [wiki], included 276 children, committed suicide. But here’s the thing: No one at Jonestown drank Kool-Aid [wiki]. They drank cyanide-laced grape Flavor Aid, a Kool-Aid competitor - but the poor, innocent Kool-Aid man has been taking the fall ever since.

Food Network: Subliminal McDonald's Ad

If this was intentional, I think it's illegal -- isn't it?

Speedlinking 1/25/07

Quote of the day:

"There are moments when one feels free from one's own identification with human limitations and inadequacies. At such moments one imagines that one stands on some spot of a small planet, gazing in amazement at the cold yet profoundly moving beauty of the eternal, the unfathomable; life and death flow into one, and there is neither evolution nor destiny; only Being."
~ Albert Einstein

Image of the day:

~ Lifestyle Changes Effective In Protecting Against Type II Diabetes.
~ New International Study To Test Exercise In Heart Failure Patients.
~ 10 Ways to Fight Fat with Fruit -- "Fruit has zero cholesterol, serves as a good source of heart-healthy fiber and contains phytochemicals that reduce blood pressure and the risk of cancer and type-2 diabetes — boosting your fruit intake may also help you lose weight." Okay, BUT, fruit sugar doesn't metabolize well in most people, so moderation is the key.
~ No trans fat in new Crisco formula -- "Crisco is getting a new formula after 95 years in America’s pantries that nearly eliminates artery-clogging trans fats."
~ Less invasive fibroid treatment can be fine -- "Women who had less invasive treatment for painful uterine fibroids did about as well as those who had surgery, including hysterectomy, suggests a new study that lays out the options for a troubling condition affecting millions of women."
~ Foods to Build Muscle -- "If you want to become very strong, you should lift heavy weights, eat carbohydrates before you lift and eat plenty of protein afterwards."
~ ‘Cardio Tennis’ offers challenging workout -- "It looks like just another tennis workout, but the plastic cones and the rope ladder along either side of the court suggest otherwise. This is “Cardio Tennis,” a group class that combines traditional tennis practice with other endurance-building exercise."

~ Psychic distress common with Parkinson's dementia -- "People with dementia associated with Parkinson's disease often suffer from a range of psychiatric and neurological symptoms such as anxiety, agitation and hallucinations, researchers report."
~ The Hitchhiker's Guide To Altruism -- Study Explains How Costly Traits Evolve -- "Darwin explained how beneficial traits accumulate in natural populations, but how do costly traits evolve? In the past, two theories have addressed this problem. The theory of hitchhiking suggests that genes that confer a cost to their bearer can become common in natural populations when they "hitch a ride" with fitter genes that are being favored by natural selection."
~ Optimists: We become ambidextrous as we age; Pessimists: We lose skill in dominant hand as we age -- Links to interesting articles.
~ Predictor Of Altruism In Brain Region -- "Duke University Medical Center researchers have discovered that activation of a particular brain region predicts whether people tend to be selfish or altruistic."
~ NIMH-Supported Major Initiative Launched To Train Healthcare Providers In Diagnosing And Treating Postpartum Depression -- " gives medical practitioners the training, support, and information they need to more effectively assess and treat patients at risk for developing perinatal mood disorders."
~ Fish Capable of Human-like Logic -- "Fish have the reasoning capacity of a 4- or 5-year-old child when it comes to figuring out who among their peers is "top dog," new research shows."
~ How to Be Good (To Yourself) -- "I'm less depressed now than I have been in years, and I think it's largely because I've learned to be good to myself. If we're going to save the world and stuff we need to be at the top of our game, and that means being good to ourselves and to others fighting the good fight."
~ 10 Tips for a Magnificent Memory -- Good tips in general.
~ A Way Ahead: Human Approach to a Peaceful World -- Buddhism for social change.

~ 10 Most Under-Reported Humanitarian Stories of 2006 -- From Doctors Without Borders.
~ Man with Cardboard Sign Gives Away Cash on Freeway Exit -- It's Rob Brezsny!, author of Free Will Astrology. I knew that guy was cool.
~ Terror Watch: Tracking Iran’s Role in Iraq Attacks -- "Is Iran providing devices that help insurgents detonate IEDs in Iraq?"
~ Debating American Islam -- "Is it possible to fight a "cosmic war" successfully?"
~ The Unbearable Lightness of Being Obama -- "The election of 2008 will ... be one of the most consequential ones in American history - comparable to Lincoln in 1860. And what do we get from our brain-dead media? They fall all over themselves to celebrate the emptiest suit in the country, because he looks good in swimming trunks --- a clear demonstration of his readiness to assume the office of President of the United States."
~ The Dakota Fanning controversy -- This is a good article about an apparently bad film.
~ Roman Treasures Discovered -- "Archaeologists have found a trove of discoveries underneath Rome, including what might be the underground grotto where ancient Romans believed a wolf nursed the city's legendary founders Romulus and Remus."
~ Al Gore is a rock star -- "Deep in the red state of Idaho, Al Gore was scheduled to speak in at Boise State University, offering the keynote address to a conference on climate change. The school gave away all 1,000 tickets to the venue in ten minutes, leaving almost 1,000 more people waiting in line. Oops! OK, so they moved the speech to the campus basketball arena, which holds more than 10,000 people. Those tickets sold out in less than five hours." This is in a state where they have spotted owl recipe books.

~ States Increasingly Focusing On Universal Health Coverage Initiatives.
~ Bush's Health Plan: Does It Help You or Hurt You? -- "President's Proposal Provides Tax Incentives to the Uninsured -- and Could Tax Those Already Covered."
~ 42* of the biggest questions in science -- From Wired.
~ Biggest threat to U.S. drinking water? Rust -- "From an attack by militants to a decline in snow melt caused by global warming, public fears about the water supply have heightened in the United States."
~ Former Oregon Governor Announces Proposal For Statewide Universal Health Care -- "Former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) on Wednesday announced a universal health care proposal for the state that would redistribute funds already being spent on health care, the Oregonian reports."
~ Tesco to Build World's Largest Solar Roof and Spend Nearly a Billion on Carbon Cuts -- "Tesco, the world's fourth-largest retail chain, announced the installation of possibly the world's largest solar roof, a $13 million, 820,400-square-foot panel, to cover the new USA distribution center in California."

~ Integral Theory and The New Age: The Secret Movie -- This is a long thread, but there is some good stuff in there.
~ This bird has flown! -- The Daily Goose, Matthew Dallman's blog, is now the editors blog at POLYSEMY. See alos, Welcome to the new edition of The Daily Goose.
~ From Buddhist Geeks, it's not really integral, but I don't care: How Does Study Fit In?