January 23rd, 2008

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and there is this -

"Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy."

-Thich Nhat Hanh

Try this.   Hunch your shoulders in; hang your head, and say "I am happy."

Now, spread your wings, open your chest and arms, and say "I am sad."  

Yes, indeed, your smile can be the source of your joy!!

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The Moon -

As those of you who regularly read my blog know,  I love the moon, so I am delighted with this poem by Billy Collins.

The moon is full tonight
an illustration for sheet music,
an image in Matthew Arnold
glimmering on the English Channel,
or a ghost over a smoldering battlefield
in one of the history plays.
It's as full as it was
in that poem by Coleridge
where he carries his year-old son
into the orchard behind the cottage
and turns the baby's face to the sky
to see for the first time
the earth's bright companion,
something amazing to make his crying seem small.
And if you wanted to follow this example,
tonight would be the night
to carry some tiny creature outside
and introduce him to the moon.
And if your house has no child,
you can always gather into your arms
the sleeping infant of yourself,
as I have done tonight,
and carry him outdoors,
all limp in his tattered blanket,
making sure to steady his lolling head
with the palm of your hand.
And while the wind ruffles the pear trees
in the corner of the orchard
and dark roses wave against a stone wall,
you can turn him on your shoulder
and walk in circles on the lawn
drunk with the light.
You can lift him up into the sky,
your eyes nearly as wide as his,
as the moon climbs high into the night.
~ Billy Collins ~
(Picnic, Lightning)
This morning I was rushing and dropped a whole container of dried cranberries on the floor.  They went splaying like beads.  Bella helped me pick them up from the floor, and the pause to kneel was so key.  I felt the smoothness of the floor and enjoyed the red of the cranberries and realized  how important it is to drop once in a while to my knees and gather what rests there, like dreams.   

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Cloning -

Closing the Barn Door After the Cows Have Gotten Out

Published: January 23, 2008

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration cleared the way for the eventual sale of meat and dairy products from cloned animals, saying, in effect, that consumers face no health risks from them. The next day, the Department of Agriculture asked farmers to keep their cloned animals off the market until consumers have time to get over their anticloning prejudice. That is one prejudice I plan to hold on to. I will not be eating cloned meat.

The reason has nothing to do with my personal health or safety. I think the clearest way to understand the problem with cloning is to consider a broader question: Who benefits from it? Proponents will say that the consumer does, because we will get higher quality, more consistent foods from cloned animals. But the real beneficiaries are the nation’s large meatpacking companies — the kind that would like it best if chickens grew in the shape of nuggets. Anyone who really cares about food — its different tastes, textures and delights — is more interested in diversity than uniformity.

As it happens, the same is true for anyone who cares about farmers and their animals. An agricultural system that favors cloned animals has no room for farmers who farm in different ways. Cloning, you will hear advocates say, is just another way of making cows. But every other way — even using embryo transplants and artificial insemination — allows nature to shuffle the genetic deck. A clone does not.

To me, this striving for uniformity is the driving and destructive force of modern agriculture. You begin with a wide array of breeds, a truly diverse pool of genes. As time passes, you impose stricter and stricter economic constraints upon those breeds and on the men and women who raise them. One by one, the breeds that don’t meet the prevailing economic model are weeded out. By the beginning of the 21st century, you’ve moved from the broad base of a genetic pyramid to its nearly vanishing peak, which is to say that the genetic diversity present in the economically acceptable breeds of modern livestock is minute. Then comes cloning, and we leave behind all variation.

Cloning is not unnatural. It is natural for humans to experiment, to try anything and everything. Nor is cloning that different from anything else we’ve seen in modern agriculture. It is another way of shifting genetic ownership from farmers to corporations. It is another way of creating still greater economic and genetic concentration in an industry that has already pushed concentration past the limits of ethical and environmental acceptability.

It always bears repeating that humans are only as rich as the diversity that surrounds them, whether we mean cultural or economic diversity. The same is true of genetic diversity, which is an essential bulwark against disease. These days there is less and less genetic diversity in the animals found on farms, and farmers themselves become less and less diverse because fewer and fewer of them actually own the animals they raise. They become contract laborers instead.

It is possible to preserve plant and crop diversity in seed banks. But there are no animal banks. Breeds of animals that are not raised die away, and the invaluable genetic archive they represent vanishes. This may look like a simple test of economic efficiency. It is really a colossal waste, of genes and of truly lovely, productive animals that are the result of years of human attention and effort. From one perspective, a cloned animal looks like a miracle of science. But from another, it looks like what it is: a dead end.

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reflecting -

My mother died three years ago February 18th, Lincoln's birthday.  Someone just asked me for the name of the book I was reading after she died.  Having no clue, I go back to my journals from that time period.  Oddly, now, I no longer keep a journal.  Everything seems to go here.

I come across some little tidbits from one book I was reading: Exuberance, The Passion for Life by Kay Redfield Jamison.   She wrote it as her husband lay dying.  

There are 250 million bubbles in the average bottle of champagne.

Eisenhower said, "Pull the string, and it will follow wherever you wish.  Push it, and it will go nowhere at all."

Han Ying investigated snowflakes in about 135 B.C.  He wrote "Flowers of plants and trees are generally five-pointed, but those of snow .... are always six-pointed."

Leon Weiseltier - "Americans really believe that the past is past.  They do not care to know that the past soaks the present like the light of a distant star. Things that are over do not end. They come inside us, in the consciousness of individuals and communities."

How does all this connect?   I don't know.   Follow the points of the star.