January 7th, 2009

space - the grasshopper

thoughts -

It is gray here again today, misty, cold.   I am enjoying going back through my journal, reviewing my posts.  In November 2007, I was reading Andy Rooney's book, Out of My Mind.  I still find the following excerpt an incentive to look at why we are doing what we are doing.  The thought that LJ was not a given mobilized me to look at past postings and consider what I want to preserve, while I also was very aware of impermanence and how, in some ways, none of this matters, even as it does.  This morning I rose at 3 to meditate, felt called, and I found myself feeling stretched like taffy on stars.  I wonder how many times we are folded, how deeply we can allow ourselves to touch and be touched.

Andy Rooney:

    I boiled over when reporters started using the word "troops" as a synonym for "soldiers."  "Our troops," they'd say.  One reporter said, "Seven American troops were captured."  A troop is not a soldier.  A troop is a group of soldiers and several groups of soldiers were not captured. 

    I'm at a loss to know what to think or write about
. We have found no evidence that Saddam had the weapons we went there to eliminate.  It's embarrassing.  It seems likely that if we keep looking, we're going to find some barrels of toxic substances somewhere but nothing with which Saddam could have mounted a massive attack - least of all on us.  

United States is standing guard now in Iraq but why, with Saddam Hussein gone, is not clear.  I remember a story about a Russian czar who was walking in his palace garden one day and wondered why there was always a soldier standing guard near one little patch of grass.  He asked the guard, but the guard, didn't know anything except that his captain had ordered him to stand there.  The czar went to the captain and asked him, but all the captain knew was that the guard was there because there had always been a guard there.

    The czar looked into the story further and found that Catherine the Great, in a previous century, had planted a rosebush where the patch of grass was and ordered a sentry stationed there to make sure no one stepped on the bush.  The rosebush had died fifty years before but no one in charge ever thought to say it didn't need to be guarded any longer.

    I don't know what I think, but I know I hope we don't stand guard in
after the rosebush dies.

Alan - sunrise - Palm Springs area

Outside, In

I am fascinated with I Am a Strange Loop by Douglas Hofstadter.

Where I am reading now he is talking about how much we desire to be inside another person's brain.  That is why we watch television shows, listen to gossip, and read novels.  He sees this is how we develop empathy.  We begin to understand the other.  As part of this, we may also take the other into ourselves, have a place in our brain for their "pattern."

He is trying to deal with the loss of his wife Carol.

He writes this:

The sad truth is, of course, that no copy is perfect, and that my copies of Carol's memories are hugely defective and incomplete, nowhere close to the level of detail in the originals. The sad truth is, of course, that Carol is reduced, in her inhabitation of my cranium, to only a tiny fraction of what she used to be.  The sad truth is, my brain's mosaic of Carol's essence is far more coarse-grained than the privileged mosaic that resided in her brain was. That is the sad truth.  Death's sting cannot be denied. And yet death's sting is not quite as absolute or as total as it might seem.

When the sun is eclipsed, there remains a corona surrounding it, a circumferential glow. When someone dies, they leave a glowing corona behind them, an afterglow in the souls of those who were close to them. Inevitably, as time passes, the afterglow fades and finally goes out, but it takes many years for this to happen. When, eventually, all of those close ones have died as well, then all the embers will have gone cool, and at that point, it's "ashes to ashes and dust to dust."

He then quotes from the novel The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers, which, if you haven't read it, is a wonder.

From The Heart is a Lonely Hunter:

Late the next morning he sat sewing in the room upstairs.  Why? Why was it that in cases of real love the one who is left does not more often follow the beloved by suicide? Only because the living must bury the dead?  Because of the measured rites that must be fulfilled after a death? Because it is as though the one who is left steps for a time upon a stage and each second swells to an unlimited amount of time and he is watched by many eyes? Because there is a function he must carry out? Or perhaps, when there is love, the widowed must stay for the resurrection of the beloved - so that the one who has gone is not really dead, but grows and is created for a second time in the soul of the living?

I believe each moment, each breath, is life and death, and, that we here are connected in a way that resurrects.  

alan - lilies in the shade

Who makes the weapons?

We arm the world. Why?

Couldn't we make money off cars or innovative transportation systems.? No, we prefer this.

"In 2007, U.S. foreign military sales agreements totaled more than $32 billion — nearly triple the amount during President Bush’s first full year in office."


From the article:

Michael Klare, director of the Amherst, Mass.-based Five College Program in Peace and World Security Studies, has followed the arms trade for decades. He discounts official claims that the delivery of arms can help promote stability.

“The more we help one side, the more that regime’s opponents are driven to seek arms from another supplier, leading to an inevitable spiral of arms buying, provocation and conflict,” Klare says.
According to Stohl, “The Bush administration has demonstrated a willingness to provide weapons and military training to weak and failing states and countries that have been repeatedly criticized by the U.S. State Department for human rights violations, lack of democracy and even support of terrorism.”
The Obama administration could mark a new era in arms trade. On the campaign trail, Obama expressed openness to signing the global cluster munitions ban, but he has yet to speak about a global Arms Trade Treaty — which would establish more rigorous conditions for weapons exports — or about curbing weapons sales, in general.
“The arms trade is never a panacea for instability,” Klare says. “It can only enflame regional tensions and heighten the risk of war.”
space - orion nebula


I read this in the New Yorker.  I thought it deserved a repeat performance. 

Intelligent Design

by Paul Rudnick September 26, 2005

Day No. 1:

And the Lord God said, “Let there be light,” and lo, there was light. But then the Lord God said, “Wait, what if I make it a sort of rosy, sunset-at-the-beach, filtered half-light, so that everything else I design will look younger?”

“I’m loving that,” said Buddha. “It’s new.”

“You should design a restaurant,” added Allah.


Day No. 2:

“Today,” the Lord God said, “let’s do land.” And lo, there was land.

“Well, it’s really not just land,” noted Vishnu. “You’ve got mountains and valleys and—is that lava?”

“It’s not a single statement,” said the Lord God. “I want it to say, ‘Yes, this is land, but it’s not afraid to ooze.’ ”

“It’s really a backdrop, a sort of blank canvas,” put in Apollo. “It’s, like, minimalism, only with scale.”

“But—brown?” Buddha asked.

“Brown with infinite variations,” said the Lord God. “Taupe, ochre, burnt umber—they’re called earth tones.”

“I wasn’t criticizing,” said Buddha. “I was just noticing.”




Day No. 3:

“Just to make everyone happy,” said the Lord God, “today I’m thinking oceans, for contrast.”

“It’s wet, it’s deep, yet it’s frothy; it’s design without dogma,” said Buddha, approvingly.

“Now, there’s movement,” agreed Allah. “It’s not just ‘Hi, I’m a planet—no splashing.’ ”

“But are those ice caps?” inquired Thor. “Is this a coherent vision, or a highball?”

“I can do ice caps if I want to,” sniffed the Lord God.

“It’s about a mood,” said the Angel Moroni, supportively.

“Thank you,” said the Lord God.


Day No. 4:

“One word,” said the Lord God. “Landscaping. But I want it to look natural, as if it all somehow just happened.”

“Do rain forests,” suggested a primitive tribal god, who was known only as a clicking noise.

“Rain forests here,” decreed the Lord God. “And deserts there. For a spa feeling.”

“Which is fresh, but let’s give it glow,” said Buddha. “Polished stones and bamboo, with a soothing trickle of something.”

“I know where you’re going,” said the Lord God. “But why am I seeing scented candles and a signature body wash?”

“Shut up,” said Buddha.

“You shut up,” said the Lord God.

“It’s all about the mix,” Allah declared in a calming voice. “Now let’s look at some swatches.”


Day No. 5:

“I’d like to design some creatures of the sea,” the Lord God said. “Sleek but not slick.”

“Yes, yes, and more yes—it’s a total gills moment,” said Apollo. “But what if you added wings?”

“Fussy,” whispered Buddha to Zeus. “Why not epaulets and a sash?”

“Legs,” said Allah. “Now let’s do legs.”

“Are we already doing dining-room tables?” asked the Lord God, confused.

“No, design some creatures with legs,” said Allah. So the Lord God, nodding, designed an ostrich.

“First draft,” everyone agreed, and so the Lord God designed an alligator.

“There’s gonna be a waiting list,” Zeus murmured appreciatively.

“Now do puppies!” pleaded Vishnu. “And kitties!”

Ooooo!” all the gods cooed. Then, feeling a bit embarrassed, Zeus ventured, “Design something more practical, like a horse or a mule.”

“What about a koala?” asked the Lord God.

“Much better,” Zeus declared, cuddling the furry little animal. “I’m going to call him Buttons.”


Day No. 6:

“Today I’m really going out there,” said the Lord God. “And I know it won’t be popular at first, and you’re all gonna be saying, ‘Earth to Lord God,’ but in a few million years it’s going to be timeless. I’m going to design a man.”

And everyone looked upon the man that the Lord God designed.

“It has your eyes,” Zeus told the Lord God.

“Does it stack?” inquired Allah.

“It has a naïve, folk-artsy, I-made-it-myself vibe,” said Buddha. The Inca sun god, however, only scoffed. “Been there. Evolution,” he said. “It’s called a shaved monkey.”

“I like it,” protested Buddha. “But it can’t work a strapless dress.” Everyone agreed on this point, so the Lord God announced, “Well, what if I give it nice round breasts and lose the penis?”

“Yes,” the gods said immediately.

“Now it’s intelligent,” said Aphrodite.

“But what if I made it blond?” giggled the Lord God.

“And what if I made you a booming offscreen voice in a lot of bad movies?” asked Aphrodite.


Day No. 7:

“You know, I’m really feeling good about this whole intelligent-design deal,” said the Lord God. “But do you think that I could redo it, keeping the quality but making it at a price point we could all live with?”

“I’m not sure,” said Buddha. “You mean, what if you designed a really basic, no-frills planet? Like, do the man and the woman really need all those toes?”

“Hello!” said the Lord God. “Clean lines, no moving parts, functional but fun. Three bright, happy, wash ’n’ go colors.”

“Swedish meets Japanese, with maybe a Platinum Collector’s Edition for the geeks,” Buddha decided.

“Done,” said the Lord God. “Now let’s start thinking about Pluto. What if everything on Pluto was brushed aluminum?”

“You mean, let’s do Neptune again?” said Buddha.