The party's over
It's time to call it a day
They've burst your pretty balloon
And taken the moon away....
"To quote Herbert Stein, "If something cannot go on forever, it will stop."
"Yes, my loopy progressive friends, the fantasy ride is over.
"Time to collect the same-sex partners and test-tube kids; get back into the Prius, hope the battery is not dead; and head home to the stagnant economy, the mortgage, the leaky roof, the uncollected garbage, the sky-high energy bills, the unemployed and unemployable college students receiving a DOA education, and a American health care system, once the greatest in the world, now on death's door thanks to your prescriptions. Oh, and let's not forget the misunderstood thugs and terrorists with their knives out, waiting in the driveway to cut all our throats, yes, our--yours and mine." From The DiploMad 2.0: Flight MH370 and Foreign Policy in a Dangerous WorldContinued...
"So that's where we are right now (unless something has happened in the last thirty minutes.)"
It looked as if a night of dark intent
Was coming, and not only a night, an age.
Someone had better be prepared for rage.
There would be more than ocean-water broken
Before God's last Put out the Light was spoken.
-- Robert Frost, "Once By The Pacific"
In 1914 Sir Edward Grey said to a friend one evening just before the outbreak of the First World War, as he watched the lights being lit on the street below his office: "The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime."
In that instance, it was the Great War that loomed. Now the Great Forgetting looms and, from time to time, it washes across the world. "Earth Hour" is such a dark moment as millions either choose to, or thanks to their compliant or complacent local governments suffer through, an hour in the dark.
Once upon a time we knew enough to curse the darkness. In the aeons long climb from the muck, we have only had the ability to hold back the dark for a bit over a century. Now millions yearn to embrace it and, should they yearn long enough and hard enough, the darkness will embrace them and hold them for much longer than a brief hour of preening and self-regard.
The Big Picture at the Boston Globe site routinely publishes stunning photographs of what is taking place in the world. But at editor Alan Taylor's whim after last year's "Earth Hour", it went a step further in "celebrating" the rise of mass insanity in our age. "Earth Hour 2009" presents a round-the-world tour of cities with each picture designed to fade from light into darkness at the click of a mouse. Proud of his clever variation on a theme, the editor's instructions were -- without a hint of irony:
Of course with a second mouse click the lights came back on. It never seems to occur to the people with the Green Disease, that is perfectly possible to
and get no second click.
"Pater dimitte illis non enim sciunt quid faciunt." ("Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.") -- Luke 23:34
[Republished from 2009 because it's not worth spending new powder. And because I can't believe I almost forgot it was the sacred "Earth Hour." Oh, you did as well? Typical.]
Daniel Stoupin : "This clip, as well as stock footage, is available in 4k resolution. Make sure you watch it on a large screen! You won't be able to appreciate this clip or see individual cells moving in a sponge on a smartphone. If you have a full-HD screen, when you enter full-screen mode, please press on "view actual size" next to the HD icon to improve sharpness.
"To make this little clip I took 150000 shots. Why so many? Because macro photography involves shallow depth of field. To extend it, I used focus stacking. Each frame of the video is actually a stack that consists of 3-12 shots where in-focus areas are merged. Just the intro and last scene are regular real-time footage. One frame required about 10 minutes of processing time (raw conversion + stacking). Unfortunately, the success rate was very low due to copious technical challenges and I spent almost 9 long months just to learn how to make these kinds of videos and understand how to work with these delicate creatures."More videos and images are at Microworlds Photography
An Alabama congressional candidate uses a .40 Glock pistol, a .270 Cooper rifle and an AR-15 to destroy a copy of the Obamacare bill in a new video released by his campaign.
The message in candidate Will Brooke’s video, shared first with The Daily Caller on Wednesday, is clear: Republicans have been successful in taking shots at Obamacare, but it’s going to take “more extreme measures” to get rid of it. - - The Daily Caller
Satellite Time-Lapse Movie Shows U.S. East Coast Snowy Winter | NASA "The once-per-day imagery creates a stroboscopic slide show of persistent brutal winter weather," said Dennis Chesters of the NASA/NOAA GOES Project at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. who created the animation.
To create the video and imagery, NASA/NOAA's GOES Project takes the cloud data from NOAA's GOES-East satellite and overlays it on a true-color image of land and ocean created by data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS, instrument that flies aboard NASA's Aqua and Terra satellites. Together, those data created the entire picture of the storm and show its movement. After the storm system passes, the snow on the ground becomes visible.
According to NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS), as of the first day of spring Washington, D.C. had received 30.3 inches of snow for the 2013-2014 winter season. Washington's average winter snowfall is 15.3 inches, so the snowfall for the Nation's Capital was almost double that, exceeding it by 15.0 inches. An early spring snow on March 25 is expected to add to that total.
Further north in Boston, Mass. snowfall totals were even higher. The NWS reported that since July 1, 2013, 58.6 inches of snow had fallen in Boston. The average snowfall is 40.8 inches, so Boston was 17.8 inches over normal snowfall.
The big snow story this winter has been across the Great Lakes region which has also seen record amounts of snowfall. According to NWS in Buffalo, the city has received 121.7 inches, or more than 10 feet of snow, as of March 24. Chicago has received 80 inches of snow which is more than double their annual snowfall amount of 34.4 inches.
In the future everyone will be Russian for fifteen minutes.
Seems press folks on the Obama European Tour aren't jumping up and down, clicking lighters, waving them in the air and calling out "Encore!"
If you know anything about the artist, S. Weasel you know you do not want to click the "Continued" link below to see the poster. No, really, you do not want to do it. Trust me. Have I ever steered you wrong before? Horseman, stay thy clicking hand. Just keep scrolling on. Nothing to see here. No.... no.... mustn't.... mustn't....Continued...
Behold this homage to our modern mountain of bullshit.
"A Russian father and his baby daughter are having a seriously heated discussion.
The little girl most likely only understands a few of the words, and she can’t reproduce them coherently, because she’s a baby. She can, however, reproduce the cadence, emphasis, and body language to an amazing degree, which is adorable. If I understood what she was arguing about, she’d have me convinced." A Father Daughter Debate - Neatorama
"Roxanne! ....You don't have to put on the red light!"
After the studs and the flames, stick around for the Peacock gown, and the Sandra Bullock cameo in a blonde braid where she speaks in tongues.
And yes, it is entirely in Ukranian. And no, there are no subtitles.
Somehow I think it will hold your attention.
HT: Enos Sporf
"The session began with "Maggie's Farm": only one take was recorded, and it was the only one they'd ever need:"Continued...
I encountered the Horseman in Laguna Beach riding along the Pacific Coast Highway. He was ahead of me moving at horse speed. The traffic, hurried as always, slowed to a pause and then pulled around him. As I pulled past him, I could hear the clip-clop of the hooves of his mount and his pack horse. I glanced into the rear view mirror after I got ahead of him and saw the blinking red and blue lights and heard the short bleep of a siren tapped once. He had been pulled over by the Laguna Beach police for an interview. I pulled in around the corner, walked back, and joined a group of citizens already watching this encounter.
The Horseman was riding to Texas. He said he'd started at the Canadian border. The cop asked him why he wasn't driving. He said he didn't have a truck and a horse trailer, just a horse, a pack horse and a dog. His plan was simply to ride the coast to San Diego and turn left.
He had what he called a "shoulder pass" which he drew from his pocket and presented to the officer. The officer, being confused, was not even sure such a document existed and examined its molecular structure.
Then the Laguna Animal Control officer showed up. That officer informed the cowpoke that he did not have his dog on a leash. Something all good little citizens of California do as willingly as they carry bags of the dog's feces around in their hands.
The Horseman replied sensibly that his dog (named, I swear, "Dog") knew how to follow along, and that if he put a leash on him from the saddle he risked strangling the dog.
"Horse goes one way, Dog goes another. Tough on Dog, officer."
At this point, having been alerted to the Horseman, another police car showed up with another, but more senior, officer. He stood to the side a bit taking in what the situation actually was.
The animal control officer, failing to see the sense of not strangling a dog on a leash tired to a horse, began a hectoring lecture on the very special ordinances of the very special town of Laguna Beach, California. The Horseman stood motionless as the scolding went on. Finally the litany of banal cop-talk was interrupted by the senior officer who evidently had less patience for the Animal Control claptrap than the Horseman. After all, if you are riding a horse from Canada to Texas in the 21st Century, you are probably not in much of a hurry.
In short order, the senior officer informed the others that, regardless of the endless petty ordinances of Laguna Beach, what they were actually going to do was let this man continue on his way. Not only that, they were going to give him a police escort out of town.
I assume the senior officer looked into the near future of any other action. And in that future he saw the issue of providing transport for two horses to some undisclosed location as well as the dog, while they were arraigning the Horseman, was going to be far too much paperwork to contemplate. That and noting about 15 citizens gathered nearby, ready for a sincere chat with the city council probably gave him pause as well.
The Horseman had heard and seen it all before on the long road between Canada and Laguna Beach. He took "The Cowboy Way." He rolled a smoke, nodded, saddled up, whistled to Dog and was escorted out of town.
That was all years ago and on another planet. But I still like to think of the Horseman. I like to think he's still out there making his way from Canada to Texas -- via a left turn in San Diego.
Even Bob has his off days.
“Taxes upon every article which enters into the mouth, or covers the back, or is placed under the foot.
Taxes upon everything which it is pleasant to see, hear, feel, smell, or taste. Taxes upon warmth, light, and locomotion. Taxes on everything on earth or under the earth, on everything that comes from abroad or is grown at home. Taxes on the raw material, taxes on every fresh value that is added to it by the industry of man. Taxes on the sauce which pampers man’s appetite, and the drug which restores him to health; on the ermine which decorates the judge, and the rope which hangs the criminal; on the poor man’s salt and the rich man’s spice; on the brass nails of the coffin, and the ribbons of the bride; at bed or board; couchant or levant, we must pay. The schoolboy whips his taxed top; the beardless youth manages his taxed horse, with a taxed bridle, on a taxed road; and the dying Englishman, pouring his medicine, which has paid 7 per cent., into a spoon that has paid 15 per cent., flings himself back upon his chintz bed, which has paid 22 per cent., and expires in the arms of an apothecary who has paid a licence of a hundred pounds for the privilege of putting him to death. His whole property is then immediately taxed from 2 to 10 per cent. Besides the probate, large fees are demanded for burying him in the chancel. His virtues are handed down to posterity on taxed marble, and he will then be gathered to his fathers, to be taxed no more.” Rev. Sidney Smith, Edinburgh Review, 1820 Via HappyAcres
Most New Yorkers spent this past winter complaining about the harsh weather.
George Steinmetz took on a more ambitious project: photographing the snowbound city from the seat of a two-person piston-powered helicopter. Steinmetz and his pilot, Dennis Weaver, took multiple trips around the tri-state area, departing from Caldwell Airport, in Fairfield, New Jersey, at dawn. Over Coney Island, the Bronx, Bayonne, and Staten Island, Steinmetz photographed the subway yards, cemeteries, and athletic fields below. As Lauren Collins wrote in her Profile of Steinmetz, from 2010, “Taking aerial photographs is, in a way, like metal detecting—a hunt for treasure invisible from the earth’s surface.” - - | The New Yorker
I was thinking of a series of dreams
Where nothing comes up to the top
Everything stays down where it’s wounded
And comes to a permanent stop
Wasn’t thinking of anything specific
Like in a dream, when someone wakes up and screams
Nothing too very scientific
Just thinking of a series of dreams
Thinking of a series of dreams
Where the time and the tempo fly
And there’s no exit in any direction
’Cept the one that you can’t see with your eyes
Wasn’t making any great connection
Wasn’t falling for any intricate scheme
Nothing that would pass inspection
Just thinking of a series of dreams
Dreams where the umbrella is folded
Into the path you are hurled
And the cards are no good that you’re holding
Unless they’re from another world
In one, numbers were burning
In another, I witnessed a crime
In one, I was running, and in another
All I seemed to be doing was climb
Wasn’t looking for any special assistance
Not going to any great extremes
I’d already gone the distance
Just thinking of a series of dreams
Too much rain? Two words: "Road Trip"
THE FIRST THING YOU LEARN IS your don't go "into" the Olympic Peninsula. You go around it. Although Seattle has the feel of being on a coast, it's really an interior city protected from the lashing storms of the Northwest Pacific by a vast up-welling of mountains, as much as it is protected from the cutting edge of our political storms by its removal to the far corner of the nation. One of the advantages of the city is that it sits at the bottom of a vast bowl of straits, lakes and mountains. When the rain clears out and you take in the western view from the top of Queen Anne Hill (the highest hill in Seattle) you see the barrier of the Olympic Mountains that seems to wrap around half the horizon. After seeing this a number of time, two words appear in the mind: Road Trip.
So it was with Spring a day away and, for once, a promising weather forecast I set out for a short trip to the Olympic Peninsula since I had had enough, for a few days at least of:
But, as I said, there is no "into" when it comes to the Olympic Peninsula, only "around."
It was not promising when, in my effort to get to the ferry that would take me out to the jumping off point, I ran afoul of three detours and two Sunday afternoon traffic jams. What should have been a fifteen minute drive to the ferry turned into an hour and a half. Enough time to take me off my original plan of staying at the Kalaloch Lodge. Instead, I only managed to make the town of Forks in time to participate in the town's annual scholarship auction. You had no choice but to participate since every sound system in every store and restaurant was tuned to the broadcast of the auction and turned up loud. I took shelter by going to the auction itself.
It was one of those small town events that puts your faith in the essential goodness of people back into your soul. Everyone in this town of some 1,300 souls had evidently donated something (From a $1600 Alaskan Fishing Trip to a plate of 6 brownies baked by the Brownies -- $22 and delicious). And everyone in the town was buying something. Furniture, art, baked goods, embroidered guest towels, exercise equipment... a hodgepodge of a town wide garage sale. The purpose? A fund to send some kids from Forks to college. And in Forks getting to college was very, very important because it meant those kids that made it had a chance to get out of Forks.
Not that it is a bad town. Not at all. It is just that it is a dying town. The curtailing of logging and fishing in the Olympic Peninsula may have gone over well in Seattle where people are concerned that they won't have any natural, unspoiled environments in which to ride their horsies and mossy woods to hike about in. In Seattle, the only thing more popular for a politician to say than "It's for the children" is "It's for the environment." Some of the brighter politicians have taken to working in the phrase, "It's for the children's environment!" This always plays to rousing ovations and cheers, especially from the childless.
Things are not so happy in Forks which has had to deal with the loss of thousands of jobs as a result of various "popular" [in the cities] measures. Forks, by any measure, is struggling to keep its head above water. You can feel it in the forced cheer and the determined pride shown at this one small auction where, against all odds, they have managed to raise more than $50,000 for the Forks Escape Fund.
One of my local correspondents, much more knowledgeable about the shameful political history that killed Forks related this small tale that pretty much sums up the relationship of city and town in Washington state:
Our US Senators, Patty Murray (D) who we rightfully detest and Slade Gorton (Republican and now defeated by Maria Cantwell) were on opposite sides of a timber debate on the floor of the senate. Listening to the floor action on the squawk box, we heard Patty nattering about how she was totally in tune with the people of Washington on timber issues, why in fact the lumbermen of Forks were some of her best sources of information and strongest supporters, The staffer turned to me and said "Seattle liberal greenies may love Patty, but not the good folks in Forks. She's cost hundreds, maybe thousands of timber people their jobs. If you handcuffed her to the stop sign in the middle of Forks at 3 AM, come morning she'd be gone and they would never be able to find her body."
True enough. I looked. And she wasn't there. There are many hungry crab pots in these waters.
After an amazingly indifferent meal, I put up at the Pacific Inn Motel to wait for dawn and pray for sun.
Which, amazingly, arrived with the dawn. I wanted to go south towards the Hoh Rain Forest, but since La Push was nearby I decided to head there. Big mistake. Even though my correspondent, who had been so prescient about Forks, declared that she "grew up hiking, camping, trying to drown myself and poaching salmon, crabs and clams off all these beaches and I love every stinking piece of seaweed on every slippery barnacle befouled rock, " I found that I could not share the love enough to find it in La Push. La Push is an indian village and like most of these sad places, seems determined not to let money from casinos work against decades of squalor. Whenever I find myself in these towns I always have to wonder where all those millions are going. Certainly not for paint or decent housing. I beat a quick retreat.
La Push, the only scenic view
About an hour later, I took a left and came to one of the roads I was looking for.
This let me know that I was well on my way to what is probably the greatest collection of moss in the Northern Hemisphere, the Hoh Rain Forest.
I stopped in a small store on the way in where the woman behind the counter had been waiting patiently for at least a week to sell something to somebody. She sold me a rain coat. "You'll probably need it seeing that you are going to a rain forest." What could I do but agree? Besides, it was lined with the holy fabric of the Pacific Northwest, fleece, and it doubled my holdings.
Correctly attired, waterproof, I pushed on up the road past local inhabitants --
--- and signage betraying local attitudes that seemed as eager to say "Goodbye" as "Howdy tourista!"
But it was worth it because, once beyond the mysteriously deserted entrance to the Hoh Rain Forest, --
-- I found myself alone in the location where they will shoot the Freddy Kruger epic, Nightmare in the National Parks.
Walking the Hall of Mosses trail alone on a Monday morning brings you quickly in touch with the overwhelming beauty of this carefully preserved and presented part of the forest. The signs along the way and the slow rise into deeper and deeper groves of moss obliterated trees is like walking through a live Powerpoint slide show on "the value of preserving our national parks at all costs. No matter who has to pay."
At the same time, this particular show, by the time you get to the core of it, starts to present your subconscious mind with all sorts of disturbing back chatter. For all the beauty of it, you still understand that you are also seeing a parasite run wild across a very large chunk of forest. And you see, time and again, how a very small organism such as a spore of moss can topple very large forms of life such as a 300 foot tall spruce. I've always liked moss but I have noticed that various treatments to kill it are quite popular at the local Home Depots. Perhaps, just perhaps, even a good thing can get a little out of hand.
From the Hoh Rain Forest I finally found my way to Kalaloch Lodge. I'd made this my destination since it seemed to promise all the things I need in the way of a retreat from the world, that vision of Edna St. Vincent Millay of:
.... a little shanty on the sand
And so I was forced to hunker down with plank-grilled salmon and a few glasses of crisp Riesling. And there I sat until, as it will, the last light came and got me.
It not only fetched me out of the cabin, it fetched the entire lodge as if a lodestone had, on the very cusp of the vernal equinox, of Spring, taken hold of our rain-soaked, mossy souls and dragged us out of our pastoral stupor, back into the world dimensional.
All along the cabins strung down the bluff doors opened and men, women, children and dogs came tumbling out onto the wet lawn to hover and stare as far out to sea as they could while the sun came down from beneath the curtain of cloud and lit the world and made it new.
It was only about five hours steady drive back to Seattle, but nobody was leaving. Behind us you had the impenetrable escarpment of the Olympic Peninsula.
In front of us you had the slow Pacific swell illuminated by the hand of God.
Tomorrow would be the first full day of Spring. It would rain again. It would always rain again.
For now, nobody was going anywhere.
CNN’s Don Lemon: ‘Is It Preposterous’ to Think a Black Hole Caused Flight 370 to Go Missing? | Mediaite Mary Schiavo, a former Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Transportation, said, “A small black hole would suck in our entire universe, so we know it’s not that.” [I don't know Schiavo's personal experience with black holes but with that "observation" she takes the Gold for biggest ignoramus to date in this whole fiasco.]
“The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.” – William Faulkner
A stock image of a shopping basket and check out counter from 50 years ago reveals the staying power of brands from that long ago time. It’s interesting to gaze into the “purchases” in the pre-scanner grocery store and note that even after 50 years most of the brands still survive.
Survivors: Sanka, Jello, Birds Eye, Maxwell House, Bakers, Good Seasons Italian, Tang, Kool Aid, Duncan Hines Cake Mixes, Maxwell House Instant, Log Cabin Syrup, Yuban, SOS Pads, Minute Rice, Dream Whip, Post Toasties Corn Flakes, Alpha-Bits, Prime.
Swallowed up by time: Awake, Lemonade Mix, Gaines-burgers.
The persistence of real food: Milk, Bread, Cheese, Apples, Celery, Cabbage
Listen to the sound of a Maxwell House coffee maker at work and other vintage commercials from 1964:Continued...
The Spark Gap
I've long had a theory about why prayers are answered, but answered rarely. I think that God, for all his omnipresence, omnipotence, and omniscience is pretty much nailed to the present as far as humans go.
Yes, I know all the arguments for predestination and preordination but those strike me as a one-way street to Dullsville even for God. If, as God, You let Yourself know everything that was going to happen everywhere for all time (Not that You couldn't if You wanted to.), what's the entertainment value in that proposition? Slim to none, if you ask me.
We don't know much about God. Indeed, there are many among us who make it a point to know even less -- until they are proud, damned proud, to know nothing at all. Once they achieve this brainfade, they encourage the rest of us to follow suit in a paroxysm of self-willed ignorance. Today there are fresh new scriptures attesting to this revelation. There are traveling preachers of this gospel. There are even congregations, support groups, jewelry, and t-shirts. It's a religion. Of sorts. A religion in which you collectively as individuals agree to worship Zero, and to carry the gospel to others. Seems like a waste of life to me.
In fact, we are probably not yet wired to know much about God. If the Smart Monkey survives itself, evolution (Great and brilliant tool of God that it is.) will probably finish the deeper neural nets of our brains at some point in the aeons to come, and we will slowly come to descry the faintest shadow of a clue. About all that is. About the fundamental nature of the miracle. For the present, most of us remain in shadow, looking at the noema from without; running on the insights of the genetic spiritual sports that appear on Earth so rarely that their lives are remembered forever.
At the present time, most of what we know about God comes from assumptions built on revelations. These are backed-up with a sheaf of incomplete, poorly translated notes from chance encounters.
The Dead Sea Scrolls demonstrate that, to date, our record keeping is spotty and our storage methods poor. If you think that any future chance meetings or memos are going, in the long run, to be kept any better than the Dead Sea Scrolls, please tell me what's on that six-inch floppy disc at the bottom of the fourth box to the left on the third shelf from the top at the back of my garage.
Nope. The problem is not knowing the will and laws of God. They are pretty simple, straight forward, and seem, for the most part, to be embedded in the cerebral cortex of most before birth. In addition, there are lots of memos in every language and no shortage of interpreters -- AM/FM/SW; network and cable; 24/7/365, forever and ever, amen, can I get a witness? Even so there have to be thousands of memos that, although sent, we just didn't get. Indeed, even working with the memos that we did get, you'd have to admit that we are very poor at carrying out the policies they announce. It probably has to do with us not being finished just yet.
We know that God is not finished with us yet in many ways, but the most obvious sign is the fact that, if God were finished with us, we'd have a third set of teeth that would come in around age 45. Why this doesn't happen overnight as a miracle is a question asked by many while waiting for the Novocain to kick in just before the root canal. Many a prayer has been sent up during these moments, but not as many as those that came with root canals before the advent of anesthetic, i.e. "Oh, God!" Indeed, Novocain -- the idea to create it and technology to make it -- is probably a non-interventionist God's answer to such a plethora of prayer.
Since we see, in small ways in our own lives and in larger ways in the realms of the world and history, that prayers are, from time to time, actually answered, and since we are only the dim and unfinished Smart Monkey, we naturally wonder why all prayers are not answered all the time. After all, what would be better for the dim Smart Monkey to have God working for him as an individual all the time? Nothing.
Everyone in Death Valley wants ice-water. Everyone wants a personal God, ideally right next to your personal barrista of your personal Starbucks in your personal walk-in closet-- "I'll have a double-shot Americano and a 378 year life-span as a blonde teenage cheerleader, please." Hey, you don't ask you don't get.
In fact, whole elements of religion are centered around having you find and keep a personal relationship with God. But just because you have a personal relationship with God (and you should), doesn't mean God has to have a personal relationship with you. He is, after all, God and He's got a whole universe to run. It's a big place and He's just one God and He's busy.
It's true He has staff, but He's running a universe on a pyramid organization table and has, still, some problems with delegation of power. He tried that untold aeons ago and a number of vice-presidents got a bit above themselves and got sent to a branch office. Not fired exactly -- let's just say they were put in charge of Guam. The result was that the CEO still retains the power to make fundamental alterations to the shape of reality and its product line.
For the most part, God lets the Evolution Factory handle reality. The Evolution Factory is one of his better projects. Brilliant really.
After all, if You were God and were going to create and run an entire universe, You wouldn't really want to be running around it all the time doing hands-on alterations on everything from quarks to galaxies. Micromanagement is boring and doing a bunch of handwork on the entire universe for all eternity can get old really quick. It's much better just to create a process that will essentially hunt and peck along for order across billions of years and, sooner or later, come up with a life form that can both apprehend You and make a hot-fudge sundae at the same time.
So You come up with light, touch everything off with a crisp "Let there be...," and take a break for ten billion years or so. Much more relaxing than hanging around in the void with nothing but a bunch of sub-atomic particles and an infinite supply of Super-Gluons.
And yes, You put free-will into the mix, but not for the benefit of anything that comes along with a will to free, but for Your benefit -- that You be not bored by Creation. After all, if You are God and, looking out on space, feel lonely, what's the point of making a Universe where you know how it will turn out from the Big Bang? It would be like having 500 cable channels which are all showing Pulp Fiction all the time -- pretty much like it is now.
Whatever else He may be, God is not that dull a programmer especially when He is the Audience.
Instead getting eternally bored in quantum reality, it's much smarter to whip up some matter, let it bake, expand, set, toss in a few -- very few -- places safe for organic matter, mix in some DNA, and then let her rip.
Result? As far as we know, six billion channels on Earth alone, each with its story where the ending is always in doubt. It happens that way when you get that many Smart Monkeys "working on mysteries without any clues," and it is invariably entertaining. Which is why God likes to spend afternoons with soap operas and has let Lost slump in the ratings.
Still, because of the predilection of DNA-based free will, God will have a lot of the Smart Monkeys wondering about His motives. Krishnamurti was once asked, "If God is all good, why is there evil in the world?" To which he responded, after reflecting for a moment, "To thicken the plot." Now, I'll be the first to say that, while correct, this doesn't really satisfy when it comes to such issues as childhood leukemia. But I'll also note that God did leave one small backdoor into his universal code, prayer.
For a certain type of extremely stupid smart and educated person, prayer is something to be sneered at their entire life right up to the moment when they see the intergalactic candle snuffer descending on their head or the head of those they love. At this point, it is the rare wiseguy who does not spontaneously discover his or her capacity for prayer. Indeed, it strikes me that it is often the agnostic or the atheist who become the most voluble bargainer with God under unfortunate circumstances. Lord knows, I was.
It is only recently that I've come, in my dotage, to see that prayer -- even unheard or unanswered -- can be a powerful intellectual force in one's life. And by this I mean prayer in its most personally humiliating and elevating form: down on the knees and speaking out loud. Daily. Very abasing and very uplifting at one and the same time.
For most of the time, answers come there none. But that's the way of prayer. If prayer were the vending machine of God, we'd spend all our time on our knees between meals and lovemaking and let basic maintenance of roofs and refrigeration go to Hell. Nope, prayer as a constant begets random answers, and not always the straight-forward ones we were looking for, because we are a very simple Smart Monkey.
Indeed, it has occurred to me, in my very dim monkey brain, that prayer can work even if God Himself does not exist. (Yes, He's just that clever.) Prayer seems to be a need hard-wired into our limited cortex. If you doubt this, please go out, find a war, dig a hole, and sit in it under an artillery barrage for an hour or two. Then come back to continue this discussion.
As I was saying, prayer -- with or without God -- makes us stronger and our desires and abilities more focussed just by happening. As a result, things you pray for tend to happen to you more often than things you don't pray for simply because your abilities are more concentrated on the outcome. Pretty clever wiring for a God who does not exist.
You may, of course, because you have free will, mark it down to a random effect of DNA fresh from the uber-automated Evolution Factory. And you can explain it all, over and over again, to the other members of your religion. That doesn't mean your memo is going all the way to the Top.
After all, what makes you think God wants to read your plaintive little magazine articles in the portentously titled "National Geographic" or "Scientific American?" He not only wrote the blueprints and whipped up the algorithm for the Evolution Factory, He did Charles Darwin in a nanosecond's afterthought just because He felt we weren't getting onto it fast enough. Before Darwin we had clues, but we didn't yet have a prayer. Now we've got fish with feet on the backs of our cars so others can tell our way-new religion from the old. And marvel at what smart monkeys we must be.
Prayer's important to God because it is His way of staying current with the various problems besetting free-will in smart monkeys. After all, He may be a bit detached with love from this part of His creation, but He knows we have, well, "issues" with life and all that, and He'd like to know. Prayer is, in a sense, God's suggestion box; which is why many think that not all prayers are answered and why some, like the Tibetans, think that if you repeat a prayer often enough it gets noticed and answered. This irritating approach to prayer probably cost them their nation even though it hasn't shut them up. In general, it is probably not a good idea, but who am I to criticize? I'll leave that to the Dalai Lama who seems to be carrying on just fine.
For me prayer is done best the old-fashion way: on knees, a hearty "How are you today, God, and thank you for the miracle of creation and for letting me witness one more day of it, and, oh, while we're at it...." and then I slip one in quick and move on to, "Thanks again for being God, Have a good one." And off it goes.
But what comes back? Precious little but I'm not complaining. I'm not complaining at all. Let me repeat that in case He wasn't listening, "God, I'm all right with whatever You want to do."
You see, my theory about why prayers are answered only rarely concerns God's work load. As noted above, He's one God who is running a very big universe. Perhaps He's got the whole thing franchised and He's running thousands of universes in a host of different dimensions, all with local variations to the main menu. We don't know. We can't know. But if you grant even one universe to this one God, you've got to admit this would be a very busy Supreme Being. Even being omnipotent and omnipresent and omniscient, You'd still have an In-Box beyond the human mind's capacity for bogglement.
So what do You do? You do what Big Executives everywhere do. You show up for work early and leave late. Every so often you come in on week-ends. You always take a ton of work home. Believe me when I say, "Your arms to short to lift God's attache case." Even then the occasional all-nighter is not out of the question if you're doing a complicated project like, say, a platypus.
As God, it's good you don't have a wife because she'd make your home life a, dare I say it?, living hell. There are, after all, some advantages to having a Son by a mortal woman, not that She's any less holy for that, but at least She isn't waiting at home with the dinner growing cold for the multi-billioneth time. Better still, You don't have to phone in from somewhere out near the galactic core of Andromeda with some lame excuse.
But given even the most hard working, attentive and desk-bound CEO God we monkeys can imagine, even God has got to, sooner or later, take a break. A little stroll down the corridor to check in with the staff -- management by walking around so to speak. A brief visit to the God's room for a little wash-up and wet-comb. A small working lunch with The Boys. For all we know, a weekend in Vegas in, we hope, the high-roller suite with very attentive room service. After all, when You are God you can set your own schedule.
So, for whatever reason, God is sometimes away from his desk. But does that stop the prayers? Not a bit. They keep coming in at the same pounding rate that they always do from every corner of the cosmos. After all, prayers are postage paid so you don't every have to look around for a stamp. You just make it, hit "Send," and, Bingo, off it goes with that little swooshing sound that comes with Macintosh Mail. (Yes, God prefers Apple -- especially after some of the smartest, richest monkeys in the world came out with Vista.)
This (that Bruce Almighty movie notwithstanding) does not mean that God does email. (See that Bruce Almighty movie for why.) Nope, as I noted above, God has staff to handle the incoming correspondence for Him. Don't think that this makes it easier for Him. Just a tad more organized.
The final upshot is that, even if God just steps away from his desk for a quick trip to heaven's free beverage machine, when He gets back he's confronted with at least 4,675,839 prayers presented as pink "While You Were Out Slips."
I submit that even the most omnipotent God cannot deal with incoming requests at this rate. The result? Pick some at random to answer, and tell your staff to file the rest for (possible) future reference. As an efficient executive, God has to be a clean-desk Supreme Being.
To me this is the most obvious reason that some prayers are answered while most are not. It's simply a question of time and resources, even for God.
Does it really happen this way? God knows.
A little over 14,000 feet at its summit, snow and rain fall year-round on the Matterhorn, and diving nighttime temperatures often create dicey conditions. The ascent is best attempted “in good nick,” during one of the 30 or so days a year when the weather is dry and the terrain is free of snow and ice. If you make a stab at the Matterhorn on one of the other 335, however, the unpredictable weather means that there’s a chance you’ll need to take refuge. 1,500 feet below the peak, The Solvay Hut is built right into the rock, an alpine oasis of sorts.
The Solvay Hut was built in 1915, half a century after the first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865. In just five days during the fall of 1915, the materials were hauled up the side of the mountain with the help of pack animals and a stopgap cable car. Following his retirement, Ernest Solvay, a Belgian chemist, inventor, and businessman who developed a fondness for climbing the Matterhorn commissioned the project.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.
-- Coleridge, "Kubla Khan"
The History of In-N-Out Burger
Harry’s son Rich had worked in the restaurants all of his life and assumed the role of company president at the young age of 24 following his father’s passing. During his tenure, the chain experienced unprecedented growth, opening over 90 restaurants through the 80s and 90s. But while business was booming, In-N-Out still remained firmly grounded in southern California, and against the franchising model. Rich believed that outsourcing the brand purely for accelerated growth was tantamount to “prostituting his parents”. “There is money to be made by doing those things” he said, “but you lose something, and I don’t want to lose what I was raised with all my life”.
His resolution to maintain the simple menu devised by his parents was equally strong, which he made clear to Forbes in 1989, saying “it’s hard enough to sell burgers, fries and drinks right. And when you start adding things, it gets worse”. A lemon-lime soda would be the only exception during his tenure as president."
It's a living.
"Less than two weeks ago, after Ukrainian protesters appeared to have ousted President Viktor Yanukovych,
thousands of soldiers bearing no insignia or identifying marks began appearing in Ukraine's pro-Russian Crimean peninsula. Russian authorities deny that these men are invading Russian soldiers, instead describing them as "local self-defense forces" wearing uniforms available from army surplus centers. - - In Focus - The Atlantic
These are all 100% real complaints from the Domino's Pizza Australia Facebook page.
"Third-grader Jazmien Sparks, center, 9, holds her head in her hands as she listens to US Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Twp., as he announces plans to introduce a comprehensive legislative package in Congress to help reduce violent crime on Feb. 19 at Pierce Creative Arts Elementary School in Flint, Mich." - - Daily Life
You have to wonder about a school, a teacher, and a politician who collude in exposing 9 year olds to such a tendentious spewing of half-baked blather. What possible interest would a 9 year old have in such an abstract chunk of political preening? An adult who cannot to perceive that children have no frame of reference for this sort of posturing is an adult too spiritually limited and ethically corrupt to be allowed to be around children at all. An awake and civil society would require, by statute under pain of imprisonment, that such individuals remain, at all times, at a distance of 300 feet or more from all schools, playgrounds, and other places likely to attract children.
"One summer night in 1956 in the coal-mining hamlet of Iaeger, West Virginia, a stranger walked up to Willie Allen at the drive-in. "Excuse me, sir," he said, "how would you and your date like to watch the movie from my convertible?
"What's the catch?" Allen, then a 23-year-old Army corporal on leave from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, recalls asking.
"All they had to do, the stranger said, is sit in the car until the train passed. "I'll give you $10," he added.
"Allen and his date, Dorothy Christian, took the deal, and the stranger took their picture. Thus O. Winston Link produced one of the most elegiac railroad pictures in a series he had begun some months before....
"He took almost all his train pictures at night, when he could engineer his scenes without the sun getting in his way.
"To do that, he had to devise his own flash system. Link would mark a train's path with lanterns, and then map out where to set out flash reflectors. Each reflector, which held up to 18 flashbulbs, was wired to a portable supply of batteries and condensers. When the train hit the right spot, Link pushed a button to fire the bulbs and, 35-thousandths of a second later, released the camera shutter. The system wasn't without its quirks—since the bulbs were wired much like Christmas lights, a single broken wire or faulty bulb could knock out all the others in the circuit." -- The Big Picture @ Smithsonian
I find this strangely soothing. "Serves six."
"I have five kids so reading 'Green Eggs And Ham,' over all those years to each one I totally have it memorized especially by the time Trig was born. I had to spice it up a bit. Little Trig, lucky little fella', his bedtime story now it goes something like this.
I do not like this Uncle Sam. I do not like his health-care scam
I do not like these dirty crooks. Or how they lie and cook the books.
I do not like when Congress feels. I do not like their crony deals.
I do not like this spying man. I do not like, "Oh yes we can."
I do not like this spending spree. We’re smart we know that there’s nothing free.
I do not like reporters’ smug replies; when I complain about their lies
I do not like this kind of hope. And we won't take it nope, nope, nope....
Photo taken by the Expedition 38 crew aboard the international space station of the night view of the Korean Peninsula; North Korea, in the middle, is almost completely dark compared with neighboring South Korea, bottom right, and China, top left.
Because it is vital to push the myths.
On February 23, 1836 Santa Anna and 1,500 troops surrounded the Alamo.
A siege began and only small skirmishes were reported with zero casualties on both sides. In that time, William Travis sent a letter to ask for reinforcements. In the truest sense of courage and honor, and in the American spirit he wrote:Continued...“If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself for as long as possible, and die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor and that of his country – Victory or Death.”It was not until the last 24 hours, after 13 days of siege, that a real battle ensued. In the battle, the Alamo defenders fought valiantly and nearly all were killed including Travis, Bowie, and Crockett. | Truth Revolt
What Tony Stark Would Wear Underwater: Meet the Exosuit. It's a $600,000 atmospheric diving suit capable of taking a human 1,000 feet underwater at surface pressure, and it's the first of its kind. If you have dramatic music handy, you should go ahead and play it, because this thing is insane.
The answer poem to my less-than-immortal "Acquainted with the Blight."
I have been one acquainted with the white.
I have walked out in snow–and back in snow.
I have watched drifts climb to impressive height.
I have felt blizzard winds that rage and blow.
I have shuffled my muklukked, booted feet
And sniffled wanly, crying, “Woe, oh woe!”
I’ve slipped on ice and skidded down the street
And heard those dying voices with my fall*
Then gone inside to fix myself a treat.
“Snow is design of whiteness to appall,”**
My favorite poet would say, with keen insight.
(Just note his name; he’s called “Frost,” after all.)
I’ve heard friends call me wrong, and far, far Right.
I have been one acquainted with the white.
The last sound heard before the silence
Wrapped around my flesh in wisps,
Was the shriek of frozen ambulances
Carved in sharp, revolving red.
Then two holes in my skull sealed shut,
And on my tongue I heard the tang of brass.
At first a ringing whine rose high and faded far,
Then bells began, each dun and laced with smoke,
And merged with walls of wind on water raised,
Bloomed high in white, white only, drifts
Of falling snow that falling softly
Blurred beneath all shapes of sound and speech.
Music's memory remained, and moving lips
Became the only signs of sound that I could see
And all my mind stormed not with silence,
But with dark brushed deep on deeper dark
Within which all stars died, and dying threw
A single trace of song beyond all song.
It moaned and chittered, groaned and sighed.
It grinned at me, inscrutable and blank
As shells evicted by the sea are spurned
By waves and parch above the sand,
Polished first by dust, then honed by rain,
Into white basilicas of bone.
Made new, I loved large gestures.
Marked furrowed face and curl of lip.
Memorized the signing hands that stripped
My half-guessed comprehension bare,
And learned at last to wait upon a glance,
Upon small words scratched on slate.
As days to years enlarged their rule,
All records writ within my skull were smudged,
All songs and music drifted off to send
Pale emblems of their realms as tribute
To that stone that once had formed a throne,
Crowned now with unsensed pleasures shrugged.
All treasure spent, all gems decayed,
All metals melded into dust, all trace of walls
Where once the filigreed firebird sang,
And drums of heroes' skins were stunned,
Were now but shadows strewn as faint
As lines of light on planets seen from space.
And then, with time, all that ... erased,
And sands and seas swarmed over all,
And ruled at last alone a globe of frost,
Of ice, of snow, of sheaves of glass,
Until along that farthest strip of polished shore
One distant crystal glinted, gleamed, and chimed.
Lest we forget that those morons in the White House get to play with live ammunition. One can only pray that the Secret Service has received instructions as to who and in what order should things get too enthusiastic or desperate.
“Russia said it had successfully test-fired an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) on Tuesday,
with tensions running high over its military intervention in Ukraine’s Crimea region.” True it was a scheduled test. But in July last year the US canceled a similar ICBM test in order not to offend North Korea. America cared about the sensibilities of North Korea. Apparently Putin doesn’t give a hang about Barack Obama. Belmont Club Ivan Ilyin
Developing Nuclear Fusion in a Basement with a Reclusive Gunsmith
"We practice here what I call 'libertarian communism.' "
Doug Coulter used to build signal processing and radio gadgets for our favorite three-lettered intelligence agencies,
but for the past decade or so, Doug's chosen to explore his engineering interests in the isolated backwoods of Virginia, absent from any pesky boss or sticky bureaucracy.
After tiring of living with a meth head who had a trigger finger itchier than an Appalachian mosquito bite, Doug gave his ex-housemate the boot and confiscated his weapons, thus paving the way for his new found love for gunsmithing. Doug has since open sourced his gun and ammo making techniques on his well-trafficked engineering forum.
But Doug's most exciting creation is his guerilla-engineered nuclear fusion reactor. Doug's pursuit for a limitless source of clean and self-sufficient energy takes place in what he calls his "den of creative chaos," which is essentially a cluttered workshop in the entrance of his home, directly underneath his bedroom. Read more @ The DIY Engineer Who Built a Nuclear Reactor in His Basement | Motherboard
Untitled (100 Cigarettes) from Wyatt Burns
Although I do not hope to turn again
Although I do not hope
Although I do not hope to turn
Wavering between the profit and the loss
In this brief transit where the dreams cross
The dreamcrossed twilight between birth and dying
(Bless me father) though I do not wish to wish these things
From the wide window towards the granite shore
The white sails still fly seaward, seaward flying
And the lost heart stiffens and rejoices
In the lost lilac and the lost sea voices
And the weak spirit quickens to rebel
For the bent golden-rod and the lost sea smell
Quickens to recover
The cry of quail and the whirling plover
And the blind eye creates
The empty forms between the ivory gates
And smell renews the salt savour of the sandy earth
This is the time of tension between dying and birth
The place of solitude where three dreams cross
Between blue rocks
But when the voices shaken from the yew-tree drift away
Let the other yew be shaken and reply.
Blessèd sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit
of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated
And let my cry come unto Thee.
Acquainted with the Blight
I have been one acquainted with the blight.
I have walked out in rain -- and back in rain,
(And out in rain -- and back in rain,
And out in rain -- and back in rain,
And out in rain -- and .... you get the picture.)
I have been skinsoaked under every city light.
I have looked down every moss-choked city lane.
I have passed drowned dolphins flopping on my lawn,
And splashed them with galoshes unwilling to explain.
I have stood up to my kiester in the ceaseless plop of drops
When overhead a sloshing cloud's deluge
Drenched the houses with a mound of mist,
But not to call me back, but slather me with slops;
And further still at an unearthly height
One more damned raincloud against the sky
Proclaimed Seattle was neither dry nor Right.
I have been one acquainted with the blight.
[Apologies to Robert Lee Frost (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963) on the 50th Anniversary of his passing.]
Gorgeous Lotus C-01 bike is half retro, half Tron, full awesome The company's first foray into two-wheeled transportation is a work of art—the Lotus Motorcycle C-01.
Created by genius designer Daniel Simon and developed by Germany's Kodewa Performance Motorcycles, this 200 HP V-Twin incorporates carbon fiber, titanium, and aerospace quality steel into its frame. What's more, the bike can be extensively customized to match your taste and riding style. But buyers beware: Only 100 units of the C-01 will be produced.
"And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Pizzahutdias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."
Life is short but lunch is long ... plan ahead.: The Timeline of the far future.
I don't know about you but I'm not keen to stick around until May 3, 7138 AD for the second Mayan endtimes. I couldn't bear having to sit through the John Cusack sequel.Continued...
Rio and points elsewhere: Around the World - In Focus New Orleans needs to up its game.
What you'll see:
Tsukiji Fish Market
Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Tournament
Shinkansen Bullet Trains
Yudanaka Outdoor Onsen
Jigokudani Snow Monkeys
Traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony
Fushimi Inari Shrine/Gates
"Click flash blade in ghetto night,
Rudies looking for a fight.
Rat cat alley, roll them bones.
Need that cash to feed that jones.
And the politicians throwin' stones,
Singing ashes, ashes, all fall down.
Ashes, ashes, all fall down.
Commissars and pin-stripe bosses
Roll the dice.
Any way they fall,
Guess who gets to pay the price.
Money green or proletarian gray,
Selling guns 'stead of food today.
So the kids they dance
And shake their bones,
And the politicians throwin' stones,
Singing ashes, ashes, all fall down.
Ashes, ashes, all fall down."
Ukraine is game to you?
Not only have Russian troops invaded and occupied Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula, but with deteriorating security in Ukraine’s eastern provinces, there’s a risk that Russia might go farther.
At first, it wasn’t clear who exactly who the armed men were who appeared at airports in Sevastopol and Simferopol overnight on Feb. 28. But on March 1, the Russian senate unanimously approved a request from Pres. Vladimir Putin to use the military “on the territory of Ukraine pending the normalization of the social and political situation in that country.”
The operation was already underway. Russian forces had launched a coordinated takeover of key sites, including airports, government offices, television stations and the two land routes connecting Crimea to the rest of Ukraine.
Someone sabotaged Ukrtelecom, which provides phone and Internet service to the peninsula.Continued...
Peace, peace! he is not dead, he doth not sleep -
He hath awakened from the dream of life -
'Tis we, who lost in stormy visions, keep
With phantoms an unprofitable strife,
And in mad trance, strike with our spirit's knife
Invulnerable nothings. -We decay
Like corpses in a charnel; fear and grief
Convulse us and consume us day by day,
And cold hopes swarm like worms within our living clay.
Adonais by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Large version after the jump:Continued...