“Peculiar spiral galaxy Arp 78 is found within the boundaries of the head strong constellation Aries, some 100 million light-years beyond the stars and nebulae of our Milky Way galaxy. Also known as NGC 772, the island universe is over 100 thousand light-years across and sports a single prominent outer spiral arm in this detailed cosmic portrait.
Click image for larger size.
Its brightest companion galaxy, compact NGC 770, is toward the upper right of the larger spiral. NGC 770's fuzzy, elliptical appearance contrasts nicely with a spiky foreground Milky Way star in matching yellowish hues. Tracking along sweeping dust lanes and lined with young blue star clusters, Arp 78's large spiral arm is likely due to gravitational tidal interactions. Faint streams of material seem to connect Arp 78 with its nearby companion galaxies.”
"Near the end of Mary McCarthy's "The Company She Keeps," the protagonist - Meg Sargent, a stand-in for Mary - and her therapist steer away from talking at length about her childhood, "for it suggested...that the universe is mechanical, utterly predictable, frozen, and this in its own way is quite as terrible as the notion that the universe is chaotic." And there you have it, really, the balancing act each of us must maintain if we are to stay sane - call it, if I may use a physical metaphor, the liquid state, somewhere between the immobility of the solid (frozen) state and the stochastic chaos of the gaseous state. Recall the line of the physicist James Clerk Maxwell I quoted here recently: "It is a universal condition of the enjoyable that the mind must believe in the existence of a law, and yet have a mystery to move about in."
If the human mind is most comfortable with a balance of order and chaos - law and freedom, stability and adventure - it is undoubtedly because the universe itself is poised somewhere between the utterly predictable and the utterly unpredictable. Our brains evolved to cope with the world as it is; it can be no surprise that we are frightened of extremes of rigidity and randomness.
In politics, our preferred system lies between the poles of totalitarianism and anarchism. In religion, we gravitate to something between infallible dogma and "anything goes." Literature? Which of the following strings of letters do you find most interesting?
2) One fish two fish red fish blue fish. Black fish blue fish old fish new fish.
3) How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon the bank! Here will we sit and let the sounds of music creep in our ears.
4) Rot a peck of pa's malt had Jhem or Shen brewed by arclight and rory end to the regginbrow was to be seen ringsome on the aquaface.
5) Vfg w eklpsi muc dvpk dbjhq a v sm i yu ncq bfox w wgbm ifiai lvdymssa lsa s s aiuro y astwaeqyw rtwvme gv k ljr jxbkdq.
No. 1 is pure repetition, presumably boring. No. 5 is chaos; I programmed my computer to generate random letters and spaces. Young children may prefer No. 2, a passage from Dr. Seuss with lots of rhythm and simple pattern. A few adults profess to enjoy No. 4, from James Joyce's Finnegans Wake, full of complex, deeply buried patterns. My guess is that most of you picked No. 3, a snippet of Shakespeare.
And so we make our way, with the instrument nature has given us sitting at the top of our spine, terrified of determinism, frightened by chance. We want desperately to believe we are free, but seek out islands of repose. We are mirrors of the universe that spawned us.”
"Get up from your bed, go out from your house, follow the path you know so well, so well that you now see nothing and hear nothing unless something can cry loudly to you, and for you it seems even then no cry is louder than yours, and in your own darkness cries have gone unheard as long as you can remember.
These are hard paths we tread. but they are green and lined with leaf mould, and we must love their contours as we love the body branching with its veins and tunnels of dark earth.
I know that sometimes your body is hard like a stone on a path that storms break over, embedded deeply
into that something that you think is you, and you will not move while the voice all around tears the air and fills the sky with jagged light.
But sometimes unawares those sounds seem to descend, as if kneeling down into you, and you listen, strangely caught, as the terrible voice moving closer halts, and in the silence now arriving whispers...
Get up, I depend on you utterly. Everything you need you had the moment before you were born."
“I have been studying the traits and dispositions of the lower animals (so-called), and contrasting them with the traits and dispositions of man. I find the result humiliating to me. For it obliges me to renounce my allegiance to the Darwinian theory of the Ascent of Man from the Lower Animals; since it now seems plain to me that the theory ought to be vacated in favor of a new and truer one, this new and truer one to be named the Descent of Man from the Higher Animals.
In proceeding toward this unpleasant conclusion I have not guessed or speculated or conjectured, but have used what is commonly called the scientific method. That is to say, I have subjected every postulate that presented itself to the crucial test of actual experiment, and have adopted it or rejected it according to the result. Thus I verified and established each step of my course in its turn before advancing to the next. These experiments were made in the London Zoological Gardens, and covered many months of painstaking and fatiguing work.
Some of my experiments were quite curious. In the course of my reading I had come across a case where, many years ago, some hunters on our Great Plains organized a buffalo hunt for the entertainment of an English earl. They had charming sport. They killed seventy-two of those great animals; and ate part of one of them and left the seventy-one to rot. In order to determine the difference between an anaconda and an earl (if any) I caused seven young calves to be turned into the anaconda’s cage. The grateful reptile immediately crushed one of them and swallowed it, then lay back satisfied. It showed no further interest in the calves, and no disposition to harm them. I tried this experiment with other anacondas; always with the same result. The fact stood proven that the difference between an earl and an anaconda is that the earl is cruel and the anaconda isn’t; and that the earl wantonly destroys what he has no use for, but the anaconda doesn’t. This seemed to suggest that the anaconda was not descended from the earl. It also seemed to suggest that the earl was descended from the anaconda, and had lost a good deal in the transition.
I was aware that many men who have accumulated more millions of money than they can ever use have shown a rabid hunger for more, and have not scrupled to cheat the ignorant and the helpless out of their poor servings in order to partially appease that appetite. I furnished a hundred different kinds of wild and tame animals the opportunity to accumulate vast stores of food, but none of them would do it. The squirrels and bees and certain birds made accumulations, but stopped when they had gathered a winter’s supply, and could not be persuaded to add to it either honestly or by chicane. In order to bolster up a tottering reputation the ant pretended to store up supplies, but I was not deceived. I know the ant. These experiments convinced me that there is this difference between man and the higher animals: he is avaricious and miserly; they are not. In the course of my experiments I convinced myself that among the animals man is the only one that harbors insults and injuries, broods over them, waits till a chance offers, then takes revenge. The passion of revenge is unknown to the higher animals.
Roosters keep harems, but it is by consent of their concubines; therefore no wrong is done. Men keep harems but it is by brute force, privileged by atrocious laws which the other sex were allowed no hand in making. In this matter man occupies a far lower place than the rooster. Cats are loose in their morals, but not consciously so. Man, in his descent from the cat, has brought the cats looseness with him but has left the unconsciousness behind (the saving grace which excuses the cat). The cat is innocent, man is not.
Indecency, vulgarity, obscenity (these are strictly confined to man); he invented them. Among the higher animals there is no trace of them. They hide nothing; they are not ashamed. Man, with his soiled mind, covers himself. He will not even enter a drawing room with his breast and back naked, so alive are he and his mates to indecent suggestion. Man is The Animal that Laughs. But so does the monkey, as Mr. Darwin pointed out; and so does the Australian bird that is called the laughing jackass. No! Man is the Animal that Blushes. He is the only one that does it or has occasion to.
Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel. He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it. It is a trait that is not known to the higher animals. The cat plays with the frightened mouse; but she has this excuse, that she does not know that the mouse is suffering. The cat is moderate (unhumanly moderate: she only scares the mouse, she does not hurt it; she doesn’t dig out its eyes, or tear off its skin, or drive splinters under its nails) man-fashion; when she is done playing with it she makes a sudden meal of it and puts it out of its trouble. Man is the Cruel Animal. He is alone in that distinction.
The higher animals engage in individual fights, but never in organized masses. Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities, War. He is the only one that gathers his brethren about him and goes forth in cold blood and with calm pulse to exterminate his kind. He is the only animal that for sordid wages will march out, as the Hessians did in our Revolution, and as the boyish Prince Napoleon did in the Zulu war, and help to slaughter strangers of his own species who have done him no harm and with whom he has no quarrel.
Man is the only animal that robs his helpless fellow of his country, takes possession of it and drives him out of it or destroys him. Man has done this in all the ages. There is not an acre of ground on the globe that is in possession of its rightful owner, or that has not been taken away from owner after owner, cycle after cycle, by force and bloodshed.
Man is the only Slave. And he is the only animal who enslaves. He has always been a slave in one form or another, and has always held other slaves in bondage under him in one way or another. In our day he is always some man’s slave for wages and does that man’s work; and this slave has other slaves under him for minor wages, and they do his work. The higher animals are the only ones who exclusively do their own work and provide their own living.
Man is the only Patriot. He sets himself apart in his own country, under his own flag, and sneers at the other nations, and keeps multitudinous uniformed assassins on hand at heavy expense to grab slices of other people’s countries, and keep them from grabbing slices of his. And in the intervals between campaigns, he washes the blood off his hands and works for the universal brotherhood of man, with his mouth.
Man is the Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion, several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself, and cuts his throat if his theology isn’t straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother’s path to happiness and heaven. He was at it in the time of the Caesars, he was at it in Mahomet’s time, he was at it in the time of the Inquisition, he was at it in France a couple of centuries, he was at it in England in Mary’s day, he has been at it ever since he first saw the light, he is at it today in Crete (as per the telegrams quoted above) he will be at it somewhere else tomorrow. The higher animals have no religion. And we are told that they are going to be left out, in the Hereafter. I wonder why? It seems questionable taste.
Man is the Reasoning Animal. Such is the claim. I think it is open to dispute. Indeed, my experiments have proven to me that he is the Unreasoning Animal. Note his history, as sketched above. It seems plain to me that whatever he is he is not a reasoning animal. His record is the fantastic record of a maniac. I consider that the strongest count against his intelligence is the fact that with that record back of him he blandly sets himself up as the head animal of the lot: whereas by his own standards he is the bottom one. In truth, man is incurably foolish.
One is obliged to concede that in true loftiness of character, Man cannot claim to approach even the meanest of the Higher Animals. It is plain that he is constitutionally incapable of approaching that altitude; that he is constitutionally afflicted with a Defect which must make such approach forever impossible, for it is manifest that this defect is permanent in him, indestructible, ineradicable. I find this Defect to be the Moral Sense. He is the only animal that has it. It is the secret of his degradation. It is the quality which enables him to do wrong. It has no other office. It is incapable of performing any other function. It could never have been intended to perform any other. Without it, man could do no wrong. He would rise at once to the level of the Higher Animals.
Since the Moral Sense has but the one office, the one capacity (to enable man to do wrong) it is plainly without value to him. It is as valueless to him as is disease. In fact, it manifestly is a disease. Rabies is bad, but it is not so bad as this disease. Rabies enables a man to do a thing, which he could not do when in a healthy state: kill his neighbor with a poisonous bite) one is the better man for having rabies: The Moral Sense enables a man to do wrong. It enables him to do wrong in a thousand ways. Rabies is an innocent disease, compared to the Moral Sense. No one, then, can be the better man for having the Moral Sense. What now, do we find the Primal Curse to have been? Plainly what it was in the beginning: the infliction upon man of the Moral Sense; the ability to distinguish good from evil; and with it, necessarily, the ability to do evil; for there can be no evil act without the presence of consciousness of it in the doer of it.
And so I find that we have descended and degenerated, from some far ancestor (some microscopic atom wandering at its pleasure between the mighty horizons of a drop of water perchance) insect by insect, animal by animal, reptile by reptile, down the long highway of smirch-less innocence, till we have reached the bottom stage of development (namable as the Human Being). Below us, nothing.”
"Grief is part of the human experience, and sharing our vulnerability helps create truly close bonds. When we experience something that causes us to feel shock and sadness, we may feel the urge to withdraw from life. It may seem like remaining withdrawn will keep us protected from the world, but during these times it is important to reach out to those trusted and precious people who care about us the most. Even with our best information and reasoning, we never know when someone else’s experience or perspective can give us additional information that we need. The universe speaks to us through many channels, and when we open ourselves up to receive its messages, we also receive nurturing care from a loving partner in life’s journey.
Grief is part of the human experience, and sharing our vulnerability is what creates truly close bonds in our relationships. Opening ourselves up in this way gets to the core of our being, past all of our defenses and prejudices. When life seems to crack the outer shell of our world, we are both raw and fresh at the same time. It is then that we discover who is truly willing to walk with us through life. We also see that some of those sent to us may not be the ones we expected to see. Regardless, we learn to trust in the universe, in others, in our own strength and resilience, and in the wisdom of life itself.
Sharing grief allows us to ease our burden by letting someone else help carry it. This helps us process our own inner thoughts and feelings through the filter of a trusted and beloved someone. We may feel guilty or selfish, as if we are unloading on someone who has their own challenges. Although, if we think about it, we know we would do the same for them, and their protests would seem pointless. Remember that not sharing feelings with others denies them the opportunity to feel. We may be the messenger sent by the universe for their benefit, and it is on this mission that we have been sent. By sharing our hopes and fears, joys and pains with another person, we accept the universe’s gifts of wisdom and loving care."
“The opposite of loneliness, it’s not togetherness. It is intimacy.” - Richard Bach, "The Bridge Across Forever"
"When I read that line about intimacy in the book, it stood out for me. I’ve seen many couples who, despite being together all their lives, lack intimacy. I’ve heard about husbands and wives who barely speak to each other except to exchange tactical how-to’s throughout the day. Loneliness prevails in many households, and it’s not for lack of physical proximity between bodies. It’s for lack of intimate connections between hearts and minds. The dictionary offers the following definitions for the word: "a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group; a close association with or detailed knowledge or deep understanding of."
Intimacy- really knowing, understanding and honoring another person- is what dispels loneliness. That beautiful bond with another human being that allows you to be free and completely yourself, knowing that no matter what you say or share, the other person will love you. I’ve learned in my short life that intimacy doesn’t come from sharing the same physical space with someone. Far from it. It comes from sharing mental, spiritual and emotional space. When you have it, it wraps itself around and takes hold of you like nothing else can. Like returning to a mother’s womb, intimacy gives us that safe, nurturing and purely loving space in which to thrive. And, from my experience, it’s the cornerstone of every good and joyful relationship."
"For nothing is fixed, forever and forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have. The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out."
“A man who has blown all his options can't afford the luxury of changing his ways. He has to capitalize on whatever he has left, and he can't afford to admit— no matter how often he's reminded of it— that every day of his life takes him farther and farther down a blind alley. Very few toads in this world are Prince Charmings in disguise. Most are simply toads, and they are going to stay that way. Toads don't make laws or change any basic structures, but one or two rooty insights can work powerful changes in the way they get through life. A toad who believes he got a raw deal before he even knew who was dealing will usually be sympathetic to the mean, vindictive ignorance that colors the Hell's Angels' view of humanity. There is not much mental distance between a feeling of having been screwed and the ethic of total retaliation, or at least the random revenge that comes with outraging the public decency.”
"Despite the never ending assurances of the Federal Reserve that happy days are almost here again- the same tune the Fed has sung for nearly seven long years- there is mounting evidence that the U.S. is headed for another economic crash. It will be more terrible than the last.
The Washington Post headlined, "U.S. economic growth slows to 0.2 percent, grinding nearly to a halt." Fox News reported the real story of unemployment: the official, good news government figure of 5.4 percent is a fiction, achieved by not counting the millions who have given up looking for work, and those who can find only part-time work. Fox was playing catch-up. That story has been out there for years, but ignored by the corporate media and clueless politicians.
Tyler Durden reports in his blog, Zero Hedge, that year-on-year sales at the big retailers have taken a precipitous drop. Most Americans have no disposable income to dispose of, after they pay the food bill, mortgage, rent and utilities.
Wholesale trade has fallen like a stone, dropping more than $100 billion over four months. Wholesalers provide the goods that retailers sell. If retail demand is off, wholesale trade is off. The last time it dropped like that was in 2008-2009. Post crash. Then it took seven months to go from the high to the low; now, only four.
New manufacturing orders indicate the future. Not good. In only one of the last seven months has there been growth in new orders. Things were not that bad during the 18-month-long credit crunch of late 2008 through 2009.
Poverty in the U.S. is off the charts. The number of children living in poverty is nothing less than shocking.
For almost seven years, seniors have seen their savings and pensions eaten alive.
Public and private debt are at record levels.
Durden reports that the median net worth of the American people is down 40 percent from where it was before the last collapse.
Tens of millions of Americans who are far worse off today than they were seven years ago will be brought to their knees in the next crash, while the wealthy will rest easy on an even greater cushion of wealth.
The people who know are running scared. Former Fed Chairman Ben Bernake- now cashing in as an adviser to a couple of hedge funds- has sounded the alarm which he failed so spectacularly to sound before the last crash. Apparently, Fed chairs may speak the truth only after they have done their bit for Wall Street and the 1 percent.
The root cause of this terrible distress is the failure of Congress to do what everyone in Washington promised to do, talks endlessly about doing, but never gets around to actually doing: creating good paying jobs in the obvious place- infrastructure. The need was obvious in 2008. It was obvious in 2012. It is obvious today. Jobs at a good wage are everything and infrastructure is the obvious place to start.
This is what the suddenly alert Bernake now urges: ""a well-structured program of public infrastructure development, which would support growth in the near term by creating jobs and in the longer term by making our economy more productive." But it is not going to happen. The Fed, which pumped upwards of $20 trillion into Wall Street after the last crash, has steadfastly refused to make even a fraction of that available to state and municipal governments- a move that could have stopped the "Great Recession" in its tracks seven long years ago. And the GOP Congress will do nothing that might make President Obama and the Democrats look good before the next elections- like improve the lives of more than 300 million Americans by putting the nation back to work..
The American people are trapped between a Fed that works for Wall Street and a GOP Congress that can't decide who it works for: Wall Street, the American people or itself."
Edward Snowden noted today in a Q&A on Reddit: "Some might say “I don’t care if they violate my privacy; I’ve got nothing to hide.” Help them understand that they are misunderstanding the fundamental nature of human rights. Nobody needs to justify why they “need” a right: the burden of justification falls on the one seeking to infringe upon the right. But even if they did, you can’t give away the rights of others because they’re not useful to you. More simply, the majority cannot vote away the natural rights of the minority. But even if they could, help them think for a moment about what they’re saying. Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say."
"The bankers have done it again. They committed an enormous global crime and only paid a fine. JP Morgan, Barclays, Citigroup, Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS will pay $5.8 billion in penalties for rigging the $5.3 trillion a day currency market. Once again, nobody will go to jail, even though all these big banks plead guilty to criminal charges for rigging the Forex market. UBS received immunity from criminal prosecution because it blew the whistle on the crime. I did not know a bank can be a criminal and the humans running it be exempt from charges. This means the masterminds will pay nothing, and the fines will be paid by shareholders. Why should you care? This is a sign that the system is extremely weak and is being propped up by pure fraud and manipulation. My friend Gregory Mannarino says that the $5.8 billion fine is nothing and is the cost of doing business. Mannarino told me this is just a show to make people think the system is safe and regulated and points out, “There is a need to keep confidence in the financial system.” Mannarino says if the fine was nearly $6 billion, how do you know the bankers didn’t make $600 billion in this fraud.” Again, nobody at the banks goes to jail and shareholders pay the fines.
Guess what? UBS is a whistleblower in a new case coming up, and this time, it involves some of the same big banks and price rigging in the precious metals market. That’s right, gold and silver prices are being rigged, and the Justice Department is probably going to fine some more bankers. Might I remind you that several big banks paid fines after admitting to rigging the LIBOR interest rate markets. Hundreds of trillions of dollars in interest rates are set off LIBOR. Let’s see, interest rates have been rigged, currency markets have been rigged and precious metals markets are being rigged. Are you getting the picture of how dire it must be that all markets are rigged in some way? This past week, Rob Kirby said, “The markets are a crime scene.” This is not an exaggeration. There is proof in terms of fines, penalties and widely reported cases that all markets are rigged in some way, and governments will not jail any of these bankers! Not a single big name banker has gone to jail for massive global fraud. What could go wrong?
In the latest “there is no recovery” news, look no further than the Federal Reserve. In last month’s Fed meeting, policymakers said they would not raise interest rates in June. According to USA Today, it is because of “the economy’s recent sluggish performance.” There is NO RECOVERY and the Fed knows it.
It looks like a crisis has been averted off the coast of Yemen. Iran has agreed to UN inspections of a cargo ship carrying humanitarian aid to Yemen. Iraq is not that lucky. Ramadi has fallen to ISIS. So has the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria. With these defeats, ISIS get new equipment and tanks as they are abandoned by retreating Iraq forces. The US policy in Iraq is turning into a disaster, and, yet, the Presidents top priority is “climate change,” also known as “global warming.” That is the top “security threat.”
We also found out this week that there is major cooperation between Iran and al-Qaeda. Of course, ISIS is an even more radical offshoot of al-Qaeda. You would never know that if you only listened to the mainstream media such as USA Today. Their front page headline about new information gathered in the Bin Laden raid talks of “Love letters.” The headline should read “Bin Laden Intel Shows Iran and al-Qaeda Working Together for Years.”
Finally, China is, once again, telling the US to back off in the South China Sea. This time because of a U.S. spy plane taking pictures of the islands they are building in the middle of nowhere. It has always been international waters, but now China is claiming a large chunk of it."
"Join Greg Hunter as he talks about these stories and more in the Weekly News Wrap-Up.”
"What are these humans doing? Dancing. Many humans on Earth exhibit periods of happiness, and one method of displaying happiness is dancing. Happiness and dancing transcend political boundaries and occur in practically every human society. Above, Matt Harding traveled through many nations on Earth, started dancing, and filmed the result. The video is perhaps a dramatic example that humans from all over planet Earth feel a common bond as part of a single species. Happiness is frequently contagious - few people are able to watch the above video without smiling."
“Would the Rosette Nebula by any other name look as sweet? The bland New General Catalog designation of NGC 2237 doesn't appear to diminish the appearance of this flowery emission nebula. Inside the nebula lies an open cluster of bright young stars designated NGC 2244. These stars formed about four million years ago from the nebular material and their stellar winds are clearing a hole in the nebula's center, insulated by a layer of dust and hot gas.
Click image for larger size.
Ultraviolet light from the hot cluster stars causes the surrounding nebula to glow. The Rosette Nebula spans about 100 light-years across, lies about 5000 light-years away, and can be seen with a small telescope towards the constellation of the Unicorn (Monoceros).”
"A man, his horse and his dog were traveling down a road. When they were passing by a gigantic tree, a bolt of lightning struck and they all fell dead on the spot. But the man did not realize that he had already left this world, so he went on walking with his two animals; sometimes the dead take time to understand their new condition…
The journey was very long, uphill, the sun was strong and they were covered in sweat and very thirsty. They were desperately in need of water. At a bend in the road they spotted a magnificent gateway, all in marble, which led to a square paved with blocks of gold and with a fountain in the center that spouted forth crystalline water. The traveler went up to the man guarding the gate. “Good morning. What is this beautiful place?” “This is heaven.” “How good to have reached heaven, we’re ever so thirsty.” “You can come in and drink all you want.” “My horse and my dog are thirsty too.” “So sorry, but animals aren’t allowed in here.”
The man was very disappointed because his thirst was great, but he could not drink alone; he thanked the man and went on his way. After traveling a lot, they arrived exhausted at a farm whose entrance was marked with an old doorway that opened onto a tree-lined dirt road. A man was lying down in the shadow of one of the trees, his head covered with a hat, perhaps asleep. “Good morning,” said the traveler. “We are very thirsty – me, my horse and my dog.” “There is a spring over in those stones,” said the man, pointing to the spot. “Drink as much as you like.” The man, the horse and the dog went to the spring and quenched their thirst. Then the traveler went back to thank the man.
“By the way, what’s this place called?” “Heaven.” “Heaven? But the guard at the marble gate back there said that was heaven!” “That’s not heaven, that’s hell.” The traveler was puzzled. “You’ve got to stop this! All this false information must cause enormous confusion!” The man smiled: “Not at all. As a matter of fact they do us a great favor. Because over there stay all those who are even capable of abandoning their best friends…”
“A Universe Stranger Than We Can’t Imagine” By Mark Thompson
"Ever looked up at the night sky and wondered: What is up there? Like your ancestors before you, you would be mistaken if you thought that it's just the Earth down here and the stars up there. Instead, the night sky encompasses everything that is, or ever was, in the Universe. You see, the really wacky thing about looking up at the sky is that you are not just looking into the depths of space, but also into the depths of time.
Let me explain. Light travels at about 300,000 kilometers per second (186,000 miles per second) - that's pretty fast. In our day-to-day lives, this doesn't pose a problem; the light entering my eyes from the display in the coffee shop window takes an immeasurably small period of time to get to me. Basically, I see the display as it is right now.
However, the distances in space are so vast that it takes more time for light to reach us. We see the moon as it was 1.3 seconds ago; the sun as it was 8.3 minutes ago; the nearest star 4.2 years ago; the most distant galaxy as it was about 13.3 billion years ago. The most distant object you can see with your naked eye is the Andromeda Galaxy and even that is about 2.3 million light-years away, which means you see it as it was 2.3 million years ago. Just by looking up, you can see back in time. Crazy.
So all those tiny points of light represent different points in time and that's how astronomers can build a picture of how the Universe has evolved. But the tiny points of light you see aren't all just stars, certainly the vast majority is, but turn a telescope to the sky and you will find an entire cosmic zoo of objects just waiting to be explored.
Starting closer to home, our local star, the sun, is about 150 million kilometers (93 million miles) away and the energy generated in its core from the fusion of hydrogen into helium makes life on Earth possible. Moving away from the sun are four tiny rocky planets, Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. Interestingly, Mercury isn't the hottest planet even though it's closest to the sun; it's Venus that has the highest temperature. Due to its dense atmosphere, heat that reaches Venus from the sun can't escape into space. Surface temperatures can reach around 500 degrees Celsius - hot enough to melt lead!
Moving on through the asteroid belt we enter the realms of the gas giant planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, all of which dwarf the Earth. Jupiter itself, the largest of the planets could consume about 1300 Earths and still have a little room for dessert! For the main part, that's it for the solar system - including a whole host of satellites orbiting the main planets and countless minor planets (including Pluto) and comets.
The nearest star to our own is Proxima Centuari and it lies just over 4 light-years away. Depending on the method of transport, if we were to use today's technique of gravitational slingshots around other planets, the quickest transit time would be 19,000 years!
If we continue on through the stars, we would be able to see newly-formed clusters of stars and ghostly glowing clouds of gas and dust where stars are either forming or have recently died. Eventually though, after many millions of years, we would pop out of our own galaxy and start a very long haul through the vast empty space between galaxies. Looking back at the Milky Way we would see something that resembled a big spiral of glittering stars. Spiral galaxies like these are quite common in the Universe and look somewhat like two fried eggs stuck back to back; with the yoke representing the bulge at the center of the galaxy and the egg whites, its spiral arms. Surrounding the Milky Way are thousands of spherical globular star clusters containing some of the oldest stars in the Universe.
Moving further away, we find the Milky Way isn't alone; it's accompanied by two satellite galaxies called the Magellanic Clouds. Further still, and we are accompanied by millions upon millions of other galaxies in the Universe. Some spiral galaxies like our own, others elliptical in shape more like rugby balls and others just loose clumps of stars with no real defined shape. In-between the galaxies is chiefly just empty space, with some wisps of intergalactic gas and maybe the odd star hurtling into the inky blackness having been gravitationally expelled from a nearby galaxy.
It's easy to forget when you look up at the sky that there is so much going on above your head. After all, you can just see stars, right? Wrong. As you have just seen, looking up at the sky reveals planets, comets, star clusters, gas clouds and entire galaxies of stars.
I've only scratched the surface of the stuff that's out there, but it reminds me of a quote from Isaac Asimov who once said: "The Universe isn't stranger than we can imagine, it's stranger than we can't imagine." I've not touched on any of the more exotic objects we have discovered but it's exciting and even tantalizing to wonder what else is lurking out there, just waiting to be discovered."
"I have mentioned here before the ospreys that patrol our beach - or "fish hawks," as they call them here - generally in the afternoon at about the time I take my long walk to the palm point. Magnificent birds with broad wings that glide seemingly effortlessly on the wind. And here's the thing: As often as not I am startled by a bird's shadow before I see the bird itself. That wide-winged shadow, sweeping across the white sand, sometimes across me. That flicker of chill as the osprey blocks the sun. And generally when it happens I think of Plato's allegory of the cave. Prisoners in a cave are constrained to look only at a blank wall. Somewhere behind them there is a fire, and people come and go in front of the fire, casting shadows on the wall. The shadows are the only reality the prisoners know. They have no idea of the flesh-and-blood people behind them or the blazing fire. The prisoners know only what presents itself to their senses.
Forget for the moment Plato's point, which has to do with the duty of the philosopher to enlighten the benighted. There is a humbling moral to the story for all of us: We can only know what our senses - directly or indirectly - can perceive.
Who, a century ago, could have imagined the universe of the galaxies, or the marvelous dance of the DNA in every cell of our bodies? By cleverly extending our senses - limited as they are - with technological enhancements a whole new universe has opened up to us. Who can imagine what we might know a century from now? Plato's "real" world is like a shadow compared to the universe we inhabit today. Our own universe may be a shadow of a reality vastly more wonderful than anything we have so far dreamed.
Never mind. We live in the world we have. Even the osprey's shadow is magnificent in its own way. I am privileged to lift my eyes and see the feathered bird. And I have an intuition that there is more - much more - yet to see.”
"Social psychologist Erich Fromm’s seminal exploration of the profound ills of modern society, and how best to overcome them. One of Fromm’s main interests was to analyze social systems and their impact on the mental health of the individual. In this study, he reaches further and asks: “Can a society be sick?” He finds that it can, arguing that Western culture is immersed in a “pathology of normalcy” that affects the mental health of individuals."
"What is normal? Normal is yesterday, last week and last month and last year, blended together to create a puree of what we assume is the world and the way it works. Even if last week, or last month, are changed, the brain is easily persuaded; to forget, that last year, last decade, is truly normal. Normal isn't a single, cohesive thought, it's a conglomeration of experiences and suspicions, and someone found out how to trim the parts of it that were still getting settled. What an -absolute- bastard.
The trouble is, that bastard isn't really one person, or even a group. It's the hive mind, the mob mentality, the prevailing psyche. Normal is normal because they (whoever -they- are) have taken the trimmings that make up these recent changes, and simply discarded them. In their place, they've thrown more of the same. Change is a terrible, uncontrollable and frightening thing, so obviously, we want as little to do with it as possible. All we've managed to do is walk up to the serving counter of life and said 'the usual, thanks', ignoring the smorgasbord of options available to us.
Without change, there is stagnation. The inertia of the normal becomes so great that not even the radical can shift it, weighed down by the shackles of tradition. And with stagnation, there is resentment. With all the comfort and happiness, our small, mammalian brain starts to squeak and splutter. We need to move, to go, to change! It's not safe anymore! The instincts that kept us from being pinned down and hunted by things with bigger teeth than us try, desperately, to engage us. But they're centuries out of their depth, and all that comes of their effort is an uneasy sense of blame.
There's only one place for this blame to go; the unusual, the abnormal. It's the obvious outlet; the only outlier, the only odd one. It -must- be the problem. Those changes, those defiances of that which we hold dear, is causing that discontent. So we shun and we burn and we rage, and we exclude the new and the vibrant that could have one day been our salvation. Instead, we hammer our brains loose in the acceptable manner, and prepare those who come after us to follow in our steps, like perfect copperplate imprints.
More of the same. More of the same? More of the same.
"While we are in a dark night of the soul experience, hold steady knowing the light will appear once again. Whenever a word is overused, it is most likely being misused, and over time, it begins to lose its meaningfulness. For example, we often refer to a fleeting feeling of depression or a period of confusion, as a dark night of the soul, but neither of these things qualifies as such. A dark night of the soul is a very specific experience that some people encounter on their spiritual journeys. There are people who never encounter a dark night of the soul, but others must endure this as part of the process of breaking through to the dawn of higher consciousness.
The dark night of the soul invites us to fully recognize the confines of our egos’ identity. We may feel as if we are trapped in a prison that affords us no access to light or the outside. We are coming from a place of higher knowing, and we may have spent a lot of time and energy reaching toward the light of higher consciousness. This is why the dark night has such a quality of despair: We are suddenly shut off from what we thought we had realized and the emotional pain is very real. We may even begin to feel that it was all an illusion and that we are lost forever in this darkness. The more we struggle, the darker things get, until finally we surrender to our not knowing what to do, how to think, where to turn. It is from this place of losing our sense of ourselves as in control that the ego begins to crack or soften and the possibility of light entering becomes real.
Some of us will have to endure this process only once in our lives, while others may have to go through it many times. The great revelation of the dark night is the releasing of our old, false identity. We finally give up believing in this false self and thus become capable of owning and embracing the light."
"It is one thing if you can’t ask a kindergarten teacher about world affairs or politics. In America, you can’t ask members of congress, military leaders or even our president. You certainly can’t ask the majority of members of what we still call “the press.” All you get is silliness, stories that they don’t even know where they come from. With few exceptions American leaders are nuts.
It isn’t as though we didn’t always have plots and secrets. There were always questions, “Who blew up the USS Maine?” and “Did Roosevelt know about the attack on Pearl Harbor?” You can’t attend a history class over 400 level at a good university or turn on the History Channel without being bombarded with revelations about how historical reality differs from the version the public is told. Generally the reason is that the truth isn’t “patriotic enough.” We used to laugh when we heard Russia claim they invented the light bulb and telephone.
In America, you can pick any period and decide that’s the one, where we became like Russia, that the press quit digging for the truth and started playing “lapdog” to a government that, itself played “lapdog.”
An easy way to know something is wrong is the “bail outs.” We are told some sort of businesses that called themselves “banks” began making billions of dollars of their own money and lending it out. Suddenly the country was filled with billionaires, all this new money when nothing important was invented, a new pocket phone that takes really good pictures, a sandwich maker that drains fat off a frozen chicken breast. Suddenly, we are flooded with Rolex watches, Ferraris and Swiss and Cayman banks are overflowing.
Money that doesn’t exist is invested by “hedge funds” that lose it all and people who should go to jail instead, with one or two exceptions, get trillions of dollars from our government, bankrupting America, because their bizarre criminal scheme is so huge, so pervasive, that admitting it and jailing those responsible would be too upsetting. Journalists lie about a lot of things, lie like dogs, but most write exactly what I wrote. Check on it. You can read this in the Wall Street Journal, in the New York Times, anywhere. It didn’t matter, nobody did anything about it. If you haven’t read “Ponzi scheme” a hundred times, heard about “banksters” or told of how much was stolen, this time the press tried to tell the story, just nobody was listening.
Why? The answer is “politics.” The criminals were paid off, not jailed, because they have the real people who run America, the staffers who tell the dullards we elect what to do, remind them who is buying the elections, on speed dial. In fact, most laws, most regulations, even the purchase requirements for everything from the Air Force’s jet tanker fleet to toilet paper are in documents given to “staffers” but written by, well, we don’t know. Sometimes “front” groups like “public relations agencies” or “think tanks” write these things. Sometimes it is “associations” like the US Chamber of Commerce or the National Association of Manufacturers. Almost all the time, suppliers write the “requirements” for what the government needs.
In fact, these groups actually control our budget, deciding what roads are built, even if they go nowhere at all, what weapons are bought, even if they don’t work or aren’t needed. They even help us decide to start wars. This is no secret either, it has been in print so many times, said by so many famous people that it is engrained in most people around the world but those who do it are still around, doing it every day and nobody says a word.
We call this “the gravy train” or the “pig trough.” No one wants to leave the “gravy train” and no pig, and those who run America can’t be called anything else, wants to leave a trough.
Think about this process when you see Marines walking through a poppy field in Afghanistan and are told the Taliban is flying heroin around the world. The real Taliban doesn’t own a single pickup truck in decent condition, not one with both working steering and brakes anyway. They fly what? They bank tens of billions? The Taliban outlawed banks, thought them “the work of the devil.” Where do I join?
Lets take a boring moment to talk about foreign affairs. The term itself is a “con.” Back during the Cold War, we were told every day that the “Russians” were going to blow us all up and that we had to surround them with bases, hundreds of them all over the world, everywhere in fact. Big companies built the bases and got rich. Hangers were built, filled with planes, hundreds of bases, thousands of planes, the Mediterranean was so full of American warships at one time that it wasn’t safe to take a fishing boat out anymore.
Around the world, the ports, Singapore, Manila, Okinawa, Yokohama, Athens, Naples, 50 more, turned into entertainment centers for our traveling military. In the areas served by the Pacific Fleet alone, one million prostitutes were “stationed” to “service the troops.” Some “red light districts” were several square miles, Bangkok, Okinawa, Manila (Subic Bay/Clark Field). This is as close as we ever got to seeing “trickle down” economics actually work, the Reagan economic principle that started America’s decline into catastrophic debt.
Before this, America, even with the Cold War, even with over 500,000 troops in Europe and more in Vietnam did ok. You see, America made things, cars, television sets, telephones, blue jeans, furniture. Americans also paid taxes, not just factory workers and farmers but corporations paid taxes, rich people paid a lot of taxes but they also made money by the ton, more than they would ever be able to spend in a hundred lifetimes. Mexicans came to America to pick fruit and vegetables every year. Then they went home. Americans could use soldering irons, sewing machines, Americans could read blue prints, in fact Americans could do anything and do it better than anyone in the world.
This was called “productivity” and it made for profits, it paid the government’s bills, it paid for our huge Army and Navy, it paid for wars, it sent kids to college, it allowed people to buy cars, buy homes and it began ending poverty, the generations that never recovered from the Great Depression, or the poor of Appalachia and the inner cities. By today’s standards, the Johnson “war on poverty” cost hardly enough to keep a phony Wall Street bank afloat for a month.
Then some things happened. “Red China” quit being our enemy. Nobody ever asked why, we simply woke up one day and “Tricky Dick,” the ‘war monger” had made peace. It took nothing, all we had to do was ask.
Two decades later, Russia did the same thing. They woke up one day and decided Communism seemed dumb. They wanted what we had instead. They now have it, somewhat. Problem is, we don’t anymore, Russia decided to become America and we decided to become Russia. You see, Russian “Communism” was never real. It was always about what we call an “oligarchy,” people who take but never give, those who want to be paid but who never work. Sound familiar? Sound like Washington or Wall Street? Russians used to wake up every day to newspapers telling them America was ready to attack, wild conspiracy theories made up by a press that got the “news” from a government bureau that invented it. Sound familiar? Sound like America today?
Let’s talk history, the painlessly oversimplified kind. Long ago there was talk of the “Reagan revolution.” The decision was made that democracy, as America had known it, had to end. Why make things in America when they could be made cheaper overseas? This increased profits, it was more efficient. In the process, American workers were supposed to become part of what was called the “service economy.” This meant trading full benefit jobs that paid enough to buy a new car every three years, money to send kids to college and buy a small house for jobs that paid minimum wage. Instead of making steel, you could help people find the right size screw driver at a big “home improvement” store. If your wife worked too, you might be able to survive.
There was an economic concept, sold as "conservatism" that included these basic tenets:
1. All manufacturing labor should be performed at the lowest cost, free from labor laws, limitations on pollution, requirements of health and safety, even if performed by children or human slaves.
2. Unlimited immigration into the US from Mexico and Central America will create a downward spiral of wages while disintegrating the “Johnson Great Society” social welfare system with “extreme overload.” Subsequent social disintegration is to be answered by streamlining the justice system, massive prison building projects and eventual diminishment of rights of citizen-hood as described by the constitution. Terror threats, first domestic, then foreign, will provide cover for this systematic destruction of constitutional rights.
3. All tax burdens are to be removed from corporations and high income individuals. Social mobility, from “skilled working class” to “middle class” has to end and all but the wealthiest classes have to be “decapitalized.” This can be done through a series of banking collapses beginning with the “Savings and Loan” crisis and regularly scheduled “pump and dump” collapses of the equity, bond and currency markets. Eventually real estate itself, after being overcollateralized in banking collapses, will eventually have to be devalued.
4. “Control of message” has to be spread from tight control of congress, first through the “seniority system” to eventually full control of the electoral process, initially by “soft money” campaign financing followed by legalization of unlimited corporate financing of politics to open rigging of elections through usurpation of electronic voting controls. Lines between “the press” and the entertainment industry must be removed and all put under tight control, replacing “investigative reporting” with blind acceptance of government “press releases.”
5. Accepting that there is no inherent responsibility of government to guarantee the welfare of the people, the very essence of “conservatism,” all power and wealth has to be moved “offshore” under a program of “globalization” while the endless public debt generated by ending revenue generation, the result of “free ride for the rich” tax schemes, open economic looting and the elimination of any middle class “wealth generation” expressed in ownership of securities or real estate, requires a systematic program of covert deception. This can be done through stressing class envy, racial hatred, religious divisions and regionalization, the creation of two America’s, the “red” and the “blue” states.
It isn’t that the public isn’t aware they are being lied to. Every day one lie, one plot after another is exposed. The point is not to hide deception but to overwhelm the public with so much deception they no longer care what is true and what isn’t.
If humans are reduced to scavengers, ideas about justice and morality or any hope for nation building will become secondary. In such a society, all human progress is then gauged, not by progress, by but the failure of others. If your neighbor loses his job or home, and you don’t, you are a success. If a neighbor’s child returns from Afghanistan crippled and maimed while your child is healthy, you are a success. This is the nature of “conservatism,” or, more aptly described, the ethical consideration of starving rats.
14 years ago, 3 huge buildings in New York were destroyed. Two were hit by aircraft we are told. The other, much stronger, much newer, mysteriously collapsed with almost no damage at all. It is said the plane meant to hit it crashed elsewhere but the building fell anyway. Where there was controversy over the two larger buildings, why they would “dissolve” in ways that scientists around the world are incredulous over, thousands of tons of steel turned to dust, molten granite and steel burning for months underground from fairly small fires in the upper stories of the buildings, this third building is inexorable proof.
It is proven it was blown up with explosives and the government chose to lie about it and was caught. What does this mean? It can mean anything anyone wishes it to. It can mean there never was such a thing as Al Qaeda. It could mean that Saddam Hussein never had weapons of mass destruction and the war fought over that lie was a criminal act. However, we all accept this last part, it is proven and accepted, long held in fact while other facts, just as true, are denied.
If Building 7 was destroyed by explosives that could only have been planted with government knowledge, a fact, one not openly disputed but also not openly reported, then the events of 9/11, are all false. There were no hijackers. There was no Al Qaeda. As with the O.J. Simpson trial, if one fact is a lie, all facts dependent on it are lies.
If Building 7 was destroyed after months of cutting beams and planting explosives, something now proven, then the other inconsistencies, the missing videos, the tortured “witnesses,” the lies about Iraq and the 14 year war in Afghanistan than has had no effect other than to flood the world with heroin, so cheap our children can buy it like candy, create, not a mosaic of “conspiracy theory” but proof of a government that is no longer American at all.
If America will kill 7000 of its own troops in Iraq over proven lies, accepted as lies by all, then why wouldn’t it kill 3000 on 9/11? Same decision makers, same ethical concerns, same profit incentive, almost identical acts.
When did we start on this “roller coaster to hell?” November 22, 1963, when a President was murdered and his killers were allowed to write The Warren Report exonerating themselves?
What do you think the 9/11 Commission Report is? Every day, something we have always believed is proven false. TV archeologists tell us they have Jesus’ body in Tel Aviv, in a cardboard box. Every day, men and women we were told were heroes are exposed as thieves and liars.
We hear this so much, this member of congress is a spy, this one has sex with young boys, this one takes bribes from defense contractors, it goes on forever, we are drowning in it all, so much information, too much information. We don’t care we are being lied to, most Americans want to die before the end comes, before civil war breaks out, before the starvation begins, before they have to accept the fact that their children will live as slaves because they stayed silent too long.
Tens of thousands of our young veterans have killed themselves for just these reasons. They went to war to keep America safe and came back and found America didn’t really exist.
In September, 2011, the Census Bureau announced that 46.2 million Americans live in poverty. We know the number to be double that. If you get a pension or salary based on COLA (Cost of Living Allowance) you are told that, over the years, prices in the US have not gone up and your pension, be it Social Security or that of a Disabled Veteran, has stayed the same for years. What they don’t tell you is that the math used to figure COLA is based on every American buying a new home, a new “worthless” home every month. So, the money you got when gasoline was $1.95 a gallon and milk cost even less has to live in an imaginary world.
You are told your government paid out $2.7 trillion for military things that it never got, money “misplaced.”
You are told your government paid out $2.3 trillion to bankers who misplaced money in their trust. Soon afterward, half the money we had just given them they had stolen again. Thus Bank of America, Wells Fargo and others face “re-collapse,” compounding sin with sin.
We are told your government paid out $6 trillion to fight a ten year war, one we seem to have lost against 19 “Al Qaeda hijackers” who may not have existed in the first place, according to what we can prove about Building 7.
While congress is voting themselves raise after raise, while Washingtonians spend $300 bucks on lunch, real Americans plan their week around how much food and gasoline they can afford.
Our new values? Is being healthy when someone else gets cancer? Is economic security when you haven’t lost our job yet? Is justice when you aren’t one of the thousands of innocent people in prison or the hundreds of innocent people on “death row?”
I live in Ohio. Why should I vote? Someone with a laptop simply opens a program, pushes a button and a thousand votes, a million votes, whatever they need, “flipped.” The guy who wrote the program died in a plane crash after being threatened by Karl Rove. Look it up. The guy who financed it is doing 22 years in prison. None of it was reported unless you get local papers. This is how we enjoy “freedom of the press.”
What’s in store for us next? We will have to wait and see. Maybe they will come for you, maybe me. Who knows, just keep looking out the window."
“Five percent of the people think; ten percent of the people think they think; and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.” - Thomas Edison
Why is this blog here?
"Many people need desperately to receive this message: 'I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.'" - Kurt Vonnegut
"Let me tell you why you're here. You're here because you know something. What you know you can't explain, but you feel it. You've felt it your entire life, that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I'm talking about?"
But remember: "I didn't say it would be easy. I just said it would be the truth." - Morpheus
Ad astra per aspera...
Oderint dum metuant.
Especially... Nullius in verba.
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Who am I?
I’m a Choctaw “Native American”/Euro mongrel, living in Arizonastan, scavenging for nuggets of truth and soul nourishment wherever they might be found. Random observations, comments, rants, satire and discoveries from the road to NowHere.
“If any man is able to show me and prove to me that I do not think or act right, I will gladly change, for I seek the truth, by which no man was ever injured. It is only persistence in self delusion and ignorance that does harm.” - Marcus Aurelius
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"You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes." - Morpheus