Tuesday, March 3, 2015

"A Look to the Heavens"

"Only 11 million light-years away, Centaurus A is the closest active galaxy to planet Earth. Spanning over 60,000 light-years, the peculiar elliptical galaxy, also known as NGC 5128, is featured in this sharp color image. Centaurus A is apparently the result of a collision of two otherwise normal galaxies resulting in a fantastic jumble of star clusters and imposing dark dust lanes.
Click image for larger size.
Near the galaxy's center, left over cosmic debris is steadily being consumed by a central black hole with a billion times the mass of the Sun. As in other active galaxies, that process likely generates the radio, X-ray, and gamma-ray energy radiated by Centaurus A."

The Poet: Dana Gioia, "Entrance"

"Entrance"

"Whoever you are: step out of doors tonight,
Out of the room that lets you feel secure.
Infinity is open to your sight.
Whoever you are.
With eyes that have forgotten how to see
From viewing things already too well-known,
Lift up into the dark a huge, black tree
And put it in the heavens: tall, alone.
And you have made the world and all you see.
It ripens like the words still in your mouth.
And when at last you comprehend its truth,
Then close your eyes and gently set it free."
 
- Dana Gioia

"The Illusions Of hope..."

"It is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren, till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst and provide for it." 
- Patrick Henry

Paulo Coelho, "The Chess Game"

"The Chess Game"
by Paulo Coelho

"A young man said to the abbot from the monastery, “I’d actually like to be a monk, but I haven’t learned anything in life. All my father taught me was to play chess, which does not lead to enlightenment. Apart from that, I learned that all games are a sin." “They may be a sin but they can also be a diversion, and who knows, this monastery needs a little of both,” was the reply.

The abbot asked for a chessboard, sent for a monk, and told him to play with the young man. But before the game began, he added, “Although we need diversion, we cannot allow everyone to play chess the whole time. So, we have the best players here; if our monk loses, he will leave the monastery and his place will be yours.”

The abbot was serious. The young man knew he was playing for his life, and broke into a cold sweat; the chessboard became the center of the world. The monk began badly. The young man attacked, but then saw the saintly look on the other man’s face; at that moment, he began playing badly on purpose. After all, a monk is far more useful to the world.

Suddenly, the abbot threw the chessboard to the floor. “You have learned far more than was taught you,” he said. “You concentrated yourself enough to win, were capable of fighting for your desire. Then, you had compassion, and were willing to make a sacrifice in the name of a noble cause. Welcome to the monastery, because you know how to balance discipline with compassion.”

"Give Us Courage..."

"Give Us Courage"

"Give us courage, gaiety and the quiet mind.
Spare us to our friends, soften to us our enemies.
Bless us, if it may be, in all our innocent endeavors.
If it may not, give us the strength to encounter
that which is to come, that we be brave in peril,
constant in tribulation, temperate in wrath,
and in all changes of fortune and down to the gates
of death, loyal and loving to one another."

- Robert Louis Stevenson

Chet Raymo, “Holy Ignorance”

“Holy Ignorance” 
by Chet Raymo

“At a press conference in 2002, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld famously explained foreign policy: “There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don't know we don't know." The same can be said of science.

The textbooks are full of known knowns. We are quite confident affirming the circulation of the blood, the distance to the Sun, the common descent of animals and plants. I sit here in the college library within a few steps of shelf after shelf of known knowns, the accumulated body of reliable knowledge- the Qs, in our Library of Congress classification system- upon which is based modern "civilization"- the Rs, Ss, Ts, Us and Vs, medicine, agriculture, technology, and military and naval science.

To be sure, it is a characteristic of science that the known knowns are not etched in stone. Even the most confidently affirmed paradigms are written in pencil, ready to be erased or edited if necessity requires. That doesn't happen often. By and large, the known knowns accumulate at an ever-increasing rate. It is impossible for even the most accomplished scientist to keep up, except, perhaps, within a narrow specialty.

Then there are known unknowns. The nature of dark energy, for example. The mechanisms of memory and consciousness. The origin of life on Earth. Questions like these attract the curiosity of the most talented researchers. Faced with such questions, we say "I don't know yet, but I'd like to find out."

I have often used here the metaphor of knowledge as an island in a sea of mystery. The island is the known knowns. The shoreline is where we encounter the known unknowns. And then there is whatever is over the far horizon- the unknown unknowns. The known knowns are- or should be- a source of pride for our species. The known unknowns spark our curiosity. The unknown unknowns keep us undogmatic. Or should keep us undogmatic. On the floor below me here in the college library are shelf after shelf of books- the Bs, theology and religion- that drag the unknown unknowns kicking and screaming into what is purported to be the known knowns. Much of sectarian violence was and is caused by dressing up unknowns unknowns as known knowns.

Are there unknown unknowns that are unknowable? Who knows? My guess is yes. We are finite creatures living (even as a species) for a finite time in a universe that may be infinite and eternal. Which should be reason enough to live lives of quiet, tolerant, agnostic reverence.”

The Daily "Near You?"

León, Castilla y Leon, Spain. Thanks for stopping by.

Climate Change: “Mini Ice Age 2015-2035?”

“Mini Ice Age 2015-2035?”
100+ Year Temperature Records Dropping Like Flies & 10.7cm Flux Down 30%
by UnitedWeStand

“In Baltimore, Maryland, a low temperature of 1F broke the record low for coldest morning recorded at the Thurgood Marshall Baltimore Washington-International.Airport.

In Louisville, Kentucky, temperatures dropped to -6F, breaking the old record low of 0F. Meanwhile, Richmond Kentucky bottomed out at a frigid -32F.

In North Carolina, a record low temperature was set at Charlotte where the overnight temperature bottomed out at 7F breaking the old record of 13F in 1896. In Asheville, temperatures dropped to just 4F breaking the old record of 10F in 1979. Temperature records for Asheville extend back to 1876.

Several records were also broken in Georgia, Macon set a new record low when the temperature dropped to 18F, beating the previous record of 21F set in 1958. Athens broke a new record low, too dropping to 14F and beating the old record of 18F set in 1958/1928.

On Friday, the city tied a 116-year-old record with a temperature of -28.9 C. The frigid temperature matched a record set back on Feb. 13, 1899.

Yesterday, Feb 20, Buffalo set a new record low maximum of 1°F, breaking the old record low max of 6°F, set in 1950.

So yet again, the sun has fallen absolutely silent, and has been so for three days. This comes at the presumed height of the current solar maximum in April ’14. We can see that the F10.7cm flux – a measure of UV radiation – is down approximately 30% from 3 months ago.

NASA’s own website (http://solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/pre) states that the F10.7 flux is “an important indicator of solar activity because it tends to follow the changes in the solar ultraviolet that influence the Earth’s upper atmosphere and ionosphere.” Decreasing UV radiation, lower solar winds, allow for more cosmic radiation from interstellar space to interact with the upper atmosphere and leads to greater cloud formation. More clouds means more sunlight refracted before hitting the surface of the planet, which leads to more cooling effects.

So isn’t it interesting that the coldest month on record across a large portion of the eastern CONUS comes at the same time and we may be setting up for a cooler-than-normal spring?”

"Headlines..."

Strange days, indeed...
John Lennon, “Nobody Told Me”

"How It Really Is"

"Private Police: Mercenaries for the American Police State"

"Private Police: Mercenaries for the American Police State"
By John W. Whitehead

"Corporate America is using police forces as their mercenaries. " 
- Ray Lewis, Retired Philadelphia Police Captain

"It's one thing to know and exercise your rights when a police officer pulls you over, but what rights do you have when a private cop entrusted with all of the powers of a government cop but not held to the same legal standards pulls you over and subjects you to a stop-and-frisk or, worse, causes you to disappear into a Gitmo-esque detention center not unlike the one employed by Chicago police at Homan Square? For that matter, how do you even begin to know who you re dealing with, given that these private cops often wear police uniforms, carry police-grade weapons, and perform many of the same duties as public cops, including carrying out SWAT team raids, issuing tickets and firing their weapons.

This is the growing dilemma we now face as private police officers outnumber public officers (more than two to one), and the corporate elite transforms the face of policing in America into a privatized affair that operates beyond the reach of the Fourth Amendment.

Mind you, it 's not as if we had many rights to speak of, anyhow. Owing to the general complacency of the courts and legislatures, the Fourth Amendment has already been so watered down, battered and bruised as to provide little practical protection against police abuses. Indeed, as I make clear in my book "A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State", we 're already operating in a police state in which police have carte blanche authority to probe, poke, pinch, taser, search, seize, strip and generally manhandle anyone they see fit in almost any circumstance. Expanding on these police powers, the U.S. Supreme Court recently gave law enforcement officials tacit approval to collect DNA from any person, at any time.

However, whatever scant protection the weakened Fourth Amendment provides us dissipates in the face of privatized police, who are paid by corporations working in partnership with the government. Talk about a diabolical end run around the Constitution.

We've been so busy worrying about militarized police, police who shoot citizens first and ask questions later, police who shoot unarmed people, etc., that we failed to take notice of the corporate army that was being assembled under our very noses. Looks like we've been outfoxed, outmaneuvered and we 're about to be out of luck.

Indeed, if militarized police have become the government 's standing army, privatized police are its private army guns for hire, if you will. This phenomenon can be seen from California to New York, and in almost every state in between. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the private security industry is undergoing a boom right now, with most of the growth coming about due to private police doing the jobs once held by public police. For instance, Foley, Minnesota, population 2600, replaced its police force with private guards.

Technically, a private police force is one that is owned or controlled by a non-governmental body such as a corporation. Those who advocate for privatized services and limited government hail the shift towards private police as a step in the right direction by getting the government out of the business of policing and allow market principles to dictate an officer 's success, i.e., if an officer abuses his authority, he can easily be fired.

Read the fine print, however, and you 'll find that these private police aka guns-for-hire a.k.a. private armies a.k.a. company police officers a.k.a. secret police a.k.a. conservators of the police a.k.a. rent-a-cops don 't exactly remove the government from the equation. Instead, they merely allow them to work behind the scenes, conveniently insulated from any accusations of wrongdoing or demands for transparency. Indeed, most private police officers are either working for private security firms that are contracted by the government or are government workers moonlighting on their time off.

What began as a job detail for wealthy communities and businesses looking to discourage burglaries has snowballed into a lucrative enterprise for private corporations. Today these private police can be found wherever extra security is needed: at hospitals, universities, banks, shopping malls, gated communities, you name it.

As historian Heather Ann Thompson notes, private security firms have come substantially to supplement, if not completely to replace, the publicly-funded public safety presence of troubled inner cities ranging from Oakland, to New Orleans, to small towns in states such Minnesota, to entire neighborhoods sometimes extremely rich, sometimes desperately poor in urban centers such as Atlanta and Baltimore.

For example, in New Orleans, a 50-person private police squad funded by a voluntary hotel tax is being charged with enforcing traffic, zoning and other non-emergency laws in the French Quarter.

In Seattle, off-duty Seattle Police officers moonlighting as a private security force patrol wealthy neighborhoods approximately six nights/days a week for five hours each shift. Officers are in uniform, carry police radios and their police firearms and drive unmarked personal vehicles.  

In California, private mercenaries many of them ex-U.S. Special Forces, Army Rangers and other combat veterans equipped with AR-15 rifles use unmarked helicopters to police cannabis farms and cut down private gardens without a warrant.

Yet while these private police firms enjoy the trappings of government agencies the weaponry, the arrest and shoot authority, even the ability to ticket and frisk they're often poorly trained, inadequately screened, poorly regulated and heavily armed. Now if that sounds a lot like public police officers, you wouldn't be far wrong.

First off, the label of private is dubious at best. Mind you, this is a far cry from a privatization of police. These are guns for hire, answerable to corporations who are already in bed with the government. They are extensions of the government without even the pretense of public accountability. One security consultant likened the relationship between public and private police to public healthcare: It's basically, the government provides a certain base level. If you want more than that, you pay for it yourself. 

The University of Chicago's police department (UCPD) is a prime example of how private security firms are being entrusted with the legal status of private police forces (which sets them beyond the reach of the rule of law) and the powers of public ones. With a jurisdiction that covers a six-square-mile area and is home to 65,000 individuals, the majority of whom are not students, UCPD is one of the largest private security forces in America. The private police agency, modeled after the tactics of NYPD chief William Bratton, criminalizes nonviolent activities such as loitering, vandalism, smoking marijuana, and dancing recklessly  and punishes minor infractions severely in order to discourage  violent crime. To this end, the UCPD can search, ticket, arrest, and detain anyone they choose without being required to disclose to the public its reasons for doing so. Not surprisingly, the UCPD has been accused of using racial profiling to target individuals for stop-and-frisks.

Second, these private contractors are operating beyond the reach of the law. For example, although private police in Ohio are authorized by the state to carry handguns, use deadly force and detain, search and arrest people, they are permitted to keep their arrest and incident reports under wraps. Moreover, the public is not permitted to check the officers  background or conduct records, including their use-of-force and discipline histories. As attorney Fred Gittes remarked, "There is no accountability. They have the greatest power that society can invest in people the power to use deadly force and make arrests. Yet, the public and public entities have no practical access to information about their behavior, eluding the ability to hold anyone accountable. "

So what happens when the government hires out its dirty deeds to contractors who aren t quite so discriminating about abiding by constitutional safeguards, especially as they relate to searches and heavy-handed tactics? If you think police abuses are worrisome, security expert Bruce Schneier warns that abuses of power, brutality, and illegal behavior are much more common among private security guards than real police.
  
As Schneier points out, "Many of the laws that protect us from police abuse do not apply to the private sector. Constitutional safeguards that regulate police conduct, interrogation and evidence collection do not apply to private individuals. Information that is illegal for the government to collect about you can be collected by commercial data brokers, then purchased by the police. We've all seen policemen reading people their rights on television cop shows. If you're detained by a private security guard, you don't have nearly as many rights."

Third, more often than not, the same individuals are serving in both capacities, first on the government payroll, then moonlighting for the corporations. Not surprisingly, given the demand for private police, you ll find that police in most cities work privately while they are off-duty. Some private officers started off as public officers, then made the switch once they saw how lucrative the field could be.

This gives rise to another interesting phenomenon, a schism, if you will, between what is permissible in the private sector versus and what is allowed in the public sector, and how it affects those who travel between both worlds. We saw this played out in St. Louis, Missouri, when an off-duty police officer, working a secondary shift for a private security firm, shot and killed a teenager.

Fourth, what few realize is that these private police agencies are actually given their police powers by state courts and legislatures, which do not require them to act in accordance with the Constitution 's strictures or be accountable to we the people. As legal analyst Timothy Geigner observes, "They're hiding from public scrutiny behind the veil of incorporation, which may rank right up there among the most cynical things a government organization has ever done. It's a move one might find in the corporate republic of some dystopian novel. I say that because it's truly not as though the police departments in question are attempting to claim some kind of exemption within public records law. They're just putting up a stone wall."

It's not as if we have much in the way of local, publicly accountable police forces now; they all answer to the militarized agencies that provide their equipment and training. These private cops simply swell the government's ranks and serve as the private arm of the law. In fact, the Department of Justice has been one of the most vocal advocates for the benefits that private security which has twice the budget and manpower as their government counterparts can provide in partnership with public police. These so-called benefits  are outlined in the DOJ 's guidebook entitled "Operation Partnership: Practices and Trends in Law Enforcement and Private Security Collaborations", which focuses on how both sectors can share cutting-edge technology, information, and personnel resources. Sounds cozy, doesn 't it?

As history shows, we're not forging a new path with these private police agencies, either. In fact, we're simply following a model established long ago, not only by Hitler and Mussolini, who relied on private guards to do their bidding, but also by the likes of Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, who relied on their own private police force, the Pinkertons, who had broad authority to harass or hurt anyone their employers deemed a threat be they a worker trying to get a fair wage or a poor person begging near the doorstep of a mansion.

Nevertheless as historian Heather Ann Thompson points out, despite countless historical accounts of why private policing of public spaces is a bad idea in a democracy, ordinary Americans have raised little ruckus today when, once again, only those Americans with money are assured access to security and protection. Thompson continues: "Worse, astonishing faith has been expressed in the much-touted proposition that private police forces, in fact, act in the best interests of the public. Where is the concern, if not the outrage, that there is virtually no regulation when it comes to private policing in America's inner cities? Not only can individuals with little if any training police public spaces, but in various locales they are even authorized to make arrests and wield firearms. What is more, unlike public police, private security officers are not required by law to read a suspect his or her Miranda Rights and, more incredibly, they are allowed to use force, in some circumstances even deadly force, if they deem it necessary to do so."

What we're finding ourselves faced with is a government of mercenaries, bought and paid for with our tax dollars, all the while claiming to be beyond the reach of the Constitution s dictates. When all is said and done, privatization in the American police state amounts to little more than the corporate elite providing cover for government wrong-doing. Either way, the American citizen loses."

Rightwing Nuthouse: “Turtle And Carrot”

“Turtle And Carrot”
Jon Stewart Mocks John Boehner's Terrifying Kissy Face
by AlterNet

“With Republicans in control of the House of Representatives and the Senate, the reign of Boehner and McConnell is upon us. Or, as Jon Stewart said last night, the unstoppable duo "turtle and carrot." One of the GOP's first hits: blocking funding for the Department of Homeland Security in a fit over immigration policy. It's an odd move, Stewart notes, given how practically every prominent Republican has spent the past few years telling Americans we're all going to die because our borders are insecure. Clearly, no one can work with a Republican House- not even Republicans, Stewart concludes. But no amount of GOP obstructionism and poor governance can prepare us for the horror of... John Boehner's kissy face. In response to a press question, Boehner puckers up his lips and...” Watch below: 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Musical Interlude: Liquid Mind, “Liquid Mind VIII: Sleep” (Full Album)

Liquid Mind, “Liquid Mind VIII: Sleep” (Full Album)

"A Look to the Heavens"

“NGC 660 lies near the center of this intriguing field of galaxies swimming within the boundaries of the constellation Pisces. Over 20 million light-years away, its peculiar appearance marks it as a polar ring galaxy. 
 Click image for larger size.
A rare galaxy type, polar ring galaxies have a substantial population of stars, gas, and dust orbiting in rings nearly perpendicular to the plane of a flat galactic disk. The bizarre configuration could have been caused by the chance capture of material from a passing galaxy by the disk galaxy, with the captured debris strung out in a rotating ring. Polar Ring galaxies can be used to explore the shape of the galaxy's otherwise unseen dark matter halo by calculating the dark matter's gravitational influence on the rotation of the ring and disk. Broader than the disk, NGC 660's ring spans about 40,000 light-years.”

Chet Raymo, “Hearing The Galaxies”

“Hearing The Galaxies”
by Chet Raymo

“In her wonderful autobiography, the beloved Mississippi writer Eudora Welty tells of her time at the Mississippi State College for Women. The first book she bought for her bookshelf was In April Once, by the Mississippi poet William Alexander Percy. The first poem in the book, written in New York City, was entitled "Home":
   "I have a need of silence and of stars.
    Too much is said too loudly. I am dazed.
    The silken sound of whirled infinity
    Is lost in voices shouting to be heard..."

She is walking on the campus at night, the poem in her head, and around her is nothing but silence and stars. She writes: "In the beautiful spring night, I was dedicated to wanting a beautiful spring night. To be transported to it was what I wanted. Whatever a poem was about- that it could be called "Home" didn't matter- it was about somewhere else, somewhere distant and far."

What she felt that night became a theme of Welty's life: that one could stay put but still travel far. She spent most of her life in Jackson, Mississippi, in the house where she was born, but she considered herself a citizen of the world. The first chapter of her autobiography is called "Listening." Good advice for any of us who want to be citizens of the world- or of the universe. We mean it metaphorically, of course, but we cock our ears for the silken sound of whirled infinity- the galaxies turning on their languorous axes, the pulsars spinning in their millisecond compactness.”

"What Life Requires..."

“Life does not require us to be consistent, cruel, patient, helpful, angry, rational, thoughtless, loving, rash, open-minded, neurotic, careful, rigid, tolerant, wasteful, rich, downtrodden, gentle, sick, considerate, funny, stupid, healthy, greedy, beautiful, lazy, responsive, foolish, sharing, pressured, intimate, hedonistic, industrious, manipulative, insightful, capricious, wise, selfish, kind or sacrificed. Life does, however, require us to live with the consequences of our choices.”
- Richard Bach, "Running From Safety"

Stephen Levine, “Half Life”

“Half Life”

"We walk through half our life
as if it were a fever dream,
barely touching the ground,
our eyes half open,
our heart half closed.

Not half knowing who we are,
we watch the ghost of us drift
from room to room,
through friends and lovers
never quite as real as advertised.

Not saying half we mean
or meaning half we say,
we dream ourselves
from birth to birth
seeking some true self.

Until the fever breaks
and the heart can not abide
a moment longer
as the rest of us awakens,
summoned from the dream,
not half caring for anything but love."

~ Stephen Levine

“Being a Human in This World, A Personal Credo”

“Being a Human in This World, A Personal Credo” 
by John Robbins

“I am someone who works and prays for world peace. Perhaps you are, too. But our society is spending a billion dollars a day preparing for war.

I believe that inner peace is found when you love the world as it is, rather than faulting it for not living up to your expectations. I believe in forgiveness. I believe in accepting others for who they are. But I am part of a society that is spending far more on weapons of mass destruction and producing far more toxic waste than any other in the history of the world.

I believe in bringing a positive attitude toward life. I believe that love is stronger than fear. But our country now has more gun dealers than gas stations.

I have stood with my hand over my heart, pledging allegiance to this country and reciting the words “with liberty and justice for all.” I want this nation to be the land of the free. But today a greater proportion of U.S. citizens are behind bars than any other country in the world. Many states now spend more money on prisons than on education.

I have been stirred to my core by the words and example of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I believe in this country’s promise of equal opportunity for all. But young black males now make up 6 percent of the population of this country, and 50 percent of prison inmates.

I want to uphold the brotherhood and sisterhood of all people. I believe that how we treat each other says a lot about us as people. But how do you honor the dignity and inherent worth of every human being when shoe companies are paying basketball players $20 million to endorse their shoes, while paying their workers 20 cents an hour to make them?

I believe that that every child is a precious treasure. I affirm that all children deserve to be nurtured and protected. But in this rich and prosperous country more than 25 percent of all children are living in poverty.

I have been proud of my country. But today, among the world’s industrialized nations, our nation is number one in billionaires – and number one in children and elderly living in poverty. Number one in real wealth – and number one in unequal wealth distribution. Number one in big houses – and number one in homelessness.

I love the natural world, and do my best to honor the living Earth. Perhaps you do, too. But even as many of us do what we can, the tropical rainforests are being destroyed so people whose cholesterol levels are too high can eat hamburgers a quarter cent cheaper. Rainfall now often contains such high levels of pesticides that it would be illegal to sell as drinking water. And the tallest mountain on the east coast is a garbage dump.

I draw great strength from my kinship with animals. Some of my best friends have had four legs. Perhaps you, too, have had a relationship with an animal that has enriched you as a human being. But much of our food today comes from animals raised in factory farms that resemble concentration camps.

There is so much pain and death in our times. This is not an easy time to be a person of conscience and feeling. It can be terribly hard today to stay in touch with your deep soul. It can seem all but impossible to keep your love alive. The world has a way of blowing relentless hurricane winds at our little flickering candles of faith.

This is what I have to say at this time in history. I stand here in the face of the anguish of our time, and I affirm that it is possible to see it all, to gaze fully into the abyss, and yet not become bitter and broken.

I stand for this. We are not here to be defeated. Our hopes are not empty vessels holding no truth. I stand for this. Our dreams and prayers are rooted in something greater than the forces of death.

I stand for this. Our despair and fury at the world’s brutalities are part of our awakening. There is something mysterious taking place in this world that is part of our healing.

I stand for this. This world is not a tragic and terrible mistake. With all its flaws, it is still a sacred path to our destiny as human beings. There is horror and agony here, yes, and it can be overwhelming. But there are also infinite opportunities for new life, beauty, and the learnings of love.

Bitter winds are howling. Let them howl. We can shelter each other and put our little flames together. Maybe then we will find ourselves better able to face adversity. Maybe then we will find that the pain we feared would destroy us rather brings us back to what gives us life.

I stand for this. There are sources of joy here, and we are here to protect them and cherish them.

I stand for this. If we meet the world with eyes that do not flinch and hearts that are open, we will find ourselves capable of what is asked of us.

I stand for this. We who are alive, with breath in our bodies and love in our hearts, have much to be thankful for.

I stand for this. In our connection with each other we are more than strong and brave. We are humble enough to be human in this world.”

“Life's Crossroads: How To Thrive in Times of Change”

“Life's Crossroads: 
How To Thrive in Times of Change”
by Linda Durnell

“Life's crossroads create opportunity for us to choose between different options, and when we see someone embracing the moment when choices are decided upon, it can be awe-inspiring. A crossroads is about change. Choices must be made - not just when things are not working out as we had planned, but also during positive moments when we must choose to continue the course or veer off into something new. When we experience an ending in a marriage, a change in careers, political upheavals, the end of childrearing, or challenges with our health, the crossroads we find ourselves facing can either inspire us to choose differently, or during these moments of change we can paralyze ourselves with fear. Making a crossroads a moment of profound and lasting change and learning how to thrive when life's changes descend upon us can be learned. The key to weathering life's crossroads:

1. Do not settle for normal. When our habitual response leads us to what is expected and customary - when we choose ordinary - we can expect the unremarkable.

2. Do not resist. Attempting to control, manipulate or force things to happen is a typical response to the fear that comes with change. Some of us will be so fearful that we refuse to make a change without understanding that even if we choose not to make a decision or take action, this in and of itself is a choice. Our learned way of coping with stress and uncertainty should be reevaluated constantly as we evolve in this world. Move with the changes instead of against them.

3. Trust your deepest feelings for guidance. We all know, deep within ourselves, what we need to do - what we know, how to think, when to trust - during times of crisis. We can learn to access and trust our innate wisdom; it is personal and always available. Through this, we will know how to adjust our course, move toward our personal destiny. When we don't follow our inner guidance, we feel a loss of power and energy.

4. Dream bigger. Change what you expect from life and then create a plan and work to cultivate the right conditions for your growth and success.

5. Limit distractions and strive to create balance in the midst of chaos. When we let go of our own or other's agendas and when we push away the demanding concerns of the moment, we are able to hear our own thoughts. Do less at the moments of crossroads and give yourself the gift of time - time to be in the present moment. Respect the value of being here and now. Ask yourself, "What is the one area of my life that needs more balance?"

6. Failure is just another way to start again. When we face a crossroads with fearlessness and the choice turns out to be prosperous, we are hailed as a genius or visionary. When our choice creates failure, then we are judged harshly, ridiculed and diminished, and it has the potential to make being fearless more difficult when we face the next crossroads. We must remember that failing creates not only additional opportunities for success, but fosters courage and determination in those of us who are brave enough to attempt it.

When I'm faced with fear at life's inevitable crossroads, I have learned to "let it rip" and charge "no holds barred" into the abyss - if for no other reason than to see what is there. I have emerged out the other side bloody and battered at times, but I'm stronger for having risked, taken a stand, trusted and believed.”

The Daily "Near You?"

Greenwood, California, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

Kahlil Gibran, "The Perfect World"

"The Perfect World"
by Kahlil Gibran

"God of lost souls, thou who art lost amongst the gods, hear me:
Gentle Destiny that watchest over us, mad, wandering spirits, hear me:
I dwell in the midst of a perfect race, I the most imperfect.

I, a human chaos, a nebula of confused elements, I move amongst finished worlds-
peoples of complete laws and pure order, whose thoughts are assorted,
whose dreams are arranged, and whose visions are enrolled and registered.
Their virtues, O God, are measured, their sins are weighed, and even the countless
things that pass in the dim twilight of neither sin nor virtue are recorded and catalogued.

Here days and nights are divided into seasons of
conduct and governed by rules of blameless accuracy.
To eat, to drink, to sleep, to cover one's nudity, and then to be weary in due time.
To work, to play, to sing, to dance, and then to lie still when the clock strikes the hour.
To think thus, to feel thus much, and then to cease thinking and feeling when a
certain star rises above yonder horizon.

To rob a neighbor with a smile, to bestow gifts with a graceful wave of
the hand, to praise prudently, to blame cautiously, to destroy a soul with a word,
to burn a body with a breath, and then to wash the hands when the day's work is done.

To love according to an established order, to entertain one's best self in a
pre-conceived manner, to worship the gods becomingly, to intrigue the
devils artfully - and then to forget all as though memory were dead.

To fancy with a motive, to contemplate with consideration, to be happy sweetly,
to suffer nobly - and then to empty the cup so that tomorrow may fill it again.

All these things, O God, are conceived with forethought, born with determination,
nursed with exactness, governed by rules, directed by reason, and then slain
and buried after a prescribed method. And even their silent graves that lie
within the human soul are marked and numbered.

It is a perfect world, a world of consummate excellence, a world of supreme wonders,
the ripest fruit in God's garden, the master-thought of the universe.

But why should I be here, O God, I a green seed of unfulfilled passion, a mad tempest
that seeketh neither east nor west, a bewildered fragment from a burnt planet?
Why am I here, O God of lost souls, thou who art lost amongst the gods?"

- Kahlil Gibran, 
"The Perfect World," from "The Madman"

"We Are Free..."

“The worst that could happen to us is that we have to die, and since that is already our unalterable fate, we are free; those who have lost everything no longer have anything to fear.”

“Death is our eternal companion. It is always to our left, an arm’s length behind us. Death is the only wise adviser that a warrior has. Whenever he feels that everything is going wrong and he’s about to be annihilated, he can turn to his death and ask if that is so. His death will tell him that he is wrong, that nothing really matters outside its touch. His death will tell him, ‘I haven’t touched you yet.’”
- Carlos Castaneda

“Avoiding Negative Vibrations: Taking on the Energy of Others”

“Avoiding Negative Vibrations: 
Taking on the Energy of Others”
by the DailyOm

“In order to protect ourselves from taking on any negative energy from other people or situations we can learn to shield. There are times when you may find that being around certain individuals or groups of people leaves you with feelings of discomfort. It may be that spending time with a particular friend feels draining or that dealing with a specific coworker exhausts you. Being around toxic or angry people is also draining. And you may even find that being surrounded by a crowd of people lowers your energy levels rather than perks you up. This is not that unusual. Each of us radiates energy and is capable of being influenced by the energy of other people. It is important to learn how to shield yourself, so you don’t unknowingly take on someone else’s energy. While some people know how to instinctively protect themselves from being adversely affected by energy, most of us need to discover and practice the technique that works best.

There are a number of ways to avoid being affected by people’s energy. Shielding is one preventative technique you can use. Center yourself and envision being enveloped in a cocoon of loving and protective light. This protective layer should allow you to consciously regulate the energy around you. The intent to shield oneself is all you need for this technique to work. You can even create a trigger word to assist you in quickly creating a shield. Say this word each time you create a new shield, until the word and the shield become automatically associated in your mind. If you run into a person whose energy you find draining, you may want to cleanse your own energy field after your encounter. Sage, cold showers, singing, mineral water baths, spending time in nature, and a simple break to recharge are all ways to accomplish this.

While it is important to know how to shield yourself from energy, there are those energies that you may not want to shut out. The energy of laughter from a newborn baby, the feeling of joy radiating from someone in love, and the frequency of calm emanating from an enlightened teacher are just some of the energies coming from others that you may want to have around you.”
Related:
"Protect Your Positive Energy From Negative Vibes”

"How It Really Is"

Joseph W. Martin, Jr., “Yes Dear Children...”

“Yes Dear Children...”
by Joseph W. Martin, Jr.

“Yes dear children there is an evil in the world. It is a disease that infects the mind. A plague that springs back no matter how many times we think we have killed it. The infection is spread by evil men who seek power and control by sowing its spoors in the minds of the poorly educated, the weak willed, the lazy, the naïve. They convince these poor people that their nation's problems, even their individual problems. are not because of their own ignorance or human failings. There problems exist because they have allowed some outsiders to exist among them. These outsiders aren't like us. They don't look like us. They don't eat the same foods as us. They don't worship the same as we do. Why they even speak their own language!  

We like to think that society has made progress, especially in these last few decades. But have we really? We talk about diversity but it's a sham used to disguise even older prejudices. Yes we've made progress, we're more sophisticated in our bigotry now. We accept people of all colors and creeds just so long as they agree with our brand of political orthodoxy.  We even accept Jews!  Just so long as they aren't those evil Jews that we can label as "Zionists". Hell we might even accept their right to exist just so long as they don't do it in their own nation! And especially as long as they don't dare to defend themselves! We opened our arms to them (and their money) when they marched beside us during the civil rights and anti war movements of the 1960's but should their most basic right of existence be threatened we turn our backs to them at best or worse, repeat the libels of the past. The worst of us are those who refuse to condemn the repetition of these ancient evils even as we recognize them for what they are and know full well where they lead.

Many a nation and people in this sad old world are in trouble today and it is because WE, WE THE PEOPLE, have failed ourselves. We have failed to guard our liberties, we have failed to be responsible for ourselves. We have taken the easy road of listening to and  electing corrupt and greedy people who have plied us with false promises that they will guard our liberty, that they will be responsible for us, that they will provide for us at someone else's expense.  

Well now all those false promises are being exposed as the naked and deceitful lies they always were and what do we do? Do we blame these corrupt and greedy people for there deceits and lies? Do we purge those that stole our liberties, that led us into dependency?  No, we buy right back into the oldest of lies from the same deceitful mouths. It's not our fault, it's the "outsiders", it's the "tribe", it's the "Zionists."  Underneath it's all just new use of old words for the same old scapegoating and Jew hatred that is thousands of years old.  

In the aftermath of the Nazi horrors of  the Holocaust the entire western world joined with Europe's surviving Jews in the cry of "Never Again" and the founding of the modern state of Israel. But now, just as our national cemeteries fill with last survivors of "the greatest generation," that evil they so sacrificed to overcome is born anew. I don't think it is mere coincidence, but rather the fulfillment of prophesy; "Do not rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the world has stood up and stopped the bastard, the bitch that bore him is in heat again." Brecht on Theatre (1964) edited and translated by John Willett.

The German Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer died at the hands of the Nazis fighting this evil. He warned us as well. "Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act."  

Are there bad people in this world? Yes. Are some of them Jews? Yes. But it's not anyone's characteristic as a Jew or a German or a Russian or an American or white or black that makes them bad or even evil. It is their personal decision to embrace evil that makes them so. If we want to find the causes of the worlds problems and their solutions, we had best start with a long gaze into the mirror and remove the splinter from our own eye first. Anyone who tells you that the solutions lie in victimhood, and condemning others for who or what they are by the accident of their birth is an idiot and a fool or a deliberate agent of evil seeking to lead you into its trap."

“Why I'm Not Ready to Give Up on America”

“Why I'm Not Ready to Give Up on America”
by John W. Whitehead

Musical Interlude: Hans Zimmer, “Time” (Melokind Remix)

Hans Zimmer, “Time” (Melokind Remix)

Musical Interlude: Stellardrone, “Light Years”

Stellardrone, “Light Years”

"A Look to the Heavens"

“This intriguing trio of galaxies is sometimes called the Draco Group, located in the northern constellation of (you guessed it) Draco. From left to right are edge-on spiral NGC 5981, elliptical galaxy NGC 5982, and face-on spiral NGC 5985- all within this single telescopic field of view spanning a little more than half the width of the full moon. While the group is far too small to be a galaxy cluster and has not been catalogued as a compact group, these galaxies all do lie roughly 100 million light-years from planet Earth. 
 Click image for larger size.
On close examination with spectrographs, the bright core of the striking face-on spiral NGC 5985 shows prominent emission in specific wavelengths of light, prompting astronomers to classify it as a Seyfert, a type of active galaxy. Not as well known as other tight groupings of galaxies, the contrast in visual appearance makes this triplet an attractive subject for astrophotographers. This impressively deep exposure hints at faint, sharp-edged shells surrounding elliptical NGC 5982, evidence of past galactic mergers. It also reveals many even more distant background galaxies.”

Chet Raymo, “Retirement”

 
 “Retirement”
by Chet Raymo

    "Farewell, thou busy world! And may
    We never meet again!
    Here I can eat and sleep and pray,
    And do more good in one short day
    Than he who his whole age outwears
    Upon the most conspicuous theatres,
    Where naught but vanity and vice do reign."

"The first verse from a poem called "The Retirement" by Charles Cotton (1630-1687), a friend of Izaak Walton, about his private fishing retreat on the river Dove. The poem was incorporated into Walton's "The Compleat Angler."

And what do I make of it, now, in retirement? All these hours on hand to eat, sleep and pray all I want? "Good God! How sweet are all things here!" enthuses Cotton, "How beautiful the fields appear!...How happy here's our leisure!...How innocent our pleasure!"

Yes? No?

As I've mentioned, I've been rummaging lately in the junk room upstairs, which has been accumulating the intellectual detritus of my life for 50 years. It seems from the accumulated evidence that I always had sufficient hours on hand to eat, sleep and pray, if by prayer one means paying attention.

I have mixed feelings about retirement. On the one hand I have all these hours of the day to use as I want, to read and walk and meditate. On the other hand, I miss the stimulation of the unending buzz. It is clear as I rummage through the upstairs archive that I got more done that was spiritually and intellectually rewarding while juggling what in effect were three full-time jobs than I do now without a care in the world.

    "How calm and quiet a delight
    Is it, alone
    To read and meditate and write,
    By none offended and offending none!
    To walk, ride, sit, or sleep at one's own ease;
    And, pleasing a man's self, none other to displease."

And yet, and yet. Where is the rush and dither of creativity, the frenzy of fantasy and foolishness, the clash and clamor of happenstance? Here I sit now, on the rocking-chair porch of life, with no one but myself to please, grateful for those of you who stop by to visit these increasingly self-indulgent ramblings. Nudge me. Keep me awake. I feel a nap coming on.”

The Daily "Near You?"

Sun City, Arizona, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

"I'll Bet..."

“Fukushima Equals 3 TRILLION Lethal Doses”

 
“Fukushima Equals 3 TRILLION Lethal Doses”
by Bob Nichols

"The world’s second big nuclear disaster occurred at Chernobyl Reactor No. 4 in the Ukraine on Apr 26, 1986. Simply tagged as “Chernobyl,” it is what the next big and well known nuke disaster, after the American Three Mile Island, on March 28, 1979 came to be called. “Chernobyl” ejected 30% of one 192-ton, three-month old reactor core. That’s 57.6 radioactive tons thrown into the air by fire and explosions. The tiny radioactive and burning smoke particles have traveled around the world many times since 1979, killing an estimated one million people to date from radiation caused illnesses and cancers. This is according to Editor Dr Janette Sherman’s exhaustive and widely acclaimed book on 5,000 Chernobyl scientific papers recently published by the New York Academy of Sciences.

Fukushima Daiichi Equals 50 Plus Chernobyls: As Dr. Michio Kaku, a world renowned CUNY theoretical physicist pointed out on CNN March 18, 2011, Chernobyl involved one reactor and only 57.6 Tons of the reactor core went into the atmosphere. In dramatic contrast, the Fukushima Daiichi disaster immediately involved six reactors and a whopping IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency, a UN Agency) documented 2,800 Tons of highly radioactive old reactor cores.

Simple division tells us there are at least 48.6 Chernobyls in the burning old reactor cores pumping fiery isotopes into the Earth’s atmosphere. It is no stretch to say Fukushima Daiichi’s six reactors and the dry holding pools for old reactor cores are equal to more than 50 Chernobyl disasters. Further clarification is needed, of course, and it is being worked out now by independent physicists. Note that the lethality of radioactive reactor cores goes up the first 250,000 years they are out of the reactor – not down.

Looking at the current Japanese meltdown as more than 50 Chernobyls is just the start. This much is known. All radioactive exposures are cumulative for each human, animal and plant. What’s more, mutated genetic codes are passed on to offspring forever. This means all Japanese and all Northern Hemisphere inhabitants are suffering internal radioactive contamination from Fukushima Daiichi reactors already.

Fukushima Equals 3,000 Billion Lethal Doses: Dr Paolo Scampa, a widely know EU Physicist, single handedly popularized the easily understood Lethal Doses concept. “Lethal Doses” is a world wide, well  understood idea that strips Physics bare and offers a brilliant, understandable  explanation for all the physics gobbledygook Intelligence agencies and their respective governments use to disguise the brutal truths of the Fukushima Daiichi Disaster.

Three thousand billion (3,000,000,000,000) (3 Trillion) Lethal Doses of Radiation means there are 429 Lethal Doses chasing each and every one of us on the planet, to put it in a nutshell. This is up from about 70 Billion Lethal Doses March 23, 2011. It is getting worse every day without any intervention by the US and the other nuclear powers.

The Fukushima Kill: The Fukushima Kill, already underway world wide, will certainly dwarf that of Chernobyl. Further, the Genetic and DNA changing aspects of the radioactivity now in the air, having spread worldwide within a year, will spawn a grotesque new assortment of radiation-degraded mutants; both human and of other life forms. Many of these creatures in the animal world will not survive long outside the womb, if carried to term.  What’s more, future Human Genetic Mutants of ever-lower intelligence and greater, more grotesque physical deformities are the genetic legacy of Humanity forevermore. That is the new starting point for any rational and reality-based national or foreign policy.

What We Know Now about Fukushima: Here is what was known more than 75 days after six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Reactor Plant started a disastrous and lethal nuclear meltdown on March 11, 2011.

• March 11, 14:46, a One Million Kiloton Earthquake measuring 9.0 on the Richter Scale hammered Japan off-shore near the six Japanese reactors. The reactors attempted to shut down automatically when electronic sensors detected the earthquake. The huge earthquake dropped the reactors three feet, moved Japan 8 inches to the West and altered the tilt of the Axis of planet Earth.

• March 11, about 15:30, the giant Earthquake caused a tsunami up to 30 meters (98.4 Ft) high washed away all the fuel tanks for the reactors Emergency Generators and all the reactors’ outside electrical feeds. This was the Death Blow to the reactors. The six Fukushima Daiichi reactors were dead in the water and their fate sealed. Without an external source of electricity for the water pumps and hot reactors, they are just so much radioactive scrap iron – good for nothing. The internal temperature of the reactors started climbing immediately.

• March 11, about 18:00, only two and a half hours later, multiple reactor cores started melting down as the reactors internal temperatures skyrocketed to the melting point of uranium and beyond – a measured 1,718 Deg C (3,124.4 Deg F) past the melting point.

Uranium melts at 1,132.2 Deg C (2,069.9 Deg F.) The internal reactor temperatures reached at least 2,850 Deg C, (5,162 Deg F.) The millions of 1 mm Uranium fuel pellets in the reactors and in the core pools had no defense at all without the powerful water pumps and millions of gallons of cooling water against those temperatures.

The Uranium pellets simply melted forming a white hot lava-like radioactive uranium isotope blob that was and probably still is super heated by the power of the uranium atom itself. The highly radioactive blob then burned through the high temperature steel around the graphite seals of the General Electric Mark 1 Reactor Control Rods at the bottom of the American submarine based reactor design of US Navy Admiral Hyman Rickover, now deceased. General Electric copied the US Government financed Navy nuclear reactor design for many commercial nuclear reactors. The Radioactive Blobs trickled together to form a big, highly radioactive, burning lava blob like that of Chernobyl.

The Solution, Then and Now, has Changed: World famous theoretical physicist Dr. Michio Kaku caught the world’s attention on a March 18, 2011 CNN broadcast when he suggested the Prime Minister of Japan immediately choose the “Chernobyl Option” for the Fukushima Daiichi General Electric reactors. Kaku said the Japanese PM should order the Japanese Air Self Defense Force to bomb the reactors into submission with boron, sand, water and concrete like the Red Army did to kill the out-of-control Chernobyl reactor on orders of USSR President Gorbachev. Boron absorbs neutrons, the radioactive heart of the reactors.

The time for Dr. Kaku’s “Chernobyl Option” has long passed. Multiple explosions destroyed the reactors and the swimming pools holding old reactor cores weeks ago. Hundreds of tons of burning highly radioactive reactor cores are scattered all over the Fukushima Daiichi site. The reactors are releasing as much as a Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power Company) measured 10 Quadrillion (10,000 Trillion Bq) radioactive counts per second of deadly radioactive smoke particles into the Earth’s atmosphere. The invisible, killing Radioactive Smoke is already all over the Northern Hemisphere and everyone in it– each and every one– is radiologically contaminated. The scope of Dr. Kaku’s once brilliant former solution is unfortunately, now too small and ineffective."