Friday, September 30, 2011

Kahlil Gibran, "The Prophet, On Friendship"

"On Friendship"
 by Kahlil Gibran

"Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.


When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the "nay" in your own mind,
nor do you withhold the "ay."
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, 
all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.

When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence,
as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.

And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love 
but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.

And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed."

- Kahlil Gibran, "The Prophet"

"A Look to the Heavens"

"A bright spiral galaxy of the northern sky, Messier 63 is about 25 million light-years distant in the loyal constellation Canes Venatici. Also cataloged as NGC 5055, the majestic island universe is nearly 100,000 light-years across, about the size of our own Milky Way. Known by the popular moniker, The Sunflower Galaxy, M63 sports a bright yellowish core and sweeping blue spiral arms, streaked with cosmic dust lanes and dotted with pink star forming regions. 
Click image for larger size.
This deep exposure also reveals an enormous but dim arc extending far into the halo above the brighter galactic plane. A collaboration of professional and amateur astronomers has shown the arc to be consistent with the stellar stream from a smaller satellite galaxy, tidally disrupted as it merged with M63 during the last 5 billion years. Their discovery is part of an increasing body of evidence that the growth of large spirals by cannibalizing smaller galaxies is commonplace in the nearby Universe."

W.H. Auden, "We Would Rather..."

 "We would rather be ruined than changed;
We would rather die in our dread
Than climb the cross of the moment
And let our illusions die."

~ W.H. Auden

Chet Raymo, “Elegy”

“Elegy”
by Chet Raymo

“I am seventy-five years old. I have never watched another human die. On only a few occasions have I seen animals other than insects die. It's not that death hasn't been happening all around me. Loved ones and friends have passed away. Generations of wild creatures have flourished in my presence, then met their demise. But the act of dying has been mostly invisible.

I have been spared the grim harvestings of famine, plague and war. Death, therefore, is a kind of abstraction. I know that it happens in equal measure to the replenishments of birth, but, for me, it has mostly happened in secret. "I suppose it is just as well," wrote Lewis Thomas, in one of his essays; "If the earth were otherwise, and the dying were done in the open, with the dead there to be looked at, we would never have it out of our minds."


So I'm stopped in my tracks by this mortal tableau, this slip of a snake, called from hiding by one of the last hot days of summer, culled by a car on the college drive that is part of my Path (click to enlarge). Sylvia Plath has a poem about a dead snake, called Medallion. Suddenly I understand her title. The tableau has the sinuous quality of an engraving, mortality cast in bronze. The blood, the flies. The unhinged grin. The death's mask. The twist of flesh leaking crimson. The slither frozen in time. The lop-sided valentine from the other side, the love knot.”

Archaeology: “Stone-Age Toddlers Had Art Lessons”

“Stone-Age Toddlers Had Art Lessons”
by Guardian.co.uk

"Stone age toddlers may have attended a form of prehistoric nursery where they were encouraged to develop their creative skills in cave art, say archaeologists. Research indicates young children expressed themselves in an ancient form of finger-painting. And, just as in modern homes, their early efforts were given pride of place on the living room wall. A Cambridge University conference on the archaeology of childhood on Friday reveals a tantalising glimpse into life for children in the palaeolithic age, an estimated 13,000 years ago. Archaeologists at one of the most famous prehistoric decorated caves in France, the complex of caverns at Rouffignac in the Dordogne known as the Cave of a Hundred Mammoths, have discovered that children were actively helped to express themselves through finger fluting - running fingers over soft red clay to produce decorative crisscrossing lines, zig-zags and swirls.


The stunning drawings, including 158 depictions of mammoths, 28 bisons, 15 horses, 12 goats, 10 woolly rhinoceroses, four human figures and one bear, form just a small proportion of the art found within the five-mile cave system. The majority of the drawings are flutings covering the walls and roofs of the many galleries and passages in the complex. One chamber is so rich in flutings by children it is believed to be an area set aside for them. The marks of four children, estimated to be aged between two and seven, have been identified there. "It suggests it was a special place for children. Adults were there, but the vast majority of artwork is by children," said Jess Cooney, a PhD student at the university's archaeology department.

"It's speculation, but I think in this particular chamber children were encouraged to make more art than adults. It could have been a playroom where the children gathered or a room for practice where they were encouraged to make these marks in order that they could grow into artists and make the beautiful paintings and engravings we find throughout the cave, and throughout France and Spain. Or it could have been a room used for a ritual for particular children, perhaps an initiation of sorts."

The presence of children's art was first revealed in 2006 by archaeologists Leslie Van Gelder, of Walden University, in the US, and her husband Kevin Sharpe. Cooney, working alongside Van Gelder, has spent two years analysing the presence of the hunter-gatherer offspring. Flutings thought to be by a five-year-old girl are the most prolific throughout the cave system. Work by four adults has also been identified, though it is possible there were two further adults present.

The juxtaposition of the flutings of individuals indicate the relationships between the cave dwellers, the researchers say. For example, the markings show that one seven-year-old girl was most often in the company of the smallest of the adults, probably a male and possibly an older brother. "Some of the children's flutings are high up on walls and on the ceilings, so they must have been held up to make them or have been sitting on someone's shoulders," said Cooney.

Flutings by the two-year-old suggest the child's hand was guided by an adult. Cooney said: "The flutings and fingers are very controlled, which is highly unusual for a child of that age, and suggests it was being taught. The research shows us that children were everywhere, even in the deepest, darkest, caves, furthest from the entrance. They were so involved in the art you really begin to question how heavily they were involved in everyday life. "To be honest, I think there were probably very few restrictions on what children were allowed to do, and where they were allowed to go, and who they were allowed to go with. The art shows us this is not an activity where children were running amok. It shows collaboration between children and adults, and adults encouraging children to make these marks. This was a communal activity."

The significance of finger flutings, also found in other caves in France, Spain, New Guinea and Australia, has been widely debated in archaeological circles. Some regard the marks as doodlings, prehistoric graffiti, while others suggest rituals. "We don't know why people made them. We can make guesses like they were for initiation rituals, for training of some kind, or simply something to do on a rainy day," said Cooney. "In addition to the simple, meandering lines, there are flutings of animals and shapes that appear to be crude outlines of faces, almost cartoon-like in appearance. There are hut shapes called tectiforms, markings thought to have a symbolic meaning which are only found in a very specific area of France.

Cooney said the object of her research was "to allow prehistoric children to have a voice", because so much archaeological study focused on men's activities. "What I found in Rouffignac is that the children are screaming from the walls to be heard. Their presence is everywhere. And there is a five-year-old girl constantly shouting: 'I wanna paint, I wanna paint'."
- http://www.sott.net/

The Daily "Near You?"

Suwanee, Georgia, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

Andrew Lobaczewski, Ph.D., "The Genesis of Evil"

 "The Genesis of Evil"
  by Andrew Lobaczewski, Ph.D.

"Ever since ancient times, philosophers and religious thinkers representing various attitudes in different cultures have been searching for the truth as regards moral values, attempting to find criteria for what is right, what constitutes good advice. They described the virtues of human character and suggested these be acquired. They created a heritage ... which contains centuries of experience and reflections. In spite of the obvious differences among attitudes, the similarity or complementarity of the conclusions reached by famous ancients are striking, even though they worked in widely divergent times and places. After all, whatever is valuable is conditioned and caused by the laws of nature acting upon the personalities of both individual human beings and collective societies.

It is equally thought-provoking, however, to see how relatively little has been said about the opposite side of the coin; the nature, causes, and genesis of evil. These matters are usually cloaked behind the above generalized conclusions with a certain amount of secrecy. Such a state of affairs can be partially ascribed to the social conditions and historical circumstances under which these thinkers worked. Their modus operandi may have been dictated at least in part by personal fate, inherited traditions, or even prudishness. After all, justice and virtue are the opposites of force and perversity, the same applies to truthfulness vs. lies, similarly like health is the opposite of an illness.

The character and genesis of evil thus remained hidden in discreet shadows, leaving it to playwrights to deal with the subject in their highly expressive language, but that did not reach the primeval source of the phenomena. A certain cognitive space thus remains uninvestigated, a thicket of moral questions which resists understanding and philosophical generalizations. From time immemorial, man has dreamed of a life in which his efforts to accumulate benefits can be punctuated by rest during which time he enjoys those benefits. He learned how to domesticate animals in order to accumulate more benefits, and when that no longer met his needs, he learned to enslave other human beings simply because he was more powerful and could do it.

Dreams of a happy life of "more accumulated benefits" to be enjoyed, and more leisure time in which to enjoy them, thus gave rise to force over others, a force which depraves the mind of its user. That is why man's dreams of happiness have not come true throughout history: the hedonistic view of "happiness" contains the seeds of misery. Hedonism, the pursuit of the accumulation of benefits for the sole purpose of self-enjoyment, feeds the eternal cycle where good times lead to bad times.

During good times, people lose sight of the need for thinking, introspection, knowledge of others, and an understanding of life. When things are "good," people ask themselves whether it is worth it to ponder human nature and flaws in the personality (one's own, or that of another). In good times, entire generations can grow up with no understanding of the creative meaning of suffering since they have never experienced it themselves. When all the joys of life are there for the taking, mental effort to understand science and the laws of nature - to acquire knowledge that may not be directly related to accumulating stuff - seems like pointless labor. Being "healthy minded," and positive - a good sport with never a discouraging word - is seen as a good thing, and anyone who predicts dire consequences as the result of such insouciance is labeled a wet-blanket or a killjoy.

Perception of the truth about reality, especially a real understanding of human nature in all it's ranges and permutations, ceases to be a virtue to be acquired. Thoughtful doubters are "meddlers" who can't leave well enough alone. "Don't fix it if it ain't broke." This attitude leads to an impoverishment of psychological knowledge including the capacity to differentiate the properties of human nature and personality, and the ability to mold healthy minds creatively.

The cult of power thus supplants the mental and moral values so essential for maintaining peace by peaceful means. A nation's enrichment or involution as regards its psychological world-view could be considered an indicator of whether its future be good or bad.

During good times, the search for the meaning of life, the truth of our reality, becomes uncomfortable because it reveals inconvenient factors. Unconscious elimination of data which are, or appear to be, inexpedient, begins to be habitual, a custom accepted by entire societies. The result is that any thought processes based on such truncated information cannot bring correct conclusions. This then leads to substitution of convenient lies to the self to replace uncomfortable truths thereby approaching the boundaries of phenomena which should be viewed as psychopathological. 

When bad times arrive and people are overwhelmed by an excess of evil, they must gather all their physical and mental strength to fight for existence and protect human reason. The search for some way out of difficulties and dangers rekindles long-buried powers or discretion. Such people have the initial tendency to rely on force in order to counteract the threat; they may, for instance, become "trigger happy" or dependent upon armies. Slowly and laboriously, however, they discover the advantages conferred by mental effort; improved understanding of psychological situations in particular, better differentiation of human characters and personalities, and finally, comprehension of one's adversaries. During such times, virtues which former generations relegated to literary motifs regain their real and useful substance and become prized for their value. A wise person capable of furnishing sound advice is highly respected.

It seems that there have been many such "bad times" in the course of human history, and it was during such times that the great systems of ethics were developed. Unfortunately, during "good times," nobody wants to hear about it. They want to "enjoy" things, to have pleasure and pleasant experiences, and so any literature that relates to such times is lost, forgotten, suppressed, or otherwise ignored. This leads to further debasing of the intellectual currency and opens the gap for bad times to come once again.”

- Andrew Lobaczewski, Ph.D.
 “Political Ponerology: The Science of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes”
 •••
FREE Download, in PDF format, of "Political Ponerology" by Andrew M. Lobaczewski is here:
http://tinyurl.com/political-ponerology-pdf
•••
Additional resources: http://www.cassiopaea.com/cassiopaea/psychopath.htm

"The Cult of the Plausible Lie"

"The Cult of the Plausible Lie"
by Laura Knight-Jadczyk

"Never ascribe to malice those things which may be explained by stupidity." That is an important phrase, and a necessary one; it keeps people from being paranoid. However, it has a corollary most people don't know: "One MAY ascribe to malice those things which stupidity cannot explain." - Robert Canup

"Richard Dolan has pointed out that those at the top will ALWAYS take whatever measures necessary to stay at the top, and when knowledge is power, that means that they will make sure that they are in control of what people know or think they know. The sad fact is that as a society gets larger and more competitive, individuals become more anonymous and more Machiavellian. Social stratification and segregation leads to feelings of inferiority, pessimism and depression among the have-nots, and this promotes the use of "cheating strategies" in life which then makes the environment more adaptive for psychopathy in general. Such individuals may begin their lives in the lower socio-economic levels, but they often rise to the top. Psychopathic behavior seems to be on the rise because of the very nature of American capitalistic society. The great hustlers, charmers, and self-promoters in the sales fields are perfect examples of where the psychopath can thrive. The entertainment industry, the sports industry, the corporate world in a Capitalistic system, are all areas where psychopaths naturally rise to the top. Psychopaths seek power over others, it's that simple, and they gravitate to any field where there is power: medicine, law, industry, politics. It has always been that way; this is nothing new. Indeed, they comprise a very small segment of the population with an extremely large influence. It is due to this influence and the plausible lie that they can magnetize normal, decent people to follow them. They can make social conditions bad so that people feel oppressed and abused, and then they can easily blame it on someone else and agitate the people to go after and kill others based on such lies. Machiavelli discussed this sort of system plainly and openly and it has been the system of power since Cain killed Abel.

So, consider the idea that the ideas behind our social and cultural systems - including the legal system - were created by people whose agenda was to control society so that they could stay on top. And think about all the many ways they might go about doing that. These are the same people who set up the legal system so that people would "get what they deserved". Now, just think about that for a moment.

Imagine that you are a person at the top of the heap who knows that if you really set up a system where people got what they really deserved, you, yourself, would be instantly replaced - out the door in an instant! And so, if you are not just intent on staying on top and holding power, but cunning also, you will do everything in your power to insure that you and your kind are in charge of setting up that system, and that you remain in charge of it. You would make certain that evil was blended into the social and cultural concepts so seamlessly that nobody would ever notice.

And that is, quite literally, what happened. The individuals "at the top of the heap," who had gotten there by being the most vile and rapacious, then set about figuring out ways to deceive the masses all the while keeping their favor and adulation. They knew they had to make laws to keep order, and they knew they had to make those laws seem fair and reasonable to the masses of people or they would lose control. Losing control was the thing to be feared as anyone who has read "The Prince" by Machiavelli realizes. And so, Machiavellian manipulators at the top of the heap were deeply involved in the formation of our cultural and social norms, including our legal system.

In the earliest days of this "legal system" there was a form of "justice" called "trial by ordeal". An example of trial by ordeal was holding a red hot iron to a defendant's tongue. The plausible lie used to justify this behavior was: if the defendant was telling a lie they would have a dry mouth and would be burned by the iron - while a truthful person would have a moist mouth and would be protected. The fact is a NORMAL person who is telling the truth would most definitely have a dry mouth from fear, while a psychopath, who is incapable of feeling fear, would be the one with the moist mouth!!! Now, just think about that for a few minutes.

Now, our current legal system is descended from "trial by ordeal" - and really isn't much different though it is much cleverer and simply not as obviously evil as that one was. You have already read a few examples above of just how the system works. As Anna Salter said, if she was accused of a crime, she would rather have a good lawyer than be innocent. That is a truly sad statement on our reality. Here's a simple way to understand our legal system, adapted from the writings of Robert Canup: "Suppose that you are on a team that is engaged in a game and you discover that: The other team gets to make up the rules. The referee plays for the other team. One of the rules is that you are not allowed to score - the other team is at no risk. Only you can be scored against. That is precisely how our social, cultural, and legal systems operate. The conditions of our world are designed to create the maximum chance that evil will prevail and the good people will be punished by being good and telling the truth.

Punishing normal, decent, good people involves more than just creating a social system that acts against them. The system is designed to insure that these good people are subjected to as much pain as possible for the simple fact of being good and honest. An obvious example of punishing the innocent may be found in the way the victim in a rape case is treated; their reputations are dragged through the dirt - all in the name of justice of course. Note the case quoted above, of the fellow who raped his sister and her daughter and walked out of court after accusing her of being a mental case. The system that controls our thinking is set up like the legal system. People are taught to assume that, in any conflict, one side is lying one way, and the other is lying the other way, and people can just form opinions about which side is telling the truth. They are taught that the truth will lie somewhere between two extremes. That is a wonderfully plausible lie."

Canup suggests that, to see the evil behind that plausible lie, we must make a different assumption: let us assume that in such cases, one side is innocent, honest, and tells the truth. It is obvious that lying does an innocent defendant no good; what lie can he tell? If he is innocent, the only lie he can tell is to falsely confess "I did it." On the other hand, lying is nothing but good for the liar. He can declare that "I didn't do it" and accuse another of doing it; all the while the innocent person is saying "I didn't do it" and is telling the truth.

The truth - when twisted by good liars, can always make an innocent person look bad - especially if he is honest and admits that he has faults. If someone is telling the simple truth, and the other side is lying through their teeth, the basic assumption that the truth lies between the testimony of the two sides always shifts the advantage to the lying side and away from the side telling the truth. Under most circumstances, this shift put together with the fact that the truth is going to also be twisted in such a way as to bring detriment to the innocent person, results in the advantage always resting in the hands of liars. Canup points out that, even the simple act of giving testimony under oath is useless. If a person is a liar, swearing an oath means nothing to that person. However, swearing an oath acts strongly on a serious, truthful witness. Again, the advantage is placed on the side of the liars.

Proof is a familiar concept to those used to conventional logical thinking. However what passes for proof in cultural, social, and even legal terms often bears only a superficial resemblance to what would be considered proof by those who really use their minds to think.

For example: in formal mathematics, proof rules are established - postulates are set out and a structure is built based on the postulates and the theorem. Mathematical proof is pretty much inarguable: once a proof is accepted as true it is added to the pool of known truths.

In legal proof there is a set of rules and a theory which the prosecution presents, and attempts to prove the theory by clever argumentation rather than facts. Truth is not the objective. Getting other people to believe the theory IS the objective. However, the prosecution's theory is whatever the prosecutor believes that he can get away with based on what is known about the case, or what he can PREVENT from being known. What legal 'proof' does is serve as a structure for convincing a group of people of the guilt of a person, about whom they know nothing.

There is another significant difference: Mathematical proofs are judged by experts in the particular case who are free to study any and all information about the case. Legal 'proof' is judged by people who are guaranteed to be ignorant of the case, who are only allowed to study the information presented during the formal trial, and who are not even allowed to consult the texts for what the rules say.

Our culture is so permeated with this "legal argument" system that it extends into our daily experience: the one who is the slickest at using the structure for convincing a group of people of something, is the one who is believed. Very few people take the time to obtain hard facts by carefully studying any and all information about a situation. What we see something here that is set up to deceive people by presenting a familiar structure which, upon examination, is a sham. And again, the advantages fall to the hands of the liars. As Canup points out, in a courtroom, juries are prohibited by law from knowing anyone involved in the trial. If the defendant is a good person who is being set up and framed, people who know him well and who have had much opportunity to interact with him over a long period of time and observe him would have much more trouble accepting lies told about him. If the jurors knew the prosecutor and knew him to be a bullying liar, they might have trouble believing the lies he was telling. If the jurors knew the defendant, and know him to be a trouble making villain they might be more likely to convict him. By the same standards, if a person who is guilty is accused of a crime that he DID commit, as we have seen above, it is all too easy to get off. Corrupt lawyers, ignorant "experts," and blind judges let guilty people literally get away with murder all the time.

But, none of the conditions conducive to finding the TRUTH prevail in a courtroom even if we have been brainwashed to think that we have the "best legal system in the world." It is not much different than "Trial by Ordeal," only the hot poker has been replaced by a system that works as effectively to the advantage of liars. Here then we see the worst feature of the law: it is designed to make the world safe for evil people. In effect the law serves to take the horns away from the bulls, while leaving the lions their teeth and claws. Massive, overwhelming, advantage is placed in the hands of liars. Indeed, without the legal system insuring their safety, the world would be a much more difficult place for evil people.

Everyone knows somewhere deep inside, that there is something not right about our world. In fact, at the present moment, it could hardly be worse. But most people spend their lives avoiding that fact at all cost. The brutal truth is that the our social, cultural, and legal systems are all about making people helpless then hammering them without mercy - all the while involving everyone in the illusion that right prevails. This is an issue that will never die. It seems impossible to convince people that private behavior cannot be predicted from public behavior. Kind, nonviolent individuals behave well in public, but so do predators, rapists, murderers, pedophiles, and COINTELPRO agents who operate largely to shape and vector "social norms," or "official culture."
- http://www.sott.net/

Rainer Maria Rilke, "All The Dragons..."

"How should we be able to forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all peoples, the myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us. So you must not be frightened if a sadness rises up before you larger than any you have ever seen; if a restiveness, like light and cloudshadows, passes over your hands and over all you do. You must think that something is happening with you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand; it will not let you fall."
- Rainer Maria Rilke

Neuroscience: "Apple Causes 'Religious' Reaction In Brains Of Fans"

"Apple Causes 'Religious' Reaction In Brains Of Fans"
by Digital Trends

"People have often talked about "the cult of Apple", and if a recent BBC TV documentary is to be believed, there could be something in it. The program, “Secrets of the Superbrands,” looks at why technology megabrands such as Apple, Facebook and Twitter have become so popular and such a big part of many people's lives. In the first episode, presenter Alex Riley decided to take a look at Apple. He wanted to discover what it is about the company that makes people so emotional. Footage of the opening of the Cupertino company's Covent Garden store in central London last year showed hordes of Apple devotees lining up outside overnight, while the staff whipped up customers (and themselves) into something of an evangelical frenzy. This religious-like fervor got Riley thinking - he decided to take a closer look at the inside of the head of an Apple fanatic to see what on earth was going on in there.

Riley contacted the editor of "World of Apple," Alex Brooks, an Apple worshipper who claims to think about Apple 24 hours a day, which is possibly 23 hours too many for most regular people. A team of neuroscientists studied Brooks' brain while undergoing an MRI scan, to see how it reacted to images of Apple products and (heaven forbid) non-Apple products. According to the neuroscientists, the scan revealed that there were marked differences in Brooks' reactions to the different products. Previously, the scientists had studied the brains of those of religious faith, and they found that, as Riley puts it: "The Apple products are triggering the same bits of [Brooks'] brain as religious imagery triggers in a person of faith."

"This suggests that the big tech brands have harnessed, or exploit, the brain areas that have evolved to process religion," one of the scientists says. A meeting with the Bishop of Buckingham, who reads the Bible using his Apple iPad, appeared to back up this assertion. He pointed out how the Apple store in, for example, Covent Garden has a lot of religious imagery built into it, with its stone floors, abundance of arches, and little altars (on which the products are displayed). And of course, the documentary doesn't fail to give Steve Jobs a mention, calling him "the Messiah".

"Secrets of the Superbrands" also looks at the likes of Facebook, which has enjoyed phenomenal success in just a few years. "Like Apple, mobile phones and social networks offer an opportunity for us to express our basic human need to communicate. And it's by tapping into our basic needs, like gossip, religion or sex that these brands are taking over our world at such lightning speed," Riley says. He concludes: "That's not to say that clever marketing and brilliant technical innovation aren't also crucial, but it seems that if you're not providing a service which is of potential interest to every one of the 6.9 billion human beings on the planet, the chances are you're never going to become a technology superbrand."
- http://www.sott.net/
This blog proudly made on a Mac... LOL - CP

Psychology: “How Your Brain Reacts to Mistakes Depends on Your Mindset”

“How Your Brain Reacts to Mistakes 
Depends on Your Mindset”
by MedicalXpress

"Whether you think you can or think you can't - you're right," said Henry Ford. A new study, to be published in an upcoming issue of "Psychological Science," a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that people who think they can learn from their mistakes have a different brain reaction to mistakes than people who think intelligence is fixed. "One big difference between people who think intelligence is malleable and those who think intelligence is fixed is how they respond to mistakes," says Jason S. Moser, of Michigan State University, who collaborated on the new study with Hans S. Schroder, Carrie Heeter, Tim P. Moran, and Yu-Hao Lee. Studies have found that people who think intelligence is malleable say things like, "When the going gets tough, I put in more effort" or "If I make a mistake, I try to learn and figure it out." On the other hand, people who think that they can't get smarter will not take opportunities to learn from their mistakes. This can be a problem in school, for example; a student who thinks her intelligence is fixed will think it's not worth bothering to try harder after she fails a test.

For this study, Moser and his colleagues gave participants a task that is easy to make a mistake on. They were supposed to identify the middle letter of a five-letter series like "MMMMM" or "NNMNN." Sometimes the middle letter was the same as the other four, and sometimes it was different. "It's pretty simple, doing the same thing over and over, but the mind can't help it; it just kind of zones out from time to time," Moser says. That's when people make mistakes - and they notice it immediately, and feel stupid.

While doing the task, the participant wore a cap on his or her head that records electrical activity in the brain. When someone makes a mistake, their brain makes two quick signals: an initial response that indicates something has gone awry - Moser calls it the "'oh crap' response" - and a second that indicates the person is consciously aware of the mistake and is trying to right the wrong. Both signals occur within a quarter of a second of the mistake. After the experiment, the researchers found out whether people believed they could learn from their mistakes or not.

People who think they can learn from their mistakes did better after making a mistake - in other words, they successfully bounced back after an error. Their brains also reacted differently, producing a bigger second signal, the one that says "I see that I've made a mistake, so I should pay more attention" Moser says. The research shows that these people are different on a fundamental level, Moser says. "This might help us understand why exactly the two types of individuals show different behaviors after mistakes." People who think they can learn from their mistakes have brains that are tuned to pay more attention to mistakes, he says. This research could help in training people to believe that they can work harder and learn more, by showing how their brain is reacting to mistakes.”
- http://www.sott.net/

"We Don’t Need to Suffer: Learn and Let Flow"

"We Don’t Need to Suffer: Learn and Let Flow"
by The DailyOm

"We do not need to suffer or live in poverty to be a spiritual person. The idea that we have to suffer or live in poverty in order to be spiritual is an old one and can be found in the belief systems of many philosophies. Most of us carry this idea around subconsciously, and we may be holding ourselves back from financial or emotional well-being, believing that this is what we must do in order to be virtuous, spiritually awake, or feel less guilty for the suffering of others.

While it’s true that there can be a spiritual purpose to experiencing a lack of material well-being, it is rarely intended to be a permanent or lifelong experience. What we are meant to find when material or emotional resources are in short supply is that there is more to our lives than the physical realm. Intense relationships and material abundance can distract us from the subtler realm of the spirit, so a time of deficiency can be spiritually awakening. However, once we recognize the realm of spirit, and remember to hold it at the center of our lives, there is no reason to dwell in poverty or emotional isolation. In fact, once our connection to spirit is fully intact, we feel so compelled to share our abundance that lack becomes a thing of the past.

If you find that you are experiencing suffering in some area of your physical life, perhaps your spirit is asking you to look deeper in your search for what you want. For example, if you want money so that you can experience the feeling of security but money keeps eluding you, your spirit may be asking you to understand that security is not to be found through money. Security comes from an unshakable connection to your soul. Once you make that connection, money will probably flow more easily into your life. If relationships elude you, your spirit may be calling you to recognize that the love you seek is not to be found in another person. And yet, ironically, once you find the love, your true love may very well appear. If you feel stuck in suffering to live a spiritual life, try to spend some time writing about it. The root of the problem will appear and it may not be what you expected. Remember, the Universe wants you to be happy."
- http://www.dailyom.com/

"How It Really Is"


"US States To Financially Break Away From Federal Government?"

"US States To Financially Break Away From Federal Government?"
by Ron Hera

“Earlier this week I attended the Utah Monetary Summit in Salt Lake City, Utah.  As you may know, the state of Utah passed a Legal Tender Act earlier this year authorizing the use of federally minted gold and silver coins as money in the state of Utah.  Now, legislators in other states, many of whom attended the Monetary Summit, are evaluating similar legislation. Among other things, this means the United States is approaching a Constitutional crisis because states are beginning to financially break away from the federal government.  This is no less serious than the American War of Independence or the War Between the States.  The Utah Monetary Declaration (below) is a financial declaration of independence whereby states are beginning to opt out of the Federal Reserve System.  A major confrontation seems inevitable. The issues underlying this historic development include:

    1. The unsound condition of large U.S. banks, which have inaccurate and crumbling balance sheets along with $250 trillion in high-risk OTC derivatives contracts;

    2. The unstable nature of the U.S. and world financial systems, characterized by unworkable levels of sovereign debt and private debt and by over $600 trillion in OTC derivatives liabilities;

    3. The excessive levels of federal government debt and unfunded liabilities combined with falling federal tax revenues prior to the start of the double-dip recession that began in the second half of 2011;

    4. The radically inflationary monetary policies of the federal government and of the Federal Reserve, which promise high inflation or hyperinflation in the future;

    5. The worsening condition of the real U.S. economy outside of large banks, multinational corporations, and Wall Street firms, where federal government bailouts and Federal Reserve monetary easing (money printing) transfer wealth from proverbial Main Street to literal Wall Street;

    6. The rapidly escalating polarization of the distribution of wealth, which threatens not only the economic stability of the United States but also its social and political stability; and

    7. The current, highly inflationary monetary system is plainly unfair and fundamentally immoral.

As a consequence of these grave, ongoing and growing problems, which are being largely ignored by the mainstream news media, state governments must take immediate action to ensure the functioning of local economies and of state governments, should the federal government / Federal Reserve System break down.  Specifically, there is an urgent requirement for an alternative currency to the privately issued Federal Reserve Note, which is erroneously referred to as the "U.S. dollar."

Replacing a stable form of money with ever expanding debt and inflation undermines capitalism and destroys jobs.  The monopolistic monetary system of the United States today is inherently inflationary because it must continually expand in order to prevent a deflationary collapse.  The underlying structure and root cause of the monetary system's inherent and inescapable inflationary bias is the legal construction of money as debt with no direct link to real economic activity.  Debt levels in the economy and bank profits are simply out of line with reality.

In addition to the unsustainable and unstable nature of such a system, an inherently inflationary monetary system destroys savings by devaluing the currency.  Savings, which are the result of excess production, precisely define the term "capital."  Replacing capital with debt, while highly beneficial for banks that create money out of thin air (through lending), is a deeply flawed concept responsible for the systematic and ongoing breakdown of capitalism in America.  This deep, structural problem is the absolute root cause of chronic, irremediable unemployment.  As a consequence, there will be no genuine economic recovery in the U.S. and jobs will not return unless and until the monetary system is fundamentally reformed.

An ultimately more important issue is also garnering attention among state legislators, prominent (non Keynesian) economists, religious leaders, political activists and voters.  Inflation, particularly if it is systematically understated by the federal government or Federal Reserve, robs savers of the proceeds of past labor and robs workers of the spending power of their wages, living standards and financial futures.  Inflation robs the elderly of their retirement and robs investors of their capital by facilitating taxes on alleged gains created solely by currency debasement.  Legal tender, created as debt, results in ever larger debt burdens thrust upon innocent future generations that will experience progressively lower living standards and reduced economic opportunity.  Generations to come will be born into debt bondage, thus the monetary system is at the center of a profound moral crisis.

The morally and literally bankrupt nature of the current U.S. financial system is transforming America into a dog-eat-dog society where every person seeks to live at the expense of someone else rather than by producing wealth, because production is systematically stolen by the federal government and by banks through the clever device of an inflationary monetary system.  The monetary system operates by exchanging fictitious "wealth" (debt based money created out of thin air by private banks) for the real wealth of borrowers, i.e., the proceeds of their labor.  In effect, the monetary system is a massive scam purported to be legal but lacking any demonstrable legal authority.  Specifically, there is no Constitutional or other legal basis upon which the federal government can force a private monetary monopoly on the states.  In fact, the Constitution of the United States explicitly establishes the exact opposite.

The oversized banking system and federal government have grown in an unholy alliance in lock-step and now consume so much of the U.S. economy that, together, they not only pillage the real economy but threaten to kill, once and for all, what is left of the free country founded by the Declaration of Independence.  The moral precedent and example set at the highest levels of the federal government and of the banking cartel is that profit, fame, success and wealth are (either directly or indirectly) rewards for immoral acts rather than for honesty in business.  Moral corruption at the top–embedded in the very structure of the monetary system–has slowly spread its gangrenous effect, undermining totally the founding principles of the United States of America, enshrined in the Constitution of the United States and in the Bill of Rights.  Rather than liberty, America's legacy is fast becoming one of moral turpitude enshrined in financial injustice and oppression.

The challenge before our nation today–our moment in history–is not merely a financial or economic or political or legal / Constitutional crisis.  It is also, and primarily, a moral crisis that could literally destroy the United States of America and all that it has stood for in more than two centuries.  A stable society requires sound principles.   A moral society requires sound money.  Today, the United States of America has neither.

This message is a call to action.  In the words of poet Dylan Thomas, let us say for America "Do not go gentle into that good night / Rage, rage against the dying of the light." I am personally asking you to read the Utah Monetary Declaration (below), which I, among many others, signed on Monday evening, September 26, 2011, in the Post Chapel on the University of Utah campus at Salt Lake City, and to forward it to all, especially to your state officials.  Time is of the essence. Although its duration and pace are as yet unclear, the crisis is already upon us.  Please act now and do not delay.
"Utah Monetary Declaration"

"WHEREAS, money, as a medium of exchange, a store of value, and a unit of measure promotes economic activity, growth and productivity by facilitating specialization and trade, the accumulation of wealth and its long-term investment, as well as accountability in setting prices, tracking progress, and settling accounts;

WHEREAS, natural money – precious metal coin – by virtue of its inherent qualities of recognizability, measurability, uniformity, divisibility, durability, portability and scarcity has reliably retained its purchasing power, notwithstanding periodic fluctuations, over the centuries and millennia of human history, serving as an effective medium of exchange and store of value often without any governmental declaration to require, legitimize or perpetuate its adoption and operation as such;

WHEREAS, sound money, by retaining stable purchasing power over time, best serves societal needs by substantially reducing the uncertainty of inflation risk for creditors and deflation risk for debtors as well as encouraging saving and investment among the general populace and benefiting the economic zone in which it circulates by stimulating the economy and by attracting foreign capital and commerce to the region;

WHEREAS, history attests that monopolistic monetary systems frequently engender currency debasement, resulting in serious consequences such as lost purchasing power, inequitable wealth redistributions, misallocation of productive resources, and chronic unemployment, and that, as the cornerstone of a free market and society, the right to choose, whether between suppliers of goods and services, political parties and candidates, or between alternative media of exchange, effectively promotes the general welfare;

WHEREAS, for the equal protection of all people, rich and poor, the open circulation of complementary and competing currencies should be fostered and promoted by every sovereign state, including those of The United States of America pursuant to their monetary powers (expressly reserved in article 1, § 10 and in the 10th amendment of the United States Constitution) to monetize gold and silver coin as an alternative, voluntary medium of exchange, and as an effective check and balance against debasement of the national currency by the national government which is constitutionally precluded from demonetizing state legal tender, through disparate tax treatment, discriminatory regulation, the threat of suppression and seizure, or otherwise;

NOW THEREFORE, we the undersigned hereby declare and affirm that:

1. As an essential element of true liberty and of the pursuit of happiness in a free society, all people enjoy the inherent and unalienable right to lawfully acquire, hold and use as a medium of exchange whatever form or forms of money they may prefer, including especially gold and silver coin.

2. All free and sovereign states bear the moral, political and legal obligation not only to refrain from debasing their own currencies (except under the most exigent circumstances) and from erecting barriers to the unfettered circulation of monies issued under the authority of their sovereign trading partners, but also to affirmatively defend and protect against fraud, counterfeiting, uttering, passing off, embezzlement, theft or neglect by requiring full transparency and accountability of all state chartered financial institutions.

3. No tax liability nor any regulatory scheme promoting one form of money over another should apply to: (a) the holding of any form of money, in a financial institution or otherwise; (b) the exchange of one form of money for any other; or (c) the actual or imputed increase in the purchasing power of one form of money as compared to another.

4. Except in the case of governmentally assessed taxes, fees, duties, imposts, excises, dues, fines or penalties, the authority of government should never be used to compel payment of any obligation, contract or private debt in any specific form of money inconsistent with the parties' written, verbal or implied agreement, or to frustrate the intent of contracting parties or impair contractual obligations by invalidating the application of a discount or surcharge agreed to be dependent upon the particular medium of exchange or method of payment employed.

5. The extent and composition of a person's monetary holdings, including those on deposit with any financial institution, should not be subject to disclosure, search or seizure except upon adherence to due process safeguards such as requiring an adequate showing of probable cause to support the issuance by a court of competent jurisdiction of a lawful warrant or writ executed by legally authorized law enforcement officers.

We hereby urge business leaders, educators, members of the media, legislators, government officials as well as judicial and law enforcement officers to use their best combined efforts to reinstate and promote the legal and commercial framework necessary to establishing and maintaining well-functioning, sound monetary systems based on choice in currency.

The signatories hereto concur in the general principles expressed in the foregoing declaration notwithstanding specific reservations some may have as to how such principles should be interpreted and applied in practice."

"Dr. Meredith Grey", "We Deny..."

"We deny that we're tired, we deny that we're scared, we deny how badly we want to succeed. And most importantly, we deny that we're in denial. We only see what we want to see and believe what we want to believe, and it works. We lie to ourselves so much that after a while the lies start to seem like the truth. We deny so much that we can't recognize the truth right in front of our faces."
- "Dr. Meredith Grey," "Grey's Anatomy"

Bill Bonner, "Bernanke’s Plot to Overthrow the US Dollar"

"Bernanke’s Plot to Overthrow the US Dollar"
by Bill Bonner

"Where’s the Bastille? The Dow got a boost yesterday — up 143 points. Gold remained where it was — about $1,617. Dear Readers know what we think. The Great Correction has a lot of work to do — there are so many things that need correction. And it will take time to do it. Meanwhile, your goal as an investor is to lose less money than everyone else. He who loses least wins! Stocks should go down. Real estate should go down. Even gold should go down…as the dollar goes up! Cash will be king…until the revolution. What kind of revolution? When? Ah…dear reader…you’re asking a lot from a free service! But what the heck… We’re happy to tell you what we think. We just hope it’s worth at least what you paid for it.

Here’s the way we see it. Cash is king in a de-leveraging, dis-inflationary, depressing slump. The king should reign for a long time…because it will take a long time to squeeze the excess debt out of the US economy. But as you know, there’s a lot more going on. While the private sector reduces its debt the public sector adds debt. And the people who run the public sector are activists…determined to de-throne the king. They are plotting treacherous acts of insurrection… They are looking for the Bastille!

Here’s Ben Bernanke, stirring up the mob. Bloomberg reports: "Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the US is facing a crisis with a jobless rate at or above 9 percent since April 2009, and that fiscal discipline would help spur the economic recovery. “This unemployment situation we have, the jobs situation, is really a national crisis,” Bernanke said in response to questions after a speech yesterday in Cleveland. “We’ve had close to 10 percent unemployment now for a number of years and, of the people who are unemployed, about 45 percent have been unemployed for six months or more. This is unheard of.”

Mr. Bernanke is preparing the crowd. He wants to take action to topple his royal highness, king dollar. He wants to bring cash down… And he figures that the way to do it is to drop him out of a helicopter. When people see so much cash fluttering in the air they’ll want to get it…and get rid of it…as soon as possible. That will get the economy rolling again and convince people that he, Ben Bernanke, actually knows what he’s talking about…and that he, Ben Shalom Bernanke, should be in charge. He should be the real monarch…

But Mr. Bernanke’s hour has not come round yet. He is faced with opposition in Congress…and in his own central bank. He will have to wait before it is time to slouch to Bethlehem…he’ll have to wait for things to get worse…then, he’ll be able to start up the helicopters. What might make things worse? When? Keep reading… Here’s more bad news for the world economy. Again, Bloomberg is on the case:

"China Growth Seen Less Than 5% by 2016: Poll": Most global investors predict Chinese growth will slow to less than half the pace sustained since the government began dismantling Mao Zedong’s communist economy three decades ago, a Bloomberg poll indicated. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said China’s gross domestic product, which rose 9.5 percent last quarter, will gain less than 5 percent annually by 2016. Twelve percent see such a slowdown within a year, and 47 percent said it will occur in two to five years, the quarterly Bloomberg Global Poll of investors, analysts and traders who are Bloomberg subscribers showed.

China, which saw its exports tumble the most since at least 1979 amid the 2008-09 global crisis, may not be able to rely on trade in any prolonged demand slump in Europe and the US, now battling to avoid returning to a recession. Managing the economic downshift would fall to the Communist Party’s next leaders, as President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao begin their transition from power late next year. “If we’re not buying things, they’re not making them,” said Charles Doraine, Chief Executive Officer of Doraine Wealth Management in Corpus Christi, Texas, and a respondent in the poll of 1,031 investors, analysts and traders taken Sept. 26."

If Americans don’t buy, Chinese don’t make. That leaves both of them feeling a little poorer. And here’s what happens when people get poor.

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — "Thousands of Philadelphia residents gathered in long lines, citywide, waiting hours outside of 12 County Assistance Offices, hoping to apply for relief following Hurricane Irene. The residents, many confused and lacking official information, hoped to receive a month of food stamps for food ruined by floods and power problems caused by the hurricane. The program, called Disaster SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), was created by the federal government and is administered by the State Department of Public Welfare. Because of unexpectedly large turnouts, the application process was moved from Disaster Recovery Centers in Philadelphia to the 12 state offices in neighborhoods citywide.

Residents, based on income, household size and proof of flood-damage can receive up to a month’s worth of food stamps. Those already receiving food stamps are eligible for partial relief, to the extent that their prior month’s food supply was damaged. Throughout the day Monday, and beginning early Tuesday morning, many state offices had lines stretching for blocks with confused residents, many alerted by other neighbors that relief was available. Little if any guidance was available at offices in the early going, although later in the day, officials did permit applicants to fill out forms outside the building instead of waiting for hours in line."

A thought keeps coming to mind. This correction is bigger, meaner and longer lasting than even we imagined. It’s not just taking us through a normal recession cycle…and not even through a normal credit contraction. Actually, we have so little experience with credit contractions that we don’t know what normal is. Like the US in the ’30s? Like Japan in the ’90s? At least we know how, in theory, credit contractions work. People cut back spending until they have rebuilt their balance sheets. That’s why they are also called “balance sheet recessions.” We can also make some estimates about how long they will last, based on how long it should take to pay down debt. When the correction began we calculated that it would last 7 to 10 years. That’s how long it would take to pay down debt to ’80s levels, assuming savings rates went back to where they had been at the beginning of the ’80s.

Now, it looks like it will take longer. Maybe forever. At least, it will seem like forever. This is partly because the feds interfered. They panicked when it looked like the process of de-leveraging was out of control. People were going broke — even people who made large campaign contributions! Even people who were members of that privileged fraternity — bankers! So, they came in…and locked up the economy in its depressed state, keeping zombie institutions alive indefinitely. But that’s not all. It will also take longer because it is a more serious correction. It has a lot of work to do. What exactly? Well, we don’t know exactly. But many of the governments of the developed countries are not likely to survive.

‘Wow, Bill, have you lost your mind?’ We don’t take anything for granted. And we know that we are sometimes right and sometimes wrong. And always in doubt. Still, the social welfare governments of the modern world are not equipped to deal with this challenge. They were designed for growing economies, not stagnant ones. They were all created in a period of growth — made possible by the widespread introduction of cheap fossil fuels. That period is over. Temporarily or permanently. And the dinosaurs of the growth era are unable to adapt to the colder climate of the new age of austerity.

Here in France, for example, they’ve already taxed the rich about as much as the rich can stand. And they’ve robbed future generations as much as they could get away with. What else can they do? In the US, they can probably tax the rich harder…but it will yield peanuts, perhaps even reducing the feds’ take. America’s providential state is less generous and less ambitious socially than the French model. On the other hand, the US is far more ambitious militarily. For every layabout chiseler the French supports, the US supports two soldiers and one Pentagon contractor. The cost is staggering …and probably even more irreducible than Europe’s social costs… Neither the Europeans’ social welfare states…nor the Americans’ welfare/warfare state…are likely to survive in their present forms.”

Andy Borowitz, "Banks Raise Fees on Same People Who Bailed Out Their Asses"

"Banks Raise Fees on Same People Who Bailed Out Their Asses:
Introduce New ‘Thank You’ Fee on Debit Cards"
by Andy Borowitz

NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report) – "The largest banks in the US made history today by hiking fees on the same people who bailed out their asses three years ago. “We would not exist today without the generosity of the American taxpayers,” said CEO Brian Moynihan of Bank of America, which received billions of dollars of Federal bailout money.  “And we want to thank them by assessing a special monthly ‘thank you’ fee on all of our debit cards.” Becoming emotional, Mr. Moynihan added, “We think of the taxpayers every time we vacation on our yachts or visit our third homes, and we want them to think of us every time they try to spend $20 on groceries.” Mr. Moynihan said that even after paying the  new $5 monthly fee, "American taxpayers should still have enough money left over to let them eat cake."

In other news, CNN announced today that it plans to start covering the mass protests on Wall Street in lower Manhattan “as soon as the Michael Jackson trial is over.” And Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry today blasted President Obama’s decision to kill a terrorist in Yemen: “There are plenty of perfectly good people to execute right here in America.”
Waste Someone's Time: Forward to a Friend: http://borowitzreport.us1.list-manage.com/ 
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Thursday, September 29, 2011

"A Look to the Heavens"

“In this crowded starfield spanning some 3 degrees within the high flying constellation Cygnus, the eye is drawn to the Cocoon Nebula. A compact star forming region, the cosmic Cocoon punctuates a long trail of obscuring interstellar dust clouds. Cataloged as IC 5146, the nebula is nearly 15 light-years wide, located some 4,000 light years away. 
 Click image for larger size.
Like other star forming regions, it stands out in red, glowing, hydrogen gas excited by the young, hot stars and blue, dust-reflected starlight at the edge of an otherwise invisible molecular cloud. In fact, the bright star near the center of this nebula is likely only a few hundred thousand years old, powering the nebular glow as it clears out a cavity in the molecular cloud's star forming dust and gas. But the long dusty filaments that appear dark in this visible light image are themselves hiding stars in the process of formation, seen at infrared wavelengths.”

Chet Raymo, "Oh, To Live Always In It!"

"Oh, To Live Always In It!"
by Chet Raymo

“A few years ago, when I was in England for Walking Zero, we lived within a short walk of London's Highgate Cemetery. I can't imagine that there is another cemetery in the world where are interred more famous people. The grave to which I made special pilgrimage was that of Michael Faraday, the great 19th-century electromagnetic experimentalist and a man of inexhaustible childlike wonder. He laid the foundations for our electric civilization, but never lost his delight in discovering the secrets of nature. "Nothing," he famously said, "is too wonderful to be true."

But everything wonderful need not be true. At the time of Faraday's 1853 Christmas lecture to children, England was in obsessed with spiritualist and pseudoscientific fads. "Oh, how wonderful!" people no doubt exclaimed when a table levitated at a seance. Faraday cautioned the youngsters: “Study science with earnestness - search into nature - elicit the truth - reason on it, and reject all which will not stand the closest investigation. Keep your imagination within bounds, taking heed lest it run away with your judgment. Above all, let me warn you young ones of the danger of being led away by the superstitions which at this day of boasted progress are a disgrace to the age, and which afford astonishing proofs of the vast floods of ignorance overwhelming and desolating the highest places.”

The Universe

“Next time you feel fear, either right after a major decision or just 
before one, it usually means you're exactly where you need to be.”

"Nice,"
    The Universe

“Thoughts become things... choose the good ones!”
www.tut.com

Kahlil Gibran, “Children of Gods, Scions of Apes”

"All that you see was and is for your sake. The numerous books, uncanny markings, and beautiful thoughts are the ghosts of souls who preceded you. The speech they weave is a link between you and your human siblings. The consequences that cause sorrow and rapture are the seeds that the past has sown in the field of the soul, and by which the future shall profit.

My Soul gave me good counsel, teaching me to love what the people abhor and to show good will toward the one they hate. It showed me that Love is a property not of the lover but of the beloved. Before my Soul taught me, Love was for me a delicate thread stretched between two adjacent pegs, but now it has been transformed into a halo; its first is its last, and its last is its first. It encompasses every being, slowly expanding to embrace all that ever will be.

My Soul gave me good counsel, teaching me to touch what has never taken corporeal form or crystallized. It made me understand that touching something is half the task of comprehending it, and that what we grasp therein is part of what we desire from it.

My Soul gave me good counsel, teaching me not to measure time by saying, "It was yesterday, and will be tomorrow." Before my Soul taught me, I imagined the past as an era not to be met with, and the future as an age that I would never witness. But now I know that in the brief moment of the present, all time exists, including everything that is in time — all that is eagerly anticipated, achieved, or realized.

My Soul gave me good counsel, teaching me not to define a place by saying 'here' or 'there'. Before my Soul taught me, I thought that when I was in any place on the earth I was remote from every other spot. But now I have learned that the place where I subsist is all places, and the space I occupy is all intervals.

My Soul gave me good counsel, teaching me never to delight in praise or to be distressed by reproach. Before my Soul taught me, I doubted the value of my accomplishments until the passing days sent someone who would extol or disparage them. But now I know that trees blossom in the spring and give their fruits in the summer without any desire for accolades. And they scatter their leaves abroad in the fall and denude themselves in the winter without fear of reproof.

My Soul gave me good counsel, teaching me and demonstrating to me that I am not exalted over the panhandler nor less than the mighty. Before my Soul taught me, I thought people consisted of two types: the weak, whom I pitied and disregarded, and the powerful, whom I followed or against I rebelled. Now, I have discovered that I was formed as one individual from the same substance from which all human beings were created. I am made up of the same elements as they are, and my pattern is theirs. My struggles are theirs, and my path is theirs.

My Soul gave me good counsel, teaching me that the lamp which I carry does not belong to me, and the song that I sing was not generated from within me. Even if I walk with light, I am not the light; and if I am a taut-stringed lute, I am not the lute player.”
- Kahlil Gibran, “Children of Gods, Scions of Apes”

The Daily "Near You?"

Little Chute, Wisconsin, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

“A List of Creepy Things Facebook Will Remember Forever”

“A List of Creepy Things Facebook Will Remember Forever”
by Gawker

"Delete all you want, but Facebook never forgets. At least when it comes to your defriendings, pokes, and RSVPS, it doesn't. And it also has a keen memory for what computers you've used, and who you were sharing those computers with. Your Facebook dossier can easily run to hundreds of pages, as some European citizens have learned.

Across the pond, where regulators have teeth and where corporations don't get to rewrite the legal definition of "privacy," citizens can force Facebook to send them a dossier of everything it knows about them. Two anonymous Europeans have shared their database dumps publicly, Forbes reports. One of them ran to 880 pages. For a user who joined the site in 2007, dubbed "LB" by Forbes, Facebook's data included the following:

    * Records of all friend requests LB rejected.
    * Records of the 12+ friends LB has unfriended over the years.
    * A list of devices from which LB logged in to Facebook, plus a list of other users on those machines. Meaning Facebook knows who spent the night at your place last night.
    * Records of more than 50 incoming "pokes" since 2008, including most often by a friend named "T.V."
    * Some 75 event invites, along with 38 RSVPs.
    * A history of messages and chats.

Facebook really does have us all by the nuts. Which is why it's comforting that the company routinely acts in the best interest of its users and their privacy, even when it means sacrificing revenue. Yay Facebook!"

"Conscious Decisions: Going Against What Is Popular"

"Conscious Decisions: Going Against What Is Popular"
by The DailyOm

"Because an idea or way of doing things is popular doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. Just because an idea or way of doing things is popular doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. However, part of the way that something becomes popular is that many of us don’t take the time to determine what’s right for us; we simply do what most of the people we know are doing. In this way, our decisions about life are made by default, which means they aren’t what we call conscious decisions. There may be many other options available, but we don’t always take the time to explore them. This may be the result of feeling overwhelmed or pressured by family, peers, and humanity at large, to do things their way, the way things have always been done. Regardless of the cause, it is important that, as often as we can, we decide for ourselves what to do with our lives rather than just drift along on the current of popular opinion.

It is not always easy to make decisions that go against the grain. Many people feel threatened when those close to them make choices divergent from the ones they are making. Parents and grandparents may be confused and defensive when we choose to raise our children differently from the way they raised us. Friends may feel abandoned if we decide to change our habits or behavior. Meanwhile, on our side of the fence, it’s easy to feel frustrated and defensive when we feel unsupported and misunderstood simply because we are thinking for ourselves. It can be exhausting to have to explain and re-explain our points of view and our reasons.

This is where gentleness, openness, and tolerance come into play. It helps if we are calmly persistent, consistent, and clear as we communicate to those around us why we are making the choices we are making. At the same time, we have the right to say that we are tired of talking about it and simply need our choices to be respected. Our lives belong to us and so do our decisions. Those who truly love us will stand by us and support our choices, never mind what’s popular."

"How Are Things Going, Joe?"

“You go up to a man, and you say, "How are things going, Joe?" and he says, "Oh fine, fine — couldn't be better." And you look into his eyes, and you see things really couldn't be much worse. When you get right down to it, everybody's having a perfectly lousy time of it, and I mean everybody. And the hell of it is, nothing seems to help much.”

- Kurt Vonnegut

"The Roller Coaster of Life and Life"

“Life for a punctual person is like a roller coaster. All kinds of things are going to happen to you! Sure, I can see the whole roller coaster you're on. And sure - I could give you a piece of paper that would tell you about every dip and turn, warn you about every bogeyman that was going to pop out at you in the tunnels. But that wouldn't help you any. Because you'd still have to take the roller-coaster ride, I didn't design the roller coaster, I don't own it, and I don't say who rides and who doesn't. I just know what it's shaped like.”
- Kurt Vonnegut, “The Sirens of Titan” (1959)


Remember when you were 10 years old, and summer felt like it lasted forever? Got a little older, not so bad, still plenty of time to do everything you wanted. Someone told me back then that time speeds up the older you get. Being young, and knowing everything as the young do, I of course ridiculed this idea. But guess what- it’s true. Now I view life, and time, as a roller coaster with just one enormous riser. As you climb from the beginning towards the top time is slower to pass. At 30 or so you’re at the very top, and then you start the fall towards the bottom. Faster and faster you go, as time goes by ever quicker. Weeks and months flash by, and you wonder where it all went, and as you descend ever faster you realize that somewhere on the tracks below there’s a solid brick wall or some other disaster awaiting your arrival. The only thing you don’t know is where on the tracks ahead of you it is. So, you appreciate even more the things you can enjoy, and the people whom you love and that love you, because the ride isn’t going to last forever...
- CoyotePrime

"The Twilight Zone: At the Threshold of the Fifth Dimension"

"The Twilight Zone: 
At the Threshold of the Fifth Dimension"
By John W. Whitehead

    "I am not a meek conformist but a tired nonconformist."- Rod Serling

“On Friday, October 2, 1959, The Twilight Zone premiered on national television. Even though it was never a top 25 show, The Twilight Zone was an oasis in television wasteland that captured a generation. However, it almost didn't happen. Its subject matter troubled television executives, and the fact that the episodes often left viewers hanging went against formula.

I was barely 13 when I saw the pilot episode, "Where Is Everybody?" It left me speechless and compelled me to watch the following 156 episodes (which aired from 1959 to 1964). The fact that children were fascinated by the show caught television executives off-guard. As Zone producer Buck Houghton recalls, "The appeal to children was a complete surprise to us. We never thought of that. I don't think CBS did, either; it was on at ten o'clock. We got a lot of nasty notes from parents saying, 'You're keeping the kids up!'" Children quickly picked up on the most basic plot elements—Martians, space or time travel, talking dummies or dolls, grotesque creatures and the like. Although young people initially enjoyed the stories on a superficial level, they are in many ways more intelligent than adults, more honest and eager to learn. "Maybe that's because kids are hungry for the full play of their imagination," Zone writer Charles Beaumont commented, "while the elders are inclined to fear it."

Most Zone episodes dealt with vulnerability and the conflict of emotions that make up the human condition. Besides great storytelling, Rod Serling, the show's creator, was a genius who had something to say. His onscreen narration tied the show together, but it also gave Serling the chance to moralize. He often emphasized the moral of the story, just in case we had missed the point. And unlike most television shows people watch today, Serling challenged his viewers while entertaining them with substance and intelligent subject matter. He was a teacher. In fact, Rod Serling can be seen as a "video Aesop, using the show ... to comment metaphorically on the aspects of human behavior and the human condition."

But what makes The Twilight Zone—a show that many critics view as the best television series of all time—endure as a classic? Why does the series still influence both film and art? And why does it still speak to us today? At its most basic aesthetic level, as Dan Presnell and Marty McGee note in their insightful book on the Zone, the series "can best be described as the ultimate Rorschach: No matter how many people have seen the series, they all see something different." As Stephen King sums it up in Danse Macabre: "Of all the dramatic programs which have ever run on American TV, The Twilight Zone is the one which comes close to defying my overall analysis. It was not a western or a cop show (although some of the stories had western formats or featured cops 'n' robbers); it was not really a science fiction show... not a sitcom (although some of the episodes were funny); not really occult (although it did occult stories frequently—in its own peculiar fashion), not really supernatural. It was its own thing."

The Twilight Zone was a paradox. Although the series is often seen as science fiction, ultimately it was not science fiction. Whatever weird or far out setting may have been involved in a particular episode, the focus was always on the angst, pain and suffering we face in the so-called "real" world. As author Marc Scott Zicree writes: "The Twilight Zone was the first, and possibly only, TV series to deal on a regular basis with the theme of alienation—particularly urban alienation.... Repeatedly, it states a simple message: The only escape from alienation lies in reaching out to others, trusting in their common humanity. Give in to the fear and you are lost."

Serling dealt with a human nature that was stressed to the max by a modern society dominated by emerging technology as commandeered by an authoritarian state. In fact, a question raised in many Zone episodes was whether or not we can maintain our basic humanness in a world dominated by machines. Finally, Serling took pride in the writing—penning 92 of the 156 episodes. Besides himself, however, some of the best writers of the 20th century wrote Zone episodes: Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Charles Beaumont, Earl Hamner, to mention a few. As such, the Twilight Zone became the embodiment of great story-telling.

Although there are so many to choose from, the following are 12 of my favorite episodes:

Time Enough at Last: Mild-mannered Henry Bemis (Burgess Meredith), hen-pecked by his wife and brow-beaten by his boss, sneaks into a bank vault on his lunch hour to read. He is knocked unconscious by a shockwave that turns out to be a nuclear war. When Bemis regains consciousness, he realizes that he is the last person on earth.

I Shot an Arrow into the Air: Three astronauts survive a crash after their craft disappears from the radar screen. They find themselves on what they believe to be a dry, lifeless asteroid. Only five gallons of water separate them from dehydration and death. And temperamental crew member Corey (Dewey Martin) goes to great lengths to ensure his survival.

The Howling Man: During a walking tour of Europe after World War I, David loses his way and comes to a remote monastery. He is turned away but passes out, and the monks take him in. David regains consciousness and hears a bizarre howling. He eventually finds a man in a jail cell who the monks say is the Devil himself, kept in his prison by the "staff of truth."

Eye of the Beholder: Janet lies in a hospital bed, her face wrapped in bandages, hiding the hideous face that has made her an outcast all her life. This is her eleventh hospital visit and the last allowed by the government. The faces of the doctors and nurses are also hidden by shadows and camera angles. Janet's bandages are finally removed, and the medical staff retreat in disgust.

The Invaders: A haggard woman (Agnes Morehead) hears a strange sound on the roof. She climbs up to see a miniature flying saucer and tiny spacemen who invade her home. Their small ray guns sting, but she fights back.

Shadow Play: Adam (Dennis Weaver) is on trial, and the judge gives him the electric chair. Adam chortles that it's all a joke, a recurring nightmare in which all the participants are bit players in a scripted play. But will anyone listen?

The Obsolete Man: Romney (Burgess Meredith) is a God-fearing librarian in a totalitarian state in which books and religion have been banned. Romney is judged obsolete by the government chancellor but is granted several requests before he dies. He chooses to have a television audience watch his execution. Forty-five minutes before he is to die, he invites the chancellor to his room and locks them both inside.

Nightmare at 20,000 Feet: Robert (William Shatner) boards an airplane after having been discharged from a mental hospital for a nervous breakdown. He looks out his window during the flight and sees a weird creature on the wing. Alarmed, he alerts others. However, when they look out, the creature disappears. Robert eventually realizes that what he sees is a demon trying to dismantle the plane so it will crash. Robert decides to act.

Living Doll: Erich (Telly Savalas) is angry at his wife for buying his stepdaughter an expensive doll. Erich has a nasty disposition and soon discovers that the doll has a life of its own and it dislikes him. In fact, the doll tells him so. Talky Tina says emphatically "I hate you" and "I'm going to kill you."

The Masks: On his deathbed, Jason Foster calls his four heirs to his side on a Mardi Gras evening. Each heir has a character flaw—self-pity, avarice, vanity or cruelty. Foster demands that each wear a mask he has fashioned for them. If they refuse to keep the masks on until midnight, they will be disinherited. The masks are hideous, and the heirs do not want to don them. But out of greed, they slide them onto their faces.

It's a Good Life: Peaksville, Ohio, a small community, has been "taken away" from the so-called normal world—ravaged by 6-year-old "monster" Anthony (Billy Mumy). By mere thought and/or wishes, Anthony can make things and people disappear or turn into hideous creatures. All of the adults kowtow to his every desire.

To Serve Man: The Kanamits—nine-foot-tall, large-headed creatures—come to Earth from outer space, bringing gifts, spouting peace and promising to end famine. After some initial resistance by earthlings, the world relents and humans become entranced by the visitors. However, government agent Mike (Lloyd Chambers) soon discovers a sinister and shocking plot being hatched by the Kanamits.

"Everything leads us to believe that there exists a spot in the mind from which life and death, the real and imaginary," writes surrealist Andre Breton, "the past and the future, the high and the low, the communicable and the incommunicable will cease to appear contradictory."

To paraphrase Rod Serling, no tickets are needed to enter The Twilight Zone. All one needs is imagination.”