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In Memoriam… 2011

SkyHarbor, 2011/05/29 

Memorial Day (originally ‘Decoration Day’) is primarily, as the name suggests, meant to remember and memorialise the men and women who have died in service to America in wartime. In a more general sense, it has also come to mean a tribute to American armed servicemen and women past and present… all those who survived as well as those who did not…

My Dad served as a U.S. Navy Lieutenant on the USS Vammen (DE-644)… a ‘Destroyer Escort’ [DE: essentially a small 'tin can'] which saw fairly extensive action during the UN Korean ‘police action’ of 1950-1953… Screw THAT! It was a WAR! and I’m very proud of him for his service. Thank you Dad! Lord KNOWS we’ve had our differences (partly because we’re more alike than either of us would care to admit! ;-}) But that’s the way it goes… isn’t it? Something about acorns and trees? ;-)

read more…

UFO’s in Renaissance Art?…

SkyHarbor,  

Carlos Crivelli: “The Annunciation” (1486)

One of the aspects of the UFO debate that I have found most fascinating is the claim made by ‘believers’ that many religious themed artworks of the Renaissance ‘clearly show’ various extraterrestrial craft… some even with ET occupants!

Indeed, some of the images (as in the beautiful painting above*) are rather startling… that is until you undertake even a cursory understanding of the era, the Bible and Christian symbolism/iconography… which viewers of the time would have understood immediately…

read more…

Arizona home of the wacked

Cat eyes,  

Sadly, I am sure that Arizona does not hold exclusive distinction to insanity but they’ve certainly been acting as if they are trying to dominate at least one category of insanity – police officials.

See this: Arizona Cops Shoot Former Marine In Botched Pot Raid

On a side note, I am struck by the thought that there may be an authentic causal correlation between the religiosity of many Americans and the corruption and despicably unprincipled and unethical behavior that has become business as usual in most arenas of activity in this country. Religions often rely on a principle of truth by authority and forbid any questioning let alone openness about the dogma they spew. So accustomed to and trained to not question authority are many citizens that they adopt a group from authority like the police as an authority voice to tell them how to think about crime. Then when mistake was made it became an easy matter to simply lie about it to get those people to believe you. Until enough people had been wronged that an alternate group advocating distrust and disbelief of the police formed. Since personal acquaintance usually holds a stronger influence in credibility those counter groups were able to grow. And now we are stuck with police (and other groups in government, education and business) that became accustomed to lying their way out of mistakes, embarrassments, and biases that it became the defacto course of action. So much so that even internally many never question the truth- accuracy – of things and are indoctrinated to believe they have the right to coverup and misinform. What a holy effed system. The non-sensical assumption that there might exist anything involving humans at any level that is infallible – preachers (popes), document transcriptions (bible), etc. – has bled over into other institutions. Likely this stems from the monarchy system that claimed divine descendancy compounded by our rapid growth in populations that makes personal policing and accountability virtually obsolete, despite the fact that personal policing and accountability are the best and most reliable means to regulate honesty for many reasons but principally because we humans are humans, in other words, limited beings that rely on social networks for survival.

A wall or a door?

Max,  

I’m off to see Siegfried at SF Opera in a few minutes (running time 4hrs 50min), but wanted to flag this nice little piece on what Death is. I like the Plato vs Spinoza dichotomy. The first comment seems to sum things up well. It takes a freakin’ Buddhist you know ;)

Having no content, we must speak of death metaphorically. For those who think death is real, death is a blank wall. For those who think it is not real, death is a door to another life. Whether we think of death as a wall or a door, we cannot avoid using one metaphor or another. We often say that a person who dies is relieved of suffering. However, if death is real, then it is metaphorical even to say that the dead do not suffer, as though something of them remains not to suffer. As there are already many speculations about some sort of ‘next life,’ I will focus on the view that death is real and marks the final end of an individual’s life

Death and Its Concept

Looking into Infinity…

SkyHarbor, 2011/05/27 

The Chilean Atacama Desert is well known as the ‘driest place on Earth’. Here, at an elevation of 2635 m (~8645 feet), the European Southern Observatory (ESO) operates an impressive array of Very Large Telescopes (VLT), with huge mirrors some 8.2 m (~27 ft.) across.

With nearly no precipitation and the clearest skies on the planet, the Atacama, despite its remoteness, is an ideal place for a telescope, and needless to say, they get quite a view! How’d you like to lay in a sleeping bag looking up at THIS all night?! This is worthy of ‘full screen’ viewing I think!

The occasional laser beam you see is measuring atmospheric aberration to update adaptive optical corrections. But here, we see the stunning southern night sky in time-lapse, as it appears to the naked eye… from dusk to dawn. You can even clearly see galaxies! Also a nice glimpse of the observatory hardware itself. I think its beautiful and profound! As one impressed viewer put it “It makes me proud to be a human being!”. No argument HERE!! ;-)

There’s another similar one HERE posted by the same guy. Much alike, but both are worth a look!

Enjoy!

Squirmy Worms On The Hook.

byronius, 2011/05/26 

At least Republicans are finally being honest about their long-term plans to savage the social safety net for fun and profit. And Anthony Weiner is brazen enough to mention it. Gasp!

Up is down

Max, 2011/05/23 

Interesting slant on a palindrome.

Found here.

Damn.

byronius,  

The visuals are lacking, the audio is terrifying.

Sam’s right

Max, 2011/05/22 

nonjudgment

(Stole the picture Sam Harris used in his post ’cause it’s so cool)

Sam Harris has written a marvelously succinct account of the value of meditation and selected as the most clearheaded (least ‘spiritual’) out of all of the myriad of meditation techniques available, the exact technique I have been using for the past year.

For beginners, I always recommend a technique called vipassana (Pali, “insight”), which comes from the oldest tradition of Buddhism, the Theravada. The advantage of vipassana is that it can be taught in an entirely secular way. Experts in this practice generally acquire their training in a Buddhist context, of course—and most retreat centers in the U.S. and Europe still teach its associated Buddhist philosophy. Nevertheless, this method of introspection can be brought within any secular or scientific context without embarrassment. The same cannot be said for most other forms of “spiritual” instruction.

The quality of mind cultivated in vipassana is generally referred to as “mindfulness” (the Pali word is sati), and there is a quickly growing literature on its psychological benefits. Mindfulness is simply a state of open, nonjudgmental, and nondiscursive attention to the contents of consciousness, whether pleasant or unpleasant. Cultivating this quality of mind has been shown to modulate pain, mitigate anxiety and depression, improve cognitive function, and even produce changes in gray matter density in regions of the brain related to learning and memory, emotional regulation, and self awareness.

He goes on to give very clear instructions for how to meditate in this style – about as clear an explanation of any I’ve heard in the past year from a wide assortment of teachers. Best of all, he never feels the need to employ the “B” word. This is a technique discovered about 2500 years ago by some dude in India, but there is no need whatsoever to worship him for it or call yourself a Somedudeist. It’s just a simple procedure that has obvious benefits for the mind.

It’s a great read.

The POAP Party.

byronius, 2011/05/20 
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