...The official synopsis describes it as "an exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution."Whether one believes in re-incarnation as reality, or whether it is merely a plot device, does not matter, for the continuity of a soul through time is a belief that is not quite necessary for the film to influence us, although it is rather fun to keep track of the various roles played by the actors throughout the multi-plots.
... In my ideal cinémathèque, "The Life Aquatic" would play on a permanent double bill with "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie." Mr. Anderson and Stephen Hillenburg, Mr. Squarepants's creator, share not only a taste for nautical nonsense, but also a willingness to carry the banner of unfettered imaginative silliness into battle against the tyranny of maturity...
Bettelheim analyzed fairy tales in terms of Freudian psychology in The Uses of Enchantment (1976). He discussed the emotional and symbolic importance of fairy tales for children, including traditional tales at one time considered too dark, such as those collected and published by the Brothers Grimm. Bettelheim suggested that traditional fairy tales, with the darkness of abandonment, death, witches, and injuries, allowed children to grapple with their fears in remote, symbolic terms.Wikipedia; Bettelheim
... I looked at my left hand, which was resting under the lamp next to the computer. I seemed to sense that the quantum particles - atoms, molecules, and all the body parts no larger than an alderman's ring - could act detached as they were getting ready to leave their Lover, this paramour, the Self of more than 70 years cognition, faith, fear, hope, and striving; filling their minute minds with memories of passionate penetrations into the body, in order to remember in the vasty future.
There was a terrible Love going through the small space enclosed by that left hand... terrible in the sense of awesome.
... The advocates of prohibition ought to get a clear grasp of the fundamental objection to their theory, and meet it with something more substantial than feeble talk about the influence of “the liquor interests.” Our objection is to Puritanism, with its false social theory taking shape in a civilization that, however well-ordered and economically prosperous, is hideous and suffocating.
One can at least speak for oneself: I am an absolute teetotaler, and it would make no difference to me if there were never another drop of liquor in the world; and yet to live under any regime of prohibition that I have so far had opportunity to observe would seem to me an appalling calamity. The ideals and instruments of Puritanism are simply unworthy of a free people, and, being unworthy, are soon found intolerable. Its hatreds, fanaticisms, inaccessibility to ideas; its inflamed and cancerous interest in the personal conduct of others; its hysterical disregard of personal rights; its pure faith in force, and above all, its tyrannical imposition of its own Kultur: these characterize and animate a civilization that the general experience of mankind at once condemns as impossible, and as hateful as it is impossible...
A reader writes:
I have had some new neighbors for several weeks. They are lesbians. They have been nice enough. We have spoken and I have helped them out with cutting some limbs on trees. Last night my wife made zucchini bread for the neighbors and we walked it over to them. One of them asked me what I read every evening outside. I told her I read a chapter in my Bible and some out of other books. She then proceeded to ask me what denomination I am. I told her Methodist. She asked if they recognized gay marriage. I said officially no. She then asked if I agreed with that. I said yes. She said that made her uncomfortable and that I made her feel threatened. I said sorry and left the food.Can you believe this? The guy comes over to be a good neighbor by bringing his lesbian neighbors zucchini bread, and she gives him the third degree, then calls him “threatening” because he doesn’t share her opinion of gay marriage.
She stopped me as I was leaving and asked how could I hold to that old belief when people like the Episcopalians have shown that belief was not actually Biblical anymore. I intend on letting things lay low for a while and go on trying to be a good neighbor. Hopefully my actions can overcome their thoughts of me.
Why must we ideologize everything? What business is it of this prickly person’s to know what her neighbor’s religious beliefs are on anything. I bet that couple will have trouble making friends, because on the face of it, they are not friendly. They’ll probably chalk it up to homophobia, when the fact is, at least one of them is a jerk.
UPDATE: A happy ending is reported this morning by the reader who bore the zucchini bread:
I am on vacation now and will not be around much. Saturday afternoon one of the two women flagged me down. She apologized for her partner and wanted to remain on good terms. I said no problem. The defense she offered for her partner is that when she came out she was banished by her evangelical family. They have not talked in over 5 years. I now understand her reaction and feel sorry for the massive pain that she has in her life because of Christians acting unChristian.
The Syrian rebels that the U.S. now wants to support are in poor shape, on the retreat from the radical al-Qaida breakaway group that has swept over large parts of Iraq and Syria, with some rebels giving up the fight. It is not clear whether the new U.S. promise to arm them will make a difference.
Some, more hard-line Syrian fighters are bending to the winds and joining the radicals.
The Obama administration is seeking $500 million to train and arm what it calls "moderate" factions among the rebels, a far larger project than a quiet CIA-led effort in Jordan that has been training a few hundreds fighters a month. But U.S. officials say it will take a year to get the new program fully underway. The U.S. also faces the difficult task of what constitutes a "moderate" rebel in a movement dominated by Islamist ideologies...
... He [Charles Krauthammer] is furious, for example, at the suggestion that the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s arrival in the New World should be an occasion for “repentance and reflection” about the unhappy (for its inhabitants) sequel. “For the left,” he jeers, the anniversary “comes just in time. The revolutions of 1989 having put a dent in the case for the degeneracy of the West, 1992 offers a welcome new point of attack.”
True, mistakes were made. “The European conquest of the Americas, like the conquest of other civilizations, was indeed accompanied by great cruelty. But that is to say nothing more than that the European conquest of America was, in this way, much like the rise of Islam, the Norman conquest of Britain and the widespread American Indian tradition of raiding, depopulating and appropriating neighboring lands.” Besides, he concludes, “the real question is, What eventually grew on this bloodied soil? The answer is, The great modern civilizations of the Americas—a new world of individual rights, an ever-expanding circle of liberty.” ...
God has sent this jurisprudence, complete and comprehensive, as it is, in a short period of time, starting from the first day of the Prophet's mission, and ending on the day of his death, or on the day when the following verse was revealed:
"Today I have perfected your system of belief and bestowed My favors upon you in full, and have chosen submission (al-Islam) as the creed for you".
(The Holy Quran, Chapter 5. "The Table Spread", verses 3)
This verse is the authoritative pronouncement relative to the perfection and permanence of the jurisprudence, especially since another verse has expressly stipulated that Muhammad (pbuh) is the last Prophet:
"Muhammad is not the father of any man among you, but a messenger of God, and the seal of the prophets".
(The Holy Quran, Chapter 33. "The Clans, The Coalition", verse 40) ...
"As for the thief, whether man or woman, cut his hand".and we interpret this as a solitary and full-standing injunction to punishment, we have allowed a system of belief to be born anew, establishing a new entity called Law, about which future scholars may argue.
(The Holy Quran, Chapter 5. "The Table Spread", verse 38)
“Far better that I should err 1000 times in forgiving than once in the application of a sanction"-Umar ibn Abdul Azizis not a hypertrophy of charity, but a desire not to apply a sanction in error, which is far more acceptable to a community than a desire to err 1000 times in harsh punishment than once in forgiveness, which would be despotism.
“ ... in the days when a family had fed on the produce of the same few miles of country for six generations ... that perhaps was why they saw nymphs in the fountains and dryads in the wood – they were not mistaken for there was in a sense real (not metaphorical) connections between them and the countryside. What had been earth and air and later corn, and later still bread, really was in them. We of course who live on a standardized international diet…are artificial beings and have no connection (save in sentiment) with any place on earth. We are synthetic men, uprooted. The strength of the hills is not ours.”quoted in Rod Dreher, The American Conservative
Although Dark Energy and Dark Matter appear to constitute over 95 percent of the universe, nobody knows of which particles they are made up. Astrophysicists now crossed one potential Dark Matter candidate – the Dark Photon or U boson – off the list in top position. This is the result of recent HADES experiments, where researchers from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and from 17 other European institutes try to pin down the nature of Dark Matter. These negative results – recently published in Physics Letters B – could even lead to challenges of the Standard Model of particle physics.
While evidences for the Higgs boson were found recently at CERN, the Standard Model looks now complete when supplemented by some neutrino masses, and nothing else seems to be needed to understand the wealth of atomic, sub-nuclear and particle physics phenomena. Nevertheless, Dark Matter appears not to be explained by any of the constituents of the Standard Model. This status of the affair has initiated worldwide efforts to search for Dark Matter candidates.
Up to now the search for such a signal of a U boson as a candidate for Dark Matter has remained unsuccessful. Together with many other searches for the other candidates of Dark Matter the situations becomes more and more intricate. Cosmology on precision level requires the existence of Dark Matter; however, the various experiments have not found any positive hint. The negative results on the U boson by HADES and other experiments make the hunt for new physics beyond the Standard Model more challenging.
The HADES collaboration has accumulated more than ten billion analyzable events during the last years. The notion "events" means that in collisions of energetic protons with target protons or atomic nuclei or in collisions of atomic nuclei with target nuclei, among other final-state particles, an electron-positron pair could occur. Sources of these pairs are, e.g., unstable hadrons being transiently produced in these collisions. The highly sophisticated apparatus HADES has the capability to select out of a huge background of other particles such electron-positron pairs which can be attributed to primary sources.
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?
31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
That’s the conclusion of Stuart W. Elliott in his recent paper, “Anticipating a Luddite Revival.” (Hat tip: RobotEconomics.)
We’ve seen that scale of transformation before. But this one promises to be roughly four times as fast, dwarfing Luddite-era concerns:
…the portion of the workforce employed in agriculture shifted from roughly 80% to just a few percent. However, in the shift out of agriculture, the transformation took place over a century and a half, not several decades.
But there’s a much bigger difference this time — a hard limit that time can’t ameliorate:
...The level 6 anchoring tasks in Table 2 are not only difficult for IT and robotics systems to carry out, but they are also difficult for many people to carry out. We do not know how successful the nation can be in trying to prepare everyone in the labor force for jobs that require these higher skill levels. It is hard to imagine, for example, that most of the labor force will move into jobs in health care, education, science, engineering, and law.
I’ve said it before: the median IQ is 100, by definition. Fifty percent of people are below that level. We (and they) are facing a hard cognitive limit that the Luddites never approached. I don’t think anybody reading (or writing) this post can appreciate how hard it would be to make a go of it in today’s technological society — even get through high school, much less provide a healthy, happy, financially secure life for one’s family — with an IQ of 80 or 90.
Are people who aren’t born smart lacking in “merit”? That’s what meritocrats are claiming. (Though they will vociferously defend themselves, deploying endless arguments both specious and obfuscatory.) If you’re in the low-IQ group (and don’t inherit), your miserable position in life is fixed at birth. Get over it.
Currently, work is the only way for the majority of people to legitimately claim any significant share of our remarkable prosperity. (Social-support programs provide a pretty insignificant and tenuous, insecure claim that’s not generally viewed as legitimate, only unfortunately necessary.)
If those folks 1. can’t find jobs that they can do, and 2. receive negligible claims on our prosperity if they are lucky enough to find one of the few remaining, we’re facing a world of haves and have-nots. Sound familiar?
One fundamental belief has to change: that finding and doing a job is the only thing that gives you any claim on a decent life. Because for many, jobs that provide decent claims simply aren’t there, or won’t be soon. (Likewise the belief that rebalancing your financial portfolio annually — doing the arduous, taxing work of “allocating resources” — is extremely meritorious and gives you a just claim on an outsized share of our collective prosperity.)
Horses faced exactly this situation in the first industrial revolution. They could never learn to drive tractors and trains.
I’ll be the first to say that people aren’t horses. Which gives rise to the ugly next thought:
They shoot horses, don’t they?
If you blinked this week, you might have missed the news: two Senators accused the Justice Department of lying about NSA warrantless surveillance to the US supreme court last year, and those falsehoods all but ensured that mass spying on Americans would continue. But hardly anyone seems to care – least of all those who lied and who should have already come forward with the truth.
Here's what happened: just before Edward Snowden became a household name, the ACLU argued before the supreme court that the Fisa Amendments Act – one of the two main laws used by the NSA to conduct mass surveillance – was unconstitutional.
In a sharply divided opinion, the supreme court ruled, 5-4, that the case should be dismissed because the plaintiffs didn't have "standing" – in other words, that the ACLU couldn't prove with near-certainty that their clients, which included journalists and human rights advocates, were targets of surveillance, so they couldn't challenge the law. As the New York Times noted this week, the court relied on two claims by the Justice Department to support their ruling: 1) that the NSA would only get the content of Americans' communications without a warrant when they are targeting a foreigner abroad for surveillance, and 2) that the Justice Department would notify criminal defendants who have been spied on under the Fisa Amendments Act, so there exists some way to challenge the law in court.
It turns out that neither of those statements were true – but it took Snowden's historic whistleblowing to prove it...
The Black Hole is a 1979 American science fiction film directed by Gary Nelson for Walt Disney Productions...
Nearing the end of a long mission exploring deep space, the spacecraft USS Palomino is returning to Earth...
The Palomino crew discover a black hole in space with a spaceship nearby, somehow defying the hole's massive gravitational pull. The ship is identified as the long-lost USS Cygnus... The Palomino... manages to move back to the Cygnus and finds itself able to dock to what initially appears to be an abandoned vessel.
The Palomino crew warily boards the Cygnus and soon encounter the ship's commander, Dr. Hans Reinhardt, a brilliant scientist. Aided by a crew of faceless, black-robed android drones and his sinister looking robot Maximilian, Reinhardt explains that he has lived all alone on the Cygnus for years....
Reinhardt then reveals that he has spent the past 20 years studying the black hole and intends to fly the Cygnus through it...
The rest of the Palomino crew grow suspicious of the faceless drones' human-like behaviour: [one of the Palomino crew] sees a [drone] limping and [another] witnesses a [drone] funeral and discovers the Cygnus crew's personal items in the ship's living quarters... a battered early model robot... explains that the faceless drones are in fact the human crew, who mutinied when Reinhardt refused to return to Earth and had been lobotomized and "reprogrammed" by Reinhardt to serve him...
A US judge has ordered the military to stop force-feeding a hunger-striking prisoner at Guantanamo Bay naval base.
The temporary order, issued on Friday by Judge Gladys Kessler, means that staff at the facility cannot feed Syrian prisoner Abu Wa'el Dhiab until a hearing next Wednesday.
"While the Department follows the law and only applies enteral feeding in order to preserve life, we will, of course, comply with the judge's order here," Defense Department spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Todd Breasseale said in response to the ruling.
Kessler also ordered the US military to stop taking Dhiab out his cell if he refused to go to feedings and said the government had to keep all videotape evidence of forcible cell removal and force-feeding until the hearing.
It is the first time a judge has ordered an end to force-feeding of a prisoner in Guantanamo...