I don’t give a rat’s ass what you think about me.

(It’s Thursday! Meta time, time to relax. – promoted by exmearden)

Meditations on the cause of suffering.

The Four Noble Truths-

  • Life means suffering.
  • The cause of suffering is desire.
  • There is a way to stop suffering.
  • The Eight Fold Way.

The Eight Fold Way-

  • Right View
  • Right Intention
  • Right Speech
  • Right Action
  • Right Livelihood
  • Right Effort
  • Right Mindfulness
  • Right Concentration

Right View

You should see and understand things as they are, not as you would wish them to be.

Right Intention

A commitment to improvement, of which there are three elements-

  • Renouncing Desire.
  • Good Will- Resistance to feelings of anger and aversion.
  • Harmlessness- Not thinking or acting cruelly, violently, or aggressively and instead developing compassion.

Right Speech

The first principle of ethical conduct.  Words can break or save lives, make enemies or friends, start war or create peace.  There are four elements-

  • Abstention from false speech that deliberately lies and deceives.
  • Abstention from slanderous speech and the malicious use of words against others.
  • Abstention from harsh words that offend or hurt others.
  • Abstention from idle chatter that lacks purpose or depth.

Right Action

The second principle of ethical conduct.  Deeds are just as important as words.  Acting kindly and compassionately, being honest, respecting the belongings of others, and keeping sexual relationships harmless to others.  There are  three elements-

  • Abstention from harm, especially to abstain from taking life (including suicide) and doing harm intentionally or delinquently.
  • Abstention from taking what is not given, which includes stealing, robbery, fraud, deceitfulness, and dishonesty.
  • Abstention from sexual misconduct.

Right Livelihood

You should earn your living in a righteous way.  Wealth should be gained legally and peacefully.  Any occupation that would violate the principles of right speech and right action should be avoided, four are specifically mentioned-

  • Dealing in weapons.
  • Dealing in living beings (including raising animals for slaughter as well as slave trade and prostitution).
  • Working in meat production and butchery.
  • Selling intoxicants and poisons, such as alcohol and drugs.

Right Effort

Mental energy is the force behind right effort.  The same type of energy that fuels desire, envy, aggression, and violence can on the other side fuel self-discipline, honesty, benevolence, and kindness.  Without effort nothing can be achieved.  There are four elements of increasing difficulty-

  • Not developing new bad habits.
  • Abandoning old bad habits.
  • Developing good habits.
  • Maintaining and perfecting good habits.

Right Mindfulness

PAY ATTENTION!  Not just to the reality around you, but how you think about the reality around you and how that thinking shapes your actions.  You should actively control your thoughts.  There are four areas of which you should be aware-

  • Body
  • Emotion
  • State of Mind
  • Reality

Right Concentration

Concentration is mental force, one-pointedness of mind, meaning a state where all mental faculties are unified and directed onto one particular object.  Right Concentration is directed at the reduction of suffering.  Little things like the Four Noble Truths and the Eight Fold Way, so go back to the top and read it again.  I’ll wait.

You have not suffered enough!

What do you desire?

The wise man desires wisdom, but perhaps they’re a little biased.  Some people mistake Buddhists for pacifists when nothing could be further from the truth.

The cause of suffering is desire.  Desire for either existence or non-existence and only if you give up that desire can you get off the wheel.

Otherwise you’re forced to repeat that behavior until you get it right.

Call it Groundhog Day or Arrested Spiritual Development, it both amuses and saddens me to see the same old plays by the same old players.  All it really shows is that they’re not paying attention to the new reality.

You can’t hurt anyone here unless they let you.

All your most evil plans and machinations, your gangs and email circles and Wrongs! and Hides and all your hateful words can’t do a thing.

This is Right View, seeing things as they are, not as you wish them to be.

Most people here have Right Intention, a commitment to improvement.  They are people of good will, not into thinking or acting cruelly, violently, or aggressively and instead developing compassion.

They are committed to ethical conduct, of which one part is Right Speech.  Let’s review the elements-

  • Abstention from false speech that deliberately lies and deceives.
  • Abstention from slanderous speech and the malicious use of words against others.
  • Abstention from harsh words that offend or hurt others.
  • Abstention from idle chatter that lacks purpose or depth.

Well, still working on that last one myself, unless you define it as gossip which some scholars do.

Another part of ethical conduct is Right Action– kindness and compassion, honesty, respecting the belongings of others, and keeping sexual relationships harmless to others.

If you don’t want to be ethical- leave.

If you don’t want to be here- leave.

We’re here to work on the last 4 parts of The Way.

If you are developing new bad habits.  If you are not abandoning old bad habits.  If you are not developing new good habits or maintaining and perfecting the same-

Leave.

Mental energy is the force behind right effort.  The same type of energy that fuels desire, envy, aggression, and violence can on the other side fuel self-discipline, honesty, benevolence, and kindness.  Without effort nothing can be achieved.

If you’re not going to make an effort I’ll not waste any of mine on you.

If I see you misbehaving I’ll suspend you.  If a Contributing Editor complains about you in the Admin Forum I’ll suspend you.

First, no questions asked.

This is a temporary suspension.  The intention is to keep you from doing any more damage to yourself or others.  You will not be able to post (comments or essays) or rate.

A notification will be put up in the Admin Forum and as many Admins and Contributing Editors as care to contribute will discuss your case and debate the appropriate punishment.  This process may take 24 hours.

Most punishments will take the form of suspensions, either 2 days or 1 week.  You will not be able to post (comments or essays) or rate.  You may receive multiple suspensions and they may be greater or lesser depending on severity and frequency of the offense.  All Administrative Punishments will be reviewed by budhy.

Offensive Content

Offensive Content including but not limited to pornography, hate speech, spam, threats, disclosure of personal information,  plagiarism, and copyright violations will be removed and placed in storage for review by the Admins and Contributing Editors while they consider your temporary suspension.

Yes, that’s right, posting offensive content is grounds for immediate temporary suspension.

In the case of essays, a notice will replace the essay.  In the case of comments they will just disappear.

If it is budhy’s decision that the content is not too offensive it will be restored.  He will be advised by the Admins and Contributing Editors, but the final decision is his.  This process may take up to 24 hours.

Ratings Abuse

Laughable.  If you go around handing out Wrongs! and Hides like chiclets to your ideological and personal enemies all you be showing is the meritlessness of your position and the emptiness of your arguments.

You can not hurt them.

All you can do is claim the reputation of a mean, spiteful, hate filled person for yourself; a reputation you’ll undoubtedly deserve.

I encourage all of you who are not ratings abusers to treat this practice with the ridicule and derision it deserves.  It is so petty it is not worth punishing, it is beneath notice.

Transparency

The recommendations of Admins and Contributing Editors to budhy on disciplinary measures are private.  If an Admin or Contributing Editor wishes to make their own opinion public that’s their choice.  If an Admin or Contributing Editor chooses to make the opinions of another Admin or Contributing Editor public I will recommend to budhy that he consider whether they should continue in that position or not.

I think that any purpose served by publicly commenting that a temporary suspension is in effect is vastly outweighed by the damage done to that individual’s reputation.  Once an Administrative Punishment is decided on, the user should be notified by email.  I am open to the idea of public notification of an Administrative Punishment, but not in favor of it due to the reputation damage already cited.

I don’t give a rat’s ass what you think about me.

It is useless to complain about the ownership of a blog.  You either accept it or you don’t.  If you stay, you are their guest.  If they ask you to leave, you go- whether you want to or not.

I am an Admin, as are Turkana and On The Bus.  In my case I don’t owe my lofty position to anything at all except my good relationship with budhy so I don’t claim any superior merit.  Those who are Contributing Editors and Guest Bloggers were also hand picked by budhy for those positions.

Complaining that some animals are more equal than others is not Right View.  It is refusing to see things as they are and instead substituting what you wish they would be.

If your concern is that justice is not equally dispensed, essentially you’re contending that all 32 of us are being dishonest with you.

If you feel that way, why stay?

Why, why, I’ll go back to my blog and tell them all about what meanies you guys are!

So what?  I don’t give a rat’s ass what you think about me or say about me on some other blog.  If your whining martyrdom somehow advances your personal agenda I’d expect nothing less of a disingenuous opportunist like yourself.

Is Harry Reid Ready to Fight?

Is Harry Reid ready to fight for those who fight for us? Is Harry Reid ready to fight for the Iraqi people? Is Harry Reid ready to fight for what’s best for the United States and the world? The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein seems to think so:

For the past few weeks, a cadre of close consultants advising Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, was split over how to approach the looming legislative battles on Iraq.

Those in favor of giving Republicans an opening for compromise outnumbered those who believed such a deal would fail politically. The former argued that “progress” on Iraq – in this case passing drawdown legislation even without a firm exit date – was preferable to passing nothing at all.

And we’ve all been expressing our feelings about that, just a bit.

Those in favor of giving Republicans an opening for compromise outnumbered those who believed such a deal would fail politically. The former argued that “progress” on Iraq – in this case passing drawdown legislation even without a firm exit date – was preferable to passing nothing at all.

Reid’s been holding regular meetings with:

-former advisers to President Clinton, Paul Begala and Stan Greenberg
-adviser to Senator Dodd, Doug Sosnick
-adviser to Senator Obama, Jim Margolis
-his own pollster, Mark Mellman
-his own advisers, Stephanie Cutter and Susan McCue

Their advice?

According to several sources, the majority of these consultants were touting the efficacy of a compromise with Republicans on Iraq legislation as recently as last week.

And Reid made a serious effort to recruit Republicans. We know how that worked out. How many times do Democratic leaders need to be told to ignore the advisers and follow their instincts?

This past Monday, Reid’s tactics changed.

Let me repeat that:

This past Monday, Reid’s tactics changed.

We’ve all been desperately waiting for that. And this:

According to party insiders who spoke to the Huffington Post, there is now almost complete unanimity among Reid’s circle that this is the best way forward.

There will soon be a new Reid-Feingold attempt to pass legislation calling for nearly complete withdrawal, by June 2008. He will also have the chance to attach a firm deadline to an upcoming appropriations bill.

We know where Senator Reid’s heart is. As I’ve previously noted, he’s previously said this:

This war is a serious situation. It involves the worst foreign policy mistake in the history of this country.

this:

At a time when President Bush is asking our troops to shoulder a larger and unsustainable burden policing a civil war, his failed policies have left us increasingly isolated in Iraq and less secure here at home.

And he was reported to have said this:

…he now saw ending the war as a moral duty, and even if the Senate again falls short… would turn again and again to Iraq until either the president relents or enough Republicans join Democrats to overrule Mr. Bush.

If today’s report is accurate, Senator Reid is ready to act on those beliefs. If this reporting is accurate, it’s not a matter of him finally ignoring his advisers, it’s a matter of those advisers finally figuring out what we all figured out a long time ago: the Republicans will not end this war. Since July, we’ve known that the American people want the Democrats to lead us out of Iraq. If today’s report is accurate, they may be about to start doing that.

Crashing and Burning In Wingnut Land

They have the White House, they have the Supreme Court, they have Congress locked up in a Filibuster Cell and have thrown away the key.  They have the DOJ and FBI and DHS and CIA and NSA.  They have 24/7 control over the corporate media, they have an endless supply of K-Street cash, they have police with itchy taser trigger fingers and Blackwater thugs with licenses to kill.  They have all the political and economic power that deceit, subversion, coercion, blackmail, and blood money can buy.

But they’re crashing and burning anyway.

Republicans are crashing and burning nationwide.  They’re crashing and burning in places they’ve never crashed and burned before, even when Herbert W. Hoover was The Decider. They’re crashing and burning in Kentucky, they’re crashing and burning in Missouri, they’re even crashing and burning in Utah.

I love the smell of Karma in the morning.  It smells like . . . victory.

The crashing and burning we’re seeing all across “conservative” America is going to continue.  It’s going to go on until there’s nothing left of the Republican Party but smoldering wreckage from Halliburton D.C. to that wasteland of Ted Stevens hackery in the People’s Republic of Alaska.  These degenerates, from Bush and Cheney on down to the last raving, flag-waving, Bible-thumping Republican hypocrite on the Bumfuck, Idaho school board are going to crash and burn and I’m going to savor every Karmic minute of it.

Those goons on rightwing talk radio can howl about MoveOn.org until they rupture themselves, it’s not going to matter.  Holy Joe can slander every Democrat since Andrew Jackson, it’s not going to matter.  Bill O’Reilly can cut off mics and wave his paws in the air and go ballistic about “vile, vicious, leftist blogs” until his head explodes, it’s not going to matter.  

They.  Are.  Going.  Down.

Like this:

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Reid and Pelosi are going to keep fucking things up for us because that’s what they do for a living, but it’s not going to matter.  The Republican brand is in the gutter where it belongs.  Americans are finally waking up.  They’re pissed at Democrats and who can blame them?  But Republicans are despised.  All they’ve ever had is lies and flag-waving photo ops, and the American people have finally figured that out.  All the Republicans have left now is “support the hostages”, and the American people know it.


Republicans.  Are.  Going.  Down.  Big.  Time.


Circle November 4, 2008 on your calendars, Goopers, and brace yourselves for the consequences of 8 years of gay marriage hackery, warmongering treachery, and off the charts hypocrisy:

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Filibuster that.

Meanwhile, Dick Cheney is only one pacemaker glitch away from being drafted by Satan. Forget getting any deferments Dick, you used them all up. 

The Commander Guy desperately wants a war with Iran, he thinks that would revive this flat-lined, brain-dead clusterfuck of all clusterfucks he calls a “presidency”, but he’s been told by the Joint Chiefs of Staff “that the U.S. could launch a devastating air attack on Iran’s government and military, wiping out the Iranian air force, the command and control structure and some of the more obvious nuclear facilities. But the Chiefs were unanimously opposed to taking that course of action.”

They warned Bush that “our intelligence inside Iran is very sketchy. There was no way to be sure that we could take out all of Iran’s nuclear facilities. Furthermore, the Chiefs warned, the Iranian response in Iraq and, quite possibly, in terrorist attacks on the U.S. could be devastating. Bush apparently took this advice to heart and went to Plan B — a covert destabilization campaign reported earlier this week by ABC News.”

Here’s the deal Bush/Cheney, Republican hacks, and every fascist freak in Wingnut Land; when the Joint Chiefs are unanimous in opposition to attacking Iran, when a former Hitler Youth who somehow became Pope tells Condi to go fuck herself, and when there’s nothing left of that puppet government of yours in Iraq except Maliki, 3 ministers, and a one-eyed dog who wandered in off the street and got put in charge of the Iraqi Security Forces, it’s time to turn out the lights and pour the Kool Aid down the sink, your PNAC pajama party is over.

No, The World Is ROUND, You Idiot

One of my big time pet peeves is how we as a society have completely bought into the idea that ‘Globalization is Inevitable and Good’. You see it everywhere, even on the so-called economic left. Most pundits, economic advisors, and hell even many of our trusted left-leaning fiscal bloggers all treat the issue as an unquestioned net plus for society.

Hogwash.

There are many issues to be fixed in this country. I believe the biggest five are ending the war, restoring our constitutional balance, environmental crisis management, health care reform and economic reform. Of these five, I believe we as left-leaning advocates are furthest behind in developing our economic arguments and policies.

Actually let me start with a caveat. I believe myself to be an economic centrist. Following my tried-and-true approach of letting the facts lead me to my conclusions, I believe we have gone so far off-center in our economic approach we are virtual extremists at this point.

Why do I say ‘off-center’ instead of ‘to the right’? Because beginning at the turn of the 20th century, advocating a liberalized trade policy became a pet issue of liberals, not conservatives. That’s why they called it a liberalized trade policy in the first place. Liberalized ‘free’ trade was seen as an egalitarian dream. Open markets were supposed to work to everyone’s benefit by lowering prices and distributing wealth equitably.

But corporate greed and a willingness to exploit workers and the environment have turned yesterday’s Free Trade ideal into today’s global farce. One need look no further than the situation in Mexico to see the evidence. Factories have opened in small towns to great fanfare, only to see them become deserted environmental wastelands a few years later as corporations move to more fertile, even cheaper fields.

We need to raise public awareness as to the extremist economic policies of our government today. Here are some examples of how I think we should frame the discussion:

Hands-Off Free Trade is a Corporatist agenda. It is neither Liberal nor Conservative. Protecting consumers from poisoned pet food, ensuring our children don’t lick lead paint off their toys, and helping our entrepreneurs avoid unfair trade practices are American ideals. Advocating a common sense approach to this issue is not a communist plot.

Industry Deregulation is a Corporatist agenda. It is neither Liberal nor Conservative. Allowing workers to return home each night if they work in a mine, ensuring hazardous chemicals don’t get into the environment, and providing minimum standards for health and safety are American ideals. Advocating a common sense approach to this issue is not a communist plot.

Massive Industry Consolidation is a Corporatist agenda. It is neither Liberal nor Conservative. Ensuring a competitive playing field for industry and allowing for multiple points of view in our public discourse are American ideals. Advocating a common sense approach to this issue is not a communist plot.

Ignoring Environmental Issues and Worker’s Rights in Trade Deals is a Corporatist agenda. It is neither Liberal nor Conservative. Requiring companies to ensure they don’t destroy the environment in Mexico and stopping them from exploiting workers in other countries are American ideals. Advocating a common sense approach to this issue is not a communist plot.

I think you see what I’m getting at. We need to change public perception on these vital issues away from it all being about Liberalism vs. Conservatism, Communism vs. Capitalism.

This is all about Corporate Extremism vs. the Public Good. Period. End of Story.

Personal Note – I started writing about a lot of this stuff over at the Big Orange. I included beaucoup de facts and figures but I wasn’t getting much traction. In the future, should I continue to write about this stuff here, I’ll dazzle y’all with numbers and fancy links to back up my crazy talk. For now, I just wanted to lay the groundwork. Cheers.

My 9/11 Theory Vol. 1

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Of course we all know that 9/11 was a huge and tragic event for this country. All conversation about it should be handled in a very respectful manner and with immense sensitivity.

But it has become obvious over the years that we cannot just accept that the official story of 9/11 is one hundred per cent true. So it is not just a subject where we need to show sensitivity, but it is a controversial subject as well. This also must be handled delicately and with taste and decorum. Over the next several years I shall present my theories and views on 9/11 and what REALLY happened every week here on Docudharma.

With a subject as controversial as this, it is necessary to be able to go into great and exacting detail. But also to look at in the Big Picture. I intend to cover the subject COMPLETELY AND EXHAUSTIVELY so at the end, when I present my conclusions, there will be no possibility of doubt. But this is the beginning, an important place to start, so let us go there now and begin. Tonight in this comprehensive series, I bring you Vol 1 of what will be a shocking expose of our government and our nation….if not the world. Click now and follow me below for 9/11: The Beginning of the Story!

From Wikipedia

Abiogenesis, the question of the origin of life, is the study of how life on Earth might have emerged from non-life. It is believed to have happened sometime between 4.4 billion years ago, when water vapor first liquefied,[2] and 2.7 billion years ago, when the ratio of stable isotopes of carbon (12C and 13C ), iron and sulfur points to a biogenic origin of minerals and sediments[3][4] and molecular biomarkers indicate photosynthesis.[5][6] This topic also includes panspermia and other exogenic theories regarding possible extra-planetary or extra-terrestrial origins of life, thought to have possibly occurred sometime over the last 13.7 billion years in the evolution of the Universe since the Big Bang.[7]

Origin of life studies is a limited field of research despite its profound impact on biology and human understanding of the natural world. Progress in this field is generally slow and sporadic, though it still draws the attention of many due to the eminence of the question being investigated. Several theories have been proposed, most notably[8] RNA world hypothesis.

History of the concept in science

By the middle of the 19th century Pasteur and others had demonstrated that living organisms did not arise spontaneously from non-living matter; the question therefore arose of how life might have come about within a naturalistic framework. In a letter to Joseph Dalton Hooker on February 1, 1871, Charles Darwin made the suggestion that the original spark of life may have begun in a “warm little pond, with all sorts of ammonia and phosphoric salts, lights, heat, electricity, etc. present, so that a protein compound was chemically formed ready to undergo still more complex changes”. He went on to explain that “at the present day such matter would be instantly devoured or absorbed, which would not have been the case before living creatures were formed.”[9] In other words, the presence of life itself makes the search for the origin of life dependent on the sterile conditions of the laboratory.
Aleksandr Oparin (right) at the laboratory
Aleksandr Oparin (right) at the laboratory

No real progress was made until 1924 when Aleksandr Ivanovich Oparin experimentally showed that atmospheric oxygen prevented the synthesis of the organic molecules that are the necessary building blocks for the evolution of life. In his The Origin of Life on Earth, Oparin argued that a “primeval soup” of organic molecules could be created in an oxygen-less atmosphere through the action of sunlight. These would combine in ever-more complex fashion until they dissolved into a coacervate droplet. These droplets would “grow” by fusion with other droplets, and “reproduce” through fission into daughter droplets, and so have a primitive metabolism in which those factors which promote “cell integrity” survive, those that do not become extinct. Many modern theories of the origin of life still take Oparin’s ideas as a starting point. Around the same time J. B. S. Haldane also suggested that the earth’s pre-biotic oceans – very different from their modern counterparts – would have formed a “hot dilute soup” in which organic compounds, the building blocks of life, could have formed. This idea was called biopoiesis or biopoesis, the process of living matter evolving from self-replicating but nonliving molecules.

[edit] Current models

There is no truly “standard model” of the origin of life. But most currently accepted models build in one way or another upon a number of discoveries about the origin of molecular and cellular components for life, which are listed in a rough order of postulated emergence:

  1. Plausible pre-biotic conditions result in the creation of certain basic small molecules (monomers) of life, such as amino acids. This was demonstrated in the Miller-Urey experiment by Stanley L. Miller and Harold C. Urey in 1953.
  2. Phospholipids (of an appropriate length) can spontaneously form lipid bilayers, a basic component of the cell membrane.
  3. The polymerization of nucleotides into random RNA molecules might have resulted in self-replicating ribozymes (RNA world hypothesis).
  4. Selection pressures for catalytic efficiency and diversity result in ribozymes which catalyse peptidyl transfer (hence formation of small proteins), since oligopeptides complex with RNA to form better catalysts. Thus the first ribosome is born, and protein synthesis becomes more prevalent.
  5. Proteins outcompete ribozymes in catalytic ability, and therefore become the dominant biopolymer. Nucleic acids are restricted to predominantly genomic use.

The origin of the basic biomolecules, while not settled, is less controversial than the significance and order of steps 2 and 3. The basic chemicals from which life was thought to have formed are:

  * methane (CH4),
  * ammonia (NH3),
  * water (H2O),
  * hydrogen sulfide (H2S),
  * carbon dioxide (CO2) or carbon monoxide (CO), and
  * phosphate (PO43-).

Molecular oxygen (O2) and ozone (O3) were either rare or absent.

As of 2007, no one has yet synthesized a “protocell” using basic components which would have the necessary properties of life (the so-called “bottom-up-approach”). Without such a proof-of-principle, explanations have tended to be short on specifics. However, some researchers are working in this field, notably Steen Rasmussen at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Jack Szostak at Harvard University. Others have argued that a “top-down approach” is more feasible. One such approach, attempted by Craig Venter and others at The Institute for Genomic Research, involves engineering existing prokaryotic cells with progressively fewer genes, attempting to discern at which point the most minimal requirements for life were reached. The biologist John Desmond Bernal, coined the term Biopoesis for this process, and suggested that there were a number of clearly defined “stages” that could be recognised in explaining the origin of life.

  * Stage 1: The origin of biological monomers
  * Stage 2: The origin of biological polymers
  * Stage 3: The evolution from molecules to cell

Bernal suggested that Darwinian evolution may have commenced early, some time between Stage 1 and 2.

[edit] Origin of organic molecules
The Miller-Urey experiment attempted to recreate the chemical conditions of the primitive Earth in the laboratory, and synthesized some of the building blocks of life.
The Miller-Urey experiment attempted to recreate the chemical conditions of the primitive Earth in the laboratory, and synthesized some of the building blocks of life.

[edit] Miller’s experiments

  Main article: Miller experiment

In 1953 a graduate student, Stanley Miller, and his professor, Harold Urey, performed an experiment that proved organic molecules could have spontaneously formed on Early Earth from inorganic precursors. The now-famous “Miller-Urey experiment” used a highly reduced mixture of gases – methane, ammonia and hydrogen – to form basic organic monomers, such as amino acids. Whether the mixture of gases used in the Miller-Urey experiment truly reflects the atmospheric content of Early Earth is a controversial topic. Other less reducing gases produce a lower yield and variety. It was once thought that appreciable amounts of molecular oxygen were present in the prebiotic atmosphere, which would have essentially prevented the formation of organic molecules; however, the current scientific consensus is that such was not the case. See Oxygen Catastrophe.

Simple organic molecules are, of course, a long way from a fully functional self-replicating life form. But in an environment with no pre-existing life these molecules may have accumulated and provided a rich environment for chemical evolution (“soup theory”). On the other hand, the spontaneous formation of complex polymers from abiotically generated monomers under these conditions is not at all a straightforward process. Besides the necessary basic organic monomers, compounds that would have prohibited the formation of polymers were formed in high concentration during the experiments.

It can be argued that the most crucial challenge unanswered by this theory is how the relatively simple organic building blocks polymerise and form more complex structures, interacting in consistent ways to form a protocell. For example, in an aqueous environment hydrolysis of oligomers/polymers into their constituent monomers would be favored over the condensation of individual monomers into polymers. Also, the Miller experiment produces many substances that would undergo cross-reactions with the amino acids or terminate the peptide chain.

[edit] Fox’s experiments

In the 1950s and 1960s Sidney W. Fox, studied the spontaneous formation of peptide structures under conditions that might plausibly have existed early in Earth’s history. He demonstrated that amino acids could spontaneously form small peptides. These amino acids and small peptides could be encouraged to form closed spherical membranes, called microspheres. Fox described these formations as protocells, protein spheres that could grow and reproduce.[citation needed]

[edit] Eigen’s hypothesis

In the early 1970s the problem of the origin of life was approached by Manfred Eigen and Peter Schuster of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry. They examined the transient stages between the molecular chaos and a self replicating hypercycle in a prebiotic soup.[10]

In a hypercycle, the information storing system (possibly RNA) produces an enzyme, which catalyzes the formation of another information system, in sequence until the product of the last aids in the formation of the first information system. Mathematically treated, hypercycles could create quasispecies, which through natural selection entered into a form of Darwinian evolution. A boost to hypercycle theory was the discovery that RNA, in certain circumstances forms itself into ribozymes, a form of RNA enzyme.[citation needed]

[edit] Wächtershäuser’s hypothesis

  Main article: iron-sulfur world theory

Deep-sea black smoker
Deep-sea black smoker

Another possible answer to this polymerization conundrum was provided in 1980s by Günter Wächtershäuser, in his iron-sulfur world theory. In this theory, he postulated the evolution of (bio)chemical pathways as fundamentals of the evolution of life. Moreover, he presented a consistent system of tracing today’s biochemistry back to ancestral reactions that provide alternative pathways to the synthesis of organic building blocks from simple gaseous compounds.

In contrast to the classical Miller experiments, which depend on external sources of energy (such as simulated lightning or UV irradiation), “Wächtershäuser systems” come with a built-in source of energy, sulfides of iron and other minerals (e.g. pyrite). The energy released from redox reactions of these metal sulfides is not only available for the synthesis of organic molecules, but also for the formation of oligomers and polymers. It is therefore hypothesized that such systems may be able to evolve into autocatalytic sets of self-replicating, metabolically active entities that would predate the life forms known today.

The experiment produced a relatively small yield of dipeptides (0.4% to 12.4%) and a smaller yield of tripeptides (0.10%) but the authors also noted that: “under these same conditions dipeptides hydrolysed rapidly.”[11] Another criticism of the result is that the experiment did not include any organic molecules that would most likely cross-react or chain-terminate.[citation needed]

William Martin and Michael Russell reported a modified iron-sulfur-hypothesis in 2002.[12] According to their scenario, the first cellular life forms may have evolved inside so-called black smokers at seafloor spreading zones in the deep sea. These structures consist of microscale caverns that are coated by thin membraneous metal sulfide walls. Therefore, these structures would solve several critical points of the “pure” Wächtershäuser systems at once:

  1. the micro-caverns provide a means of concentrating newly synthesised molecules, thereby increasing the chance of forming oligomers;
  2. the steep temperature gradients inside a black smoker allow for establishing “optimum zones” of partial reactions in different regions of the black smoker (e.g. monomer synthesis in the hotter, oligomerisation in the colder parts);
  3. the flow of hydrothermal water through the structure provides a constant source of building blocks and energy (freshly precipitated metal sulfides);
  4. the model allows for a succession of different steps of cellular evolution (prebiotic chemistry, monomer and oligomer synthesis, peptide and protein synthesis, RNA world, ribonucleoprotein assembly and DNA world) in a single structure, facilitating exchange between all developmental stages;
  5. synthesis of lipids as a means of “closing” the cells against the environment is not necessary, until basically all cellular functions are developed.

This model locates the “last universal common ancestor” (LUCA) inside a black smoker, rather than assuming the existence of a free-living form of LUCA. The last evolutionary step would be the synthesis of a lipid membrane that finally allows the organisms to leave the microcavern system of the black smokers and start their independent lives. This postulated late acquisition of lipids is consistent with the presence of completely different types of membrane lipids in archaebacteria and eubacteria (plus eukaryotes) with highly similar cellular physiology of all life forms in most other aspects.

[edit] From organic molecules to protocells

The question “How do simple organic molecules form a protocell?” is largely unanswered but there are many hypotheses. Some of these postulate the early appearance of nucleic acids (“genes-first”) whereas others postulate the evolution of biochemical reactions and pathways first (“metabolism-first”). Recently, trends are emerging to create hybrid models that combine aspects of both.

[edit] “Genes first” models: the RNA world

  Main article: RNA world hypothesis

The RNA world hypothesis suggests that relatively short RNA molecules could have spontaneously formed that were capable of catalyzing their own continuing replication. It is difficult to gauge the probability of this formation. A number of theories of modes of formation have been put forward. Early cell membranes could have formed spontaneously from proteinoids, protein-like molecules that are produced when amino acid solutions are heated – when present at the correct concentration in aqueous solution, these form microspheres which are observed to behave similarly to membrane-enclosed compartments. Other possibilities include systems of chemical reactions taking place within clay substrates or on the surface of pyrite rocks. Factors supportive of an important role for RNA in early life include its ability to act both to store information and catalyse chemical reactions (as a ribozyme); its many important roles as an intermediate in the expression and maintenance of the genetic information (in the form of DNA) in modern organisms; and the ease of chemical synthesis of at least the components of the molecule under conditions approximating the early Earth. Relatively short RNA molecules which can duplicate others have been artificially produced in the lab[13].

A slightly different version of this hypothesis is that a different type of nucleic acid, such as PNA or TNA, was the first one to emerge as a self-reproducing molecule, to be replaced by RNA only later[14] [15].

[edit] “Metabolism first” models: iron-sulfur world and others

Several models reject the idea of the self-replication of a “naked-gene” and postulate the emergence of a primitive metabolism which could provide an environment for the later emergence of RNA replication.

One of the earliest incarnations of this idea was put forward in 1924 with Aleksandr Ivanovich Oparin’s notion of primitive self-replicating vesicles which predated the discovery of the structure of DNA. More recent variants in the 1980s and 1990s include Günter Wächtershäuser’s iron-sulfur world theory and models introduced by Christian de Duve based on the chemistry of thioesters. More abstract and theoretical arguments for the plausibility of the emergence of metabolism without the presence of genes include a mathematical model introduced by Freeman Dyson in the early 1980s and Stuart Kauffman’s notion of collectively autocatalytic sets, discussed later in that decade.

However, the idea that a closed metabolic cycle, such as the reductive citric acid cycle, could form spontaneously (proposed by Günter Wächtershäuser) remains unsupported. According to Leslie Orgel, a leader in origin-of-life studies for the past several decades, there is reason to believe the assertion will remain so. In an article entitled “Self-Organizing Biochemical Cycles”,[16] Orgel summarizes his analysis of the proposal by stating, “There is at present no reason to expect that multistep cycles such as the reductive citric acid cycle will self-organize on the surface of FeS/FeS2 or some other mineral.” It is possible that another type of metabolic pathway was used at the beginning of life. For example, instead of the reductive citric acid cycle, the “open” acetyl-CoA pathway (another one of the four recognised ways of carbon dioxide fixation in nature today) would be even more compatible with the idea of self-organisation on a metal sulfide surface. The key enzyme of this pathway, carbon monoxide dehydrogenase/acetyl-CoA synthase harbours mixed nickel-iron-sulfur clusters in its reaction centers and catalyses the formation of acetyl-CoA (which may be regarded as a modern form of acetyl-thiol) in a single step.

[edit] Bubble Theory

Waves breaking on the shore create a delicate foam composed of bubbles. Winds sweeping across the ocean have a tendency to drive things to shore, much like driftwood collecting on the beach. It is possible that organic molecules were concentrated on the shorelines in much the same way. Shallow coastal waters also tend to be warmer, further concentrating the molecules through evaporation. While bubbles comprised mostly of water burst quickly, oily bubbles happen to be much more stable, lending more time to the particular bubble to perform these crucial experiments.

The phospholipid is a good example of an oily compound believed to have been prevalent in the prebiotic seas.[citation needed] Because phospholipids contain a hydrophilic head on one end, and a hydrophobic tail on the other, they have the spontaneous tendency to form lipid membranes in water. A spherically closed lipid bilayer contains water and is a hypothetical precursor to the modern cell membrane. If a protein came along that increased the integrity of its parent bubble, then that bubble had an advantage, and was placed at the top of the natural selection waiting list. Primitive reproduction can be envisioned when the bubbles burst, releasing the results of the experiment into the surrounding medium. Once enough of the ‘right stuff’ was released into the medium, the development of the first prokaryotes, eukaryotes, and multicellular organisms could be achieved.[17]

Similarly, bubbles formed entirely out of protein-like molecules, called microspheres, will form spontaneously under the right conditions. But they are not a likely precursor to the modern cell membrane, as cell membranes are composed primarily of lipid compounds rather than amino-acid compounds (for types of membrane spheres associated with abiogenesis, see protobionts, micelle, coacervate).

A recent model by Fernando and Rowe[18] suggests that the enclosure of an autocatalytic non-enzymatic metabolism within protocells may have been one way of avoiding the side-reaction problem that is typical of metabolism first models.

[edit] Other models

[edit] Autocatalysis

British ethologist Richard Dawkins wrote about autocatalysis as a potential explanation for the origin of life in his 2004 book The Ancestor’s Tale. Autocatalysts are substances which catalyze the production of themselves, and therefore have the property of being a simple molecular replicator. In his book, Dawkins cites experiments performed by Julius Rebek and his colleagues at the Scripps Research Institute in California in which they combined amino adenosine and pentafluorophenyl ester with the autocatalyst amino adenosine triacid ester (AATE). One system from the experiment contained variants of AATE which catalysed the synthesis of themselves. This experiment demonstrated the possibility that autocatalysts could exhibit competition within a population of entities with heredity, which could be interpreted as a rudimentary form of natural selection.

[edit] Clay theory

A model for the origin of life based on clay was forwarded by Dr A. Graham Cairns-Smith of the University of Glasgow in 1985 and adopted as a plausible illustration by several other scientists, including Richard Dawkins. Clay theory postulates that complex organic molecules arose gradually on a pre-existing, non-organic replication platform — silicate crystals in solution. Complexity in companion molecules developed as a function of selection pressures on types of clay crystal is then exapted to serve the replication of organic molecules independently of their silicate “launch stage”. It is, truly, “life from a rock.”

Cairns-Smith is a staunch critic of other models of chemical evolution.[19] However, he admits, that like many models of the origin of life, his own also has its shortcomings (Horgan 1991).

In 2007, Kahr and colleagues reported their experiments to examine the idea that crystals can act as a source of transferable information, using crystals of potassium hydrogen phthalate. “Mother” crystals with imperfections were cleaved and used as seeds to grow “daughter” crystals from solution. They then examined the distribution of imperfections in the crystal system and found that the imperfections in the mother crystals were indeed reproduced in the daughters. The daughter crystals had many additional imperfections. For a gene-like behavior the additional imperfections should be much less than the parent ones, thus Kahr concludes that the crystals “were not faithful enough to store and transfer information form one generation to the next”.[20][21]

[edit] “Deep-hot biosphere” model of Gold

The discovery of nanobes (filamental structures that are smaller than bacteria, but that may contain DNA) in deep rocks, led to a controversial theory put forward by Thomas Gold in the 1990s that life first developed not on the surface of the Earth, but several kilometers below the surface.[citation needed] It is now known that microbial life is plentiful up to five kilometers below the earth’s surface[citation needed] in the form of archaea, which are generally considered to have originated either before or around the same time as eubacteria, most of which live on the surface including the oceans. It is claimed that discovery of microbial life below the surface of another body in our solar system would lend significant credence to this theory. He also noted that a trickle of food from a deep, unreachable, source is needed for survival because life arising in a puddle of organic material is likely to consume all of its food and become extinct.

[edit] “Primitive” extraterrestrial life

An alternative to Earthly abiogenesis is the hypothesis that primitive life may have originally formed extraterrestrially, either in space or on a nearby planet (Mars). (Note that exogenesis is related to, but not the same as, the notion of panspermia).

Organic compounds are relatively common in space, especially in the outer solar system where volatiles are not evaporated by solar heating. Comets are encrusted by outer layers of dark material, thought to be a tar-like substance composed of complex organic material formed from simple carbon compounds after reactions initiated mostly by irradiation by ultraviolet light. It is supposed that a rain of material from comets could have brought significant quantities of such complex organic molecules to Earth.

An alternative but related hypothesis, proposed to explain the presence of life on Earth so soon after the planet had cooled down, with apparently very little time for prebiotic evolution, is that life formed first on early Mars. Due to its smaller size Mars cooled before Earth (a difference of hundreds of millions of years), allowing prebiotic processes there while Earth was still too hot. Life was then transported to the cooled Earth when crustal material was blasted off Mars by asteroid and comet impacts. Mars continued to cool faster and eventually became hostile to the continued evolution or even existence of life (it lost its atmosphere due to low volcanism), Earth is following the same fate as Mars, but at a slower rate.

Neither hypothesis actually answers the question of how life first originated, but merely shifts it to another planet or a comet. However, the advantage of an extraterrestrial origin of primitive life is that life is not required to have evolved on each planet it occurs on, but rather in a single location, and then spread about the galaxy to other star systems via cometary and/or meteorite impact. Evidence to support the plausibility of the concept is scant, but it finds support in recent study of Martian meteorites found in Antarctica and in studies of extremophile microbes.[22] Additional support comes from a recent discovery of a bacterial ecosytem whose energy source is radioactivity.[23]

[edit] The Lipid World

There is a theory that ascribes the first self-replicating object to be lipid-like.[24] It is known that phospholipids spontaneously form bilayers in water – the same structure as in cell membranes. These molecules were not present on early earth, however other amphiphilic long chain molecules also form membranes. Furthermore, these bodies may expand (by insertion of additional lipids), and under excessive expansion may undergo spontaneous splitting which preserves the same size and composition of lipids in the two progenies. The main idea in this theory is that the molecular composition of the lipid bodies is the preliminary way for information storage, and evolution led to the appearance of polymer entities such as RNA or DNA that may store information favorably.

[edit] The Polyphosphate model

The problem with most scenarios of abiogenesis is that the thermodynamic equilibrium of amino acid versus peptides is in the direction of separate amino acids. What has been missing is some force that drives polymerization. The resolution of this problem may well be in the properties of polyphosphates.[25][26] Polyphosphates are formed by polymerization of ordinary monophosphate ions PO4-3 by ultraviolet light. Polyphosphates cause polymerization of amino acids into peptides. Ample ultraviolet light must have existed in the early oceans. The key issue seems to be that calcium reacts with soluble phosphate to form insoluble calcium phosphate (apatite), so some plausible mechanism must be found to keep free calcium ions from solution. Possibly, the answer may be in some stable, non-reactive complex such as calcium citrate.

[edit] The Ecopoesis model

The Ecopoesis model[27] proposes that the geochemical cycles of biogenic elements, driven by an early oxygen-rich atmosphere, were the basis of a planetary metabolism that preceded and conditioned the gradual evolution of organismal life.

[edit] PAH world hypothesis

  Main article: PAH world hypothesis

Other sources of complex molecules have been postulated, including extra-terrestrial stellar or interstellar origin. For example, from spectral analyses, organic molecules are known to be present in comets and meteorites. In 2004, a team detected traces of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s) in a nebula.[28] Those are the most complex molecules so far found in space. The use of PAH’s has also been proposed as a precursor to the RNA world in the PAH world hypothesis[29].

[edit] Counterarguments

The modern concept of abiogenesis has been criticized by scientists throughout the years. Astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle did so based on the probability of abiogenesis randomly occurring. Physicist Hubert Yockey did so by saying that it is closer to theology than science.

Other scientists have proposed counterpoints to abiogenesis, such as, Harold Urey, Stanley Miller, Francis Crick (a molecular biologist), and Leslie Orgel’s Directed Panspermia hypothesis.

Beyond making the trivial observation that life exists, it is difficult to prove or falsify abiogenesis; therefore the hypothesis has many such critics, both in the scientific and non-scientific communities. Nonetheless, research and hypothesizing continue in the hope of developing a satisfactory theoretical mechanism of abiogenesis.

[edit] Hoyle

Sir Fred Hoyle, with Chandra Wickramasinghe, was a critic of abiogenesis. Specifically Hoyle rejected chemical evolution to explain the naturalistic origin of life. His argument was mainly based on the improbability of what were thought to be the necessary components coming together for chemical evolution. Though modern theories address his argument, Hoyle never saw chemical evolution as a reasonable explanation. Hoyle preferred panspermia as an alternative natural explanation to the origin of life on Earth.

[edit] Yockey

Information theorist Hubert Yockey argued that chemical evolutionary research faces the following problem:

  Research on the origin of life seems to be unique in that the conclusion has already been authoritatively accepted … . What remains to be done is to find the scenarios which describe the detailed mechanisms and processes by which this happened. One must conclude that, contrary to the established and current wisdom a scenario describing the genesis of life on earth by chance and natural causes which can be accepted on the basis of fact and not faith has not yet been written.[30]

In a book he wrote 15 years later, Yockey argued that the idea of abiogenesis from a primordial soup is a failed paradigm:

  Although at the beginning the paradigm was worth consideration, now the entire effort in the primeval soup paradigm is self-deception on the ideology of its champions. … The history of science shows that a paradigm, once it has achieved the status of acceptance (and is incorporated in textbooks) and regardless of its failures, is declared invalid only when a new paradigm is available to replace it. Nevertheless, in order to make progress in science, it is necessary to clear the decks, so to speak, of failed paradigms. This must be done even if this leaves the decks entirely clear and no paradigms survive. It is a characteristic of the true believer in religion, philosophy and ideology that he must have a set of beliefs, come what may (Hoffer, 1951). Belief in a primeval soup on the grounds that no other paradigm is available is an example of the logical fallacy of the false alternative. In science it is a virtue to acknowledge ignorance. This has been universally the case in the history of science as Kuhn (1970) has discussed in detail. There is no reason that this should be different in the research on the origin of life.[31]

Yockey, in general, possesses a highly critical attitude toward people who give credence toward natural origins of life, often invoking words like “faith” and “ideology”. Yockey’s publications have become favorites to quote among creationists, though he is not a creationist himself (as noted in this 1995 email).

[edit] Abiogenic synthesis of key chemicals

A number of problems with the RNA world hypothesis remain. There are no known chemical pathways for the abiogenic synthesis of the pyrimidine nucleobases cytosine and uracil under prebiotic conditions.[32] Other problems are the difficulty of nucleoside synthesis (from ribose and nucleobase), ligating nucleosides with phosphate to form the RNA backbone, and the short lifetime of the nucleoside molecules, especially cytosine which is prone to hydrolysis.[33] Recent experiments also suggest that the original estimates of the size of an RNA molecule capable of self-replication were most probably vast underestimates.[citation needed] More-modern forms of the RNA World theory propose that a simpler molecule was capable of self-replication (that other “World” then evolved over time to produce the RNA World). At this time however, the various hypotheses have incomplete evidence supporting them. Many of them can be simulated and tested in the lab, but a lack of undisturbed sedimentary rock from that early in Earth’s history leaves few opportunities to test this hypothesis robustly.

[edit] Homochirality Problem

  Main article: Homochirality

Another unsolved issue in chemical evolution is the origin of homochirality, i.e. all monomers having the same “handedness” (amino acids being left handed, and nucleic acid sugars (ribose and deoxyribose) being right handed). Chiral molecules exist in nature as homogenous mixtures balanced approx. 50/50. This is called a racemic mixture. However, homochirality is essential for the formation of functional ribozymes and proteins. Proper formation is impeded by the very presence of right-handed amino acids and/or left-handed sugars in that they create malformed structures.

Work performed in 2003 by scientists at Purdue identified the amino acid serine as being a probable root cause of the organic molecules’ homochirality.[34] Serine forms particularly strong bonds with amino acids of the same chirality, resulting in a cluster of eight molecules that must be all right-handed or left-handed. This property stands in contrast with other amino acids which are able to form weak bonds with amino acids of opposite chirality. Although the mystery of why left-handed serine became dominant is still unsolved, this result suggests an answer to the question of chiral transmission: how organic molecules of one chirality maintain dominance once asymmetry is established.

Pony Party…Wicked Edition

What would life be, without pony parties?  What would a pony party be, without music?  Indeed, life itself would quickly become a dull gray platter on which we are the overcooked vegetables, the intermittent rattle in life’s dashboard, the irregular hum of the midnight refrigerator to the dreaming joy of our existence.  And what better music for an existential soundtrack, of course, than show tunes?

This is surely the best of all possible worlds, and this is the best of all possible threads.

One must get through a half minute of NBC announcer for this one…”Popular” with the original cast, the incomparable Idina Menzel and Kristen Chenoweth.  In the rain, on the street, and utterly captivating.

Jessical is your morning Candida today, but I’m at the best of all possible dentists and away from the computer for the duration.  I promise ponies (the very best ponies) when I get back this evening.  In the interim…be excellent to one another.

Revisiting the Founders and Finding Myself

The recent essays about freedom, the use of police force (tasering) a student at a public speaking event, the failure of the Senate to restore habeas corpus, the continued use and sanction of torture, etc. led me to this morning’s thought process.

We have not only lost our way, but we’ve forgotten our common history.

Back to our future

and the writings and biographies of the founders.  I thought I had an average grip on US history and the way the Constitution works.  However, I didn’t, and I still don’t.

I started dabbling in history – read some of Thomas Paine’s works.  Saw John Adams’ personal library – did you know he was fluent in seven languages, and that he routinely wrote letters to Abigail so that they could use each other as debate opponents and strengthen their respective arguments?

Then I started in on Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin, the wily, crafty brilliant diplomat.

I have such a long way to go to be even just barely competent in my understanding.

We have lost the common language of the founders.  And with that loss, we have lost the art of civil discourse (I know – but I’m using it in the academic sense).

We are so far away from the original debates and calls for a form of equitable representation that I weep for the fiddling we do while Rome burns.(apropos of the film set that I’m working around today – the Pope’s bedroom – Ha!)

That’s why I am so desire a group blog which focuses on developing a second blogging generation of meaty issues. 

The idea

How about a series on the relative merits of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense?  What about a Jeffersonian model critique?

My fellow Americans (how long has it been since we’ve heard THAT phrase), we have to clean up our own house before we go out into the world.

This brings me to my community questions:


First question:

If we were to take a moment or three to revisit our history, what should we revisit?

Here are my beginning selections and a link to the National Archives:

The Continental Congress
The Declaration of Independence
The Articles of Confederation
The Constitution
The Bill of Rights
The Federalist Papers
The private and published papers of the founders
Works of Thomas Paine, Abigail Adams, Phyllis Wheatley
The biographies of the founders and Payne, A Adams and P Wheatley

Second question:

Is there any interest in forming an online discussion sub group where one or more DDharmas takes responsibility for guiding a discussion of a topic?

Third question:

Could Web 2.0 take this into the NextGen of blogging?  How?

Fourth question:

Would any of the Progressive Historians see this as a cross-blogging opportunity to lead as guides? (And are there any librarians who would consider a role in this endeavor?)

I think we must go back and look to our shared history, regardless of when we our ancestors or we physically arrived.  And this time, we should also include first peoples’ history (and I don’t know where or what the original source documents are and need help here) to guide our preferred future.

My fear is that people will see the word history and will flee from this essay.  My fondest wish is that this would get more interest and comments than Armando! (Saying this in a friendly, faux-competitive sense, Armando!).

We desperately need a shared reason to co-exist.   Let’s find it here and now.

Fingers crossed (making it even more difficult to type)

Do you ever wonder? The Series

Do you ever wonder? Well, yes and so another foray into life’s conundrums big and small. 

You are invited to follow me below the fold.

Do you ever wonder why people who insist on taking the Bible literally have a problem with our Constitutional documents. Taken literally there would be no Constitutional wrangles concerning individual rights. Not the right of women to vote, not the right of Blacks not to be slaves, or Native Americans recognized as full citizens, or marriage equality, or that this country is not a Christian nation. Clearly our founding fathers were far more egalitarian than the religious right. There is no wiggle room in the  words of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Kinda like the words of Jesus that way, unambiguous.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.-.

Evidence of a Christian nation, well not exactly. If “creator” is taken to mean THE CREATOR, a universal concept in all theistic beliefs, then it would mean all religions from Christian  to Hindu. But  Jefferson’s god was found in the order of nature, not the Bible, hardly a Christian concept. How disappointed he would be if he knew that one phrase would embolden a group of fanatics to try to bring about a theocracy, stomp on the Constitution and rewrite history.

In the Bible literalists find plenty of justification for bad behavior too, like support for slavery and marginalizing indigenous people, for hate crimes and persecution of anyone deviating from their version of right and their parsing of the Charters of Freedom. All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator. Its talking about human beings, mankind, all of us and we get the goodies just by showing up. Heck we don’t have to DO anything, being a live is enough to get all the perks and privileges of being an American. Our Constitution goes further and with remarkable humanity extends those same protections to everyone inside our borders citizen or not. No second class people here, no doorway to oppression.

The DOI laid out the general premise, the Constitution nailed it, starting with WE THE PEOPLE. The central theme of the Bill of Rights isn’t about rich white Christian men, no the language of the Constitution is powerfully inclusive, by the people,  to the people, of the people. No caveats, no loopholes, no cheesing out. 

This has been a very important week starting with the demonstrations in DC and Jena, La. The fight in Congress over Habeas and funding for the war. Monday was the 220th annivesary of the signing of the Constitution. I don’t remember hearing anything on the news, no special programing on Constitution Day. It is one thing not to cover the marches in DC but quite another not to celebrate the Constitution, not to reacquaint us with the most powerful document ever written.

This started as a rant about the ultra conservatives who would dismantle the Constitution, but it is really about anyone willing to parse the documents out of ignorance or perfidy. The Charters of Freedom are the DNA of this nation, part of our DNA too. We are nothing without it and everything if we embrace it. The DOI, The Bill of Rights and the Constitution, an amazing gift to future generations who would read it and believe.

On Freedom

We can talk all we want about freedom and opportunity, about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but what does all that mean to a mother or father who can’t take a sick child to the doctor?

That, my fellow Democrats, is our frontrunner for our party’s nomination for President of the United States, Sen. Hillary Clinton.  Sen. Clinton made that statement in presenting her plan for health care reform which, like that of former Sen. John Edwards, would compel all Americans to enroll in a health insurance program.  Citizens would have an option of many private insurance options, or a public option similar to Medicare.  Tax credits would ensure that no American is forced to pay more than a certain percentage of their income on health insurance.

I have little desire to speak out against health care reform, or against plans that would make affordable health care available to all Americans.  It is, for certain, a very noble pursuit.  What I’d like to talk about is the deeply disturbing cavalier attitude towards freedom as expressed by Sen. Clinton in that quote, which is endemic among elected officials of both political parties.

What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.

The above quotation is from Thomas Paine, in December of 1776.  John Adams once said of Paine that if it had not been for his writings, the “sword of Washington would have been wielded in vain.”  These are the ideas without which America could never have come to be.  But what is freedom, anyways?

The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental or spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.

The above quotation would never be uttered by Sen. Clinton, or likely by any elected official in America today.  It was written by John Stuart Mill, in the famed treatise On Liberty, who is perhaps the greatest philosopher on the subject of freedom in human history. 

Men such as Paine and Mill were essential to spreading the idea of freedom to political thinkers world wide.  But we all know that the desire to be free is a universal human truth.  We have all seen the often bloody struggle of people to be free played out on the global stage, from the success of the Solidarity movement in Poland in ending the communism of the Soviet Union, to the worldwide campaign to end apartheid in South Africa.

Yet freedom today is often little more than a slogan.  President Bush speaks of bringing freedom to Iraq as his State Department covers up the use of slave labor in the construction of the US Embassy there.  Sen. Clinton speaks of freedom as an irrelevancy if one cannot have health insurance.  Forty-two Republican Senators and Joe Lieberman blocked a bill to restore the right of habeas corpus just yesterday.  More than half of all Americans believe that the Constitution establishes the US as a Christian nation and a quarter of Americans believe the First Amendment goes too far in the freedoms it grants Americans.

It ought to go without saying that if we do not hold freedom as our highest of values, that our representatives will not.  And if those of us who do value freedom do not speak of its virtue, those Americans who do not believe in or appreciate it will rule our nation.

Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err. It passes my comprehension how human beings, be they ever so experienced and able, can delight in depriving other human beings of that precious right.

– Mahatma Ghandi

Few people, no matter how callous, would wish any Americans to be deprived of access to health care.  I salute the desire to help Americans which is implicit in Sen. Clinton’s health care plan.  But as much as I like its intent, I cannot abide the decision to take away from Americans the freedom to make the wrong choice.  What does my freedom mean if I cannot go to a doctor when I am sick, Sen. Clinton?  It means that my life is my own, free to do with what I wish, even if those choices do me great and irreparable harm.  Compelled virtue is no virtue at all.

It is not your health plan which scares me, Sen. Clinton, and which makes me inclined to support other candidates in the primaries.  It is your failure to understand and respect the value of freedom.  And since I cannot possibly express it any more eloquently, I turn once again to the words of Mr. Mill.

The object of this Essay is to assert one very simple principle, as entitled to govern absolutely the dealings of society with the individual in the way of compulsion and control, whether the means used be physical force in the form of legal penalties, or the moral coercion of public opinion. That principle is, that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinions of others, to do so would be wise, or even right These are good reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or persuading him or entreating him, but not for compelling him, or visiting him with any evil, in case he do otherwise. To justify that, the conduct from which it is desired to deter him must be calculated to produce evil to some one else. The only part of the conduct of any one, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.

(Cross-posted from Daily Kos)

Pony Party: Deja Vu

Good morning!!

Due to scattered, random questions about which threads are ‘open’ I’m re-posting an edited portion of a previous Pony Party

Pony Parties should appear in the ‘Recent Essays’ section of your DocuDharma Front Page 3 times a day, 9 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m. Eastern.  They serve as open fora, so feel free to ‘pimp’ an essay, say hello, vent, or throw up a plethora of ponies and pooties.  Basically, the floor is yours. 


They appear in the essay column, and due to their frequency and the additional open fora that will appear on the Front Page (more on that later), are meant to scroll away.  So please, don’t recommend the Pony Party essay.  I know it’s tough.  You’re nice people, and you like to give acknowledgment.  Trust me, we won’t take it personally.  But you know who might?  The person who gets bumped off of the Recommended Essays list by a Pony Party.  Put yourself in his/her shoes.

In addition to Pony Parties in the Essay list, on the Front Page you will see

Also for your chatting pleasure-

Monday – Friday 6 am Muse in the Morning– Robyn Serven favors us with some art and poetry.  This is an Open Thread.

7:30 am The Morning News– I’ll be handling this for now.  This is an Open Thread.

4:00 pm 4 at 4– Magnifico gives us just 4 stories of importance.  This is an Open Thread.

Monday – Thursday 12 midnight Midnight Cowboy– pinche tejano provides some late night thoughts.  This is a semi-Open Thread.

…as defined by our own ekhornbeck, here

.

[editorial note…as you can see, we here at DocuDharma have our priorities straight…we take our art and poetry before our news

And it just wouldn’t be a deja vu day unless we took the way-back machine for a little spin, and took a couple of snapshots of 9/20’s past….(I tried to make the screen all wavy like a t.v. flashback, to no avail.  I hope the standard morning grogginess will provide the desired ambiance for simulated time-travel.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

9/20/1633: Gallileo tried for heresy by The Inquisition.  (Whether he, or anyone, expected the inquisition is up for debate.)

9/20/1879:  The oldest football club in Ireland, The Cliftonville Football Club, is founded.

9/10/1946:  Debut of the Cannes Film Festival.

9/20/1973: ‘The Battle of the Sexes’ is won by Billie Jean King, who beats Bobby Riggs in straight sets, 6-4,6-3, 6-3. 

9/20/2001: George W. Bush, in a speech to a joint session of Congress, declares war on terror.  sigh.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As alway, please don’t feed the ponies……..

So, without further ado, the floor is yours… 

~73v, over and out

 

The Morning News

The Morning News is an Open Thread.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Public’s views on Iraq war barely budge
By Peter Grier, The Christain Science Monitor
Wed Sep 19, 4:00 AM ET

Washington – In Florida, retiree Robert Lacey says he believes the US military “surge” in Iraq has failed. Iraqi politicians were supposed to take advantage of increased security to settle their differences peacefully, and “that hasn’t happened,” he notes.

San Diego saleswoman Connie Howard agrees. Her father, husband, and son all have served in the military, and her son-in-law, a marine, is set for an Iraq tour, but she still judges the war a folly. “I don’t want to see any of them go,” she says of troops on their way to Iraq. “It’s enough.”

But Doug Brown, a Lockheed Martin employee from Buffalo, N.Y., says US troops need to stay the course. “If we pull out now, everything we’ve done will collapse and we’ll have to go back in again 10 years from now,” he says.

2 Iraq wants Blackwater replaced after shootout
by Ammar Karim and Bryan Pearson, AFP
1 hour, 42 minutes ago

BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Wednesday called on the US authorities to replace private security operator Blackwater, after a deadly shootout involving the firm’s guards in Baghdad.

Maliki’s call came as US and Iraqi officials agreed to set up a joint commission of inquiry to examine the security of US government-affiliated civilians in Iraq.

The commission, according to Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh, is part of efforts to defuse a crisis sparked when Blackwater guards escorting US embassy officials opened fire in a Baghdad neighbourhood on Sunday, killing 10 people and wounding 13.

3 Senate Republicans block Iraq bill
By Susan Cornwell, Reuters
Wed Sep 19, 7:59 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senate Republicans blocked a plan on Wednesday to give U.S. troops in Iraq more home leave, defeating a proposal widely seen as the Democrats’ best near-term chance to change President George W. Bush’s Iraq strategy.

The measure to give troops as much rest time at home as they spent on their most recent tour overseas needed 60 votes to pass in the Democratic-controlled Senate; it received just 56 votes, with 44 against.

It had been offered by Sen. Jim Webb, a decorated Vietnam veteran and former Navy secretary. The Democrat said U.S. troops are being “burned out” by repeated redeployments to Iraq, with tours of up to 15 months and less than a year off in between.

4 U.N. renews NATO troop mandate in Afghanistan
By Evelyn Leopold, Reuters
1 hour, 43 minutes ago

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The U.N. Security Council authorized NATO-led troops to stay in Afghanistan for another year on Wednesday and gave the Japanese government support in its domestic dispute over refueling U.S. and other ships in the Indian Ocean.

The vote was 14-0 with Russia abstaining in the resolution that emphasized “the increased violent and terrorist activities by the Taliban, Al Qaeda, illegally armed groups and those involved in the narcotics trade.”

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has close to 40,000 soldiers in Afghan to combat the country’s former Taliban rulers, toppled by U.S. and Afghan forces in 2001.

5 Bush calls for expansion of spy law
By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer
33 minutes ago

FORT MEADE, Md. – President Bush said Wednesday he wants Congress to expand and make permanent a law that temporarily gives the government more power to eavesdrop without warrants on suspected foreign terrorists.

Without such action, Bush said, “our national security professionals will lose critical tools they need to protect our country.”

“It will be harder to figure out what our enemies are doing to train, recruit and infiltrate operatives into America,” the president said during a visit to the super-secret National Security Agency’s headquarters. “Without these tools, our country will be much more vulnerable to attack.”

From Yahoo News Most Popular, Most Recommended

6 Iraqi leader disputes Blackwater account
By ROBERT H. REID, Associated Press Writer
Wed Sep 19, 10:02 PM ET

BAGHDAD – Iraq’s prime minister Wednesday disputed Blackwater USA’s version of a weekend shooting that left at least 11 people dead, saying he cannot tolerate “the killing of our citizens in cold blood.”

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki suggested that the U.S. Embassy should find another company to protect its diplomats.

Blackwater, which provides security for American diplomats and other civilian officials in Iraq, insisted its contractors were responding to gunfire from insurgents.

But more witnesses came forward saying they saw Blackwater security guards firing at civilians in the Mansour district of western Baghdad on Sunday. Two witnesses recalled hearing an explosion before the gunfire, suggesting a bomb may have targeted the American convoy, prompting the guards to start shooting.

From Yahoo News World

7 Turkish leader: Lift head scarf ban
By C. ONUR ANT, Associated Press Writer
Wed Sep 19, 2:33 PM ET

ISTANBUL, Turkey – Turkey’s Islamic-leaning prime minister called Wednesday for lifting a ban on women wearing head scarves in universities, a shift in position that is certain to alarm secularists who fear the government is moving to foist a Muslim agenda on the nation.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s statement at a news conference that he wants a constitutional change to remove the ban comes just weeks after he scored a major political triumph: the election of his ally Abdullah Gul – a devout Muslim – as Turkey’s president.

The opposition had vehemently opposed Erdogan’s choice of Gul for the influential and highly symbolic post, saying it would open the way for the government to carry out an Islamic agenda.

8 Khmer Rouge No. 2 to tell all at trial
By Ek Madra, Reuters
40 minutes ago

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) – Khmer Rouge “Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea is ready to lift the lid on Pol Pot’s murderous regime when he appears in court on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, a trial judge said on Thursday.

“He has no complaints. He said he would elaborate on the regime when the trial comes,” You Bunleng, a Cambodian investigating judge on the $56 million United Nations-backed tribunal, told Reuters.

Nuon Chea, Pol Pot’s right-hand man during the Khmer Rouge’s 1975-79 reign of terror, was arrested at his simple wooden home on the Thai border on Wednesday and flown to Phnom Penh by helicopter to face the long-awaited tribunal.

9 Maliki blasts Blackwater security firm for other incidents
By Leila Fadel, McClatchy Newspapers
Wed Sep 19, 7:37 PM ET

BAGHDAD – Blackwater security guards who protect top U.S. diplomats in Iraq have been involved in at least seven serious incidents, some of which resulted in the deaths of innocent civilians, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki said Wednesday.

Maliki didn’t detail the incidents, which he said add to the case against the North Carolina -based security firm. Blackwater’s license to operate here has been revoked while U.S. and Iraqi officials investigate a shooting Sunday that Iraqi officials now say left at least 11 people dead.

But Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammed al Askari told McClatchy Newspapers that one of the incidents was former Iraqi Electricity Minister Ahyam al Samarrai’s escape from a Green Zone jail in December. Samarrai had been awaiting sentencing on charges that he had embezzled $2.5 billion that was intended to rebuild Iraq’s decrepit electricity grid.

10 Controversial Osprey aircraft deployed to Iraq
By Dave Montgomery, McClatchy Newspapers
Wed Sep 19, 7:44 PM ET

WASHINGTON – The first combat squadron of tilt-rotor V-22 Ospreys has been quietly deployed to Iraq , ushering a new form of aerial technology into 21st Century warfare.

A Marine Corps aviation squadron and 10 Ospreys left for Iraq on Monday aboard the U.S.S. Wasp, a small Navy aircraft carrier known as an amphibious assault ship, said Marine Corps spokesman Maj. Eric Dent .

The departure from the New River Marine Corps Air Station near Jacksonville, N.C. , was made under extremely tight security with no advance notice to the news media and no ceremonial speeches by Marine Corps officials. “It was just another workday for the squadron,” Dent said.

From Yahoo News U.S. News

11 Rather sues CBS for $70 mln
By Paul J. Gough, Reuters
2 hours, 50 minutes ago

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) – As if CBS hadn’t been rattled enough by legal flaps from shock jocks Howard Stern and Don Imus, a languishing newscast with Katie Couric as well as the controversial reality show “Kid Nation,” the network has been slapped with a $70 million lawsuit by former anchor Dan Rather.

Rather, whose decades-long career at CBS came to an inglorious end over his role in a report criticizing President Bush’s Vietnam-era National Guard service, on Wednesday sued the broadcaster and its former Viacom Inc. parent, as well as CBS CEO Leslie Moonves, Viacom and CBS chairman Sumner Redstone, and former CBS News president Andrew Heyward.

The suit, filed in New York State Supreme Court, argues that CBS violated Rather’s contract by giving him insufficient airtime on “60 Minutes” after summarily dismissing him as anchor of “CBS Evening News” in March 2005.

From Yahoo News Politics

12 Giuliani: I’m among best known Americans
By PAISLEY DODDS, Associated Press Writer
Wed Sep 19, 9:34 PM ET

LONDON – Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani bragged about his international celebrity Wednesday on a trans-Atlantic campaign trip in which he schmoozed with conservative idol Margaret Thatcher.

“I’m probably one of the four or five best known Americans in the world,” Giuliani told a small group of reporters at a posh London hotel as onlookers gathered in the lobby to gawk at actor Dustin Hoffman who was on a separate visit.

The former New York mayor is the latest GOP presidential candidate to travel to Britain, meeting the country’s new political guard and rubbing elbows with Thatcher, an icon for American conservatives.

13 Senate bars bill to restore detainee rights
By Susan Cornwell, Reuters
Wed Sep 19, 5:44 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate voted on Wednesday against considering a measure to give Guantanamo detainees and other foreigners the right to challenge their detention in the U.S. courts.

The legislation needed 60 votes to be considered by lawmakers in the Senate, narrowly controlled by Democrats; it received only 56, with 43 voting against the effort to roll back a key element of President George W. Bush’s war on terrorism.

The measure would have granted foreign terrorism suspects the right of habeas corpus, Latin for “you have the body,” which prevents the government from locking people up without review by a court.

14 Pope refuses to meet Rice: report
AFP
Wed Sep 19, 12:58 PM ET

ROME (AFP) – Pope Benedict XVI refused to meet US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in August, saying he was on holiday, an Italian newspaper reported Wednesday.

Rice “made it known to the Vatican that she absolutely had to meet the pope” to boost her diplomatic “credit” ahead of a trip to the Middle East, the Corriere della Sera daily reported without citing its sources.

She was hoping to meet the pontiff at his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo at the beginning of August, it said.

From Yahoo News Business

15 Paulson considering mortgage change
By MARCY GORDON, AP Business Writer
1 hour, 56 minutes ago

WASHINGTON – Shifting course, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson planned to tell Congress that the Bush administration would consider allowing the big mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to temporarily buy, bundle and sell as securities loans exceeding $417,000.

This change, which the Bush administration opposed in the summer, is portrayed as a way to inject liquidity into the stretched mortgage market.

Paulson said the change involving jumbo loans could occur only in tandem with tighter oversight of the two government-sponsored mortgage companies, according to a person familiar with the secretary’s testimony prepared for a House hearing Thursday.

16 Holiday sales seen slowest pace in 5 yrs
By Nicole Maestri, Reuters
1 hour, 44 minutes ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Holiday sales are expected to rise at their slowest pace in five years as the weak housing market and a credit crunch temper consumer spending, the National Retail Federation said on Thursday.

Total holiday retail sales are forecast to rise 4 percent to $474.5 billion this year, the trade group said.

That would mark the slowest holiday sales growth since 2002, when sales rose 1.3 percent, and it would fall below the ten-year holiday sales average of a 4.8 percent increase.

17 Central bank governor to face questioning over Northern Rock crisis
AFP
1 hour, 53 minutes ago

LONDON (AFP) – Bank of England Governor Mervyn King is set to testify to a parliamentary oversight committee on Thursday over the recent Northern Rock crisis, with questions being raised over his tenure.

The central bank said on Wednesday that it would inject 10 billion pounds (20 billion dollars, 14.3 billion euros) into longer-term money markets amid the ongoing global credit squeeze, despite the fact that King said last week that such a tactic would encourage excessive risk-taking.

Confidence in the banking system has been shaken since Britain’s fifth-biggest mortgage lender Northern Rock applied for emergency funds from the Bank of England last week because of the credit crunch.

From Yahoo News Health

18 Male sex organ new source of stem cells
by Marlowe Hood, AFP
Wed Sep 19, 3:21 PM ET

PARIS (AFP) – A man’s testicles could one day provide a plentiful and accessible supply of adult stems cells to help him fight off disease or regenerate damaged organs, according to a study published Wednesday.

Researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York have already isolated the multi-purpose cells in mice, and successfully coaxed them to grow into cardiac cells, brain cells and working blood vessel tissue.

If the same technique can be extended to men, the study points out, it would sidestep the morally charged debate over using embryonic stems cells for the same purpose.

From Yahoo News Entertainment

19 Lord of the Flies’ reality TV show premieres to critical mauling
AFP
1 hour, 12 minutes ago

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – A “Lord of the Flies” reality television show that sees children left to fend for themselves in a ghost town made its much-hyped US premiere on Wednesday — and was swiftly savaged by critics.

The groundbreaking program — “Kid Nation” — chronicles the fortunes of a group of 40 unsupervised children as they attempt to build a functioning society without adults in an abandoned New Mexico town.

The series has been compared to William Golding’s classic novel about a group of children who crash land on a desert island and their subsequent struggle to survive.

From Google News U.S.

20 Big Terror Trial Shaped Views of Justice Pick
By ADAM LIPTAK, The New York Times
Published: September 20, 2007

On Jan. 17, 1996, after a nine-month terrorism trial and a rambling 100-minute lecture from a blind sheik found guilty of conspiring to wage war against the United States, Judge Michael B. Mukasey had had enough.

With a few terse, stern and prescient remarks, he sentenced the sheik, Omar Abdel Rahman, to life in prison. Judge Mukasey said he feared the plot could have produced devastation on “a scale unknown in this country since the Civil War” that would make the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, which had left six people dead, “almost insignificant by comparison.”

Long before most Americans had given deep consideration to the terrorist threat from radical Islam or to whether the criminal justice system is the right forum for trying people accused of terrorism, Judge Mukasey received an intensive education on those topics.

Eh.  I’m not that happy with this one.  Too much Juice.  The 3 Blackwaters cover different angles. -ek

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

The muses are ancient.  The inspirations for our stories were said to be born from them.  Muses of song and dance, or poetry and prose, of comedy and tragedy, of the inward and the outward.  In one version they are Calliope, Euterpe and Terpsichore, Erato and Clio, Thalia and Melpomene, Polyhymnia and Urania.

It has also been traditional to name a tenth muse.  Plato declared Sappho to be the tenth muse, the muse of women poets.  Others have been suggested throughout the centuries.  I don’t have a name for one, but I do think there should be a muse for the graphical arts.  And maybe there should be many more.

Please join us inside to celebrate our various muses…

State of the Onion X

Art Link
Knot

Personal View

Born in the wrong body?
Bunch of crap
in my opinion
The one I have
is the only body
I was given
Nobody else has
the one I was
supposed to have

Born in the wrong culture
definitely
in the wrong time period
most likely
on the wrong planet
quite possibly
But it’s not like
I had a choice
in the matter

–Robyn Elaine Serven
–February 3, 2006

I know you have talent.  What sometimes is forgotten is that being practical is a talent.  I have a paucity for that sort of talent in many situations, though it turns out that I’m a pretty darn good cook.  🙂 

Let your talent bloom.  You can share it here.  Encourage others to let it bloom inside them as well.

Won’t you share your words or art, your sounds or visions, your thoughts scientific or philosophic, the comedy or tragedy of your days, the stories of doing and making?  And be excellent to one another!

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