December 26, 2007 archive

The Morning News

The Morning News is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Delaware River current halts crossing

By REBECCA SANTANA, Associated Press Writer

2 hours, 6 minutes ago

In Christmas 1776, some 2,400 soldiers, 200 horses and 18 cannons ferried across the cold Delaware River.

The Continental soldiers, many ill-prepared for the cold weather and poorly trained compared to the troops they were about to face, then marched eight miles down river in blizzard-like conditions.

They soundly beat the German mercenary soldiers based there, capturing 1,000 prisoners, killing 30 troops and only losing two Continental soldiers – and both of them froze to death.

Progress Report Toward the Great Dying

Now that bird flu seems no longer apt to wipe out a a fifth, half or more of the human population in the immediate future,  the threat of a nuclear holocaust seems to have receded for a time and a giant rock or snowball may hit Mars but not Earth, we are back to a more real threat, which is all of us.

In this country [New Zealand] a major study published this year by Statistics New Zealand (SNZ) found energy consumption per person had risen 13 per cent between 1997 and 2005…

At the same time in fast growing economies such as China and India huge numbers of people are staking claims to the lifestyle only intensive energy use makes possible.…

Meanwhile environmentalists, concerned with progress toward another Great Dying that occurred some 250 million years ago when life was nearly extinguished on the planet from global warming, contribute little but a bit more methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas than the dreaded CO2.

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…


An article called “Gratitude” by Joanna Macy was published in the November issue of Shambhala Sun, appropriately for Thanksgiving in the U.S., and also for the post-gifted holiday season.  

But Macy’s concept of gratitude is especially interesting in that it doesn’t change as circumstances do: whether or not you got what you wanted for Christmas, or everyone in your family is healthy, or any of the other good things we are of course grateful for.

Macy is writing about a deeper gratitude, with spiritual and political ramifications.

The article begins:

“We have received an inestimable gift. To be alive in this beautiful, self-organizing universe–to participate in the dance of life with senses to perceive it, lungs that breathe it, organs that draw nourishment from it–it is a wonder beyond words. It is an extraordinary privilege to be accorded a human life, with self-reflexive consciousness that brings awareness of our own actions and the ability to make choices. It lets us choose to take part in the healing of our world.”

“Gratitude for the gift of life is the primary wellspring of all religions, the hallmark of the mystic, the source of all true art. Yet we so easily take this gift for granted. That is why so many spiritual traditions begin with thanksgiving, to remind us that for all our woes and worries, our existence itself is an unearned benefaction, which we could never of ourselves create.

That our world is in crisis–to the point where survival of conscious life on Earth is in question—in no way diminishes the value of this gift; on the contrary. To us is granted the privilege of being on hand: to take part, if we choose, in the Great Turning to a just and sustainable society. We can let life work through us, enlisting all our strength, wisdom and courage, so that life itself can continue.

There is so much to be done, and the time is so short. We can proceed, of course, out of grim and angry desperation. But the tasks proceed more easily and productively with a measure of thankfulness for life; it links us to our deeper powers and lets us rest in them….”


On the Theory of Comparative Advantage

One thing I find is a constant experience in my life, as well as a major thread in human history, is that nearly everything I and we believe is untrue.

For example, I believe that I am sitting on a chair as I write this, a chair I have sat in many times before.  But the truth is that I am not sitting on the chair, but levitating just ever so slightly above the chair, and I have never in my life made actual contact with the chair, or with any chair for that matter.  The atoms making up my body and the atoms making up the chair wisely refuse to touch (as touching would make those atoms explode) and instead repel one another, holding me and the chair apart with an electromagnetic field of sub-microscopic proportions.

That much of what we think we know is incorrect is true no matter how intelligent or insightful we are into certain matters.  Isaac Newton was as devoted to attempting to expand the knowledge of alchemy as he was in physics.  But as laughable as his belief that there was a secret formula which would turn lead into gold was, his belief in Descartes’ concept of the Luminiferous ether was even more false, and far more influential.  The belief that the universe was permeated by an invisible and weightless medium which permitted the movement of light waves through space lasted until Albert Michelson, the first American to win the Nobel Prize in Physics, disproved it by accident in 1887, exactly two hundred years after the publication of Newton’s Principia.

B. Globe: The Candidates on Executive Power

The Boston Globe sent a questionnaire out to all of the Presidential candidates in the Democratic and Republican parties, asking them their views on the power of the Presidency.  Without specifically using the phrase “unitary executive”, the 12 questions were nevertheless clearly designed to test each candidate’s willingness to roll back Presidential powers accumulated under George W. Bush.

A December 22 article on the results, as well as links to the full questionnaire and the responses, can be found here, along with a menu for viewing the questionnaire itself and the full responses, sorted by candidate or question number.  

This is among the most important issues, if not the most important issue, in the current election cycle.  The candidates’ responses to this questionnaire deserve scrutiny.

None of the front-runners are 100% reassuring.  

Action: My Christmas Wish? End Slavery

“None of us is truly free while others remain enslaved. –Archbishop Desmond Tutu

This Christmas people around the world celebrate. But take some time to think about the problems of the world. For example. Think about this.

27 Million People Live in Slavery.

Even today our fellow humans live enslaved. That’s why I am a abolitionist. And despite being Jewish. I am making a Christmas wish and goal to end slavery. 2007 marks the 200 year anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in Britain so what a better year to make a commitment to end slavery? Thankfully we can take simple steps to help end slavery. Keep on reading to learn how.

Christmas in California

OTB (2007)

Merry Christmas Dharmaniacs!

More pics below…   (w/ apology to dial-up connections)

Kucinich on the Issues: It’s All There in Black and White! w/poll

One of the small joys of being a Kucinich supporter is that we know where Dennis stands on most issues, and we know that, as a scrapper, he will do is utmost to see that those issues are supported/defeated as they need to be.  It’s a strong point, knowing that your candidate doesn’t turn at the slightest change of the political wind.

Now you, too, can see what Dennis supports by going to his Issues PDF Library!

Winter Love

I have a brother who is 18 months younger than me. He was married once right after college, and divorced after a few years with no children. At almost 50, he had settled into his single life, and had a variety of interests to keep him busy.

Then about 3 years ago, he re-connected with a woman he had dated in high school. She too had been married with two children, and then divorced. But she says that she never quit loving my brother. A few months after getting back together, they were married. That means there were 33 years from the time they first dated until the wedding. Just goes to show – love can bloom in the most unlikely of times/places.

The marriage meant that my sister-in-law and her one daughter that was still at home moved from Texas to Minnesota – now that’s true love. It has been one of the biggest blessings in my life to have the two of them here. And to see the love in my brother’s eyes for them – well that’s priceless.

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