Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Friday, June 13, 2008

Excerpt from "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues"

"A lot of life boils down to the question of whether a person is going to be able to realize his fantasies, or else end up surviving only through compromises he can't face up to. The way I figure it, Heaven and Hell are right here on Earth. Heaven is living in your hopes and Hell is living your fears. It's up to each individual which one he chooses." Jelly paused "I told that to the Chink once and he said, "Every fear is part hope and every hope is part fear--quit dividing things up and taking sides".

Bonanza Jellybean

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Complex Hive builders or Free Entities?

One of my favorite folks on these here internet tubes, Thoreau, who writes over at Unqualified Offerings, linked to an abstract and an article about the discovery of the similarity between leaf veins and city road systems.

I found these especially interesting because I have long wondered whether cities are hives, or something more. Now, don't get me wrong, I love urban living like nobodies business. I truly believe that the modern urban environment actually represents a difference on an evolutionary, or at least the beginning of one for human beings. I can't find the link, but there was a discovery of an ancient city, I believe in Pakistan, nearly 9,000 years old, that suggested that they were advanced enough to have dental sciences. I have long suspected that human cities, human hives, are quantitatively more advanced than smaller groups of humans based on the "coming together", a sort of gestalt system.

Items like this research revealing the similarity between biological systems, like leaf veins, and road systems, indicate to me, the possibility, however distastefull to some, that we are evolved ants. Or something like it, and much more tied to the biology that gave birth to us than might be comfortable to admit.

Well, perhaps I'm seeing something that isn't there, but check them out for yourself.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Peach Blossoms

Bliss and sorrow, love and hate, light and shadow, hot and cold, joy and anger, self and other.

The enjoyment of poetic beauty may well lead to hell.

But look what we find strewn all along our Path:

Peach Blossoms and peach flowers!

Ikkyu Sojun translated by John Stevens in "Wild Ways: Zen Poems of Ikkyu"

A bit of Emerson: History

There is no great and no small
To the Soul that maketh all:
And where it cometh, all things are
And it cometh everywhere.

I am owner of the sphere,
Of the seven stars and the solar year,
Of Caesar's hand, and Plato's brain,
Of Lord Christ's heart, and Shakespeare's strain.

The world exists for the education of each man. There is no age or state of society or mode of action in history to which there is not somewhat corresponding in his life. Every thing tends in a wonderful manner to abbreviate itself and yield its own virtue to him. He should see that he can live all history in his own person. He must sit solidly at home, and not suffer himself to be bullied by kings or empires, but know that he is greater than all the geography and all the government of the world; he must transfer the point of view from which history is commonly read, from Rome and Athens and London, to himself, and not deny his conviction that he is the court, and if England or Egypt have any thing to say to him he will try the case; if not, let them for ever be silent. He must attain and maintain that lofty sight where facts yield their secret sense, and poetry and annals are alike. The instinct of the mind, the purpose of nature, betrays itself in the use we make of the signal narrations of history. Time dissipates to shining ether the solid angularity of facts. No anchor, no cable, no fences avail to keep a fact a fact. Babylon, Troy, Tyre, Palestine, and even early Rome are passing already into fiction. The Garden of Eden, the sun standing still in Gibeon, is poetry thenceforward to all nations. Who cares what the fact was, when we have made a constellation of it to hang in heaven an immortal sign? London and Paris and New York must go the same way. "What is history," said Napoleon, "but a fable agreed upon?" This life of ours is stuck round with Egypt, Greece, Gaul, England, War, Colonization, Church, Court and Commerce, as with so many flowers and wild ornaments grave and gay. I will not make more account of them. I believe in Eternity. I can find Greece, Asia, Italy, Spain and the Islands,--the genius and creative principle of each and of all eras, in my own mind.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

"The $1.4 Trillion Question" by James Fallows

Through the quarter-century in which China has been opening to world trade, Chinese leaders have deliberately held down living standards for their own people and propped them up in the United States. This is the real meaning of the vast trade surplus—$1.4 trillion and counting, going up by about $1 billion per day—that the Chinese government has mostly parked in U.S. Treasury notes. In effect, every person in the (rich) United States has over the past 10 years or so borrowed about $4,000 from someone in the (poor) People’s Republic of China. Like so many imbalances in economics, this one can’t go on indefinitely, and therefore won’t. But the way it ends—suddenly versus gradually, for predictable reasons versus during a panic—will make an enormous difference to the U.S. and Chinese economies over the next few years, to say nothing of bystanders in Europe and elsewhere.

Any economist will say that Americans have been living better than they should—which is by definition the case when a nation’s total consumption is greater than its total production, as America’s now is. Economists will also point out that, despite the glitter of China’s big cities and the rise of its billionaire class, China’s people have been living far worse than they could. That’s what it means when a nation consumes only half of what it produces, as China does.

Neither government likes to draw attention to this arrangement, because it has been so convenient on both sides. For China, it has helped the regime guide development in the way it would like—and keep the domestic economy’s growth rate from crossing the thin line that separates “unbelievably fast” from “uncontrollably inflationary.” For America, it has meant cheaper iPods, lower interest rates, reduced mortgage payments, a lighter tax burden. But because of political tensions in both countries, and because of the huge and growing size of the imbalance, the arrangement now shows signs of cracking apart.

Link to the article in The Atlantic

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Divine Madness

Now, however, the human species wishes to add deeper significance to their endeavors. Realizing that true fulfillment escapes them, they have begun once more to search within themselves for a kind of satisfaction they have not found so far in their conquest of the external world. They know that they can find biological happiness by achieving adaptation to their physical and social environment, but they realize that this form of happiness is as limited in scope as the contentment of the cow. The best-adapted populations certainly experienced physical contentment, but their lives were probably deficient in other ways since they have produced chiefly what Toynbee called "arrested civilizations." Modern Humans are not yet resigned enough to be completely satisfied with purely creature contentment. They still hope that they can discover a philosophy of life that will be as creative and emotionally rewarding as that of classical Greece or of Western Europe in the thirteenth century.

Our greatest blessing, says Socrates in Plato's dialogue Phaedrus, comes to us by way of madness—mania. In this arresting statement, Plato does not mean mania as a disease, but rather as a state during which man experiences a kind of self-revelation occurring through the emergence of a powerful spirit from the depth of their beings. Poetical words, tones, and gestures, and even prophecy are the expressions of enthusiasm—the god within. Apparently certain drugs can help in generating this inspired state. But Plato traced inspiration to the primeval forces that Greek mythology symbolized in the form of deities, especially Dionysos.

The Microbiologist RenĂ© Dubos's from “A God Within".
Creative Commons License

Content by Lawrence Richard Johnson Jr. unless otherwise attributed.