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Perspective: Making Sense Of It ALL

Part 2

                 “Ramblings with Nate”  

“The question: “What would you do differently?”
is not only a foolish but a costly indulgence.
The useful question is… what will you do now?”
-The Secret Knowledge: David Mamet-

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“What is existence but the absorption of and the reaction to the data that the Universe presents. You can either grasp these truths or you can misinterpret them to your constant and considerable agitation”

From the television series – “Elementary”

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“Sometimes the wrong train will get you to the right station

From the film – “The Lunchbox”

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  • Is the Universe infinite?
  • How can anything be infinite?
  • Does it end at some point?
  • What’s on the other side when you get to the end?
  • Is it a giant sphere?
  • If you travel for trillions of light years will you eventually come back to the same place?

The Big Bang Theory, and the evidence that the Universe had a beginning, is pretty much established.

It is also established that the universe is expanding. Expanding into what?

If the Universe began with the sudden expansion of an infinitely small mass with an almost infinite amount of energy, where did that infinitely small mass come from?

What created the mass that created the Universe?

I came to the conclusion that there would never be an answer to that question.

Even if we could one day, it would just lead to the same circular question over and over.

You can never get to the beginning because there would always be the next question.

That’s when I came up with my theory of “Nothingness.”

It is completely illogical that anything exists at all.

Why and how is anything here?

There should be nothing. It’s the only thing that makes sense!

How can you get back to the beginning?

How can you make something from nothing?

I don’t believe we will ever be able to answer that question because the existence

of anything will always be a paradox.

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Children need structure, guidance and love.

It begins as soon as you conceive.

Constant stress or trauma can have a lasting adverse effect on your baby’s development during pregnancy.

At about 25 weeks old your baby can begin to hear your voice.

This would be a good time for both parents to begin talking to the baby.

Play music of different genres, including classical music. Continue this after birth.

Start reading to your baby and don’t stop after you give birth.

Parents should take turns reading each and every day.   

After your child learns how to read, continue to read to her, and encourage her to read on her own.

Try not to praise your kids when they succeed at things they are already good at, but when they persevere with things that they found difficult. The brain is like a muscle; the more you use it, the more it grows.

Neural connections form and deepen most when we make mistakes doing difficult tasks

rather than repeatedly having success with easy ones.

Children love learning, their favorite word will become “why.”

The more you interact with them and take responsibility for their education,

the more rewarding it will be for you and your children.

If your child is not doing well in school, you need to find out why.

Some of the reasons may be due to a poor learning environment, bullying,

or teachers that are not doing a good job.

It is rare to find a child that is not excited to learn.

Our teachers need to be taught how to be cultivators of curiosity and inquiry,

not of memorizing facts children will soon forget.

The curiosity of a 4 year old that asks “why” twenty times a day must be nurtured by parents and teachers.

Teach them to make their beds and keep their room tidy as soon as they are old enough.

Give them chores to do each day, but don’t overdo it.    

Kids need responsibility and recognition, even if it is only a compliment.

Positive reinforcement is much more effective than punishment at getting results.

Self-worth and one’s self-image is an extremely important concept to teach yourselves and your children.

Self-worth should only be determined from the inside out and NOT the other way around.

This should be a lifelong ongoing process not to be spoken about just once.

This topic should be revisited several times a year and anytime you sense your kids

are not feeling good about themselves.

The important message is that what people say about you does not determine your self-worth.

Cultural and social pressure about what’s “cool” in no way should determine your self-esteem.

Taking responsibility for your actions is another topic of extreme importance, again for you and your children. Not only should you discuss this issue, but be an example for them to follow.

They must be made aware that they are responsible for the consequences of their actions,

both intended and un-intended.

They must learn early on to take full responsibility for what they do,

which also includes what they neglect to do.

Remember that rewards of love, praise and hugs work better than punishment.

When they need to be disciplined be firm but not judgmental.

What will you say to your kid when he complains about school being a waste of time?

“Why do I need to study algebra or chemistry?”

Listen to them because they are valid questions.

My initial reaction would be to question the method in which the subjects are being taught.

Sit in on a class or two and judge for yourself.

Chemistry is an incredibly fascinating subject. It should be captivating… not boring.

Chemistry explains everything about the physical universe.

If you want to understand who and why you are, you need to understand chemistry.

Why?

Without elements nothing exists as we know it.

Elements are composed of atoms; atoms are made of protons, neutrons and electrons.

It doesn’t stop there.

The point is… everything is connected, everything!!!

“Perception” starts with understanding the most fundamental elements in the universe.

Participate in your kids’ education, take nothing for granted.

Make sure they understand that everything is connected and why.

By the time children become adults, they have learned that talking is an alternative to doing.

We think a lot before doing; children think by doing.

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There is no correlation between IQ scores and creativity.

There is no correlation between IQ scores and having a successful career or earning potential.

This is a myth. Studies saying otherwise are biased.

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“Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think”

-Albert Einstein-

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Tardigrades are a class of microscopic animals, about 0.5 mm, with eight limbs. William Miller, a leading tardigrade researcher at Baker University, says these creatures are remarkably abundant. Hundreds of species “are found across the seven continents; everywhere from the highest mountain to the lowest sea,” he says. “Many species of tardigrades live in water, but on land, you find them almost everywhere there’s moss or lichen.” In 2007, scientists discovered that these microscopic critters can survive an extended stay in the cold, irradiated vacuum of outer space.

As far as we know tardigrades are unique in their ability to survive in space.

The tardigrade’s space-surviving ability is the result of a strange response they’ve evolved

to overcome an earthly life-threatening problem: a water shortage.

Laboratory tests have shown that tardigrades can endure both an utter vacuum and intense pressures more than five times as punishing as those in the deepest ocean. They can even endure temperatures up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and as low as -458 degrees F (just above absolute zero) won’t spell the creature’s doom.

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Considering that we possess such excellent memories and understand the concept of life and death,

it’s not too difficult to understand the human dilemma.

Memories, conscious and unconscious, may add greatly to our stress.

A zebra can come within an inch of death many times from a lion attack, but the moment the threat has gone the Zebra will go back to eating grass and drinking water as if nothing happened.

They are hard-wired to do that.

We are hard-wired to remember our traumas. Sometimes they go into our unconscious.

We have evolved with different parameters for survival.

After being attacked by a carnivore that wants to make lunch of us, our cortisol levels (stress hormones) increase dramatically and as a result it becomes a permanent memory.

This helped ancient man to survive.

Fortunately we don’t encounter saber-toothed tigers anymore.

However, this survival mechanism is now being used for thousands of experiences that are not life threatening, but our cortisol levels increase nonetheless.

When our cortisol levels continue to rise we experience high levels of stress,

which may cause us physiological and psychological problems.

We need to be able to recognize we tend to drive ourselves crazy with every little thing.

Life will always be a succession of ups and downs.

Learn how to handle the downs, without the stress, by accepting that the downs are inevitable.

If you cannot do this, and all you do is worry and get stressed out, seek professional help,

take yoga classes, join a gym, and exercise at least three times a week.

Try not dwell on your misfortune, and feel sorry for yourself.

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An Essay

I smile when I hear someone saying:,

“I don’t know who I am,”

“I need to find myself.”

“Maybe, if I travel cross country or go to Europe, I will discover who I am.”

I smile when I hear someone asking:

“What does this all mean, what is the purpose of life?

Why are we here? I cannot be content or happy until I discover my purpose, and what the meaning of life is.”

What are you? You are star dust.

Everything in the universe is made up of the same elements… everything!

All these elements are found in the stars.

They create the planets, galaxies, moons, asteroids… everything in the cosmos.

Look around you…. trees, birds, flowers, insects, fish, mammals, you and I.

We are all made of the stuff of stars. Each of us made of the same basic DNA blueprint.

And yet each of us is uniquely different.

Who are you?

Pick up your hand and look at your index finger. Look at your fingerprint.

Unless you have an identical twin, none of the 7 billion humans on this planet have

the same exact fingerprint as you.

Even though we all share the same DNA blueprint, they are uniquely arranged in each individual,

some with mutations.

We share 99% of our genes with Chimpanzees, our closet relative.

The DNA in all living things is made up of the same material.

What makes us different is the arrangement of nucleotides within a DNA strand.

So who are we?

What do we need to do to discover our “identity,” as some people put it?

What defines who I am?

Have you ever watched a cat sleeping? How at peace and content they look.

Do you think they are concerned about who they are, their purpose, or what life means?

Humans are different from all other organisms in one respect… language.

Language has propelled us to the top of the food chain and is also the attribute

that creates most of our emotional dilemmas.

That little voice in your head is usually your worst advisor.

We are the only organisms on the planet that live with the knowledge that we will absolutely

cease to exist at some point after our birth.

Our thoughts haunt us with the past, and constantly create havoc, worry, and fear of the future.

How’s that cat doing?

Think he’s worried about not finding a mouse to eat?

He’s exactly where he should be… in the moment.

So who are we?

Like our finger print, our DNA makes each of us uniquely different than anybody else.

Each of sees the world from our own unique point of view.

When you are born you do not have thoughts, you simply experience the world around you using your

five senses, pretty much the same way other mammals do.

The essence of who you are is blueprinted in your DNA, the genetic code when you were conceived.

That’s who you are.

I know what you are thinking; here we go again with the nature vs. nurture debate!

As far as I’m concerned there is nothing to debate.

Science is science and the uniqueness of each of us is not debatable.

To know who you are you need only to get in touch with your essence.

I think we are all capable of getting in touch with our true selves, the true self before we learned language,

and became defined by cultural, social and religious norms.

Indoctrination and propaganda are very powerful tools that shape and mold our behavior and choices.

They define what clothes you wear, the music and food you like,

and almost all of the cultural aspects of your life.

Some people think that what car they drive, the clothes they wear, their occupation,

and other external things define who they are.

“The ideals which have lighted my way and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth. The trite subjects of human efforts, possessions, outward success, and luxury have always seemed to me contemptible.”

-Albert Einstein-

“At the center of your being
you have the answer;

you know who you are
and you know what you want.”
-Lao Tzu-

So where does that leave us in this conversation?

When we are truly in the moment and the little voice in your head is completely silent,

we are not in the least concerned with all this nonsense.

You don’t think about “what it means” that you are exhilarated going straight downhill on a roller coaster

at 60 mph, you’re too busy experiencing it.

We have all experienced many of these moments.

In these moments we are experiencing life without thought.

Who would be here to worry about “what the meaning of life is”, if the last mass extinction

never occurred and the human race never evolved?

Does it really matter?

What if it doesn’t mean anything?

The most important asset about language and thought is our endless curiosity

and the ability to ask “why” and “how”.

Ask the “questions” the way the great explorers of medicine, the universe, and all the sciences do.

The inventors, who kept asking the questions no matter how many times they failed,

kept asking the question: how can I make this work?

They did not ask “what,” they asked why and how.

Never stop asking why or how, even if there is no answer at the moment.

Once you ask the question perhaps the answer will one day find you!

-Nathan Shasho-

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“If you don’t get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don’t want, you suffer;
even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can’t hold on to it forever.
Your mind is your predicament. It wants to be free of change.
Free of pain, free of the obligations of life and death.
But change is law and no amount of pretending will alter that reality.”

-Way of The Peaceful Warrior: Dan Millman-

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The two most powerful forces in nature are survival and reproduction.

Mating rituals between birds for example, that you may have seen on nature programs, are especially interesting.

Some male mammals fight to the death for the right to mate, although this rarely happens.

Humans pose a more challenging understanding of mating rituals.

We are certainly hard-wired to reproduce and it seems to be just as strong for us as other species,

however there are many variables of how we go about it.

These variables have changed throughout history, with culture, religious beliefs, and many other aspects that play a significant role.

Evolutionary psychologists and behavioral ecologists have formulated various mating strategies for humans, one of which is called “Parental Investment.”

We have the ability to make a conscious decision not to reproduce, unlike other species.

Marriage in one form or another has been around for thousands of years.

Though marriage has ancient roots, until recently, love had little to do with it.

Polygamy was common throughout history, but usually sought by men of means.

Arranged marriage was the most common approach until the 18th century, and is still common in parts of the world.

So what does love have to do with it?

We all know that there are a great many divorces in the world, especially in Western culture.

The love two young people have for each other is greatly determined by chemistry.

The hormone that facilitates this powerful attraction and bonding is oxytocin, widely dubbed “the love hormone.”

Numerous other names have been given to oxytocin,

(the hug hormone, cuddle chemical, moral molecule, bliss hormone) since researchers have begun to uncover its effects on behavior; including its role in love, and its female biological functions in reproduction.

Oxytocin is a hormone that is made in the brain, in the hypothalamus, and it is transported to, and secreted by, the pituitary gland, which is located at the base of the brain.

Chemically it is known as a nonapeptide (a peptide containing nine amino acids), and biologically, as a neuropeptide, it acts both as a hormone and as a brain neurotransmitter.

Other researchers sum up the reproductive importance of oxytocin by saying it “serves the continued propagation of a species,” adding that through evolution its repertoire has expanded to maintain

a central role in more complicated aspects of reproductive behavior.

For these reasons, we call oxytocin “the great facilitator of life.”

Another review notes that the hormones do not act alone in the chemistry of love, but is just one important component of a complex neurochemical system that allows the body to adapt to highly emotive situations. Scientific research has uncovered oxytocin’s specific ability to modulate social behavior, including effects on motherly care and aggression, bonding between couples,sexual behavior, social memory, and trust.

One study published in 2012, examined oxytocin levels in new lovers versus those in single people. It found that there were high levels of the hormone in the first stages of romantic attachment, and these were sustained for six months.

Statistics have shown that 90% of married couples are not as happy in their marriage after just 4 years.

So how do we keep families together, at least until the children have left the nest?

I understand that, when two teenagers think they are madly in love with each other,

there is no talking to them. However we still have the responsibility to guide them.

The information above is essential, plus some common sense.

Marriage cannot be based on a “high” of emotional attraction which cannot be maintained.

It is a partnership, and a contract between two people to raise a family and support each other.

Feelings of love and compatibility are wonderful to experience between two people, but it must be accompanied with the awareness that things change with time, and that you have a responsibility to the children you have brought into this world.

For centuries arranged marriages have worked fairly well because it was based on a conscious commitment of raising a family. We need to integrate that awareness with the relatively new concept of marriage which is based only on the passionately defined word “love.”

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“A warrior is not about perfection, or victory, or invulnerability.

He’s about absolute vulnerability.

That’s the only true courage.

Life is choice.

You can choose to be a victim or anything else you’d like to be.

How do I start? There is no starting or stopping, only doing.

Life has three rules: paradox, humor and change.

Paradox: Life is a mystery. Don’t waste time trying to figure it out.

Humor: Keep a good sense of humor, especially about yourself.

It is strength beyond all measure.

Change: Know that nothing stays the same.

The journey is what brings us happiness, not the destination.

Where are you?      Here

    What time is it?     Now

      What are you?     This moment

– The Way of a Peaceful Warrior: Dan Millman-

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“The universe will expand, then it will collapse back on itself, then it will expand again.

It will repeat this process forever.

When the universe expands again, everything will be as it is now.

Whatever mistakes you make this time around you will live through on your next pass.

Every mistake you make, you will live through again and again forever.

So my advice to you is to get it right this time around, because this time is all you have.”

-From the film, “K-Pax-

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In small towns, in many countries, the extended family is still very much alive.

In extended families, values can be of a different quality, especially in how we treat the elderly and care for the young.

It’s a shame that so many of us do not have the opportunity to seek out the wisdom of our seniors…wisdom comes with age and experience.

When children grow and begin to ask questions about life, it is heathy for them to have an extended family to seek guidance instead of just one or two parents.

It relieves the pressure and stress of a nuclear family when there are others to help raise the children.

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If you don’t believe in god you are labeled an atheist.

If you’re not sure if you believe in god you are labeled an agnostic.

If you believe in god you might be called a theist.

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“Happiness is a function of accepting what is.”

Werner Erhard-

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“Of course there is no formula for success except perhaps an unconditional acceptance of life and what it brings.”

-Arthur Rubinstein-

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Memory is an interesting part of our brain function.

We would have not survived very long without the ability to remember.

Unfortunately for humans, memory has evolved well past the function of survival.

Because we are able to summon the past, we remember both joyful and painful events.

These memories often interfere with our well-being.

Some of us “live” in the past more than the present.

This can often lead to focusing on regret of the past instead of moving forward with our lives.

Humans don’t often accept that time moves in only one direction, forward.

You can’t “un-break” a broken egg. You can never go back and change something.

Yet we often relive the past over and over with the same thought process.

“I should have… I could have…. If only I would have, what might have been?”

This traps us in the past.

Life is lived in the present moment, nothing else is real.

The future can be just as detrimental.

The future doesn’t exist, because it hasn’t happened yet.

We constantly worry and experience anxiety about events that have not occurred yet, and may never happen.

The future cannot be predicted, yet we spend so much time worrying about it.

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“I had a terrible education. I attended a school for emotionally disturbed teachers.”

-Woody Allen-

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It’s interesting that three of the most used phrases have a religious tone:

Jesus Christ!        Oh… my… God!              Holy Crap!

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Nearly one-third of the world’s crops are dependent on honeybees for pollination, but over the last decade the black-and-yellow insects have been dying at unprecedented rates both in the United States and abroad.

As far as important species go, they are top of the list. They are critical pollinators and pollinate seventy of the hundred crop species that feed 90% of the world.

Honey bees are responsible for $30 billion a year in crops.

We may lose all the plants that bees pollinate, all of the animals that eat those plants,

and so on up the food chain.

This means a world without bees could struggle to sustain the

global human population of seven billion.

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PEREGRINE FALCONS have been called nature’s finest flying machine.

They are nature’s fastest fliers: Peregrines have been clocked diving, or “stooping”, at speeds of up to 220 miles per hour!

Before they strike their prey, they experience G-Forces estimated at between 25-27 g’s, that’s 25 times the force of earth’s gravity.

They have specially designed breathing systems that allow these birds to breath normally at these high speeds.

They also have a second clear eye lid to protect their eyes when dust or other small objects hit them at high speeds.

Fighter pilots wearing specially designed G-suits max out at around nine G’s, and can experience hypoxia, a lower-than-normal concentration of oxygen in arterial blood, and will sometimes black out.

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When we become overwhelmed, we cannot function well, and stress and anxiety take over our emotions.

We tend to shut down, and “freeze in the headlights” like a deer.

It is important for us to know that we always need to break down any large or complex tasks into their smallest manageable pieces and handle one small part or problem at a time.

Even the best engineers and architects would be overwhelmed if they looked at a large project, with all of its tasks and potential problems, at one time.

No one can process that many things at one time.

They delegate responsibility and break up the hundreds of projects into small manageable pieces.

This is a strategy that works for everybody.

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I love my mom and dad, I love my friend, and I love chocolate ice cream with sprinkles on top.

I love to watch the sunset, I love my new puppy, I love my girlfriend.

I love that dress, I love those shoes, I love yoga, I love the smell of napalm in the morning.

A noun is usually defined as a person place or thing.

An adjective is a descriptive word open to interpretation.

As far as I’m concerned the word love is an adjective completely open to interpretation,

depending on the context and even in the same context.

We need to remember that language is our invention.

There are several thousand languages spoken in the world today. A word is nothing more than a symbol.

It’s not necessarily what you say that’s important; what’s important is how it’s interpreted.

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Ken Robinson: “How schools kill creativity”

Every education system on earth has the same hierarchy of subjects.

It doesn’t matter where you go. You’d think it would be otherwise, but it isn’t.

At the top are mathematics and languages, then the humanities, and the bottom are the arts.

You’d think it would be otherwise, but it isn’t. Children dance all the time if they’re allowed to, we all do. I think you’d have to conclude the whole purpose of public education throughout the world is to produce university professors.

Gillian Lynne — have you heard of her? Some have. She’s a choreographer and everybody knows her work. She did “Cats” and “Phantom of the Opera.” She’s wonderful. I used to be on the board of the Royal Ballet in England. Anyway, Gillian and I had lunch one day and I said, “Gillian, how’d you get to be a dancer?” And she said it was interesting; when she was at school, she was really hopeless. And the school, in the ’30s, wrote to her parents and said, “We think Gillian has a learning disorder.” She couldn’t concentrate; she was fidgeting. I think now they’d say she had ADHD. Wouldn’t you? But this was the 1930s, and ADHD hadn’t been invented at this point. It wasn’t an available condition.

Anyway, she went to see this specialist. So, this oak-paneled room, and she was there with her mother, and she was led and sat on this chair at the end, and she sat on her hands for 20 minutes while this man talked to her mother about all the problems Gillian was having at school. And at the end of it — because she was disturbing people; her homework was always late; and so on, little kid of eight — in the end, the doctor went and sat next to Gillian and said, “Gillian, I’ve listened to all these things that your mother’s told me, and I need to speak to her privately.” He said, “Wait here. We’ll be back; we won’t be very long, and they went and left her. But as they went out the room, he turned on the radio that was sitting on his desk. And when they got out the room, he said to her mother, “Just stand and watch her.” And the minute they left the room, she said, she was on her feet, moving to the music. And they watched for a few minutes and he turned to her mother and said, “Mrs. Lynne, Gillian isn’t sick; she’s a dancer. Take her to a dance school.” I said, “What happened?” She said, “She did. I can’t tell you how wonderful it was. We walked in this room and it was full of people like me, people who couldn’t sit still, people who had to move to think”.

They did ballet; they did tap; they did jazz; they did modern; they did contemporary. She was eventually auditioned for the Royal Ballet School; she became a soloist; she had a wonderful career at the Royal Ballet. She eventually graduated from the Royal Ballet School and founded her own company — the Gillian Lynne Dance Company — met Andrew Lloyd Weber. She’s been responsible for some of the most successful musical theater productions in history; she’s given pleasure to millions; and she’s a multi-millionaire. Somebody else might have put her on medication and told her to calm down.” 

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“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

– Mark Twain-

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Three Questions –  by Leo Tolstoy

One day it occurred to a certain emperor that if he only knew the answers to three questions, he would never stray in any matter. What is the best time to do each thing? Who are the most important people to work with? What is the most important thing to do at all time?

The emperor issued a decree throughout his kingdom announcing that whoever could answer the questions would receive a great reward. Many who read the decree made their way to the palace at once, each person with a different answer.

In reply to the first question, one person advised that the emperor make up a thorough time schedule, consecrating every hour, day, month, and year for certain tasks and then follow the schedule to the letter. Only then could he hope to do every task at the right time.

Another person replied that it was impossible to plan in advance and that the emperor should put all vain amusements aside and remain attentive to everything in order to know what to do at what time.

Someone else insisted that, by himself, the emperor could never hope to have all the foresight and competence necessary to decide when to do each and every task and what he really needed was to set up a Council of the Wise and then to act according to their advice.

Someone else said that certain matters required immediate decision and could not wait for consultation, but if he wanted to know in advance what was going to happen he should consult magicians and soothsayers. The responses to the second question also lacked accord.

One person said that the emperor needed to place all his trust in administrators, another urged reliance on priests and monks, while others recommended physicians. Still others put their faith in warriors.

The third question drew a similar variety of answers. Some said science was the most important pursuit. Others insisted on religion. Yet others claimed the most important thing was military skill.

The emperor was not pleased with any of the answers, and no reward was given.

After several nights of reflection, the emperor resolved to visit a hermit who lived up on the mountain and was said to be an enlightened man. The emperor wished to find the hermit to ask him the three questions, though he knew the hermit never left the mountains and was known to receive only the poor, refusing to have anything to do with persons of wealth or power. So the emperor disguised himself as a simple peasant and ordered his attendants to wait for him at the foot of the mountain while he climbed the slope alone to seek the hermit.

Reaching the holy man’s dwelling place, the emperor found the hermit digging a garden in front of his hut. When the hermit saw the stranger, he nodded his head in greeting and continued to dig. The labor was obviously hard on him. He was an old man, and each time he thrust his spade into the ground to turn the earth, he heaved heavily.

The emperor approached him and said, “I have come here to ask your help with three questions: When is the best time to do each thing? Who are the most important people to work with? What is the most important thing to do at all times?”

The hermit listened attentively but only patted the emperor on the shoulder and continued digging. The emperor said, “You must be tired. Here, let me give you a hand with that.” The hermit thanked him, handed the emperor the spade, and then sat down on the ground to rest.

After he had dug two rows, the emperor stopped and turned to the hermit and repeated his three questions. The hermit still did not answer, but instead stood up and pointed to the spade and said, “Why don’t you rest now? I can take over again.” But the emperor continued to dig. One hour passed, then two. Finally the sun began to set behind the mountain. The emperor put down the spade and said to the hermit, “I came here to ask if you could answer my three questions. But if you can’t give me any answer, please let me know so that I can get on my way home.”

The hermit lifted his head and asked the emperor, “Do you hear someone running over there?” The emperor turned his head. They both saw a man with a long white beard emerge from the woods. He ran wildly, pressing his hands against a bloody wound in his stomach. The man ran toward the emperor before falling unconscious to the ground, where he lay groaning. Opening the man’s clothing, the emperor and hermit saw that the man had received a deep gash. The emperor cleaned the wound thoroughly and then used his own shirt to bandage it, but the blood completely soaked it within minutes. He rinsed the shirt out and bandaged the wound a second time and continued to do so until the flow of blood had stopped.

At last the wounded man regained consciousness and asked for a drink of water. The emperor ran down to the stream and brought back a jug of fresh water. Meanwhile, the sun had disappeared and the night air had begun to turn cold. The hermit gave the emperor a hand in carrying the man into the hut where they laid him down on the hermit’s bed. The man closed his eyes and lay quietly. The emperor was worn out from the long day of climbing the mountain and digging the garden. Leaning against the doorway, he fell asleep. When he rose, the sun had already risen over the mountain. For a moment he forgot where he was and what he had come here for. He looked over to the bed and saw the wounded man also looking around him in confusion. When he saw the emperor, he stared at him intently and then said in a faint whisper,

“Please forgive me.”

“But what have you done that I should forgive you?” the emperor asked.

“You do not know me, your majesty, but I know you. I was your sworn enemy, and I had vowed to take vengeance on you, for during the last war you killed my brother and seized my property. When I learned that you were coming alone to the mountain to meet the hermit, I resolved to surprise you on your way back to kill you. But after waiting a long time there was still no sign of you, and so I left my ambush in order to seek you out. But instead of finding you, I came across your attendants, who recognized me, giving me this wound. Luckily, I escaped and ran here. If I hadn’t met you I would surely be dead by now. I had intended to kill you, but instead you saved my life! I am ashamed and grateful beyond words. If I live, I vow to be your servant for the rest of my life, and I will bid my children and grandchildren to do the same. Please grant me your forgiveness.”

The emperor was overjoyed to see that he was so easily reconciled with a former enemy. He not only forgave the man but promised to return all the man’s property and to send his own physician and servants to wait on the man until he was completely healed. After ordering his attendants to take the man home, the emperor returned to see the hermit. Before returning to the palace the emperor wanted to repeat his three questions one last time. He found the hermit sowing seeds in the earth they had dug the day before.

The hermit stood up and looked at the emperor. “But your questions have already been answered.”

“How’s that?” the emperor asked, puzzled.

“Yesterday, if you had not taken pity on my age and given me a hand with digging these beds, you would have been attacked by that man on your way home. Then you would have deeply regretted not staying with me. Therefore the most important time was the time you were digging in the beds, the most important person was myself, and the most important pursuit was to help me. Later, when the wounded man ran up here, the most important time was the time you spent dressing his wound, for if you had not cared for him he would have died and you would have lost the chance to be reconciled with him. Likewise, he was the most important person, and the most important pursuit was taking care of his wound. Remember that there is only one important time and is now. The present moment is the only time over which we have dominion. The most important person is always the person with whom you are, who is right before you, for who knows if you will have dealings with any other person in the future. The most important pursuit is making that person, the one standing at you side, happy, for that alone is the pursuit of life.”

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“Life is a rip-off when you expect to get what you want.

Life works when you choose what you got.”

-Werner Erhard-

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Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939)

Although Freud was not the first to come up with the notion of the unconscious mind, we certainly think of him when we discuss the unconscious, ego, and terms like self-worth and self-esteem.

Humans are very much plagued by their perception of their self-worth.

Different cultures and societies throughout history have defined the “value”

of a person in every way imaginable.

As individuals we assign our own self-worth, not only with cultural and social norms, but with our personal life experiences.

This seemingly innocent short phrase plays an enormous role in the quality of our lives.

Studies have shown that children raised in an orphanage were twice as likely to develop mental illness as children raised in a foster home.

The younger a child is adopted or placed in foster care the more likely to be emotionally stable.

But self-worth can be diminished even in a loving environment.

Bullying can cause significant problems in young people, causing mild to severe depression.

One of the problems is that parents are not informed about the significance and importance of self-worth, and schools don’t include it as part of their education.

We learn to evaluate our self-worth on our own and in a way that can be self-destructive.

We constantly compare ourselves to the outside world in hundreds of ways.

The media, indoctrination and propaganda play a huge role in our perception of how we feel about ourselves.

Am I too tall, too short, too skinny, handsome enough, smart enough, talented, athletic, do people like me?

I don’t have a boyfriend, what’s wrong with me?

  We need to teach ourselves and our children that how we feel about ourselves should be determined from the inside out, from as early an age as possible.

The message is that self-worth is a state of mind that should have nothing to do with what  anybody thinks about you.

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I’ve Learned – by Omer Washington

I’ve learned that you cannot make someone love you. All you can do is be someone who can be loved. The rest is up to them. I’ve learned that no matter how much I care, some people just don’t care back. I’ve learned that it takes years to build up trust and only seconds to destroy it. I’ve learned that it’s not what you have in your life, but who you have in your life that counts. I’ve learned that you can get by on charm for about fifteen minutes, after that, you’d better know something.

I’ve learned that you shouldn’t compare yourself to the best others can do, but to the best you can do. I’ve learned that it’s not what happens to people, it’s what they do about it. I’ve learned that no matter how thin you slice it, there are always two sides. I’ve learned that you should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time you’ll see them. I’ve learned that you can keep going long after you think you can’t.

I’ve learned that heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences. I’ve learned that there are people, who love you dearly, but just don’t know how to show it. I’ve learned that sometimes when I’m angry I have the right to be angry but that doesn’t give me the right to be cruel. I’ve learned that true friendship continues to grow even over the longest distance same goes for true love.

I’ve learned that no matter how good a friend is, they’re going to hurt you every once in a while and you must forgive them for that. I’ve learned that it isn’t always enough to be forgiven by others, sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself. I’ve learned that no matter how bad your heart is broken, the world doesn’t stop for your grief. I’ve learned that just because two people argue, it doesn’t mean they don’t love each other and just because they don’t argue, it doesn’t mean they do.

I’ve learned that sometimes you have to put the individual ahead of their actions. I’ve learned that two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different. I’ve learned that no matter the consequences, those who are honest with themselves get farther in life. I’ve learned that your life can be changed in a matter of hours when a friend cries out to you, you will find the strength to help.

I’ve learned that writing, As well as talking, Can ease emotional pains. I’ve learned that the people you care most about in life are taken from you too soon. I’ve learned that it’s hard to determine where to draw the line between being nice and not hurting people’s feelings and standing up for what you believe. I’ve learned to love and be loved. I’ve learned.

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February 21, 2014:  Virginia Morell for National Geographic:

“Elephants, we all know, are in peril. We humans are waging what amounts to a war against them because they have something we want and cannot make on our own: ivory.

People are shooting, poisoning, and spearing the animals at such a rate across the continent that some scientists already consider them “ecologically extinct.”

And the horror of what is happening to them is surely compounded in their minds by the empathy they feel for one another—an emotion that scientists have at last been able to demonstrate experimentally in elephants. They have been seen to recognize and respond to another elephant’s pain or problem. Often, they even make heroic efforts to assist one another.

In Kenya, researchers have watched mother elephants and other adult females help baby elephants climb up muddy banks and out of holes, find a safe path into a swamp, or break through electrified fences.

Scientists have spotted elephants assisting others that are injured, plucking out tranquilizing darts from their fellows, and spraying dust on others’ wounds. Researchers have watched an elephant struggle to help a dying friend, lifting her with her tusks and trunk, while calling out in distress.”

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“When we are shown scenes of starving children in Africa, with a call for us to do something to help them, the underlying ideological message is something like:

“Don’t think, don’t politicize, forget about the true causes of their poverty, just act, contribute money, so that you will not have to think!”

-Slavoj Žižek-

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Primitive is defined as the relating to, denoting or preserving the character of an early stage in the evolutionary or historical development of something:”

There are still over 200 indigenous groups in the Amazon Rain forest, talking 180 different languages and each with their own cultural heritage.

The languages of Papua New Guinea today number over 850. These languages are spoken by the inhabited tribal groups of Papua New Guinea making it the most linguistically diverse place on earth.

In the northeast Amazon, you will find the home of the Akuriyo tribe. They were first contacted in 1968 and were a nomadic tribe of hunter gatherers. The Akuriyo have 35 words for honey.

They hunt with only a bow and arrow, the arrow tips are covered with curare poison.

When first contacted they did not know how to make fire. They had only stone tools.

There is believed to be 14 or 15 isolated groups in the Colombian Amazon alone.

There are at least 50 groups that still don’t have regular contact with the outside. The Brazilian government’s policy towards these groups is to leave them alone, as they wish. Not very much is known about these groups as they keep going deeper and deeper into the forest as the outsiders get closer to where they live. To stop the constant migration of tribes it has been suggested that an Indigenous Protected Area be set up so they can stop running away into the most remote places of the forest.

There is some hope for the indigenous population. Their numbers are increasing.

After five centuries of being destroyed, they may able to live and grow in their demarcated lands.

Did these cultures stop evolving? Have the Australian aborigines stop evolving?

I don’t believe so, because they are Homo sapiens and have the same DNA as the rest of us.

They just do things a little differently!

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Laura Boushnak is a Kuwaiti-born Palestinian photographer, whose work focuses on women, literacy, and education reform in the Arab world.

The following is an excerpt from a Ted Talk presentation given by Laura in October 2014.

Here’s some of what she has to say:

Out of all the women I met, Fayza from Yemen affected me the most. Fayza was forced to drop out of school at the age of eight when she was married. That marriage lasted for a year. At 14, she became the third wife of a 60-year-old man, and by the time she was 18, she was a divorced mother of three. Despite her poverty, despite her social status as a divorcée in an ultra-conservative society, and despite the opposition of her parents to her going back to school, Fayza knew that her only way to control her life was through education. She is now 26. She received a grant from a local NGO to fund her business studies at the university. Her goal is to find a job, rent a place to live in, and bring her kids back with her.

  The Arab states are going through tremendous change, and the struggles women face are overwhelming. Just like the women I photographed, I had to overcome many barriers to becoming the photographer I am today, many people along the way telling me what I can and cannot do. Umm El-Saad, Asma and Fayza, and many women across the Arab world, show that it is possible to overcome barriers to education, which they know is the best means to a better future. And here I would like to end with a quote by Yasmine, one of the four activist women I interviewed in Tunisia. Yasmine wrote, “Question your convictions. Be who you to want to be, not who they want you to be. Don’t accept their enslavement, for your mother birthed you free.” 

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“Sometimes the correct path is the tortured one.”

From the film: “Draft Day”

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“Try not to become a man of success but rather to become a man of value.”

-Albert Einstein-

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Many of you have heard the term “yin and yang” from Chinese philosophy.

Yin and yang can be thought of as complementary (rather than opposing) forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the assembled parts. Everything has both yin and yang aspects; for instance, a shadow cannot exist without light.

In outer space there is no gravity therefore there is no up and subsequently no down.

The following joke by David Foster Wallace is a good example of what I’m talking about from the perspective of a fish:

“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys. How’s the water?”

The two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”

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“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as

what you become by achieving your goals.”

-Henry David Thoreau-

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“Never give a sword to a man who can’t dance.”

-Confucius-

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A Cup of Tea

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912),

received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself.

“It is overfull. No more will go in!”

“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations.

How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

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“I long to accomplish a great and noble task;

but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.”

-Hellen Keller-

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“This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow,

as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”   

-William Shakespeare-

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To know others is wisdom, to know oneself is enlightenment.

A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.

If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to.

If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve.

Quarrel with a friend and you are both wrong.

To see things in the seed, that is genius.

-Lao-Tzu (604-531BC) Chinese Philosopher, Co-founder of Taoism-

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“It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”

~Chinese Proverb-

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“Freedom is not merely the opportunity to do as one pleases; neither is it merely the opportunity to choose between set alternatives.

Freedom is, first of all, the chance to formulate the available choices, to argue over them and then, the opportunity to choose.”

-C. Wright Mills-

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“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and realize that prisoner was you.”

~Lewis B. Smedes-

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“We do not quit playing because we grow old; we grow old because we quit playing.”

-Oliver Wendell Holmes-

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In a teenager, the frontal lobe of the brain that controls decision-making is built, but not fully insulated yet, so signals move slowly.

Teenagers are not as readily able to access their frontal lobe to say, “Oh, I better not do this.”

We have a natural insulation called myelin. It’s a fat, and it takes time. Cells have to build myelin, and they grow it around the outside of these tracks, and that takes a while.

This insulation process starts in the back of the brain and heads toward the front Brains aren’t fully mature until people are in their 20s.

The last place to be connected, to be fully myelinated, is the front of your brain.

These are areas where we have insight, empathy, these executive functions such as impulse control, risk-taking behavior. This research explains why teenagers can be especially susceptible to addictions, including drugs, alcohol, smoking and digital devices.

Car insurance companies have been aware of risk taking behaviour of males under the age of 25 for several decades, based on statistics. 25 is the approximate age for male brains to complete their growth. This is why males under 25 pay exorbitant insurance premiums.

Women under 25 also have increased risk taking behaviour, but in different ways than boys.

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In a study, researchers put a clown on a unicycle in the path of pedestrians.

The researchers asked people who walked past the clown if they had noticed anything unusual.

Everybody saw him unless they had been on their cell phone.

Three out of every four people who had been using their phone did not see the clown.

The cycling clown crossed their paths but not their minds.

This is why talking on your cell phone or texting while driving is so dangerous.

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Words and language serve an important role. I’m afraid, however, that we are paying less and less attention to what’s more important than words…experiences.

Have you ever heard somebody being interviewed and asked, “so how does it feel to be the world champion?”

“Well um, it’s a, it’s unbelievable, um I really can’t put it into words.”

“Do you love me?”

“Of course I do!”

“Then say it.”

“Why?”

“I need to hear the words.”

Why are the words important?

Maybe his behavior towards her is not conclusive that he loves her?

Somehow hearing the words will make it so?

We have gotten so far away from our instincts and our feelings.

Experiences, emotions, and feelings are far more important than words between two individuals.

Our brains have an amazing capacity for understanding facial expressions, inflections and timbre of our voices, or the way somebody touches you or looks at you.

Infants don’t have language, but they can absolutely “feel” you.

They can sense what your sounds and facial expressions mean.

They can feel when you are upset and stressed out.

They instinctively know how to communicate their needs.

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Have you ever seen an extraordinary sunset?

It is literally impossible to translate that experience to another human with words.

When your mind is silent, you are experiencing the moment.

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This quote speaks to an extremely important and critical aspect of better teaching methods:

“Tell me, I forget.               

Show me, I remember.     

Involve me, I understand.”

– Chinese Confucian philosopher Xunzi (312-230 BC) –

The importance of understanding this quote in terms of education cannot be stressed enough.

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The following quote is by Richard P. Feynman one of the great scientific minds of the 20th century:

“You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you’re finished, you’ll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird…

So let’s look at the bird and see what it is doing — that’s what counts.”

This quote by Richard P. Feynman may seem like a simplistic statement coming from a theoretical physicist,  but it’s not.

The following is from the film Birdman (2014), written on a piece of paper attached to a mirror:

“A thing is a thing, not what is said of that thing”

A scene from Birdman; set in a bar with a NY Times critic:

Critic: “I’m going to destroy your play because I hate you and everyone you represent; entitled, selfish, spoiled children, blissfully untrained, unversed and unprepared to even attempt real art.

Handing each other awards for cartoons and pornography.”

Birdman (reading her review notes): 

“‘Callow’ Callow is a label. ‘Lackluster,’ that’s just a label. ‘Marginalia’ are you kidding me?

It sounds like you need penicillin to clear that up. That’s a label, too. These are all labels.

You just label everything. Do you know what this is (holding a flower in his hand)?

Do you even know what it is?

You don’t. You know why, because you can’t see this thing if you don’t know how to label it.

You mistake those noises in your head for true knowledge.”

Feynman and the writers of Birdman brilliantly convey that our experience of life, not the words (labels) we attach to them are, “what counts”.

A rose by any other name is still a rose.

The difference between a flower and a weed is perception.

A person is still that person, not what is said about that person.

Do not let anybody or anything diminish your self-esteem.

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“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”

– Mahatma Gandhi-

Write this quote on the palm of your hand. Look at it every time you say, “You hurt my feelings!”

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Ya know what’s really scary? Television commercials!

Most commercials are so ridiculous that it is embarrassing to even watch them.

Who writes these things and what audience are they targeting?

It costs a small fortune for air time, so you gotta believe they must be effective.

That’s the scary part, that there is a segment of the population that actually buys products based on these infantile brainless commercials.

I could live comfortably for a lifetime on the amount of money it cost for a 30 second commercial during the Super Bowl.

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“When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters.

One represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.”

– John F. Kennedy-

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Why are people afraid of making a mistake?

At what age did we become fearful of being wrong or making mistakes or failing?

Why do we become so upset and take a dip in our self-worth when we experience failure?

How many times did Edison fail to make his light bulb work properly before he came up with the correct combination of material and inert gas?

The failures were a learning process for Edison in what doesn’t work!

How many times does a toddler fall down before learning to walk?

You probably failed at walking over 1000 times before you got it right.

How many years of failures did Jonas Salk have until he discovered and developed the first successful inactivated polio vaccine?

It’s the same with our emotional lives.

We learn about ourselves, what we want and don’t want, with each new relationship.

If you, “don’t want to get hurt,” whatever that means, you might also say “I won’t take any more chances in life.” That would be a mistake.

Nobody succeeds without mistakes or without failure.

It is an integral part of the process.

We learn from our mistakes and sometimes learn even more from our failures.

Treat every mistake and every failure as a golden opportunity that will show you the path to success!

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“Innovation is a series of repetitive failures.”

“Creators spend almost all their time creating, persevering despite doubt, failure, ridicule,

and rejection until they succeed in making something new and useful.”…

“I learned to succeed by learning to fail. I learned to expect conflict.

I learned not to be surprised by adversity but to prepare for it.”

-Kevin Ashton…”How to Fly a Horse”-

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“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

-WINSTON CHURCHILL-

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“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity;

an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” 

-WINSTON CHURCHILL-

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“A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.”

~John Burroughs-

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One of the most powerful things you can do seems to evade most of us.

“Do what say you you’re going to do.”

Most of us rarely do this with any consistency. It seems like a small thing but it’s not.

“I’m sorry, I forgot all about it,” “Sorry I’m late again,” “I didn’t have time do it, sorry.”

Imagine the trust and respect you will garner if you do what you say you’ll do all the time.

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Why do we criticize each other so much?

Why do we constantly judge each other?

All my life I have watched friends, siblings, couples, married people…

People in every conceivable type of relationship have horrible, screaming, knock down arguments.

And to what end? Where does it get us? What does it accomplish?

It is self-destructive behavior; nobody wins or feels good when it’s over.

Why do we do it? I believe it may be a learned behavior.

We judge people all the time, even if we never say it or talk about it.

It undermines relationships and the positive feelings we once had for each other.

Think about how you felt about your wife or husband when you first started dating.

As relationships age, we hold onto judgments like scorecards, and over the years our feelings and perceptions about our spouse change as a result of their accumulated faults.

Order morphs to disorder as the relationship deteriorates.

We carry around this score card until we are ready to use it and unload our thoughts of anger,

with cursing and yelling, when we finally have “had enough.”

It doesn’t always lead to the end of friendship or marriage.

Many relationships last a lifetime with constant bickering, arguments and drama.

It doesn’t need to be this way. You can make the decision to express your feelings

in a non-judgmental manner, without criticism.

Each night go to bed with nothing left unsaid.

Start each day with a clean slate, like you just discovered each other.

Crazy huh?

It doesn’t have to be perfect,

just good enough to do away with the insanity and drama that a lot of us live with.

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“It’s much easier to ride the horse in the direction he’s going.”

– Werner Erhard-

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“After work you have to get in your car and drive to the supermarket.

The supermarket is very crowded and the store is hideously lit and infused with soul-killing music.

It’s pretty much the last place you want to be. And who are all these people in my way?

Look at how repulsive most of them are, and how stupid and cow-like and dead-eyed and nonhuman they seem, or at how annoying and rude it is that people are talking loudly on cell phones.

Look at how deeply and personally unfair this is. Thinking this way is my natural default setting.

It’s the automatic way that I experience the boring, frustrating, crowded parts of life.

But there are totally different ways to think about these kinds of situations.

You can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-up lady who

just screamed at her kid in the checkout line.

Maybe she’s not usually like this. Maybe she’s been up three straight nights holding

the hand of a husband who is dying of bone cancer.

If you really learn how to pay attention, it will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred.

You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t.

When we change what has meaning, we change what we see.”

“How to Fly a Horse” -Kevin Ashton

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Gravity is what creates order in the universe.

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Homo sapiens have been around for an extremely brief time.

Modern science had its beginnings in the 1600’s with Galileo and Newton.

It wasn’t until the 20th century that the next big advances in science were discovered.

Technology then began to evolve exponentially in the 2nd half of the 20th century.

In a span of a 100 years we went from the horse and buggy to the moon and powerful computers that fit in our pockets.

So it’s understandable that in many ways we have not been able to evolve as fast as our technology.

What I find unacceptable is that the educational systems in most parts of the world are still using 19th century methodology to educate our children.

In the US, the teachers unions and tenure have been destroying the level of education to the point that we have to import engineers and tech people.

We are unable to compete. It’s time to dissolve the Department of Education.

We “know” how to educate but the teachers unions control Congress, and nothing is done.

If we cannot fire incompetent teachers and change methods, nothing will change.

There are amazing new teaching methods available right now that will transform our educational system.

The US spends more money on public education than any other developed country in the world.

It’s not working.

We are ranked 31st in math, 21st in reading and 24th in science in the world.

We do lead in one category… the incarceration rate per capita.

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“mywifesgonnakillme”

You gotta laugh sometimes.

Actually you gotta laugh a lot.

It’s one of life’s amazing healing agents.

People are wound up too tight.

I see so much struggle, chaos and drama in people’s daily lives.

People stressed out with anxiety, confusion, fear and sadness.

I was selling some golf clubs on eBay.

This guy emailed me a question.

His logon name was “mywifesgonnakillme”.

I replied: “Is your wife gonna kill you if you buy these golf clubs?”

His reply: “I divorced her. Lol Stephen.”

Sometimes ya just gotta laugh.

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Wife’s Diary:

Tonight, my husband was acting weird. We had plans to meet at a nice restaurant for dinner.

I was shopping with my friends all day, so I thought he was upset at the fact that I was a bit late, but he made no comment on it. I asked him what was wrong; He said, ‘nothing.’ I asked him if it was my fault that he was upset. He said he wasn’t upset, that it had nothing to do with me, and not to worry about it.

On the way home, I told him that I loved him. He smiled slightly, and kept driving. I can’t explain his behavior. I don’t know why he didn’t say, ‘I love you, too.’

When we got home, he just sat there quietly, and watched TV. He continued to seem distant and absent. Finally, I decided to go to bed. About 15 minutes later, he came to bed. But I still felt that he was distracted, and his thoughts were somewhere else.

He fell asleep; I cried. I’m almost sure his thoughts are with someone else.

Husband’s Diary:  A two foot putt … who the hell misses a two foot putt?

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Cats are usually solitary animals. Lions, however, live in social groups.

In South Africa there are dozens of parks called “The Lion Park.”

Tourists pay top dollar to pet lion cubs there.

The lions are bred constantly in order to maintain enough cubs to support their multi-million dollar operations.

When the cats mature, even though they have been raised by humans in captivity they are too dangerous and expensive to be fed and kept.

These lions are sold to places called “Canned Hunts”.

Prices range up to $100,000 for a person to go into an enclosure where a tame lion, which has been petted and fed by humans all its life, is resting in the shade. The person then shoots the lion 3 or more times until the lion is dead.

Then they take a photo with their trophy.

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

Many animals are killed for various human needs, whether they are rational or not.

For some reason, when we use animals presumably for medical and health purposes, or for an aphrodisiac, people don’t seem to care or are too ignorant to see if there is any proof that it actually helps them in spite of them causing the animals’ extinction!

Pangolins, often called “scaly anteaters,” are covered in tough, overlapping scales.

These burrowing mammals eat ants and termites using an extraordinarily long tongue.

Their scales are touted as a cure for everything from cancer or acne, to poor lactation in mothers.

Their meat is considered a delicacy in China and Vietnam. Restaurants may offer to bring a live pangolin to your table, slit its throat and serve the blood – apparently an aphrodisiac, before steaming the meat and chopping up the tongue for soup. There are no pangolins left in great swathes of South East Asia,

so Africa’s populations are now being plundered.

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

All the gold mined in all of human history would only fill up three Olympic size swimming pools.

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

Anything that does “work” needs some sort of energy.

Energy can be supplied in many ways; solar, wind, flowing water, fossil fuels, coal, natural gas, humans, animals, wood and in many other forms.

When the energy source is depleted the car, machine or anything else that does work stops functioning.

Without food the human machine will shut down after three to four weeks.

Without water we would die in three to 10 days.

When I walk past a restaurant and I see people eating I can’t help but see an image of a people pulling into a station filling up with food and drink, and then moving on.

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

I was looking at my dog today. I noticed he has 2 eyes, 2 ears, a nose, teeth, and a tongue.    

He also has a heart, kidneys, liver, stomach, intestines, spleen, penis, lungs, rectum, bladder, testicles, trachea, esophagus, larynx, ribs, joints and bones.

He eats food and defecates, drinks water and urinates.

He’s got all the same parts I do!

We work very hard not to think of ourselves as animals.

We generally experience ourselves separate and superior to them.

Are we? Are we superior to an orchid, a honey bee, or a giant Sequoia tree?

Are we superior to a dog that can detect cancer in a human before doctors can?   

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

Empathy has a neurological basis.

The same brain regions that process our first-hand experiences of pain are also activated when we observe other people in pain.

Non-human animals, even rodents, show evidence of empathy.

What is happening in the brain that humans can selectively switch off empathy?

Psychopaths (serial killers, rapists, etc.) brains fail to activate in the regions associated with empathy.

In fact, an area involved in pleasure, the ventral striatum, is activated instead.

My question is how does a person with normal brain patterns switch off empathy?

Why do “normal” people commit atrocities?

Before language and thought I believe humans were simply hard-wired for survival.

They were driven by their DNA with no thought processes.

After we invented language, learned to cultivate and domesticate animals, form cities and establish some form of leadership, extreme social prejudice and racism, due to propaganda and indoctrination, were factors enabling a person to “turn off” feelings of empathy.

I believe that a combination of genetics, ignorance, indoctrination and propaganda are responsible for human atrocities.

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

Bigotry is the stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own.

Racism is the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.

Discrimination is treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit.

Prejudice is an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason;

it is any preconceived opinion or feeling, favorable or unfavorable, comprising of unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, especially of a hostile nature, regarding an ethnic, racial, social, or religious group.

Oppression is the unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power.

None of the above behaviors can exist if we want to live a life without conflict!!!

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

Human Skin Pigmentation

The human species began to lose their hair as they evolved.

As we lost our ability to climb trees and became more mobile and travel faster for longer distances,

we needed to cool our bodies via sweat glands, which was not possible with a lot of body hair.

This necessitated being selected for less body hair until we lost most of it.

However our pale skin pigmentation created a problem because of excessive ultra violet radiation (UVR) at or near the equator, which is a result of the Sun being at its zenith most of the time.

As we began losing our hair exposing our pale skin, humans were naturally selected for more pigmentation, darker and darker skin color to protect us from over exposure of UVR.

The evolution of permanent dark skin pigmentation, was one of the most effective and economical means whereby this protection could be achieved.

Much later in our evolution humans began to migrate north and south of the equator.

Dark skin limited our bodies from absorbing ultra violet B waves (UVB).

This caused a problem… vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is an essential vitamin and is absolutely necessary for our survival.

As we migrated further and further away from the equator, humans were selected for a large variety of skin pigmentations correlated with UVB exposure.

Modern humans began living outside of the tropics more than 60,000 years ago.

Anthropologist Nina Jablonski: “Because skin pigmentation evolved independently of other traits, the combining of anatomical, physiological, and even behavioral traits into so-called races under the banner of shared skin color is incorrect.”

In other words there is no correlation between skin color and race.

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

Genghis Khan accumulated a large harem in which he seems to have labored with surprising vigor.

The fourteenth century Persian historian Rashid ad-Din, who served as chief minister of the Mongol government of Persia, wrote that Genghis had nearly 500 wives and concubines, women taken when he conquered a new tribe.

His interest in procreation was shared by his sons.

In 2003, a groundbreaking historical genetics paper reported results which indicated that a substantial proportion of men in the world are a direct line of descendants of Genghis Khan.

Y chromosomes are only passed from father to son that would mean that the Y chromosome is a record of one’s line of decent.

Estimates from a wide range of samples indicate ~10% of the men who reside within the borders of the Mongol Empire as it was at the death of Genghis Khan may carry his Y chromosome, and so ~0.5% of men in the world, about 16 million individuals alive today.

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

The Hubble Telescope

Until the mid-1920’s astronomers believed our Milky Way galaxy was the extent of the universe.

Edwin Hubble discovered in 1923 that the universe was far vaster than we could ever imagine.

The Hubble was launched into space about 350 miles above the Earth’s surface in 1990.

After correcting the problems with the mirrors the Hubble lived up to its expectations.

It can detect light four billion times more faint than the human eye.

Every galaxy is composed of stars, planets and gas.

As a result of just a few of its discoveries we now know the following:

  •  There are about 200 billion galaxies in the observable universe.
  • Each galaxy has approximately 100 billion or more stars.
  • It would appear that the center of every galaxy there is a “black hole”.
  • The universe is about 13.7 billion years old.
  • The universe is expanding.

We can now observe new solar systems and stars forming.

Our Milky Way galaxy rotates around its center and it takes

our solar system 250 million years to orbit our galaxy.

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

The entire Universe is made up of 92 natural elements.

Protons and neutrons are the building blocks of all atoms.

Atoms are the building blocks of all the other elements.

The center of stars is the only place in the universe that is hot enough and dense enough to fuse atoms together to make helium atoms.

At the end of a star’s life, when it begins to run out of hydrogen, it expands to become a red giant.

The temperature in the center becomes hot enough to form other elements, including carbon.

All the carbon atoms in the universe are created in a dying star.

All of life is completely dependent on carbon.

A human is made up of many billions of carbon atoms.

The heaviest elements require 100 billion degrees of heat to create, which can only occur in a dying giant star.

Uranium, Tungsten, Gold, Plutonium, Platinum are a sample of heavy elements.

When a giant red star explodes it’s called a “Super Nova,” and is the most powerful energy force in the universe.

Uranium is the heaviest natural element with 92 protons.

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

“If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”

-Carl Sagan-

Carl Sagan’s bit of witticism is actually something to think about.

When you walk into your local convenience store and pick up a can of Coca Cola all of us take it for granted. Very few people have any idea what it took to get that can of soda there.

I saw a documentary several years ago about how many steps it took to make something as simple as a no. 2 lead pencil, it was quite illuminating.

There are thousands of examples of this process. The following is one of them:

“The H-E-B grocery store a mile from my home in Austin, Texas, sells twelve cans of Coca-Cola for $ 4.49. Each one of those cans originated in a small town of four thousand people on the Murray River in Western Australia called Pinjarra, the site of the world’s largest bauxite mine. Bauxite is surface-mined, basically scraped and dug from the top of the ground then crushed and washed with hot sodium hydroxide until it separates into aluminum hydroxide and a waste material called “red mud.” The aluminum hydroxide is first cooled and then heated to over a thousand degrees Celsius in a kiln, where it becomes aluminum oxide, or alumina. The alumina is dissolved in a molten substance called cryolite, a rare mineral first discovered in Greenland, and turned into pure aluminum using electricity in a process called electrolysis. The pure aluminum sinks to the bottom of the molten cryolite, is drained off, and is placed in a mold. The result is a long, cylindrical bar of aluminum. Australia’s role in the process ends here. The bar is transported west to the port of Bunbury and loaded onto a container ship to begin a month-long journey to in the case of Coke for sale in Austin the port of Corpus Christi, on the Texan coast. After the aluminum bar makes landfall, a truck takes it north on Interstates 37 and 35 to a bottling plant on Burnet Road in Austin, where it is rolled flat in a rolling mill and turned into aluminum sheets. The sheets are punched into circles and shaped into a cup by a mechanical process called drawing and ironing— this not only forms the can but also thins the aluminum. The transition from circle to cylinder takes about a fifth of a second. The outside of the can is decorated using a base layer called “urethane acrylate,” then up to seven layers of colored acrylic paint and varnish, which are cured using ultraviolet light. The inside of the can is painted, too— with a chemical called a “comestible polymeric coating,” to prevent aluminum from getting into the soda. So far, this vast tool chain has produced only an empty can with no lid.

The next step is to fill it up. Coca-Cola is made from syrup produced by the Coca-Cola Company of Atlanta, Georgia. The syrup is the only thing the Coca-Cola Company provides; the bottling operation belongs to a separate, independent corporation called the Coca-Cola Bottling Company. The main ingredient in the syrup used in the United States is a sweetener called high-fructose corn syrup 55, so named because it is 55 percent fructose, or “fruit sugar,” and 42 percent glucose, or “simple sugar”, the same ratio of fructose to glucose as in natural honey. High-fructose corn syrup is made by grinding wet corn until it becomes cornstarch, mixing the cornstarch with an enzyme secreted by a bacillus, a rod-shaped bacterium, and another enzyme, this one secreted by an aspergillus mold, and then using a third enzyme, xylose isomerase, derived from a bacterium called Streptomyces rubiginosus, to turn some of the glucose into fructose. The second ingredient, caramel coloring, gives the drink its distinctive dark brown color. There are four types of caramel coloring; Coca-Cola uses type E150d, which is made by heating sugars with sulfite and ammonia to create bitter brown liquid. The syrup’s other principal ingredient is phosphoric acid, which adds acidity and is made by diluting burnt phosphorus (created by heating phosphate rock in an arc furnace) and processing it to remove arsenic. High-fructose corn syrup and caramel coloring make up most of the syrup, but all they add is sweetness and color. Flavors make up a much smaller proportion of the mixture. These include vanilla, which is the fruit of a Mexican orchid that has been dried and cured; cinnamon, which is the inner bark of a Sri Lankan tree; coca leaf, which comes from South America and is processed in a unique U.S. government authorized factory in New Jersey to remove its addictive stimulant, cocaine; and kola nut, a red nut found on a tree that grows in the African rain forest (this may be the origin of Coca-Cola’s distinctive red logo). The final ingredient, caffeine, is a stimulating alkaloid that can be derived from the kola nut, coffee beans, and other sources. All these ingredients are combined and boiled down to a concentrate, which is transported from the Coca-Cola Company factory in Atlanta to the Coca-Cola Bottling Company factory in Austin, where it is diluted with local water infused with carbon dioxide. Some of the carbon dioxide turns to gas in the water, and these gas bubbles give the water effervescence, also known as “fizz,” after its sound.

The final mixture is poured into cans, which still need lids. The top of the can is carefully engineered: it is aluminum, too, but it has to be thicker and stronger than the rest of the can to withstand the pressure of the carbon dioxide gas, and so it is made from an alloy with more magnesium. The lid is punched and scored, and a tab opening, also made of aluminum, is installed. The finished lid is put on top of the filled can, and the edges of the can are folded over it and welded shut. Twelve of these cans are packaged into a paperboard box called a fridge pack, using a machine capable of producing three hundred such packs a minute. The finished box is transported by road to my local H-E-B grocery store, where finally it can be bought, taken home, chilled, and consumed. This chain, which spans bauxite bulldozers, refrigerators, urethane, bacteria, and cocaine, and touches every continent on the planet except Antarctica, produces seventy million cans of Coca-Cola each day, one of which can be purchased for about a dollar on some close-by street corner, and each of which contains far more than something to drink. Like every other creation, a can of Coke is a product of our entire world and contains inventions that trace all the way back to the origins of our species. The number of individuals who know how to make a can of Coke is zero. The number of individual nations that could produce a can of Coke is zero.

“How to Fly a Horse” – Kevin Ashton

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

Have you ever wondered about kissing? When did it start?

How and why did it start?

Why do we laugh? Babies do it. Is it genetic or is it learned?

Why do we cry? Babies do it from birth.

We are hard wired for crying. Women secrete more of the hormone that initiates tears than men.

Laughter appears to be a universal trait in humans.

Kissing?  Not all human cultures kiss.

For that reason I would lean towards kissing not being innate.

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

If your friend can’t stop whining about what he shoulda’ done,

explain the 2nd law of thermodynamics to him.

Or you can state it more simply; tell him, “You can’t un-break a broken egg.”

Get over it and move on.

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

The Declaration of Independence says that “All men are created equal.”

Actually, we are not created equal.

Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Michael Jordan, Jonas Salk, Mozart.

Which of us thinks we are equal to these men?

The Declaration of Independence correctly states that we have unalienable rights, which among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

It doesn’t say however, that we are “entitled” to “equal results.”

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

“The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal. “

-Aristotle-

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

“The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.”

– Einstein-

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

“Have good trust in yourself, not in the One that you think you should be,

but in the One that you are.”

– Taizan Maezumi-

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

One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone’s amazement he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing.

He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer’s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well, and happily trotted off!

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a stepping stone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up. (Author Unknown)

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

“The nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this earth is a government program.”

–Ronald Reagan-

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

“Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases:

If it moves, tax it.

If it keeps moving, regulate it.

And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”

– Ronald Reagan-

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

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”

– Confucius- (not sure this is his quote)

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

“By nature, men are nearly alike; by practice, they get to be wide apart.”   

– Confucius-

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

Anger is a normal human emotion.

It is not a good idea to suppress any of our emotions.

When you experience anger, allow yourself to feel the full force of it without any suppression, even if you feel angry enough to be violent. However, while experiencing your emotion is healthy, acting it out will not usually end up in a good experience.

When we argue we get caught up in trying to make others wrong.

We get into loud screaming and cursing bouts, sometimes being insulting and attempting to diminish another person’s self-worth. This can become a very ugly experience and can lead to the end of relationships.

In these types of arguments everybody loses, there are no winners.

When you try to make the other person “wrong” with severe judgment, they become defensive and of course do everything they can to judge and hurt you back.

There is a better way.

It’s called expressing your feelings in a non-judgmental way. Here is an example:

When you stay out late all the time with your friends it feels like you don’t want to be with me, and that makes me feel sad and un-loved”.

This would take the place of saying something like:

“You are so selfish and immature. You never ever think of me and my needs, you only care about playing with your buddies! When are you going to grow up?”

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

The second law of thermodynamics tells us that nothing in the Universe stays the same.

Everything flows from order to disorder.

The instant you finish building something, its atomic structure begins to break down.

Its speed of decay depends on many factors, including the elements it is made of.

Everything in the Universe has a life span.

There are trees that are thousands of years old.

A Bowhead Whale has a life span of about 200 years.

A May Fly has a life expectancy of 1-24 hours.

Our sun will die in about 6 billion years.

Humans have a life span of about 78 years.

There is no spiritual or wondrous meaning to life and death.

The moment we are born we start to decay like everything else in the Universe.

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

An un-carved block of wood can be anything, the possibilities are limitless.

The same is true for us. If we can become the un-carved block of wood, and not have just one way of thinking which includes bias, prejudice and judgment, our wisdom will become limitless.

– Taoism-

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

“The empty space within a cup is what makes a cup useful,

for without any empty space within  a cup cannot be filled.

–Lao-tzu-

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

Lao-tzu pointed out that the person who thinks he knows does not really know,

but the one who knows what he does not know is wise……

opinion, knowledge, and learning are only impediments to wisdom.

– Lao-tzu-

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

Wisdom is a function of experience not knowledge.

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

J. Krishnamurti: on the subject of enlightenment.

“If there were no book, no guru, no teacher, what would you do?

One is in turmoil, confusion, agony, what would you do? With nobody to help you, no drugs,

no tranquillizers, no organized religions, what would you do? “…

“What have we done up until now?

The people on whom we have relied, the religions, the churches, education, they have led us to this awful mess. We aren’t free of sorrow; we aren’t free of our beastliness, our ugliness, and our vanities.”

-“The Awakening of Intelligence”-

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

“If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?”

-Dogen Zenji-

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

Being unhappy or feeling sadness or “bummed out,” should not be confused with depression.    

Sadness is a result of a temporary life circumstances or may be preceded by not accepting a consequence of everyday life.

Depression is a physiological and/or a chemical change in the body usually triggered by current or past events. It may be a conscious or unconscious experience that triggers it.  Stress can be a factor.

Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome is a different type of depression that is based on very real and recent highly traumatic experiences.

Depression is a physical illness that impairs psychological functioning.

Stress hormones, like cortisol, damage the hippocampus part of the brain.

Yvette Shiline, professor of Psychiatry at Washington University, performed MRI studies that have shown that the hippocampus in depressed people, on average, is smaller than the hippocampus of non-depressed people.

Furthermore, the longer someone has been depressed, the smaller the hippocampus tends to be.

Anti-depressants lower the amounts of stress hormones in the body and stop the hippocampus from shrinking.

The sooner you treat depression, the better off you are.

Ronald Duman, professor of psychiatry at Yale University, has discovered that anti-depressants not only changed the brain’s chemistry, it also caused the brain to grow new cells in the hippocampus, thus repairing the cellular damage created by depression.    

As many as two thirds of people with depression do not realize that they have a treatable illness and do not seek treatment.

Persistent ignorance about depression and misperceptions of it by the public, and even some health providers, think of it as a personal weakness or failing.

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

“Be a lamp unto yourself”

Buddha-

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

“When marrying, ask yourself this question: Do you believe that you will be able to converse well with this person into your old age? Everything else in marriage is transitory.”

-Friedrich Nietzsche-

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

Divorce can be one of the most difficult experiences in someone’s life.

If you are married with children living at home, you need to look at divorce as your last option.

Seek help from a professional counselor, therapist, or psychiatrist.

If you are anxious or depressed get help.

If you are having an affair, end it. It will probably not turn out the way you have imagined it.

The oxytocin that is flooding your body when having an affair will stop once you have left your family.

Leaving your family to be with someone else is not a choice that usually ends well.

You are needy, self-absorbed and blinded with emotion,

willing to sacrifice your family for it.

What you may not realize are the consequences and unintended consequences to you and your family.

You entered a marriage, as a partnership, in which you agreed to raise a family to the best of your ability, and you now want to renege on that responsibility.

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

It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.

-Friedrich Nietzsche-

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

“We’re just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star.

But we can understand the Universe.

That makes us something very special.”

– Stephen Hawking-

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

“Stephen Hawking is getting a divorce. That’s scary.

If the smartest guy in the world can’t figure women out, we’re screwed.”

– Jay Leno-

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

. Unintended Consequences

Sometimes the unintended consequences of an action are never corrected.

Local, State, and Federal agencies were dependent on the taxes

collected from the manufacturing and sale of alcohol.

We didn’t always pay Federal and State taxes.

Prohibition was going to be passed using political bullying and negative propaganda campaigns

to get the public to ratify the amendment.

They knew if they didn’t pass a constitutional amendment to allow an income tax, they would never get the prohibition amendment passed.   

That is why the Federal Income Tax was born on February 3, 1913.

Prohibition is an excellent study of unintended consequences, not only because of the number of

destructive non-intended consequences that resulted,

but also because the positive consequences never materialized as well.

In short it was a disaster.

In 1962, a book was written by Rachel Carson called Silent Spring.

The book raised some serious questions about the use of DDT.

There was no scientific evidence that spraying DDT seriously hurt people.

Not one death occurred in the US as a result of DDT.

If used with some common sense, it is environmentally safe.

The public media picked it up and they were off to the races.

“DDT KILLER CHEMICAL”

The newly formed environmentalists jumped on the band wagon and organized protests.

As a result a ban on the use of DDT was issued, based on public pressure and the media.

DDT is easily the best and safest way to control Malaria.

If sprayed on walls of an African hut, a small amount will keep mosquitoes at bay for a half a year.

The death rate of Malaria in Africa sky rocketed after it was banned.

Many thousands died needlessly.

Why ban it everywhere? What happened to common sense?

Use the chemical where it makes sense and does the most good until you come up with a better solution

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

  “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge.”

–Stephen Hawking-

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

When people make decisions based on passion and strong emotional feelings that will affect millions of others, or the entire world, it rarely ends well.

Our emotions overwhelm common sense and rational thinking based on research, data, and the scientific method and common sense.

Forced busing in the 1950’s through 1970’s is another example of a well-intended idea having unintended negative consequences which ultimately backfired.

The 700 page sociological report, which supported busing, authored by James Coleman in 1966 was a poorly constructed study that did not factor in all the variables.

When we look for a quick solution to a complex problem it often results in accepting the results of a study that is poorly conceived and sometimes with a conscious bias.   

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

“I use emotion for the many and reserve reason for the few”

-Adolf Hitler-

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

Scents that we smell come from clouds of molecules.

Molecules of different shapes have different scents.

Being able to remember different scents is important to our survival and has evolved over millions of years.

Scent cells in the brain are close to the part of the brain that is responsible for memory and emotion.

This is why a certain scents can bring back such vivid memories.

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

In India, only one in four homes has a refrigerator.

In 2004, only 24% of Chinese homes had a refrigerator.

Ten years later that number shot up to 88%.

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

Plants make food (sugar) using photosynthesis.

They can live without us, we cannot live without them.

This solar powered biosphere drives all living organisms on earth.

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

“The nature of a scientific genius is to question what the rest of us take for granted.”

-Cosmos: A Space-time Odyssey-

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

The Sky is Falling

During the 1970s, the media promoted global cooling alarmism with dire threats of a new ice age. Extreme weather events were hyped as signs of the coming apocalypse and man-made pollution was blamed as the cause. Environmental extremists called for everything from outlawing the internal combustion engine to communist style population controls.

Hundreds of articles in the public media were warning the population about the coming ice age, including a front page story from Time Magazine.

“Climate experts believe the next ice age is on its way.”

– Leonard Nimoy- (1978)-

Paul Ehrlich the author of “The Population Bomb” gave the world a healthy coating of panic that drove the great overpopulation scares that still swirl through intellectual circles.

According to the Population Bomb and Ehrlich’s subsequent work, we should all be dead right now.

His book began with the infamous sentence: “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.”

It never happened. Not in the 1970s … not ever.

As the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States intensified in the late 1940s

and early 1950s, hysteria over the perceived threat posed by

Communists in the U.S. became known as the Red Scare.

It led to a range of actions that had a profound and enduring effect on U.S. government and society. Federal employees were analyzed to determine whether they were sufficiently loyal to the government, as did the House Un-American Activities Committee.

U.S. Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, investigated allegations of subversive elements

in the government and the Hollywood film industry.

The climate of fear and repression linked to the Red Scare finally began to ease by the late 1950’s.

Does global warming fall into this category?

Well I’ll tell you that I certainly would scrutinize any scientific movement led by a politician.

I could stop right there but there is so much more.

This is a critical thinker’s treasure chest.

The billions of dollars this new apocalypse has generated worldwide in government and UN funding to special interest groups is staggering.

Parts of the Amazon are being de-forested in South America to grow corn for ethanol to be used as an ingredient in automotive fuel.

There are so many reasons why this is a terrible and poorly thought out strategy.

The Rain Forests on this planet are the world’s most valuable asset.   The data indicates that the de-foresting of the Amazon is the number two cause of carbon being released into the atmosphere.

The ratings for public media, translates into more money, increases dramatically when the headlines read, “The Sky Is Falling.”

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

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.

It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

-Mark Twain-

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

Carbon atoms are the backbone of the molecules that form all organisms.

That’s the difference between rocks and life.

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

The light that hits your face is ten million years old.

That’s how long it takes photons to work their way out of the center of the sun.

Light from the surface of the sun takes 8 minutes and 20 seconds to travel 93 million miles.

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

Neutrinos are subatomic particles produced by the decay of radioactive elements

and are elementary particles that lack an electric charge.

Neutrinos are one of the fundamental particles which make up the universe.

An electron has a million times the mass of a neutrino.

A neutrino can pass through a 100 light years of steel without slowing down.

Now that’s crazy!

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

Think critically: ask the right questions, do the research.

The US has been engaged in the war on drugs for more than 40 years.

How’s that going?

Who said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result?

Statistically, what results in more deaths per year, smoking marijuana, drinking alcohol,

using cocaine, or smoking cigarettes, and in what order?

(Actually sleep deprivation cause more auto deaths per year than drunk driving)

How much is this war costing us?  How are the countries that have legalized drugs doing?

Do… the… research!

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

“He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind

is filled with falsehoods and errors.”

Thomas Jefferson-

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If I choose to climb Mount Everest without the proper equipment and training, I will die.

There is no law against me doing that.

I don’t want, nor need, others imposing their laws, and regulations on me.

What I do is my business so long as it does not affect someone else’s survival.

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

“Obey the principals without being bound by them.”

-Bruce Lee-

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“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once,

I fear the man who has practiced 1 kick 10,000 times”

-Bruce Lee-

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During the reign of Stalin and Mao Zedong you would be put in prison, the gulags, or executed for criticizing the government.

Until very recently you would be arrested in Cuba for doing that same thing.

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“Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”

  -Thomas Jefferson-

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“There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.”

-John Adams-

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“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

-Abraham Lincoln-

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“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed it ourselves.”

Abraham Lincoln-

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

Critical thinking is essential to every citizen of every country when you consider history and what’s at stake:

“Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficit,

WHY do we have deficits?

Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes,

WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don’t propose a federal budget. The President does.

You and I don’t have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations.

The House of Representatives does.

You and I don’t write the tax code, Congress does.

You and I don’t set fiscal policy, Congress does.

You and I don’t control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.

What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall.

No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker,

who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits.

(The President can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.)

The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes. Who is the speaker of the House?

If the President vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to.

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted — by present facts — of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can’t think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that

545 people exercise the power of the federal government,

then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it’s because they want it unfair.

If the budget is in the red, it’s because they want it in the red.

If the Army & Marines are in Iraq and Afghanistan it’s because they want them there.

If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it’s because they want it that way. There are no insoluble government problems. (My bold type)

They and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses.

Provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees…

We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess!”

  • Medicare Tax
  • Hunting License Tax
  • Inheritance Tax
  • Accounts Receivable Tax
  • Building Permit Tax
  • CDL license Tax
  • Cigarette Tax
  • Corporate Income Tax
  • Dog License Tax
  • Excise Taxes
  • Federal Income Tax
  • Federal Unemployment Tax
  • Fishing License Tax
  • Food License Tax
  • Fuel Permit Tax
  • Gasoline Tax
  • TV Taxes and Fees
  • Inheritance Tax
  • Gross Receipts Tax
  • Inventory Tax
  • IRS Interest Charges IRS Penalties
  • Liquor Tax
  • Luxury Taxes
  • Marriage License Tax
  • Personal Property Tax
  • Property Tax
  • Real Estate Tax
  • Service Charge Tax
  • Social Security Tax
  • Road Usage Tax
  • Recreational Vehicle Tax
  • Sales Tax
  • School Tax
  • State Income Tax
  • State Unemployment Tax
  • Telephone Recurring and Nonrecurring Charges Tax
  • Telephone Federal Excise Tax
  • Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
  • Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Taxes
  • Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
  • Telephone State and Local Tax
  • Telephone Usage Charge Tax
  • Utility Taxes
  • Vehicle License Registration Tax
  • Vehicle Sales Tax
  • Watercraft Registration Tax
  • Well Permit Tax
  • Workers Compensation Tax

Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago, & our nation was the most prosperous in the world. We had the largest middle class in the world, and Mom stayed home to raise the kids.

Government is inherently incompetent, and no matter what task it is assigned, it will do it in the most expensive and inefficient way possible.”

-Charley Reese: Orlando Sentinel on Feb. 3, 1984-

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder suggests that there was an estimated $60 to $90 billion in fraud in Medicare and a similar amount for Medicaid in the year 2010.

These numbers have not diminished.

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

December 2014, Congress had an approval rating of about 14%.

There have been 27 Constitutional amendments. Constitutional Amendments must be ratified by two-thirds of the House and Senate, and then sent to the states for a vote.

Three-fourths of the states must affirm the proposed Amendment.

It would be a tall order to limit terms and be rid of career politicians, who have ignored our Constitution and have jeopardized our liberty.

There is an easier way.

There are a handful of politicians that are actually trying very hard to do the right thing.

The rest are only concerned with their careers.

I suggest that we vote out every politician in every election, unless you are sure you have one of the few that are actually representing you and not themselves.

It doesn’t matter what party they belong to, pick who you think is the best person for the job.

If we don’t have career politicians we can diffuse the special interest groups that have become so powerful.

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

Why do we have or need politicians anyway?

Let’s think out of the box. Here is one of many ideas that might be considered:

What if each state interviewed candidates for the Senate and the House?

We would seek out the best retired or semi-retired business leaders in the country.

After they are elected they would be responsible for seeking out the most successful and brightest professionals and scientists in the world for specific projects.

Our scientists and professionals would get paid a large enough salary to attract the best of the best.

Research would be done to make decisions.

Not bureaucratic research, but research using unbiased methodology.

The tax code would be reviewed and simplified.

Programs and methods that have been proven inefficient or ineffective would be scrapped.

Our education system would be upgraded and modeled after the methods known to work.

Eventually private schools might take the place of public education.

Our military presence around the world would be scrutinized by sound statistical research.

Laws and regulations would be reviewed and terminated as necessary.

Medicaid and Medicare and Welfare would be re-worked to eliminate the billions lost to corruption.

Social security should be phased out. It was never intended to be permanent anyway.

In short our goal would be to eliminate special interest groups, corruption, and politics, while saving billions every year and lowering taxes we still would be able to rebuild our infrastructure.

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

What is the difference between a thought and a feeling?

What is the difference between thinking and experiencing?

Could you explain in words the experience of any of the following?  You have just been told you have 3-4 weeks to live.

Your recent jump off a bridge attached to bungee cord.

 You just won the lottery for 25 million dollars.

An experience is something that occurs without thought.

A feeling is something that occurs as a result of a release of chemicals or hormones.

That’s why it’s called a feeling because you “feel” a physiological sensation.

A therapist asks you; “what are you feeling right now” or, “how does that make you feel?”

Most of the time the therapist will respond to your answer; “That’s not a feeling, that’s a thought.”

It’s sometimes very difficult to get in touch with our feelings because our thoughts get in the way.

If you encounter someone who has never tasted pistachio ice cream, there is no way words could possibly communicate what it tastes like. There is only one way for someone to know what pistachio ice cream tastes like.

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

About a dozen years ago I was in a session with my friend and psychologist, David Speights.

He asked me “Who are you?”

I said, “You’re kidding. Are you really going to ask me a cliché psychological question like that?”

He just smiled.

“Okay” I said, “let me get centered and empty my mind of all thought and see what pops up.”

About a minute later I burst out laughing.

Then he starts laughing, and asks me what’s so funny?

“Well as I was sitting here with no thoughts and an image appeared.”

“What was it”, he asked.

“Popeye” and we both started laughing again.

“I’m Popeye! I yam what I yam, and that’s all that I yam, I’m Popeye the Sailor Man.”

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

Try this exercise the next time you are watching television;

as you are watching television, especially the commercials,

think about what life was like 150 years ago. No cars, phones, electric lights, out houses to go to the bathroom, primitive health care, etc.   

The American Civil War ended in 1865, just 150 years ago! …150 years!

Look at the television programs and commercials from the perspective of someone who has time traveled from the battle fields of the Civil War to now.

Try and imagine what you would be feeling if it were you that time travelled from the past.

The commercials, situational comedies, the extreme violence, the fawning over celebrities!

Most of what you see in the world today did not exist 150 years ago.

We created it. We chose it.

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

“The artist will move future generations when the bones of

Kings have long since moldered away.”

-Franz Alexander von Kleist (Dresden 1792)-

  • Vincent van Gogh: 1853-890
  • Leonardo da Vinci: 1452-519
  • Michelangelo: 1475-1564
  • Rembrandt: 1606-1669
  • Matisse: 1869-1954
  • Degas: 1834-1917
  • Renoir: 1841-1919
  • Cézanne: 1839-1906
  • Monet: 1840-1926
  • Shakespeare: 1564-1516
  • Hemingway: 1899-1961
  • Mark Twain: 1835-1910
  • Faulkner: 1897-1962
  • Edgar Allan Poe:1809-1849
  • Dickens: 1812-1870
  • Tolstoy: 1828-1910
  • Dostoyevsky: 1821-1881
  • Emily Dickinson:1830-1886
  • Whitman: 1819-1892
  • Keats: 1795-1821
  • Emerson: 1803-1882
  • Longfellow: 1807-1882
  • T. S. Eliot: 1888-1965
  • Wordsworth: 1770-1850
  • E. E. Cummings: 1894-1962
  • Newton: 1642-1726
  • Louis Pasteur: 1822 – 1895
  • Galileo: 1564 – 1642
  • Marie Curie: 1867–1934
  • Einstein: 1879 – 1955
  • Darwin: 1809 – 1882
  • Aristotle: 384BC – 322BC
  • Thomas Edison: 1847-1931
  • Benjamin Franklin: 1706-790
  • Jonas Salk: 1914-1995
  • Beethoven: 1770-1827
  • Mozart: 1756-1791
  • Haydn: 1732-1809
  • Bach: 1685-1750
  • Chopin: 1810-1845
  • Tchaikovsky: 1840-1893
  • Brahms: 1833-1897
  • Wagner: 1813-1833
  • Debussy: 1862-1919
  • Schubert: 1797-1828
  • Rachmaninoff: 1873-1943

The achievements of mankind in art, music, medicine, technology and all of the sciences are quite remarkable. The extremes of human behavior are quite astounding.

The ability to experience and appreciate the beauty of our planet and all its life forms and non-life forms is incredible.

The ability to experience and feel love, joy and other emotions is wonderful.

To listen to the 2nd movement of Beethoven’s 5th piano concerto a hundred times, and enjoy it more each time I listen to it, is magical.

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

Legacy

Why do some of us talk about leaving a legacy?

Isn’t the doing of good with the intention of bettering life for us and others enough?

Why do we want to be remembered after we die? We won’t be here to enjoy it.

Could this be another form of the denial of death?

Does a legacy give us the notion of eternal life?

Perhaps leaving a legacy is connected to pride, one of the seven deadly sins.

Is pride ‘the gateway through which all other sins enter the mortal soul’?

Hubris, overbearing pride, arrogance, conceit,

vanity, self-importance, are of course just labels.

However, the underlying emotions and actions of those whose character takes on the role of

a vainglory (excessive elation or pride over one’s own achievements, abilities, etc.; boastful vanity),

can be quite ugly and may exhibit the actions of “the dark side” of humanity.

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Conflict:

My concern is with just how many people’s lives are immersed in conflict and unnecessary drama.

Drama is a way of relating to the world in which a people consistently overreact to, or greatly exaggerate, the importance of benign events.

It is constant bickering, arguing, and disputing.

It is often caused by consistent self-destructive behavior and the inevitable problems and conflicts it causes between individuals and family members. Many conflicts occur as a result of a sense of entitlement.

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

I have “listened” to people all my life. What I’ve learned is that everyone has a story.

You would be very much surprised that you are not alone.

You just need to be interested and listen… you just need to ask.

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

Happiness

Happiness is overrated and often misunderstood.

It is a state of mind that is fleeting depending on current circumstances.

You can’t buy it or own it. It slips away as quickly as you find it.

You cannot learn it or earn it.

You don’t get to have it just because you have always done the right thing.

Life doesn’t know or care what fair is.

The more you try and hold onto it the more elusive it gets.   

What makes you ecstatically happy may have no effect on somebody else.

Happiness is something you choose at any given time.

“Don’t I deserve to be happy?”

Happiness is an incredibly nebulous concept.

It waxes and wanes from moment to moment, day to day.

We say we want happiness as if once we “get it” it’s ours to keep forever.

What life experience would ever lead to believing this foolishness?

The answer to the question “don’t I deserve to be happy?” is no… you don’t.

When we convince ourselves that happiness is something you can “have and hold onto” we also begin to believe we are “entitled” to have it even at the expense of others.

What happens when someone believes money will bring him happiness?

To what extent will we go to get it?

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

Take responsibility for all of your actions. Never play the victim. Don’t feel sorry for yourself.

Do what you say you’re going to do. Listen when someone is talking to you. Stay in the moment so you can see, smell, hear, taste, and feel your surroundings. Know that the past and future can keep you from experiencing life. If you live in the past you may as well be dreaming and asleep.

Instead of happiness, make your goal to live a life without conflict, and drama.

Stop criticizing and judging others. Stop criticizing and judging yourself.

Know that things change, nothing stays the same.

Know that you are not entitled to anything.

Entitled, (adjective): believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.

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

“The past is gone for all of us.

The future promises nothing to any of us.

All we really have is this moment

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

“The child in us may prove to be our most valuable asset”

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

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,

Old Time is still a-flying:

And this same flower that smiles to-day

To-morrow will be dying

-Robert Herrick (1591–1674)-

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

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

And that has made all the difference.

-Robert Frost (1874–1963)-

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

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

– Henry David Thoreau-

Epilogue

If you could enter a time machine and go back to the 17th and 18th century Europe, you would experience a very different world; a world with kings and queens, dukes, princes, princesses, wigs, balls, operas and much pageantry. You would also see the life of peasants and commoners with no chance of upward mobility. Go to other parts of the world and you may see primitive people who are still using stone tools, with very strange rituals and customs that would seem barbaric and frightening. But you don’t need to travel back in time to see such diversity in life. It’s still here in the 21st century if you look for it. There is an incredible documentary called “Baraka” released in 1992 directed by Ron Fricke. As one reviewer said: “The quintessential big-picture think piece: pulls you out of your localized life and into the larger context of the world- a perspective that’s so important and so hard to achieve.” This film explores the amazing diversity of human life that still exists in modern times.

When we are not given the opportunity to experience all that is and all that was, we assume that life as it is this moment, is what life is “supposed” to be, or that this is how life has always been. Pre-history, before written records, we had no other option it’s all we knew. The truth is, outside of the fundamental needs of survival and reproduction our reality is anything we want to make it. Over the last several thousand years or so, our reality has been pretty much “made up” as we went along, depending on what part of the planet we migrated to and evolved in. This is not difficult to understand. The various sciences have shown us the thousands of evolutionary changes in human history. Written history shows us the many cultural and social diversifications that human life has been through and will continue to go through. There have been many thousands of different cultures, languages, customs, rituals, rules, religions, social and cultural norms and taboos. Within each culture and society these norms are fluid and forever changing. We are making this stuff up as we go along. We have created our reality as we saw fit at any given time and place. There is no reality or natural way except in nature which most humans have abandoned. So if we have laws and rules, right and wrong, good and bad it is because we happened to choose it at that particular time and place. We keep making it up and changing the rules as we go along through space and time. So as you grow up in your own unique space time, remember that “we made all this up! Be aware, and think critically. Celebrities and sports stars become super rich because we chose to have it that way. They are not better or luckier than anyone else because we created them. We seem preoccupied with status, prestige, power and wealth. Trillion dollar industries thrive on our need to look and feel better about ourselves. On the other side of this scale is fear. Fear of life, and fear of death. We live in a world with billions of people, yet we often feel despair and loneliness. One possible way to overcome despair and loneliness is to learn from a young age to create a constant thread of loving relationships and maintain those relationships in a healthy and productive way. We must choose a new way to see the world with a new perspective.   

We all want the same basic things in life, you know what they are. But we haven’t yet figured out how to live a life without conflict, fear of the unknown, prejudice, and all of the drama we experience in our everyday lives. We do not have a good understanding of what love is or how to raise and educate our children. I believe that most people are good and giving and are naturally empathetic. It has always been a small percentage of alpha males that have managed to create resources and power to create chaos in our lives. Our new adventure, our quest… is to stop them.

In the beginning of this book I posed the question that man has been asking for thousands of years. I said it was a trick question. In our quest we have pretty much come up empty handed trying to answer the question. We have relied on religious leaders, philosophers, gurus, teachers, “wise” men, and spiritual men to show us the way. For thousands of years we have been calling for peace on earth and if we do what we are told and   continue to perform our rituals, say our prayers, or mantras, conform to this or that belief system we will have peace someday. But we still don’t have peace on earth. So what does it all mean? What is the meaning of life? It’s a trick question… the only reason the question exists is because we are conditioned to pose the question. The opposite of life is not death; it is the absence of life. The question exists because we just happened to be here to ask it. If the human race became extinct along with the other 99% of all life over the last 3.5 billion years, there wouldn’t be any questions to answer. Are these questions valid just because we have survived and we exist? Eastern philosophies like Zen Buddhism will tell you “life just is.” Our need to feel special and that our lives mean something cause us to ask the questions. Our fear and denial of what death means, drives us to ask the questions. In our constant struggle which we call life, with all the chaos around us we seek to make sense of it all. We ask the questions… we are asking the wrong questions. What I have tried to do within the confines of writing is give you an alternative to the questions we have been asking for thousands of years and hopefully have given you enough to look at life through a new “Perspective.”

At the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started,

and know the place for the first time.

– T.S. Elliot –

Sources

  • A History of God – The History Channel
  • Aboriginal Australians: A History Since 1788 – Richard Broome
  • Almanac of World History – Patricia Daniels and Stephen Hyslop
  • An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural –  James Randi
  • Ape to Man – The History Channel
  • As One Is – J. Krishnamurti
  • Baraka A World Beyond Words – Ron Fricke, Director
  • Before The Dawn – Nicholas Wade
  • Before They Pass Away – Jim Nelson
  • Big History – David Christian
  • Birth of a Civilization – National Geographic
  • Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition – Karen Blumenthal
  • Constant Battles – Steven A. LeBlanc
  • Cosmos: A Space-time Odyssey – Nova
  • Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education – Ken Robinson
  • Einstein: The Life and Times – Ronald W. Clark
  • Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other Delusions – James Randi
  • Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day – Bergmann and  Sams
  • Freedom from the Known – J. Krishnamurti
  • Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies – Jared M. Diamond
  • How not to be ignorant about the world – Hans Rosling (Gapminder Foundation)
  • How the Earth Was Made – The History Channel
  • How to combat modern slavery – Kevin Bales
  • How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery – Kevin Ashton
  • How to rob a bank from the inside – William Black
  • Inquisition – Edward Peters
  • Intellectuals and Society – Thomas Sowell
  • Living Color: The Biological and Social Meaning of Skin Color – Nina G. Jablonski
  • Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity – John Stossel
  • Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative – Ken Robinson
  • Prohibition – Ken Burns
  • Summerhill School  – A. S. Neill
  • The 5000 Year Leap -W. Cleon Skousen
  • The Akuriyo of Surinam: A case of emergence from isolation – Peter Kloos
  • The Ascent of Money – Niall Ferguson
  • The Awakening of Intelligence – J. Krishnamurti
  • The deadly genius of drug cartels – Rodrigo Canales
  • The fight against sex slavery – Sunitha Krishnan
  • The Genealogy of Morals – Friedrich Nietzsche
  • The Human Family Tree – National Geographic
  • The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence –  Gary Haugen
  • The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle
  • The Road to Serfdom – F.A. Hayek
  • The Secret Knowledge – David Mamet
  • The Secret Life – Joseph Levine and David T. Suzuki
  • The Seven-Day Weekend: A Better Way to Work in the 21st Century –  Ricardo Semler
  • The Sublime Object of Ideology – Slavoj Žižek
  • The Teenage Brain – Dr. Frances Jensen
  • The Universe:  “Beyond the Big Bang” –   The History Channel
  • The War of the World – Niall Ferguson
  • This Emotional Life – PBS series with Dr. Daniel Gilbert
  • War before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage – Lawrence Keeley
  • Way of the Peaceful Warrior – Dan Millman
  • When people of Muslim heritage challenge fundamentalism – Karima Bennoune
  • Where Did We Come From? – Nova Science Now
  • Why we need to end the War on Drugs – Ethan Nadelmann
  • Wikipedia Internet Encyclopedia
  • Without You, There Is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea’s Elite – Suki Kim
  • Wonders of the Universe – Brian Cox
  • This completes part 2 of my book. The following are additional “Ramblings with Nate”
  • =====================================================

In 1920 a constitutional amendment was passed to prohibit the manufacture, sale and distribution of alcohol.  Seemed like a good decision to a majority of people. It was part of a scheme to enable the Federal government to make an argument to employ a federal tax. The Fed relied heavily on tax revenues from the sale of alcohol. With that gone it was a fairly easy to implement a federal tax. The U.S. government collected $3.267 trillion in fiscal 2016. The vast majority of revenue came from the collection of taxes. The federal government’s deficit in 2016 was $587 billion. It seems three trillion didn’t quite cover our expenses. Prohibition… well it wasn’t quite working out as expected. It inspired a whole new working class of citizens, organized crime. Prohibition was repealed in 1933.

A similar decision was made by the federal government in the early 1970’s. It was coined by the media as a “war on drugs”. We spent over a trillion dollars on this war. Again this hasn’t worked out as well with many unintended consequences, lots of murdered people and another new class of working people, this time in many countries, drug cartels. I guess since it’s been a total failure, that didn’t go so well either. I must assume our politicians never read any history books. High school kids can buy illegal drugs quite easily but haven’t figured out how to buy a can of beer at the local bodega without a fake ID.

A book written by Rachel Carson’s book called Silent Spring was published in 1962. This one book led to an international ban on using DDT to kill mosquitos. The unintended consequence was as a result many millions of people needlessly dying from malaria. As it turns out the book was a labeled a hoax with no scientific evidence to the author’s claims. The book was very successful in causing a social panic however. It was an international best seller. Other similar books sent people into a panic as well. The Population Bomb predicted mass starvation. Articles were written concerning a global ice during the 1970’s scaring the hell out of people. I can envision a meeting with Al Gore and the “good old boys”. Gore says “lets scare the crap out of a couple of billion people in a way that can make us a ton of money. We need to come up with a good scam and some messed up science so people will want to believe it.  Oh I got it!” If we keep deforesting the world’s rain forests, which are literally the lungs of the earth we may just cause that apocalypse in the next couple of thousand years. But if the human species should become extinct the planet will heal itself and flourish as it has done over and over during the last 4 ½ billion years.

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act – George Orwell

Doping, cheating Lance Armstrong

 

 

 

 

Prescription drugs are the third leading cause of death in te United States.

In June 1971, President Nixon declared a “war on drugs.” He dramatically increased the size and presence of federal drug control agencies, and pushed through measures such as mandatory sentencing and no-knock warrants.

A top Nixon aide, John Ehrlichman, later admitted: “You want to know what this was really all about. The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying. We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”Nixon temporarily placed marijuana in Schedule One, the most restrictive category of drugs, pending review by a commission he appointed led by Republican Pennsylvania Governor Raymond Shafer.

In 1972, the commission unanimously recommended decriminalizing the possession and distribution of marijuana for personal use. Nixon ignored the report and rejected its recommendations.

Most of us know the war on drugs has been completely ineffective and has terrible intended and unintended consequences, just as prohibition did. There has not been one documented case of a human being dying from an overdose on marijuana, read my article below “What they would have us believe”.

 

This is what they would have you believe:

CRITICAL THINKING

“Critical thinking” is the single most important lesson we can teach to our species, but the more I use it the more relevant it seems to be. When I first read about “Charlotte’s Web” cannabis, I immediately thought “I gotta get me some of that stuff”.  Before I clicked the “buy it now” icon I decided to do some research because the ingredients of the many products that are now legally available marketed as Hemp CBD were different and didn’t make much sense. It seems if you keep digging through the hundreds of links on the internet you eventually find unbiased “truthful” information or better yet well done scientific research. Most of our species are incredibly biased for a number of reasons. Most rely on perceptions which are almost always extraordinarily inaccurate, and yes I have the research to support this. This accompanied by our fear of being wrong, is a powerful deterrent to critical thinking. We learn very early on in life that being wrong makes us very uncomfortable and lowers our self esteem. This is the gift of our education system when we raise our hands in school  we feel stupid by getting an answer wrong. It is then reinforced with the tests we are given and punished for with low grades or worse yet the word “FAILED”. We resist believing undeniable scientific evidence because we either don’t want to believe it, for fear of being wrong, not wanting to change our behavior, or because of the power of indoctrination.

Being okay with being wrong and being okay with failure is the trademark of all those who created the most valuable accomplishments.

Indoctrination and propaganda (WMD’s in Afghanistan, “people are too stupid to know whats good for them so we need to make more and more laws and regulate everything”), teaches us to simply accept the current thinking of our culture, social norms, politicians, media and much more without questioning them.

For 70 years our government has outlawed marijuana use, having us believe it is a dangerous drug. It seems our politicians never seem capable from learning from their past mistakes. Prohibition was one of our biggest blunders. The war on drugs, another federal catastrophe has been in force for more than five decades  with absolutely nothing to show for it. Politicians are guilty of continually making laws and regulations based on their perception rather than facts and science.

Marijuana has never been linked to an overdose death

While we commonly associate an overdose with drugs, pharmaceutical or otherwise, it is possible to overdose on some seemingly harmless, even healthy food items such as potatoes, oranges, licorice and even water. Yes, too much of even a good thing can cause some serious reactions in the human body. Did you know, however, that it is physiologically impossible to fatally overdose on weed? That’s right, there is no physiological way that you can fatally overdose on weed. One reason that you can’t actually overdose on cannabis is because of the fact that the body actually produces its own “endogenous” cannabinoids — chemicals that are otherwise unique to the cannabis plant. Whether we make them ourselves, or take them into our body in some other fashion, cannabinoids fit perfectly into a group of very special receptors throughout our body. The greatest number of these receptors can be found in these areas:
  • The hippocampus — responsible for memory
  • The cerebral cortex — responsible for cognition
  • The cerebellum — responsible for motor coordination
  • The basal ganglia — responsible for movement
  • The hypothalamus — responsible for appetite
  • The amygdala — responsible for emotions

Interestingly enough, these same receptors are also found in every animal species, all the way down to the sponge. According to Martin Lee, author of Smoke Signals:

“Cannabinoid receptors are more abundant in the brain than any other type of neurotransmitter receptor and function as subtle sensing devices, tiny vibrating scanners perpetually primed to pick up biochemical cues that flow through fluids surrounding each cell… When tickled by THC or its endogenous cousins, these receptors trigger a cascade of biochemical changes on a cellular level that puts the brakes on excessive physiological activity. Endocannabinoids are the only neurotransmitters that engage in such ‘retrograde signaling,’ a form of intracellular communication that inhibits immune response, reduces inflammation, relaxes musculature, lowers blood pressure, dilates bronchial passages, and normalizes overstimulated nerves. Retrograde signaling serves as an inhibitory feedback mechanism that tells other neurotransmitters to ‘cool it’ when they are firing too fast.” 

Dr. Dustin Sulak, a leading practitioner in naturopathic medicine said this during a lecture at the 2010 National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) conference:

“The endogenous cannabinoid system, named after the plant that led to its discovery, is perhaps the most important physiologic system involved in establishing and maintaining human health. In each tissue, the cannabinoid system performs different tasks… But the goal is always the same: homeostasis, the maintenance of a stable internal environment despite fluctuations in the external environment.”

In essence, the endocannabinoid functions like a central processing center that keeps many important systems in balance.

Molecule in the brain limits impacts of too much cannabis

In addition, scientists have now found that the brain produces a hormone called pregnenolone that appears to protect the body from marijuana’s intoxicating effects. Study author Dr. Pier Vincenzo Piazza explained:

“When the brain is stimulated by high doses of THC, it produces pregnenolone – a 3,000 percent increase – that inhibits the effects of THC.” 

When the THC binds with receptors, as explained above, there is a release of pregnenolone, which weakens the THC’s action on the receptors — this creates a negative feedback loop that could prevent users from getting too high.

Although the study was originally conducted to look at ways to manage cannabis “addiction,” this new information adds valuable insight into the fact that an overdose is not possible. 

 


 

“This planet has been around for 4½ billion years. Our planet has seen many ice ages, plate tectonics, continental shifts, massive volcanic eruptions, and has been bombarded by hundreds of thousands of meteors,asteroids and radiation from outer space for billions of years. Life on earth has also been through several mass extinctions. Close to ninety-nine percent of all living species over the last 3 ½ billion years are now extinct. And yet the planet is still here and is flourishing.
The arrogance of humans who believe that the planet needs US to save it, as if we can destroy it……. if we explode every nuclear device on the planet it will recover and flourish, just as it has done for the last 4½ billion years.”

Stop “Trying” To BE Happy

Happy_infant_being_held_by_women_300_Pixels

What is the difference between a thought and an experience?
What is the difference between a thought and a feeling or an emotion?
The simple answer is that an experience or emotions do not require language or thoughts.
Before humans invented language they must have certainly experienced emotions.
Scientists have demonstrated that animals experience emotions.
How can we observe this in our daily lives?
Infants experience a wide range of emotions without language.
Love and happiness are not emotions, they are concepts we invented with language.
They have no meaning without context.
Just think about the thousands of ways we use the word love every day.
I love my mom and dad, I love my friend, and I love chocolate ice cream with sprinkles on top.
I love to watch the sun set, I love my puppy, I love my girlfriend.
I love that dress, I love those shoes, I love yoga, I love the smell of napalm in the morning.
Happiness is an incredibly nebulous concept.
We say we want happiness as if once we “get it” it’s ours to keep forever.
It waxes and wanes from moment to moment, day to day, that is a reality we need to accept.
Things change, nothing stays the same.
Joy is an experience. We can observe it in infants and children.
Fear, anger, pain, joy, sadness, loneliness, anxiety, depression, are experiences that cannot
be understood with words unless you have experienced them yourself.
There are an endless amount of experiences that people have had that cannot be experienced by another person simply with the use of language.
There are still primitive cultures in the world today that wouldn’t understand what the hell we are “talking” about because it is not in the realm of human experiences; they are simply concepts we have created.
So my advice… stop “trying” to be happy and experience the joy in life whenever possible.

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By Melissa Hogenboom : 3 July 2015

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20150706-humans-are-not-unique-or-special

Melissa Hogenboom wrote an excellent article which I just came across on BBC.COM.  It’s a fairly long article but well worth reading. This article supports ideas I have written about in my recently (Sept. 29, 2015) published book, Perspective: Making Sense Of It All.

More than a decade ago I viewed a documentary that featured chimpanzee culture and behavior. Chimpanzees and humans are the only species that forms groups of males and hunts down and kills their own species. I would have to say this was the first seed planted that would lead to the manuscript I would eventually write almost twenty years later.

Over the last couple of decades scientists have discovered that many species experience and express emotions. In this article by Hogenboom talks about facial expressions of bonobos and chimps. If you are a dog owner you might agree with me that not only can I understand my dogs different barks and sounds, but also his facial expressions.

For me the genetic connection between us and chimps is a compelling argument in making sense of the dark side of human history and behavior.

The Dark Side of Human Behavior – Legalized Murder

151118-ep224-1024x374

It seems that hunting animals for sport is not murder. ‘Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel’ Investigates the Poaching of African Elephants, and killing Elephants for sport.  It makes me sick and I’m really pissed off that the world tolerates this and thousands of other killings and slaughtering of animals with no regard for there suffering. When one witnesses something like this in real time, my time, I feel ashamed of being a part of the human species. It was extremely difficult to watch men murdering these magnificent, sensitive animals for sport, laughing and giving each other high fives as they gunned down defenseless animals in Africa. And then there are the poachers throughout all of Africa slaughtering animals for money. The lack of empathy is astounding. Baby elephants watching their mothers slaughtered, left without remorse from the hunters.

SavannahElephants_Flickr_SteveGarvie

Elephants mourn their dead, just like people. When a family member or friend of the herd dies, each elephant will touch its whole body with its trunk, smelling and caressing it. Often elephants will stop and take long pauses at site where a loved one died, even years afterward.

Governments spends billions on ludicrous grants all around the world. We station our troops all over the world where they are not needed. Why don’t we send some troops to do some genuine good to Africa to hunt down poachers and put a stop to the mass murder of Elephants and other animals. Yes, I understand the real solution is to stop the demand for these ivory products.

There is nothing “humane” about some humans. Throughout the   history of human evolution man has been at war with man. World Wars, Civil Wars, genocide, massacres, conquerors, colonialism, slavery, human trafficking, domestic violence, terrorism, corruption and crimes of unimaginable variety. Evidently some also have little regard for all life on our planet.

 

http://www.scout.com/story/1615309-real-sports-investigates-elephant-poaching

 

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Do Cats and Dogs Go To Heaven?

Nathan & Samson

This may seem like a strange question from someone who is invested in history, science and evolution. My 13½ year old toy poodle Samson, died recently in my arms as the doctor gave him a lethal injection. My feelings of grief and loss were overwhelming.

There are many cultures still in existence that consider specific or all creatures as an equal and integral part of our existence. There is a fascinating documentary on Nova called “Animal Mummies” that documents the custom of Ancient Egyptians who mummified millions of animals that were sent to the afterlife with humans.

For the sake of this conversation I will assume that there is a heaven or afterlife. Therefore the question is… does my poodle have a soul as we believe humans do. I started asking what the afterlife would look like. Spirits, floating around, or more concrete with plants, animals, and other living organisms from the life we live here and now.


As a scientist I know that we have everything in common with all living things because we all share the same DNA blueprint. This lead me to ask why wouldn’t all living things have a soul. If God created all living things, there must be a reason he did this with the same blueprint.

On a much larger scale than molecular biology we need only to compare the anatomy of a mammal with us humans; eyes, ears, nose, bones, blood, bones, liver, lungs, kidney, endocrine system, same reproductive system and much more.  I don’t believe in heaven or hell or in an afterlife, but if I did ………. all of gods species would go to heaven except for some humans…….. it seems to me that animals like my toy poodle Samson are more “humane” that a lot of humans.

PERSPECTIVE: Making Sense Of It All

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Climate-Change

By most accounts, deforestation in tropical rain forests adds more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than the sum total of cars and trucks on the world’s roads. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, a leading green group, 32 million acres of tropical rain forest were cut down each year between 2000 and 2009—and the pace of deforestation is only increasing. “Unless we change the present system that rewards forest destruction, forest clearing will put another 200 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere in coming decades…” says the Environmental Defense Fund.

The Earth is 4.5 billion years old.  The planet has been bombarded with millions of meteors and asteroids, radiation, continental shifts due to plate tectonics,  worldwide volcanic eruptions, drastic climate changes including  ice ages , and several mass extinctions!

Sixty five million years ago  an asteroid hit the earth. The energy equivalent of the explosion was  more than a billion times more than the atom bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As of the mid 1990s, the combined nuclear firepower of the nations of the Earth added up to an estimated 20 gig a-tons a tiny fraction of the asteroid’s energy.

If we look at our planet today you would never know that any of this occurred. Our planet is capable of self healing and will always be going through various cycles, incidents and climate change. It is also interesting to note that life flourished during warming periods. One of the greatest increases in life species occurred about 245 million years ago when the greatest animals evolved and roamed the earth, the dinosaurs. Lush vegetation, resembling the profuse growth in today’s rain forests covered much of the Earth’s surface.  Evidence of abundant plant life can be found in the in the extensive coal fields that date from this period. It was a warming period after the last ice age that contributed to the evolution of the human species.

So what’s the point of this information. There may be no doubt that there is an increase in carbon in the atmosphere. But there is no supportable science that it will lead the to “The Sky Is Falling” alarmists claims of catastrophic results.  I am not interested in addressing the debate on global warming because it is politically motivated. Billions of dollars are being funded to special interest groups towards many alternative energy sources which don’t have any merit and would not survive on there own. I believe we should do everything possible to make our environment clean and safe for all life on earth not just our own self interests. Unfortunately the path that we are taking is misguided as a result of bad science, bad ideas and propaganda by governments and special interest groups that have there own personal agendas.  If we focus on the relevant problems, which are abundant and extremely diverse like poverty, world hunger, environmental issues, deforestation, wars, genocide, political corruption, and many other problems, the planet will take care of itself.

During the twentieth century over a hundred million people have been killed or murdered by just two regimes during peace time conditions;  The Stalinist Era in the USSR (1929-1953), and The Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution in China (1949-1976). The century included two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and several other civil wars; ethnic cleansing, genocides, massacres, conflicts of all sorts in the middle east, central and south America, worldwide economic collapses, human trafficking,  slavery, domestic violence, world wide poverty and hunger and currently a crisis in Syria which includes a refugee problem and worldwide terrorism.

Perspective: Making Sense Of It All

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How powerful can indoctrination be?

index

Hiroo Onoda was an Imperial Japanese Intelligence officer who fought in  WW II and a who did not surrender in 1945.  Onoda had spent almost 30 years holding out in the Philippines. He belonged to a family of ancient Samurai warrior class. When he saw leaflets dropped stating that Japan surrendered he and a few other men  concluded that the leaflet was Allied propaganda. On February 20, 1974, Onoda met a Japanese man, Norio Suzuski, who was traveling around the world, looking for Onoda, he found him but Onoda still refused to surrender, saying that he was waiting for orders from a superior officer. The Japanese government located Onoda’s commanding officer, Major Yoshimi Taniguchi, who had since become a bookseller. He flew to Lubang where on March 9, 1974, he finally met with Onoda and fulfilled the promise made in 1944. Though he had killed people and engaged in shootouts with the police, the circumstances (namely, that he believed that the war was still ongoing) were taken into consideration, and Onoda received a pardon from President Ferdinand Marcos.

Perspective: Making Sense Of It All

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index

Everyone one of us sees the world from a unique Perspective. That’s because there is no one in the world exactly like you. Even when you look at yourself you see something different than anybody else. We can be our worst critic, and be judgmental of ourselves… all the “would of, should of, could of’s” , that can plague our thoughts . All the worries about the future that doesn’t exist yet. It all takes you away from now. You cannot change what happened a moment ago. The only relevant question is; “What am I going to do now?”

PERSPECTIVE: Making Sense Of It All

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3 thoughts on “Rambling With Nate

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