Saturday, April 01, 2006

Pornography, Erotica, or ... Obscene?

Explicit nudity and sexuality have been a part of art, literature and human culture for as long as mankind has had art, literature and culture. One if the remarkable (?) things about very earl cave paintings is that along with stylized images of the hunt and animals are a HUGE wealth of very basic, very crude sexual imagery. Most of the earliest statuary that survives is of fertility symbols, often pregnant women with legs splayed wide open, proudly displaying their vaginas.

I chose the images I did to start this entry for a reason. David is perhaps the most sublime example of the reproduced human male form in history. Michelangelo is responsible for some of Mankind's finest works of art, and few, if any, rival David in form, substance, or life and soul. The Kama Sutra, on the other hand, is an ancient celebration of the joy of sex. Compiled hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, it represents wisdom and knowledge that is centuries older than that even, combining an obvious desire to teach with a clear intention to arose the senses of the lovers who looked at the images.

Its clear that we accept nudity and even hardcore sexuality as artistic parts of our lives. No rational person would call for the banning of David, or expect Venus de Milo to put on a shirt. No sane person today calls for the censorship of Kama Sutra as obscene pornography, despite the clear explicitness.

So where do we draw the line, in the real world, on the ground? There are legal places where we've made clear stands ... Underage porn, or bestiality are swiftly dealt with by the criminal code most places in the world. Other areas of consensual contact between adults are less clear, however, and one wonders where you draw the line of obscenity with two (or more, for that matter) consenting adults.
An image like the one of Cameron on the left here isn't too far off a lot of the ancient fertility statues found. There are MANY people who find such an image obscene, or question the value of it, and others who might see art, or pleasure, or excitement in it.

What is it that prompts our call of much of the 'pornography industry?' (notice we even use a name that suggests obscenity, rather than something like the erotica industry that might suggest more artistic ideals) What makes us call some things obscene, but not others? Does your decision on whether Cameron's picture above is obscene rest partly on whether she is your daughter, or sister, or niece?

For me, the human body is one of the most beautiful artistic creations in nature. The shapes, the textures, the colours, the lines ... Every inch of well formed male muscle, or milky white female beauty, is a natural work of art. And when humans come together for consensual sexual pleasure, the art is truly breathtaking at times. Beyond the enjoyment of sex, and the recording of humans at pleasure, exploring each other in intimate ways, sex is also the very continuation of the species. It is invested with huge amounts of meaning and beauty simply due to its place as the way we will still be here in 500 years, likely having debates about obscenity and sexuality.

There is obscenity out there. I'm not sure if I'm any more qualified than anyone else to point at it, but for me its anything that the beauty, and the humanness of the people involved. Sex and nudity is the supremely human thing, two of the ONLY things you share with everyone else on the planet. I, for one, am very cautious about attempts to regulate sexual speech and imagery, and worry when people talk about 'pornography' as a wholly negative, exploitive, obscene thing.

I think we need to move forward with more open views of sexuality, and more explicit porn that, like the Kama Sutra, highlights the joy and sublime pleasure of sexual contact. Our sexuality is a divine gift, one we are expected to enjoy. There's nothing wrong with enjoying it in pictures.

Borders, Immigration, and reality ...

On the image above are Bagdhad and Riyadh, Cairo and Tel Aviv. Jesus walked roads in that image, as did his forefathers Moses and Abraham and Noah, and his successor Muhammed. In the upper right, Prince Siddartha walked the path to becoming the Buddha, and Hindu Vedas have been sung for millenia. Cities like Bagdhad are so ancient, they go by multiple names ... does the war in Iraq look any different if we talk about shelling and street fighting in Babylon?

We all know these names, these places ... they resonate with power and vision in our minds, even if we don't agree with the notions. And yet, how many of us can look at the above picture and tell me where the manger in Bethlehem was that Jesus was born in, or where the cities of Soddom and Gommorah were punished by God so many millenia ago? How many of us could point to where Prince Siddartha walked, or to the desert Moses and his people wandered for 40 years in? Can we draw the borders of the very states we are at war over today even? How many of us can find ancient Babylon, even as so many of our friends and daughters are fighting there?

Charlemagne road to victory above, and so did Joan d'Arc. Norse barbarians became Normans, and more Norse barbarians attacked again. Ancient Celts built massive stone circles, and Empires from Rome through Athens rose and fell long before anyone ever heard the names London or Munich.

But again, without the convinient lines and dots, do we know where half a dozen Popes wages war against aggressive Muslim warlords for 2 centuries? Can we point to the battlefield at Hastings, or even the beaches of D-Day? How many of us could accurately draw the borders that the world fought so bloodily to preserve half a century ago? How many of us see the irony of the fact that those borders, in many cases, no longer exist?

This is, ofc, home for me ... Good old North America. Ancient Mayans built some of the largest cities in the world here, and Incans developed amazingly complex systems of writing with knots and ropes in distant South America. Spanish colonists/Conquistadors marched into the largest city on earth in one of the largest mass colonizations in history even while the Aztecs being colonized were sacrificing their own populace.

But I am hard pressed to even point at my city accurately, the pace I was born. I get it "about right" and I can generally find the outlines of the province I have spent 80% of my life in, but the whole thing is VERY general. Its certainly not obvious by looking at the picture where, for example, my country should be divided from the USA, and and the border lines between my own province and the neighbouring ones should be ... they truly are arbitrary lines on a map.

The space age has done one important thing for humans ... its shown us what our planet REALLY looks like. When you take away the pretty colours for countries, and the border lines, and just look at what we look like, its almost impossible to put them back in accurately in most cases. The reason for that is simple ... the are arbitrary and meaningless.

Politics and borders are fluid, geography is not. We live on a planet that we all must share ... its the only one we have. Look at the pictures ... we live on a beautiful planet ... but there are no lines on the real thing. Thats a good thing, and should be celebrated.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Blogs of Note ...

... I've added a bunch of blogs to the list on the right side of the page after surfing through the site tonight. I will probably add to the list as time goes on, but everything here caught my interest in some way.

I wanted to highlight a few of the finds I made. Near the bottom of my list is one called Design Sponge that is a treasure trove of photos of design. If you are fascinated by neat looking stuff, you'll be fascinated by some of the pics and posts there. Some of the chairs and tables are true works of art.

Another entry of note was Mommy on the Verge, a wonderfully written site with a quirky personal touch. That we share a fondness for the TravelGnome is reason enough for the shout out, but honestly, her writing is very refreshing :).

121Blog Iran is a fascinating conversation between a guy in the UK (Steve) and a similar fellow living in Tehran (Mr Behi). The juxtaposition of similar people with similar jobs in such dissimilar environments is phenomenal. Well worth the look.

Beyond the Outhouse has some amazing photography. Some of the images here are truly remarkable, and proof that pictures are often worth far more than 1000 words. On the other side of the fence, The Good Word of Sprout proves that words can paint colours as vividly as oil on canvas.

There are far better people than me to read on here, LOL ... but thanx for reading me :).

Charles Taylor and the CIA ...

Will Charles Taylor sing? - from Salon

Permalink [11:20 EST, March 30, 2006]
Now that he is back in custody and facing charges, it does raise some interesting questions. I think the most interesting information will be about what sort of ties he had to al-Queda while he was on the CIA payroll for information on Libya. There's no question that in the world of international espionage, you sometimes have to get dirty. But Taylor represents the worst of the worst, and there's never really been any question of that. It'll be nice to see him stand trial for the abuses of his reign, but it'll be even more interesting, I think, to get details of some of the other intrigue that went on around him.

The 'Liberal' press ...

"Saddam chose to deny inspectors"

Bush repeated this bald-faced lie recently. The cowering press still lets him get away with it, but the public is no longer fooled.

By Joe Conason

Its a wonderful article that points out once again perhaps the biggest lie the Bush admin tells, and its also the easiest one to prove, and the hardest one for supporters of Bush to wiggle out of.

As Conason points out, he's catagorically stated on at least 3 occasions that Saddam refused to allow inspectors into Iraq before the war, and that he ignored 1441 by failing to disclose the weapons programs he had. This is a bald-faced lie that is easy to prove.

The documents that Iraq submitted to the UN in response to 1441 detailed exactly what the US forces later found on the ground in Iraq. The calims Iraq made in the run-up to the war about destroying certain weapons programs were accurately reported in the documents submitted for 1441, and the US forces have since found those claims match what was found on the ground. In the months leading up to the war, Hans Blix and others were in Iraq with free and unfettered access to any sites they chose to look into (including several Presidential palaces and secure military facilities).

So the fact is, when the President said in his press conference that "he chose to deny inspectors, when he chose not to disclose" he was uttering a bald-faced lie. The facts indicate that Saddam complied with 1441 completely ... he allowed inspectors in, and he disclosed the true state of his weapons programs, as demanded by 1441. My question is, why does the press keep letting Bush lie about those facts?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Harper defends right to secret cabinet meetings

Harper defends right to secret cabinet meetings
In Canada it seems we no longer have openness in government. For a man who only recently campaigned on openness and reforming the ethical structure of government, it seems Harper is off to a VERY bad start.

It wasn't bad enough that he appointed an unelected Senator to cabinet, or welcomed a former Liberal who'd been actively insulting the Conservative platforms hours before. With this barring of the press core from the 3rd floor hallways, Harper has definately shown the true colours of Conservative openness anyway. I'd like to remind Mr. Harper that despite all protestations of ending "12 years of Liberal one party democracy in Ottawa" he comes from a province in its 3rd decade of one party conservative rule.

After the previous Liberal scandals, Canada expected a government that would operate ethically, in the open, with nothing to hide. From unelected decision makers, through aisle hopping turncoats, all the way to secret cabinet meetings and barring the press from a time honoured tradition. Mr. Harper, you are NOT off to a good start ...

Aliens among us ...

There's no specific reason i am posting this now, except that the life found around thermal vents has always fascinated me, from the first time I started hearing about it. It ties into my interest in SETI and extra-terrestrial life because in many very real ways, the environment around thermal vents isn't terrestrial in any way. From, terrstrial is ...

ter·res·tri·al Audio pronunciation of "terrestrial" ( P ) Pronunciation Key (t-r str -l)
  1. Of or relating to the earth or its inhabitants.
  2. Having a worldly, mundane character or quality.
  3. Of, relating to, or composed of land.
  4. Biology. Living or growing on land; not aquatic: a terrestrial plant or animal.
I suppose I have to give thermal vent life a point for definition one ... the vents DO exist on earth, but the other 3 don't really even come close. 3 & 4 have OBVIOUS problems when talking about life 2 miles beneath the ocean, and even #2 is hard to work with. At best, its a stretch to say that thermal vent life is mundane, or similar in character to other wordly life.

Anyway, I was fascinated by a few things in the article. Previous reading had left me with the impression that the environment of thermal vents was intensely hot, and while that seems to be true, I hadn't realized how quickly the water around the vents cooled down. As this article points out, that makes it mostly the odd chemical mix, not the intense heat, that most of the life thrives on. One of the other interesting points was the notion of vents popping up for a few years or decades (or longer?) and then dying out. Yet at each new site, it seems life springs up almost immediately. The higher life, such as lobsters and octopus's that seem to have adapted to the toxic environment raise interesting for me about whether colonies of life around the vents springs up on its own, or moves.

Its clear that vents speak to life off the planet earth, however. Again, as the article points out, the vents spew a chemical brew that is throroughly toxic to what we normally think of as life. The giant tube worms are a fascinating visual spectacle, swaying in the 'breeze' as they do, but I think the real fascination is in the wealth of higher creatures who have developed and thrived in this environment, and the structure of how they survive will likel speak to the structure of life off planet earth. The surface of Venus, as one example, is a place that closely resembles an undersea thermal vent. Intense pressures, weird chemical mixes, high temperatures, the entire surface is essemtially like the inside of a high pressure thermal vent. Unlike our ocean, it doesn't cool down anywhere, but we know that life exists in both the high and low temp areas of the vent. With so much area, and so much varied terrain and food sources, one wonders what sort of ecosystem might develop.

Or take Titan. The recent data from Huygens and Cassini show a cold place, but a place rich in petrocarbons. Even Mars looks to have a deeply buried aquifer, and there are several other fascinating candidates in our solar system alone now for life. Recently, my New Continuum group also posted a fascinating article on the 8 places where life might exist that touches on this ... I will paste it below the Popular Science article.

Creatures of the Thermal Vents

by Dawn Stover

The three-person submersible Alvin sank through the cold, dark waters of the Pacific Ocean for more than an hour, finally touching down on the sea floor more than 8,000 feet below the surface. It was December 1993, and the scientists inside the sub had come to this stretch of the East Pacific Rise, an underwater mountain range about 500 miles southwest of Acapulco, Mexico, to inspect a recently formed hydrothermal vent - a fissure in the ocean bottom that leaks scalding, acidic water.

Peering out through the sub's tiny windows, the visitors were astonished to see thickets of giant tube worms, some four feet tall. The tail ends of the worms were firmly planted on the ocean floor, while red plumes on the other ends swayed like a field of poppies. Alvin had brought researchers to the same spot less than two years earlier, when they had seen none of these strange creatures. Measurements at the site have since shown that individual tube worms can increase in length at a rate of more than 33 inches per year, making them the fastest-growing marine invertebrates. That means tube worms can colonize a vent more rapidly than scientists once thought.
photo © Al Giddings/Images Unlimited, Inc.

The giant tube worm is one of the most conspicuous members of a diverse community that forms around hydrothermal vents. Scientists once thought that no living thing could survive the harsh combination of toxic chemicals, high temperatures, high pressures, and total darkness at these vents. But in 1977, researchers diving in Alvin discovered tube worms and other bizarre organisms thriving at a vent off the Galapagos Islands. Similar communities have since been found at several hundred hot spots around the world. These creatures are like nothing else on Earth.

Vents form where the planet's crustal plates are slowly spreading apart and magma is welling up from below to form mountain ranges known as mid-ocean ridges. As cracks form at these spreading centers, seawater seeps a mile or two down into the hot rock. Enriched with minerals leached from the rock, the water heats and rises to the ocean floor to form a vent.

Vents are usually clustered in fields, underwater versions of Yellowstone's geyser basins. Individual vent openings typically range from less than a half inch to more than six feet in diameter. Such fields are normally found at a depth of more than a mile. Most have been discovered along the crest of the Mid-Oceanic Ridge, a 46,000- mile-long chain of mountains that wraps around Earth like the seams on a baseball. A few vents have also been found at seamounts, underwater volcanoes that are not located at the intersection of crustal plates.

The largest vent field, called TAG (short for Trans-Atlantic Geotraverse), is about the size and shape of a football stadium. Other fields have more whimsical names like Clam Acres, Mussel Bed, Rose Garden, Garden of Eden, Broken Spur, and Lucky Strike. Snow Blower is named for the white, flaky bacteria discharged from its vents. Genesis is a vent that sputtered out but came back to life a few years later.

Hydrothermal vents are underwater oases, providing habitat for many creatures that are not found anywhere else in the ocean. More than 300 new species have been identified since the first vent was discovered in 1977.

Besides the giant tube worms, which have so far been found only in the Pacific, there are pencil-size Jericho worms with accordion-like tubes; orange worms covered with tiny bristles; small benthic worms that wriggle through the mud; and finger-length, dark red palm worms that stand upright, topped with wiglike fronds. A special class of small worms, called Alvinellids (named after the sub), live on the walls of mineral deposits that form around vents.

Mussels, shrimp, clams, and crabs are abundant at many vents, but these are not the same species that you find in seafood dishes. The cocktail-size shrimp that dominate vents in the mid-Atlantic, for example, have no eyes. However, at least one species has an extremely sensitive receptor on its head that may be used to detect heat or even dim light coming from vents. Scientists still aren't sure how shrimp and other vent creatures cope with chemical-laden seawater that would kill ordinary shellfish.

Biologists have observed a variety of smaller crustaceans around vents, including miniature lobsters called galatheids, and amphipods resembling sand fleas. They have also seen snail-like limpets the size of BBs, sea anemones, snakelike fish with bulging eyes, and even octopuses.

While octopuses are at the upper end of the vent's food chain, bacteria are at the bottom. They are the first organisms to colonize newly formed vents, arriving in a snowlike flurry and then settling to form white mats or tendrils attached to the ocean floor. Bacteria have been found living beneath the ocean's floor, and it seems likely that they emerge from below when the conditions are right. Vent bacteria can withstand higher temperatures than any other organism. That makes them attractive to researchers who are developing heat-stable enzymes for genetic engineering, and culturing bacteria designed to break down toxic waste.

Water pouring out of vents can reach temperatures up to about 400 C; the high pressure keeps the water from boiling. However, the intense heat is limited to a small area. Within less than an inch of the vent opening, the water temperature drops to 2 C, the ambient temperature of deep seawater. Most of the creatures that congregate around vents live at temperatures just above freezing. Thus chemicals are the key to vent life, not heat.

The most prevalent chemical dissolved in vent water is hydrogen sulfide, which smells like rotten eggs. This chemical is produced when seawater reacts with sulfate in the rocks below the ocean floor. Vent bacteria use hydrogen sulfide as their energy source instead of sunlight. The bacteria in turn sustain larger organisms in the vent community.

The clams, mussels, tube worms, and other creatures at the vent have a symbiotic relationship with bacteria. The giant tube worms, for example, have no digestive system - no mouth or gut. "The worm depends virtually solely on the bacteria for its nutrition," says microbial ecologist Colleen M. Cavanaugh of Harvard University. "Both partners benefit."

The brown, spongy tissue filling the inside of a tube worm is packed with bacteria - about 285 billion bacteria per ounce of tissue. "It's essentially a bacterial culture," says Cavanaugh.

The plumes at the top of the worm's body are red because they are filled with blood, which contains hemoglobin that binds hydrogen sulfide and transports it to the bacteria housed inside the worm. In return, the bacteria oxidize the hydrogen sulfide and convert carbon dioxide into carbon compounds that nourish the worm.

Tube worms reproduce by spawning: They release sperm and eggs, which combine in the water to create a new worm. Biologists don't know how the infant worm acquires its own bacteria. Perhaps the egg comes with a starter set.

Scientists also don't know how tube worms and other organisms locate new vents for colonization. "The vents are small, and they're separated, like islands," says Cindy Lee Van Dover, a biologist and Alvin pilot who studies vent life. Most vent organisms have a free- swimming larval stage. But scientists aren't sure whether the larvae float aimlessly or purposely follow clues - such as chemical traces in the water - to find new homes.

Studying the life cycle of vent organisms is difficult. Researchers have visited only a fraction of the ocean's hot spots. They have been able to observe vent life only by shining bright lights on creatures accustomed to inky darkness, and many specimens die quickly when removed from their unique environment. Underwater cameras are helping scientists make less intrusive observations, but diving expeditions are still the most useful way to gather information. The 1993 Alvin expedition to the East Pacific Rise was one in a series of dives to the area. The site was first visited in 1989, and scientists observed vent organisms thriving there. But when Alvin returned in April 1991, its flabbergasted occupants witnessed the birth of a hydrothermal vent. A recent volcanic eruption had spread glassy lava across the ocean floor, and the researchers measured temperatures up to 403 C - the hottest ever recorded at a hydrothermal vent. The scientists dubbed the site Tube Worm Barbecue, because the worms they brought back to their ship had charred flesh.

"The most spectacular sight down there was this massive blinding snowstorm of bacteria," says Rich Lutz, a marine ecologist at Rutgers University, who led the expedition. On the ocean floor, the bacteria formed mats several inches thick, but the scientists saw no other living things.

Since the eruption, scientists have been able to watch several stages of colonization at the site. When they returned in March 1992, only a few bacterial mats remained. In their place were colonies of Jericho worms and a variety of small crustaceans. The scientists named the area Phoenix, because new life had arisen from the ashes of the eruption.

The scientists first observed the giant tube worms at Phoenix in December 1993. They also noticed a number of mineral deposits, some towering to heights of more than 30 feet. These structures form where hot vent water meets cold seawater, causing metal sulfides to precipitate out. The precipitating sulfides, which look like smoke, amass to form chimneys called black smokers. Like the vent fields, some smokers have names. Smoke and Mirrors, for example, has shelflike overhangs that trap hot water rising from below, creating upside-down shimmering pools. The largest known black smoker is Godzilla, a 160-foot-tall structure off the coast of Oregon.

During a December 1993 dive to the Phoenix vent field, Alvin accidentally toppled a 33-foot-tall smoker. When the sub returned for a brief visit three months later, the chimney had already grown back 20 feet. Scientists were surprised by the speedy recovery, which seems to parallel the rapid growth of tube worms and other organisms at the vents. The visits to the Phoenix site "give us a sense of how quickly these vents are colonized," says Van Dover.

Another expedition is planned for November. By then, the community of organisms now prospering at the vents may already be a ghost town. When the flow of hot, sulfide-rich water slows to a trickle, death also comes quickly.

Ocean Planet Exhibition Floorplan

gene carl feldman ( (301) 286-9428
Judith Gradwohl, Smithsonian Institution (Curator/Ocean Planet)

EdB  ( thought you might be interested in this news article

8 Worlds Where Life Might Exist

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Fwd: [new-continuum] Blog entry for today ...

On 3/30/06, myxtplkn wrote:
I have posted it before and it never seems to take--killing innocent people that are not armed and the taking of hostages that are innocent and then threatening to kill them or killing them and then equating that to innocents killed accidentally does not excuse or cancel out the killing human beings neither hostile, hostages, insurgents, terrorists or whatever name is affixed to them There may be some debate as to which is the most horrifying, but the result is the same --dead people Somehow many of the posts seem to excuse bloodshed on one side or the other because each death cancels out the death of another. In terms of the process, IMO it is worse to kill an innocent person purposefully than it is if it happens accidentally. Enemy combatants do kill one another. Terrorism in terms of killing those that are innocent of wrongdoing is despicable no matter whose side you are on The release of hostages recently, has only been done because of the bad press the insurgents are getting from the World and not because they are such nice people--If they were all that nice they wouldn't have taken innocent people as hostages in the first place EdB

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elron Steele <>
Date: Mar 30, 2006 3:52 PM

Agreed Ed ... I think Gandhi may have said it best ...

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?
Mahatma Gandhi , "Non-Violence in Peace and War"
There's no question the kidnappers are nasty people ... my point in my blog article was to say that they aren't the blood thirsty thugs they are portrayed to be, whatever else they may be. And when "security consultants" end up dead, but intelligent and nuanced reporters and Christian Peace Teams end up alive, we HAVE to ask why, and be willing to examine those reasons closely.

It seems clear to me that if indiscriminate killing were what the insurgency in Iraq were after, all 5 people would be dead. Its not a matter of good guys and bad guys, as the Gandhi quote points out, and we NEED to ask whu some people are killed, and others aren't. The answers won't be pleasant, but the questions have to be asked I think.

Hostages released ...

Jill Carroll released ...
Charles Adler on Hostage releases

In recent days, two seperate high profile hostage incidents from Iraq have been resolved, with hostages being found alive and well for the most part. Charles Adler used the release of 2 Canadians and a Brit (sadly, Tom Fox, the American, was killed in an escape attempt) to rail against the homosexuality of one of the Canadian hostages and twist that into a reason why he should never have been allowed to protest a bloody war being fought in the wrong place.

Adler took the opportunity also to criticize the Christian Peacemaker Teams group that sponsered Loney and the others, pulling a statement they made after 9/11 and twisting their words against them.

It was also on the day after Sept. 11, 2001, that CPT shared the following on its website: "Our most realistic hope for safety comes from working to make sure that everyone in the world community is treated fairly and being just as willing to give our lives in pursuit of loving the enemy as the terrorists were willing to give their lives to kill the enemy."

The enemy? Which one of the more than 3,000 victims (many of them Canadian) of Sept. 11 are Christian Peacemakers calling the enemy?

The Christian Peacemakers weren't saying anyone in the Towers was their enemy, and any rational reading of the quote makes that clear. They were making a nuanced statement about how the men who flew those planes into the buildings were thinking, men who were CLEARLY committed to their cause in a very specific and life changing way. Thats not to make them out to be anything but the cold blooded killers they are, but the CPT statement is NOT trying say the people killed by those terrorists were CPT's enemy, or our enemy. The statement says the people in the towers were the enemy of the men who were piloting those planes, and if Adler wants to ignore that fact, he does so at his own ignorance and peril, IMO. Unfortunately, he and his ilk do so at my peril as well.

Today, Jill Carroll was released, unharmed after months of captivity. While her full story is yet to emerge, one general truth seems to be abundantly clear ... the image of the insurgency in Iraq as blood-thirsty tyrants bent only on desctruction of innocent life is the big lie. If the people who took Jill Carroll hostage were crazed lunatics, bent on killing and terrorizing as many innocent people as possible, Jill Carroll would be dead. So would Loney and the rest of the CPT team. They'd ALL have been dead months ago, and videos of their beheadings would have showed up on CNN and al-Jazeera.

But instead, we have 4 people (out of 5 involved in the 2 abductions) alive and well, going on with their lives. We have to examine the reasons they are alive, while others are not ... putting it down to 'luck' is simply non-sensical ... there's no question that if the people holding either group felt their deaths would have advanced their causes, then we'd have 5 bodies on our hands, not 4 live people and an unfortunate guy killed escaping. If we continue to ignore facts like these, then we are doomed to a very dark and disturbing future, IMO.

There are ways out of the darkness, I think, but its not easy. The first is to start to intelligently examine why Jill Carroll, and Jim Loney and his friends, aren't corpses today. If we fail to ask that question, then I think the 'exit strategy' dissapears.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Communities ...

The internet affords the opportunity for types of community that could never exist before. This blog and others like it are an example of one kind of community that an easy and inexpensive means of mass-publication can create, but the nature of the internet means there are so many more possibilities.

Another interesting example is the Frappr network. Frappr lets people create custom maps that others can add locations too, giving almost a virtual atlas of a particular group or community. In this global wired world, it may not be necessary to know geography, but necessary or not, geography is a part of all our lives, and it makes a difference.

If you look in the sidebars, you'll see I've added a link for my own Frappr map ... I want to know where my readers are. Just click the link and add your name.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Conversations over time ...

... one of the fascinating things about online groups and communities is that conversations have so many extra parameters to them. Unlike the real world. virtual conversations are unconstrained by location, or even by time. Tonight, a very pithy response to a statement I made weeks ago, and its an interesting converstion, so I wanted to share it :).

On Feb 23, 2006, at 7:19 PM, Elron Steele wrote:
Christians have one 'name' too ... God. Mary isn't divine in ANY Christian sect I've heard of, and neither is Satan. Mary is the human mother of Jesus, and Satan is a fallen angel ... neither is EVER confused with God, or the Trinity.

On 3/28/06, Ronald Pine <> wrote:
The supposed monotheism of Christianity is a bit diluted by Christians' acceptance of numerous other supernatural entities with various powers of their own and by other considerations. Although it is true that Christians often refer to the SUPREME supernatural entity, in their pantheon of supernatural entities, by the English word/name "God," this does not serve to disqualify the other entities in their pantheon from being "gods" of sorts as well. An anthropologist from another planet might well classify Christianity as a polytheistic religion, with one of the deities, Yahweh (or whatever you want to call Him), being the creator god who chose the Jews as his particular concern and Who is by far the most powerful god. (The pagan and polytheistic Romans also had a most powerful god named Jupiter.) Satan, Beelzebub, Lucifer or whatever you want to call him, would be the next most powerful god--the "evil" god, with evil being defined as that which Yahweh finds distasteful. Lesser gods would be the non-fallen angels of various rank making up the heavenly host, at least in part, and the devils or demons at the beck and call of Satan. The tripartite, triune, trinitarian nature of the major deity usually called, simply, "God" in English also tends to dilute the idea of unadulterated monotheism somewhat, especially the Jesus person "aspect" of the particular god called "God." In Catholicism and certain other branches of Christianity, Mary would certainly seem to qualify as a demigod, at least, with de facto divinity. The saints have various powers too; one prays to/through them and they could perform miracles when alive and can bring them about now after death. Even icons and various representations of Mary and the saints have divine power by any definition of the word "divine" that would make sense to me. This same perception is what led to the Reformation's claim that Catholicism is idolatrous. Catholic priests and the Pope also have special powers not possessed by ordinary mortals. To say that the REAL power always resides in the particular god usually simply called "God" in English seems like mere quibbling to me. If this is so, then why not just eliminate the middle man? I remember the last time that I went to a Catholic wedding and the bride and groom had to walk halfway back in the big church to bow before and "introduce themselves" to the "holy family," a statue of Mary and the baby Jesus. One must not forget that although today we tend to keep mortals and gods separate in our categorical perspective, the ancients didn't do this. Recall that that certain Roman emperors, Caligula at least, had themselves proclaimed as gods. I've gotten the impression that the Antichrist is sometimes thought of as a person/entity with supernatural powers but I know of no unequivocal scriptural basis for this.
It is of interest, by the way, that the Old Testament's most common appelation for the supreme deity, also called Jehovah and Yahweh, is Elohim, which is the PLURAL for the Hebrew word for god = Eloah (the singular form)
Another point is that when I read scripture, it seems to me in places that the Hebrews didn't necessarily always deny the actual existence of various rival pagan gods, they merely claimed that THEIR god Yahweh was more powerful than the (apparently presumed to be actually existing) gods of neighboring pagan ethnic groups and that it was THEIR god Yahweh who had accomplished actual creation rather than the rival gods' having managed to do so.
In short, we can say that Christianity has obvious polytheistic elements to it. We can certainly posit a much more monotheistic religion than Christianity--one with one god, period, and with no Satan, no demons, no angels, no (miraculously conceived or not) Mary, no Christ, no saints, or anything like those entities. I suppose that there may well be such religions. Can somebody out there tell me of any in particular? If there isn't any, maybe someone should found one. I think that it might get lots of adherents and maybe its originator would become fabulously wealthy like L. Ron Hubbard did by coming up with Scientology. Hmmm. Is the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (see maybe completely monotheistic?

Anyhow, from what I know of Islam, it seems considerably more monotheistic than Christianity, although it does have its Satan, its angels, its djinn, and its houris. In particular, its prophets, including Mohammed, were mere people, not divine or semidivine. Ron Pine

Nice analysis Ron ... but I think Islam regards Muhammed in much the same way as Christians regard Jesus, despite the inevitable protests from BOTH sides at that statement. really, it all comes fromt he same source, and I must admit that I chuckled reading your description of the pantheon of Christian Gods (Satan as God of War is a natural, lol). Think I am gonna copy this to my blog if you don't mind ... nice bit of analysis.


Monday, March 27, 2006

odd treasures ...

... are in strange places, and always valued more in some quarters than others. I stumbled across some old journals of mine tonight, including at least one that, coincidentally, covers press clippings and commentary of events in early 1991 during the first Gulf war in Iraq. Not sure if anyone would be interested in more or not, but a couple of clipped articles made me chuckle and think of today as well. I can scan the rest of these articles if anyone is interested, but I thought it was interesting that the postwar without Saddam took 15 years to acheive and looks like it does today. I don't suppose Eric Margolis, in his wildest nightmares, would have written it quite that nefariously back in 1991, lol ... but he was trying to speak the truth then too.

Is anyone interested in seeing some of the other stuff I clipped and wrote? My writing is handwritten, so I expect no one but myself will ever decipher it ... if people want to read it, I will have to transcribe it, lol. Not sure its worth the effort ... I'm still not sure what all is in them, but the last entry I can find is about me leaving for an exciting new adventure in Africa in May of 1993, LMAO. It feels like a lifetime ago ... its a bit eery actually, lol.

Big Brother and the Internet ...

The year is 1960 and a bunch of faceless men in dark suits are sitting in a smokey backroom discussing how best to establish a system of surveillance that creeps into every aspect of the public's life. One young man pipes up and says he has an idea that would have the public clamouring to pay for the hardware to install in their own homes, to subsidise their own surveillance.

Does this sound like science fiction? In America of 1960, was it conceivable to anyone that, some 40 years later, Americans would be arguing not so much whether a right to privacy existed in our homes, but whether there was anything we could do to stop corporate spying and collection of our personal information? In that world, the notion that the American public would have financed the very means by which they are watched would have seemed too good to be true to our little cadre of back-rooms folks.

And yet, thats largely how the growth of the internet has gone over the past few decades. Back in 1960, when my fictional group of men were coming up with there ideas, the internet didn't exist. Instead, something called ARPANET was being developed by scientists and military installations around the globe to provide a way to share information easily amongst themselves.

Back in the early days of ARPANET, the idea that it would ever become a 'public' tool was literally ridiculous. Beyond the incredible economic barriers involved in computers and networking back then, the sheer complexity of the protocols and the interfaces meant that only the most dedicated people would take the time to learn how to use it properly.

Initially, there was no World Wide Web, or even HTML. The first 'internet' basically consisted of text email protocols and little more. Searching and getting information was a complex series of difficult queries, which returned dense, text based results. However, for the scientists who needed to share information on a massive, super-fast scale, it was the only way to do it, complex as it was.

The idea that such a mass of complexity would become what we see as the WWW today was quite lieterally laughable at the time. It wasn't until a more understandable protocol, html and www, was developed that it became clear that the internet could have public applications. The rest, as they say, is history, but its interesting to note that without the rise of the internet, or internet commerce, over the past decade, largely fuelled by customer demand, the issues of identity theft, or online surveillance, of profiling would not be nearly so pronounced.

When we think about Big Brother, we usually think of systems imposed in us from the outside. In this case, we've invited Big Brother into our homes willingly and excitedly, on the heels of broadband media and streaming music. If there really were a group of nefarious men in 1960 trying to set up a system like this, and someone had suggested to them that the emergin ARPANET would eventually provide a 2-way conduit into every home in America (ok, ALMOST every home, and soon every home), that everyone from marketers to government agencies can mine and monitor, would they have even believed it?

From my perspective today, it seems almost surreal actually. 40 years ago, a giant defence network was being developed to help share scientific information more quickly and easily, and today, that same defence network extends into the homes of nearly every person in the first world, and growing numbers of people in the third world. Looking back, you almost wonder if there was a group of men directing it all somewhere, lol ... it sure worked out well for anyone who might have been trying to set up a global surveillance network ...

Sunday, March 26, 2006

More Mayan Musings ...

From: Elron Steele
Date: Fri Nov 25, 2005 10:18 am
Subject: more Mayan musings ...
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... The complexity of the calendar continues to fascinate me. It shows up in more than the cycles, though I can't really see ANY reason for this complexity. We have months and days, and the Mayans had similar concepts, uinal and kin (a kin is a day, a uinal 20 kin). The Haab calendar, used for civil observances, was fairly similar to our own, except with 18 months of 20 days each (and 5 extra days at the end to make 365). The days were numbered consequtively within a month like we do (1 Jan, 2 Jan, etc).

The Tolzkin was a twisted bit of calendar logic and record keeping though, lol. Essentially, they didn't have a concept of a month in the Tolzkin ... instead, they merged a 13 day week with a 20 day week, lol.

While our calendar uses a single week of seven days, the Mayan calendar used two different lengths of week:

  • a numbered week of 13 days, in which the days were numbered from 1 to 13
  • a named week of 20 days, in which the names of the days were:
0. Ahau 1. Imix 2. Ik 3. Akbal 4. Kan
5. Chicchan 6. Cimi 7. Manik 8. Lamat 9. Muluc
10. Oc 11. Chuen 12. Eb 13. Ben 14. Ix
15. Men 16. Cib 17. Caban 18. Etznab 19. Caunac

That's from the page I posted earlier, and gives the names for days of the 20 day week. Keeping track of the day here is bizzarely complex though. Here's a table that shows the 13/20 day sequence for about 60 days ... would seriously do my head in to have to keep track of this, lol ...

20-day 13-day
20-day 13-day
20-day 13-day
Ahau 1
Ahau 8
Ahau 2
Imix 2
Imix 9
Imix 3
Ik 3
Ik 10
Ik 4
Akbal 4
Akbal 11
Akbal 5
Kan 5
Kan 12
Kan 6
Chicchan 6
Chicchan 13
Chicchan 7
Cimi 7
Cimi 1
Cimi 8
Manik 8
Manik 2
Manik 9
Lamat 9
Lamat 3
Lamat 10
Muluc 10
Muluc 4
Muluc 11
Oc 11
Oc 5
Oc 12
Chuen 12
Chuen 6
Chuen 13
Eb 13
Eb 7
Eb 1
Ben 1
Ben 8
Ben 2
Ix 2
Ix 9
Ix 3
Men 3
Men 10
Men 4
Cib 4
Cib 11
Cib 5
Caban 5
Caban 12
Caban 6
Etznab 6
Etznab 13
Etznab 7
Caunac 7
Caunac 1
Caunac 8

Wow ... I sometimes have trouble reconciling a 7 day week with 28, 30, or 31 day months ... that would mess with my head, lol.

From: Elron Steele
Date: Fri Nov 25, 2005 10:28 am
Subject: Re: more Mayan musings ...
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There was one final point I wanted to make on this (final??? well, doubtful, lol). Part of the complexity (or apparent complexity) comes from our own biases I think. One of the "hidden" things about Mayan culture is that it appears they may have used a numeric system that was quite different from our own. Nearly every culture on the planet has counted using a base 10 system. The symbols we use are arabic and fairly recent in nature, but even Roman Numerals are base 10. It goes to some logical things about humans ... we have ten fingers, and so counting based on units of 10 makes good sense. Thats how nearly every human culture has thought of numbers ... in units of 10.

Apparently, Mayans didn't. From what we can see, it looks as though Mayans counted in a base 20 system, but they seemed to be comfortable with several different numbering bases, including 18 and 13. So a calender that has 18 months of 20 days may seem complex when we think of it in base 10 terms, but if we THOUGHT in base 20 and base 18 as a matter of course, it probably wouldn't seem nearly so complex.

But that raises another issue, IMO. Thinking in numbering systems other than base 10 is another fairly recent western invention. Certainly, the general public still finds anything but base 10 mystifying. In computer science, we need to lear about binary (base 2), octal (8) and hexideciamal (16) numbering systems and how to do math in them, and while there are lots of people who can do it today, VERY few people THINK in those bases in the way they think in base 10. And yet, it seems from the records, that 2500 years ago, average people were counting days and time, among other things, rountinely using base 20, base 18, base 13, and freely working with each system. Thats remarkable to me in a very profound way, IMO.

Mayan Musings and Marking Time ...

This is a discussion I had last Thanksgiving (American, lol, in November) that, being about time, is as relevant today as it was then, lol.

From: Elron Steele
Date: Thu Nov 24, 2005 12:12 pm
Subject: marking time ...
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... Just some musings for a Thursday (and slack will be cut for our turkey-drunk American members *G*). I've been thinking about calendars lately, and what if any significance they have to our lives. Terms like "21st Century" are ubiquitous in our society and culture, but I wonder if there's any real meaning in them. Does the marking of time matter to the way we live our lives?

One of the reasons I ask the question is that for a large part of the world, it is not, in fact, the 21st century in anyway. If you are Islamic, its the early 15th century (1427 if I am not mistaken). Jews are way ahead of us, marking the year in the 58th century. Chinese would mark the year as 4703, and were there any Mayans left that used their old calendar, its likely they'd ark the year somewhere between 5100 and 5400. If Indus valley cultures in India are found to have a calendar system, their system could makr the year as high as 7000 or 8000.

So I wonder if it matters that "its the 21st century now." I realize its used as a way of showing hope for change and the future in many cases, and thats al well and good. But I suppose I just began wondering in it all why we decide to mark the year at 2006. Ofc, I know the obvious reason ... we use a Christian based calander that marks time from the birth of Christ. But I'm wondering how that decision affects us in other ways ... does a Muslim think differently about their world because they mark the year as 1427, or someone from China who thinks its 4703? If it does matter, I wonder how it matters, and if it doesn't, I wonder why we bother to keep track at all ...

From: Elron Steele
Date: Thu Nov 24, 2005 8:58 pm
Subject: Re: marking time ...
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One of the things I stumbled across when I was poking around earlier was the Mayan system. It's incredibly complex, but a couple of things were of interest, I thought. The first was that the basic Mayan calendar, the Long Count, is based on a 5122 year cycle. That number wasn't terribly interesting except to note that based on 2 of the 3 estimates for the beginning of the Long Count we are currently in the end of our current Mayan cycle would be in late 2012, just before "Christmas." Not sure its siugnificant, but it did make me go "Hmmmmmmmm."

The second thing was more of a "Wow" that i didn't know before. There's a chart of what I am talking about here ... ... but as I read through it I noticed a Mayan unit "1 alautan" roughly equivelent to 63 million years. Now, as far as I know, in western thought, the notion that time might be measured in millions of years is quite recent, a product of the scientific age. Yet here we have an example of an ancient culture with a UNIT if time that spans 63 million years. Thats more than just conceiving of that amount ... having a UNIT that large shows that calculations and measurements in that size range were common, and that the idea of 10 alautan, or 100 alautan was just as easy as 1 alautan.

That was remarkable to me ... as far as I know, at the time the Mayans were around, everyone else on the planet was thinking in terms of, at BEST, thousands and tens of thousands of years ... certainly not 100's of millions or billions as the Mayans apparently were. Not sure what the significance is, but it reinforces something I have felt for a long time ... we know FAR too little about several of the thriving, vibrant, and culturally complex civilisations that existed in the Americas before the rest of the world showed up. 2500 years ago, people in the Americas were thinking in terms of alautan about ... well, thats just it, we have no idea really. I can't imagine how much of a shame that is?

From: Elron Steele
Date: Thu Nov 24, 2005 8:59 pm
Subject: Re: marking time ...
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And then after I wrote this, I started thinking ... something familliar about 63 million years. Probably just a coincidence I suppose, but I pulled up a listing of ELE events and found the last one estimated at 65 million years ago-ish. Seems rather eery that an ancient culture would have a unit of time that nearly exacty dated from the last major extinction of life. Kinda makes me go "Hmmmmm" again, lol.

From: Elron Steele
Date: Thu Nov 24, 2005 11:34 pm
Subject: Re: [Debate_Everything] Re: marking time ...
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I seem to be in the mood to see patterns today, perhaps ...


Thats a chart of the alautan's and the number of actual years it translates to. I found it fascinating how close that list of our years matches things like ELE's and epoch transitions. Fascinating ...


On 11/24/05, Christina <> wrote: went to look this up...apparently we are in an ele event now....

1. 488 million years ago — a series of mass extinctions at the
Cambrian-Ordovician transition (the Cambrian-Ordovician extinction
events) eliminated many brachiopods and conodonts and severely reduced
the number of trilobite species.
2. 444 million years ago — at the Ordovician-Silurian transition
two Ordovician-Silurian extinction events occurred, probably as the
result of a period of glaciation. Marine habitats changed drastically
as sea levels decreased, causing the first die-off, then another
occurred between 500 thousand to a million years later when sea levels
rose rapidly. It has been suggested that a gamma ray burst may have
triggered this extinction. [1]
3. 360 million years ago — near the Devonian-Carboniferous
transition (the Late Devonian extinction) a prolonged series of
extinctions led to the elimination of about 70% of all species. This
was not a sudden event, with the period of decline lasting perhaps as
long as 20 million years. However, there is evidence for a series of
extinction pulses within this period.
4. 251 million years ago — at the Permian-Triassic transition (the
Permian-Triassic extinction event) about 95% of all marine species
went extinct. This catastrophe was Earth's worst mass extinction,
killing 53% of marine families, 84% of marine genera, and an estimated
70% of land species (including plants, insects, and vertebrate animals.)
5. 200 million years ago — at the Triassic-Jurassic transition (the
Triassic-Jurassic extinction event) about 20% of all marine families
as well as most non-dinosaurian archosaurs, most therapsids, and the
last of the large amphibians were eliminated.
6. 65 million years ago — at the Cretaceous-Paleogene transition
(the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event) about 50% of all species
became extinct (including the dinosaurs). This extinction is widely
believed to have resulted from an asteroid or comet impact event.
7. Present day — the Holocene extinction event. A 1998 survey by
the American Museum of Natural History found that 70% of biologists
view the present era as part of a mass extinction event. Some, such as
E. O. Wilson of Harvard University, predict that man's destruction of
the biosphere could cause the extinction of one-half of all species in
the next 100 years. Research and conservation efforts, such as the
IUCN's annual "Red List" of threatened species, all point to an
ongoing period of enhanced extinction, though some offer much lower
rates and hence longer time scales before the onset of catastrophic
damage. The extinction of many megafauna near the end of the most
recent ice age is also sometimes considered a part of the Holocene
extinction event.

Life, the Universe, and Everything (with apologies to the late Douglas Adams)

From: Christina
Sent: Saturday, March 25, 2006 9:14:11 PM
Subject: [new-continuum] Re: Inflating the Universe...

-why does "god" have to be unscientific?
-why does "god" mean a supernatural explanation?
-belief without evidence is not science by definition...human
definition....why think that science will explain everything? Is there
a reason *to* assume that science can answer everything? Isnt that
belief in itself...unscientific?

-- In , myxtplkn wrote:
By definition and by all that we know in religion God is a not a
natural being but beyond that he is believed to be super--natural.
Believed in by having faith. Scientific is a supposed system where by
the use of logic either by deduction or induction we can logically
derive an answer or fact. God is not scientific since it requires no
facts to believe in a god. just belief. The reason that we believe
that science can solve everything is that scientific process and
procedures have in fact produced more and more information on the
Worlds Processes and the way it was formed and the way it is
evolving. Things like Carbon dating. Things like no the World is not
flat. Yes there is much that we don't know--we can talk human but
we can't talk dog or cat or even chimpanzee--in fact we don't know
what chimps call each other or the names they have for one another.
Yes if I think that science will eventually succeed in solving
everything--that is a belief system, but it is
a system based upon a series of solutions to a great many problems
in a stepwise progression; whereas the belief in the supernatural
beings or gods is and has been the same since man-kind has records of
the gods. We know that the gods work in mysterious ways because
someone told us that is what we needed to believe. I use to sit and
listen to my Grandmother read the St James Bible to me most every
night for a number of years--she believed--I did not but listened to
her because I loved her and it made her happy that I listened.
Believing that science can solve most other problems is not
unscientific in the sense that you expect the progression in
solutions to follow scientific method in their proofs. Hope these
meanders help explain some of my thoughts but don't think I'll be able
o change any of your beliefs with them.; but perhaps you may have
more to add as you continue to exchange ideas with others. EdB

From: Christina
Sent: Saturday, March 25, 2006 11:38:57 PM
Subject: [new-continuum] Re: Inflating the Universe...

-Im all for the scientific process dont get me wrong...and i
comprehend the "rules" behind it.
God. Science. Our ideas, or perspectives of them, the ones you
describe...these are all based on human definitions.
Science exists. Science has always existed even before humans. The
cosmos came to be, the planets came to be, life came to be. All
science....presumably you would agree with that no? Humans have
derived a way, a process by which to study ~~everything~~: how the
world works, was created, where its going etc blah etc. Everything
that we do, to try to parse out the secrets to ~everything~ is via the
scientific process within the scientific community.
Personally.....i think its limiting.
I dont have a better way to do it mind you....i just think that its
limiting and that should be recognized. Comments exhaulting the
superiority of the scientific process without acknowledging its likely
fallability and limitations due to our human ineptitudes, is short
sighted. To place that "The Scientific Process"
imo is little better than the blind faith that some religious folks
place in their holy books.
Science...has existed long before "The Scientific Process"....we are
the creators of "The Scientific Process".....its not a part of science
itself. "The Scientific Process" did not invent gravity. Its merely a
means of trying to comprehend it.
Does that explain my perspective?

God. For one thing there are so many different perspectives of god
and so many different definitions of god that frankly, i dont see how
anyone can recognize any of them other than what they are....a human
invention. *IF* god exists...lets assume he does for the sake of
discussion here....then i doubt very much that god exists in any way
that any human can define "him" or even percieve him for that matter.
Just because religion defines god as a supernatural being or defines
him in any other way written in the holy books...does not mean that
god is that way. IMO, the definitions of god within the bible and the
idea that anyone can even begin to comprehend god is limiting...and
frankly i would think blasphemous by religious definition.
If god exists....why wouldnt "he" be part of science? Why exactly
does god and science have to be mutually exclusive? Why wouldnt god
and science be part of the whole enchilada of ~everything~?
In only point is...that Science as defined by humans, and
God as defined by humans...are exactly that.....defined by humans.
Just because we subjectively define it a certain way, doesnt mean that
it exists objectively that way.

-- In, myxtplkn wrote:

Christina--It is true that faith and science are both the inventions
of the human mind. However...............It is much like reading--a
human invention toward more objectivity: a meter reading with a
needle, or the meniscus in graduated cylinder we can read more
correctly without parallax so accepting things on faith is a lot like
reading with a bias in parallax. There is most often not much in the
process of belief that lends itself to a stepwise fashion of logic
toward a system of belief except a history of others who believe the
same and writings that corroborate one another with the same circular
logic with continued admonishments that if you don't accept the belief
then there are dire consequences. Also the system of logic and
processes developed and invented by man do not have one and only books
and scrolls to be revered as the bases of all life Science does allow
for dispute and rearrangement--faith in a God does not. Faith in God
is pretty much a take or
leave it proposition although most alter it to fit their needs like
Thou shalt not commit adultery or Thou shall not kill, or Thy shall
not covet. Science doesn't require you to do any of that sort of
thing unless you get into ethics and morality but I'm not sure we have
scientific processes for emotion per se. There are rules and logical
orders for the treatment of one another which do not require faith in
Gods but do require expectations (faith) of others to respond in a
wide range of so called normal behavior. Science itself is not
without faith it is just more precise than faith alone. Yes I think
we will continue to explore the cosmos and science will contribute to
it's definition but faith in Gods will pretty much stand where it is.
In other words Christianity, Judaism, Islam etc. will not change but
science will progress with new developments.
Next one would say (as my Grandmother would say) why look for
other livable planets and star systems. Let's just tend to what we
have--well the planet is getting crowded with too many "furriners"
(Thomas might say that). I think the Human endeavor will continue to
push for scientific breakthroughs and explanations in spite of faith
interventions. Unless we eventually have a fight between the faithful
and the non-faithful since we seem to always want a we/they type fight
going on. As you said about not having a answer-- we don't have
another avenue of approach except that of of science or just try for
stasis with faith. EdB

On 3/26/06, Christina <> wrote:


There are two distinctions here i think......God and religion.
Religion imo is what you are talking about. I think that the faith
most people talk about these days pertains to a faith that their
religion is correct. I think this faith in religion has little to do
with god.

As for science adhering to the sanitary tenants of "The Scientific
Process" that is soley reserved for pure science imo. Perhaps the
science of mathemetics. Science however, has long long been heavily
influenced by humans. Studies not published because of an existing
narrow mindset in the publishers and/or fellow collegues, statistics
tweaked here and there to support thesis, results completely fudged.
I dont believe that science is anymore "pure" than present faiths.
They are both equally corrupt imo. Religious believers (notice i did
not say god) wave their books and profess to know the truth because
their prophet told them so. Science waves its "Process" and claims to
be objective and grounded in reality when in fact, it isnt.
I hear what you are saying, and agree with much of it. My only point
was that we, all of us, need to be critical of information that comes
to us no matter what the source. I consider much of what falls under
the domain of science almost as fallible as religious claims (ie.
believing the pharmaceutical companies and the crap that they produce).

And certainly, i am not saying to throw the baby out with the
bathwater......all we have at present is "The Scientific Process" and
we most definately do need to continue with advancing it....i never
said otherwise. I firmly believe that ~everything~...and i mean
~everyhting~ could be broken down to a microparticle/macroprocess
explanation but we lack the ability to percieve it and we lack the
ability to comprehend it. I dont think we will ever have that ability
because we are human and physically limited. But we should bloody
well keep trying!

One more point.....i do not think that religion is static.

Elron wrote:

Another point to remember is precisely what we view as 'science' and 'scientific progress.' The traditional view of scholarly competition of ideas is only true to a certain point. Within the current paradign of science, there is competition amongst ideas in certain ways, but the structure of scientific paradigm, like that of religious belief, is designed to reward like-thinking and punish or ridicule thinking outside the box.

Kuhn and Popper talk a bit about what I am saying here, but whenever we've seen a truly revolutionary scientific change, it is never an orderly affair of science accepting a better idea and rejecting the old ones. Instead, the existing paradigm fights long and hard against the newer, "righter" one, denigrating it every turn. When Einstein began talking about relativity, and the essentially similarity between matter and energy, science didn't look at his work and say 'Good on you, old chap ... nice bit of reasoning there.' It took decades of work, and older, classical scientists continued to ridicule Einstein and his work even after it was clearly 'right.' The history of quantum mechanics, of cosmology, of any number of scientific disciplines is the same ... frought with turf battles over entrenched paradigms, VERY similar to turf battles between Catholics and Protestants.

As Christina says, there are two seperate things here. There is science as 'the way the world works' on one side of the coin, and science as 'how we measure, analyse, and perceive the world works' on the other side. Science is about examining the universe, but so is religion, and in both cases, serious heresy is NOT rewarded, it is punished and ridiculed. I think there are FAR more parellels in reality than people would like to admit.