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Miscellaneous thoughts and ramblings
Friday, April 29, 2005
 
2006 Senate Races
John J. Miller on Election '06 on National Review Online
 
Cassini Finds Organic Material on Titan
Cassini Finds Organic Material on Titan

Titan's atmosphere is mainly made up of nitrogen and methane, the simplest type of hydrocarbon. But scientists were surprised to find complex organic material in the latest flyby. Because Titan is extremely cold — about minus 290 degrees — scientists expected the organic material to condense and rain down to the surface.

Update by Doctor Bean on Sunday, May 1, 9:45 pm:

The Cassini-Huygens mission website has some of the details I was looking for. (See my comment a few days ago.)

Hydrocarbons containing as many as seven carbon atoms were observed, as well as nitrogen- containing hydrocarbons (nitriles). Titan's atmosphere is composed primarily of nitrogen, followed by methane, the simplest hydrocarbon. The nitrogen and methane are expected to form complex hydrocarbons in a process induced by sunlight or energetic particles from Saturn's magnetosphere. However, it is surprising to find the plethora of complex hydrocarbon molecules in the upper reaches of the atmosphere. Titan is very cold, and complex hydrocarbons would be expected to condense and rain down to the surface.
That's very cool. Seven carbon molecules are fairly big. Glucose, for comparison, has 6 carbon atoms. And this is just in the atmosphere. Perhaps more complex stuff is in the muddy surface. I wonder if all the surface analysis from the Huygen's probe is finished, or if we are still waiting to learn more...
 
Exploding toads in Germany: Follow-up
Exploding toads in Germany: blame the crows

Now a veterinary surgeon, Frank Mutschmann, who has examined the remains of the toads, said they had been pierced with a single peck by crows trying to eat their livers. This in turn caused the toads to explode.

 
This Day in History: April 29th, 1945
This Day in History: Dachau Liberated

On April 29, 1945, the U.S. Seventh Army's 45th Infantry Division liberates Dachau, the first concentration camp established by Germany's Nazi regime. A major Dachau subcamp was liberated the same day by the 42nd Rainbow Division.

Established five weeks after Adolf Hitler took power as German chancellor in 1933, Dachau was situated on the outskirts of the town of Dachau, about 10 miles northwest of Munich. During its first year, the camp held about 5,000 political prisoners, consisting primarily of German communists, Social Democrats, and other political opponents of the Nazi regime. During the next few years, the number of prisoners grew dramatically, and other groups were interned at Dachau, including Jehovah's Witnesses, Gypsies, homosexuals, and repeat criminals. Beginning in 1938, Jews began to comprise a major portion of camp internees.
 
Good Environmental News
I'm a bird nut. Particularly fond of my acorn woodpeckers which make use of my sunflower seeds for a few months every spring and summer. Nice to read about one of their cousins making a surprising return to the scene.



Once 'extinct,' a woodpecker flies again:

"Not seen for 60 years, the ivory-billed woodpecker -- called ''the flagship of American extinction'' -- is alive and soaring through Arkansas' ancient cypress swamps."

 
Heterosexual HIV Transmission
A good friend of miine, who is a doctor (wink wink), told me years ago that HIV transmission from straight sex was exceedingly rare, if nonexistant. The lack of a widespread epidemic in the non-needle-using, non-hemopheliac, heterosexual community in the Western World, despite promises of such an epidemic for the past 20 years, has been something which I felt confirmed his words.

Yet we're told that, in Africa, the massive epidemic which DOES exist is largely the result of transmission through straight sex. This has just never sat well with me on a common sense basis. I dug up this article, which broaches the subject:


Michael Fumento: The African heterosexual AIDS myth

Excerpts:

The chief reason it’s so hard to spread HIV vaginally is that, as biopsies of vaginal and cervical tissue show, the virus is unable to penetrate or infect healthy vaginal or cervical tissue. Various sexually transmitted diseases facilitate vaginal HIV infection, but even those appear to increase the risk only slightly.

---

Yet almost certainly greater – and more controllable – contributors to the African epidemic are “contaminated punctures from such sources as medical injections, dental injections, surgical procedures, drawing as well as injecting blood, and rehydration through IV tubes,” says Brody.

There are many indicators that punctures play a huge role in the spread of African HIV/AIDS. For example, during the 1990s HIV increased dramatically in Zimbabwe, even as condom use increased and sexually transmitted infections rapidly fell.

Or consider that in a review of nine African studies, HIV prevalence in inpatient children ranged from 8.2% to 63% – as many as three times the prevalence in women who’d given birth. If the kids didn’t get the virus from their mothers, whence its origin?


---

I'm curious is the our resident physician has any further thoughts on the issue, gleaned from his years in practice (and attending medical conventions). Bean, feel free to add any important thoughts to this post, as opposed to in the comments section.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
 
Hemibloggiversary
Six months and five days ago my pals brought forth a new blog, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that there should be a corner of the web where we may spout right-wing opinions while our guests sip coffee and maybe munched a cookie. We still don't really have the coffee or cookie thing worked out.

Wer'e very happy to have earned a few readers, and even some commenters. We'll try not to bore you in the next six months.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
 
Yahoo! News - Exploding Toads Puzzle German Scientists
Exploding Toads Puzzle German Scientists



More than 1,000 toads have puffed up and exploded in a Hamburg pond in recent weeks, and scientists still have no explanation for what's causing the combustion, an official said Wednesday.
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
 
Syria Removes Last Troops fom Lebanon
This is very good news but raises some serious concerns:

1. Hizb'Allah is still armed and well in Lebanon and financed by Iran.

2. The fact that the article says that Europeans and Americans say that the withdrawal must be verified is probably code for the fact that Lebanon is still crawling with Syrian intelligence goons.

3. I'm not hearing anyone trumpeting the fact that this domino is another (albeit small) vindication of Bush's policies.

4. What horrible psychological problem makes me post on my vacation from my Treo?
 
Google Sightseeing
Per our previous thread about Google satellite images, this blog posts interesting views found through Google map searches.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
 
The Feast of Freedom
Tomorrow afternoon the entire Bean brood is piling into the vehicle code-named Bean One and driving to spend Passover at an undisclosed secure location.

I'll catch y'all on May 2.

Have a great week, everyone, and Happy Passover to all us Red Sea Pedestrians.

Godby: Take over.
 
Stages of the Physician
Torontopearl just sent me a very thoughtful gift, a copy of The Placebo Chronicles: Strange but True Tales From the Doctors' Lounge. I quote below (without permission from the author) from page 5.
Stages of the Physician

I want to help people.
I want to make it through this hell.
I want to make it through this hell without killing someone.
I may have killed someone.
I want someone to help me.

I want to make money.
I want to spend money.
I want to save money.
Where the hell is my money?
I need to make money.

I don’t know anything.
There is too much to know.
I will never know all of this.
I don’t need to know all of this.
I only need to know a little.
I don’t care if I know anything.

I want to be needed.
I love my white jacket.
I love the power of the pager.
I hate this f*cking pager.
I don’t want to wear a stupid jacket.
I want to be left alone.

This patient has some interesting problems.
This patient has some real disease.
This patient needs to be hugged and loved.
This patient has a lot of nothing.
This patient has Sh*tty Life Syndrome.
This patient needs to leave; I need to be hugged and loved.
Thanks, Torontopearl.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
 
The Second Derivative with Respect to Time
Everyone says that time goes faster when you're an adult than when you're a child. It's true. Summer vacation in elementary school lasted a lifetime. I remember endless days bicycling on hilly trails around our neighborhood, coming home only when it was dark or I was starving. I would do this for weeks at a time and was perfectly content and had no idea how far off in the future the first day of school awaited. A school year also lasted forever. Junior high school was an eternity.

A few months ago my dad, who is in his seventies, told me that it's not only that time goes faster as an adult than as a child. He said that time goes faster and faster the longer you're alive. The psychological sensation of the passing of time keeps accelerating. I've never thought of it like that but it's absolutely true. College went by much faster than high-school and medical school faster still. My residency was a blur of intense learning and sleep deprivation. It feels like I was just married. When did my 9 year old get so big? My dad says that his sixties were a blink of an eye.

It slips by so quickly. And we've all got so little time left.
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
 
The Pope Welcomes Your Prayers
"Dear brothers and sisters, after our great pope, John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me, a simple, humble worker in God's vineyard. I am consoled by the fact that the Lord knows how to work and how to act, even with insufficient tools, and I especially trust in your prayers." -- Pope Benedict XVI
 
High Holy Rollers
Or is it the other way around?
 
Pope Benedict: Jew Hater?
Of course not! But there's already a "storyline" to this effect out in the MSM. Print out this article and hand it to anyone who tells you the new pope was a member of Hitler Youth.

Here's more from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency:
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, chosen as the new pope, was the brains behind Pope John Paul II’s reconciliation with the Jews, a Jewish official said.

Rabbi Israel Singer, chairman of the World Jewish Congress, called Ratzinger, who took the name of Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday, 'the architect of the policy that John Paul II fulfilled with regard to relations with the Jews. He is the architect of the ideological policy to recognize, to have full relations with Israel.' Ratzinger, from Germany, succeeds John Paul, who died April 2. The Vatican’s chief theologian under John Paul, Ratzinger, 78, is considered a conservative. But in 2002, he authorized the publication of a report that stated that 'the Jewish messianic wait is not in vain.'

That document also expressed regret that certain passages in the Christian Bible condemning individual Jews have been used to justify anti-Semitism.
Monday, April 18, 2005
 
The Tao of Preschool
The pharmaceutical company representatives frequently give us tiny gifts with the brand name of the medicine they're promoting – pens, highlighters, notebooks, etc… So at the ACP conference I was offered a lot of crap. I usually politely refuse, but I thought my daughters would like these silly gifts when I returned, especially my 7 year old who hoards junk. So when I returned I emptied my bag and split the goodies between my 7 and 3 year old girls. (My 9 year old son is above such nonsense. He wants Legos and games for his Nintendo DS.) As soon as I started handing stuff out I realized that there might be a problem. I didn't get two of everything, so the gifts would have to be distributed asymmetrically. Our 3 year old has frequently freaked out in this situation in the past. We've tried explaining that it doesn't matter, that the next time the other person will get more, that her stuff is just as nice as her sister's stuff – all to no avail. A storm of tears and hurt feelings usually follow and require tons of affection to soothe. So I handed out the stuff as equitably as possible and prepared for the worst.

“Her notebook is bigger,” said my 3 year old. Uh oh. Here it comes. “But that’s OK” she continued. Huh? It’s OK?! Then came the line that left our jaws on the floor:

“You get what you get, and you don’t get upset. I learned it in school.”
 
HULK BLOG!
Friday, April 15, 2005
 
Passover's coming...
But there's another exodus going on right now:

Strife Spurs Slow Exodus of West Bank Christians

From the LA Times, yet.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
 
Why my Mom has no friends
Yesterday, Dennis Prager was discussing the polling data from Jews in the last election. I would link to it, but Doctor Bean is not home and I can’t remember how to do the html thing (perhaps because I am busy remembering where Bean left his shoes). Anyway, the upshot is that for Jews who attend synagogue regularly (any denomination) the vote for Bush vs. Kerrey was split 50:50. Furthermore, young Jewish men voted 35% for Bush (a landslide by Jewish Republican reckoning). You can discuss these facts amongst yourselves. The most important message that I got however, I like to call “why my Mom has no friends.” Jewish women over 60 went for Kerrey 10 to 1 and my Mom is a staunch Republican. I still fondly remember the time, walking in Santa Monica, when my mom was visibly disgusted by Tom Hayden’s “council on economic democracy (read communism)” We never watched Jane Fonda movies and she railed against any form of utopian socialism, particularly rent control. She was “in the closet” most of her life and had an active social life. Lately, however, the acrimony and antagonism from the Left has become too much for her to bear. She is no longer attending social functions for organizations to which she belongs. Now, it seems, she will choose couples whom she and my Dad still like and invite them out individually. How sad.
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
 
I Left My Blog in San Francisco
I am currently sitting in the beautiful atrium of the San Francisco Marriott.

Why? Because for the next few days I'm attending the American College of Physicians Annual Session in an attempt to stay smart and learn some of the new developments I've missed.

I'm posting from my Treo which has a tiny screen (and a keyboard to match) and a browser that only has one open window at a time, so if you're expecting links, or cool pictures, you're out of luck. I'll be luky if half the words are spelled right.

All of this is just beating arond the bush so I can tell you that until Sunday my blogging will be slim to none. I fully expect Godby to pick up the slack with at least one link to an interesting news story with h
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
 
Coming home
Dude, I wasn't crying when I read this. The room just got a little dusty.
 
iPotus
What's on the president's iPod?

Hint: My. My. My. My. My. My. Whoo!
 
Is that a booger?
No, it's not.
 
Disgraced Cardinal Leads Mass for Pope
Yahoo! News - Disgraced Cardinal Leads Mass for Pope

I was scanning the news before going to bed, and stumbled upon this little bit. Whatever the Church may or may not have learned about its shortcomings with respect to child abuse during Pope John Paul's reign, apparently went to the grave with him.

Cardinal Law is the posterboy for the Church's grossly neglegent mishandling of the child abuse issue. Such prominant Catholics as Bill Bennett and William Buckley called for his resignation in the wake of his dropping the ball in the Boston Archdiocese scandal of a couple years ago.

To place him in a position of such importance at a time of such enormous consequence for the Church just seems like a slap in the face of the victims, and a clear indication that the Church remains ignorant to the issue.
Monday, April 11, 2005
 
Interesting statistic
On cross-currents, in the context of chastising the view that Jews should be wary of Christians, Gedalia Litke writes, "...the two Jewish demographics most likely to have voted for Bush in '04 were religious Jews and intermarried Jews, i.e., the two kinds of Jews who, for better and worse, do not fear the impact of Christians on their life goals."

I hadn't heard that statistic before? Any truth to that? I ask because I am too lazy to look it up.
 
Paul Shirley's Road Ramblings
An amusing travel diary by the Phoenix Sun's 12th man. Behind-the-scenes in the NBA at its best.

hat tip: Sports Guy
 
Chilling
I know everyone's tired of the Schiavo case. But just check out the letter by Cynthia Lawrence printed in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal on the subject:

"...we are in danger of skidding on the slippery path so beloved of the neocons: the culture of life. Whether Gruen intends it or not, that path leads to the destruction of abortion rights and the curtailment of stem cell research."

I mean, I think we've seen some good arguments on the Michael Schiavo side on this blog, but this is, well, hey, I guess for Ms. Lawrence at least it's honest.

Also, I love the use of "neocons" as a catch-all for anything evil.
 
Corrie Story
Alan Rickman, the bad guy from the first Die Hard, is putting together a play about Rachel Corrie, the American woman who died valiantly in Gaza while trying to protect a weapons-smuggling tunnel from Egypt. In the Guardian, the playwright discusses Corrie's writings.

Of course they say they aren't going to glorify here, that she'll be presented warts and all, and that they chose her as a subject only because of the accessibility of her writing. This is nonsense, of course, because not only are there plenty of people involved in the conflict who have written about it, but that are still alive to be interviewed about it as well. So why did they choose her? Because she's a hero, of course.
Saturday, April 09, 2005
 
Global Depopulation
File this under “Another Very Important Issue that the Left Made Specific Predictions About, and Were Totally Wrong”. I know; the file is getting very thick, but you really should know about this one. (Disclosure: I haven't read any of the books I'm about to mention, just a lot of stuff written about the books. Writing about books I haven't read gives me inexhaustible material.)

In the 1970s Paul Ehrlich wrote The Population Bomb, the book for which he is best known. It predicted that human population would climb exponentially, reaching upward of 11 billion. This would be way too many humans competing for way too few resources. A catastrophic energy and food shortage would ensue, and there would be much wailing and gnashing of teeth. He has become the prophet of the liberal overpopulation crowd, and has gone on to write much more, such as The race bomb: Skin color, prejudice, and intelligence (in 1997, not exactly the first on the scene in race consciousness) and Betrayal of Science and Reason: How Anti-Environmental Rhetoric Threatens Our Future (also in 1997, clearly a productive year for him). By the titles, I'd guess that he didn't vote for Bush.

The only problem with The Population Bomb is that none of it came true. Birth rates worldwide have been falling, most dramatically in the developed world, but in the third world too. The disastrous world energy crunch has yet to appear, and the only recent reason for famines has been totalitarian dictatorships, not runaway food demand. Last year, Ben Wattenberg wrote Fewer: How the New Demography of Depopulation Will Shape Our Future in which he reviews the recent population trends and assumes his place in a growing crowd pointing out that Ehrlich is all wet. (This book, I may actually read!) Here are highlights from Newt Gingrich's review of Fewer.
The biggest news is that in sheer numbers the human race is now likely to peak at 8.5 billion people instead of the United Nations projection of 11.5 billion. Even the U.N. demographers now agree that the population explosion will never reach the numbers they had once projected.

The biggest reason for this dramatic decline was captured in an earlier book by Mr. Wattenberg, "The Birth Dearth." Women are simply having fewer children and the result is that in some countries population is already starting to go down.

Mr. Wattenberg highlights the unique role of the United States as the one industrial country that will keep growing. American population growth is a combination of the highest birthrate of any industrial country (2.01 children per female) and our willingness to accept immigration. Mr. Wattenberg projects that the United States will continue to grow in economic and other forms of power, while Europe and Japan decline dramatically. Indeed, in the Wattenberg vision of the future, there are only three large nations by 2050: China, India and the United States.
The entire review is fairly short. You may enjoy reading the rest of it.

I await any liberal to admit that (1) there is no overpopulation problem, (2) there is not now no will there ever be a catastrophic energy shortage, because the free market makes scarce things expensive and thereby stimulates innovative production, and (3) for the same reason, there will never be a catastrophic food shortage. The world can support billions more provided that they live in societies with free markets. A command economy can not sustain a population no matter how small.
Ordered by Nomad's Mom.
 
If You Leave Me, How Can I Blog?
The lovely ball-and-chain abandoned our children and me yesterday to go with my sister to some kind of crunchy granola Jewish women's retreat. She's been to this annual retreat before, and the content usually nauseates her, but she just uses it as an excuse for a much needed break from home, hubby, and offspring. Being a crazy-right-winger, she's not well disposed to touchy feely mystical clap-trap, which is exactly what she'll be getting. A couple of years ago she came back from this weekend saying that one of the classes was a meditation exercise in which they were instructed to breathe with their uteruses. It took all of her self control not to burst out laughing.

So I'm in charge of the four heirs to the Bean dominion for forty-eight hours. My goals are very limited: adequate nutrition and no injuries requiring hospitalization. Someone call Child Protective Services. I gotta go before one of them drowns in the toilet.
Thursday, April 07, 2005
 
Schiavo postscript
Cross-Currents has a post pondering a paradox or two about the issue. Some interesting comments, too.
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
 
Can't Get There From Here
Google, yet again, has done something very cool -- Google maps. Right click on the Google logo and open the link in a new window.



At the heart of this is a mapping and directions-generating engine like in lots of other web-based directions sites, but here's the twist. Towards the top right of the window, click on the "satellite" link. That's right; you can view the maps as traditional labeled maps or as satellite pictures. Use the controls on the left to zoom in and out. To pan you can just drag the image.

Now search for something. Put your home address in the search window up top. Zoom way in. You might be able to see your house. You'll certainly be able to see your block.

Here's The Washington Monument. (Again, zoom in all the way.)

Another cool thing is you can do proximity searches. Once you're looking at something, any further searches start at that location. So if you're visiting the Washington Monument and thinking "where's the nearest Socialist Party headquarters?" just type "socialist party" in the search box and it turns out you're pretty close.

Here's The Hollywood Sign, and the closest falafel stands to it.

And, of course, like other map engines, you can use it to get directions. If, for example, Torontopearl wanted to visit me, here are directions from Toronto to Los Angeles. Obviously, with specific addresses, you can get more specific directions.
Hat tip Redsugar.
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
 
Rock On, Dude
People frequently say to me “Bean, you are such a groovy cat. You must have great taste in music. What kinda music do you listen to?”

Actually people have never said that to me. People usually say something more like “Bean, you are an extremely introverted geek. Thank goodness your wife dresses you.”

Where was I? Oh, yeah. Music.

For a long time now, I've been listening to Yahoo's LAUNCHcast, an internet music station that let's you rate how much or how little you like different kinds of music. You can rate entire genres, artists, albums, or individual songs. The station then plays what you like, but also plays songs that you haven't rated yet that were highly rated by other members that also like the same stuff you do. It's a customized radio station. You need a Yahoo account, but it's free. I've entered over 500 ratings and at this point I hardly ever hear a song I don't like, and it's exposing me to occasional music I haven't heard. The other fun thing is that you can share your station with other people. So if you want to hear the stuff I like, click on the title of this post. It's mostly 70s and 80s classic rock with a sprinkling of newer music and a little jazz.
 
Will Heal For Food
The lovely ball-and-chain does much of my billing. She works from home. She’s spent most of the day calling various insurance companies to try to figure out why they haven’t paid me. Her frustration meter is up to 11. I’ve been sitting next to her doing paper work hearing her side of the conversations. The first three fourths of every conversation is with one of those computerized speech recognition automated phone menus that ask you to say certain words to make a choice. I can’t hear what the computer is saying to her but she’s saying something like this:

Bean [long pause]
Jane [long pause]
Doe [long pause]
nine four nine five six… (long string of digits which are the patient’s ID number) [long pause]
INCORRECT [long pause]
NINE FOUR NINE FIVE SIX… (same long string of digits but louder with more careful annunciation and a little angry) [long pause]
INCORRECT! [long pause]
POORLY TRAINED MONKEYS!! (screaming) [long pause]
I’M GOING TO COME OVER THERE AND KILL YOU!!! [hangs up]

After a few minutes of this, she navigates the menu system to finally get a human on the line. This is frequently no better, since the human is far less competent than the computer menu system. This is a small fraction of a conversation she had today.

ball-and chain: I’m calling about the services provided on June 14, 2004.
insurance lackey: I don’t show a payment for that date.
b&c: Of course there’s no payment, that’s why I’m calling you. We haven’t been paid.
il: I have no record of any payment for that date.
b&c: I really don’t understand what you’re getting at. We want payment. Are you saying you didn’t receive our bill?
il: I don’t see any payment at all for that service.
b&c: Huh? You just said the same thing three times! Why would I be calling you if you paid me? Just to say “Thanks for the check”? I’m calling because there hasn’t been payment. Explain what needs to happen for payment.
il: I’m very sorry. I looked for a payment in the database. I’m just not finding one.
b&c: I’M GOING TO COME OVER THERE AND KILL YOU!!!
Monday, April 04, 2005
 
Really Not Necessary
I just saw a very nice guy in his 50s whom I’ve been taking care of for about six years. I just told him he has diabetes and spent about an hour examining him and telling him what he and I are going to do about it. He couldn’t stop thanking me. At the end of the visit he gave me a bear hug and a kiss on the cheek!

I love my job.
 
Bumper stickers revisited
If you're still driving around with your Kerry/Edwards 04, or even your Redefeat Bush sticker on your bumper, I can understand. You weren't that far off, it was close, and removing a sticker is hardly worth the hassle.

But shouldn't you be at least a little embarrassed if you still have your "Mission NOTHING Accomplished" sticker? I admit that the war has not been won, that democracy has not yet firmly taken root in the middle east, but come on, "Nothing"? Even if the entire mission has not been accomplished, do you really still think nothing has? Or is it, like, a point-in-time thing?
Saturday, April 02, 2005
 
Pope John Paul II
This morning at synagogue, before the Pope's death had been announced, our Rabbi said that we should keep him in our thoughts. He read to us a note that the Pope placed in the Western Wall during his visit to Jerusalem in 2000.


God of our fathers, you chose Abraham and his descendants to bring your Name to the Nations. We are deeply saddened by the behavior of those who in the course of history have caused these children of yours to suffer and, asking your forgiveness, we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood with the people of the Covenant.
He died after a lifetime of remarkable achievements in the service of his fellow man, of the Church, and of His Creator.

Please feel free to share your thoughts, but remember, as our Rabbi reminded us, that no life spent in the public eye can be free of disagreement and controversy. Now is not the time for that.

Requiem aetarnam dona eis, Domine,
Et lux perpetua luceat eis.


Grant to the departed eternal rest, O Lord,
And let everlasting light shine upon them.

From Mozart's Requiem
Friday, April 01, 2005
 
VDH: Don't Stop Now
VDH argues that we must keep pushing in our efforts to democratize the Middle East and that this must include the neutral or "friendly" dictatorships there. He criticizes Bush's recent sale of F16s to Pakistan.
Finally, the United States must somehow forge a policy of consistency. True, a Gen. Musharraf is a neutral of sorts, and on occasion a convenient ally in hunting down terrorists. But for all his charm and the need to work with Pakistan, he is still a dictator, and a bullet away from a nuclear theocracy. Selling him high-priced F-16s is perhaps good policy in the short-term, but inconsistent with spending American blood and treasure for elections in Iraq and Afghanistan. It ultimately will send a terrible message to both Pakistani democratic reformers and to the world's largest democracy in India, which not long ago itself was on the verge of war on its border.
I know Bush takes VDH seriously. I wonder what he thinks.
 
Fear of Death
A "rational" instict for self-preservation prevents a Being (as opposed to a mortal) from engaging in those activities for which the likelihood of preserving oneself approaches zero per engagement in said activity. This is consistent with the fundamental knowledge possessed by all Beings. The knowledge is carried by each Being within its soul (note: Beings are neither "male" nor "female" in pure form, but rather the present participle of the verb to Be). What mortals forget is that each heartbeat, each breath, each song, each rainbow, each prayer is an activity that takes them one step closer to death.

The spirit yearns to be free of its mortal prison, but the mind and body resist. Let us examine for a moment the juxtaposition of soul and spirit: if the soul is the engine of the mind and body, then the spirit is the fuel. The soul carries the fundamental knowledge and the spirit gives birth to it. Birth begets death. Death begets rebirth. It is a cosmic circle.

Do not think for a moment that freedom from death is a liberation of the soul. Tis merely an illusion and a misdemeanor of mental criminality. Mortals use fear to attack death, not knowing that fear feeds death and makes it stronger. Beings eschew fear and embrace death, thereby eliminating its permanence. Freedom from fear liberates the soul, and increases the spirit. The spirit destroys death and gives new life where there was none. The new life chooses whether to use fear or eschew fear. It is another cosmic circle, linked to the first one and slightly larger.

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