Saturday, April 29, 2006

Be a Flower*

The Buddha once held a sermon where he sat in silence and held up a single flower.

Consider the lilies of the field how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin; And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
Jesus (Matthew 6:28-30)

What are these two Masters alluding to?
Consider this:

We are Buddha Consciousness enveloped in bodies, enshrouded in minds. To carry the metaphor further, a human is like a flower bud, humanity is like a field of budding flowers. When the mind unfurls or unfolds, the Consciousness we were born with fully blossoms. The Buddha, Jesus, Lao-tze, and countless others are just human flowers who blossomed early before the rest of the crop. Ripen and blossom all who read this.

* For those who didn't understand the earlier entry "Unfold the Petals of the Mind"

Unfold the Petals of the Mind

Love arises from Stillness. Joy arises from Stillness. Wonder arises from Stillness. One could say that All arises from Stillness. Yet, when One is Still in thought, One is full of Joy and Bliss. There is a peacefulness not found in a noisy mind.

It is said that orgasm is the ultimate in physical Bliss. We are given a taste of Heaven and not allowed to dwell there. Yet, we seek such pleasure out time and again. It is a biological imperative to reproduce. What is the product of that need? It is usually termed a bundle of Joy! Why that description? One reason may be because a baby is pure Buddha Consciousness, newly born, not yet of this World, untainted by a mind. Babies remind us that at our core, we are Buddha Consciousness.

If we were just minds, wouldn't we be born with them. Yet, minds evolve after a time of growth. Mind evolves from body, the personality a product of genes and environment and circumstance -- a natural extension of walking and talking for a human being. No conscious thought was involved in the making of your mind, or my mind. They just happened as our brains grew and processed the World around us.

All our problems stem from the fact that we mistake our minds for who we are. Yet, our minds are just a property of our bodies. Something that came to be as we grew from infants into children. A mind is like the petals of a flower. A beautiful part, but not the whole of the flower. It wraps and protects the Consciousness within. When a mind unfolds and allows the Consciousness to emerge, the Consciousness you and I were born with, beautiful things happen. The Stillness within is able to fully express itself. (The human equivalent of a blossom.) Isn't that wonderful!

Beyond Boundaries

As to the roaming of sages,
They move in utter emptiness,
Let their minds meander in the great nothingness;
They run beyond convention
And go through where there is no gateway.
They listen to the soundless
And look at the formless,
They are not constrained by society
And not bound to its customs.

Friday, April 28, 2006


"I have met many Zen Masters. All of them cats."

"Happiness and unhappiness are in fact one. Only the illusion of time separates them."

"When you accept what is. When every moment is the best. That is Enlightenment."
Eckhart Tolle

My cats live completely in the Now. They live completely in the moment - no more, no less. They are completely at ease with life.

Happiness and unhappiness are one. An extreme example is intimate relationships. I meet someone, hit it off with her, am in perceived bliss for a time, then for whatever reason, we go our separate ways, and I am unhappy for a period of time getting over the relationship. If you remove time from the equation, you see that happiness and unhappiness are two sides of the same coin or experience. Review your own experiences and see if this is not true.

I have had a few satori, a few perfect moments which give me a taste of Enlightenment. Each of those moments were perfect, timeless and without interference from the mind.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Power of the Voice

Down through the ages, the great spiritual teachers gave sermon after sermon to their followers. One could explain this as the wise illiterate conveying knowledge and wisdom through speech to their followers because they couldn't write it down. I believe though, that speech has a power all its own. We learn language by ear long before we learn to read or write, therefore, our auditory and verbal speech centers are probably one of the earliest and most developed areas of our brains. Also, reading a book adds layers of comprehension that differ from speech. You read the words, try to place them in proper context, tone and pacing due to punctuation, then synthesize everything into a whole concept or gestalt. What is almost an automatic unconscious act when listening becomes a conscious chore when reading. It is said that the Buddha and Jesus didn't wish their teachings written down, quite possibly because they didn't wish their pupils to be distracted. Also, you tend to pay more attention to a teacher when all you are doing is listening. This is just my personal experience, but I have found it easier and more insightful to listen to Eckhart Tolle rather than read his books. I have read The Power of Now twice and A New Earth once. While I have gleaned insight from reading each book, I've remembered more just listening to the audiobooks, perhaps, because it was easier. This is my own personal experience. (Caveat - I had cataract surgery last summer and I'm still getting used to the ocular implants. They make reading less easy for me than in the past because I have to move the book into my focal plane because I can no longer focus my eyes like a normal person. On the other hand, I can actually see out my left eye whereas before everything was a blur.) Decide which path to knowledge and wisdom is best for you. If you have a spiritual teacher and audio and reading materials exist of those teachings, experiment and see which format is best for you. I am guessing though, that because it is easier to listen and that people were largely illiterate, that this is why sermons or the equivalent have lasted so long in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Sometimes I think the Quakers were closer to the spirit of The New Testament. They sit in stillness until the spirit moves them to speak.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Seek Where You Are Now

People who study Buddhism should seek real,
True perception and understanding for now.
If you attain real, true perception and understanding,
Birth and death don’t affect you
You are free to go or stay.
You needn’t seek wonders,
For wonders come of themselves.
Linji (d. 867)

This is true for any person of any religious persuasion. Seek what is Real, where you are Now, that is really all anyone can do anyway. This is why the Buddha, Jesus and others extort people to live in the Present moment as often as possible.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


A Priest, a Pentecostal Preacher and a Rabbi all served as chaplains to the students of the University of Georgia in Athens. They would get together two or three times a week at the Varsity for coffee and to talk shop. One day, someone made the comment that preaching to people isn't really all that hard. A real challenge would be to preach to a bear. One thing led to another and they decided to do an experiment. They would all go out into the woods, find a bear, preach to it, and attempt to convert it.

Seven days later, they're all together to discuss the "experience."

Father Flannery, who has his arm in a sling, is on crutches, and has various bandages, goes first. "Well," he says, "I went into the woods to find me a bear. And when I found him I began to read to him from the Catechism. Well, that bear wanted nothing to do with me and began to slap me around. So I quickly grabbed my holy water, sprinkled him and, Holy Mary Mother of God, he became as gentle a lamb. The bishop is coming out next week to give him first communion and confirmation."

Reverend Billy Bob spoke next. He was in a wheelchair, with an arm and both legs in casts, and an IV drip. In his best fire and brimstone oratory he claimed, " WELL brothers, you KNOW that we don't sprinkle! I went out and I FOUND me a bear. And then I began to read to my bear from God's HOLY WORD! But that bear wanted nothing to do with me. So I took HOLD of him and we began to wrestle.. We wrestled down one hill, UP another and DOWN another until we came to a creek. So I quick DUNKED him and BAPTIZED his hairy soul. And just like you said, he became as gentle as a lamb. We spent the rest of the day praising Jesus."

They both looked down at the rabbi, who was lying in a hospital bed. He was in a body cast and traction with IV's and monitors running in and out of him. He was in bad shape.

Rabbi Lipschitz looks up and struggles to speak to the others. "Looking back on it, circumcision may not have been the best way to start things out."

Monday, April 24, 2006


Better than a hundred years of mischief
Is one day spent in contemplation.
Better than a hundred years of ignorance
Is one day spent in reflection.
Better than a hundred years in idleness
Is one day spent in determination.
Better to live one day wondering
How all things arise and pass away.

Buddha in the Dhammapada


Mankind passes through three stages.
First he worships anything: man, woman, money, children, earth and stones.
Then, when he has progressed a little further, he worships God.
Finally he does not say: 'I worship God'; nor: 'I do not worship God.'
He has passed from the first two stages into the last


Sunday, April 23, 2006


A bomber pilot joined our group (he had landed at Lae for refueling, and was grounded after the attack) and listened with interest to our descriptions of attacking the enemy bombers. After a while he looked wistfully at the Zero fighters parked off the runway.
"You know," he said suddenly, "I think my greatest ambition has been to fly a fighter, not these trucks we go around in. It's funny," he mused, "we've been taking more and more punishment on our raids. Most of the men feel they'll never live to go home. I feel the same way."
"Yet," he turned to look at us, "I would be satisfied if there was one thing I could do."
We waited for him to continue. "I'd like to loop that truck I fly," he added. He grinned, "Can you picture that thing going around in a loop?"
One of the Zero pilots spoke up. "If I were you, I wouldn't try it," he said softly. "You'd never come out of a loop in one piece, even if you could get up and around into one."
"I suppose so," he replied. We watched him walk across the field and climb into the cockpit of a fighter, where he sat and studied the controls. At the time, we didn't know that all of us would remember this pilot for the rest of our lives.

(Two days later, the Zero pilots were escorting a group of Japanese Betty bombers on a mission.)

We saw a P-39 plunge with tremendous speed into the bomber formation, but could not move in time to disrupt the attack. One moment the sky was clear; the next the Airacobra was spitting shells into the last bomber in the flight. Then it rolled and dove beyond our range. The bomber streamed flame; the airplane seemed familiar as I closed in to watch. It was the same Mitsubishi which had landed at Lae; its pilot was the one with whom we had talked in the billet. The flames increased in fury as the bomber nosed down and skidded wildly. It lost altitude quickly, and seemed on the verge of going out of control. At 6,000 feet it was only a matter of seconds; the flames were engulfing the wings and fuselage.
Suddenly, still blazing fiercely, the nose lifted and the bomber went into a climb. I gaped at the plane in astonishment as its pilot started to draw a loop -- an impossible maneuver for the Betty. The pilot -- the same one who had told us he wished to loop in a fighter -- hauled her back and up. The bomber went up; hung on its nose in a half loop, and then burst into a seething ball of flame which blotted it out entirely.
The flaming mass fell. Just before it struck the ground a violent explosion shook the air as the fuel tanks went off.
Saburo Sakai
(excerpted from Samurai! by Saburo Sakai with Martin Caidin and Fred Saito)

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Listen to the Stillness

Sixty-six times have these eyes
Beheld the changing scene of autumn.
I have said enough about moonlight,
Ask no more.
Only listen to the voice
Of pines and cedars when no wind stirs.
Ryonen (1797–1863)

Illness Can Still One's Mind

Tolle mentions that sometimes when someone is ill, the chaos of the mind is stilled because the body doesn't have the energy to heal and think. I have found this to be true. I am ill now and I'm spiritually awake for longer intervals.

Interesting Commentary about "I AM" Sayings in The Gospel of John

I came across a commentary about the "I AM" quotations in The Gospel of John. I have not verified the information, so it is up to each person to decide the truthfulness of the commentary for him or herself.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Christian Koans

"...before Abraham was, I AM."
John 8:58

"Blessed is he who was, before he came into being."
Thomas 19:1

I knew the first saying from Jesus was a Zen-like statement (Tolle, The Power of Now, pp.104-5). Tolle explains it beautifully. The Thomas 19:1 quotation is like the Zen koan, "What was the face you had before you were born?" I didn't make the connection until I replied to a message in the Wisdom Reading Group. Haven't been in such a group since grad school back in 1989, and that was only a Bible reading group of grad students.

Glowing Radioecological Report from Chernobyl

The BBC News has a report about the wildlife roaming around the forbidden radioactive zone around Chernobyl. Most of the animals are thriving, although they are mildly radioactive. Probably selecting for individuals with increased DNA repair systems. I know the rates of mutation are way up, but without whole genome analysis, not sure one can tell what the rates are. Ten years ago, they said voles in the area had 1000-fold increases in mutations. The voles didn't care. They still thrived, they are just evolving at a one thousand fold greater rate. Natural selection is culling the unfit. I'm not saying that we should all be radioactive, but we are exposed to radiation every day. It's called sunlight. The fusion reactor we call the Sun emits radiation which has changed our DNA for eons. The Earth is a big nuclear reactor. How do you think the magma stays molten within the Earth? Most of the heavy radioactive elements like uranium sank to the center of the planet early in the formation of the Earth, and there was probably enough of the unstable isotopes to start a natural nuclear fission reactor within the Earth's core. The remaining heavy isotopes and lighter radioactive elements decay within the mantle and generate heat. It is claimed that no natural reactor can exist today. There's no longer enough unstable uranium in the Earth's core, mantle or crust to start any natural nuclear reactors. At one location in Gabon, Africa, 16 natural nuclear reactors once existed about 2 billion years ago. The radioactive uranium isotopes decayed below sustainable fission levels about 1-2 billion years ago.

Air Pollution Tug-of-War

Manmade air pollution is in a tug-of-war. Unprecedented levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide are causing global warming. Soot, ash, sulfides, nitrates - all the particles which create the visible air pollution haze cause global dimming. As much as 10% of the sunlight reaching Earth is masked or reflected back into space. How significant is global dimming? Well, it appears to have masked global warming by half. If we keep reducing the amount of particulates in our atmosphere, without reducing carbon dioxide levels, then we could double the rate of global warming by mid-century. Of course, going off fossil fuels kills two birds with one stone. It stops carbon dioxide and particulate pollution of the atmosphere. What the research means though, is that we most likely need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions first, then reduce particulate emissions. Climatologists believe the tipping point will come within a decade. The point of no return will happen by 2015 at current levels of usage. The Aztecs thought the world would end in 2012. Nuclear power is looking like a pretty clean alternative energy source at the moment. If they can get carbon dioxide and particulate scrubbers on power plants, cars and trucks, then we wouldn't need solar or nuclear energy, but that's asking a lot of Science and Technology, not to mention corporations and governments that may not care until it's too late..

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Price Gouging isn't just for Oil Companies

The enlightened efforts of the federal government to protect people from themselves has caused much suffering of the many due to the few. The over-the-counter allergy medication I've taken for over 20 years and which gives me relief from hayfever is no longer stocked by my local pharmacy. I keep getting the lame excuse that all allergy medications that contain pseudoepinephrine are being reformulated with phenylepinephrine which can't be used to cook methamphetamine. However, Claratine-D which has pseudoepinephrine is in stock and incidentally costs twice as much as my old OTC medication. So, I am paying twice as much for the same relief, not to mention my body has to acclimate to a different antihistamine. Claratine doesn't work on 30% of the population and I wonder if it's just the stimulant that is working because I still have a sore throat after taking the Claratine. My hayfever kicked in last week and I was miserable at work. After work, I drove to the pharmacy. This dumb law kicked in in October 2005. Everything should be reformulated now unless the pharms just don't care about their customers.

Sex Sells...DUH!

Why did it take so long to prove what every man already has experienced when a beautiful woman has sat next to him on an airplane or at a bar ? Why the advertising industry has sexy women driving sports cars in TV commercials? Put it together and it spells DUH!

Lost in Translation

I once had a Bible that had a humorous (at least to me) translation of Galatians 3:1. It read

"You stupid Galatians..."

Every other Bible I have owned has " You foolish Galatians ..." which I think is a kinder translation of Paul's outrage at the Galatian congregation. It makes you wonder just how accurate translations of the Bible really are. People used to be burned at the stake for translating the Latin Bible into the vernacular - pretty severe punishment just to bring the word of God to the common people. Since then, do you suppose that the cultural bias of every generation results in Bibles with subtle, yet different meanings to what the authors intended? It is a shame that we don't have any original manuscripts with which to compare. I think there is an effort to use molecular biological tools for textual analysis to determine which manuscripts came first in sequence. Evolutionary trees are different DNA sequences of the same gene or genes which depict the relatedness of those genes and books or manuscripts are just sequences of letters as well. I'll have to dig through Science magazine's archive and see if I can find that article. There is a program that can reconstruct long lost genes of the last common ancestor based on the known sequences of the gene in different existing organisms. I wonder if that program can be modified to reconstruct the original manuscript once the temporal sequence of different manuscripts of the same gospel is known? What knowledge would we glean then? What biases would be removed?


How Science Survived: Medieval Manuscripts' "Demography" and Classic Texts' Extinction
John L. Cisne
Science 25 February 2005:
Vol. 307. no. 5713, pp. 1305 - 1307
DOI: 10.1126/science.1104718

Technical Comments:
Comment on "How Science Survived: Medieval Manuscripts' `Demography' and Classic Texts' Extinction"
Georges Declercq
Science 9 December 2005: 1618

Technical Comments:
Response to Comment on "How Science Survived: Medieval Manuscripts' `Demography' and Classic Texts' Extinction"
John L. Cisne
Science 9 December 2005: 1618

Treating Medieval Manuscripts as Fossils
Nicholas D. Pyenson, Lewis Pyenson;, Eltjo Buringh;, and John L. Cisne
Science 29 July 2005: 698-701

Enhanced: "How Science Survived"--Medieval Manuscripts as Fossils
Sharon Larimer Gilman and Florence Eliza Glaze
Science 25 February 2005: 1208-1209

Extinct Genome Under Construction
Elizabeth Pennisi
Science 3 June 2005 308: 1401-1402 [DOI: 10.1126/science.308.5727.1401b]

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Anonymous Poster

I had a fairly long and futile discussion with "Anonymous" this weekend over the Tank Man entry. I understand where he is coming from, but it seems there is an undercurrent of confrontation in his posts. He has interesting observations and opinions and I have been reluctant to bar his postings from my blog for those reasons. Has any one barred him from their blog because of his provocative nature? Just curious. He doesn't seem to have a blog of his own.

Everything is Sacred

Julie wrote in her blog, "I wonder if anything is sacred anymore?" I believe that she captured the essence of what I am about to write, but I am attempting to elaborate on her question. I have written about this before in passing.

It is a false perception to say nothing is sacred any more. In reality, everything is sacred - everyone and everything.

"I am the light that is over all. I am the All. The All came forth out of me. And to me the All has come.
Split a piece of wood - I am there.
Lift the stone and you will find me there."
Thomas 77:1-3

"...the kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth, and people do not see it."
Thomas 113:2

"Everything that exists has Being, has God-essence, has some degree of consciousness. Even a stone has rudimentary consciousness; otherwise it would not be, and its atoms and molecules would disperse. Everything is alive. The sun, the earth, plants, animals, humans - all are expressions of consciousness in varying degrees, consciousness manifesting as form."
The Power of Now, page 99.

So Jesus and Tolle are saying that every material form is sacred and the essence within that form is sacred.

What is sacredness?

"So when you appreciate something simple - a sound, a sight, a touch - when you see beauty, when you feel loving kindness toward another, sense the inner spaciousness that is the source and background to that experience."
A New Earth, page 235.

How you interpret what you perceive is what determines how you view the world. All that is required to see the sacredness around you is a change of perception.

" Remember that your perception of the world is a reflection of your state of consciousness. You are not separate from it, and there is no objective world out there. Every moment your consciousness creates the world that you inhabit.
...But whatever you perceive is only a kind of symbol, like an image in a dream. It is how your consciousness interprets and interacts with the molecular dance of the universe.
...Every being is a focal point of consciousness, and every such focal point creates its own world, although all those worlds are interconnected. There is a human world, an ant world, a dolphin world, and so on."
The Power of Now, pages 198- 199.

The Cross as a Gateway to Enlightenment

There was one day 2,000 years ago when a decision was made and an Enlightened Man, someone who appeared quite ordinary to most people, was hung from two pieces of wood and who died a painful death. It may be guilt in the Collective Consciousness of Mankind because the Buddha of the Western World was mocked and killed. Yet, the cross is a symbol of Mankind's Universal Suffering and it serves as an archetype as well as a gateway. It is through suffering that many have attained Enlightenment, become truly themselves. Although Easter is celebrated as the day Jesus rose from Death, his crucifixion and suffering are much more powerful images, ones all too familiar with being human, for all of us have suffered and that suffering has led many of us to question the World of Man and its assumptions of how we should live and act as human beings. To paraphrase Tolle, the symbol of the Cross is about transmutation - the worst thing that happens to you, your cross or suffering, turns into the "Peace of God" which is the best thing that can happen to you.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter

Happy Easter! Blessings to all this Easter Day!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Google Earth is not a Security Risk

Some intelligence and security experts are bemoaning Google Earth as a security risk. I agree with Bruce Schneier. Security through obfuscation hurts more people than it helps. Thieves know how locks and safes work despite lock manufacturers keeping such information secret. If someone wants the information badly enough he/she will acquire it.

Seek Within a Moment of Awareness

If you want to be no different from the buddhas
And Zen masters, just don’t seek externally.
The pure light in a moment of awareness
In your mind is the Buddha’s essence within you.
The nondiscriminating light in a moment of awareness
In your mind is the Buddha’s wisdom within you.
The undifferentiated light in a moment of awareness
In your mind is the Buddha’s manifestation within you.

Linji (d.-867)

Story of Forgiveness

Here's a story of forgiveness. Decide for yourself what you would do in her shoes.

Molly the Mouser is Safe

The story of Molly the Mouser has ended happily. They pulled her out of a wall.

One Man Who Changed the World

If you don't think you can make a difference, then remember the guy who stood in front of a Chinese tank column one June day in 1989. No one knows who he is. He is known as tankman , and he changed the World.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Antiquities Fraud

An interesting program about antiquities fraud. It was a sophisticated operation that was "cynically playing on the desire of many of the collectors to see the bible confirmed as history". Perhaps we'll see it in the US as a Nova program.

No Mind Nowhere

The clouds emerge from the Mountain of Chung
And then return to the Mountain of Chung.
I would like to ask the dweller in this mountain,
“Where are the clouds now?”

Clouds emerge from No mind
And then return to No mind.
No mind is nowhere to be found.
We need not seek the home of No mind.

Wang An-shih (1068-1076)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Cartoons and Truth

I find this 5th Wave cartoon about SETI hilarious and ironic. What does it mean when the cartoonist has to explain what the acronym SETI stands for?

What to make of this Oliphant cartoon?

Here's an apt one about men.

Happy Ending?

Looks like there might be a happy ending for that 11 month old kitten trapped behind the wall of a landmark NYC deli.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Have We Changed at All?

It seems like the curse of having a mind is that one is always comparing. My mind is always saying that this is good and that is bad. Easter is coming and I started thinking which is probably isn't good (joke). People such as Jesus, Buddha, Lao-Tzu, Enlightened individuals, are the best of humanity. Murderers are the worst of humanity since they deprive people of their lives. Jesus was put to death by law, by the Roman State - legal execution. What does Easter say about humanity 2,000 years ago? The equivalent today would be the assassination of Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. Those events were not in the distant past, but were practically yesterday. Have we made any progress as a species since the time of Jesus in the Western World? I suppose that the question really is, "Have I changed at all? Have I awakened to my true purpose?", because change starts with each one of us. It can not be otherwise.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Now for Something Completely Different

Scott Adams of Dilbert fame has an interesting argument about free will going on in his blog. He basically doesn't believe that free will exists. I have to admit that his argument seems sound considering that it's based on psychology which isn't the soundest scientific discipline in the world. In the Natural Sciences, you generally have binary outcomes - yes/no, true/false. In quantum mechanics, however, you can have intermediate/indeterminate outcomes based on how much you know - Schrodinger's cat. Putting aside counterintuitive outcomes at the microscopic level and focusing purely on the macroscopic level, do you think psychology is all it's cracked up to be? Or better yet, do you agree or disagree with Adams?

In a similar vein, drug companies are making up diseases to sell drugs.

Also, a neurologist is trying to explain near death experiences. Considering that medical science doesn't really know much about sleep or how it works, or what wakefulness is, he's probably going out on a limb, or he's a pioneer.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Beautiful Spring Day

I can hear the birds singing, courting females. It's Spring! Best to enjoy days such as this because soon it will get hot. It's awfully warm for April already. The cats have eaten and they seem happy and content. Guess I'll go for a run, perhaps wash the car since it's pretty dirty from all the tree pollen and city dust. Better enjoy my days off while I can.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Bird Flu

H5N1 influenza is definitely a bad deal if you contract it. It preferentially kills older children and young adults quickly. Those groups usually survive normal influenza epidemics. In that respect it is like the 1918 influenza strain. It is like the 1918 strain in its effect, causing bleeding of the lungs. You basically drown in your own blood.

The article is correct. There are better ways to make a vaccine. The traditional method is cumbersome and likely will have to be modified since the strain is lethal to chickens. It may kill the embryos in the eggs. Thus, culturing in chicken eggs may not make enough virus for a vaccine.

As for the risk of it mutating such that human to human transmission is easier, that risk is unknown and the probability of it happening may not be easily quantifiable. It may only only need one or two mutations in one gene, but likely those mutations will have to occur in a particular order or sequence. Then you have to have a human come in contact with the infected bird carrying the mutant strain. It probably doesn't help that they are giving birds the only effective antiviral. Should the virus become resistant to it, before we have a global vaccine and it manages to become easily transmissible in humans, then likely it's game over. However, like the article said, this strain has been around for 3-5 years and it's not become human transmissible yet. WHO should probably start vaccinating people in spots where bird flu outbreaks are occurring, like they did with smallpox. But, who pays the bill for that? Can we afford not to? These are public health questions that need to be debated and answered quickly. Clearly, the people who know what the disease does and how to treat it are being ignored to an extent if the article is correct. Spot vaccination is the likeliest most cost effective solution, but it will take time to implement. Do we have that time or have we wasted it, or will this outbreak never happen in people? The best way to be certain though, is to just inoculate everyone against this particular strain.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

In Response to Bird Flu

An interesting article about H5N1 influenza entitled The response to bird flu: Too much or not enough?.

Armageddon Nonsense

I was joking about Armageddon. Since 2001 has come and gone and we are still here, obviously people were wrong about Armageddon happening at the turn of the millenium. Yet, it's still not gone away.

I, for one, was happy when the Soviet Union collapsed. There was always this threat of a nuclear doomsday hanging over us and Ronald Reagan rearming America, starting a Star Wars Project - an anti-ICBM system in violation of the ABM Treaty, and calling the U.S.S.R. the "Evil Empire" didn't exactly make me feel better about any of it. In fact, I was even more scared because the Russians wouldn't hesitate to launch a strike if they thought their missiles were useless as offensive weapons. Reagan's tactic worked, but at what ultimate cost?

So, here we are spending more money on an ABM system to protect us from North Korean missiles? At least, that is the official line. This is a government that was scared of Iraq, yet, North Korea is starving their people, has blown up airliners and they have crude atomic weapons most likely. What are we doing about them? Very little it seems. We're letting our buddies, the Chinese, handle them. Somehow, that doesn't give me a warm fuzzy feeling.

We give nuclear technology with no strings to India and give nothing to Pakistan. Yet, Pakistan is helping us contain militants who actually attacked and killed 3,000 people. Gee, one country is Hindu and the other Muslim. Both Pakistan and India developed functional nuclear weapons and the CIA and DIA were caught with their pants down having utterly failed to notice underground nuclear tests by both countries. To be fair to India, they didn't sell nuclear technology to other countries and Pakistan did, but this deal can't sit well with Arabs. It shouldn't sit well with Americans because we are giving civilian nuclear technology to India without any restrictions tied to nuclear nonproliferation. Nixon is starting to look like a foreign policy genius.

That's just the real world and politics. I haven't even touched on The Rapture when supposedly, the faithful will be taken to Heaven leaving the rest to suffer on Earth. I doubt that God works that way, yet again, that is the warped thinking of Man. The really scary part is that some people actually believe that this will take place some day soon. People have been believing this almost every century. There were religious movements in the 19th Century that believed that Doomsday was approaching at the dawn of the 20th Century. They were wrong then and they are wrong now. Even if the worst happens with global warming, the human race is likely to survive unless we somehow destroy one too many natural systems which affect global climate and thereby destroy our agricultural base. Even if 99% of humanity managed to wipe itself off the face of the Earth, that would leave 40,000,000 (40 million) people to start over again, which is more than enough. Humanity went through a population bottleneck over 100,000 years ago. All of the people alive today are descended from about 100 individuals. There's more genetic diversity in two chimpanzees in West Africa then there is between me and an Eskimo. So, think about it. We've gone from 100 people in 100,000 years to 4 billion. The 4 billion only happened in the last 100 years in spite of two major World Wars. Nature abhors two things, an empty space and a full one. Nature likes things to be balanced. Man likes straight lines and growth. Nature likes cycles. Who's going to win? Actually, that is the wrong question. Nature doesn't care about winning or losing. It just wants living things to live in balance with their environment.

What's Going on with TV?

From appearances, it seems that all they show on the major networks are crime dramas. Discovery Channel seems to be all survivor shows. Is Armageddon just down the road? (joke)

It Happens All the Time in Heaven

It happens all the time in heaven,
And some day
It will begin to happen
Again on earth -
That men and women who are married,
And men and men who are
And women and women
Who give each other
Often will get down on their knees
And while so tenderly
Holding their lover's hand,
With tears in their eyes,
Will sincerely speak, saying,
"My dear,
How can I be more loving to you;
How can I be more

The small man
Builds cages for everyone
He Knows.

While the sage,
Who has to duck his head
When the moon is low,
Keeps dropping keys all night long
For the beautiful rowdy prisoners.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Gospel of Judas

Here is a BBC News article about a Gnostic text called the Gospel of Judas. An English translation will be published today. Here's the National Geographic Gospel of Judas web page and the pdf translation.

Love Dogs

One night a man was crying, Allah! Allah!
His lips grew sweet with the praising, until a cynic said,
"So! I have heard you calling out, but have you ever gotten any response?"
The man had no answer to that. He quit praying and fell into a confused sleep.
He dreamed he saw Khidr, the guide of souls, in a thick, green foliage.
"Why did you stop praising?"
"Because I’ve never heard anything back."
"This longing you express is the return message."
The grief you cry out from draws you toward union.
Your pure sadness that wants help is the secret cup.
Listen to the moan of a dog for its master. That whining is the connection.
There are love-dogs no one knows the names of
Give your life to be one of them.


What hurts you, blesses you.
Darkness is your candle.
Your boundaries are your quest.

I can explain this, but it would break
the glass cover on your heart,
and there's no fixing that.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

One Way Jesus Walked on Water

One possible explanation for Jesus walking on water. Either way, it was a miracle.

Harold Werbin was a good man

Professor Harold Werbin passed away March 24th. I saw his obit in the Dallas Morning News yesterday. I liked him as a person and as a scientist. I didn't appreciate him nearly enough when I was in graduate school or how hard the questions were he was trying to solve. I was young and arrogant back then. Eucaryotic genetics hadn't progressed enough to pin down problems precisely. Werbin was a DNA damage expert and he said that different cancers had different genes damaged or knocked out. Colorectal cancers may have 3-4 genes damaged or knocked out. The precise process still isn't fully known for what makes a cell become cancerous. Sometimes Science progresses in small steps and Werbin led the way in many ways. He was a good man and a good scientist.

Fighting my Own Ignorance

I've been messing with my main computer for the past two days. It's a Linux system. Cdrecord doesn't play well with the Linux 2.6.x kernel. So, I bit the bullet and compiled a 2.4 kernel only to have it fail at bootup. The problem lies with the initrd image that loads modules allowing the kernel to boot. Even though I used mkinitrd and modified the mkinitrd modules file, no joy. On a lark, I googled for cdrecord and 2.6 kernel and found the following article. I had cdrecord working in about 10 minutes. It amazes me at the poor documentation in computer science. I'm sure it's that way for other fields. It may be why there are so many How-To computer books in the bookstores. My joke based on experience is that most computer solutions are 5 minute fixes, but it takes 5-12 hours to find the 5 minute fix. This exercise was no exception.

At least in Basic Science, we were trying something that no one had done before, or you were manipulating an organism or a gene and you didn't know what to expect. This is applied technology and people know the answers, but they don't give them out or the answer isn't obvious from the man page. Perhaps, I lack imagination, but computers have always struck me as very brittle technology. I've found bugs in my bank's online banking software, or possibly a design flaw. I've had to support bugs in Microsoft software. Sometimes I wonder if we aren't too dependent on this technology.

Monday, April 03, 2006


A story about greed and betrayal of a friend, and the friend's attempt to distance himself.

A story entitled "A Pretty Good Way to Foil the NSA".

A story about scientists trying to determine how hard it will be to make a minimal bacterium.

A story that says bleach is best for killing bacteria. Hospitals may be selecting for hardier strains of germs when they use cleaners without bleach.

A story about African farmland and poor agricultural practices.

A story about the warming of Antarctica.

A story about how religion even separates the dead.

End of...

End of Fear.
End of Pain.
End of Illusion of Birth and Death.

People are Being Distracted

I've seen two blogs today that bother me. One is George Breed's blog entry called What Does This Mean? The other is Anonymous Julie's blog entry entitled Making lepers in 2006. The former entry in my opinion deals with greed and fear. The greed part is because 1% of the global population has 33% of the total wealth. The fear part is because the US outspends every other government about 9.5 fold overall. Evidently, arms sales are profitable (there's the greed again) and we want to hold on to our wealth . After all, most Americans are in the top 20% of wealthy individuals on the planet.

Julie's entry deals with politics in the Church. Evidently, people within her Church are exhorting their fellow Christians to vote against gay marriage. Voting against gay marriage is part of a trend that the GOP has excelled at, although, the Democrats can use it was well. It's the tactic of diverting people's attention from important issues that affect their lives to values issues that either hurt a select few or no one at all. Examples of values issues are Intelligent Design and gay marriage. Few people are hurt by ID, but gays are discriminated against, or at least, inconvenienced by gay marriage bans. Values issues show a lack of critical thinking by many otherwise intelligent people. If you asked someone why they are against gay marriage, likely they will say, "Because it says so in The Bible". The Bible also tells you to love your fellow man as yourself, and that the laws were made for Man, not Man for the laws. Which hurts you more, paying high gas prices at the pump or gay marriage? It's a no brainer. right? Yet, our government gave tax cuts to Big Oil for R&D research. Those savings will not be passed on to the consumer. Will gay marriage affect any heterosexual in the least? The obvious answer is No. We have important issues to deal with, economic, environmental, political, foreign policy, et cetera. Instead of calling voter's attention to such important issues and calling for informed public debate, people's energies are distracted on values issues which are essentially nonissues. This is the fault of our elected leaders. Julie is looking at the gay marriage issue from a spiritual viewpoint. But spiritual viewpoints are generally called by another name, wisdom. Wisdom is just another form of critical thinking. Except for people like George and Julie, we seem to have a critical lack of it right now.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Before Enlightenment

"Before enlightenment I chopped wood and carried water; after enlightenment, I chopped wood and carried water."
Zen Proverb

All enlightenment means is that how you view life changes. Your perspective changes. You have a new view of what reality really is. You experience reality fully rather than just being lost in compulsive thought. Life goes on even though how you view Life has changed. You may be changed inside, but you still have daily chores related to living on the outside.

Political Cartoons

Cartoons by:
Mike Luckovich
Pat Oliphant
Ben Sargent
Don Wright

Women in Ancient Christianity

Nice article about Women in Ancient Christianity. Shows what Christianity might have become if men hadn't taken the religion over.

Principles of Christianity

1. God is the Living One. Love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.
2. Love others as much as yourself.
Jesus (Mark 12:29-31)

"Dilige, et quod vis fac," or "Love, and do what you will."
Saint Augustine

Instructions for LIfe

1. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.
2. Memorize your favourite poem.
3. Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want.
4. When you say, "I love you", mean it.
5. When you say, "I'm sorry", look the person in the eye.
6. Be engaged at least six months before you get married.
7. Believe in love at first sight.
8. Never laugh at anyone's dreams.
9. Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it's the only way to live life completely.
10. In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling.
11. Don't judge people by their relatives.
12. Talk slowly but think quickly.
13. When someone asks you a question you don't want to answer, smile and ask, "Why do you want to know?"
14. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
15. Call your mom.
16. Say "bless you" when you hear someone sneeze.
17. When you lose, don't loose the lesson.
18. Remember the three R's: Respect for self; Respect for others; Responsibility for all your actions.
19. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
20. When you realise you've made a mistake, take immediate steps
21. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.
22. Marry a man/woman you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other.
23. Spend some time alone.
24. Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.
25. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
26. Read more books and watch less TV.
27. Live a good, honourable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll get to enjoy it a second time.
28. Trust in God but lock your car.
29. A loving atmosphere in your home is so important. Do all you can to create a tranquil harmonious home.
30. In disagreements with loved ones, deal with the current situation. Don't bring up the past.
31. Read between the lines.
32. Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality.
33. Be gentle with the earth.
34. Pray. There's immeasurable power in it.
35. Never interrupt when you are being flattered.
36. Mind your own business.
37. Don't trust a man/woman who doesn't close his/her eyes when you kiss.
38. Once a year, go some place you've never been before.
39. If you make a lot of money, put it to use helping others while you are living. That is wealth's greatest satisfaction.
40. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a stroke of luck.
41. Learn the rules then break some.
42. Remember that the best relationship is one where your love for each other is greater than your need for each other.
43. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
44. Remember that your character is your destiny.
45. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.


Epiphany on the way to work. If the Sacredness we call God is Universal Intelligence or Mind and the Universe is the body of God, then God is an immense lifeform. Does this mean that parallel universes are God's siblings? Does God have a Father and Mother, or just a Mother (asexual parent)? Does this mean humanity is just a form of intelligent bacteria? The solar system is an incubator, the Sun is the light and heat source, and the planets are petri dishes with growth media.

The Identity of Relative and Absolute

The mind of the Great Sage of India was intimately conveyed from West to East. Among human beings are wise ones and fools But in the Way there is no northern and southern Ancestor. The subtle source is clear and bright; the tributary streams flow through the darkness. To be attached to things is illusion; to encounter the absolute is not yet enlightenment. Each and all the subjective and objective spheres are related, and at the same time independent. Related and yet working differently. Though each keeps its own place, form makes the character and appearance different. Sounds distinguish comfort and discomfort. The dark makes all words one; the brightness distinguishes good and bad phrases. The four elements return to their own nature as a child to its mother. Fire is hot, wind moves, water is wet, earth hard. Eyes see, ears hear, nose smells, tongue tastes the salt and sour. Each is independent of the other. Cause and effect must return to the great reality. The words high and low are used relatively. Within light there is darkness, but do not try to understand that darkness. Within darkness there is light, but do not look for that light Light and darkness are a pair like the foot before and the foot behind in walking. Each thing has its own intrinsic value and is related to everything else in function and position. Ordinary life fits the absolute as a box and its lid. The absolute works together with the relative like two arrows meeting in mid air. Reading words you should grasp the great reality. Do not judge by any standards. If you do not see the Way, You do not see it even as you walk on it. When you walk the Way it is not near, it is not far., If you are deluded, you are mountains and rivers away from it. I respectfully say to those who wish to be enlightened Do not waste your time by night or day!

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?