Ignorance and fantasy

Are beliefs not often the children of ignorance and fantasy? Consider the heavenly view of the world that young souls entertain at the height of their innocence, when their youth has been surrounded by love and filled with happiness. Hear their laughter. Dreams expand in a vacuity of knowledge like a laughing gas and induce the blindest, the purest joy. Ignorance is bliss, as they say, because it spares us the mental restraints associated with knowledge (which reveals the limits of reality and hence the impossibility of our fantasies). It is the ultimate playground where the mind can build castles in the air, create a wonderland, and live delightedly in this kingdom of reverie. It paves the way for the reign of error, as it leaves us to believe whatever we like. Everything that is desirable is realizable, if not real, until we find evidence to the contrary. Santa Claus eventually dies of our old age – when we are no longer so young, so green, that we are easily fooled by a tall story. In truth, however wise we may be, we are still at risk. We spontaneously indulge in fantasies about the world here below, which is never totally known, or the beyond, which is unknowable. We are always tempted to believe that our health, our relationships, our career, or any other part of our life, will be wonderful, or that our death will not be an end, but a passage from here to a paradisal hereafter. This temptation is irresistible for many when they discover a charismatic fortuneteller or spiritual leader who professes this belief, which remains unproven nonetheless. Our believing is then the result of ignorance and fantasy, plus faith. An example of self-deceit that concerns young idealists and betrays their warm-blooded aspiration for perfect love is the illusive passion they often experience toward attractive members of the opposite sex whom they little know. By perfect love I mean a complete and durable harmony at every level – physical, psychological, intellectual, and spiritual – between two lovers. It involves friendship to a high degree, as the words “girlfriend” and “boyfriend” suggest. While it includes lust, it transcends and transfigures it. Pop songs are common vehicles for this ideal, which entices many young souls. I am thinking of young men in particular, who are usually quick to fantasize about pretty young women and fall madly in love with them, or rather with a fantastical image of them. This quickness is typical of their ardent and imprudent youth. It needs nothing more than a few smiles and nods, a few gracious words of agreement, to make these young men imagine they have found a soul mate, as they pour out their inner self – their sense of what is good, true, right, or sacred. A few auspicious signs and, voilа, they take the pretty young women for dream girls and are besotted with them! A few misleading signs, in fact. Every charm hides a cause for alarm. If, in the struggle for survival and happiness, society is a cure for individual limitations (an imperfect cure to be sure, with side effects), it is also a pill hard to swallow. Civility is a smooth sugar coating that eases the swallowing. Give thanks to those who phrase their discontentment with delicacy and embellish it with a compliment and an encouragement. No nagging, no gagging. Sometimes civility excludes honesty and amounts to well-meaning or self-serving hypocrisy. It turns into servility through a mix of kindness and weakness, or through pure selfishness. One way or another, some people are fooled, kept in the dark, while they should live wisely, in the light of knowledge. They are denied truth: the opportunity to conceive of their true situation and achieve their true purpose. Young men, among the fantasizers I referred to earlier, are often lured by the social graces of pretty young women. The poor fish take the hook and eventually discover they have made a mistake, like many others in the same boat. The dream girls were ordinary maidens or vixens who first behaved and talked infinitely sweet, and later proved lovable in a limited way or revealed their sour temper. A long intimacy is a good test of a couple's true nature. It always strips relationships of the silky appearance they sometimes have initially, when seduction overrides every other consideration. This appearance is superficial and deceptive like the outer layers of an onion. Once it is removed, after a succession of changes that marked a gradual return to naturalness, conflicts arise. The truth is uncovered; tears are shed. Many young fantasizers part from their lovers at this point. They embark on another relationship until the next disillusion, the next dissolution, then embark on another relationship, and so forth. They do the same in other areas of life, starting this or that with high expectations and quitting upon the first difficulties, time and again. They never settle for less than perfection; they never build anything to speak of. Some of these fantasizers stop this nonsense after a number of disappointments and finally change into brave realists. Their bravery distinguishes them from other disenchanted souls who give up hope to give in to laziness with a clear conscience. These defeatists confuse their attitude with realism and suffer nullity or mediocrity rather than fight for excellence, which is possible, unlike perfection. In their view, humans are in their element only when fantasizing, like fish when swimming. In fact, humans – who are adaptable – are closer to amphibians than to fish. They can come back to earth without dying of frustration, and even better, with a chance to live happily, thanks to a blend of struggle and resignation that yields joy and serenity. Brave realists know and accept the conditions and limitations of happiness. They think it all the more precious as it has a high cost and is bound to be lost sooner or later. They also understand that although one may indulge in a fickle existence for a while, one must eventually commit and apply oneself to a particular relationship, study, or career, in spite of imperfections and difficulties, if one wishes to achieve something worthy of mention. Nothing good can come from a search for better that always leaves one thing for another.

To think for oneself

Let us examine the three purposes of writing: to inform, entertain, and enlighten. To me, the second one is bottom of the list, though it is instrumental in the achievement of the two others. Every great teacher knows this intimately and readily laces his teachings with relevant and interesting stories, and humor. The first purpose, to inform, comes second in my mind, whereas the last, to enlighten, comes first. To explain my attitude, I think it appropriate to draw your attention to my book A REASON FOR LIVING, where both of these purposes are pursued. Part of my book relays factual or theoretical information about things like human physiology, nutrition, and universal evolution. This information relates to the current perception of reality in scientific circles. I am just a vehicle for it. Now, for two reasons, my role as a writer who informs his readers about scientific facts and theories comes second in my mind to my role as a philosopher who strives to enlighten his readers. My main reason is that I regard wisdom as paramount, whereas the knowledge of the material world (i. e., the constituents, structure, and workings thereof) is not equally important, however useful it is on a practical level.

Conscience comes before science, which in itself is incapable of providing humans with a sense of what is good, right, or sacred – in a word, with moral principles. An example of science without conscience is the destruction of nature and the violation of human rights by rogue companies who are efficient in their use, or rather abuse, of their environment and their workers to satisfy their greed. My other reason is that my role as a writer who informs his readers about scientific facts and theories is indeed that of a mere vehicle. It is very much secondary to the role of researcher, which drives the scientific enterprise thanks to advanced instrumentation plus skillful, scholarly, and clever observations and rationalizations. By contrast, my role as a philosopher who strives to enlighten his readers is in the driver's seat, so to speak.

Not only is it concerned with everything that makes life worth living and gives humans a sense of purpose, but also it does more than mirror the light of wisdom; it generates it by force of thinking on the basis of experience and study. Truth to tell, my readers can likewise think for themselves. They themselves can be philosophers and create their own wisdom while discovering and evaluating mine. Therefore, the light shining through in my book is there to help my readers see a range of weighty matters on which they can meditate to form their own thoughtful opinions about them. And since they can do so, I venture to argue that they should.

Hip hop love stories and the construction of socially acceptable urban identities

: Hip-Hop has historically existed as a male-dominated industry. Being a reflection of urban life and struggle, past Hip-Hop artists have been forced to maintain a certain level of masculinity in order to be accepted by their urban communities. Old school rappers who talked about love were often viewed as soft or corny. Because of this perception, the existence of love in Hip-Hop is a fairly new concept. As the movement has gained support and recognition throughout the world, love has become an increasingly common theme in Hip-Hop music and poetry.

However, the taboo still exists. Even today, Hip-Hop artists and poets present their love stories in a manner that allows them to maintain socially acceptable identities. Hip-Hop stories about love must still meet the masculine ideology in which the movement is rooted in order to be perceived as real and true. The purpose of this study is to analyze Hip-Hop love narratives and how artists present these love stories in order to construct socially acceptable identities. I believe personal narratives are closely tied to the construction of identities. It is through personal narratives that people can recount life-changing events, realize socially acceptable behavior and create individual identities. I have researched and studied several Hip-Hop love songs and analyzed the lyrics as text and poetry. In my research, I have found five common narrative forms used by Hip-Hop poets to tell their love stories: contrasting, perceptual, spiritual, conversational and metaphoric. These five narrative forms are used not only to present the story correctly, but also to maintain positive perception among a society that might view this sensitivity as weak or disrespectable.

I plan to demonstrate each of these narrative forms and show how the poets use them to tell their love stories while establishing acceptable identities. The Contrasting Narrative One of the most common forms of Hip-Hop love stories is the contrasting narrative. Many artists use Hip-Hop music and poetry to tell stories about the negativity surrounding their urban environments. The contrasting narrative allows the poet to express his or her love story as a contrast to this negativity while constructing an acceptable identity because that negativity is real and understood in urban communities. A great introductory example to the contrasting narrative would be the following passage from Method Man’s “All I Need”: Back when I was nothin’ You made a brother feel like he was somethin’ That's why I'm with you to this day boo no frontin’ Even when the skies were gray You would rub me on my back and say "Baby it'll be okay" In this song, the poet uses the contrasting narrative to show his love for someone who stood by him when “skies were gray.” He speaks of his love interest as someone who helped him get through troubled times, thus providing a positive contrast to his negative surroundings. Another example of the contrasting love narrative can be seen in this passage from Guru’s “All I Said”: This world is crazy, she's supposed to help me stay sane Supposed to help with the pain, supposed to help me maintain In this song, Guru uses the contrasting narrative to share his view of what love should be. He admits that his “world is crazy”, and that his love interest is the one person who can make it bearable. In “She Tried”, Bubba Sparxx uses the contrasting narrative to tell a story that actually recalls his love being there for him when he was in trouble with the law: A fly country girl, just workin’ them gifts She's my queen, was a virgin I guess But I ain't never ask and I ain't never tell But Betty had the cash every time I went to jail This song further illustrates the use of contrasting narratives to express love.

Though the poet confesses spending a lot of time in jail, Betty was always there to bail him out, again acting as a positive contrast to his troubles . The Perceptual Narrative Another common narrative form of Hip-Hop love stories is the perceptual narrative. Like the contrasting narrative, the perceptual narrative is based around the negativity that surrounds the poet’s life. But instead of presenting this love as a contrast to that negativity, the poet uses this narrative to explain how that love changed his or her previously negative perceptions. This narrative form also allows the poet to construct a socially acceptable identity due to the acknowledgement of the negativity of urban life. In “Jazzy Belle”, Andre of Outkast uses the perceptual narrative to tell of how his love changed his former perception of women: Went from yellin’ crickets and crows, witches and hoes to queen thangs Over the years I been up on my toes and yes I seen thangs … Now I’m willin’ to go the extra kilo- Meter just to see my senorita get her pillow On the side of my bed where no girl ever stay House and doctor was the games we used to play But now it’s real Jazzy Belle... In this song, Andre talks about a personal change of perception caused by love. He admits that at one time he thought of women as “witches and hoes.” But “now it’s real”, and he has a new perception of women as “queen thangs.” Another great example of the perceptual narrative can be found in the following passage of Black Star’s “Brown Skin Lady”: I don't get many compliments, but I am confident Used to have a complex about, gettin’ too complex You got me, willin’ to try, looked me in the eye My head is still in the sky, since you walked on by In this example, the poet admits to having relationship issues, but tells of how love helped him to overcome these issues.

The poet’s love interest helped him to change his perception of love and fear of “gettin’ too complex” . In “Ms. Fat Booty”, Mos Def further illustrates this point by demonstrating the perception of other men and speaking to his love on how he is different: Yo, let me apologize for the other night I know it wasn't right, but baby you know what it’s like Some brothers don't be comin’ right I understand, I'm feelin’ you Besides, ‘Can I have a dance?' ain't really that original In this song, the poet uses the perceptual narrative to acknowledge that some men “don’t be comin’ right”, but that he has a different perception of women than these other men. In “Come Close”, Common uses the perceptual narrative to express how love has made him change from his old ways: I want to build a tribe wit you Protect and provide for you Truth is I can't hide from you The pimp in me May have to die with you Although the poet used to be a “pimp”, an urban term for a man who romances a large number of women, he tells of how his love interest has changed his actions and perceptions. The Spiritual Narrative A third common form of Hip-Hop love stories is what I like to refer to as the spiritual narrative. The spiritual narrative relies on the poet’s characterization of love as a kind of godly being, spiritual force or royalty, often with the feeling that the story teller has to protect that force. The spiritual narrative allows the storyteller to construct an acceptable identity by characterizing love as spiritual or perhaps even predetermined. A great example of the spiritual narrative can be found in this passage of The Roots’ “You Got Me”: Somebody told me that this planet was small We use to live in the same building on the same floor And never met before Until I'm overseas on tour And peep this Ethiopian queen from Philly Taking classes abroad Here, the poet uses the spiritual narrative to describe the time, place and emotions that his love was founded on, speaking of them as if they were somehow meant to happen. He also refers to his love interest as “this Ethiopian queen from Philly”, using the royal characterization so common in spiritual love narratives.

In “Love Language”, Talib Kweli also uses a spiritual narrative form and refers to his love as a kind of royalty: Now if they call you out your name Then that's a different thing Anything but Queen I'll go to war like a King This example shows the protection aspect of common spiritual love narratives. The poet feels it is unacceptable for anyone to “call you out your name”, or in other words, use derogatory language toward his love. If someone were to do so, he would “go to war like a King”, thus maintaining his masculinity. In “Mind Sex”, Dead Prez uses the spiritual narrative to talk about love introductions: African princess, tell me yo' interests Wait, let me guess boo, you probably like poetry Here's a little something I jotted down in case I spotted you around So let me take this opportunity In this song, the poet uses the spiritual narrative to tell a story about the introductory conversation he had with a love interest. He refers to her as “African princess”, once again showing the tendency of poets who use the spiritual narrative to refer to their love interests as royalty. The Conversational Narrative The fourth common form for Hip-Hop love stories is the conversational narrative. The conversational narrative allows the poet to recite or recreate a conversation with his or her love and present it as play-like story about a specific love experience. Conversational love narratives are typically characterized by introductory speech and compliments, and are most commonly used as tools to tell a story about a first meeting or impression. These narratives allow the storyteller to construct an acceptable identity mainly because they often include many smoothly-structured compliments, and make the poet look like a cool ladies man. A great example of the conversational love narrative can be found this passage from Dead Prez’ previously mentioned “Mind Sex”: Pardon me love but you seem like my type What you doin’ tonight? You should stop by the site We could, roll some weed play some records and talk I got a fly spot downtown Brooklyn, New York In this example, the poet is reciting the conversation between himself and a love interest.

As with many conversational narratives, it is based around meeting someone for the first time. The poet is telling a story about a girl he met that “seem[ed] like my type”. He then inquires “What you doin’ tonight?”, and follows with a list of charming speech in an attempt to create a social relationship with the girl. In a similar narrative, “Beautiful Skin”, Goodie Mob uses the following conversational narrative to retell the first phone conversation he had with his love interest: This is Carlito from a couple of days ago, you sound tired Forgive me if I've called you too late But what better time to relate mind-states? Where could I begin? Has anyone ever told you ‘You got beautiful skin’? This example further illustrates the use of introductory language in conversational narratives. The poet asks his love interest if she would like to “relate mind-states”, or get to know each other. He then tells her that she has “beautiful skin”, an often successful introductory complement given to women.

Cee Lo uses the following conversational narrative in “Slum Beautiful”: Look at you, unbelievably, brilliant beautiful you You're looking deliciously divine darling you really and truly do The very thought of has got me running at the speed of love Exploring everything about you from the ground to the God above In this song, the poet uses the conversational narrative to speak directly to his love interest through the song. Note the wide range of compliments offered in this passage, as well as the charm, again illustrating a common aspect of the conversational narrative. The Metaphoric Narrative This fifth form of Hip-Hop love stories is possibly the most fascinating. It is the metaphoric narrative. The metaphoric narrative is used when the poet speaks of love in a metaphor of some kind. The most popular and socially acceptable form of metaphoric narrative is using Hip-Hop as the metaphor. Many followers of the movement view Hip-Hop as a driving force of love and happiness in their lives. Thus, many metaphoric love narratives revolve around Hip-Hop itself. A good example of such a metaphoric narrative is the following passage from Black Eyed Peas’ “Rap Song”: Yo, she got hips to hop And she ain't goin’ pop She like a record that I wanna rock When I'm rollin’ in my ride cruisin’ down my block In this example, the poet actually uses a unique play on words and speaks of a love interest as a Hip-Hop metaphor.

He relates this person to “a record that I wanna rock”. The group further extends the metaphor in the following passage: She like a beat that makes me wanna grab the mic She like the lyrics that I wanna recite She like the old school mic with the cable You can bring your records and I'll bring the turntable Again, the poet relates his love interest to other things he and his audience love, including “old school mic with the cable”, reciting lyrics and spinning records on a turntable. Another great example of the metaphoric narrative is in The Roots’ “Act Too … Love of My Life”: Learnin’ the ropes of ghetto survival Peepin’ out the situation I had to slide through Had to watch my back my front plus my sides too When it came to gettin’ mine I ain't tryin’ to argue Sometimes I wouldn'ta made it if it wasn't for you Hip-Hop, you the love of my life and that's true This passage is unique because it utilizes both the metaphoric and contrasting narrative techniques. The poet refers to Hip-Hop as “the love of my life”, while simultaneously showing how that love created a positive contrast to the tough “ropes of ghetto survival”. The poet admits that he “wouldn’ta made it if it wasn’t for you”, showing that his love for Hip-Hop was and is a driving force in his life. And that leads us to the most popular metaphoric Hip-Hop love narrative of our time. In “I Used to Love H. E.R.”, Common Sense uses the metaphoric narrative to express his love for Hip-Hop. He starts off the narrative with the following passage: I met this girl, when I was ten years old And what I loved most she had so much soul She was old school, when I was just a shorty Never knew throughout my life she would be there for me In this example, the poet starts off telling a story about a girl he met when he “was ten years old”, and how she was always there for him. The poet continues to use the metaphoric narrative to speak of this girl, including the good times and hardships they faced together. Not until the end of the poem does the listener actually realize that the entire song is a metaphor. The song ends with the following passage: I see rappers slammin’ her, and takin’ her to the sewer But I'ma take her back hopin’ that the stuff stop Cause who I'm talkin’ bout y'all is Hip-Hop In this song, the poet used the metaphoric narrative to tell a story about the love of his life, the struggles she faced, and his desire to save her. In the end, he admits that this love is not a real person, but instead his love of Hip-Hop. The presentation of Hip-Hop love narratives is a very difficult task.

In order to talk about love and still construct a socially acceptable urban identity, artists tend to implement one of the five successful love narrative forms. I believe that our society’s analysis of Hip-Hop music and culture is lackluster at best. The Hip-Hop love narratives presented above could provide a great basis for linguistic and sociolinguistic studies. Not only are they presented in a variety of styled narrative forms, but they also include deep thought, perception and analysis of the urban environment that characterizes an increasing majority of American society. Through the analysis and study of these love narratives, linguists could come to a greater understanding of and appreciation for the Hip-Hop vernacular, literature and, ultimately, culture. Works Cited / Discography A Tribe Called Quest. People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. Jive Records, 1990. Black Eyed Peas.

Bridging the Gap. Interscope Records, 2000. Black Star. Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Black Star. Rawkus Records, 1998. Bubba Sparxx. Deliverance. Interscope Records, 2003.

Common. Electric Circus. MCA Records, 2002. Common Sense. Resurrection. Relativity Records, 1994. Dead Prez. Let’s Get Free. Relativity Records, 2000.

Goodie Mob. Still Standing. La Face Records, 1998. Guru. Jazzmatazz Streetsoul Vol. 3. Virgin Records, 2000. Method Man. Tical. Def Jam Records, 1994.

Mos Def. Black on Both Sides. Priority Records, 1999. Outkast. ATLiens. La Face Records, 1996. Outkast. Stankonia. La Face Records, 2003. Talib Kweli & DJ Hi-Tek. Train of Thought. Rawkus Records, 2000. The Roots. Things Fall Apart. MCA Records, 1999.

A celebration of life begins with lunch

On an ordinary afternoon in St. Augustine, Fla., a group of extraordinary people met at a local restaurant for a single purpose - to celebrate their accomplishments, share inspiration and encourage each other while enjoying a meal. They came for their weekly Friday lunch from all walks of life: parents and realtors, mortgage brokers and doctor's assistants, life coaches and flower shop employees. Many represented their own entrepreneurial ventures such as jewelry making, business coaching, spas and health clubs. Regardless of where they came from, they were there for each other, to spend an hour in support and fellowship. These weekly luncheons are held in five other cities, sponsored by the organization Women Celebrations and attended by both men and women. Each luncheon has a theme that suggests the independence and success to which all people aspire, according to founder Sheryl Lynn. Themes have been as varied as "magnificence," "confidence" and "work." At an "applause" themed gathering, each attendee explained to the group why he or she deserved applause.

Members talked about moving from out of state and changing careers, business successes and personal joys. Each of the speakers received heartfelt applause as they took a moment to "stand in their power," Lynn's expression for people's ability to find success and empowerment within themselves. It was the need to celebrate everyday things that inspired Lynn to create Women Celebrations. Despite success as a mother of three and an entrepreneur, at the end of the day she felt exhausted and disheartened. "I was not patting myself on the back upon the completion of these marvelous things. And certainly no one else was either," Lynn said. In starting Women Celebrations, she created an environment in which support and encouragement played a vital role.

Today, Women Celebrations has a strong presence in northern Florida and more chapters, or "loops," are appearing across the country. The organization is open to everyone wishing to celebrate their lives, share their experiences with others through positive interaction and build a sense of community.

Friday s girl

A centuries-old mystery has crossed my path again ... I mentioned in a recent article that there was a dispute in many academic quarters regarding the actual Viking deity being honored by the name, 'Friday.' The cold, hard fact is that unless someone unearths a runic stone that confirms the issue --- and that's not likely --- only a preponderance of circumstantial evidence is going to carry the day in any such debate. So, while others while away their time contemplating world peace, I've returned to the search for Friday's inspiration. If you'll recall, four of the seven days of the week are named after Norse gods: - Tuesday is for Tyr, the god of truth and war, - Wednesday is for Odin, the Allfather of Viking gods, - Thursday is for Thor, the god of thunder, - Friday, however is cloaked in ambiguity. I'd always heard the day's name-origin came from Frigg, Odin's elder wife --- he had more than one --- and this is supported by the most scholarly of English references, such as the Oxford dictionary. Others say it was for either Frey or Freja, who were brother and sister in the Vanir clan. Frey was the god of fertility, so it was considered essential to keep him happy; Freja was the goddess of love and beauty, so it didn't hurt to keep on her good side, either. Frigg's duties were to be the goddess of the sky. It was a subtle job, but someone had to do it. Turning to cyberspace for resolution, I happened on an excellent guide in Norse matters, The Viking Answer Lady. She is so meticulous in her material that I felt the possibility of her bringing light to the issue was quite good. So, I contacted her. To say she did her research is an understatement. Here's her reply to me: "Since Western Europe all originally derived from Indo-European tribes, we find that there were a lot of correspondences between the various branches --- not exact, one-for-one identity, but concepts are clearly related. So it's no real surprise to find that the naming and symbolism of the days of the week, and the number of days in a week, might be pretty much the same in all the descendants of the Indo-Europeans. "You can see the day-name correspondences in other languages that descend from Indo-European: "Ancient Greek has: hemera selenes (moon day), hemera Areos (Ares' day), hemera Hermu (Hermes' day), hemera Dios (Zeus' day), hemera Aphrodites (Aphrodite's day), hemera Khronu (Chronos' day), hemera heliou (sun day) "Latin: Lunae dies (Moon-day, Monday), Martis dies (Mars-Day, Tuesday), Mercurii dies (Mercury's day, Wednesday), Jovis dies (Jove's day, Thursday), Veneris dies (Venus' day, Friday), Saturni dies (Saturn's day, Saturday) or alternatively Christian Sabbatum or Sabbati dies (Sabbath day), Solis dies (Sunday)or alternatively Christian Dominicus dies (Lord's day) "Unsurprisingly, the Romance languages clearly derive their day names from Latin, except for Portugese, which numbers the days: "Italian: lunedi, martedi, mercoledi, giovedi, venerdi, sabato, domenica "Spanish: lunes, martes, miйrcoles, jueves, viernes, sбbado, domingo "French: lundi, mardi, mercredi, jeudi, vendredi, samedi, dimanche "Romanian: luni, marti, miercuri, joi, vineri, sоmbata, duminica "Portugese: Segunda-Feira (2nd day, Monday); Terзa-Feira (3rd day, Tuesday); Quarta-Feira (4th day, Wednesday); Quinta-Feira (5th day, Thursday); Sexta-Feira (6th day, Friday); Sбbado (Sabbath, Saturday); Domingo (Lord's Day, Sunday) "The Celtic languages have taken and preserved the Latin names of the days, and also borrowed heavily from Christian concepts: "Welsh: Dydd Llun (moon/Luna day), Dydd Mawrth (Mars' day), Dydd Mercher (Mercury's day), Dydd Iau (Jove's day), Dydd Gwener (Venus's day), Dydd Sadwrn (Saturn's day), Dydd Sul (sun day) "Gaelic: Di-luain (moon day); Di-mбirt (Mars's day); Di-ciaduinn or Di-ciadaoin (day of the first fast of the week - Friday being the second fast); Diardaoin (the day between the two fasts of Wednesday and Friday); Di-haoine or Dia-aoine (day of the fast) Di-sathuirn (Saturn day); Di-dуmhnuich (Lord's day) "Irish: Dй Luan (moon/Luna day); Dй Mairt (Mars' day); Dй Cйadaoin (day of the first fast of the week); Dйardaoin; Dй h-Aoine (the day between the two fasts of Wednesday and Friday); Dй Sathairn (Saturn's day); Dй Domhnaigh (Lord's day) "The Germanic languages, however, are also related. Ares/Mars was equated with Tэr as a warrior god. Zeus/Jupiter was equated with Thуrr as the god who hurled lightnings. Mercury was equated with Урinn, since both had a role as psychompomps, the one who leads the dead to their afterlife. Aphrodite/Venus was equated with Frigga and Freyja. "German: Montag (moon day), Dienstag (Tэr's day), Mittwoch (Mid-week), Donnerstag (Donner's/Thуrr's day), Freitag (Freyja/Frigga's day), Samstag (derived ultimately from Latin Sabbatum), Sonntag (sun day) "Dutch: maandag (moon day), dinsdag, woensdag (Woden's/Урinn's day), donderda (Donner's/Thуrr's day), vrijdag (Freyja/Frigga's day), zaterdag (Saturn day), zondag (sun day) "Norwegian and Danish: mandag (moon day), tirsdag (Tэr's day), onsdag (Урinn's day), torsdag (Thуrr's day), fredag (Freyja's/Frigga's day), lшrdag (washing day), sшndag (sun day) "Swedish: mеndag (moon day), tisdag (Tэr's day), onsdag (Урinn's day), torsdag (Thrr's day), fredag (Freyja/Frigga's day), lцrdag (wash day), sцndag (sun day) "Old English: mondжg or monandжg (moon day); tiwesdжg (Tiw's day, Tэr's day); wodnesdжg (Wotan's/Урinn's day); thunresdжg (Thуrr's day); frigedжg (Frigga's/Freya's day); sжterdжg or sжternesdжg (Saturn's day); sunnandжg (sun day) "Middle English: monday, moneday, or monenday (moon day); tiwesday or tewesday (Tiw's day, Tэr's day); wodnesday, wednesday, or wednesdai (Wotan's/Урinn's day); thursday or thuresday (Thуrr's day); fridai (Frigga's/Freya's day); saterday (Saturn's day); soneday, sonenday, sunday, sunnenday (sun day) "North Frisian: monnendei (moon-day); Tirsdei (Tэr's-day); Winsdei (Wotan's/Урinn's day); Tьrsdei (Thуrr's day); Fridei (Frigga's/Freyja's day); sennin (sun-evening); sennedei (sun day) "Etymologically, it's impossible to tell for certain whether the 'Friday' words derive from Frigga or Freyja (at least so I am told, I am not a philologist or linguistics expert). We can tell by the cognates that the name is from a goddess equated with Venus and Aphrodite. "We get into further problems in that 'Freyja' is derived from roots meaning simply 'lady' while 'Frigga' comes from roots related to 'beloved.' There have been several scholars who insist that Frigga and Freyja are just different titles for the same goddess. "None the less, undoubtedly 'Friday' comes from the name of one of these two goddeses, and not from the name of the god Freyr." Now, that's the sort of studied thoroughness that can achieve Master's degrees. It's a preponderance of evidence that can carry the day in a court of law. Even though she only eliminated one of the three contenders to the title of Friday's Namesake, the Viking Answer Lady has gone above and beyond the call of duty to provide me with the information I requested. I'm sure glad I didn't tell her I was just trying to win a bar bet.

Zen in a thimble

This is a way i use to bring thoughts to the physical world. There are a great many of them, and the better you get at creating them (thinking em up)The easier it will be to find work arounds in the real world, when obstacles and hurtles present themselves. Im not exactly sure of why they work, but they do. Ok, for the first one, take all you money out of your pocket. Now lay it down on a table or something on the other side of the room. Now go find a seat somewhere that still lets you see your money. Now look at that money and try to think of ways to get that money back in your pocket. And you cant get help. List them. Hopefully everybody figured it out. If you are not magic, you gotta get up and go get it. Only way. If you are magic, then you dont need this article, so put it down and call me, imeechatly. Doing This exercise makes you see in the physical world what you think.

And from it you should see that the way to get what you want is to go get it, and bring it back to you. the funny thing is you will keep trying to figure out ways to get your money off the table, even though there arent any, its impossible. But the weird thing is that you no longer truly believe it is, yet. Use this exercise a lot and it will get you the answer to some tough questions. Just about everything is possible, till it proves it is not. Sometimes you have to make your thoughts real, envision them in your mind and make them real. Its like wouldnt it be much easier to figure out how to make something if you could see it. I believe that if you can see a thing in detail in your mind, it will give you clues as to how to make it real. Think about it, its corny but it feels right and works. If you keep doing the exercise for different thoughts, you will start giving the impossible the burden of proof. And the more you think ahead the better you know what to expect, and the better you know what to expect the better you deal with the obstacle or hurtle or problem, so don't only think about reacting to hurtles and obstacles, think about attacking them too. That let's you react better in the process also, 2 for the price of one. This really works, give it a try. Shadoweternal. (taken from article of the day at racialdebate. com)

Love and courage

To many work is not a gratifying opportunity to do good, but a necessary evil they would gladly forgo if they won or inherited a fortune. It is just a livelihood, a vital drudgery. Its meaning is the paycheck and the value it has in terms of service to their community is indifferent or very subordinate. Their calculating and uncaring attitude is recognizable. Whereas people who heartily act in the interest of others are gracious, they are perfunctory.

At best, in establishments that demand courtesy from employees, their behavior is irreproachable, albeit artificial. “Can I be of assistance? Here you are. Will there be anything else? You’re welcome” – no genuine attempt at pleasing, just a vapid exercise in politeness and efficiency that follows a procedure and arouses a feeling of satisfied indifference as would a serving of plain noodles. They do the minimum that is required of them, to maintain their employment, and gladly do nothing provided they get paid all the same. They never miss a break. Come the end of their working day, they rush out before the first second of the next hour has passed.

They live for their time off and dream of a permanent vacation, as though leisure were the essence of happiness. What about the dignity of making oneself useful, which is the antipode of this levity? What about love – I mean the desire to live usefully in the service of others? This desire builds on gratefulness, with a view to worthiness.

I start from the assumption that love is a characteristic of people who appreciate living in society, thanks to a combination of positive attitude and relatively favorable social environment. To sum up, the more they love life, in company with others who take part in their life, the more they love others. Now, feeling this love is one thing, acting upon it is quite another, which needs courage. Actually, a lack of courage would not only render this love inactive but also tend to destroy it in order to avoid shame. The mind is a double-edged thinking tool that can cut its way in and out of truth by means of veracious statements or specious arguments.

Love may be denied despite every reason for loving. Therefore, courage is a rich trait of character without which love is unable to flourish, neither as an emotion nor as an action. Of course, where laziness and cowardliness have rotted or stunted love, dignity – which stems from the act of loving – is but a potential bloom. May courage be cultivated! I hate to think that the soul has such a capacity for beauty and yet can remain undeveloped, morally retarded, as ugly as a shriveled growth that an earnest gardener could have transformed into a heavenly rose. On reflection, courage should be valued above all other virtues, since it constitutes the necessary condition for developing them. It is not a sufficient condition, however. It is capable of nothing by itself while everything depends on it. Courage is the force that can raise life to joy and joy to love and love to dignity, insofar as the human nature aspires to these difficult heights, though it is always tempted to go for the easy and low option.

This nature is indeed dual. People are forever torn between their lofty aspirations and their base temptations. Their choice to honor these aspirations or surrender to these temptations determines their moral status, admirable or pitiable. Admittedly, the more you are afflicted with misery, the harder it is for you to lead a courageous and honorable existence. It is not surprising that children who grow up in miserable circumstances sometimes display miserable attitudes and behaviors once they are adults: low self-esteem and under-achievement, resentment and aggressiveness, alcoholism and drug addiction, vagrancy and crime, among others. These attitudes and behaviors deplorably impact the other members of society who are worried, troubled, harmed, or perverted by them.

The problem is clearly cancerous. I hope that the future will bring effective social measures to better assist these children in their pursuit of happiness and worthiness. Benefactions, family allowances, subsidized housing, free health care and school education, together with scholarships, are present solutions that rely on private charities or government policies and call for improvements through greater creativity and generosity. Bearing in mind the deplorable impact that the children of misery can have on society, as they sometimes grow into failures, misfits, or outlaws, I feel compelled to underscore the utilitarianism behind this generosity. Just as these children arouse compassion, they are a cause for anxiety in everyone who is aware of this possible impact. Their welfare is actively sought, both for their sake and that of society at large whose interests are at stake. Likewise, employers who care about their employees, while caring about their business, always offer them the best possible working conditions. These employees are joyful and grateful as a rule, which ensures a superior efficiency and loyalty on their part.

Good spirit is good profit. Some dream of equal opportunities for everyone. Will this dream someday become a reality? Everywhere in the world, it meets with inequality – between those who are born lucky and those who are not, relatively speaking. Is it a lost cause? I believe so, though I am a firm believer in progress. Even a welfare state with the most extensive social assistance could only reduce this inequality, not eliminate it. What if it resorted to communism to reduce this inequality further? History suggests that a communist regime would prove ruinous, economically and psychologically, in the long run. The equal sharing of resources between people, imposed on them by a centralized government regardless of their respective contributions to the common good, is an untenable and unviable totalitarian approach. In a word, it is an absurdity. Democratic societies, on the other hand, leave much to be desired, but are certainly the most satisfactory to date. They are based on freedom, talent, chance, and merit, while including a safety net for those who have fallen off the high wire of health and success. Things merely have to improve. The status quo is a steppingstone to brighter days. Forget perfection, which is deadly and imperfect after all: an illusion. However bright the future may turn out, it will not be without shadows. Unhealthy, unwise, unsuccessful, unhappy, and unkind adults will keep bringing children into the world. Assuming these children will benefit from improved relief measures, they will nevertheless suffer from a difficult youth, lacking in the material and spiritual advantages luckier children enjoy. Like their previous counterparts, they will be confronted by the challenge of growing into the opposite of their parents – that is, into healthy, wise, successful, happy, and kind adults. None but the strong will overcome. Only they will appreciate the divine justice that counterbalances the problem of inequality: The less luck people have at the start, the more merit they have in the end if they make a success of their life. This principle is universal and timeless; it is applicable here and now. May the objects of our compassion fill us with admiration as they rise from their woes to become our heroes! This victory against the odds is an extreme. I can think of a second extreme, as pathetic as the first is heroic. Contrary to expectations, some people born of goodhearted and well-to-do parents are miserable individuals. They are insatiably selfish and shockingly ungrateful, so infantile and spineless that play and rest are their sole ambitions. Did they have a weak character to start with? Did their parents kill them with kindness and spoil them rotten? Is that why they have no soul?

Suffering

Since wisdom is the art of coping with suffering, it starts with a willingness to tackle it head-on: a) Such is the harshness of our condition that we suffer, sometimes greatly or worse, insuperably. b) Such is the richness of our nature that we can learn to live happily, or at least serenely, within the limits of this condition. This entails us either pursuing goals that are not only desirable or honorable, but also attainable, or resigning ourselves to the inevitable. Admittedly, a great many suffer whose suffering is all the more problematic as their wisdom is still largely in the making. I remember my own past as a young unhappy and suicidal man who composed dark poems. My negative attitude compounded my difficult situation, and I lacked the awareness of my ability to improve both. Today, I feel deeply connected with those who live in the limbo of gloom. Even if my words only reach one of them, they will not have been written in vain. I have recently come across some dark poetry, reminiscent of mine in my young days. The author – Melyssa G. Sprott – is a young talented woman whose youth has been poisoned by abuse and other hardships. Her suffering and her talent have inspired me to feature some of her work and respond to it. Note that my responding to it in a positive manner testifies to my being help-minded, but note also that my responses are written in a spirit of humbleness. I don't claim to provide a remedy; I just try my best to give some useful insights. * * * The following excerpts are from one of Melyssa's collection of poems, entitled "Descent into the Dark." They reveal her aching soul with the moving simplicity of a woman crying for her overwhelming grief. 1. When I was six, my father had me convinced I wasn't worth the air I breathed, the food I'd cost, or other things I'd need. When I was six, my father didn't want children or want the wife he kept, so we were forced to suffer for my father's regrets. "Remember to tell him you love him or you'll die," Mother sings her twisted lullaby. "Wish for mercy, pray for death, await the day he ceases breath. He'll wake you up at three in the morning to beat you senseless without warning. It doesn't matter how still you lie," Mother sings her twisted lullaby. I want to bleed forever, bleed out my sorrow. I can't even bear the thought of tomorrow. I want this nightmare to end. I'll close my eyes to the world. I've been begging for death since I was a little girl. 2. How could all this damage come from such trusted lips? You throw words like stones. My heart is breaking glass. The key you held is the knife you twist. 3. Nowhere to hide in the dark of the night. Sometimes the only comfort we find is in our own pain…. They'll never understand the calm of relinquishing all control. Suffering takes less courage than it takes to be content. I didn't choose the less traveled path of love, joy, and luck. I chose the other path, and now I am stuck. I'm a prisoner of the dark in my eyes. * * * Let us take stock of a few harsh facts that are part and parcel of life, not only Melyssa's or mine, but everyone's. a) The human potential for greatness – great learning and nobility, and great accomplishments – is matched only by the human potential for the reverse. Yes, humans can be and sometimes are monstrously poor-spirited, narrow-minded, and black-hearted, among other despicable traits. These traits may involve genetic or environmental factors that predispose to them, but ultimately they are the fault of the individuals who give free rein to them. The unfortunate thing is, these individuals are a source of suffering not only to themselves but also to those who are at their mercy. Among their victims are children, women, and elderly or disabled people. Actually, even the strongest of men can suffer as a result of falling prey to them. Yet, the others are more vulnerable – especially children who often make the dreadful mistake of blaming themselves for the abuse or neglect to which they are subjected. b) As a rule, people are neither great nor bad in the extreme. They are relatively friendly and helpful – if you treat them fairly – and they lead decent though imperfect lives. Having said this, they have minds of their own, which may not be in keeping with yours. A man may fall in love with a woman who doesn't care a whit about him, and vice versa. A job seeker may hope for employment at some outfit, where in his opinion he belongs, and have his application turned down by an employer who sees things in a different light. These two examples count among an infinity of possible ones that testify to the same truth: Other people's wishes and yours often differ and you must then (out of respect) compromise or abstain from doing as you please. c) On a positive note, there is some degree of harmony between nature's purpose and that of humans. As harsh as our life is on earth, we can subsist or even thrive. Yet, this harmony does not alter the fact that both purposes are distinct, always in danger of being opposite. Just think about the amount of resourcefulness and adaptability we must show to indeed thrive. At best the harmony is labored and confined within narrow limits. Think also about the number of times nature's purpose and that of humans clash, as demonstrated by all manner of nuisances, illnesses, and disasters. In short, the relationship we have with nature is like the relationship some people have with wild animals they have tamed. These animals are pleasant pets provided their needs are catered for. Still, they can turn against their owners for no apparent reason, except that they are fundamentally wild. As I pointed out earlier, wisdom starts with a willingness to tackle the harsh reality of life head-on. It is the reverse of ignorance, and hence is exclusive of the illusory bliss that accompanies this ignorance. If happiness is possible through wisdom, it is achieved with the full knowledge and acceptance of the harsh reality in question. By acceptance I do not mean a passive resignation toward the status quo in all its harshness. I mean a brave readiness to turn our situation – possibly bad in a number of respects – to good account. And this includes bettering what we are able to better, while making do with everything else. Easier said than done, of course. But then happiness is not about what is easy; it is about what is good and right and can only be accomplished through a great deal of meritorious effort. To make or not to make this effort is the question, which sums up human freedom. And surely nobody in their right mind would forever take the easy option that leads to unworthiness and unhappiness!

The bottom line

The following article includes pertinent information that may cause you to reconsider what you thought you understood. The most important thing is to study with an open mind and be willing to revise your understanding if necessary. What Really Matters We are here on this earth to learn acceptance. Acceptance of everything that life can throw at us, the good and the bad. One still needs to work at right livelihood and fight for truth and justice, but there will always remain many things we simply have no control over, and we must learn to accept this. We have no other choice but acceptance if we want to progress. Acceptance leads to forgiveness which leads to progression, but it is never easy. How does one accept the continued support and popularity of war criminals masquerading as leaders or child molesters. To embrace acceptance is to become objective...about everything in this life and on this planet. By becoming objective we are able to disconnect from many of the attachments that bind us to servitude. In the ultimate scheme of things our lifelong tribulations are insignificant. We are here such a short time, and for most of us, our influence and ability to change anything for the better is limited or remote. The path of least resistance for most unwary souls is to be caught up in the obligations pertaining to cycles of birth, family, children, and the roles we are taught or forced to assume. In this mode the freedom of disconnection alludes us. But it is through the gradual disconnection to our worldly attachments that allows us to realize how trivial jealousy, deceit, anger and acquisition are in relation to the big picture of existence which extends well beyond our occluded perceptions. True freedom comes when one is free of these distracting imperfections and can find forgiveness towards those who have wittingly or not caused us harm or pain. The most difficult part is to forgive yourself, but this becomes available once you realize that most of the wrong decisions made, and hurts caused to others, were made from the immature vantage point you were in at the time. You didn’t have the tools or perspective you now have to realize that bad things happen to good people, that what you may have thought was important and worth the shortcuts, was in fact just a blind alley of glitter or delusion. If you can reach this level of awareness, to see that past decisions and actions were made by a less complete and understanding self, you will then be able to find compassion and eventually forgiveness of yourself for the harm you caused to yourself and to others as a result of your shortcomings. Nobody said it was easy. That is why, in my view, most people continue to go round and round in their mental prisons, some eventually spiraling downwards, most doomed to instant replay, and only a few who find the doorway leading to salvation. Is deliverance available to everyone? I don’t know, in fact, I doubt it. So many with besmirched and sullied egos will inevitably follow their ill conceived prejudices to the grave. Or perhaps we all have epiphanies at one time or another and it is up to us whether this brief unanticipated opening into other domains should be acknowledged and pursued, or simply dismissed as a momentary slip of the gears as in a dream. One thing that cannot be dismissed or ignored is the reality of life, death, corruption and beauty. Also intelligence, as it is apparent that this faculty, above all, has allowed our species the ability to comprehend these very notions, and through freewill, choose to manipulate them for better or worse. Most social manipulation via political, monarchal or religious constitution, served some evolutionary purpose but ultimately failed, because no man or demigod can impart spiritual epiphanies on another. Each individual soul must make a choice to see or not to see. On a collective scale, sooner or later any Emperor in any guise is observed to have no clothes, in fact never did, and becomes exposed. We find ourselves at this time, in this hyped electro-techno modern world, either intellectually adrift from the old paradigm of institutional oppression and its attendant restraints and excesses, living in our own delusions, or blindly and fanatically grasping its slimy tentacles as evidenced in the Muslim world. Neither is sustainable, and more likely than not, to clash inducing further misery. Attachment to any belief, even if it’s a non belief, is sowing the seeds of eventual self-destruction. Only through disconnection from externally imposed belief or self-seeking illusion, and by acceptance and the fostering of forgiveness, can we hope to find redemption. Furthermore, this enlightenment can only be realized on an individual basis. The only exception where group fervor is benign is in the unfettered praise of the gift of life through gratitude and thanksgiving, as evidenced by the enhanced aura of such gatherings. The best we can do towards the edification of grace in this world is to help others by encouraging them to follow their own insights, to impartially lend a genuinely helping hand in practical and useful areas, or to communicate love through art and beauty if we are so gifted. Sadly, scientific studies tell us that in the marketing world at least, only 2 percent of any given population can think for itself. The remaining overwhelming majority can only act when persuaded or cajoled by an external entity, which usually means political, religious or commercial coercion. And of course, foolishly allowing this majority to lend control of our lives to any of these interest groups has resulted in our collective consciousness being entangled in yet another fine mess. The best we can hope for now, as thinking individuals, is to be adept and agile enough to position ourselves as advantageously as we can, in circumstance and place, without sacrificing our hard gained spiritual insights to expediency especially at the expense of others. We must continue to disconnect while at the same time investing in pursuit of right livelihood, which usually means sharing the best of what is in us, not an easy feat. Writing this article is my humble attempt to add some clarity to the constant clamor of present day unconscionable self-aggrandizement, and the inevitable pervading disillusionment that will soon be swirling around us. The day will come when you can use something you read about here for beneficial impact. Then you'll be glad you took the time to learn more about actualizing acceptance.

The madness of playing games

If a lone, unkempt, person, standing on a soapbox were to say that he should become the Prime Minister, he would have been diagnosed by a passing psychiatrist as suffering from this or that mental disturbance. But were the same psychiatrist to frequent the same spot and see a crowd of millions saluting the same lonely, shabby figure - what would have his diagnosis been? Surely, different (perhaps of a more political hue). It seems that one thing setting social games apart from madness is quantitative: the amount of the participants involved. Madness is a one-person game, and even mass mental disturbances are limited in scope. Moreover, it has long been demonstrated (for instance, by Karen Horney) that the definition of certain mental disorders is highly dependent upon the context of the prevailing culture. Mental disturbances (including psychoses) are time-dependent and locus-dependent. Religious behaviour and romantic behaviour could be easily construed as psychopathologies when examined out of their social, cultural, historical and political contexts. Historical figures as diverse as Nietzsche (philosophy), Van Gogh (art), Hitler (politics) and Herzl (political visionary) made this smooth phase transition from the lunatic fringes to centre stage. They succeeded to attract, convince and influence a critical human mass, which provided for this transition. They appeared on history's stage (or were placed there posthumously) at the right time and in the right place. The biblical prophets and Jesus are similar examples though of a more severe disorder. Hitler and Herzl possibly suffered from personality disorders - the biblical prophets were, almost certainly, psychotic. We play games because they are reversible and their outcomes are reversible. No game-player expects his involvement, or his particular moves to make a lasting impression on history, fellow humans, a territory, or a business entity. This, indeed, is the major taxonomic difference: the same class of actions can be classified as "game" when it does not intend to exert a lasting (that is, irreversible) influence on the environment. When such intention is evident - the very same actions qualify as something completely different. Games, therefore, are only mildly associated with memory. They are intended to be forgotten, eroded by time and entropy, by quantum events in our brains and macro-events in physical reality. Games - as opposed to absolutely all other human activities - are entropic. Negentropy - the act of reducing entropy and increasing order - is present in a game, only to be reversed later. Nowhere is this more evident than in video games: destructive acts constitute the very foundation of these contraptions. When children start to play (and adults, for that matter - see Eric Berne's books on the subject) they commence by dissolution, by being destructively analytic. Playing games is an analytic activity. It is through games that we recognize our temporariness, the looming shadow of death, our forthcoming dissolution, evaporation, annihilation. These FACTS we repress in normal life - lest they overwhelm us. A frontal recognition of them would render us speechless, motionless, paralysed. We pretend that we are going to live forever, we use this ridiculous, counter-factual assumption as a working hypothesis. Playing games lets us confront all this by engaging in activities which, by their very definition, are temporary, have no past and no future, temporally detached and physically detached. This is as close to death as we get. Small wonder that rituals (a variant of games) typify religious activities. Religion is among the few human disciplines which tackle death head on, sometimes as a centrepiece (consider the symbolic sacrifice of Jesus). Rituals are also the hallmark of obsessive-compulsive disorders, which are the reaction to the repression of forbidden emotions (our reaction to the prevalence, pervasiveness and inevitability of death is almost identical). It is when we move from a conscious acknowledgement of the relative lack of lasting importance of games - to the pretension that they are important, that we make the transition from the personal to the social. The way from madness to social rituals traverses games. In this sense, the transition is from game to myth. A mythology is a closed system of thought, which defines the "permissible" questions, those that can be asked. Other questions are forbidden because they cannot be answered without resorting to another mythology altogether. Observation is an act, which is the anathema of the myth. The observer is presumed to be outside the observed system (a presumption which, in itself, is part of the myth of Science, at least until the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics was developed). A game looks very strange, unnecessary and ridiculous from the vantage-point of an outside observer. It has no justification, no future, it looks aimless (from the utilitarian point of view), it can be compared to alternative systems of thought and of social organization (the biggest threat to any mythology). When games are transformed to myths, the first act perpetrated by the group of transformers is to ban all observations by the (willing or unwilling) participants. Introspection replaces observation and becomes a mechanism of social coercion. The game, in its new guise, becomes a transcendental, postulated, axiomatic and doctrinaire entity. It spins off a caste of interpreters and mediators. It distinguishes participants (formerly, players) from outsiders or aliens (formerly observers or uninterested parties). And the game loses its power to confront us with death. As a myth it assumes the function of repression of this fact and of the fact that we are all prisoners. Earth is really a death ward, a cosmic death row: we are all trapped here and all of us are sentenced to die. Today's telecommunications, transportation, international computer networks and the unification of the cultural offering only serve to exacerbate and accentuate this claustrophobia. Granted, in a few millennia, with space travel and space habitation, the walls of our cells will have practically vanished (or become negligible) with the exception of the constraint of our (limited) longevity. Mortality is a blessing in disguise because it motivates humans to act in order "not to miss the train of life" and it maintains the sense of wonder and the (false) sense of unlimited possibilities. This conversion from madness to game to myth is subjected to meta-laws that are the guidelines of a super-game. All our games are derivatives of this super-game of survival. It is a game because its outcomes are not guaranteed, they are temporary and to a large extent not even known (many of our activities are directed at deciphering it). It is a myth because it effectively ignores temporal and spatial limitations. It is one-track minded: to foster an increase in the population as a hedge against contingencies, which are outside the myth. All the laws, which encourage optimization of resources, accommodation, an increase of order and negentropic results - belong, by definition to this meta-system. We can rigorously claim that there exist no laws, no human activities outside it. It is inconceivable that it should contain its own negation (Godel-like), therefore it must be internally and externally consistent. It is as inconceivable that it will be less than perfect - so it must be all-inclusive. Its comprehensiveness is not the formal logical one: it is not the system of all the conceivable sub-systems, theorems and propositions (because it is not self-contradictory or self-defeating). It is simply the list of possibilities and actualities open to humans, taking their limitations into consideration. This, precisely, is the power of money. It is - and always has been - a symbol whose abstract dimension far outweighed its tangible one. This bestowed upon money a preferred status: that of a measuring rod. The outcomes of games and myths alike needed to be monitored and measured. Competition was only a mechanism to secure the on-going participation of individuals in the game. Measurement was an altogether more important element: the very efficiency of the survival strategy was in question. How could humanity measure the relative performance (and contribution) of its members - and their overall efficiency (and prospects)? Money came handy. It is uniform, objective, reacts flexibly and immediately to changing circumstances, abstract, easily transformable into tangibles - in short, a perfect barometer of the chances of survival at any given gauging moment. It is through its role as a universal comparative scale - that it came to acquire the might that it possesses. Money, in other words, had the ultimate information content: the information concerning survival, the information needed for survival. Money measures performance (which allows for survival enhancing feedback). Money confers identity - an effective way to differentiate oneself in a world glutted with information, alienating and assimilating. Money cemented a social system of monovalent rating (a pecking order) - which, in turn, optimized decision making processes through the minimization of the amounts of information needed to affect them. The price of a share traded in the stock exchange, for instance, is assumed (by certain theoreticians) to incorporate (and reflect) all the information available regarding this share. Analogously, we can say that the amount of money that a person has contains sufficient information regarding his or her ability to survive and his or her contribution to the survivability of others. There must be other - possibly more important measures of that - but they are, most probably, lacking: not as uniform as money, not as universal, not as potent, etc. Money is said to buy us love (or to stand for it, psychologically) - and love is the prerequisite to survival. Very few of us would have survived without some kind of love or attention lavished on us. We are dependent creatures throughout our lives. Thus, in an unavoidable path, as humans move from game to myth and from myth to a derivative social organization - they move ever closer to money and to the information that it contains. Money contains information in different modalities. But it all boils down to the very ancient question of the survival of the fittest.

Isolated expedition

Imagine an expedition to the Antarctic in 1914. There is no GPS, no world-reaching radio, and no satellite phone. Brutal conditions, rationed food, tight living quarters. Sounds pretty bleak. Now imagine that something goes horribly wrong. As days turn into weeks the rationed food is exhausted. As weeks turn into months hope is all that is left. When hope diminishes, all that is left is the will to live. Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1914 voyage turned into a disaster just before he and his crew of twenty-eight could reach Antarctica. Their ship The Endurance was held up by ice for ten months and then crushed by it's frozen, unforgiving force, and that is just the beginning of this two-years long journey.

It is amazing what he and his crew endure over this time period just to survive. This is an excerpt from a diary kept by crewman Thomas Orde-Lees that recounts a very cold and desperate time some six months after the men abandoned the crumpled, mangled wreckage of their ship on three lifeboats. "As the water splashed into the boats it froze instantly forming thick incrustations of ice on the inside of the boat and over all the gear freezing up the sail as stiff as a piece of corrugated iron. Fortunately the water which ran into the bottom of the boat did not freeze at once so that by frequent bailing we were able to keep pace with it and prevent the accumulation of ice along the keels, where, had it once formed, it would have been next to impossible to eradicate it on account of the cargo. Much sleet covered us, and what with this and the sea spray we were all more or less wet through and our outer clothing was frozen stiff. Our time was largely occupied in picking the ice off each other's backs.

It would be a lie to say that we were at all happy under these circumstances but now and again we made a feeble effort to assume a cheerful, hopeful air in spite of ourselves. We were being sorely tried, indeed, though."

Wisdom

What is wisdom? But first, what are the conditions that render it desirable, if not necessary, and what is its essential purpose? Life is a desire to live, and better still a desire to live happily. As we strive to satisfy this desire, we encounter obstacles that complicate or frustrate our efforts. This complication or frustration amounts to suffering because it stands in the way of satisfaction. Wisdom is designed to help us cope with this suffering. It is an adaptive product of reason in the face of tough circumstances.

Thanks to it, happiness is conceivable and achievable in spite of everything. It is therefore the supreme good. Actually, religion is a good that many rank equally high, since it serves the same purpose as wisdom, if differently. The difference lies in the way religion and wisdom portray suffering and define the meaning of life.

From the perspective of religion, suffering betrays a state of worldly imperfection that is in contradiction with the human desire for perfect happiness. Consequently, life here below – where humans are doomed to suffer – is absurd in itself. Or rather, life is meaningful strictly in terms of means to a heavenly end in the great beyond: A life of virtue prepares the way for an afterlife of bliss. The religious believe this in accordance with the teachings of an inspired spiritual leader, who claims to know the transcendental nature of the hereafter. While personally I cast a skeptical eye on these teachings, I keep my mind open. They are highly suspicious, but the transcendental nature of their object puts them beyond the reach of any discredit based on conclusive evidence. Anyway, as I see it, wisdom is independent of religion, though it can complement the latter. According to it, life in itself has meaning, despite its imperfection that people can learn to accept. Better still, they can learn to value this imperfection as they realize that perfection, contrary to popular belief, is not infinitely desirable.

Indeed, perfect happiness leaves something to be desired. By definition, it excludes suffering and hence all forms of complication or frustration. It supposes that circumstances are absolutely favorable – that is, not tough in any way. Therefore, no effort is necessary while every dream is possible. At first glance, this sounds like the most wonderful situation imaginable, and yet taking another look at it will dispel this illusion. What strange whim, in the history of humankind, has compelled people from every walk of life to leave their cozy home and embark on risky ventures? Perhaps this whim is not so strange after all. A multitude of conquests have been made for the sheer joy of conquering against great odds.

The operative word is pride, accompanied by excitement. To conquest-minded people the infinite ease of heaven entails infinite boredom. To them life – together with the struggle that is integral to it – is the very thing that perfect happiness leaves to be desired. It is an opportunity to prove courageous and victorious, though it is also a risk of failing painfully. Happiness is about grasping this opportunity with courage and gaining a victory over the obstacles that stand between us and success in all the activities that most matter to us. This victory is often strenuous and always limited, precarious, and transitory, and we are bound to lose the battle in the end; but that makes the victory all the more precious and worthy of savoring.

When trying to define the activities in which we most care to succeed, we are forced to study our nature to know our purpose. Our growing wise depends on this study and this knowledge, leading to this definition. It begins with an awareness of our animal will to survive, as survival is the foundation on which life, in the truly human sense, is built. The awareness of life in this sense follows. It takes into account both our humanity and our individuality, as members of society with particular tastes and abilities to which a wide range of activities are suited. The clearer we are about our purpose, the more we can live our lives with determination and passion, and so with a greater chance of succeeding and achieving happiness. The reverse is equally true. It therefore stands to reason that in striving after wisdom we lay the groundwork for success and happiness.

Disability human rights and social responsibility by dr shanker adawal

India is not far behind as the statistics shows it has over 90 million disabled persons, barely one percent of whom are employed. The disability rights debate is not so much about the enjoyment of specific rights as it is about ensuring the equal effective enjoyment of all human rights, without discrimination, by people with disabilities. The non-discrimination principle helps make human rights in general relevant in the specific context of disability. Non-discrimination, and the equal effective enjoyment of all human rights by people with disabilities, is long-overdue reform in the way disability and the disabled are viewed throughout the world. The process of ensuring that people with disabilities enjoy their human rights is slow and uneven. But the good thing is it has started taking place, in all economic and social systems. It is inspired by the values that underpin human rights: the inestimable dignity of each and every human being, the concept of autonomy or self-determination that demands that the person be placed at the center of all decisions affecting him/her, the inherent equality of all regardless of difference, and the ethic of solidarity that requires society to sustain the freedom of the person with appropriate social supports. Global Scenario Over the past two decades a dramatic shift in perspective has taken place from an approach motivated by charity towards the disabled to one based on rights. In essence, the human rights perspective on disability means viewing people with disabilities as subjects and not as objects. It entails moving away from viewing people with disabilities as problems towards viewing them as holders of rights. Importantly, it means locating problems outside the disabled person and addressing the manner in which various economic and social processes accommodate the difference of disability - or not, as the case may be. The debate about the rights of the disabled is therefore connected to a larger debate about the place of difference in society. The shift to the human rights perspective is also reflected in the fact that national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights throughout the world have begun to take an active interest in disability issues. This is important since these institutions help in providing a bridge between international human rights law and domestic debates about disability law and policy reform. National institutions are strategic partners in the process of change, and their increasing engagement on the issue of human rights for persons with disabilities is a highly encouraging sign for the future. People with disabilities themselves are now framing their long-felt sense of grievance and injustice into the language of rights. Isolated injustices need no longer be experienced in isolation. NGOs working with disability issues such as the collaborative project Disability Awareness in Action are beginning to see themselves also as human rights NGOs. They are beginning to collect and process hard information on alleged violations of the human rights of persons with disabilities. While still relatively limited, their human rights capacities are growing. A similar process of self-transformation is under way within traditional human rights NGOs, which are increasingly approaching disability as a mainstream human rights issue. This is important, since these NGOs have highly developed structures, and the development of a healthy synergy between disability NGOs and traditional human rights NGOs is not only long overdue, but inevitable. States parties are demonstrably moving in the direction of the human rights perspective on disability. Recent research shows that 39 States in all parts of the world have adopted non-discrimination or equal opportunity legislation in the context of disability. States parties’ dialogue with the human rights treaty bodies is constructive in the context of their efforts to secure disability reform; a significant amount of good practice now exists on a worldwide basis, which can be usefully propagated through the human rights treaty system. The Indian Experience The human rights movement in India has boldly and categorically shifted the attention of policy makers from the mere provision of charitable services to vigorously protecting their basic right to dignity and self-respect. In the new scenario, the disabled are viewed as individuals with a wide range of abilities and each one of them willing and capable to utilize his/her potential and talents. Society, on the other hand, is seen as the real cause of the misery of people with disabilities since it continues to put numerous barriers as expressed in education, employment, architecture, transport, health and dozens of other activities. In a country like India the numbers of the disabled are so large, their problems so complex, available resources so scarce and social attitudes so damaging, it is only legislation which can eventually bring about a substantial change in a uniform manner. Although legislation cannot alone radically change the fabric of a society in a short span of time, it can nevertheless, increase accessibility of the disabled to education and employment, to public buildings and shopping centers, to means of transport and communication. The impact of well-directed legislation in the long run would be profound and liberating. One out of every ten people in India suffers from one form of disability or the other that is they possess physical or mental impairment substantially limits one or more of major life activities. In other words, 90 million of our countrymen live with, and learn to overcome in their own individual ways, problems which non-disabled can seldom understand. The law should enable not only one in ten people but also nine out of every ten people to lead their lives to their fullest potential. The law declares that disability need not be an insurmountable handicap as long as it can be properly understood and catered for. The law attempts to eradicate factors which produce low self-esteem in disabled people and empowers them to confront the insensitivity and ignorance of others. The Legal Framework A comprehensive Act known as Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 1995 (Act 1 of 1996) was unanimously passed by both the houses of Parliament on 22nd December 1995, which got the assent of the President on 1st January 1996. The Act has 14 chapters and seeks to: a) Spell out the state’s responsibility towards prevention of impairments and protection of disabled people’s rights in health, education, training, employment and rehabilitation; b) Work to create a barrier-free environment for disabled people c) Work to remove discrimination in the sharing of development benefits d) Counteract any abuse or exploitation of disabled people e) Lay down strategies for a comprehensive development of programmes and services and for equalization of opportunities for disabled people; and f) Make provision for the integration of disabled people into the social mainstream. The Act has been in effect from 7th February 1996. Enforcement One of the weaknesses of much of the legislation has been that the enforcement of their provisions has been left to the Courts of Law without specifying summary procedures to be followed in the event of proceedings under the respective legislations. This makes it difficult for persons with disabilities who usually have limited resources and legal knowledge to participate in complicated, lengthy and expensive legal process. At the same the definition of disability as given in 1995 Act needs to be widen to protect the rights of people suffering from HIV, leprosy and internal organ failure. Currently the Act gives protection to those suffering from, blindness, low vision, leprosy cured, hearing impaired, mental retardation, mental illness and locomotor disability. There are 600 million people in the world, nearly ten percent of the world’s population, who suffer from one disability or the other. Of these, 90 million are from India. However, even then, the total percentage of the disabled people in India is just six per cent of its population while in the developed nation like USA the disabled population’s percentage is nine percent. This is not because there are more disabled persons in USA but because the definition of disability is wider in USA. Besides limited scope, there are some other lacunae in the act too. There are no guidelines and no deadlines set for non-adherence. Most government and semi-government organisations do not strictly follow the guidelines to reserve three per cent jobs for disabled and yet they go unpunished. Also, as per the Act the compensation is to be awarded to a disabled as per the financial capacity of the employer. The employers often take advantage of this clause. Also, a provision to award some temporary relieves, till the case is decided, to the affected (disabled) employee needs to be incorporated. In the age of growing consumerism and glamour this is how we view them, “Customs duties on semi-precious stones and raw cultured pearls is 5 percent while the duty on hearing aids is 15 percent. If cordless phones are charged only 15 percent duty, the disabled shell out 25 percent as surcharge on crutches and artificial limbs.” Conclusion The act has come a long way since its inception and the real danger now is that those who had been vigorously demanding its enactment might become complacent and think that the job has been done. The Act must be implemented in schools and colleges, in factories and workplaces, in transport and shopping centers. People with disabilities, and those who care for them, must ensure that discrimination is outlawed and barriers are removed as much from the physical environment as from the attitudes of ordinary people. The real battle for the right to full citizenship and active participation of disabled people is ahead. The Act is comprehensive but must be enforced with sincerity and determination. “What is disability – your frame of mind is the real disability”. Let us change our attitudes and help to change others. Make a commitment to end unfair and unfounded prejudices. Open minds and doors to people with disabilities. Repeat in speeches, writings and films three words: Disability, Equality, Liberty. Listen to disabled people. Serve disabled people. Work with disabled people. Travel with disabled people. Shop with disabled people. Have them as friends. Mere changing the Acts and passing legislation’s will not help. The need is to change the attitude of the society.”

The characteristics of soul

At the dawn of spring, I am reminded by my children the joy of anticipating new life. They will usually see a flower or two that has made its way through the soil to a world beyond itself. What starts out as a seedling or bulb is transformed by nature's capacity to evolve. Inside each of us lies dormant an awareness, an identity, an ability to grow beyond what we appear to be. Every moment, we are being challenged by others and by circumstances to create a life that exceeds our present state of living. To move toward our highest good takes a willingness on our part to let go of what we know to what can be known in and through us. You and I are part of the Created Order we see around us, and we are participants in Creating Order out of what we have been given to care for. With this in mind, let us turn to ways our soul can be described in the characteristics that make up a flower: 1. The Ground. The ground nurtures, protects, and gives birth to a flower. Inside the womb of the ground, life is taking root long before we can see it. Because we cannot see a flower that has been planted in the earth, does not mean life is not being created. To be full participants in our world means to be fully connected and rooted in the world we have been given. 2. The Stem. The stem begins its growth in the earth below and into the sky above. This part of the flower is the connecting characteristic of the plant. Much like humanity, we are in this world without being fully of it. This creates a sacredness to our lives. It is our unique ability to live and grow in a way no one ever has, is, or ever will. 3. The Flower. In full bloom, a flower is the illumination of all the life that has preceded it. The radiance and color that pour out of it create life. Notice the next time you look at a flower how you are affected by it. You may notice your heart open and be filled with joy. Or, you may notice more energy and clarity in your vision for being blessed with great beauty. 4. The Spirit of a Flower. The spirit of a flower is the life force moving in and through it. It is the essence of a flower that identifies with your spirit. This part of you opens from the inside out and becomes ONE with the spirit of a flower. It is the same energy that runs in and through you. Like a flower, you begin to radiate your own soul from the essence of your own being. Each spring, take the time to notice the part of you opening up to new life. Just like flowers, we grow from the inside out. What illuminates in our life began inside us. We nurture these inner qualities of attention until they eventually take root and grow into our daily lives. The growth that follows is created from what we attend to or hold our attention on within us. Like the pedals of a flower opening to the world around it, we create a presence of awareness. In full bloom, the beauty or the lack thereof touches the lives of everyone around us. As our inner patterns of attention move through us, the world illuminates the seeds of awareness contained within us for so long. Here, a life is created. It is the life of our soul. Samuel Oliver, author of, "What the Dying Teach Us: Lessons on Living" For more on this author; http:// soulandspirit. org

Finders tellers did you find what you were looking for

When we say find, we do not mean about simply using a search engine and waiting for the generated results. With Finders Tellers, you are invited to post your listing and say to others (or better yet describe) the things you are looking for. In due time, you can check the responses posted and see if any of them are useful. They are the tellers and you can become one yourself. Tellers provide all the information you need to know about the product or service in question, including links and additional details for your own benefit. Using this service will allow you to search for things, ideas, places or services. You can search for news, music or video strips, waiting feedback from other interested users.

In fact, the number of categories included increased on a daily basis. They have antiques and collectibles, arts and crafts, plus baby products and beauty. You can enter your request in any of these categories. Books, clothes and food related stuff – all you can search for, waiting for the tellers’ response.

If you are interested in garden products, music, photography, pottery, real estate or technology, this is place where you should go and ask for it. Online, at Finders Tellers, you can see a few examples of other’s people requests and even post a response for them (in case you have useful info). The listings include a photo of the product, with a short description and there is even a potential reward. You can proceed to reading the detailed information. For example, let’s say someone is trying to find a book on the politics of the Middle East. The category is books, non-fiction and history. You will see the name of the user who has posted that request and also his/her status. The detailed description includes questions about where are the best books on this subject to be found. The user also inquires about the existence of book presenting Arabic religious beliefs, asking for a well-put compilation of facts. For someone interested in finding a specific product, this is the best resource ever. Let’s say you want to find TV converter boxes, after you heard about the possibility of getting them for free. The one thing you have to do is ask and you will soon receive a response from one of the tellers. The category is technology, television and you can always vote if the response was helpful or not. As a response to that question, the user might decide to offer you URL links and also some free advice, like taking the coupons and using them at the local store. As you can see for yourself, this service is useful, highly functional and really popular. And how about someone posting a request for a wedding dress? That lady might want a unique wedding dress, with specific custom designs. With this particular service, she can ask for what she needs and even offer a reward. Specialized vendors, using the same resource, will promptly answer to her request and provide the future bride with the much desired dress. Thus, users have the great advantage of finding buyers. Is ‘Finding Made Easy’ or what? As a general conclusion, you have to remember that the Internet presents some of the greatest opportunities for searching. You can always use a search engine but for more specific and positive results, a service like this one is more indicated. The tellers provide helpful responses and you will certainly find what you were looking for. Moreover, vendors have the definite advantage of browsing diverse categories and check out the latest trends. Someone who sells wedding dresses can see current tendencies by browsing that specific category. And plus, it’s a lot of fun!

No pulitzer for drama no wonder

This year, when The Pulitzer Prizes were announced, the not entirely delightful news is that no Pulitzer was awarded in drama. While the decision is unsettling, the prudence of it must be acknowledged, since, affection for the theater and those who make it aside, there was no drama to consider. Let us have the courage to ask why and, along the way, try our best to understand everybody’s culpability or innocence. If you keep tabs on Broadway, just so you’ll know if, by some surprising concatenation of events, a drama you might actually be interested in seeing comes along, you know that the usual fare this past season was once again a series of enthusiastically promoted trifles. But the financial realities on Broadway make it exceedingly chancy for producers to put up anything that isn’t already proven at the box office and, even more importantly, with the critics, who can even disable a previous box-office success. All very understandable. The producers are not in the business of nourishing unproven works, no matter how worthy they may suspect or be advised they are. Not understandable.

The small and regional theaters are seldom managed by people who have any sense of what mainstream appeal might be or they very likely wouldn’t be working in a little or regional theater. Perfectly understandable. Even if a small or regional theater puts up a work that might attract a wider audience than the reliable coterie whose interests are decidedly offbeat, the likelihood that a well-known critic or even a second-string critic will show up is discouraging. Understandable. During the theater season, little theaters put up shows with withering frequency in New York and all over the country. The critics whose names people might known do not flock to any production that doesn’t have some kind of major preproduction cache. Their primary job is to review the little shows in the big venues, not the remotely possible big show in a little venue, and their secondary job, should they occasionally be inspired to assume its obligations, is to cherry pick smaller productions that present some precondition of influential interest. Also understandable. The current crop of critics, when confronted by a work in any theatrical venue that smacks of being mainstream, are unlikely to find it suits their own offbeat temperaments.

Not understandable. It is such temperamental selectivity that prevented, among countless lesser knows, a relatively mainstream playwright like Arthur Miller from getting a rave review during the last two or three decades of his life, and even a popular confectioner like Neil Simon from getting one for many years. The inescapable fact is, offbeat people usually prefer offbeat works. Very understandable. We’re all human. But what would be really refreshing is for a major critic or two to surface whose tastes would incline them to help nourish intelligent theater that deals with the major text and subtext of contemporary mainstream American life. Once we were fortunate enough to have them, like the legendary Brooks Atkinson and the more recent Walter Kerr, we could be far more hopeful that mainstream works would have a chance of surfacing.

After all, critics are the first significant audience for any work, and so they are necessary partners in the attempt to rejuvenate intelligent and widely relevant American theater. As for the playwrights, we must understand their plight, too. Simply put, comes the hopeful new playwright with a mainstream sensibility, where can he hope to find an outlet? And, if he does, can he hope to have a critic show up, let alone one who is on the same page with his sensibility? Quite a rare – and, year after year, an apparently impossible – combination.

Even Actors Equity is aligned against the poor talented soul. Should the playwright somehow find a theater that will put us his or her work, he or she will get what is known as a showcase presentation, which provides for four weeks of rehearsal and a four-week run, possibly extended to five weeks. Since the rehearsals must be conducted with actors who have to participate in their spare time, due to the meager honorariums showcase appearances provide, it’s difficult to get a production that does the work justice. And a four-week run simply is not long enough to build word of mouth. Between the scarcity of venues that have a predisposition toward a playwright who has a sensibility that might reach mainstream America, the difficulty of getting a production that showcases the work in a way that renders whatever excellence it may hold, the brevity of the run, and the scarcity of critics who might arrive, compounded by the unlikely prospect that any who do might appreciate it, can we blame the playwright who finally decides that he’s involved in a hopeless puzzle that, at best, is merely baby sitting him as an intellectual. Is it any wonder that he may sulk between disappointing efforts and finally walk away into a writing career where there is some hope of getting somewhere.

Understandable, at least. So there you have, as best as we can explain it, why no Pulitzer was awarded for drama. But we could never leave you without whatever hope there might be. The one factor that hasn’t yet entered contemporary theater that has influenced, for better or worse, film and television, is the advent of the self-funded writer-producer. Considering the gauntlet that faces the mainstream playwright without his or her own resources, such a writer-producer, maligned as he may initially be as self-aggrandizing by the theatrical establishment, may be the only hope left. Meanwhile, we must reluctantly admit, better not to award the Pulitzer at all than to award it to a trifle, masquerading as a piece of consequence. At least, some sort of standard has been indicated.

Divining the future

Whether in movies or books or in life, it is human nature to be curious about “what happens next”, what the future holds in store. Because of this curiosity divination methods were developed, some even centuries old. There are several tools and ways to divine the future. Forms popularized by gypsies (as related in tales) are crystal (ball) gazing, tarot card reading, palmistry, tea leaves, bones, etc. Divination is anything but an exact art or science. People who have the gift of divination are often called fortune tellers. This is actual a mislabel, because it really isn’t fortune that the diviner sees but possibilities of a person’s future live, love, finances, etc. All these based on decisions that a person makes now. In the Filipino language, diviners are called manghuhula which literally translates to “guessers”. Essentially, this means that fortune tellers are supposedly just guessing. Amazingly, their guesses hit the mark often enough that divination became a thriving business. Despite its many forms, the one that appears to be most trusted is astrology. There are different types of astrology but the ones most popularly known are the Chinese astrology (one of the oldest divination techniques created centuries ago) and the western astrology (created by Babylonian astronomers). Chinese Astrological signs change on an annual basis, based on the cycles of the moon. Hence, their year starts with the first full moon of the year. The Chinese zodiac is based on 12 animals. Your animal is based on the year of your birth. The twelve animal signs are: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and boar. The zodiac that people are more familiar with is the one that changes by the month. Depending on your birth date you could fall under the sign of Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, or Capricorn. Nowadays divination nuts (whether diviners or those who want to have their future read) seem to be everywhere! From the cafй at the corner, to bookstores, to the funny section in newspapers, to radio, to TV, to websites, and even, yes, to call centers. Psychic hotlines have been all the rage for many years now. One notable personage to get on the band wagon is Dionne Warwick and her psychic circle of friends. Diviners who use astronomy employ a lot of math and research before they give their predictions. The result depends on the position of the stars and the alignments of the planets plus the date and time of your birth for them to feel that they can come up with a more or less accurate prediction. The diviners of the 21st century are more than fortune tellers. They also act as counselors or advisers to their clients. They provide more than advice; they also provide comfort, and an attentive ear at a very affordable price. Your favorite diviner becomes a part of your life and at times transforms from being a simple diviner to a good friend.

Hindu god idols discovering indian mythology

: We all enjoy decorating our homes as beautifully as possible, especially when it comes to statues or small sculptures that depict various symbols. Powerfully attracted by the complex history of Buddhist idols, a lot of people have discovered an entire array of objects presented online, included in the gold collection. For them, these religious murtis (idols) are just what they needed for beautification and adoration at the same time. Each idol is unique but any of the Hindu God idols that you choose represent ideal objects for adoration, worship and they can adorn any temple (also known as mandir). The 24k gold plating is definitely a plus, especially since such religious statues are given at special occasions. Some are offered at weddings, traditional festivals like Diwali (festival of lights), as a new-house present or even for welcoming a baby into life. The incredible thing about these objects is that they can fit into any culture, being an expression of religion and a gift that will be for always cherished. Indians have a very rich and deep culture, particularly when we are speaking about religion. They pray and worship these religious idols, showing their respect at every festival and cultural event. Such products are widely purchased when the festival of lights is approaching, the legend saying that Ganesha and Laxmi gold idols should be bought.

Ganesha is known to be the God that takes care of all things to run smoothly, eliminating obstructions and imparting wisdom. Many people choose to worship Ganesha by having religious idols in their temples or even in their homes, especially when they plan on starting new projects. The Internet is today the best place where you can search for religious murtis and receive the most detailed offers, not to mention the best prices. You can enjoy the greatest diversity for the gold collection, including Radha Krishna (symbol of love in the Indian culture) but also a lot of other religious statues that are not so easy to get hold of, particularly Sai Baba, Bal Gopal, Ambemata, Kali or Shiva (one of the three major divinities in the Hindu temple). If you are not satisfied with the gold religious murtis, you can always search for the silver collection.

You will definitely be impressed with the choices you are given. Attracted by the incredible culture, many people have become ardent collectors of Hindu God idols. They have learned more about Indian mythology and religious beliefs, most of them being even interested in expressing their confidence in these deities. For them, the silver collection presents a number of interesting opportunities, especially if we were to take into consideration the depiction of the Ganesha idol. Ganesha is indeed among the most prized religious statues, being often offered as a gift but also being kept for worship. If you are interested in Krishna gold, Sai Darbar gold, Ganapati silver or Ganesha silver idols, you can definitely find what you are looking for online. You can offer a wonderful gift to someone who is just as curious about the Indian culture or you can always add a new religious gold or silver idol to your growing collection!

The quest for truth and the meaning of life

All too often, the quest for truth – which admittedly can only yield a qualified success in the best case scenario – is tainted with laxity and fancifulness, and hence is doomed to a pitiable result, not to say failure. Strangely enough, Blaise Pascal, a famous mathematician and philosopher, is also the eccentric author of a wager according to which the belief in God (or more precisely in heaven as a divine reward for virtue) is defensible to the extent that it is desirable, even though it cannot be proven. Actually, it is supposedly defensible because not only cannot it be proven, it also cannot be disproven. So desirableness is considered a valid foundation for belief, absent provableness and disprovableness! The door is open to every wild fancy, as long as we lack the empirical means of discrediting it. — Who have you invited to dinner, dear? — Some fabulous folks, my love. — Great! And who exactly are these folks? — I don’t know, but they’re fabulous. — Hum! How can you say they’re fabulous if you don’t know them? — Our neighbor across the road told me so. — Forgive me for asking, dear, but isn't that neighbor somewhat loopy? The story about angels watching over us sounds like wishful thinking to me. — This loopy neighbor, as you say, is more fun to listen to than your professor friends, with all due respect. — But don't you think… — Forget about thinking; I’m in the mood for a dinner with some fabulous folks. (If you feel this is a bit of sexist humor, note that I have made no mention of genders. The prejudices that offend us are sometimes very much our own. Remember also that Blaise Pascal was a man.) Personally, I am not willing to forget about thinking. However attractive a claim may be, this attractiveness must be accompanied by credibleness – which is a function of provableness and trustworthiness – before I let it shape my view and govern my life. When credibleness is wanting, I reserve judgment until further notice and meanwhile accept reality as it appears to be, judging from facts and solid arguments, even if this appearance is not consistent with a so-called ideal world. Call me austere (not ready to indulge in the luxury of extravagant beliefs), a man of reason who associates his intellectual austerity with intellectual integrity. Having said this, the reverse attitude is common, especially in matters that are beyond the realm of experience and hence can neither be proven nor disproven. For example, as regards their future – here below or in the hereafter – many do not reserve judgment or keep their minds open to all possibilities, ranging from disastrous to glorious. Instead they believe a heavenly tale because they fancy believing it and often also because a charismatic fortuneteller or spiritual leader, allegedly endowed with supernatural powers, is the originator of this tale. In its wildest and blindest form, optimism coupled with faith is illustrative of this attitude. Is it fanciful and naпve, or even foolish? I am tempted to say yes, and yet I will resist this temptation. There is no denying that the inveterate optimists-believers derive significant enjoyment from seeing their future through rose-colored spectacles. In view of this enjoyment, a sophisticated better like Blaise Pascal will argue that these spectacles are worth wearing, at the risk of laboring under a delusion. I myself lack the grace or the guile of innocent or calculating souls to whom ignorance is bliss. I am all the stauncher as a committed realist since life in itself – without fables and despite the adversities that are part and parcel of it – has meaning to my mind. Furthermore, I contend that religion (as a provider of a questionable but meaningful myth that makes a blissful afterlife the purpose of life) is often a poor substitute for wisdom. It is designed to offset the feeling of dissatisfaction that shadows the foolish if often profound concept of existential absurdity. The more deficient in wisdom, the more avid for religion (as defined above) one is. Now, what is the content of this wisdom, or what is the meaning of life within the limits of life? I have answered this question to the best of my ability in my book A REASON FOR LIVING; and my answer – like any answer to this question – is sure to be both at odds and in keeping with yours. But then, the antithesis of statements and disagreements can usefully stimulate the intellect to resolve the oppositions and achieve a new and superior synthesis. Be that as it may, this antithesis betrays the imperfection of individual wisdoms. At best, they are true up to a point, and we can persistently overpass this point while the complete truth indefinitely recedes like the horizon as we advance toward it. There are as many wisdoms as there are individuals; nevertheless their subjectiveness admits of much intersubjectiveness or deep intellectual kinship. Let us explore a number of cardinal facts and logical assumptions based on facts. 1) The observable universe is the obvious manifestation of a tendency toward order. Ordered things and beings (that show their attraction for a particular inert or living state), ordered behaviors and thoughts (that aim at specific achievements and feelings in preference to others), all this testifies to the tendency in question, which can be called the principle of universal order. The oneness of this principle is not merely nominal. It is fundamental, as demonstrated by the unitary if complex human nature, which comprises every physical and nonphysical aspect of the observable universe. 2) The observation of the universe relates to observers: humans, in the present instance. It is limited to the observable manifestations of this universe, or provides a basis for knowledge only within the limits of these manifestations. Everything beyond these limits – that is, everything that is not observably manifest – transcends our ability to know it. Nevertheless, as Kant pointed out, our inability to know it does not suppress our curiosity. Whereas some accept the limits of knowledge, many don’t. Their effort to penetrate the transcendental mystery ought to yield nothing except fancy. 3) There are, however, various degrees of fancy. At one extreme, fancy is grossly unfounded or rests on the highly suspicious claims of inspired visionaries regarding the great beyond. At the other extreme, fancy is very much tempered with reason. It is reminiscent of poetry, which assimilates certain things to kindred things through metaphors and similes. Take for example the predictions of learned and intuitive futurists about the distant future of humanity. They clearly overstep the limits of knowledge, and yet they are believable to the extent that they are conceivable, given the way this knowledge represents humans and the world they inhabit. Take also for example the conjectures of learned and intuitive philosophers about the intimate nature of nonhuman beings or things beyond their observable characteristics. Like the above-mentioned predictions, they clearly overstep the limits of knowledge, and yet they are believable to the extent that they are conceivable, given the way this knowledge represents humans and nonhuman beings or things. 4) With respect to our human nature, observations include introspections and reveal both the spiritual and material aspects of this nature. Since we measure the value of life in terms of pleasure (sensual, intellectual, or moral), it is safe to say that the spiritual aspect is preeminent. By underscoring the pleasure principle in moral matters, I imply that even the most edifying proof of nobility comprises an element of self-interest. Indeed, nobility is an ideal in the pursuit of which the noble soul takes pleasure – not the low sort of pleasure that one derives from such activities as feasting on a palatable dish or having intercourse with a seductive lover, but the most elevated sort. Therefore, self-interest and nobility are not mutually exclusive. When they come together, the former is exalted by the latter. 5) As we fathom our human nature, we ultimately acknowledge the principle of universal order as the essence of our being, which can normally acquire habits – of thought or behavior – that are conducive to well-being. And so gratitude adds to the acknowledgment, though misery may reverse this attitude when it plagues us despite ourselves. Why such misery? There is no answer to this question. We can ascertain the possibility of misery; we cannot explain it. Saying that the principle of universal order is such as to permit the occurrence of misery is like saying that misery is because it can be, which is no explanation. In short, misery is a mystery; and the best we can do is fight and overcome it, or resign ourselves to it when it is insuperable. Actually, we can do better. We can regard misery as a precious opportunity for courage and merit, whereas an absolutely blissful and effortless life would require no courage and hence afford no merit. But what about extreme cases where we are truly miserable and helpless? We can then take comfort from the knowledge that the principle of universal order is the essence of our being. Each of us is a single human incarnation of this principle among countless other like incarnations, which offer the prospect of a meritorious happiness through considerable effort.

Ian fleming james bond s creator

Ian Lancaster Fleming (1908-1964), the author of the James Bond 007 novels, was the grandson of a Scottish banker and the son of a Conservative MP (Member of Parliament). His father died in the first world war. In his will, he bequeathed his property to his widow on condition she never remarries. Ian's youth was inauspicious. He was expelled from Eton following a sexual liaison with a girl. He left Sandhurst without obtaining an officer's rank, having been caught violating the curfew. He continued his education in Kitzbuhel, Austria, in Munich and in Geneva where he studied languages. But the chain of disappointments continued apace. He failed in a Foreign Service exam and had to join Reuters as a journalist. There he successfully covered a spy trial in Russia (1929-32). He then joined a British investment bank as a stockbroker and moved to live in a converted temple in Belgravia, a fashionable district of London, where he entertained the members of the Le Cercle Gastronomique et des Jeux de Hasard. In 1939, Fleming took on an assignment for The Times in Moscow - in effect a cover. He was spying for the Foreign Office and later for Naval Intelligence where he attained the rank of Commander. During the second world war, he worked from room number 39 in the Admiralty building in Whitehall as assistant to Admiral John Godfrey. He was involved in the evacuation of Dieppe in 1940, in the smuggling of King Zog out of Albania and in setting up the Office for Special Services, the precursor of the CIA. As commander of the 30th Assault Unit, he sometimes operated behind the German lines, trying to secure important documents and files from destruction. But, mostly, he directed the Unit's operations from London. When the war was over, he built a house - Goldeneye - in Jamaica. He worked for the Kemsley group of papers and vacationed every winter in the island. While awaiting the divorce of one of his numerous paramours - the pregnant Lady Anne Rothermere - the 44 years old Fleming wrote "Casino Royale" published in 1953. It was the first of 12 James Bond thrillers, translated to 11 languages and with total sales of 18 million copies. James Bond novels are now being authored by a new generation of writers. In 1961, John F, Kennedy, the newly elected president, listed a James Bond title as one of his favorite books. Many movie plots were loosely based on Fleming's novels and have grossed, in total, more than $1 billion. The 007 trademark was merchandised and attached to everything, from toys and games to clothes and toiletries. But Fleming was also renowned for his non-fiction: tomes like "The Diamond Smugglers" and his "Atticus" column in The Sunday Times where he served as foreign manager (1945-9). He successfully branched into children's literature with "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" (1964), also made into a movie. Ironically, his mother died and left him a fortune in 1964 - when Fleming was already wealthy and dying. The trip to her service may have done him in. His son committed suicide in 1975 and his wife died in 1981. He left behind one heir: James Bond.

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