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Did Socrates say "Know Thyself", or was he misunderstood, as all are. Show Thyself is all we can do. The knowing is unknowable.  

I am filled with joy.  It can't be helped.  

Became a Farmer, Builder, Musician, Tank Commander, Librarian, Lawyer and Minister. I have failed at many things. And now retired.  Filled, just filled, with Joy. 

Monday, December 28, 2009

The School of Trees

I am attracted to plant life. The sight of a restaurant or bar repels me, but the sights of bush or the promises of a nursery, fill me with excitement. And there is more to plants than mere inspiration. Plants respond to threat--often with volatile carbon compounds -- phenols, alkaloids, and terpenes -- entrapping or irritating invaders.

The emitted chemicals are like cries of help, or like roars of intimidation. The volatile chemicals go airborne, and so reveal the dining caterpillar to the female dragon fly sniffing for a fat host to inject with her eggs. Surrounding plants often become more resistant to herbivore assaults, apparently tuning in to the message of the focal victim.

When a cruciform detects the presence of flutterby eggs on its leaves, glued on by benzyl cyanide, the plant detects the additive, and swiftly secretes ovicides, extrudes a carpet of neoplasms to push the eggs off, and issues attractants to wasps who prey upon caterpillars.

However, plants are not all ethical autotrophs wresting food from the sun, while surrounded by us animals who must kill to live. The parasitic dodder, related to morning glory vines, can detect the secretions of its favored host, the tomato. The seedlings grow toward the host, with the intention of encircling the stem and sucking its phloem unto death.

Nor is the iron needle clutch of the chonta palm, or the thorn in the bougainvillea bower and the rose bush, a mere inadvertency. The sting of the nestle, the scarlet scourge of the poison oak, these are not "unintended" -- Plants go to great care to produce "lessons" for other life forms in the environment.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Truth is a Fishwife and Belief is a Bastard

The "problem" for Belief is Truth; it really DOES matter whether the believed is true.

The "problem" for Truth is Belief; it really DOES matter whether the true thing is believed.

We inhabit the problematic. For the most part, our solutions fail when no one believes they can succeed, or they are in fact impossible solutions because they are based on a falsehood.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Posted on Tribes » Science & History » Thermodynamics and Entropy » topics »
Uh...Can Time exist without Motion? Maximum Low-entropy
topic posted Sat, June 28, 2008 - 12:27 PM by offline Tom Key

Ever since Georgescu-Roegen introduced -- more, he physiologically implanted it under the skin -- the concept of ENTROPY into economics, we have had to pay attention. Pay and pay. Of course that's entropic -- it is the exaction of existence, the paying and the pain. Entropically, more is taken than is given.

It is not a mystery that everything gets Colder, Slower, Darker, and Older; it is Law. The reality fixed by the structure of thermodynamic existence.

Of course, the key to this one-way vector is the "older" part -- the irreversibility of Time. Time is functioning as the growing medium of Entropy. We can variously make wine and vinegar out of grapes, but we cannot make grapes out of wine.

We have to wonder, however -- observe the rising bread of mystery -- whether Time could exist without motion, at maximum entropy. Mathematically, we have not shown that Time exists independently. Clearly, we have conservation of energy, but not of Time. Even in a low-entropy state, would there be confusion, or even a gradient, between yesterday and tomorrow?

The point here, is What is the point of a Big Bang? Was there a high-entropy state behind the low-entropy origin of our Universe?

And may I suggest, with irony of course, that there is Peace through Entropy. For ALL of us who decry religious wars, is there salvation in Physics? In a world populated with men and women dreaming of a Heaven for themselves and a Hell for the rest of us, if only all aspirant bombers and child-murderers would pause in their endeavors, to explain What God would reward them for destroying what has been "created" in and over such a brief and enduring Time?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Life Death Matter Energy - fractions of Time

No chemical element or species of energy is peculiar to Living Things which distinguishes them from Dead Things. It is the patterns, not the constitution, of the Living tissues which is distinctive. Observation tells us that this is what is real -- that there is a difference between the Living and the Dead, and the Material and Energetic States. But E=mc2, where Matter and Energy are the SAME, and the difference, although significant, is ONLY Time.

Now it is Time. The work to be done is not to preserve species or diversity or things or fetuses or fuels. That is all 18th to 20th century. The work of the 21st century is to come to terms with the Vector, not merely the Stuff. It is the equilibration of matter, the fractured chronology, the entropical storm going older colder darker slower quieter and...all the Same, to which Science is now inviting us to turn.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Anima Diversion Frail Person

Accustomed as I am to public humiliation, the arena itself designed for the function, I participate in the lively animadversion of human frailty, as a player, an author, a willing but largely unconscious humunculus of the profession. The effort to mediate disputes is an unrecognizable heuristic.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Time - fracturing, pointingless, relative

I am trying not to think of Time as a fracturing of reality, the thing that keeps amending, surcharging, shaving, shoving into extremes, from the crepuscular.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Porn Statistics: Highest Revenues - Curiously strong hypocrisy, with more than a hint of idiocy.

"There are some 13,000 porn films made in the United States a year. According to the Internet Filter Review, worldwide porn revenues, including in-room movies at hotels, sex clubs and the ever-expanding E-sex world, topped $97 billion in 2006. That's more than the revenues of the leading technology companies combined: Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix and EarthLink. Annual sales in the United States are estimated at $ 10 billion or higher. There is no agency that does precise monitoring of the porn industry. And porn is very lucrative to some of the nation's largest corporations. General Motors, for example, owns DirectTV, which distributes over forty million streams of porn into American homes every month. AT&T Broadband and Comcast Cable are the currently biggest American companies accommodating porn users with The Hot Network, Adult Pay-Per-View and similarly themed services. AT&T and GM rake in approximately 80 percent of all porn dollars spent by consumers."

Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer prize-winning reporter, is a Senior Fellow at the Nation Institute. He writes a regular column for TruthDig every Monday. His latest book is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Verbs and Loan Modification (not modifying lending)

I pulled over to think about the month. In mid-September my Office Manager and Department Heads met with me to brain-storm solutions to the fact that the income into our Practice had fallen off a cliff. It occurred to me that we had all become nouns, and we now needed to be verbs. Law Firms can become remarkably complacent.

It is our geography. Lawyers are isolated. We live on an archipelago populated by a fractious and internecine tribe, with its own language which we frankly boast is unintelligible. We are willing to change, to twist a word, so that it has no place at the table, or means the opposite. Contract is a type of breach. Negligence is never accidental. Proof is a mirage. Process is substance to us, our meat.

What our Clients really need, should be obvious. But what is that need when viewed through the lens of the Law?

For example, in Ojibway, many nouns can be turned into verbs. The tongue is filled with the possibility of action. In law, we turn verbs into nouns. We don't really "argue", we make "arguments". Ideas become things.

In 2008, most of the real estate lawyers in Orange County had home loan clients coming to us asking what they could do about the fact that they were faced with loan obligations secured by their homes. Most of the recent loan terms were predatory -- the monthly repayments were triggered to double or even triple, and borrowers could never ever pay off such loans.

The Lenders, not content with placing homeowners into inappropriate obligations, proceeded to offer the mortgages to investors, in layers of securitization. The amount of money seeking investments in the world doubled (Global Money Supply), but the places to invest did not. Bankers sought to service this expanding "market" (for investments) with "new" securities, and mortgages looked attractive. Since Bankers needed more mortgages, with the same number of people, they made the mortgages easier to obtain.

Curiously, however, the Bankers also made the "easier" mortgages impossible to pay off. The Bankers lobbied for laws removing restrictions on Pre-Payment Penalties. (The California Field Code had a provision outlawing penalties in excess of actual costs.) The Financial Industry re-introduced Option-ARM terms and credit default swaps that had been abolished since the 1930s. And to make these new loan forms easier to market, the Banks offered "teaser rates" and promised to "re-finance" the balloon payments. In most States, the Finance Industry eliminated lawyers -- on the consumer's side -- from the loan origination process.

When the Option-ARMS began to trigger -- when the loan repayments doubled or tripled -- the consumer borrowers appeared in lawyers' offices. Lawyers assisted the consumers in seeking "modifications" for the loans. Ideally, this would eliminate the predatory terms, but leave the obligation otherwise intact. The borrowers would be able to keep their homes, and the investment pools (the retirement plans, etc.) would still have cash flow from the income.

However, the Banks are not content with having sold loans to consumers who will never ever be able to pay them off. Nor are Banks content with having sold mortgage securities to investors in forms which have no marketable value (toxic). Nor are the large Banks content with taking tax payer bail out money.

Bankers have foreclosed on huge swaths of homes in neighborhoods across the country, and the benefits of home-ownership are compromised. The victimized families are torn by financial stresses. When the consumers to go lawyers, we tell them that the best of all the bad alternatives is to try to "modify" the loans. The Obama Plan provides guidelines and "commissions" to Lenders who modify the predatory loans. HUD and Fannie Mae provide "free" assistance to consumers.

However, the Banks are taking the Obama Plan commissions, and then they are refusing or delaying the Loan Modifications. They place the borrowers in a Twilight Zone of delay. One tactic is to offer the consumers a three-month "trial mod", after which they require another round of documents because the previous financials are "stale dated". More delays.

Almost all "loan modifications" done by homeowners without law firm assistance go into default within six months. The banks are not really modifying their predation. No one is modifying Lending. We only have bail outs and laws written by the Loan Industry, and consumers losing their homes.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

How Little we Know.

Obviously, we are in the post-discovery age. There are few of us casting about for continents to "explore" and claim for king and lord. As if. Now, statistically, most of us are just trying to hang on to jobs and relationships -- as sub-contractors, in serial relationships. The King is dead, the employer is bankrupt, and the lenders are using bail-out money to hire public relations experts to make us feel grateful to them for not giving us loans. It's not like there is a New World out there. The shysters are not even trying to lure us onto ships, or trick and "Shanghai" us to "see the world".

So, today is really NOTHING like the Age of Discovery. When ships unfurled their beautiful sails and ports bustled with new people and things -- and sailors knew how to sing nautical songs and tie knots in hemp ropes, after being trapped into service for three years or so. There were headwaters and new languages to discover, species to name. Great Explorers mounted "expeditions", often suffering severe privations, and visiting their distress upon the "natives" they encountered in the ordeal.

Today, we board aircraft like buses, with SRO. The travel industry is hell-bent to make every location in the world a "tourist destination", with the same hotel, selling the same trinkets, offering the same "comforts" and pillow service, wherever you go. Much of the suffering, risk and danger -- and original discovery -- appears to be gone. Appears.

There really IS a world yet to be discovered....and there are still those severe risks and demands which are made by the struggle to learn and understand.

SOIL. According to the new "Underground Adventure" at the Chicago Field Museum, "one teaspoonful of soil from your own backyard" will yield more than a billion organisms, of which 40% are species unknown and un-named. We barely understand anything about bugs. We are just starting to grasp the importance of fungi in the lives of plants, the chemistry of slime-mold, and the morphology of water bears. And don't get me started about Ants!

WATER. One of the most useful, and it turns out, increasingly scarce comforts of our planet, is fresh water. We continue to find most curious facts about it. Recent studies drawn from lichen, which is one of the few life forms that can thrive with almost no water, indicates that water has a molecular affect on the growth clock of lichen. Living Things evolve faster in the tropics than in the desert...because of water. Crazy. The partnership of fungi and algae enables both to thrive where each would fail alone.

CULTURE. We are still waiting for a theory or explanation for why people have such bad taste. And why people are so wicked. Why you can get people to risk their life on a highway inside a weaponized automobile to drive to work or go shopping, but you cannot get them to stand up for their own basic human rights against dictators, for fear of what? Getting killed/martyred by a dictator? Dying for a great reason, for Freedom, instead of No Reason on the highway driving a car!

DANCERS. Explore this: Why do Dancers and Musicians do so much better at bringing Peace to the world than missles and tanks? And why are the Pentagon and Kremlin and Al Quada dedicating billions to weapons instead of piano and guitar lessons? A thin invalid with a soft voice has united the world -- just by moon-walking!. At almost no cost. Do we need to pay for weapons which will only blow ourselves up? Al Quada killed more Arabs, more Believers, in the 2001 World Trade Center attack than any attack by the West suffered by any Arab nation prior to that date. The Bolshoi has the biggest budget (relatively) of any dance troupe in the world, yet it is miniscule compared to the cost of running a single nuclear submarine carrying nuclear weapons. And compare the effects for the respect and dignity of Russia in the world today.

THE NET. Who will be the first to find a new continent of discovery by unfurling the web over a sea of information. We are just at the beginning of the Singularity. Who will colonize the floating city built in the Pacific Gyre? Who will conquer the new forms of playground equipment provided for children who will never make arrows to hunt in a real forest? Who will populate the islands that are uninhabitable for lack of potable water by introducing desalinization units? Who will translate the algorithmic language learned by the baby robots?

We need to really re-think how completely unknown, unexplored, so much of this world remains today. Wide open opportunity.

Milton's Paradise Lost - how did things go so terribly wrong?

Notes on Milton’s Paradise Lost and Found.

We are now 401 years after Milton’s birth in 1608. For perspective, note that Shakespeare lived approximately 1564-1616. Eleven volume series of all Milton’s works is come out, edited by Thomas Corns and Gordon Campbell

Paradise Lost, is a dilation on a moment in Genesis, written by a blind man who had fallen into “evil days”, with respectable people saying awful things about him, and calling for his arrest.

He names Satan’s palace Pandemonium – “all the demons”.

In his defense of free speech published earlier –“Areopagitica” – the title alludes to an Attic assembly or court – he compares Truth to the broken body of Osiris. We can never know Truth until the Messiah comes; therefore we must all search in every way we can, each for himself. Compare this to the Arthurian epic Search for the Holy Grail. Censorship can play no role in the Search for Truth.

Milton’s unrelenting optimism runs through all of his writing, even as he faced personal conflict and limns the tragedy of The Fall. With an explosive imagination, and cool statecraft, he marches with martial vigor into the war with Evil, hunting for the jewel in the head of the ugliest toad, and prefiguring the Nietzschean reduction “That which fails to kill me, makes me stronger”. Milton says “That which purifies us is trial, and trial is by what is contrary.” This, during a time of terrifying anarchy, the world that also produced Hobbes’ “Leviathan”.

Milton was Unitarian. Did not see the Son of God as the same as God or part of a Trinity. In Paradise Lost, he places the Son at the Creation, as a Son, a competitor of Satan.

The question he poses in Paradise Lost – how did things go so wrong – starts back to the moment that Adam and Eve (“our first parents”) ate the apple and brought “death into the world, all our woe”. Note the way he bring us all in – “our” parents, “our” woe. Then he steps back before Adam and Eve, in the tale within the tale, to the narrative of Lucifer who grows jealous of the promotion of God’s Son to the position of Messiah. Lucifer organizes a revolt, loses, and is “hurled headlong flaming from th’ ethereal sky With hideous ruin and combustion down to bottomless perdition”. Cast into Hell with his many followers.

In Milton’s view, God creates earth with its “images” of Himself, to make up for the angelic absence. Then Satan, hearing of the new toy, determines to take it by cunning for himself and his demon horde. The theme of the plotting failed revolutionaries echoes the bitter irony of Milton’s role as apologist for the Puritans, and his support for the regicide. Place and power is what is “lost” in the personal Paradise.

Satan seems charismatic as a leader of minions, although a tortured soul, slinking away in shame after seducing Eve. Milton’s God is dull, fixed, and sends Gabriel to do his fighting. Gabriel of course, does it badly, and fails to protect Eve and the earth from the demon snare. Gabriel does some trash-talking, threatening Satan, who in turn calls him a “limitary Cherub”. Perhaps our next Milton hankering to explore an unforgivable tragedy should write the epic of Gabriel.

Milton shows great compassion for mankind. Adam and Eve are holding hands in the garden basking in love when we first meet them, and we leave them exiled to a fallen world, again holding hands together. Milton says he set out to justify the ways of God to men, but he ends up defending human dignity to God. The freedom to fail – here Milton rejects mainstream Puritanism (moving directly to the center of Unitarianism) with its predestination.

My mother once listened rather openly to a socio-biological narrative of how individual decision-making is reducible to chemistry. Animal instinct and knee-jerk reactions are locked into the molecular structures of ganglia and brain capacity. The uber-train of “choice” actually runs on a double-helix rail. Once she realized the story led to a kind of determinism, however morphological, she reacted viscerally, strongly rejecting any suggestion that human beings do not have unfettered free choice. When I suggested that her response was a possible predisposition rising from her Miltonian Christianity, not to mention its consistency with her chemistry, she did not see the ironic humor. The idea of choice playing a necessary role in salvation, the idea that choice asserts itself, remains fixed in certain minds, even long after other beliefs have shifted.

This concept of individual freedom is also at the heart of the relationship between Adam and Eve. Adam alone was warned about Satan, and sought to husband Eve by having her near. His very act of trying to protect her – and it is fair to observe she never understood From What? – moved her to seek her own solitude. He will not relent and let her go off by herself until she argues that she must have freedom, even at the risk of harm: “What is faith, love, virtue unassayed?”

Adam praises her logic. They both recognize that she is right about the importance of being exposed to the risks of being wrong. Once alone, Eve is immediately tricked by the snake, and is condemned to die. Adam then chooses to take his bite of the forbidden fruit and fall with her. He would rather die with her than live alone: “To lose thee were to lose myself.”

Milton’s depiction of the Son of God at the Creation, is one of the first attempts to create a coherency between the Hebrew Bible with the New Testament. And we see the nature of evil – a despondent Devil having no hope of a happy home, devoting himself to destroying the lives of others.

Milton died still revising Paradise Lost in 1674. Hounded by calumny and accusation to the end, and facing poverty, the plague, intellectual isolation, loneliness, and his own demons. But he left us with the greatest work of epic verse in the English tongue. And it rings with hope and imagination.

Things go terribly wrong. It's not just YOU, your life. The planet. The universe. The "broken-ness" of the Osiris body. The lack of Judgment or Justice. So... celebrate! There is not a moment to lose!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Michael Jackson - the legacy of dance and music

Michael Jackson died (June 25, 2009) at age 50, having been a “star” most of his life, with a gift for singing, dancing, and putting himself completely into the pose. His talent was original, it was the steam of consciousness, the part of being that wants to be and do the best image, the top of fashion, the most expressed expression.

He was one of the dancers who changed the world. Couple the moves with the music, and he changed how we think of ourselves, on a rainbow global scale. A black man whose talent was accepted by white people, and in his later years -- one hesitates to say "mature" -- as a white man who was accepted by people of color.

The debts of his estate are rumored to be $400 million. Clearly he was taken advantage of by those closest to him. He must have been completely isolated. Entirely alone, with the added certainty of having been betrayed, again and again.

Great dancers and musicians are more likely to change the world for the better, than any other occupational skill set. We seem to weaponize science, religion, law. But the arts, remain unifiers. Even when they are subversively invasive, they elevate the culture they invade. Even when they explode and pop, they do not destroy.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


We do crave sugar. Why? We crave energy.

That craving, however natural, is not necessarily a healthy habit to feed. The sugar molecule is extremely sharp-pointed and mauls the walls of the tiny capillaries of the eye and toes as the red blood cell buckets bounce their way through the narrows. Diabetics go blind and lose their limbs to gangrene.

No fix for heart problems, high blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight is as good as dropping the excess sugar we consume. Excess sugar is linked to diabetes and cancer. I used it to control ants -- they find it irresistible, but sugar simply does not provide a basis for growth and expansion, even for family Myrmex...!

The Eating Plan should include reducing sugar. The "problem" is that poisonous SUGAR SUBSTITUTES have invaded the marketplace. Other sweeteners MAY help reduce sugar intake, but the "industry" preying upon our healthy desire to reduce sugar is now poisoning us. Huge fortunes have been made selling poisons to people who rely upon the false representations and deliberate deception of marketeers.

The following is my effort to sort through the facts, past the hysteria and the marketing, to evaluate the wonders of this molecule we crave:

SUCROSE - natural organic disaccharide derived from glucose and fructose, known as "table sugar", or saccharose. It is a complicated molecule with a single isomer (exists in forms having different arrangements of atoms but the same molecular weight). These forms are "spiky" and sharp edged. Like other carbohydrates, sucrose combusts into carbon dioxide and water--it is a fuel. It is water soluble and hydrolysis breaks the glycosidic bond, converting to glucose and fructose, which are then absorbed into the blood stream by the microvilli lining the duodenum. It is a suitable preservative

ASPARTAME - (Nutrasweet, Equal, Canderel) - can be used after cooking. Controversial, since excesses are linked to complaints of seizures, blindness. Contains Phenylalinine, Aspartic Acid, and Methanol, and should only use with its natural antidotes, ethanol and pectin, and avoid large or regular quantity. Becomes unstable in aqueous media (drinks). Often combined with dextrose and maltodextrin. (The combination used in Equal.)

PHENYLALININE - Amino acid sometimes used as a mood enhancer. Phenylketonurics containing P are a component of Aspartame.

SACCHARIN - (Sweet'n Low, Sugar Twin) - produced from natural, but not naturally edible substances; excess amounts linked to cancer. Often mixed with cream of tartar (an acid which accelerates the hydrolysis of sucrose into fructose), calcium silicate [anti-caking], and dextrose. (The combination in Sweet'n Low).

ACESULFAME-K - (Ace-K, Sunnette, Sweet & Safe, Sweet One) -

SUCRALOSE - (marketed in Splenda, with dextrose and maltodextrin) artificially weaponized sugar (disaccharide), manipulated to surrender a portion of the hydroxyls and replace them with chlorine atoms, to produce a chlorocarbon, or chloronated sugar. Chlorine is an excitable element used as a biocide and bleaching agent. "Sucralose" is a marketing term for a man-made poison used to replace aspartame, and is now the #1 artificial sweetener in manufactured foods and beverages. I don't think chlorine occurs naturally bound to sugar. It does bind to sodium, but the chlorocarbons are incompatible with healthy metabolism, which is why they are such effective insecticides.


STEVIA (Stevia rebaudiana) - an herb containing NO sugar, used extensively in Japan for 25 years. No known side-effects. Large amounts of steviosol, a stevioside derivative, resulted in smaller and fewer off-spring in female hamsters. May disrupt metabolism of food into energy. Steviol can convert into a mutagenic compound. Sperm production reduced in rats after long period of (involuntary) high dosing.

NATURAL SOURCES: Cane juice, fruit juice, rice syrup, honey, licorce root (small amounts), Fructooligosaccharides (FOS), Amasake, vegetable glycerin, sugar alchohols (xylitol, sorbitol), maple syrup, barley malt.

Compare the chemistry of Sugar as the simplest of the carbohydrates. Unlike indigestible Hydrocarbons, Carbohydrates are soluble in water, with a double bond carbon-oxygen reactive center. To digest, metabolic enzymes must hydrolyse or otherwise break the glycosidic bond.

"-ose" denotes a sugar:

GLUCOSE - monosaccharide, primarily from maize or fruit. A blood glucose test measures the amount of this type of sugar, in your blood. Glucose comes from carbohydrate foods. It is the main source of energy used by the body. Insulin is a hormone that helps your body's cells use the glucose. Insulin is produced in the pancreas and released into the blood when the amount of glucose in the blood rises.

Normally, your blood glucose levels increase slightly after you eat. This increase causes your pancreas to release insulin so that your blood glucose levels do not get too high. Because of the shape of the sugar molecule, blood glucose levels that remain high over time can damage your eyes, kidneys, nerves, because of damage done to the capillaries, the small blood vessels.

FRUCTOSE - monosaccharide found naturally in many fruits. Most soft drinks are now made with "high fructose corn syrup", and glucose. (I see no studies showing that the substitution of sucrose with fructose alleviates the objections raised by the sucrose studies showing obesity, gout, hypoglycemia, and diabetes).


SUCROSE - (saccharose) disaccharide found naturally in sugar cane and sugar beet, and along with the monosaccharide fructose, in many fruits. In pineapple and apricot, sucrose is the main sugar. In others, such as grapes and pears, fructose is the main sugar.

DEXTROSE - (main ingredient in Sweet/N Low, along with Saccharin, and in Splenda, along with Sucralose) two stereoisomers of the aldehexose sugars are known as glucose, L-glucose which cannot be metabolized, and D-glucose, which is destrose monohydrate, or "dextrose".

Starch and Glycogen - polysaccharides
Chitin and Cellulose - even more complex, indigestible as fibre.
Compare: plastic - cf. Carbohydrate and Hydrocarbon
The key similarity between Oil/plastic and biopolymers!
Butanol from biomass is an alcohol that is more similar to gasoline than it is to ethanol, and has been demonstrated as a fuel in internal combustion engines without modification of the engines.

AVOID - Splenda (a chorine-based "sucralose"), Equal (aspartame), Sweet'N Low (Saccharin).

Saturday, May 30, 2009

"Prayer changes nothing but the pray-er".

It is obvious that prayer does not change anything. The futility of appeals to any or all gods is proved by the record of the saints and the demons, and all of us in between, who have begged, promised, pled and sacrificed, and were answered with silence and inattention.

Today, however, I heard a man declare that prayer changes ONE thing: The Prayer.

So true! Yes, the act of prayer fixes the pray-er to the message and massages the medium. To the one set of ears which hear the articulation, in the interaction of saying it, hearing it, and "getting it", there is a chance of change.

Of course, most of the time, the praying is formulaic. Iterations of "Bless this food to our bodies" locks us into the sleep likely to prevent the possibility of any "change" at the heart of the praying and prayed for.

Still, it is also obvious that we constantly pray. We do many things that do not really "change" anything, and prayer is one of them. The lack of change does not change, and we are not likely to wean ourselves from our futilities.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Climbing - vocabulary

Definitions / words to help keep the climb in perspective. Note that climbing or exploring, like culinary activities, is dominated by French words:

Apparel - Outside, a durable, breathable, alpine soft shell with moisture-shedding doubleweave polyester, glued seams and stretch. Inside, wool, with layers of cotton.

Ascension - Ideal term for describing the upward climb. Contrast with "the Fall".

Big Wall - said of climbing a rock face.

Bivouac / bivouacked - temporary pitching of tent, with an intention that it is a place of rest and protection in the course of an ordeal. What is usually abandoned in the "last ditch descent".

Bottleneck - a geological feature that limits passage to a tricky and dangerous passage. On the Abruzzi route on K2, the B. is a 60-degree couloir at 27,100 feet.

British Paratroopers on Mt.McKinley (qv) climb - On June 4, 1998, a 10-man team of British soldiers set out to climb Mt.McKinley. The rangers at Talkeetna recommended the West Buttress (Grade 2), because some team members had no experience with glacier crossings and ice climbing. The rangers also told them to acclimatize for several days at 16,200 feet. The team ignored the outsider advice (see Groupness qv). They chose to climb the West Rib (Grade 4), and attempted to summit after only one day, and split the group 7 times in rescues required in attempting a highly technical finish. Found themselves on the mountain for three weeks, partially exposed in wet bivouc bags during bad weather.

Climber's Elbow - tendinits of the Medial Epicondyle (qv). Can be prevented with stretching and strengthening of the forearm.

Couloir - a deep gorge, where a gorge is a deep gulley. The big drop.

Everest - [None of the local names were established before British scientists named it after one of their own who had himself made every effort to use local names -- but see also Sagarmatha (Nepali: सगरमाथा), Chomolungma or Qomolangma (Tibetan: ཇོ་མོ་གླང་མ) or Zhumulangma (Chinese: 珠穆朗玛峰 Zhūmùlǎngmǎ Fēng)]– the highest mountain on Earth, as measured by the height above sea level of its summit, 8,848 metres (29,029 ft - first established by theodolites, then in 1999 by GPS unit embedded in the rock). The mountain, which is part of the Himalaya range in High Asia, is located on the border between Sagarmatha Zone, Nepal, and Tibet, China. 3,681 aspirants have summitted, with a death toll of 210. Note K2 is 4 times more dangerous -- qv.

Fixed ropes - clip lines and rappels anchored to the rock or with ice screws left in place by previous teams.

Frostbite - with hypothermia, frozen body tissue. Usually to ears, nose, fingers/hands, legs and feet. Appendages may be visibly curled, dysfunctional. Regarding the 2006 David Sharp controversy, although still living, he was climbing solo and already suffering from severe frostbite when first located by other teams ascending Everest.

Groupness - the downfall of many a good corporation and climbing team. Study by MIT Sloan showing relationship between how long a group has been together and how well it communicates with outsiders. New groups perform better than older groups which become insular and technically dysfunctional over time. Example: 1998 British paratroopers set out to climb McKinley, Alaska (qv.)

Hard go - a difficult climb or descent; cf. the euphemism, "highly technical climb".

K2 - 28,250 feet, in Pakistan's Karakoram Range, a much harder and deadlier peak than Everest. August 1, 2008 saw 11 climbers killed on the Abruzzi Ridge. First ascent was in 1954. By 2007, only 284 climbers had summitted, while 66 died trying.

Medial Epicondyle - inside of the elbow. Used to describe flat ridge leading up to a rock face.

Motivator - The dangerous condition on the climb, such as an oncoming storm, or a geological feature such as an overhanging serac above a bottleneck.

Rappel - a descent of a vertical cliff or wall made by using a doubled rope that is fixed to a higher point and fastened to the body.

Road - "A strip of land along which one may pass from where it is too tiresome to be, to where it is futile to go." - A. Bierce.

Prolotherapy Injections - Anti-anti-inflammatory: re-ignites the natural anti-inflammatory response with injection of glucose. Note that anti-inflammatory drugs reduce pain, but impede healing, by stifling the flow of regenerative proteins or even blood supply to damaged areas.

Serac - A pinnacle of ice among the crevasses of a glacier; also, one of the blocks into which a glacier breaks on a steep grade.

Sloughed off -- as when a serac that had hung in place for decades suddenly collapses off the mountain, and may cover the trail with freshly broken impedimenta. May refer to the natural removal of fixed ropes you counted on.

Summit - reach the top.

Technical - euphemism for a climbing difficulty.

Top out - reach the top.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Book: "JESUS; the man who lives" by Malcomb Muggeridge

This work is a wonderful walk through the biographical portions of the first four Gospels, with full-page Art illustrations. Our "St. Mugg" provides the narrative company of a perpetually skeptical but late to his ardency, Believer. Muggeridge does note that no historical sources outside of the Gospels are available to corroborate anything said or done by Jesus. [To date, the actual existence of Jesus remains uncorroborated by real or direct evidence. He left no artifact or archeology or contemporary record. This lacuna is highlighted by the forged insertion into Josephus' history.]

The three chapters explore His Coming, His Teachings, and His Dying and Living. The Teachings of Jesus should be of interest to everyone, and they are honestly quoted and helpfully explored -- admitting to the obscurities. Jesus presents no theology, no law, nor even a Church.

"The religion Jesus gave the world is an experience, not a body of ideas or principles. It is in being lived that it lives, as it is in loving that the love which it discloses at the heart of all creation become manifest." [71]

The study is as comprehensive as the Gospels themselves. Intense, even comparative across these sources, noting the discrepant versions of events and parables -- for example, the three very different versions of the spikenard episode: "When Jesus was in Bethany with Lazarus, [who he had previously raised from the dead when Martha sent for Jesus to advise him that his beloved had died]... while Martha was preparing supper, Mary took a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and annointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair..." [124].

The emphasis is on what actual sins are, and that sin is rarely what the authorities say it is -- for example, Jesus roundly abuses hypocrisy -- the Pharisees "who say and do not" -- as the worst possible offense.[130]

Those of us not given to power over others or to accumulations of material things, will be gratified by Muggeridge's faithful recitation and explosion of the Beatitudes, and in particular, the bits about the poor and the meek. On the eve of of his crucifiction at Gethesemane -- this must be important -- Jesus told a lawyer to sell everything, give the proceeds to the poor, and "follow me". [114]. Jesus repeats this "distribute unto the poor" admonishment to his close friends, Lazarus, Martha and Mary.[116] If a "Christian" is one who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ, then there cannot, cannot, be more than a few dozen Christians in the world today. What a hypocrite professes makes the point.

A light on St. Mugg's own conversion is shed in the summary of Jesus' teachings provided by Jesus himself:

"Jesus summarized all his teaching for us in two great propositions which have provided Christendom with, as it were, its moral and spiritual axis...: 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and the second, like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.' On these two commandments, he insisted, hang all the law and the prophets. His manner of presenting them indicates their interdependence; unless we love God we cannot love our neighbour, and, correspondingly, unless we love our neighbour we cannot love God. Once again, there has to be a balance...".[130]

"The simple fact is that to be truly loved God has to become a Man without thereby ceasing to be God. Hence Jesus, ... Thus the two commandments become one...". [133]

Here we may have but the core of Muggeridge's conversion to Catholicism late in life.

Of course, he managed at the end to regain his certainty that Faith had no meaning, and died knowing there was no immortality or God. But that is another book, not this one. Much of the grace and gratitude of the religion which St. Mugg did so brilliantly express is so in this one.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Leadership - vision, passion, integrity, adaptive capacity

Our local County Bar President, Michael G. Yoder, prepared for his post by reviewing studies on LEADERSHIP. Great idea. One of the leading authorities on leadership is Dr. Warren Bennis, the Distinguished Professor of Business Administration and Founding Chairman of the Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California. In his widely recognized classic, On Becoming a Leader, Dr. Bennis isolates four qualities of an effective leader: (1) Vision – a leader must have a clear idea of what he or she wants to accomplish; (2) Passion – A leader must have a distinctive voice that can inspire and move others; (3) Integrity – A leader must stay true to his or her core values in order to earn the trust of others; and (4) Adaptive Capacity – A leader must be able to recognize and respond to change.

What an admirable way to prepare for taking a position of leadership. Is there something "undemocratic" about requiring nominees or candidates to reveal their achievements against the criteria that scholars, as well as the citizens, journalists, and historians will judge them?