Saturday, December 31, 2005

Why "No Alcohol" at Our New Year's Eve Party

Besides the liver damage and consideration of the 4 regulative principles (which applies to other intoxicants also), here are a few more reasons to avoid alcohol consumption:

consumption of alcohol may cause you to wake up with breath that could knock a buzzard off a manure spreader at 100 yards.

consumption of alcohol is a major factor in dancing like an a**hole.

consumption of alcohol may cause you to tell the same boring story over and over again until your friends want to SMASH YOUR HEAD IN.

consumption of alcohol may cause you to thay shings like thish.

consumption of alcohol may cause you to tell the boss what you REALLY think while photocopying your butt at the office party.

consumption of alcohol may lead you to believe that ex-girlfriends are really dying for you to telephone them at 4 in the morning.

consumption of alcohol may leave you wondering what the hell ever happened to your pants anyway.

consumption of alcohol may cause you to roll over in the morning and see something really scary (whose species and or name you can't remember)

consumption of alcohol is the leading cause of inexplicable rug burn on the forehead.

consumption of alcohol may create the illusion that you are tougher, handsomer and smarter than some really, really big guy named Psycho.

Seriously though, binge drinking may cause Alcohol Poisoning, which can be fatal or cause brain damage.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Caution - Children Under 9 Should Not Read

If you are under the age of nine, have your parents read this first and let them decide if you should proceed. Parents? Okay, click thru below to screen this prior to showing young children.

This is Continued.

Personally, I think it is a little wierd that a rite of passage for young children is to find out that not only their parents but an entire society has been lying to them. It's Christmas time, you all know what I am talking about.


In the Late 1800s a little girl named Virginia asked the New York Times if there was a Santa Clause. The reply is now famous. Someone thought it would be fun to ask the scientists at NASA the same question.

Here is their reply:

No known species of reindeer can fly. But there ARE 300,000 species of living organisms yet to be classified, and while most of these are insects and germs, this does not completely rule out flying reindeer, which only Santa has seen.

There are two billion children (under 18) in the world. But since Santa doesn't appear to handle Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish children, that reduces the workload to 15% of the total - 138 million or so. At an average rate of 3.5 children per household, that's 91.8 million homes. One presumes there is at least one good child in each.

Santa has 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west. This works out to 822.6 visits per second. This is to say that for each household with good children, Santa has 1/1000th of a second to park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining gifts under the tree, eat snacks, get back up the chimney, get back into the sleigh, and move to the next house. Assuming that each of these 91.8
million houses are distributed evenly (which we know to be false but for the sake of these calculations we will accept) we are now talking about 0.78 miles per household, a total trip of 75.5 million miles, not counting bathroom stops. This means that Santa's sleigh is traveling at 650 miles per second, 3000 times the speed of sound.

For comparison, the fastest man made vehicle, the Ulysses space probe moves at a poky 27.4 MPS.

The average reindeer runs at 15MPH.

The sleigh's payload adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium sized Lego set (2 pounds), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 TONS not counting Santa, who is invariably described as overweight. On land, conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that "flying reindeer" (see first paragraph) could pull TEN TIMES the usual amount, we cannot do the job with 8 or even 9. We need 214,000 reindeer. This increases the weight, not even counting the sleigh, to 353,430 tons. Again, for comparison this is 4 times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth 2.

353,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates an enormous air resistance. This will heat the reindeer in the same manner as a spacecraft re-entering the earth's atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer will absorb 14.3 QUINTILLION joules of energy. Per second. Each. In short, they will burst in flame almost instantaneously, exposing the next pair of reindeer, and creating deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire team will be vaporized within 4.26 thousands of a second.

Santa, meanwhile, will be subjected to centrifugal forces 17,500.06 times the force of gravity. A 300 pound Santa would be pinned to the back ofhis sleigh by 4,325,015 pounds of force.

CONCLUSION: There was a Santa, but he's dead now.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Only 361 Days Until Christmas

While those who believe Christmas is about receiving gifts are still enamored by the newness of their toys, let us ponder what to do during these 12 Days. One thing is going to get the bargains stores are now offering on left over decorating items. Strings of Christmas lights and ornaments to hang are usually deeply discounted after the first day of Christmas. It costs stores to take the inventory off the shelves, pack it up, and store it away for next year so sales are common. If you buy now instead of next fall, you get items at half the cost, amounting to a doubling of your investment in a single year. Great financial planning advice, eh? :-)

Of course, things don't always work out the way we plan. Any number of unforeseen things can happen between now and next year. We do need to perform due diligence in our lives, and the lives of others that we can hopefully influence for the better. Still, sometimes even the best of plans and intentions can blow up in our faces if it is our time, or we are not careful.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

No Yews for Cows

"The plant is exceptionally toxic, with one mouthful able to kill a horse or cow within 5 minutes. Toxicity is compounded by the apparent palatability of yew. Many animals are poisoned accidently when yew trimmings are thrown into the pasture or when yew is planted as an ornamental within browsing reach..."

Full article about English Yew, Japanese Yew (Taxus baccata, Taxus cuspidata) and livestock poisoning.

Wreaths are typically not made from yews. Although they are a common shrub planted where deer browsing is light, they are most usually sheared into hedge or topiary forms. Why yews kill cows and not deer is one of Nature's cruel jokes, as you have to put yews on the Do Not Grow list because deer seem to prefer them to other foods in winter when there is no garden to devastate.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Death Oblivious to Christmas

"A widespread belief that dying people are able to postpone death until after important dates is simply not true, according to a US study of cancer patients Almost everyone knows a story of someone who, through sheer willpower, held grimly on to life until a certain date. And small studies of specific populations seemed to bear the idea out...

So he embarked on a study of more than 300,000 Ohioans who died of cancer between 1989 and 2000, using the Ohio mortality database. Using Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the patient's birthday as the three "special dates", Young looked for a dip in deaths the week before, with a corresponding peak in the week after. He reports in the Journal of the American Medical Association that he didn't see any effect at all. "Death never takes a holiday," he says. Young speculates that the myth springs from selective memory. Stories about loved ones who "held on" until after the holidays are more memorable than those about the uncle who slipped away in mid-November..."

Death proves oblivious to Christmas, Complete Article.

I called my brother today to thank him for sending me his old FFA jacket from our hometown. I had jettisoned mine when entering ashram life. I had previously mentioned how nice it would be to have one to wear with a "Pedro for President" button. (If you watch DVDs , see "Napolean Dynamite"; don't if you are trying to be "fixed up".) He was gone so I ended up talking to my sister-in-law for a while. Conversation rolled around to dying on Christmas Day, as she had lost a nephew in recent years on Christmas. My own mother-in-law died on Christmas, so my wife always carries that into the Holidays. Over the years I have have met a lot of peole who knew someone who died at Christmas. My mother-in-law was sickly for most of my wife's life, but did manage a visit to NV before she left her body.

"It is important to take to Krsna consciousness immediately, because we do not know how much time is left before death. When your time in this body expires, no one can stop your death. The arrangement of material nature is so strong. You cannot say, "Let me remain." Actually, people sometimes request like that. When I was in Allahabad, an old friend who was very rich was dying. At that time he begged the doctor, "Can't you give me at least four more years to live? I have some plans which I could not finish." You see. This is foolishness. Everyone thinks, "Oh, I have to do this. I have to do that." No. Neither the doctors nor the scientists can check death: "Oh, no, sir. Not four years, not even four minutes. You have to go immediately." This is the law..."

LON 1: God and The Law of Karma

Monday, December 26, 2005

Second Day of Christmas

Well, now that the materialists think Christmas is over, we can get on with it. The merchants try to keep their claws in with liberal return policies and gift cards, but that starts to fade away. The hedonists have had their revelries and now are setting their sights on New Year's parties. The politicians have kicked semantics around to create dissension and gain power thru divide and control techniques.

Still, through it all, Christmas continues until Epiphany, the 6th of January, so there is still plenty of time for those who prefer to think of the season as the Holy Days. To take the time to quietly contemplate larger issues of living, the still cold nights with stars seeming to be so much brighter than busier times of the year. In a more natural society, the harvests are finished and stored away, and the focus shifts from the business of external endeavors to the inner life, from the body to the soul.

We had a nice Christmas Day shared with friends of long acquaintance and their now mostly grown children. It had snowed a bit at the beginning of December, and then had remained 10-15 degrees F below normal, right up until Christmas Eve when it leaped to 12 degrees above normal, into the 50s F and by the evening all the snow had melted. It rained Christmas Day, then this morning, we awoke to dropped temperatures and a beautiful snow covered scene, every leafless branch carefully covered with snow. It was wonderful.

So we have had to date snow every day in December except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. That is funny, really, as if the weather was having a joke on us and the dream of a white Christmas.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Portinari Altarpiece--The Adoration of the Shepherds

(The whole Nativity scene is in three panels and can be found thru this link.)

The Old And The New Masters

About suffering, about adoration, the old masters
Disagree. When someone suffers, no one else eats
Or walks or opens the window--no one breathes
As the sufferers watch the sufferer.
In St. Sebastian Mourned by St. Irene
The flame of one torch is the only light.
All the eyes except the maidservant's (she weeps
And covers them with a cloth) are fixed on the shaft
Set in his chest like a column; St. Irene's
Hands are spread in the gesture of the Madonna,
Revealing, accepting, what she does not understand.
Her hands say: "Lo! Behold!"
Beside her a monk's hooded head is bowed, his hands
Are put together in the work of mourning.
It is as if they were still looking at the lance
Piercing the side of Christ, nailed on his cross.
The same nails pierce all their hands and feet, the same
Thin blood, mixed with water, trickles from their sides.
The taste of vinegar is on every tongue
That gasps, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?"
They watch, they are, the one thing in the world.

So, earlier, everything is pointed
In van der Goes' Nativity, toward the naked
Shining baby, like the needle of a compass.
The different orders and sizes of the world:
The angels like Little People, perched in the rafters
Or hovering in mid-air like hummingbirds;
The shepherds, so big and crude, so plainly adoring;
The medium-sized donor, his little family,
And their big patron saints; the Virgin who kneels
Before her child in worship; the Magi out in the hills
With their camels--they ask directions, and have pointed out
By a man kneeling, the true way; the ox
And the donkey, two heads in the manger
So much greater than a human head, who also adore;
Even the offerings, a sheaf of wheat,
A jar and a glass of flowers, are absolutely still
In natural concentration, as they take their part
In the salvation of the natural world.
The time of the world concentrates
On this one instant: far off in the rocks
You can see Mary and Joseph and their donkey
Coming to Bethlehem; on the grassy hillside
Where their flocks are grazing, the shepherds gesticulate
In wonder at the star; and so many hundreds
Of years in the future, the donor, his wife,
And their children are kneeling, looking: everything
That was or will be in the world is fixed
On its small, helpless, human center.

After a while the masters show the crucifixion
In one corner of the canvas: the men come to see
What is important, see that it is not important.
The new masters paint a subject as they please,
And Veronese is prosecuted by the Inquisition
For the dogs playing at the feet of Christ,
The earth is a planet among galaxies.
Later Christ disappears, the dogs disappear: in abstract
Understanding, without adoration, the last master puts
Colors on canvas, a picture of the universe
In which a bright spot somewhere in the corner
Is the small radioactive planet men called Earth.

Randall Jarrell

Friday, December 23, 2005

Holydays vesus Christmas? Why Is This an Issue?

Dogmatic Christians are outraged that they aren't allowed exclusive use of the Winter Solistice to celebrate Christ's birth. The fact that the actual date of the birth of Christ is never mentioned in the Bible doesn't seem to matter. It seems that just as the term Holy Days has been secularized into Holidays, they want to do the same with Christmas by insisting that name solely be attached to the frenzy of consumerism that has evolved around it. Now, why don't they make THAT (excess consumption) the issue?

For a really complete historical look at Christmas, read this article. Excerpts are included below:

"Celebration of birthdays -- even including that of Christ -- was rejected as a pagan tradition by most Christians during the first three hundred years of Christianity, but the matter became increasingly controversial. The third century Christian writer Tertullian supported observance of Christ's birthday, but condemned the inclusion of Saturnalia customs such as exchanging of gifts and decorating homes with evergreens. Chapter 10 of the Book of Jeremiah begins by condemning the heathen practice of cutting a tree from the forest to "deck it with silver and gold"..."

"English Puritanism was probably the most extreme manifestation of the Protestant reaction against the Roman Church. Exodus 20:4 could be taken to indicate that God does not want to be worshiped the way pagans worship their gods -- with idolatry such as Christmas trees and Nativity Scenes (much less revelry, drinking and gluttony). Oliver Cromwell campaigned against the heathen practices of feasting, decorating and singing, which he felt desecrated the spirit of Christ. Christmas was called such names as "the Papist's Massing Day" and "Old Heathen Feasting Day". The very word Christmas was viewed as taking the Lord's name in vain..."

"Although the Bible sanctifies Saturday as the Sabbath, many Christians regarded Sunday (the day of the resurrection of Christ) as the new holy day -- especially because this distanced Christianity from Judaism. In 321 AD Constantine made Sunday rather than Saturday (Saturn's Day) the weekly holiday of the state religion of Sun-worship. The revolt of the Jews & the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, the rejection of the Hebrew calendar and the increasing pre-eminence of the bishop of Rome were all part of the Romanization of Christianity which accompanied the Christianization of Rome..."

"In 325 AD Constantine called the first Council of Nicea (Nicaea, effectively the first Council of the Roman Catholic Church) to resolve controversy and establish Christian orthodoxy. The Council established the Unity of the Holy Trinity, the date of Christmas and the date of Easter... Also in 325 he declared December 25th to be an Immovable Feast for the whole Roman Empire. The bishop of Rome may have accepted December 25th as the date of birth of Jesus Christ as early as 320 AD, but careful analysis by Catholic scholarship can only establish that it was some time before 354 AD..."

"The standardization of Santa's image was probably due to Coca-Cola artist Haddon Sundblom who (in 1931) depicted Santa as a portly, jolly grandfatherly figure with a ruddy complexion and white-fur-trimmed red coat & cap -- replacing the pipe with a bottle of Coke. Thirty-five years of annual advertising by the Coca-Cola company using Sundblom's Santa solidified the contemporary image of Santa Claus (but without the Coke)..."

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Fast Food Special - Free Asthma With Every Burger

On the one hand...

"Eating hamburgers more than once a week nearly doubles the risk of asthma attacks and wheezing in children, according to research carried out on 1300 New Zealand school pupils.

Other takeaway food and fizzy drinks also increase the chances of getting asthma, doctors found.

Youngsters who eat at least one hamburger a week are 75 per cent more likely to have asthma and almost 100 per cent more likely to suffer wheezing problems, according a study published yesterday in the international scientific journal Allergy..."

Link to Complete Article

Link to Abstract of study the article is based on

On the other..

McDonald's Mighty Kids Meal

McDonald's Mighty Kids Meal is made to please older kids with a little more food! There are 2 different meal choices; Double Cheeseburger, and a 6-piece Chicken McNuggets meal. Each Mighty Kids Meal includes a fun cool premium!

At participating McDonald's. While supplies last.

For Children Under 3 Ask About...Fisher-Price® Toddler Toys
Special Happy Meal Toys for kids under 3. Recommended for kids 1 and over. At participating restaurants.
©2004Fisher-Price, Inc., a subsidiary of Mattel, Inc.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Stephen Hawkings Ponders

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Ronald McDonald Educates Children

Monday, December 19, 2005

Spiritual Forms

Prabhupada: Yes, there are also many forms, but all of them are spiritual. The Vrndavana. There is tree, there is Yamuna water, there is land, there is cow, there is calf, there is gopas, gopis, they are all spiritual. Just like from earth you make many forms, but they are earth. You make pots, you make dolls, but they are all earth. Similarly, spiritual world, there are many forms, they are all spiritual.

Garden Conversation -- June 23, 1976, New Vrindaban

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Is String Theory in Trouble?

"So even if you accept the multiverse and the idea that certain local physical laws are anthropically determined, you still need a unique mega-theory to describe the whole multiverse? Surely it just pushs the question back?

Yes, absolutely. The bottom line is that we need to describe the whole thing, the whole universe or multiverse. It's a scientific question: is the universe on the largest scales big and diverse or is it homogeneous? We can hope to get an answer from string theory and we can hope to get some information from cosmology.

There is a philosophical objection called Popperism that people raise against the landscape idea. Popperism [after the philosopher Karl Popper] is the assertion that a scientific hypothesis has to be falsifiable, otherwise it's just metaphysics. Other worlds, alternative universes, things we can't see because they are beyond horizons, are in principle unfalsifiable and therefore metaphysical - that's the objection. But the belief that the universe beyond our causal horizon is homogeneous is just as speculative and just as susceptible to the Popperazzi...

Is it premature to invoke anthropic arguments - which assume that the conditions for life are extremely improbable - when we don't know how to define life?

The logic of the anthropic principle requires the strong assumption that our kind of life is the only kind possible. Why should we presume that all life is like us - carbon-based, needs water, and so forth? How do we know that life cannot exist in radically different environments? If life could exist without galaxies, the argument that the cosmological constant seems improbably fine-tuned for life would lose all of its force. And we don't know that life of all kinds can't exist in a wide variety of circumstances, maybe in all circumstances. It a valid objection...

If we do not accept the landscape idea are we stuck with intelligent design?

I doubt that physicists will see it that way. If, for some unforeseen reason, the landscape turns out to be inconsistent - maybe for mathematical reasons, or because it disagrees with observation - I am pretty sure that physicists will go on searching for natural explanations of the world. But I have to say that if that happens, as things stand now we will be in a very awkward position. Without any explanation of nature's fine-tunings we will be hard pressed to answer the ID critics. One might argue that the hope that a mathematically unique solution will emerge is as faith-based as ID."

Link to Complete Article

"So if this planet is made of earth, why not other planet made of fire? What is the scientific reason to deny it? Because I cannot live in the fire, it does not mean other living entities cannot live there. There are different kinds of living entities. Just like you cannot live within the water, within the ocean, but there are other living entities... Just like fish. They live very comfortably within the water. So why should we conclude that there is no life in the sun planet or moon planet?"

Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.16 -- Vrndavana, October 27, 1972

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Colors of Your Mind

"First-ever images of living human retinas have yielded a surprise about how we perceive our world. Researchers at the University of Rochester have found that the number of color-sensitive cones in the human retina differs dramatically among people—by up to 40 times—yet people appear to perceive colors the same way. The findings, on the cover of this week's journal Neuroscience, strongly suggest that our perception of color is controlled much more by our brains than by our eyes.

"We were able to precisely image and count the color-receptive cones in a living human eye for the first time, and we were astonished at the results," says David Williams, Allyn Professor of Medical Optics and director of the Center for Visual Science. "We've shown that color perception goes far beyond the hardware of the eye, and that leads to a lot of interesting questions about how and why we perceive color..."

Link to Complete Article

"There are eight kinds of forms recommended for the devotees to see. The forms may be made out of sand, clay, wood or stone, they may be contemplated within the mind or made of jewels, metal or painted colors, but all the forms are of the same value. It is not that one who meditates on the form within the mind sees differently from one who worships the form in the temple. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is absolute, and there is therefore no difference between the two..."

SB 3.28.18

Friday, December 16, 2005

Shadows on the Land

May shadows on the land
be cast by soccer balls and children,
not bombs and billowing smoke.

Instead, let smoke rise
from sacrificial fires
that purify, not destroy.

Replace the acrid smells
of burning flesh and steel
with incense and smudgepots.

May the clotted blood and putrid flesh
in the gutters and sewers be cleansed
by the mercy of the life giving rains.

Rains flowing like tears
of separation and joy
upon the wounded earth.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Deer and the Locusts

Tulasi is home from college so we are temporarily reprieved from empty nesting. He rode home from WVU with Advaita, who timed his trip so he left after the temperature rose above the freezing mark so the black ice on the roads was melted, and then made it back before the storm that is expected to roll in this evening. It has been averaging 10 degrees F below normal since the beginning of December, so the wood pile is shrinking faster than we would like and if this keeps up all winter we may not have enough to make it to spring.

Suddenly some of those long locust posts I have put aside to do some deer fencing start looking like they might be prettier in short pieces than as 11 footers. Still, knowing that we really need to put up a tall fence next spring to have even a token sized garden will probably keep the chain saw in the shed. Deer pressure keeps getting worse every year so arrangements that used to work don't anymore. Anything much shorter than an 8 foot high fence they can jump if they really want to. Add the 3 feet of post that needs to go into the ground, 11 footers are minimal. They are harder to get than the 7 or 8 footers needed for a cow fence. Locust will twist as it grows so not every tree will yield an 11 footer.

Have to see what happens, no power to do anything about the weather or the deer in the short term.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Snow in New Vrindavan

(photo by Jaya Murari)

"In time, learned philosophers or scientists might be able to count all the atoms of the earth, the particles of snow, or perhaps even the shining molecules radiating from the sun, the stars and other luminaries. But among these learned men, who could possibly count the unlimited transcendental qualities possessed by You, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who have descended onto the surface of the earth for the benefit of all living entities?"

SB 10.14.7

Monday, December 12, 2005

Importance of Proper Punctuation

An English professor wrote the words, " Woman without her man is nothing" on the blackboard and directed his students to punctuate it correctly.

The men wrote : " Woman , without her man , is nothing." The Women wrote : "Woman ! Without her, man is nothing."

Be careful how you punctuate!

Dear John:

I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we're apart. I can be forever happy--will you let me be yours?

Dear John:
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we're apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?


Sunday, December 11, 2005

The ‘Other’ Food Crisis

"Protection and grazing ground for the cows are among
the essential needs for society and the welfare of people in general."

Light of the Bhavavata: Verse 27

"There is so much about rural India that escapes notice that one more area of neglect will not break the camel’s back. I am talking about the crisis of fodder for livestock. A grim silence surrounds it. ‘Grim’, because in rural India, domestic animals aren’t ‘pets’ but engines that drive the economy. They provide resilience and wealth — people cope with adverse conditions because of their livestock. But no policy exists on how to feed these 500 million or so animals. Rural India today isn’t fodder-secure, and the grim reality is that food security in this country is not possible without fodder security.

Fodder insecurity begins with the question: where are these animals to get their food from? In India, less land has been set aside for domestic livestock than for ‘flora and fauna’: protected areas such as sanctuaries and national parks sprawl over 15 million hectares (ha), while land classified as ‘permanent pastures’ cover 11 million ha. Moreover, over the years, these ‘permanent pastures’ have shrunk or simply degraded..."

Link to Complete Article

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Meaning Of Existence

Everything except language
knows the meaning of existence.
Trees, planets, rivers, time
know nothing else. They express it
moment by moment as the universe.

Even this fool of a body
lives it in part, and would
have full dignity within it
but for the ignorant freedom
of my talking mind.

(Les Murray)

"Neither the mind nor the faculties of speech, sight, intelligence, the life air or any of the senses are capable of penetrating that Supreme Truth, any more than small sparks can affect the original fire from which they are generated. Not even the authoritative language of the Vedas can perfectly describe the Supreme Truth, since the Vedas themselves disclaim the possibility that the Truth can be expressed by words..."

SB 11.3.36

Friday, December 09, 2005

Some Megachurches to Close For Christmas

"This Christmas, no prayers will be said in several megachurches around the country.

Even though the holiday falls this year on a Sunday, when churches normally host thousands for worship, pastors are canceling services, anticipating low attendance on what they call a family day.

Critics within the evangelical community, more accustomed to doing battle with department stores and public schools over keeping religion in Christmas, are stunned by the shutdown.

It is almost unheard of for a Christian church to cancel services on a Sunday, and opponents of the closures are accusing these congregations of bowing to secular culture..."

Link to Complete Article

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Organic Foods No Longer Locally Produced

> Do you know anything about the organic producers such as Horizon and Organic Valley, i.e. how they treat their animals?
> Kerry

Not personally. Bear in mind that organic used to be almost a synonym for locally produced products. After the pioneers performed decades of sacrifice to raise consciousness about chemicals in food and the market started to be significant, the large corporations and corporate style family farms moved in.

I have personally taken a tour of a dairy in Colorado that milks 1500 cows thrice daily. I got the insider tour because I have a farm background and enough knowledge of dairying so I could ask good questions, and my youngest daughter has a relationship with the dairyman's stepson. 100% of their feed is purchased, they have no pasture, and the cows spend their entire life in a feedlot style environment consisting mainly of loafing barns, feed aisles, and the automated milk parlor. The cows are treated as well as posible under those circumstances. It is profitable for the dairyman to keep the cows clean, healthy, and well fed. They get plenty of fresh air and sunshine. Still...

For several years, he was a supplier to an organic milk bottling operation, possiblely even Horizon or Organic if those are Western USA brands. As all his inputs were purchased, it was relatively simple for the fulltime feed buyer he has on staff to get them organic feeds. Eventually, he had some dispute and stopped selling to them and went back to straight commercial milk, but the point is the major organic milk bottlers do get at least a part of their milk from large independent producers.

Producing milk and bottling milk are two different operations. Someone may have a large enough dairy to be the sole provider for their own bottling operation, but it seems unlikely if it is fluid milk marketed on a broad scale. The economies of scale come too much into play.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Universe is Only Pretending, Physicist Says

"In quantum physics, nothing is as it seems. As physicists continue to study the universe they continually run into new questions that shake how humans understand the universe's intricate mechanics. UC Berkeley physics professor, Raphael Bousso, is trying to break down the mysteries of the universe with a concept called the holographic principle. Physicists stumbled on the idea while studying black holes. It is a concept, which ultimately questions whether the third dimension exists.

"There's a real conflict between the way that we're thinking about the world right now, which is a very local way where everything happens independently in different regions of space and the way that we're going to have to think about it," said Bousso in an interview..."

"Physicists have found the information content doesn't hinge on volume, but rather on surface area. An information increase can only happen on a two-dimensional surface and information density cannot increase by volume, a three-dimensional measurement. "The total amount of information that you can store in the world grows only like the surface area of the region that you're considering," he said.

The discovery ultimately says the concept shows the third dimension could be an illusion because complex calculations can't prove it exists. The recognition is a step of progress, but Bousso doesn't know where it will ultimately lead..."

Link to Complete Article

"The subject matters of physics, chemistry, mathematics, astronomy, time and space dealt with in the above verses of Srimad-Bhagavatam are certainly very interesting to students of the particular subject, but as far as we are concerned, we cannot explain them very thoroughly in terms of technical knowledge. The subject is summarized by the statement that above all the different branches of knowledge is the supreme control of kala, the plenary representation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Nothing exists without Him, and therefore everything, however wonderful it may appear to our meager knowledge, is but the work of the magical wand of the Supreme Lord."

SB 3.11.14

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Hungry For Enlightenment

"A meditating teenage boy in south-central Nepal is drawing the attention of scientists after attracting huge crowds in the past six months and earning himself the name Buddha-reincarnate.

They are mulling over how to examine him without disturbing his meditation.

Ram Bahadur Bamjan's friends, relatives and managers say he has been meditating without drinking water for six months now and that he will carry on for another six years until he gains enlightenment..."

Full Nepalese Fasting Boy Article

"Doctors and experts are baffled by an Indian hermit who claims not to have eaten or drunk anything for several decades - but is still in perfect health.

Mr Prahlad Jani under surveillance in hospital Prahlad Jani, a holy man, or fakir, who is over 70 years old, has just spent 10 days under constant observation in Sterling Hospital, in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad. During that time, he did not consume anything and "neither did he pass urine or stool", according to the hospital's deputy superintendent, Dr Dinesh Desai. Yet he is in fine mental and physical fettle, say doctors.

Most people can live without food for several weeks, with the body drawing on its fat and protein stores. But the average human can survive for only three to four days without water..."

Full Fakir Article

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Why McDonald's Fries Taste So Good

"People usually buy a food item the first time because of its packaging or appearance. Taste usually determines whether they buy it again. About 90 percent of the money that Americans now spend on food goes to buy processed food. The canning, freezing, and dehydrating techniques used in processing destroy most of food's flavor -- and so a vast industry has arisen in the United States to make processed food palatable. Without this flavor industry today's fast food would not exist. The names of the leading American fast-food chains and their best-selling menu items have become embedded in our popular culture and famous worldwide. But few people can name the companies that manufacture fast food's taste..."

"A typical artificial strawberry flavor, like the kind found in a Burger King strawberry milk shake, contains the following ingredients: amyl acetate, amyl butyrate, amyl valerate, anethol, anisyl formate, benzyl acetate, benzyl isobutyrate, butyric acid, cinnamyl isobutyrate, cinnamyl valerate, cognac essential oil, diacetyl, dipropyl ketone, ethyl acetate, ethyl amyl ketone, ethyl butyrate, ethyl cinnamate, ethyl heptanoate, ethyl heptylate, ethyl lactate, ethyl methylphenylglycidate, ethyl nitrate, ethyl propionate, ethyl valerate, heliotropin, hydroxyphenyl-2-butanone (10 percent solution in alcohol), a-ionone, isobutyl anthranilate, isobutyl butyrate, lemon essential oil, maltol, 4-methylacetophenone, methyl anthranilate, methyl benzoate, methyl cinnamate, methyl heptine carbonate, methyl naphthyl ketone, methyl salicylate, mint essential oil, neroli essential oil, nerolin, neryl isobutyrate, orris butter, phenethyl alcohol, rose, rum ether, g-undecalactone, vanillin, and solvent..."

Link To Complete Article

Friday, December 02, 2005

We Are Just Like Football

"So here Krsna says, kaunteya pratijanihi: "Please declare in the world that anyone who has taken to this Krsna consciousness will never be destroyed. He will never go back again to that material life of sense gratification and pull on this material existence full of miseries. He will be taken out. He will be taken out sooner or later. As he has taken to this Krsna consciousness, he will be never destroyed." Our destruction is... You always remember: our destruction means material existence is the destruction of our spiritual existence. Because destroyed does not mean that as spiritual being, I will be nowhere, no. This is my position, nowhere. I do not know. Just like I am being kicked like a football. I have no place. You have seen football playing. The football has no place. As soon as comes, somebody's feet, he kicks. He goes to another body. He kicks. He's another body -- kicking. His only situation is being kicked, football. So we are just like football. We are being kicked up. Now I am American. Next time I shall be kicked up to China. Maybe. And from China, I will be kicked up to India. And from India, I shall be kicked up to Burma or kicked up to another place. This is going on. We do not know how we are being kicked up like a football from one place to another, one place to another. This is all false notion. How long I shall remain here?"

Bhagavad-gita 9.29-32 -- New York, December 20, 1966

Thursday, December 01, 2005



Near a shrine in Japan he'd swept the path
and then placed camellia blossoms there.

Or -- we had no way of knowing -- he'd swept the path
between fallen camellias.

(Carol Snow)

The breezes blowing in the streets of the city bore the fragrance of the flowers falling from the hair of the women of the demigods.

SB 8.15.18