2 April 2006

All my life has been a preparation for this moment, for which no preparation was needed. I reach within for that unique gift which I have to offer my world. With the skills that I have honed, I shape it and polish it and call it my best. All this is but wrapping paper, for the heart of the gift is my heart, it has always been with me, and now I offer it to you.

~ Josh Mitteldorf

1 April 2006

Project SETI, the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, this week made humanity's first contact with a non-human intelligence, as reported in this New Scientist article.  Five million volunteers in 226 countries have their computers programmed so that when they are not occupied with video games, they automatically request an assignment from SETI Central and analyze a stretch of data from the Arecibo radio telescope for the patterns that would indicate that the signal might come from a living intelligence.  The broadcast in question came from the direction of the constellation Harlequin, and I was fortunate that it was my PC that first discovered the pattern.

Many questions remain, but now that we are in touch with an intelligence that knows so much more than we do, there is reason for optimism that answers will soon be ours.  The first question I asked ET was about the 1,834,923rd digit in the binary expansion of pi which, in his broadcast, seemed to differ from the standard result here on earth.  He said that the errant digit was inserted on purpose, just to see if we were paying attention.  Having thus gained his respect, I asked the second question.   

~ Josh Mitteldorf

31 March 2006

“We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community... Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.”

Cesar Chavez worked for the welfare of his people, always with compassion for his oppressors, with a long-term vision of the changes they would need, and with a lifelong commitment to non-violence.  How did he avoid the cynicism and corruption that seems to go with the first taste of power, and particularly the mantle of union leadership?

A fast is first and foremost personal. It is a fast for the purification of my own body, mind, and soul. The fast is also a heartfelt prayer for purification and strengthening for all those who work beside me in the farm worker movement. The fast is also an act of penance for those in positions of moral authority and for all men and women activists who know what is right and just, who know that they could and should do more. The fast is finally a declaration of non­cooperation with supermarkets who promote and sell and profit from California table grapes. During the past few years I have been studying the plague of pesticides on our land and our food...I pray to God that this fast will be a preparation for a multitude of simple deeds for justice...Together, all things are possible.

Cesar Chavez was born this day in 1927. 

30 March 2006

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazedand gazedbut little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

~ Wordsworth

29 March 2006

Those who think they have no time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.”

Edward Stanley, the 14th Earl of Derby, was born this day in 1799, in an era when he would take his seat in Parliament in the usual way, when his grandfather purchased it for him.  Still, once he was there enshrined, he introduced legislation opening Irish schools to students of all denominations, and, in 1837, he convinced Parliament to emancipate all slaves held in British colonies around the world.

28 March 2006


“It is true that we cannot be free from sin, but at least let our sins not be always the same.” 
~ Saint Teresa of Avila, born this day in 1515.

“She brought mysticism and its fruits to the common person.” 
Columbia Encyclopedia 



27 March 2006

Radical humanism

“Nearly everyone believes in the divinization of some segment of humanity, but relatively few believe in the divinization of all of humanity…Isn't a united humanity a large enough heaven, a big enough God, a great enough goal of spirituality?”

~ Sankara Saranam