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16 December 2007

You can get there from here

We are most effective in transforming the world when we begin by embracing its present perfection.

— Josh Mitteldorf

(...and we are most effective in transforming ourselves when we begin from an appreciation of our own perfection.)

15 December 2007

Michel Richard de Lalande

In the days when musicians were expected to be inspired on cue, Michel Richard de Lalande was court composer for King Louis XIV, director of his royal choir, and music teacher to his daughters. 

Happy birthday Michel Richard, 350 years old today.

Listen to Flumina plaudent manu from Cantate Domino, performed by Ex Cathedra
Listen to Ora pro nobis from Regina Coeli

14 December 2007


Love means to learn to look at yourself
The way one looks at distant things
For you are only one thing among many.
And whoever sees that way heals his heart,
Without knowing it, from various ills.
A bird and a tree say to him: Friend.
Then he wants to use himself and things
So that they stand in the glow of ripeness.
It doesn’t matter whether he knows what he serves:
Who serves best doesn’t always understand.

~ Czeslaw Milosz knew life’s splendor with the eyes of one who escaped from despotism to freedom.  What will be our spiritual heritage, if we should experience the transition of a nation from freedom to despotism? ~

Wiki biography

13 December 2007

World energy future

Good people everywhere have been advocating government policies that encourage diversification from carbon-based energy sources.  Despite the benighted energy policies of governments in the US, China and elsewhere, the power of the market will soon overwhelm their directed choices. 

World production of oil has peaked and will continue to decline in the future.  Demand for energy is rising rapidly, especially because of new affluence in China and India.  So the price of oil is jumping sharply.  

Meanwhile, the silicon revolution has worked steadily on the efficiency and cost of manufacture for photovoltaic cells.  This year for the first time, there are parts of the world where solar electricity is cost-competitive with electricity generated from oil.  Smart wind turbines change aerodynamic properties in response to the wind strength, and smart reflectors follow the sun across the sky. 

In the near future, renewable energy will explode into the mainstream, not because governments finally see the light, but because it will be the cheapest way to generate electricity.

(Nuclear energy has never been cost competitive on its own, and has always relied on direct and indirect government subsidies for its place at the table.)

New Scientist article last week.

12 December 2007

Chanukah story (cont)   [last in a serial account]

…This is what came to be known in the Jewish lands as ‘שני פלא’, the ‘Second Miracle of Chanukah’, and in the Arab world as ‘عظيم المصالحة’, the ‘Great Reconciliation’.  It was not Rashida and Aviva’s fathers alone who were awakened to their commonality, but a wave of revolution spread from family to family, from village to village through the Middle East.   The transformation was effected by two means:  First came the realization that both peoples had been cynically manipulated by leaders who derived their legitimacy from stoking the fires of distrust and insecurity.   Only then were people opened to familiarity with members of the other camp, who came to be welcomed as helpers and comforters by those most in need.  

Then the land that had been for centuries a parochial desert became a communal Eden once more.

11 December 2007

The science of developing ourselves

If you have not heard Matthieu Ricard speak, there is a motivating and heartwarming experience before you.  Ricard was a biochemist in France in the 1970’s, and moved to Tibet to take up the monastic life.  He defines and analyzes happiness for us, speaks of accessible changes we can make that will make us more whole.

“We have this mixture of pleasure and torments. We say that is normal, but the ‘normal’ state is just a pandemic. Optimal is something else.”

“The word that has been translated from the Sanskrit as ‘meditation’ really means ‘cultivation’.  It is a culture, a practice toward creation of habits in our minds.”

“There are many signs of success in the contemplative life.  But the most important is that after a few months or years, your egoism has lessened and your altruism has increased... We need a contemplative science in which the mind itself investigates the mind, in order to dispel the delusions that generate so much suffering for ourselves and others.”

Video: Ricard at the TED conference in Monterey (20 min)
             Ricard speaking at the Google campus (60 min) 

10 December 2007

Anima Naturae

SWIRL of the river aflow to the sea,
Aspen a-quiver all tremulously,
Skylark that shivereth song o’er the lea,
        Shaft of the sun;

Snowflakes that sprinkle the wind-bitten wold,
Fireflies that twinkle with shimmer of gold,
Wavelets that wrinkle the sands where ye rolled,
        Rivulet’s ripple and run; MYST.

Lone mountain-meres that are silently dreaming
Of far-flashing spheres that enmirrored are beaming
Clouds’ crystal tears when the rainbow is gleaming,
        I, also a son

Of the Mother, inherit the soul of her infinite throng,
See it and hear it my paths all about and among,
Throb with your spirit and sing with the manifold song
     Of infinite, manifold One.

~ Walter Leslie Wilmshurst, Freemason