June 08, 2004

Focal Points

IN A DAY OF reading tributes to President Ronald Reagan, the following are two of the very best I could find – best as measured in terms of uniqueness: originality of approach and disclosure. I had hoped to discover three, but finally contented myself with these. One is by Spengler, the always-thought-provoking Asia Times columnist, who says President Reagan was the greatest commander-in-chief of the 20th Century. It is available here. The other is by Wesley Pruden, editor-in-chief of The Washington Times, and portrays the greatness of Reagan’s presidency and personhood in the context of the venom spewed by his present-day enemies, here.

DIPLOMATS, SPOOKS AND THE NEW YORK TIMES: A troubling report by Joel Mowbray suggests somebody at The Times conspired with anti-Bush Administration elements at the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency to discredit Ahmed Chalabi and wreck the administration’s plans for postwar Iraq. The link is here.

SLEEPING MAKES US SMARTER: Researchers at the University of Wisconsin have discovered that sleep allows our brain cells to integrate new information so we awake better able to use it. The report doesn’t say so, but this function of sleep is obviously analogous to what happens when you download a program and then re-boot your computer to finalize the installation. The details, already integrated, are available here.

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posted by at 10:19 AM : Comments (2)

May 27, 2004

Focal points

RANDOMNESS IS THE watchword of today’s focal points, which probably makes this entire feature a contradiction in terms, but so be it.

First -- because it’s a perfect example of the kind of random oddity that I always find interesting (and sometimes profoundly thought provoking) – German physicists have concluded the cosmos is shaped like the Eiffel Tower. But after you’ve finished sneering, jeering, or making jokes about the now-inevitability of jack-suited SpaceNazis goose-warping across the galaxies, focus intently on the shape of the Eiffel Tower and contemplate this: imagine the tower as an abstract expressionist’s upside-down rendering of a striking snake. The snake has just launched himself at his adversary; his mouth gapes open, his fangs are bared, his body is elongated into a straight line that tapers toward his tail. Now shift realities: the serpent’s fangs are the legs of the tower, the serpent’s head is the base, the serpent’s body is the long tapering length of the tower, with the grid-work representing scales. Then reflect on Einstein’s theory the universe is not linear -- that it curves back upon itself. In other words, if the universe is shaped like the Eiffel Tower but is curved, one end toward the other, it is also shaped like a serpent who consumes herself -- perhaps to perpetuate her own being. What does that suggest? The Ouroboros: the cosmic snake said to encircle the earth. Once again, ancient metaphysical symbolism may have anticipated modern physics – not because we were visited by aliens from some distant planet of missionary pedagogues, but because the human mind is as infinitely powerful as the universe is infinitely large. A link to the universe-as-Eiffel-Tower story is here.

Because it is just maybe the most telling example I have ever found of another sort of infinity – the limitless arrogance of bureaucrats – next is a story about why life in the European Union will soon be as regimented as life in the Third Reich, but without the politically suspect diversions of torchlight parades. This is not hyperbole, nor is what comes next a non-sequitur: I am an unabashed dog lover. I have joyously lived with dogs all my life -- dogs of various breeds and sizes (though most have been middling-large to very large), and all of them have been enough part of my household to have specific responsibilities that range from watchfulness and threat-analysis to the complexities of various sorts of hunting. We live under the same roof and spend quality time together indoors or out. Hence I know exactly how dogs behave when strangers of either the bipedal or quadrupedal variety attempt to steal their bones – bone theft and bone-theft prevention are in fact carefully practiced skills among canines of all breeds and subspecies – and I believe the dog-robbing bureaucrats in this episode deserve not only a severe chomping but a long succession of three-legged gestures of contempt. The link to the report that so raised my hackles and set me a-snarling is here.

Lastly, though I am not much of an Ann Coulter fan, there is no doubt she sometimes speaks truths no one else dare utter. Her column this morning is just such an essay, and it contains facts the major media have chosen to downplay or ignore. It mellowed me right out – no small feat after my contemplation of the bone-thieves of the EU, during which my dogs Brady and Jasmine both joined me in bare-fanged growling at the text on the VDT. I hope Coulter’s prose will bring a smile to your face just as it brought a smile to mine -- which of course set both my dogs' tails a-wagging too. The link to this good medicine is here.

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posted by at 11:03 AM : Comments (0)

May 11, 2004

focal point

The first of today’s focal points is the grisly story of a Palestinian woman who as a young girl survived the Islamic ritual of “honor” killing. She had been seduced – essentially raped and impregnated – by a neighbor, and her family’s response was to douse her with gasoline and set her afire, then try to poison her when the burns alone failed to kill her. I link to it with a shudder of genuine repugnance, but I think it is essential reading because it reflects more graphically than anything I have ever seen the obscenity of Islam, the dreadful fate that awaits all women everywhere should the forces of the global caliphate prevail, the unspeakable horror that confronts Israel every moment of its existence -- and thus precisely why it is our soldiers are in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting for the survival of American liberty and Western Civilization. Thanks to The Ottawa Citizen for defying the cult of political “correctness” to publish this report, available here.

As bright Yang against the foregoing dark Yin, the second of today’s focal points is an intriguing discussion of periodic cicadae and prime numbers, specifically 13 and 17, speculating on how these cicadas -- who are loudly emergent this year -- might have arrived at prime-number life-and-mating cycles. The resultant probabilities should give us hope. If cicadas can evolve lives measured in prime numbers and thus escape their natural predators, perhaps homo sapiens sapiens can evolve a future blessedly free of “honor” killings, suicide bombings and indeed all other forms of Islamic atrocities and terrorism. Meanwhile, let us contemplate the wondrous workings of nature, which we can do by going here.

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posted by at 07:53 AM : Comments (0)

May 10, 2004

focal point

There is really nothing new from the Middle East. Islam continues its assault on American liberty, Western Civilization and all persons or things Jewish, and most of all rages at the fact the proud women of Westernesse have never (even at the times they were most exploited) been forced to wear the cloak of self-loathing that is the burka or suffer the genital mutilations prescribed by gleefully sadistic mullahs.

Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., and throughout the land it governs, there is really nothing new either. An economic crisis looms at the gas pumps, but the politicians continue their assaults on each other, on taxpayers, on the Constitution, on the very intelligence of the human species and – most of all – on the ability of America to defend herself, no matter whether the assaults are deliberate expressions of subversive intent or coincidental exclamations of simple incompetence.

In other words, though Sunday was Mother’s Day (the modern echo of a very ancient holiday originally convened to honor the Great Goddess, the Mother of All Being), nothing has changed during the weekend. Hence – precisely to counteract the karmic Standstill of changelessness (readers of the I Ching will understand) – today’s focal points are expressions of change: change of focus, change of face, change of pace, yes and perhaps also a microcosmic and entirely positive version of the typhoon that is said to result when some Taoist butterfly is unusually vigorous in winging from blossom to blossom. Hence what we have here today is a summertime variant of a thoroughly secular but nevertheless utterly delightful Christmas song: “these are a few of my favorite things.”

The first link is to a dog story. Dogs are unquestionably my most favorite of all living creatures, genuinely down-to-earth and truly magical all at once, and this story illustrates some of the more wonderful attributes of canine consciousness and being. I caution that it will probably not leave you dry-eyed, but whatever sadness it evokes, it seems to me it is the kind of sadness that is more blessing and inspiration than cause for depression, close kin to the triumphant sadness of a life ended in some heroic cause or victory, and thus an undeniable expression of profound gratitude that such benevolence exists, however ephemeral it might seem. The story – of a very special dog who served a very special need – is here.

In one of the more intriguing accounts that surfaced during the weekend’s flow of news, a British newspaper reports that 100,000 Greeks are attempting to revive classical paganism. The revivalists may even include rural folks who never abandoned paganism, though the story merely implies this and does not make it clear. In any case, these pagans are encountering all sorts of obstructions from the fact Greece is officially a Greek Orthodox Christian country. Among the obstructions is an absurd ban on using the Parthenon – a temple of Athena – for its original purpose. Once again we see how infinitely blessed we were by our Founders, who gave us a Constitution that protects religious liberty (the recent efforts of the Left to pervert the Constitution into a weapon against Judaeo-Christianity not withstanding). The Grecian link is here.

Last is the sort of story you should keep to show your children or grandchildren when they lament that there is nothing left anywhere on earth to investigate or explore. It is a description of a recently discovered phenomenon in Africa – a widespread, curiously repetitive circular formation that is apparently a creation of nature but nevertheless stubbornly refuses to yield its secrets to science. It is thus a bit like the Appalachian balds (said by the Cherokee to be the mountain-top shrines where the fair-skinned Old People invoked their gods – magically kept clear of trees even now in anticipation of the gods’ return) or the Mima Mounds of Southwestern Washington (about which local Indian myth says absolutely nothing – at least nothing that has been shared with White Eyes). The African link is here. I hope you appreciate my whimsical mood and eclectic choices.

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