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Ben

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Zootopia! [Mar. 11th, 2016|05:03 pm]
Ben
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I went to see the movie Zootopia recently; it looked like it might be amusing to catch on video when the trailer was released a few months ago, but it has generated so much positive buzz on movie review sites like RottenTomatoes that I felt compelled to go check it out on the big screen.

I'm glad I did! It's a greatly accomplished and fun piece of animation, storytelling, and even manages a morality lesson about fear and hatred that seems very topical and universal, today. It was simply delightful, 'recommended for kids of all ages,' as well as fans of animation and anthropomorphics.
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antiquities [Feb. 28th, 2016|10:54 am]
Ben
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What follows is some 'thinking aloud' and 'speculation' or daydreaming to refer back to again some day. It seems poignant and fills me with a sense of wonder to consider. It's nothing that many have not felt before (and therefore is completely unoriginal)...

I used to believe the Greeks and Romans were the most suitable standard bearers for early great human achievement, but lately I have come to see them as  eventually taking backwards steps along a long procession of development of the best attributes of Western civilization; balance, connection with the natural world, intellectual achievement that were all held in high regard...


Recently, I've come to consider the Etruscan and Ephesian civilizations and the immediate contemporary and preceeding eras as somehow more compelling examples of western civilization's very best, a more balanced integration of east and western philosophy/religion/world views...  Of course, much of that comes from subscription to the mystery and mystique and romanticism of all the knowledge we have lost, and willfully overlooking the inevitable not-so-romantic flaws.  Also I feel so upon reflection because theirs was a society that valued the contributions of men and women alike; patriarchal society was to set in after some future cultural apocalypse in the centuries after these precursor civilizations were at their heights.

(Circa 200 BC mosaics revealed at ancient Greek city of Zeugma in Turkey, 2014)

I feel as if it's possible to construct speculation that the entire world turned, somehow, in the wrong direction some time around 500-300 BC and by 300 AD the western fate of forgetting itself, darkness, widespread ignorance and isolation had been fully cast...  For the successes of each one individual Galileo-type figure during this patriarchal dark age of suppression, there were surely nine others whose voices were squelched before they could progress the medieval world back toward enlightenment... You likely either had a powerful patron or were swept aside the moment you stuck out or seemed to threaten the status quo. Reminders of the richer past were appropriated at best and sacrilege to be smashed, at worst. Is it really much different today?

(Satellite image of Palmyra showing destruction of the Temple of Bel)

The Etruscans 'religion of the heavens' might have been an early natural philosophical sort of science/observation, based on astronomy and what they understood to be the natural order of the world... Given their achievements in medicine, art, architecture, and culture, it seems clear they were not the ignorant superstitious pagans later establishment authorities condemned them as, but instead were connected to a wider cultural current, one that was deeper, broader, and older than anything that replaced it. The Etruscans' philosophy and traditions and more comopolitan aesthetic were destined to be supplanted with cultures driven by religious institutions with hard authority over spiritual practice. The pieces missing from the wider human mythology before the common era leave tragic gaps in our knowledge today, but we know through scattered and shattered and buried pieces there was once a distinct cultural richness...


(Vanth is a chthonic figure in Etruscan mythology...(and) almost always shown in Etruscan iconography to be a benevolent guide. Vanth has no real classical Greek counterpart)

I don't know, I look at that era of time and feel wonder, and an expanded perspective on what followed and even on aspects of culture in today's world... I start feeling inspired to ask myself questions such as, "Are we in fact on the cusp of a new dark age?"  Standing here in early 2016 AD and looking around the world from this present crossroads, it may be that this war over the control and determination for the future of mankind and civilization hasn't seen a more pivotal period for the future of cultural self-determination since the time of the founding of Constantinople... Or things may continue to stumble maniacally backward and forward, as they have for the past two millennia. Perhaps the Internet is the 'library' that could change that-- or perhaps it may be metaphorically burned of knowledge or otherwise restricted from use like some Library of Alexandria, as the strategic target for the creation of another brave new darkened world.


Can the Western world's religion, art, science, philosophy, and politics ever be recombined into a powerful, integrated, consistent, and collectively-shared whole once again, as they perhaps once were during these pre-classical heights of attainment? Alternately, are opposing memes writ large upon the world today too aggressively dominant and viral not to interfere harmfully in the long run with a return to this mode of civilization and balance? I'd say I'm hopelessly Romantic, but this is a pre-classical world I look back to, and it's an enjoyable daydream, an almost fantasy romanticism... and so many people have been here in some form or another before. It's a strange place to turn back from to consider today and tomorrow...


.
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compost-scavenging deer [Nov. 6th, 2015|11:34 am]
Ben
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Noticed this yearling checking out my compost pile for goodies. He picked at it a bit, but unfortunately I had emptied out woodstove ash overtop it all earlier in the morning...
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'first' snow 2015-2016 [Nov. 5th, 2015|08:15 am]
Ben
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[Current Location |home]

We've had some light flurries, but this is the first snowstorm of the season that has really accumulated anything... Nov 5th! It has been very late to freeze, to snow, in the Rocky Mountain foothills west of Denver this autumn.



On days like today, I tried to put out some sunflower seeds for the birds, like nut hatches, inspired once by a former friend here in CO who enjoyed birdwatching.



As I have most years since moving here in 2008, I enjoy the use of a wood pellet burning stove. This year, I'm making an extra effort to provide most of the base heat from wood pellet fuel. Every BTU of wood-based heat throws carbon back into the air that was already in circulation, vs the burning of natural gas fossil fuels that introduce CO2 that had been out of circulation in geological deposits.

It's running down on the first floor providing heat for the home, with some light extra electrical space heating in my office room where I spend most of the day.



Mushi, my cat companion, is generally alright with this arrangement and enjoys basking in the heat.
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blues berry muffins [Nov. 4th, 2015|08:34 am]
Ben
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When life gives you the blues, make blues berry muffins!



Blues Berry Muffins
(whole wheat oat-bran blueberry applesauce muffins)
source: modified internet recipe
makes: 8-10 muffins
prep time: about 30 minutes

Ingedients:
1 cup  -  flour
1/2 cup  -  oat bran
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup - honey
1  -  large egg
2 Tbsp.  -  extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup  -  applesauce, apple butter, or apple juice
2 tsp.  -  vanilla extract
1 tsp.  -  lemon juice (optional)
1 cup  -  fresh or frozen blueberries (allow to thaw)

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375'F
Line muffin tray w/paper cups
Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl.
In separate bowl, mix all wet ingredients until well-blended. Add to dry ingredients, mix minimally to combine into chunky mix.
Stir in blueberries.
Pour mixture into muffin cups.
Bake for 20 minutes @ 375'F. Remove when golden brown.
Remove from pan, let cool.

Notes:
I like to make it a point to use the best ingredients available, and suggest USDA Organic certified versions of all ingredients. Grains and oats will ideally be freshly-milled or refridgerated and sealed if stored after milling; health food stores sell flour as a refridgerated perishable. Another version of this recipe uses 1/2c all-purpose and 1/2c whole wheat flour, so you can play with it a bit. Grass-fed free-range hens lay the best-tasting eggs.
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(no subject) [Sep. 21st, 2015|10:16 am]
Ben
This is more of a footnote for future historical reference, but in the past week we've seen the Japanese democracy undermined and fed into a furnace with their executive and legislative branch ramrodding through a revisionist anti-pacifist 'revolution' despite a preponderance of majority democratic opposition.


Organisers said about 120,000 people took part in Sunday’s 'anti-war law' rally in the capital [Reuters] (08-30-2015)

What is going on? This warning article from last year summarizes what has since been attempted and appears to have gone through as of this week:

"(Jun 27 2014) Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to continue to press for Cabinet approval of a “reinterpretation” of the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan... this so-called reinterpretation is entirely illegitimate and poses dangers to Japan’s democracy.

To be clear on what this so-called re-interpretation means, the prime minister is seeking to circumvent the constitutional amendment procedure mandated by the Constitution itself, and to dictate a radical change to the meaning of fundamental principles in the Constitution by way of Cabinet fiat, with no Diet debate or vote, and no public approval.

The very process violates fundamental principles of constitutionalism and the rule of law, while the substance of the proposed reinterpretation does further violence to these principles.

Turning to the rule of law, the primary principle at the foundation of the rule of law is that no person or agency is above the law. Its very essence is the idea that there is one set of laws to which every person and entity is subject, and which is applied equally to all. Thus, not only is the government subject to the law, but government power must be exercised through and in accordance with the law, and not through the use of discretion or arbitrary fiat..."  (http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2014/06/27/commentary/japan-commentary/reinterpreting-article-9-endangers-japans-rule-of-law/)


Remember this-- everything that follows from mid-September 2015 was against the will and dignity of the Japanese people. The UN, the US and the Obama administration, and even the mainstream news media barely even commented on this dark affair, looking the other way or turning a blind eye to the rise of authoritarianism and the degredation of rule-of-law in Japan against the outspoken will of their civil society and democracy.

What's the point of even trying to live a good life if your best efforts can be swept aside seemingly without thought or effort by a Bush adminstration or Abe Administration supported by their degenerate lack of sanctity for enlightenment principles of equality and rule-of-law? Whether or not this is about a need for the JSDF to transition to a more conventional nation-state military service, it should absolutely be about the slieght of hand that is going on within their government to accomplish it and the stark public opposition to both the manner and the nature of the changes.

Militarists understand all too well their own ability to sweep-aside and dominate pacifists in civil and government affairs on any number of pretenses, natural or manufactured. I'm not optimistic for the future of Japan, and, similarly, watching the US political process and zeitgeist ever since the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence announced unprosecuted US War Crimes, their perpetrators still at large and their consequences looming larger in the world with each passing year. The unnecessary and deceitfully-justified 2003 Iraq War and actions in Saharan Africa have led to chaos and anarchy and directly to ISIS/ISIL/DAESH and their escallating consequences. This is the outcome of Bush's American Exceptionalism 'experiment' in the 2000s. Oh, that and our US$18.1T+ national debt.

I've graduated from concern, to worry, to fear for the future of the United States of America and a livable future for its people over these past few years. Obama was elected to stop all of this, and he only hit the accelerator pedal on manifestly unconstitutional and unlawful interpretations of executive power that have aided and abetted US fascism and hegemony, generally. As US fascism further metastasizes, the world burns and is in urgent need of absolute and uncompromising environmental policy reform. Basically, we're all fucked. Even if the hell of our own political creation doesn't destroy us, even if the unchecked biocidal contamination and pollution pervading agriculture doesn't poison us, we can rest assured that the unlivable hellscape that our planet is presently becoming will land the hard finishing blow on human civilization and progress.

Do you have children? What do you tell them?
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The Humanist Manifesto, II [Feb. 28th, 2015|09:32 am]
Ben
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanist_Manifesto_II

There seems to no element of this which is not worth embracing-- More details here:

http://americanhumanist.org/Humanism/Humanist_Manifesto_II

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(no subject) [Feb. 23rd, 2015|01:43 am]
Ben
"What is powerful about Bell's theorem is that it doesn't refer to any particular physical theory. It shows that nature violates the most general Assumptions behind classical pictures, not just details of some particular models. No combination of local deterministic and local random variables can reproduce the phenomena predicted by quantum mechanics and repeatedly observed in experiments."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell%27s_theorem
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(no subject) [Jan. 21st, 2015|09:27 pm]
Ben
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It's always fun to compare articles between languages (or search for knowledge in other languages) and see where and why points of difference arise. Here's a fun example, one that goes in the public water of a majority of Americans (but not my well water):

The English article is quite sparse, talks about use for water fluoridation... You'll notice the hazard indicators aren't very extreme.

wikipedia-en_sodiumfluorosilicate

Then, we have the German article, translated via google:

wikipedia-de-en_sodiumfluorosilicate

"gelling agent, opacifier, insecticide and rodenticide, synthetic cryolite production, beryllium..." All sorts of pretty clear warnings about toxicity, reactivity.

I'm glad it isn't in my water. So is most of the non-English speaking world. Really makes you wonder...
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(no subject) [Dec. 17th, 2014|12:19 pm]
Ben

Self-knowledge is always hard won, and in my experience nobody acquires much unless circumstances force it; the process is simply too painful. Having entered into a condition of pain — and if you do not think this nation is in pain, please explain in the comment box — we can face the truths that practically drown us now and alter course decisively. This is our opportunity.

http://www.salon.com/2014/12/17/we_are_fing_sadists_we_are_not_decent_and_we_are_not_a_democracy/

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