Friday, July 22, 2011

Persecution Salve

One of the most interesting aspects of 21st-century religiosity in the US is the intense persecution it feels. This persecution is often administered by the “intellectual elite”. Since most of the readers of this blog would be grouped into that category I thought it would be nice to point out that there are people who think you are being naughty, and they want it to stop; now!

Thought you are being naughty by simply thinking your elitist thoughts there are some of you who take your naughtiness one step further, and formulate opinions. Some of you even go so far as to share your opinions. Some of you even write them down.

You create confrontation between facts, figures, philosophy, art, and truth. You are a little intimidating to even those who agree with you, but have not done their homework. I personally (sometimes) spell check my blog entries to suck up to your favor, and I don’t just do this because you are so good looking.

The standard American focus of perceived persecution is Christianity. This is probably due in part to the fact that so many Christians use torture iconography as a mainstay of their fashionable jewelry. I recently saw someone with a chic little gold cross inlaid with diamonds hung around their neck on a gold chain. If the core magic of your faith requires the torture and death of your god then images of persecution should never be far from your mind. Some Christians, who may simply feel that they are not persecuted enough in their daily lives, go so far as to whip themselves bloody.

Practitioners of alternative medicine are also the subject of elitist persecution. I have heard the derisive statement: “there is no such thing as alternative medicine; if it worked it would just be called ‘medicine’” thrown around like a well loved stuffed toy. Persecution is not victimless. People’s livelihoods are at stake when alternative medicine is attacked.

Practitioners of alternative medicines must hide behind disclaimers to prevent being bullied by that lapdog of elitist science: the FDA. While researching hexagonal water I often ran into disclaimers similar to these:

The statements contained on these pages have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Many of the methods and products in this page are NOT considered scientific by the FDA, nor are they even recognized.

The information contained here is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Suggestions and ideas presented in this document are for information only and should not be interpreted as medical advice, meant for diagnosing illness, or for prescriptive purposes.

The FDA has even begun publishing lists of what it calls “fake cancer cures that should be avoided”. The list I found had 187 items on it. “187” is gang-slang for premeditated murder (this is a reference to California Penal Code section 187, subdivision (a) that defines murder as the "unlawful killing of a human being, or fetus, with malice aforethought"). What significance should we derive from this connection between this FDA alternative medicine hit list, and the hidden meaning behind the number of items on it?

Some of the items on the list are directly associated with proven cancer-causing benefits. Dong Ling Cao (aka Rabdosia or Isodon Rubescens) has sourced two extracts that have killed cancer cells in preliminary tests. Shouldn’t teas made from the whole plant kill cancer better than some extract?  Perhaps one would get even more benefit by eating the dirt the plant grew in also?  What if they smoked it?

One whole subgroup present several times on the FDA’s 187 list is the potion generically called “Black Salve”. Black Salves have been clinically proven to cure certain types of skin cancer. Sure they are non-metastasized skin cancers that have a 100% cure rate after modern out-patient surgery, but the Black Salve’s cure them. This is why they are called an alternative to modern medicine.

The Black Salves cannot cure all the cancers that modern medicine can. There are a couple of side effects. Sometimes they are manufactured without active ingredients. Sometimes they contain random nastiness.

On the upside, they have been used for hundreds of years. Their use, like bleeding with leaches, predates modern medicine.

The black salves work by burning the skin off the area they are applied to. Because of this they are sometimes called corrosive salves. Sometimes they are named after their ingredients with names like “bloodroot black salve” or simply “bloodroot salve”.

Sometimes they do burn off a little more than the applied area, but this is easily blamed on the sensitivity of the patient instead of the effectiveness of the product. There is also the pesky problem of infection when one chemically burns open a necrotic sore while simultaneously smearing the wound with a concoction loaded with bacteria of questionable origin.

I’ve seen the photos people whose noses have melted off after the application of these alternative medicine products. I firmly deny the charge that I personally showed them to anyone and then told them not to pick their nose. The publication of those pictures is simply scare tactics by elitist doctors and lawyers.

And..y’know… they are a little scary.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Black and White

When I was quite young I found discussions of magic thrilling. There were two types of magic in the world: Black (evil) magic and white (good) magic. One had to be careful to not invoke black magic by accident; both involved strange incantations and special effects.

Today I will be talking about the white beads harvested from the magic blender, and blackbody radiation. I may even talk a little about underwear.

After extensive searching I believe that the white beads are supposed to be a source of “far infrared energy” for the water. I looked at pictures of several PI-Mag-type devices, and saw white beads in some of them designated as far-infrared sources. A description of the magic blender gleaned from some Nikken-related site states:

“Contains pi-ceramics to help normalise pH and introduce far-infrared energy”

The far-infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum is usually defined as that with wavelengths between 15microns and 1 millimeter. This puts the far-infrared spectrum right up against the low part of the microwave spectrum. The far infrared spectrum is from about three hundred to almost twenty thousand gigahertz when expressed as frequency. However, some confusion exists in the FIR therapeutics community, and I have seen the spectrum for FIR given as 8-14 microns (which is mid-IR).

A quick search of health benefits from far-infrared energy yields an amazing amount of material. It may be that certain treatments using far-infrared radiation specifically generated from IR-LEDs could be of some use, but that has little to do with the little white beads in the magic blender. The white beads are ceramic beads designed to reflect FIR radiation back at the water. Here is an explanatory quote:

“Far Infrared Radiation(FIR) is only produced by properly activated ceramic materials radiating in selected spectra in the far infrared band.”
What this means is that the material is supposed to cause a spectral shift in the radiation it receives. The material absorbs several wavelengths of radiation, and then emits FIR. This is not a far-fetched concept. There are many compounds that have a defined absorption and emission spectrum.

Fluorescent compounds adsorb energy in the form of light (often UV), and then emit light of a much longer wavelength. Some fluorescent compounds are inorganic. Some naturally occurring rocks are strongly fluorescent. Why couldn’t there be a ceramic material that absorbed in the low-to-mid IR, and emitted in the FIR?

This is the basis of the claims made by an entire industry of FIR therapeutics. The lion’s share of FIR therapeutic devices are in the form of clothing. Yes, much of that clothing is underwear; one has to get the magic close to the skin.

My searches have not discovered any materials that absorb in the mid-IR wavelengths and fluoresce in the FIR wavelengths. Fluorescence is a very specific chemical property. The range of wavelengths that excite or are emitted by a fluorescent compound is very narrow. It is more likely that the absorption-emission coupling that the FIR hucksters are describing is the result of a much more general physical property called black-body radiation.

Black-body radiation could account for a shift of the reflected radiation to a longer wavelength. According to Wien's displacement law the wavelength maximum for a black body radiator is inversely proportional to the temperature of the black body. Since the underwear should be somewhat cooler than the body on which it is stretched it should emit at a slightly longer wavelength.

For the beads in the water unit to work this way the water would have to be at a higher temperature than the beads. I’m not sure how this would occur in the DPA.

A search of patents describing FIR brings up US patent 4,886,972 “FAR INFRARED EMITTING BODY OF A CORE MATERIAL COATED WITH AN ULTRAFINE POWDER”. This describes treating material (which could be fabric) with ceramic material to improve its ability to reflect FIR. This patent describes the ceramic material as having properties that are optimal because they are “very close to black body”.

The closeness to black body is the definition of the property called “emissivity”. The closer the emissivity of a material is to 1.0 the closer that material is to acting like a black-body radiator. Emissivity of some metals (like aluminum foil) can be as low as 0.05. Many ceramics have emissivities in the 0.95 range. The emissivity of human skin and cloth is also very close to 1.0.

One could greatly increase the emissivity of aluminum foil by coating it with ceramic, but not boxers (or briefs). This is of course assuming one’s boxers are not made of the same material as their hat.

There is also a question of magnitude of the effect. A quick calculation using Wien’s displacement law (and a standard value for the Wien’s displacement constant of 2,897,768.5 nm*K) shows that in order to shift the maximum emission wavelength by just over three microns one would have to soak one’s shorts in liquid nitrogen.

Still, despite these obstacles, the use of FIR energy clothing has shown tremendous benefits:

FIR therapeutic products are supposed to:

• relieve arthritis pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis, knee pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, and all kinds of chronic pains.
• aid the process of weight loss, wrinkle reduction and tissue regeneration.
• energize the body
• Increases metabolism
• Increases blood flow
• Reduces hypertension (high blood pressure)
• Reduces the chances of blood clots
• Improves the elasticity of arterial walls
• Flushes toxins from the lymph areas
• Reduces the acidity in our bodies (a more alkaline body is healthier)
• Improves the immune system
• Reduces pain associated with all types of Arthritis
• Increases the extensibility of collagen (fibrous protein constituent of bone, cartilage, tendon, and other connective tissue)
• Relieves muscle spasms
• Reduces joint stiffness
• Reduces edema (an accumulation of an excessive amount of watery fluid in cells, tissues, or serous cavities)
• Reduces exudates (substances oozing from the skin)
• Successfully used to aid weight control
• Reduces sinus congestions
• Reduces migraine pressures
• Relieved headache tension and pain
• Helps to heal skin burns & reduces scaring
• Reduces inflammatory skin conditions, like psoriasis
• Reduces Cellulite dimpling

The following is a disclaimer I ran across for some magic boxers:

All products helps in preventing, controlling and relieving various ailments. Results may vary from individual to individual depending on their age, body constituency and severity of ailment/s and toxin level in the body. No medicinal system gives guarantee on health products. Company recommends to use the products 3 to 6 months for cure. Curing time varies from person to person. But from our experience, 90 -93 % is the success rate and of course this is a miracle.

Which does sound miraculous…since they do say so themselves.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tropical Shire

It is unfortunate that so much talk of evolution by atheists appears to revolve around the question of just how much veracity evolution has. This detracts from the fact that the history of evolution tells a multitude of stories; the most recent stanzas of which are written in flesh and blood. There is a complex verse that sings the tune of the hominids to which we all sing harmony.

I’ve casually asked questions about the basic theory of evolution. I was first insulted by the false assertions of the Creation Research Society, and more recently by IDiocity. Is there a question to be asked? Is there a story to be told? Even the most detailed modern creation myths contain fewer extensible details than a Dr. Seuss book, and they lack the catchy rhymes. These myth tat strong questions exist about the basic theory of evolution tries to shout down productive and interesting discussions about the details of how evolution actually occurred.  I find this state of affairs irritating.

Recently, while trying to watch a visually captivating film clip in the enterence to the Hall of Human Origins in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, a young man pushed past me, exclaimed that some "THEY" was ignoring god's truth, and stormed out.  I almost followed him to get details about his "THEY", but there are fewer hours in the day than there are self-righteous fools.Instead I ventured further into the Hall of Human Origins.

The evolution of man is an unfolding narrative. Details help us understand who we are, and the details are wonderful. There are questions to be asked, and enticing mysteries. I was introduced to one of these mysteries recently.

People who are forced to defend the veracity of hominid evolution rarely talk about the enigma of the Australian aboriginal peoples. This is because the stories of the culture and descent of these peoples are hidden behind seemingly intractable enigmas. There is no clear line of evidence that does not stumble over some important detail. I think this makes their stories all the more amazing.

The IDiots avoid talking about the aboriginal peoples of Australia because what is known of their stories makes hash out of all creationist arguments.

The aboriginal peoples of Australia are the surviving members of the oldest continuous civilization on the planet. Their civilization is often estimated to be over 65,000 years old. This number is huge. Homo sapiens is believed to have descended around 250,000 years ago. The Australian aboriginal peoples have been a coherent culture for a length of time on the same magnitude of scale as Homo sapiens has been a coherent species.

Much of this time the aboriginal peoples have been isolated. They are thought to be descendants of people who migrated down the chain of islands that is now Indonesia to New Guinea. Once in New Guinea they crossed to the tip of Australia, and stayed.

Here is a picture of a likely migration path for the aboriginal peoples of Australia:

Possible Migration Path

Some of the multiple water crossings shown in the map might have been dry land during the migration. It is believed that ocean levels were low enough to dry out some, but not all, of the water crossings. Migrating people would have needed some way to cross over water in mass in order to migrate to Australia. The modern aboriginal people of Australia have no water-crossing technology; there is also no hint of such technology as far back as their history is documented. As far as modern aboriginal peoples of Australia are concerned they were never able to cross water en-mass.

If they had made even very primitive boats for the migration the technological advancement would have put them light-years ahead of any other people on the planet. Instead of that technology shaping human destiny they apparently forgot how to do it.

The widely accepted story is that the loss of seafaring ability was the cultural equivalent of blind cave fish losing their eyesight. Like caves Australia and the Indonesian islands have a unique variety of flora and fauna.

Australia is home to the kangaroo, the duck-billed platypus, the Koala, and way too many other specially adapted animals for me to comprehensively list here.


In the map I have colored the Indonesian island of Flores green. It is also home to a multitude of specially-adapted creatures including the spectacular Komodo Dragon. The fossil record of Flores speaks of a long history of unique animal forms. There was a dwarf elephant-like animal, and giant rats (there is still at least one species of giant rat living on the island). The fossil record of Flores has also yielded up many dwarf human remains.

Homo floresiensis (aka Hobbit-man) is the name given to the diminutive human remains uncovered on Flores. On average H. floresiensis was only about a meter tall. Dating the various remains suggests that H. floresiensis may have existed as a coherent population from around 100,000 years ago to perhaps as recently as 10,000 years ago. This means that H. floresiensis existed when the Australian aboriginal peoples migrated to Australia, or they were an offshoot of that migration event and developed their diminutive size due to isolation on Flores Island.

When species are isolated they often quickly (many generations fast) develop unique traits. Deviant size appears as a common early-acquired trait. Gigantism or dwarfism are often signature features of this so-called “island effect”. It is commonly held that the small size of H. floresiensis was due to a hominid island effect.

Why would H. floresiensis be isolated? Surrounding islands are close enough to see. Flores itself is so small as to exert some kind of migration pressure on its inhabitants. Local migrations of people occurred within the span of H. floresiensis existence. At some point H. floresiensis migrated, at some point they witnessed migration, the island was not nearly as difficult to migrate from as Australia, and there would have been regular reasons to at least partially migrate. How could island effect so effectively mold H. floresiensis?

As far as I know they have not uncovered any seafaring apparatus (like a boat) from the H. floresiensis finds. Did they also come by boat, and then forget what a boat was?

Was the isolation caused by cultural traits? Was there a belief system that caused these peoples to lose their tremendously advanced capabilities? Because these are relatively recent hominids the path of their development speaks more directly to specific features of our own abilities to create societies than most other narratives of natural selection, and how cool is that?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Stone-Age-Lizard-Ninjas

In the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History there is a hall generously sprinkled with replicas of skeleton fragments from human ancestors. Most of the fragments are skulls. The skull replicas suggest the calcium-rich armor that protected that organ most closely associated with actually being human.

The resolution with which the fossil record currently describes the evolution of the human species is far greater than I realized. New named hominids have popped up since I last really looked at the hominid fossils. The narrative of human evolution is developing character and plot.

One area that the Smithsonian described as a subplot was a bit out-of step with the central narrative. That area is now called Asia. Someplaces in Asia there are Homo erectus fossilizing themselves over a million years ago. Somplaces in asia the delicate craniums of modern looking Homo sapiens have been dated at an astonishing 68,000 years of age.

There is one place in Asia where a strange divergent race of morphologically striking homonids emerged. That place is the island of Flores in Indonesia.

The Smithsonian display suggested that Homo floresiensis existed from 95,000 to 17,000 years ago. It further suggests that homonids existed on the island of Flores for 800,000 years.

If Homo floresiensis is evolved from hominids that migrated to Flores 800,000 years ago then they represent a divergence from Homo erectus. If Homo floresiensis emerged 95,000 years ago they represent a divergence from Homo sapiens.

Homo floresiensis had a much smaller brain cavity than Homo sapiens. One part, however, is similar in development. That is the areas that are used for recognition and cognition. Homo floresiensis would probably have been capable of culture. If the capability for culture was conserved during the tremendous selective pressure that shaped Homo floresiensis it must have had a selective advantage. Culture must have played a part in the divergence of Homo floresiensis from whatever its source stock was. If the source of Homo floresiensis was us (Homo sapiens) then the divergence of Homo floresiensis may speak to possibilities in evolution that can effect our world.

Flores is the source of some important culture. I played my way to a recent world record on an Angklung named after the island of Flores.

One of the more persuasive explanations for the divergence of Homo floresiensis is that island isolation drove the divergence. Culture can easily multiply the effects of natural isolation. The divergence of Homo floresiensis due to cultural isolation could be a compelling potential addition to the narrative of our ancestry.

I picture Homo floresiensis as a strange warlike human. In my mind they tip spears with tropical poisons, and ride komodo dragons into battle with trespassing Homo sapiens. The authoritative forces of their rigid tribal structure select for smaller and smaller brains. They become the perfect warriors. Stone-age-lizard-ninjas.

Somewhere in Indonesia a small band of Homo floresiensis which avoided the extinction of the rest of their species may still crouch in the dark jungles of Flores. They listen intently to the sounds of their modern cousins creating a world of amazing expression. They hear music for the first time while furtively glancing into the world of Homo sapiens. It is likely that they hear Homo sapiens playing the popular locally-made percussion instrument called the angklung.

The angklung is specially made to lure stalking intelligences out of the wild. It produces a lovely intoxicating sound.

I picture Homo floresiensis listening intently to a angklung ensemble playing “We are the World” because that is the song I played to secure the world angklung ensemble record on July 9th 2011.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sweatin' to the Oldies

Being very hard of hearing, and functionally tone deaf, has up till now limited my career as a musician. Despite these significant impediments I can today honestly describe myself as a world-renowned pioneering and award-winning musician.

My nascent career as an groundbreaking world musician began thousands of miles away from anywhere I have ever been. I picture the bamboo that would be crafted into the very angklung that would make me famous growing in black forest soil on a mostly wild Indonesian island. My angklung produces a single note, and is named after a single Indonesian island. The note was B-sharp, and the island was Flores.

The award I refer to is the world record for the largest angklung ensemble. The event I attended was the first ever attempt to set the record, and since there was no existing record to break we were a shoe-in for the record books. Someone suggested that this made the record less substantial; I prefer to think of it as pioneering new benchmarks for the progress of human culture as expressed in music. By one count there were 5,189 people involved in the effort.

The event took place on the expanse of poorly watered lawn that are the Washington Monument grounds. This is a great place for an event.

The record “attempt” was a key draw for the 2011 Indonesian cultural festival. One of the other big key events was a concert by “Air Supply”. I would miss the concert.

I was drawn to the Indonesian festival not by a desire to kick-start my musical career, but by a desire to get some lunch. I got some lunch that was quite good. It consisted of barbecued chicken on a stick coated in peanut sauce. The wait to get it was by any measure way too long, but it was made surreal by Washington DC July heat. I was so soaked in sweat that when I tried to put on sunscreen it foamed up like dishsoap.

There was a large professional stage where extremely perky announcers would gush over the accomplishments of each performer in an endless stream of dance troops and karaoke singers. Several of the karaoke singers were delicately attractive girls dressed in multilayered evening gowns. The gowns had long sleeves and neck-obscuring tall collars. The base layer looked like a quilted brocade. The top layer was a semi-transparent nylon shell with sequined patterns.

Twin jumbo trons captured the karaoke singers' exotic gyrations in practiced zoom and pan. The rock beat could have been produced by a three-piece band, but the organizers had opted for tape-deck instead. The singers attempted to marry traditional chant-like melodies to the electronic beat. In the thin heat that pretended to be breathable air the effect conjured images of small furry animals caught in a merciless geared industrial mechanism. They were whining in a terminus of pain. Whenever I glanced at the projected squealing pretty overdressed girls I would sweat a little extra.

There were dancing troupes in amazing oven-like costumes, and more perky banter. Then suddenly the stage was empty.

I still had a few minutes to wait for my food. One of the preparers was cutting bananas that she would coat in batter and deep fry. She did it with glacially slow precision. It was hypnotic. One cut, peal back a little more peal, place the knife against the banana, push it slowly through, peal some more.

I heard a strange trilling sound coming from some far-off place. It was beautiful. Someplace in it I could make out a song. It trailed off, and then started up again. The preparer must have been taking five minutes per banana; it was not food, it was art. I began to recognize the song. It was Bohemian Rhapsody.

I took my chicken on a stick (finally) across the festival grounds towards the National Klansman and noticed a second smaller stage On it was a group of people playing a bamboo percussion instruments hanging from black steel frames. A black-clad conductor wildly gesticulated in front of them while the performers would grab bits of their instrument and shake it vigorously. The band was rounded out with a small drum set and a bassist. The sound was exotic and danceable.

I could not completely make out the next song, but I knew it would be at home on a CD with some title like “greatest hits of the 80s”.

I was hooked.

Up on the main stage the perky announcers bantered about an “angklung world record”, and before I could figure out what this meant “Batala” -the amazing Brazilian drumming troupe- marched out. Always a treat their appearance was somewhat surprising at a festival named for a country roughly half way around the globe from the country that spawned their musical style. I discovered that despite the heat I had enough energy to bounce on the balls of my feet. I'm sure there was a breeze.

It was at this moment; soaked with sweat, driven by the primal beat of a few dozen drums, baked by a taunting sun, that I remembered a small (literally) bit of human ancestry from Indonesia that formed part of an interesting narrative.

Luckily I was just down the street from a place where I could get a little (literally) background information on it.



Interpol - Slow Hands by scootaway

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What is PJJ doing now?

There is something about heterodoxy that captures the imagination. The idea that parts and pieces of belief systems can be Frankensteined together into a synergistically greater whole is compelling. Against the pull of heterodoxy the reactionary elements of orthodoxy too often hold sway. The result is usually a partial reformation where self-convinced enlightened elements of a religion profess modernity for their belief structure.

Heterodoxy breaks free of the bonds of convention at times. At times the new creation gathers enough converts to hit some self-sustaining minimum, and a new religion is born. Often the creation can only boil away as a sect or cult till the action of decadence, sense, or time finally dissolves it.

Some that burn out quickly leave an imprint on history for their excesses. There are heterodoxies that have swept up thousands of lives in their race towards non-existence. Others, like the Juche cult, exist only in rarefied social niches. Most never grow much beyond the germinal rantings of a single disjointed often certifiable personality.

One of the features of a heterodoxy is that the central ideas of it are gleaned from other belief systems. The pilfered parts are usually described as being direct revelation or are identified by source in the hope of inheriting any intrinsic worth the belief system they were stolen from might have.

I personally find the direct revelation information more interesting as it allows a clean excision of the heterodoxy creators' favorite bits.

In addition to the ascendant heterodoxies there are a multitude of them that express some sort of moral relativism. Though the idea of moral relativism encompasses a broad spectrum of ideals one of the core concepts is equivalency in belief systems.

“Each individual spirit claims the freedom to believe for himself. If we were to analyze each person's deepest beliefs—including assumptions, guesses and hopes—we would never find two people who believe exactly the same thing, even within the same religion. In all the affairs of humankind, matters of faith are intensely subjective and are colored by individual interpretation and desire. Therefore it is safe to say that no two of us believe in exactly the same religion.” – Betty Eadie

Against this leveling attitude the Abrahamic religions react with Triumphalism (belief that a particular doctrine, or religion is superior to and should triumph over all others). In no church is this more apparent (though it is equally apparent in some) than the LDS church. The LDS church is widely referred to as the “One True Church”.

"[the Mormon priesthood is] the only power on the earth that reaches beyond the veil of death… Without it there could be a church in name only, [a church] lacking authority to administer in the things of God." – Gordon B. Hinkley

The priesthood in the LDS church is given to young boys, and is essentially the same as baptism in other religions. Interestingly the LDS church can be productively thought of as itself being the product of heterodoxy. The baptism/priesthood rite itself was provided by my more preferred method; by divine intervention. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery went into the woods and met the corporeal spirit of John the Baptist who “bestowed” it on them. They called it the Aronic priesthood. They would get the Melchizedek priesthood later directly from Peter, James, and John.
"The messenger who visited us on this occasion and conferred this Priesthood upon us, said that his name was John, the same that is called John the Baptist in the New Testament, and that he acted under the direction of Peter, James and John, who held the keys of the Priesthood of Melchizedek, which Priesthood, he said, would in due time be conferred on us, and that I should be called the first Elder of the Church, and he (Oliver Cowdery) the second “ – Joseph Smith

Betty Eadie's moral relativism appears like the sort of ideal that would assist people at finding a common ground for discussions of the intrinsic worth of people. I personally like the idea of people coming together to talk about loving one another. It may be the vestigial hippie in me, but the idea of folks meeting on common ground sounds like a more likely path to a better future than one where one group triumphs over another.

Betty got many of her ideas from divine inspiration. She is the author of several bestselling (one was a NYT #1 bestseller) books that relate to a near-death-experience she had. In it she met Jesus and Angels, and was given specific information about things like pre-mortal existence.  I was surprised she did not also meat Hello Kitty.  Who knew that death could be so safe and nurturing?

Recently one heterodox individual was found guilty of various levels of incompetent practice as a result of par-boiling several dozen of his followers in a sweat lodge. A couple died, and nineteen were hospitalized (one of the hospitalized individuals died a week later). James Arthur Ray had created a heterodoxy out of a fusion of Rhonda Byrne's fabulously popular “Law of Attraction” (popularized in “The Secret” book and movie) and “spiritual warrior” activities.

James's father was a preacher from Oklahoma, and he was raised in a household where divine revelation was the mundane source of household income. This upbringing resonates with the themes in both James's 2008 book Harmonic Wealth and Byrne's 2006 book The Secret.

Betty Eadie also has ties to plains-state spirituality. She was raised on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota, and many of her revelations are tied to her native-American identity.

“After returning from my near-death experience, many things were revealed to me that were to come in the years ahead. Times and dates were given for some events, but the timing of the events seemed less important than the events themselves. One very important event and its timing, which is now, was the spiritual awakening of some of God's ancient people. Their ancient knowledge and understanding of the Creator, our Father, was preserved and kept pure in their cells. “ – Betty Eadie

Betty makes numerous references to Christian ideology, but never specifically endorses any branch. I was a bit shocked when I found out that she was an active Mormon in good standing.

Betty's Mormon beliefs were apparently used to great effect when her book was first released in markets where there was a substantial LDS population. The book is apparently a popular one in relief society book clubs. The Deseret News brags of her being one of a handful of #1 bestselling LDS authors. Her stature is comparable to that of the divinely-inspired Steven Covey. Yet, she is conspicuously silent about her church connections. She reportedly will not answer direct questions about her church when asked outside of Utah.

Maybe Jesus gave her a priesthood that was better than the one he had PJJ give Joe?


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Calder's Around Here Somehow

In the Hirshorn Museum of art today there was a security guard on the basement floor who believed it was his job to make sure everyone on the escalator faced in the direction they were traveling.

He started his attempts to get people facing correctly by yelling at people to “TURN AROUND” if they were facing the wrong way. This resulted in just about everyone turning around to see who was yelling. It caused him great annoyance to see half the folks on the escalators facing the wrong direction after he had admonished a single transgressor to right their misdirection.

He then tried to be more specific. Detailing some article of clothing the wrong-facing person was wearing. In response almost everyone on the escalators began turning in several directions at once to ascertain who the authoritative voice was describing.

I found this amusing, but decided to travel to the upper floors before discovering that there was something wrong with my attitude.

The Hirshorn is an amazing museum. There are few museums I have been in that boast such a wide variety of modern art. At the Hirshorn the many true masterpieces look all the more impressive in juxtaposition to some truly horrendous junk. That is the wonder of the Hirshorn; almost every piece is coming at art from a different direction.



Saturday, July 2, 2011

Beverage Service

Last month I dissected the magic blender, and revealed its magic beads. I sorta stopped describing the magic at that point, but I did not stop delving into what it could be. I ran into some difficulty in figuring out what was supposed to be going on with the beads.

The problems arrived dressed as information. Much of the information was accurate, but the conclusions did not add up.

The other problem was the sheer magnitude of the information. Each of the five types of material were potentially possessed of magical properties, and there were synergistic properties that created a harmonious balance of magical power with the mixture of beads as a whole.

Only three of the materials were easily associated with a type of magic. These materials were the coral/shell fragment mix, the black beads, and the white beads. While I am still trying to sort out the purported magical properties for the tan and brown beads I thought it would be worthwhile to describe the other three types of magic. I will do this over the next few days.

In addition to the beads there is a significant amount of magic transmitted to the water by the old magic standby: magnets. The action that generates the vortex easily seen in the video I posted is unsurprising to most people who have spent time in a laboratory. The MBU acts like a magnetic stir-plate, and the DPA rotor acts like a magnetic stir bar.

If the DPA rotor were not optimized to produce a vortex one might be able to use the magic blender to stir up iced tea or some other refreshing drink. Because of the vortex any drink made in the magic blender would be quite frothy; I think this would be detrimental to the aesthetics of the drink. I may try some different stir-bars in the DPA to see if it can be made useful.

I also have this vision of myself where I have completely re-configured the MBU to make it a portable rechargeable-battery-driven magnetic stir plate (with nifty LED effects).

The sun is setting behind a set of ragged hills. The horizon is the torn edge of a graphite blackened parchment. The sky becomes the mysteriously dark missing half of the pre-tear document. I see the stars and distant terrestrial lights together forming the patterns made incomplete by the rent of day.


I have the re-configured MBU sitting on a waist-high card table beside me. The red-and-white tablecloth is grey and darker-grey. I reach for the on-switch of the MBU, and turn it on. The stir-bar rattles for a second then catches with a confident whirr. The LED display casts dancing red-and-green shadows on nearby foliage. Soon my tasty beverage will be ready.