Rearrangement of my blogs | Alan Lightman’s “Change Is the Only Constant” |

I have maintained two blogs since 2006, uh hum, for which I gain no income. Despite objections and conciliatory accusations that ‘you can’t make money on a blog’, in the shared consensus that one’s worth and place in society is based on ‘the capacity to earn money’ and ‘monetize’, I continue, to write my blogs.

Not to rebel, but merely in Joseph Campbell‘s words, to ‘follow your bliss’. In my case that involves feeding my curiosity.

Follow Your Bliss and the universe will open doors for you, where there were only walls.

Follow Your Bliss and doors will open for you, which were formerly walls.

To bring a little more clarity to readers, I’m rearranging a few things, in attempts to define each blog more clearly. Simply plucking a few topics, to place in their forthcoming homes. Yes, I’m somewhat ‘writing out loud’. Ultimately, at times the edges blur as topics from one bleed over into the other. However, I’ll start with this.

The carolkeiter blog will post along with hitchabouts, human interest stories, arts and entertainment, that have a more emotional appeal…Interestingly, clicks googling i guess, ‘naked men’, have brought many to my san francisco hitchabout blog, in which one photograph is listed as just that. hmmm, yes, sex sells. Perhaps I’ll have to monetize that theme!

The digesthis blog will maintain the themes of consciousness, environmental and animal rights information and science, with a leaning towards theoretical physics. Not because I’m a scientist or mathematician, but because my fascination lies there – and ironically it comes back full circle to consciousness. luminous_ braided_spiraling_mythic

So I’ll be reposting as I make this shift.

http://digesthis.wordpress.com/2013/09/21/b-e-r-l-i-n-s-t-r-e-e-t-s-e-r-i-e-s-m-u-s-i-c-r-o-t-a-t-i-o-n-s-t-r-a-s-s-e-n-m-u-s-i-k-2013/
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http://digesthis.wordpress.com/2013/09/21/berlin-art-week-abc-art-berlin-contemporary-party-19th-september/
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http://digesthis.wordpress.com/2013/09/18/art-week-grand-opening-on-august-strase-6-days-21-venues/
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http://digesthis.wordpress.com/2013/09/17/b-e-r-l-i-n-s-t-r-e-e-t-s-e-r-i-e-s-s-a-t-i-r-i-c-a-l-s-t-e-n-c-i-l-d-a-p-p-e-r-d-e-s-i-g-n-f-e-a-t-a-l-i-a-s/
Alias

http://digesthis.wordpress.com/2013/07/30/b-e-r-l-i-n-s-t-r-e-e-t-s-e-r-i-e-s-s-a-t-i-r-i-c-a-l-s-t-e-n-c-i-l-d-a-p-p-e-r-d-e-s-i-g-n/

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UTNE Reader‘s reprint of Alan Lightman’s article in the Tin House
September/October 2012 Change Is the Only Constant

Alan Lightman is a novelist, essayist, and physicist, with a PhD in theoretical physics from Harvard University.

Excerpted from his article:

We search for human immortality and eternal youth, and pray to everlasting gods, but in the universe as in life, change is the only constant.

Change Is the Only Constant

Change Is the Only Constant


“Oblivious to our human yearnings for permanence, the universe is relentlessly wearing down, falling apart, driving itself toward a condition of maximum disorder.” Sandra Dieckmann

I don’t know why we long so for permanence, why the fleeting nature of things so disturbs. With futility, we cling to the old wallet long after it has fallen apart. We visit and revisit the old neighborhood where we grew up, searching for the remembered grove of trees and the little fence. We clutch our old photographs. In our churches and synagogues and mosques, we pray to the everlasting and eternal. Yet, in every nook and cranny, nature screams at the top of her lungs that nothing lasts, that it is all passing away.

Consider the world of living things. Why can’t we live forever? The life cycles of amoebas and humans are, as everyone knows, controlled by the genes in each cell. While the raison d’être of the majority of genes is to pass on the instructions for how to build a new amoeba or human being, an important fraction of genes concerns itself with supervising cellular operations and replacing worn-out parts.

In fact, most of our body cells are constantly being sloughed off, rebuilt, and replaced to postpone the inevitable.

Over its 4.5-billion-year history, our own planet has gone through continuous upheavals and change. The primitive earth had no oxygen in its atmosphere. Huge landmasses splintered and glided about on deep tectonic plates. Then plants and photosynthesis leaked oxygen into the atmosphere.

Buddhists have long been aware of the evanescent nature of the world. Annica, or impermanence, they call it. But even Buddhists believe in something akin to immortality. It is called Nirvana. A person reaches Nirvana after he or she has managed to leave behind all attachments and cravings, endured countless trials and reincarnations, and finally achieved total enlightenment.

Although there is much that we do not understand about nature, the possibility that it is hiding a condition or substance so magnificent and utterly unlike everything else seems too preposterous for me to believe.

Perhaps with the proper training of my unruly mind and emotions, I could refrain from wanting things that cannot be.

Perhaps I could accept the fact that in a few short years, my atoms will be scattered in wind and soil, my mind and thoughts gone, my pleasures and joys vanished, I-ness dissolved in an infinite cavern of nothingness. But I cannot accept that fate, even though I believe it to be true. I cannot force my mind to go to that dark place.

Suppose I ask a different kind of question: if against our wishes and hopes, we are stuck with mortality, does mortality grant a beauty and grandeur all its own? Even though we struggle and howl against the brief flash of our lives, might we find something majestic in that brevity? Could there be a preciousness and value to existence stemming from the very fact of its temporary duration?

-..-.-.-.-.-.-.
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Keep your thoughts positive, because they become your words.
Keep your words positive, because they become your behavior.
Keep your behavior positive, because it becomes your habits.
Keep your habits positive, because they become your values.
Keep your values positive, because they become your destiny.
Mahatma Ghandi

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“Battle for the Elephants” documentary speaks Louder than Words

I’m getting closer to figuring out what it is that I am here for in this lifetime. Though I am not sure where I will go next, having just watched a documentary featured on PBS http://www.pbs.org/programs/battle-elephants/ about the near extinction of elephants due to the skyrocketing pricetag of ivory on their heads primarily coming from the demand in China, I just had another realization.

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I returned from a city that rarely sleeps – Berlin, Germany – to this sleepy town in Pennsylvania where I was raised. The impetus was to spend time with my father and reunite with my family, an homage to my parents. In this quiet place, I have maintained health and physical and intellectual fitness; doing outdoor sports, being in nature, playing musical instruments, reading, attending classes and taking in a lot of information. I’ve read plenty of articles in magazines such as the Smithsonian, National Geographic, UTNE Reader, Christian Science Monitor with worldwide scopes on social unrest, inequalities, imbalanced values, environmental hazards, greed (and some positive things ‘-) … I have been very fortunate that much of the information that has presented itself to me through local classes has been completely in synch with subjects that I have interest in. I believe it’s synchronicity or synchrodestiny, that I chose to return at this time. It has been a time and place of going inwards and absorbing – so that I could distill all of this information about the heart, spirit and mind…without distraction. Though I am absolutely pulled in many directions because of my interests, I realize that I very much adore and value the creatures that share our planet, many of which are nearing extinction. Something about this particular documentary, this evening lead me to believe that my purpose is to make a commitment to be a voice for those who have none. I don’t quite know how to effectively influence a population of a billion people to have empathy for the creatures that are being sacrificed for their commercial use of ivory – that has been going on for a thousand years – to satisfy their need to display wealth, taste, fine art, uphold religious iconography, meet their health needs or extenuate their impotence… but outside of joining a rebel force in East Africa to fire weapons at poachers, I will, to the best of my ability, convey information and tune whatever means I have with my body, mind, creativity, word, music and art, to raise the awareness and consciousness of the world to the plight of the creatures that we share it with, and to speak, for those who can’t speak for themselves. Statistics on Elephants in Africa

http://www.wcs.org/elephants/ The Wildlife Conservation Society provides you with various ways to help.

Stop the Demand


WCS plans to utilize Chinese social media platforms to encourage public engagement to reduce demand for ivory and influence how government agencies respond to the illegal ivory trade. We will support the creation of a social media hub in Beijing that focuses on information sharing, opinion mapping, building partnerships, and mobilization.

How You Can Help

Elephants can’t protect themselves against organized, armed criminals. To face down this tremendous threat, they’ll need the help of dedicated ecoguards who can intervene immediately. They’ll also need you.

http://events.nationalgeographic.com/events/films/2013/02/26/battle-elephants/

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/04/world/africa/africas-elephants-are-being-slaughtered-in-poaching-frenzy.html

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National_Geographic_information

“Law enforcement officials say organized crime has slipped into the ivory underworld, because only a well-oiled criminal machine – with the help of corrupt officials – could move hundreds of pounds of tusks thousands of miles across the globe…Like blood diamonds from Sierra Leone or plundered minerals from Congo, ivory, it seems, is the latest conflict resource in Africa, dragged out of remote battle zones, easily converted into cash and now fueling conflicts across the continent.”

Another recent article in the New York Times just appeared on the subject, with respect to the illicit trail of African ivory to China. Here is an important resource with many articles on the subject. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/world/africa/the-price-of-ivory.html?ref=asia

new york times article illicit trade of ivory to China

new york times article illicit trade of ivory

Here’s more information on the subject. http://www.care2.com/causes/will-african-elephants-be-extinct-in-ten-years.html

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Too Potent to Pass | TomDispatch feat. Peter Van Buren: What They Won’t Talk About in the Foreign Policy Debates

I’ve only recently been exposed to Tom DisPatch; self described antidote to the Mainstream Media. It was a referral from the online Utne Reader, an alternative press magazine which I’ve valued as a source of information for years. Peter Van Buren’s style of delivery and content emphatically blows open the doors of perception. I felt compelled to re post his blog, in awe of his insights and frankly, because I believe we all need to be shaken out of our presumptions.

re-post:

Don’t Ask and Don’t Tell
Six Critical Foreign Policy Questions That Won’t Be Raised in the Presidential Debates
By Peter Van Buren

We had a debate club back in high school. Two teams would meet in the auditorium, and Mr. Garrity would tell us the topic, something 1970s-ish like “Resolved: Women Should Get Equal Pay for Equal Work” or “World Communism Will Be Defeated in Vietnam.” Each side would then try, through persuasion and the marshalling of facts, to clinch the argument. There’d be judges and a winner.

Today’s presidential debates are a long way from Mr. Garrity’s club. It seems that the first rule of the debate club now is: no disagreeing on what matters most. In fact, the two candidates rarely interact with each other at all, typically ditching whatever the question might be for some rehashed set of campaign talking points, all with the complicity of the celebrity media moderators preening about democracy in action. Waiting for another quip about Big Bird is about all the content we can expect.

But the joke is on us. Sadly, the two candidates are stand-ins for Washington in general, a “war” capital whose denizens work and argue, sometimes fiercely, from within a remarkably limited range of options. It was D.C. on autopilot last week for domestic issues; the next two presidential debates are to be in part or fully on foreign policy challenges (of which there are so many). When it comes to foreign — that is, military — policy, the gap between Barack and Mitt is slim to the point of nonexistent on many issues, however much they may badger each other on the subject. That old saw about those who fail to understand history repeating its mistakes applies a little too easily here: the last 11 years have added up to one disaster after another abroad, and without a smidgen of new thinking (guaranteed not to put in an appearance at any of the debates to come), we doom ourselves to more of the same.

So in honor of old Mr. Garrity, here are five critical questions that should be explored (even if all of us know that they won’t be) in the foreign policy-inclusive presidential debates scheduled for October 16th, and 22nd — with a sixth bonus question thrown in for good measure.

1. Is there an end game for the global war on terror?

The current president, elected on the promise of change, altered very little when it came to George W. Bush’s Global War on Terror (other than dropping the name). That jewel-in-the-crown of Bush-era offshore imprisonment, Guantanamo, still houses over 160 prisoners held without trial or hope or a plan for what to do with them. While the U.S. pulled its troops out of Iraq — mostly because our Iraqi “allies” flexed their muscles a bit and threw us out — the war in Afghanistan stumbles on. Drone strikes and other forms of conflict continue in the same places Bush tormented: Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan (and it’s clear that northern Mali is heading our way).

A huge national security state has been codified in a host of new or expanded intelligence agencies under the Homeland Security umbrella, and Washington seems able to come up with nothing more than a whack-a-mole strategy for ridding itself of the scourge of terror, an endless succession of killings of “al-Qaeda Number 3” guys. Counterterrorism tsar John Brennan, Obama’s drone-meister, has put it this way: “We’re not going to rest until al-Qaeda the organization is destroyed and is eliminated from areas in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Africa, and other areas.”

So, candidates, the question is: What’s the end game for all this? Even in the worst days of the Cold War, when it seemed impossible to imagine, there was still a goal: the “end” of the Soviet Union. Are we really consigned to the Global War on Terror, under whatever name or no name at all, as an infinite state of existence? Is it now as American as apple pie?

2. Do today’s foreign policy challenges mean that it’s time to retire the Constitution?

A domestic policy crossover question here. Prior to September 11, 2001, it was generally assumed that our amazing Constitution could be adapted to whatever challenges or problems arose. After all, that founding document expanded to end the slavery it had once supported, weathered trials and misuses as dumb as Prohibition and as grave as Red Scares, Palmer Raids, and McCarthyism. The First Amendment grew to cover comic books, nude art works, and a million electronic forms of expression never imagined in the eighteenth century. Starting on September 12, 2001, however, challenges, threats, and risks abroad have been used to justify abandoning core beliefs enshrined in the Bill of Rights. That bill, we are told, can’t accommodate terror threats to the Homeland. Absent the third rail of the Second Amendment and gun ownership (politicians touch it and die), nearly every other key amendment has since been trodden upon.

The First Amendment was sacrificed to silence whistleblowers and journalists. The Fourth and Fifth Amendments were ignored to spy on Americans at home and kill them with drones abroad. (September 30th was the one-year anniversary of the Obama administration’s first acknowledged murder without due process of an American — and later his teenaged son — abroad. The U.S. has similarly killed two other Americans abroad via drone, albeit “by accident.”) [Here’s a link I’ve added for a quick view of the Amendments to the United States Constitution]

So, candidates, the question is: Have we walked away from the Constitution? If so, shouldn’t we publish some sort of notice or bulletin?

3. What do we want from the Middle East?

Is it all about oil? Israel? Old-fashioned hegemony and containment? What is our goal in fighting an intensifying proxy war with Iran, newly expanded into cyberspace? Are we worried about a nuclear Iran, or just worried about a new nuclear club member in general? Will we continue the nineteenth century game of supporting thug dictators who support our policies in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Libya (until overwhelmed by events on the ground), and opposing the same actions by other thugs who disagree with us like Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad? That kind of policy thinking did not work out too well in the long run in Central and South America, and history suggests that we should make up our mind on what America’s goals in the Middle East might actually be. No cheating now — having no policy is a policy of its own.

Candidates, can you define America’s predominant interest in the Middle East and sketch out a series of at least semi-sensical actions in support of it?

4. What is your plan to right-size our military and what about downsizing the global mission?

The decade — and counting — of grinding war in Iraq and Afghanistan has worn the American military down to its lowest point since Vietnam. Though drugs and poor discipline are not tearing out its heart as they did in the 1970s, suicide among soldiers now takes that first chair position. The toll on families of endless deployments is hard to measure but easy to see. The expanding role of the military abroad (reconstruction, peacekeeping, disaster relief, garrisoning a long necklace of bases from Rota, Spain, to Kadena, Okinawa) seems to require a vast standing army. At the same time, the dramatic increase in the development and use of a new praetorian guard, Joint Special Operations Command, coupled with a militarized CIA and its drones, have given the president previously unheard of personal killing power. Indeed, Obama has underscored his unchecked solo role as the “decider” on exactly who gets obliterated by drone assassins.

So, candidates, here’s a two-parter: Given that a huge Occupy Everywhere army is killing more of its own via suicide than any enemy, what will you do to right-size the military and downsize its global mission? Secondly, did this country’s founders really intend for the president to have unchecked personal war-making powers?

5. Since no one outside our borders buys American exceptionalism anymore, what’s next? What is America’s point these days?

The big one. We keep the old myth alive that America is a special, good place, the most “exceptional” of places in fact, but in our foreign policy we’re more like some mean old man, reduced to feeling good about himself by yelling at the kids to get off the lawn (or simply taking potshots at them).

During the Cold War, the American ideal represented freedom to so many people, even if the reality was far more ambiguous. Now, who we are and what we are abroad seems so much grimmer, so much less appealing (as global opinion polls regularly indicate). In light of the Iraq invasion and occupation, and the failure to embrace the Arab Spring, America the Exceptional, has, it seems, run its course.

America the Hegemonic, a tough if unattractive moniker, also seems a goner, given the slo-mo defeat in Afghanistan and the never-ending stalemate that is the Global War on Terror. Resource imperialist? America’s failure to either back away from the Greater Middle East and simply pay the price for oil, or successfully grab the oil, adds up to a “policy” that only encourages ever more instability in the region. The saber rattling that goes with such a strategy (if it can be called that) feels angry, unproductive, and without any doubt unbelievably expensive.

So candidates, here are a few questions: Who exactly are we in the world and who do you want us to be? Are you ready to promote a policy of fighting to be planetary top dog — and we all know where that leads — or can we find a place in the global community? Without resorting to the usual “shining city on a hill” metaphors, can you tell us your vision for America in the world? (Follow up: No really, cut the b.s and answer this one, gentlemen. It’s important!)

6. Bonus Question: To each of the questions above add this: How do you realistically plan to pay for it? For every school and road built in Iraq and Afghanistan on the taxpayer dollar, why didn’t you build two here in the United States? When you insist that we can’t pay for crucial needs at home, explain to us why these can be funded abroad. If your response is we had to spend that money to “defend America,” tell us why building jobs in this country doesn’t do more to defend it than anything done abroad.

Now that might spark a real debate, one that’s long, long overdue.

Peter Van Buren, a 24-year veteran Foreign Service Officer at the State Department, spent a year in Iraq. Now in Washington and a TomDispatch regular, he writes about Iraq, the Middle East, and U.S. diplomacy at his blog, We Meant Well. Following the publication of his book We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People (the American Empire Project, Metropolitan Books), the Department of State began termination proceedings, stripping him of his security clearance and diplomatic credentials. Through the efforts of the Government Accountability Project and the ACLU, Van Buren instead retired from the State Department with his full benefits of service.

Copyright 2012 Peter Van Buren

Quebec’s major Ferrandez | Bicycle Proponent | UTNE READER |

Luc Ferrandez: Life in the Bike Lane

Luc Ferrandez, an ambitious Quebec mayor, shows how bike-friendly planning revitalized a historic Montreal borough.

“The Plateau is an Italian cathedral. It’s a forest. It’s something to protect, something sacred. I don’t want it to become a place where people come to live in a condo with triple-glazed windows for a couple of years. This has to be a place where people can be comfortable walking to the bakery, walking to school, walking to the park—where they want to stay to raise a family.”

Read more:

http://www.utne.com/politics/luc-ferrandez-zm0z12jazros.aspx?page=2#ixzz1zCgOzxye

Time to cut Class | Article UTNE Reader

I like the points