Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lots of Dead Things in the Old Schoolhouse

From the Florida Pioneer Museum and Village.

Bad Jewish Arguments for Vegetarianism

This ain't the Illuminati or lizard people disguised as world leaders, y'know. Yes, there are people who beleive in those things, but avoiding animal foods doesn't have to be so fringe. If you've been reading for a while, you know that I'll freely oppose weak arguments for vegetarianism and veganism. In the end, it just doesn't help.

So when I came across a series of videos on Jewish vegetarianism, the first thing I did was ask the opinion of Stephen, The Nervous Vegan's Official Expert on All Things Kosher. He's always full of insight when it comes to intersections between vegetarian and kosher diets. For my Jewish vegetarian friends out there, and anybody else who's interested, I'll post the videos and his criticisms.

The first thing he had to say pretty much set the tone for the entire exchange.
I haven't seen them yet, but I would just let you know in advance that Prof. Richard Schwartz is considered something of a kook. No pun intended, seriously. :) He has taken some very extreme positions and is considered a one-note diva. He is very outside the mainstream.
Okay then, let's watch along with Stephen. Here's part 1:

Hey, so I listened to the first recording and it is very Prof. Schwartz. That being said, it contains several distortions:

1) Yes, the longest living people in the Torah were in the earliest generations extending from Adam to Noach (Noah), but nowhere in the literature is this attributed to vegetarianism, or is it even a consideration. Rather, the shortening of life is considered related to man's corruption. Man cannot live too long because it created laziness and corruption. This is evidenced in the Tower of Babel story where the people of the world decide they are like Gd and want to build a tower to heaven to take their lofty place. Also it is further evidenced by the flood which ends the first era of history after which Gd puts a limit on life. In fact it is said that the ideal years of man is 120. But only one man reached that age: Moses. Even 'til today, it is common to wish someone on their birthday "Ad meah v'esrim" ('til 120). The limitation has nothing to do with vegetarianism.

2) There is no evidence that humans were not permitted to eat meat 'til the flood. The only prohibition against eating meat was in the Garden of Eden, and the speaker has pointed out those passages, but after Adam and Chava (Eve) are removed they are told they will have dominion over all living creatures. This can be interpreted as being only the ruler over animals, but more commonly as they were able to use animals for food as well...
However, it is clear that use of animals, and to be blunt, the bloodletting of animals, was clearly not frowned upon. In the story of Cain and Abel. Cain, a farmer gave sacrifice to Gd from his fields and Abel, a shepherd gave a sacrifice to Gd of his flock. Gd was pleased with Abel's offering, he called it a sweet fragrance, but not with Cain's which was referred to as stingy.

Cain became jealous and killed Abel. Cain was subsequently punished and obligated to wander the earth for the rest of his life without a place to settle. Clearly Gd preferred the animal offering to the vegetarian offering.

3) It is simply a distortion to say that Gd considered the generation of the flood evil because they ate meat against Gd's will. There is simply no evidence of that. What was an abomination was that men "tore the living flesh off of animals while they were still alive, causing animals tremendous suffering." The laws of kashrut require the removal of blood because it is the source of life, and that the animal be slaughtered in a humane fashion, by the instantaneous severing of the carotid artery with a smooth blade. However, it is considered an obligation for all of humanity that men cannot tear the living limbs off of animals, one of the obligations in the Torah that belong to all people and not just Jews. This is one of the 7 Noahide laws (Laws for all mankind).

4) Rav Kook was not a vegetarian, though he is cited frequently by vegetarians and Prof. Schwartz is notorious for using him in justify his theses. Rav Kook wrote about vegetarianism as the "ideal diet of Kashrut" and said that we shall return to it in the messianic age. But he maintained that in a time of imperfection vegetarian diet was improper and smacked of "pretension." Anyway, you might want to look at this.
See there! I have to look no further for a full discussion. Good work, sir!

Rav Kook's take on vegetarianism: Essentially while it is permissible it is not mandated nor is it even preferred behavior in modern times. Some of Rav Kook's letters to his son regarding the mitzvah of schechita (Kosher butchering).

To be clear... Prof Schwartz has taken Rav Kook's pronouncement that One may be a vegetarian if he chooses, and his observation that in the messianic age the diet will be vegetarian, to suggest that it is a preferred Jewish diet in present times, when Rav Kook says almost exactly the opposite. The most interesting aspect, I think, is Rav Kook's observation that many who refuse to eat meat are otherwise cruel to their fellow man.
There we are! These ideas don't really survive scrutiny, effective though they may be in some people's personal rationales. If you find yourself entering a discussion, show your stuff by not employing these arguments, or even by recognizing their faultiness. Remember, humbleness will get you further. I've actually found that silence impresses people more than debate.

Thank you once again, Stephen! I'll have to send you a New York Post t-shirt or something.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Code on Your Shortwave: They're Talking About Nukes

Sometimes, the things you find while playing with a shortwave radio are mysterious and haunting, and when you find out more about them, they're no less intriguing.

These are Emergency Action Messages, broadcasts in code from the US military. They involve the handling of nuclear weapons. Scary, huh? Try sitting in a dark room, with only the light of the radio, and listening...

Humans are strange animals to produce such things.

Go Inward, Young Man!

It's 1000° out there, and spring has only begun! Well, maybe that's hyperbole, but it's been in the 90s. And we finally have rain, so I opened the house and the place is cooling off, but now it's damp in here.

From Wikipedia: "Florida's populations have been rapidly changing. After World War II, Florida was transformed as air conditioning and the Interstate highway system encouraged emigration from the north. In 1950, Florida was ranked twentieth among the states in population; 50 years later it was ranked fourth." In fact, John Gorrie, the father of air conditioning, did his inventing here. Necessity is the mother of invention, I guess. It gets downright unlivable sometimes.

I confess that, when it's intensely hot and humid, we turn the air on. Part of simplifying our life will involve moving somewhere that's not a prehistoric swamp dripping with moisture and full of dinosaurs... eh... gators and lizards. I really don't like our dependence on central air.

But for now, we use it when things get desperate. And it's broken.

So how am I gonna deal with this?

Sistahs and brothahs, mah text today is from Philippians 4:11: "...I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."

I know, I know, it's Paul. I don't like his attitude toward women or gay people either. If you listen to bible-based, fundamentalist arguments though, they're actually very selective with the texts they use, so I can be too. There's a mess of stuff in the Bible. There's the Sermon on the Mount and then there are the horrors in the Book of Judges, which I wouldn't even name here.

And I know, Paul goes on to say that he can "do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me," and I'm not a Christian. But really, taken abstractly, that's an important point too. His focus is on something other than his jail cell or whatever. If you think you can get through life with faith only in your own control of your situation, you're bound to be unhappy. You're much better off focusing on some worthy, steady object of faith.

I think that any of the great religions will tell you so in their own way, and many good secular philosophies too. Y'know, focusing on life's details is a kind of madness. You need to set your eyes on something greater. No matter what happens, you need focus on something outside of the ever-changing world.

You may not make it otherwise. You' be too stressed and scattered.

So I'm feeling a bit mildewed now, and contentment is more of a struggle, but I'm doing what I can. That's part of what my diet means to me, and my love for Kat too. If she and I really do find our way into greater self-sufficiency, a lot more adjustment will have to follow.

We're gonna be okay, just so long as we keep our eyes on something greater out there, and to me, our love is a sign that there's something greater. You can find your something greater too.

Nicotine in the Body

This is scary on many levels. The technology that was used to produce the animation, the microbiological viewpoint... but it's also mind-expanding. I mean, picture everything you put into your body on this level. But I don't think it's a good idea to dwell on it too much. Please don't watch this video and become one of those rude people who will do anything to win souls for the health god! Please.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Captain, We're Shinking! We Need to Overboard the Ship!

This little girl is just very cute. That's all. You need another reason to watch? I don't!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Have You Given a Thought to Those Who Suffer Around You?

It's tough for many of us these days, what with the recession and all. The morning's news is full of terrible disasters and warnings of impending environmental doom. Gas will cost you your soul pretty soon, but you need gas to get to work to earn money to pay for gas. American voters keep turning to prospective leaders who promise miracles and in the end deliver only favors for the people who give them money, still talking ideals all the while. It may be hard to keep your chin up sometimes.

But you have something better to compare all that to. There are those who know only deprivation, and I don't mean on some far-off continent. On spots of land within the USA, in the midst of our relative luxury and plenty, those peoples who occupied the land before European settlers arrived live in misery.

If you've been looking around on the internet today, you've probably been exposed to enough of a litany of hopelessness, so I won't list the problems on American Indian reservations. But the fact that the Indian Health Service division of  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services felt that it must invest money in this public service announcement speaks volumes.

I honestly don't mean to get you down, but really, how often have you been upset by far less than teenage suicide? There are some of us who have become outraged because an advertised product, a luxury item, isn't in stock. You know you're lucky or blessed or whatever just to have eaten today, right? Sorry, but you don't need that plasma TV or those shoes.

I mean, maybe some gratitude for what you do have is in order, and maybe a look at the world around you. You can call it superstitious or whatever, but... well, as ye sow, so shall ye reap. Or you can call it karma. Or you can say, "What comes around goes around."

Maybe the losses we've suffered recently are somehow a result of our own luxury, our own indulgence. Maybe we've spent too much on things unnecessary for survival while people starve around us. There are people with plenty of money who enjoy getting outraged at beggars.

You can come up with arguments or excuses, or you can look at yourself. Do you dare look at yourself? Do you dare stop justifying cravings? Truly, I hope so.

Perhaps, if you look around you and care about others, things will get better for you too. Maybe the answer isn't in the world around you, but rather inside of you.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Have you heard of Russell Means? He's a prominent member of the American Indian Movement and the leader of the Lakota Freedom Movement. He's pushing for the formation of a Republic of Lakotah, which would restore the original boundaries established by the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie.

Years after that agreement was signed, an economic depression for the USA led to a gold rush, and the sainted American voter, heeding holy stomach rumblings, decided not to honor its word by keeping prospectors out of the Black Hills. That was only the first time that the land was whittled away by the USA. If you look at a map of the current reservation, it's just a bunch of little chips of land, whatever we decided to leave after carving out chunks for our own interests. Yet another oft-ignored embarrassment for those who believe that the will of the people tends toward the good. There are single tyrants and collective ones.

Anyhow, the proposed Lakota state is a matriarchal confederation. While I could argue for pages against this guy's arguments, there's something compelling in it too. I just think this is interesting.

You know there's zero evidence that a matriarchy ever existed, right? Some feminists have even argued against their own myth of paradise lost, seeing it as a bad foundation for a movement. But there's something about this fellow's vision that draws me in. Maybe it would be an improvement, just so long as these female rulers would be better than all the modern American consumerists around me. I'd hate to see Lakota coins saying "decadence," "indulgence," "sinfully delicious," etc, with pictures of cheesecake and shoes.

I truly hope that women are better than so many of those among my fellow citizens seem to be. And men too, for that matter. I think it's guys who started it, and the women just said, "Hey, I want to be wretched and wallowing in my own self-indulgence too!"

I dunno. The whole playing God thing rings true to me. And the club thing. I'm 42, and I still don't really worry about erectile tissue or anything, so maybe I'm biased. Not any more than other men do, anyhow. We all worry to a degree.

But maybe, just maybe, this fellow has a point after all.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

German Shepherd and Baby Bunny

Aww, this dog seems like a kind-hearted creature.

The text from the video:
My buddy found this baby bunny outside. He was very gentle and didn't hurt the bunny. A few hours later I let it go and saw it hopping around the yard the next day.

Search Terms: A Found Poem

I guess my fine art background is showing here. While viewing my stats, I thought that this was an interesting read in itself. These are the search terms that have led people to my site so far, in order of how many times each was used, and when it gets down to one each, the order is chronological, from newest to oldest. If nothing else, it has a little bit of value as voyeurism, or for musing on internet traffic. Enjoy!
jani leinonen
"the best picture on the internet"
the nervous vegan
prince of tofu
ronald mcdonald vs wendy
this is hormel
Eustace Conway girlfriend 2011
duck stampede
david mintz toffuti
florida strawberry festival vegan
Mintz the prince of tofu
Vegan lawn fertilizer
japan emperor earth
ronald mcdonald artwork
pee compost
"food liberation army"
in n out vegan
richard proenneke wife
pirates of the caribbean 44th anniversary
mexican ronald mcdonald
"food liberation army" leinonen
the prince of tofu
headless mcdonald
are tofutti products pas yisroel
'Bet Samech Daled' in hebrew
duck stampete
Minz the prince of tofu
strawberry festival
earthquake tho
nervous problems vegan
are vegans nervous?
 There now.

Honoring God's Creation, by the Christian Vegetarian Association

Okay, I couldn't upload this one, but I found it on a site called GodTube. Yep! Hee hee!

I guess this is more liberal than you might expect modern Christians to be, but if you've studied religion, you realize that official doctrine and popular religion, the eclectic mix of beliefs and practices of real, everyday people, can be very different things. So you never know, this could mean a lot to some believers.

Od's Bodkin, Mayhaps a Coors Light Couldst Quench Mine Royal Thirst

When we came upon this in Plant City, Florida, we just had to stop. What a town! Dinosaur World, the Strawberry Festival, and now this. It's a drive-thru castle, even; That's class with a capital K! Hi-Klass, even! Get your ice-bread and milk-cigs without even setting foot on solid ground...

The Royal Dumpster.

Ah, the decay of European aristocracy.

And so we say farewell to Beverage Castle. Parting is such sweet sorrow...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Did I Forget to Wish You a Happy Naw-Ruz? Shame on Me!

I must still be vicariously intoxicated from all those Facebook statuses in my feed placing me right in the middle of Purim. The arrival of Spring presents a fellow with an overwhelming flood of special days. Mother Earth is awakening from her much-needed sleep, and Her children are too!

It's actually 168 according to the Badi ("wonderful") calendar. I just thought the video was pretty. My heart goes out to all those Iranians who aren't allowed to act on what they believe, or even show it.

As I Said.... Supreme Master Ching Hai Meets The Christian Vegetarian Association

I wouldn't lie to you. C'mon now!

The Christian Vegetarian Association

I'll have more on this soon. I'm having trouble uploading the longer video to YouTube. Next: Supreme Master Ching Hai meets the CVA!

In-N-Out, Before-N-After

I wouldn't dare assert with certainty that any of these specimens of American youth look more happy afterwards.

Judging by his color, I'm kinda worried about the blood pressure of the guy in the black shirt. Is that a look of dyspepsia, bitter disillusionment, or angina in the "after" picture? Maybe he ate the bearded guy's food too, since Mr. Smirk seems to have barely moved. Not nice to take advantage of a friend's paralysis like that!

And I think the other two just got tastes of bile in their mouths at the same time.

Getting ready to munch on some In n Out Burgers in Tucson

Bellies FULL of In n Out Burgers in Tucson

And this is In-N-Out, the original drive-thru place, and one of the best among burger chains. Their buns have no preservatives, they cut the vegetable toppings and fries right there, the meat has no additives, and there are even little, hidden bible quote notations on the packaging for Where's-Waldo-type fun. Oh, and they're still privately-owned and don't franchise, and are better to their employees than others. That's why the chain has such a cult following in the West.

If you're interested in the culture of In-N-Out, a small burgerist denomination, but characterized by its strong faith, you can discover the secret menu. Ooooh! Mystery!

So I'm glad these folks didn't eat at McDonald's, or there would be a paramedic in the scene somewhere.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Should You Pee on the Compost Pile?

What? As if those gallons per flush are at all healthy for Mother Earth!

It's probably not a good idea anyhow, at least in Florida, because the soil is slightly acid as it is.

See, that's what I was thinking of. Nuts to impractical senses of propriety!

Happy Vernal Equinox!

What... eh... she said...

And the Supermoon's gonna getcha! No no, calm down, I'm just joking. The end's not 'til 2012. Now now! Remember, kidding? Though maybe it would make things a bit simpler.

So, eh... Happy Purim!

Loving Huts Around the World

They got some people I've heard of. We got... a... basketball guy, I guess he is...

Is it just me, or does everybody else have a fancier one?

I like this video because of the easy listening music. It sounds like the tender moment in an old James Bond movie, if such a thing actually exists. Maybe I made it up.

Tampa's Loving Hut: The Food. Mmmmm....

These pictures didn't come out as well as I would've hoped. If you invite your friends to read and I get a bunch more hits, I'll monetize and buy a camera that does what I want it to. You can't blame a fellow for hoping that this thing will pay for itself, can you? For now, this starving blogger will work with what he has, and do a darn good job of it too, even if I do say so myself!

We had the place to ourselves to start with, which gave us time to reflect a bit. I really hope that they get more people at other times. I wonder whether Tampa was a good place to open a branch, and this part of it especially. Tampa's nice, but seems more like a business city. Nearby St. Pete is more hip, and it already has several successful vegan places, including a recently-opened taco stand in an old bus. That's a place we'll have to visit and capture in pictures soon.

We did have quotes from various religions running on a screen nearby to keep us busy.

Fortunately, we were stirred out of our musings on the barrenness of the place by the arrival of our food. I had chosen the Noble Philly Sub, since meat substitutes are a nice break from the usual trendy raw stuff or the reliance on exotic cuisines. The smoothie is a Jade Garden. Kale gives it its color. Mmmmmboy. That's all I can say. The sandwich had a very satisfying blend of flavors and textures. It was hard not to wolf it down, with apologies to my canine fellow creatures for the stereotype.

Here's Kat's Energy Wrap. I generally rely on her to get full before her plate is empty, though I try not to hang over her food like a vulture. The dish looked good, and it was too. Hummus was the star of the show, being grainy and spiced so that it seemed like ground beef. Another successful adaptation from native tastes. Again, the variety of textures stood out, which is important with all-vegetable cooking, since the thick, fatty consitency of flesh, dairy, and eggs is absent. And the flavors stayed interesting from first bite to last. Very good! Kat enjoyed it too.

Kat's Icy Rose Cappuccino took a little longer to arrive. Here it is, half a wrap later. Judging by the sip I had, it was worth the wait though.

Being a gentleman, or trying to be one anyhow, I waited to drink my smoothie, though I did sneak an early sip. I know, green sloppy liquid isn't to everyone's taste, but I actually enjoy stuff like wheat grass shots. There's something about the vegan diet that's brought out the aspect of nutrition in satisfaction for me. When I settle for fries, I feel full but hungry at the same time. So this was a great way to top off my meal.

Oh, of course I should give you a look at the top of Kat's drink. I don't know if this is a signature touch for our branch alone, but it is shown in the video of it I'll be posting soon, so it could be.

Here's the logo on the corner of the plates, and the free book about Supreme Master Ching Hai that was set out near the door. I love souvenirs! I'll be posting more about her and her religion very soon.

We had rice pudding for dessert, but it was kinda soupy and not very photogenic, though still tasty. Kat says she has nothing to add, so I guess that's that.

I'm now a supporter of this place. The combination of good vegan food and the the novel religious TV programs make eating at Loving Hut a unique experience, and one I'll be more than willing to repeat in the near future!

Wow. Wow. Wow.

Hill of Crosses in Lithuania

Friday, March 18, 2011

Happy 44th Anniversary, Pirates of the Caribbean!

You know I'm interested in artificial environments, in humanity's attempts to supplant nature, and this is one of the most fascinating of such environments to me. It opened 44 years ago today! Those heads and unfinished figures are kinda creepy...

Don't Tread on Me! Repeal the Law of Gravity!

I prefer not to take sides in politics here, but the recent extremism I've seen from the right is alarming. I like Rep. Ed Markey now! Hee hee!

Once again, video courtesy of Kat.

Tampa's Loving Hut: Decor

Here are some shots from our visit last night. When I asked the manager if she minded my taking pictures for my blog, she was very accommodating, going into the back and turning on the lights for the big logo on the ceiling. Of course I got several shots.

Loving Hut in Tampa

Loving Hut in Tampa
Loving Hut in Tampa

The booths are Asian-style, with cushions inviting us to kick off our flip flops and cross our legs, what used to be called Indian style, and squatting before that. What do people call it now? A quarter lotus? You know, the kind of thing you do in a Japanese restaurant in those booths that simulate sitting on the floor? That's what we found here. I like it.

The view from our table. The screens ran quotes from many different religions, including various subsets of Buddhism, for most of the time. Baha'i, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, and Shintoism were also in the mix. Suddenly, the visit became much more fascinating. There was... dare I say it? A theme-park aspect to the atmosphere. Here's a safe, comfortable adventure, air-conditioned and all! C'mon, are you scared of a little spirituality? You'll go on that thrill ride, but you can't enjoy this? I dislike roller coasters, but here's something interesting. And the food prices beat Disney's any day.

Hmm, there are choices to be made, but if I'm gonna put my feet up on the cushions, I'll have to wash them in the bathroom sink. We were tramping through dirt before this, and since we're not living in the ancient world, there's no place to kick off your sandals and wash your feet at the door. So off I go.

Now back to the table, with a bit more of a look around.

That's it for the surroundings. Next, the food. Mmmmm...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Stop the Presses!

Kat and I just ate at Loving Hut, a vegan restaurant in Tampa, and I was fascinated to discover that there's a religion involved! It's one of a chain of 127 restaurants worldwide associated with a woman called Supreme Master Ching Hai. I've got to drop everything else and post about this for a day or two!

Here's a sneak peek, the kind of stuff that played on many screens as we ate...

And the food was very good, and they have recipes online. Boy oh boy!

Into the Air, Junior Birdmen

Two nights ago, Kat came into the bedroom after brushing her teeth, asking, "What's that song where you make goggles on your face with your hands?" I had no clue, but I've gotten quite an education since then. You can learn a bit too by clicking here. I had no idea. Leave it to Kat!

I haven't stopped singing it since!

Happy St. Patty's Day!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hey Kids! When a Japanese Nuclear Power Plant is on Fire, What Do You Do?

With Fukushima Dai-1 in Mind...

Now do you feel better about the damaged nuclear power plant in Japan? That makes one of us.

Mother Earth Shook the Emperor of Japan Out Into the Public

Wow, Emperor Akihito was actually on TV for the first time. When She speaks, everybody has to listen.

Smile, Darn Ya, Smile

While Nazi bombs were dropping, my grandmother had to smile. While bits of the crumbling ceiling were falling on her and my newborn mother, she had to smile. See, my mother would cry whenever grandma frowned, so she smiled for the sake of her child's happiness, though she didn't know whether she had another minute to live.

After the Nazis took Athens, Greece, my family knew starvation. Grandma told me what a terrible thing it was when they had to kill their egg-laying chicken because the eggs weren't enough. They ate that day, but had no more eggs. And in this situation, she understood the importance of a positive demeanor.

But now we sit in relative comfort in front of computers, or with phones in hand, and may have lost touch with the basics of necessity. How many of us mistake self-indulgence in demeanor for honesty? Maybe Mickey... eh... Fox... can inspire the us all to think otherwise...

Have you ever been trying to enjoy a steak and someone starts describing factory farms to you? Ye-e-e-e-s, that was me at one time. The steak-eater, I mean. The rude vegetarian is cited far too often as a reason to become carnivorous. Sometimes it seems as if vegetarianism is just an excuse to be rude for some people, because if they believed in the cause, they'd recognize that effective expression should replace emotional outpouring.

If you do actually believe that it's bad to kill animals, then a rude vegetarian is doing bad by turning people off, and therefore possibly increasing the number of animal deaths. All it takes is a little circumspection, the tiniest crumb of self-control.

Self indulgence is not self expression. If you're in China, you don't speak English because you feel like it. You choose the language that will convey what you have to express, or at least I hope you do. You never know with American tourists, though, and look at the country's reputation with much of the rest of the world.

And you're expressing something deeper too, consideration for others. Consideration is a mighty power in society, and yes, it's a more effective way of getting what you need. A lot of great principles and precepts of behavior are actually highly practical, just not obviously so when you're used to thinking in terms of instant gratification. If you insist on always doing what you want to do when with friends, you may get your way, but you'll end up losing your friends, then you're not doing anything with anybody. Not very effective in the end.

It's the same with huge, crisis-spurring companies. Are you causing a Great Recession in your life?

Don't ask me, ask Dr. Mark Stibich, a man who's traveled the world researching the impact of lifestyle and attitude on health. Smiling relieves stress he says, boosting the immune system and lowering blood pressure. It also releases endorphins, Mother Nature's little drug treat for those who do what's best for them. It's also been shown that people who smile get promoted more often because they seem more sucessful already. Do I really even have to mention that when people like you, they'll do more for you?

Nobody wants to do anything for an Eeyore, no matter how comfy moping may seem. We're social animals. You can't do this life thing on your own. You have to give in order to get.

And what sort of instinctive meaning does a smile have if it could change my infant mother's attitude in an instant?  Is it really so difficult to make the small effort just for the sake of making the world a slightly better place, for the sake of making someone's day a little better? Do you really need justification to do something good? That's when you get into the highest values.

How is it dishonest to express an interest in any of these things over a passing mood? How hard is it to smile when you're not overwhelmed by the urge to do so? It's a question of self awareness in action, not honesty. If you don't want anything to do with a little self control for the sake of your own happiness, may God, or G-d, or Allah, or Brahman, or Wakan Tanka, or Bertrand Russell, or whoever, have mercy on your soul, or lack of same.

So smile, darn ya! Smile! :-D

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Beware the Ides of March!

On this fine March 15th, I offer you a cute video.

Did you know that bilirubin, found in you blood's hemoglobin, is responsible for the yellow color of both jaundiced people's skin and pee? It just kinda popped into my head...

Earthquake at Tokyo Disneyland: Mother Earth Spoiled Their Parade

I've been reluctant to post anything of the horrors in earthquake-ravaged Japan for the same reason I'm reluctant to even mention Charlie Sheen's name right now: I don't want to encourage that rubbernecking mentality, that morbid fascination with perhaps more than a touch of vicarious cruelty. I guess at least maybe the public demand for pedophile news stories will die out for a little while. I know that many people watch the videos with compassion, perhaps the majority even, but still I hesitate to participate.

I like to think that my readers are made of higher-quality stuff though, and this fits with a subject, artificial space vs. nature, from a few posts ago, so I though it would be good to put it up here. Disney theme parks seem like quintessential examples of artificial, controlled space.

First the video, then the text from its page...



This, such as it is, comes directly from Google Translate:
March 11, 2011 (Friday), a large earthquake occurred off the coast of Sanriku earthquake with seismic intensity of 7.
This large earthquake in the Kanto area in Chiba Prefecture] [Disney also affected greatly.
And stop all the attractions, Entrance to the building has been banned.
Also, when the earthquake occurred, water has to do a show, the show was canceled by another earthquake, broke from the base of the speaker (?) and damage occurred.

At the time, did not sway enough had to stand outside in spite of.
Now here's a more complete picture of the event...

Mix of iPhone & handycam video shot during March 11 earthquake at Tokyo Disneyland. Shots span from time of quake to 4-5 hours later.
We travelled from Osaka, where I teach English, to Tokyo to take my daughter there for her 5th birthday on March 11th.
And one from Mr. Pottymouth, though I don't know if I'd do any better if it happened to me...

On March 11th, 2011 at 2:50pm, a strong earthquake struck the northeastern part of Japan. It was so strong that it also affected the Tokyo Metropolitan Area.
I was at Tokyo DisneySea that afternoon taking photos of the Duffy Cafe in Cape Cod. I managed to get my video camera out when the shaking began. Here are a few clips from that day.
And here's one person's walk home after being let out.

Had to walk home after the earthquake. All the buses and trains were down, so we had to hoof it after being released from Tokyodisneyland. The first clip the sidewalk was actually at 45 degree angle. The second shows a car trapped by a hole in the ground in a parking lot. The third shows what most of the 7-11's and convenience stores looked like yesterday.
So there we are.

I Wanna Move North Now

Aurora borealis of 12-03-2011 in Finland

Monday, March 14, 2011

Jesus Body?

So will I have the body of a man who's been fasting in the wilderness for 40 days if I take this? What about stigmata? I know He looks awfully lean on all those crucifixes, but I'm pretty far from being the only begotten Son of God, so I think I'll pass...

Jesus Body, oddly-named Japanese diet pills

You Don't Say!

Eh, I'm not quite sure I'd call this a revelation...

Horror Vacui: The Spirit You Fear May Be Your Own

I don't mean to remind you that nature supposedly has a powerful prejudice against vaccums, another use of the term. I'm thinking about the aesthetic concept. Horror vacui, literally the fear of empty spaces, implies a drive to fill the entire picture plane. It means packing a whole area with design, pictures, or whatever. Leaving no empty space. Mario Praz, author of what some have called the greatest work of criticism, The Romantic Agony, had a lot to say about it once. Here's the man himself.

Mario Praz, critic

He talked about it in reference to Victorian clutter in decorating, but it's been applied to just about all types of art. In junior high, I was told by a hippie art teacher that the ancient Egyptians believed that if you leave blank spaces on a wall, evil spirits could enter them. I heard it again later in college, but I can't really find any details online. I'm surprised that, in this vast sea of information, there's not one readily-found drop of information. Darn philistine medium!

So forget it. No interesting, related video. Sorry, YouTube, I'm not posting Walk Like an Egyptian by the Bangles.

Anyhow, the fear of leaving empty space because something bad may occupy it makes sense in an intuitive way. You can make what you will of the idea of spirits, you can be an animist if you want, believing that everything has a soul, or you can be an atheist and subscribe to Hegel's geist as some sort of abstract. Or something in between, or nothing. You don't have to know what any of that means to understand the concept, there's just something very basic and real about it.

But I don't think it's a good idea.

Have you ever known someone who can't stop and sit for a second, who's always looking for stimulation, and you started to wonder if the person is running away from something? Or have you ever wished you could walk into a public place without piped-in music because you've had enough of the constant drumming in the back of your mind? Have you ever needed to go outside and get some air and quiet for a few moments? Then you may agree with me about American horror vacui.

And if you've felt this way in another country, well, the empire has a broad reach.

If you yourself can't seem to just hit the off switch, to turn away from the modern din, maybe you've got a fear of empty spaces, a fear of something else filling the gaps.

You know, all that noise is fake. The feared spirits just may be reality coming crashing in. It just may be yourself intruding. Not your job, your clothes, your image, your reputation, but the you without props that's been trying to tell you something for a long time, that's been struggling to be heard. The you that's just there.

I sometimes wonder if the artificial space we create for all senses, which is very hard to escape, is put there to subdue reality, or you could call it nature. Somewhere in the backs of our minds, that nature is a lion or tiger that my be very hungry, but you know, we're far from being any creature's prey now, except to own own kind.

Each one of us is like Manhattan Island, so buried in artificial environments that the real foundation is obscured.

Manhattan Island before and after

Have you ever tried to walk along a wooded trail and found your senses jarred when someone else passed by, talking loudly on a cell phone? Or how about the couple jogging and yelling back and forth about business? It's hard to escape. Horror vacui.

Are you familiar with alpha and beta brainwave activity? The birds singing, the rustling of leaves in the breeze, the movements in the undergrowth, encourage alpha-wave activity, in which you're just being. The talk stirs up beta waves, meaning that you've started to think. It's unhealthy to remain in a beta state for as long as we do in the modern world, which is why a doctor may suggest meditation to prevent another heart attack. Tell your mind to stop talking so much, the stress is killing you! Or someone's always trying to sell you some product guaranteed to get you into an alpha state.

So are we doing all this to shield ourselves from predators, real, imagined, or otherworldly? Our artificial spaces have isolated us so much that we don't have to look outside ourselves to find danger and destruction. The effort to maintain such monolithic structures is killing us. You could be your own most fearsome predator.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Thanks-a Anyhow, 'At's-a Stuff I Don't-a Eat

Some-a accent, yes? No? Nice-a and-a fake!

Duck Stampede!

'Fraid I'm gonna spoil it now. This is from the Philippines, where ducks are kept to produce balut, eggs cooked and eaten with embryos inside. Nope. Definitely not vegan. Ew.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Florida Strawberry Festival, Part 3: Some Things People Believe

Florida Strawberry Festival

Florida Strawberry Festival

Florida Strawberry Festival

Florida Strawberry Festival

Florida Strawberry Festival

Disney World Hires Psychics?

I'm into different perspectives, you see. We're all so different. Ever wonder how to start a business as a psychic? Well, this is probably more interesting if you never have. Rima Thundercloud tells us how.

I aim to entertain! Whether you believe in psychic abilities or not, step right up! Stretch your mind out a bit...

Valiant Thor of Venus

His hand was soft as a lady's?! He must be an alien! A relic from the height of the UFO contactee phenomenon, and from a different time for gender too. Just think it's fun and interesting...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Florida Strawberry Festival, Part 2: Aghh! Abject Terror!

As soon as we entered, our senses were assaulted with booming music by Eminem and his ilk, or Enema Man and Snoopy Snoopy Poop Dog, as Alan Simpson would have it. Gotta love the man.

The artificial thunder may have been the only thing that could muffle the screams of hormonal teens, flung around on what seemed like miles of towering thrill rides. And the crowd went on and on and on. We were both shocked and stunned by the sensory attack. With all due respect, I wondered whether this is some sort of desperately-needed release of angst for bored, rural kids. That's just fine for them, but it's not one that we were particularly seeking out.

And the food! The quest for something we could eat was a long one.

Hi Rob.

Good gosh.

Oh my.

And on we rushed into quieter sections of the fair...