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After a day spent with the product of war I have found some news that fuels my hope that some future, more evolved, generation, will learn settle their differences through non-violent means.
On March 26th North Korea sank a South Korean boat, and we have not had war.
In the last Korean war, between 1950 and 1953, an estimated 1,000,000 soldiers (American, South Korean, Chinese and North Korean), and 2,000,000 civilians died.
Instead of bullets we now trade goods with China, and both countries are trying to resolve the current crisis, the US with its ally South Korea, and China with its ally North Korea, to avoid further bloodshed.
No one can predict the final outcome, but there has been some progress in easing the tension, as the article in the New York Times, by Choe Sang-Hue linked to below states:
“North Korea expressed a desire to keep a joint industrial complex in operation, South Korean officials said on Monday, while the South indicated that it might reconsider its decision to revive psychological warfare against the North.
The two movements showed that the two Koreas were carefully weighing the option of easing their confrontation, analysts said.
Tensions on the divided Korean Peninsula have deteriorated to their worst point in years, after a South Korean warship sank on March 26 in a blast blamed on a North Korean torpedo attack.
Neither side can afford to keep building up tensions,” said Kim Yong-hyun, a North Korea specialist at Dongguk University in Seoul. “Both sides have been raising tensions the way you blow into your balloon, and now they need an excuse for each other to stop blowing so that the balloon won’t burst.”
“analysts say that neither Korea can benefit from sustained tensions. Public denouncements of the North over the sinking may help the candidates of President Lee Myung-bak’s governing party in local elections in South Korea on Wednesday, but prolonged tensions will hurt its economy, they said.
While most South Koreans condemn the North for the sinking and support Mr. Lee’s handling of the crisis so far, many also blame his tough stance toward the North for fueling a military provocation, surveys here show.
The North Korean threat to shut down the border raised some concern in South Korea that hundreds of South Korean workers who commute to Kaesong on a typical workday might be trapped there as hostages.
But if Kaesong is closed, South Korean officials say that North Korea will suffer more than the South. About 43,000 North Koreans would lose some of the best-paid jobs available for workers in the impoverished country, and the resulting discontent could spread out of Kaesong, they argue. The complex also provides the North with $40 million in workers’ wages, most of which goes to the government.”
Sixty years ago the bullets would already be flying.
With International trade the countries of the world are becoming more financial co-dependant. The world stock markets are now linked to the point were a crisis in one country ripples around the global.
Democracy won’t bring an end to war, capitalism might.
Do you believe that at some point in the future peaceful negotiations will replace war?
I don’t know how long it will take, a hundred years or a thousand, but I am very confident that in a future world there will be peace. Unfortunately I won’t live to see it.
If you don’t think this is possible do you think there will be more, or less, bloodshed?
This coming Monday, May 31st, is a day of profound sadness for me. There will be flags waving, but mostly I see gravestones.
On Memorial Day I do honour the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives for their country. I also honour all those brave soldiers who are willing to make that sacrifice in today’s wars.
Mostly however I am depressed that after thousands of years we still have found no better way to resolve our conflicts then through the slaughter of present, and future, generations in war.
I hate war with every fiber of my being. Of course almost everyone hates war. We just don’t hate it enough.
Will we ever learn?
A March in the Ranks Hard-Prest, and the Road Unknown
By Walt Whitman
A march in the ranks, and the road unknown,
A route through a heavy wood with muffled steps in the darkness,
Our army foil’d with loss severe, and the sullen remnant retreating,
Till after midnight glimmer upon us the lights of a dim-lighted building,
We come to an open space in the woods, and halt by the dim-lighted building,
‘Tis a large old church at the crossing roads, now an impromptu hospital.
Entering but for a minute I see a sight beyond all the pictures and poems ever made,
Shadows of deepest, deepest black, just lit by moving candles and lamps,
And by one great pitchy torch stationary with wild red flame and clouds of smoke,
By these, crowds, groups of forms vaguely I see on the floor, some in the pews laid down,
At my feet more distinctly a solider, a mere lad, in danger of bleeding to death, (he is shot in the abdomen,)
I stanch the blood temporarily, (the youngster’s face is white as a lily,)
Then before I depart I sweep my eyes o’er the scene fain to absorb it all,
Faces, varieties, postures beyond description, most in obscurity, some of them dead,
Surgeons operating, attendants holding lights, the smell of ether, the odor of blood,
The crowd, O the crowd of the bloody forms, the yard outside also fill’d,
Some on the bare ground, some on planks or stretchers, some in the death-spasm sweating,
An occasional scream or cry, the doctor’s shouted orders or calls,
The glisten of the little steel instruments catching the glint of the torches,
These I resume as I chant, I see again the forms, I smell the blood,
Then hear outside the orders given, Fall in, my men, fall in;
But first I bend to the dying lad, his eyes open, a half-smile gives he me,
Then the eyes close, calmly close, and I speed forth to the darkness,
Resuming, marching, ever in darkness marching, on the ranks,
The unknow road still marching.
Choose by Carl Sandberg
The single clenched fist lifted and ready,
Or the open asking hand held out waiting.
For we meet by one of the other.
I found a couple of great pictures of children today so I made that the subject of my post.
1) Kids in Pictures
A child plays between sculptures outside a museum in Beijing on Wednesday.
Members of the graduating class of 2010 at the P.A.C.E. Head Start program look to the crowd during a graduation ceremony at Reed Green Coliseum on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi on May 25. Close to 400 graduated from the program that gives children a head start to early education.
2) A Girl on the Swing, by Chungmi Kim
She sees the mountain upside down
With her long hair sweeping the fallen leaves
She swings like a pendulum.
From a lagoon at sunset a hundred sparrows fly away.
Wishing them back she whistles softy.
And downward she falls into the sky.
3) Slumber My Darling – Alison Krauss, with Yo Yo Ma
What is your favorite story, book, movie, TV show, song anything about children?
1) May 25th was International Tap Dancing Day.
International Tap Association – https://www.tapdance.org/
Fred Astaire called this performance “the greatest dance number ever filmed.”
Have you ever tried to tap dance? How did it go?
2) The 25th was also Towel Day, in honour of Douglas Adams, author of the The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Why a towel? From The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy:
“A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value — you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-tohand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you — daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.”
So in case you run into any Ravenous Bugblatter Beast you had better keep a towel handy at all times.
If faced with a Ravenous Bugblatter Beast from Traal what do you think you would do, if you forgot your towel of course?
3) I have always enjoyed watching the animals at zoos, especially now that most zoos have enclosures that give the animals the opportunity to roam, and live in an environment that more closely matches their natural habitat. I can’t tolerate seeing them penned up in cages anymore.
I also like seeing the kids getting to pet the animals. The Beijing Zoo goes one step further than just petting them, now you can also eat them for lunch at the Zoo’s Bin Feng Tang restaurant.
From an article in the Christian Science Monitor by Peter Ford:
Hey kids, wanna go to the zoo today and look at the crocodiles? And then maybe eat one?
The meat might be pungent, but the concept seems somewhat tasteless. The Beijing Zoo puts the same animals on its restaurant menu as it keeps behind bars.
Crocodile, kangaroo, antelope, and hippopotamus are among the species that visitors can go the zoo to admire on the hoof, and then savor at lunch – steamed, braised, or roasted – at the Bin Feng Tang restaurant.
This has been going on for years, according to the restaurant’s manager, who seemed surprised that a newspaper article this week about her establishment should cause a stir on the Chinese Internet.
The news has not gone down well. “How would you feel, watching animals imprisoned in a limited space while eating their siblings?” asked Zheng Yuanjie, a well-known author, on his blog.
The zoo restaurant apparently has the requisite license from the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Landscape and Forestry (which would presumably prefer to see crocodiles and hippos in a soup than in their landscapes) and is quite legal because none of the species on the menu is endangered.
Nor, the restaurant insists, do any of the animals come from the zoo’s own enclosures.
Still, the restaurant’s menu makes some people wonder. “The zoo is where we teach children to be nice to animals,” Qin Xiaona, head of the Capital Animal Welfare Association told the daily “Global Times.” “How can we do this after eating them?”
I don’t have a problem with a zoo serving some of their animals for lunch. People on farms eat their animals. What is the difference?
1) Below is a picture of the two mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville, created for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games. I think the guys who thought them up must have had a few too many pints.
The guy below is a performer in the Indonesia Festival of Topeng. He looks to me like a giant, very scary beaver.
2) Beginning Memorial Day, May 31st, The National Endowment of The Arts, in collaboration with Blue Stars Families, will initiate the Blue Star Museums program, where active duty military personnel and their families get free admission to over 600 participating museums.
We can’t do enough for these soldiers, and their families, who are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
The National Endowment of the Arts site has an interactive map of the US showing the participating museums :
3) A collaboration between the Eden Project, homeless people and prisoners is creating the biggest garden ever at Chelsea, England, Flower Show.
For both the homeless and prisoners to turn their lives around it is vital that they are able send time on positive actives, any kind of work, and not negative ones, including sitting around doing nothing but feeling inadequate.
Article in Guardian:
“The appeal of horticulture for me is that at the beginning you have a flat canvas, a barren bit of land that no one has got any interest in, but you get your heads together and create something,” says Lee Emery.
Emery, a 28-year-old homeless man, is explaining the appeal of getting involved in the Eden Project’s Place of Change garden at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. He is a resident at Look Ahead Housing and Care, a supported housing scheme, and is one of 45 homeless organisations that are contributing to Eden’s second year at the world-famous flower show in SW3.”
“In addition to the 400 homeless people taking part in the project, 100 prisoners from eight jails are also involved, including prisoners who attend an Eden Growing for Life project at Occombe farm in Devon.”
Eden’s garden designer Paul Stone said, “
“Having the opportunity to create new life is something we all aspire to, and that’s what you do with horticulture.
It’s that god-like opportunity to plant a seed and see it grow into something nothing like that seed,” he says. “It’s also the opportunity to create a piece of art. And to enjoy the feeling of doing a good day’s work – and these guys don’t get that opportunity, if people won’t employ them.”
This year, 95% of the homeless participants will gain a qualification or certificate in subjects such as garden design, woodwork and volunteering, or in media skills such as video filming or web publishing by producing content for the garden’s blog and internet site.”
4) I’ll leave you with some foot taping dancing music. A live performance by LCD Sound System – “I Can Change”
Being a very cool dude I found some very cool stops on the Internet last week.
Did you eat at any cool restaurants lately? Listened to any cool music?
1) The coolest place to see the earth isn’t on the planet. This is the view from the International Space Station of the Space Shuttle Atlantis with the Earth in the background.
Link to the Image Gallery on Nasa’s site
2) This is the coolest restaurant view on the planet. I might make a reservation, if I wasn’t afraid of heights. Restaurant is suspend 150 above the ground. They will put it apparently in any location you have the money pay for.
If you don’t like a view over the water you can try one under it, at the Ithaa Restaurant, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island.
3) I don’t who this Justin Bieber person is that YouTube keeps recommending to me, but one the coolest voices on the planet belongs to Aaron Neville:
Aaron Neville’s version of Van Morrison song “Crazy Love”
If you like some cool dancing music here is a new song by Ellen Allien - ”Sun the Rain”
May 21st celebrated the birthday of two stars. Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha is one. Modesty prohibits me from naming the other.
Instead of a Bible study I will discuss, and compare two religions, Buddhism and Christianity, that share many ideas.
Jesus commanded his followers to “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another”, John 13:34.
The Dalai Lima says of his religion “My Religion is simple. Kindness is my religion”.
I wish we could throw out all our books of moral codes, rules and guidance, and simply live with love and kindness. I’ll call this the Book of Ed. Since it is only one sentence long, and easy to understand, all the religious and philosophical scholars will never go for it.
Both Buddhism and Christianity share the “Golden Rule” of reciprocity. To do unto others as you would wish them to do unto you.
One of the Four Truths of Buddhism would be very familiar to Christians, Samudaya. The desire to have and control things causes suffering, as does the cravings of sensual pleasure, and the desire for fame.
Four of the Five Precepts can be found in the Ten Commandments, the fifth should be.
1. Do not kill. This is sometimes translated as “not harming” or an absence of violence.
2. Do not steal. This is generally interpreted as including the avoidance of fraud and economic exploitation.
3. Do not lie. This is sometimes interpreted as including name calling, gossip, etc.
4. Do not misuse sex. For monks and nuns, this means any departure from complete celibacy. For the laity, adultery is forbidden, along with any sexual harassment or exploitation, including that within marriage.
5. Do not consume alcohol or other drugs.
Both Siddhartha Gautama and Jesus left their home at about the same age, 29.
Jesus spent 40 days in the desert before he began his ministry. Siddhartha travel ancient India for around six years before he found “Enlightenment”. Siddhartha grow up in a family of wealthy and privilege, but he shared the same humble life as Jesus thereafter.
There are of course many differences between Buddhism and Christianity. From what I have read of Buddhism it’s less structured than Christianity, at least for non monks.
An aspect of Buddhism that does not appeal to me, as well as I understand it, is the goal of non-attachment, from The Noble Truth of Nirodha. That a strong emotion like passion causes suffering, which I agree it can, and that we need to replace such emotions, through meditation, with peace and serenity. However living your life with love to me requires great passion. I would not choose to live my life without passion.
The aspect of Christianity that brothers me the most is the concept of Hell. That a person such as the Dalia Lama, who lives his whole life with kindness, will still spend eternity in Hell, if he does not accept Jesus Christ as he Lord.
I think I will just stick with trying to live my life with love and kindness, which is hard enough for me anyway.
Who would you pick, among people still living, as the person whose life we should all try to emulate, except of course me and you.
My choice is the Dalia Lama. I’ll end with a recent interview with him. As you hear he shares my optimistic view of the future, which of course is why he doesn’t get the press that the doomsdayers get.
1) The beautiful voice of Joanne Shenandoah (Wolf Clan of the Iroquois Confederacy) – The Prophecy Song
2) Recipe of the Day (Year) – Making homemade pizza.
Have you ever tried making a pizza?
Any recipe harder that boiling water is beyond my culinary capability.
What is your favorite pizza topping?
I have grown fond of the combination of ham and pineapple, Hawaiian style pizza. I know sacrilege.
From article in the New York Times, by Oliver Strand:
“There’s little point in trying to match the horsepower available to a pizzaiolo. Their professional pizza ovens, especially the models that burn wood or coal, are the muscle cars of kitchens: when blazing at temperatures that range from 800 degrees to an infernal 1,000 degrees, they can turn raw dough into a blistered, bubbling pizza in as little as 75 seconds. It puts the home cook, whose oven typically reaches 550 degrees, at a permanent disadvantage.
No wonder some of the pizza-obsessed do everything to coax their ovens into performing above their limits. (Making pizza on the self-cleaning cycle seems to be popular.) The Johnny Knoxville approach has its appeal. But after cooking more than 200 pizzas over several months, I learned an easier way to edge closer to the kind of airy, creamy, chewy, thin crust you find at pizzerias that have otherwise sane people waiting in line for an hour. And it has less to do with heat than good baking technique.
I let the dough rise overnight.
It’s not a new idea. Anthony Mangieri redefined New York’s artisanal scene when he opened Una Pizza Napoletana in 2004 (now living in San Francisco, he will reopen his pizzeria there later this summer). He learned to let dough rise for 24 hours in Naples. Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles, Pizzeria Delfina in San Francisco and Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix all have overnight rises; at Lucali’s in Brooklyn, the dough rises for about 36 hours; and at Saraghina, also in Brooklyn, it goes for as long as 72 hours.”
3) Medical science is getting close to some major breakthrough’s in dealing with cancer. This article in the online edition of The Globe and Mail newspaper talks about how genetically targeted treatments are bringing breakthroughs to what use to be hopeless cases, and that the shotgun approach, killing both diseased cells and healthy ones, may become a thing of the past.
From the article by Lisa Priest:
“When Harvey learned that his melanoma had spread to his lungs in the winter of 2008, he started planning for his death. Despite a down market, he liquidated his stock-market assets to ensure his wife wasn’t doubly burdened.
He moved the investment firm in which he is a partner to a smaller space. He didn’t take an office – he figured that with his fatal skin cancer he wouldn’t live long enough to use it. He hated waste.”
“More than two years later, Harvey, wearing a navy blue suit and tie, is at work on a sunny spring day. Aged 77, he self-consciously pats his thinning scalp. “I used to have a full head of hair,” he explains.”
“Researchers have made a remarkable breakthrough in the treatment of one of cancer’s deadliest forms – about 5,000 Canadians were diagnosed with malignant melanoma last year.
Harvey’s new cancer therapy is tailored to a genetic mutation called B-RAF, which affects roughly 60 per cent of patients with melanoma. And it’s shrinking tumours, many by more than a third.
It’s a significant shift for a disease that had not seen progress for four decades. And it illustrates the power of what is called personalized medicine.
Instead of developing drugs that destroy fast-growing cells – normal as well as cancerous ones, a method that seldom works with later-stage cancer – scientists are now looking to slow or stop the genetic mutations that fuel cancer’s growth. And the approach is tailored to patients depending on individual mutations.”
“Developing targeted therapies that cause programmed cell death is “our only road forward,” according to Dr. Flaherty, who is now director of developmental therapeutics at the Massachusetts General Hospital.
PLX4032 – so new it is not commercially available – is the only targeted therapy for melanoma that works.
But it is not the only targeted cancer medicine. Gleevec turned a potentially killer disease – chronic myeloid leukemia – into a chronic one. Herceptin transformed one of the most aggressive forms of breast cancer into one of the most curable.
Both drugs focus on genetic mutations acquired later in life – ones that are not inborn and are therefore not passed on to children.
These genetic triggers are at the heart of current cancer research. They provide constant signals to cells to reproduce; they are the automotive equivalent to pressing the accelerator in a car. A new drug such as PLX4032 offers the brake.”
Most of the wars that plague our world are between people who belong to different tribes. The barriers between them prevent any level of the trust needed to resolve their differences. All they know about each other is that the other guy is trying to kill them.
I have no expectation that in my life time war will go away. I do however see a movement towards people beginning to reach out across those barriers. We don’t read about that in the media because war sells better.
Most people today don’t see much progress, but I grew up in 1950 American, where almost everyone, American and Russian, were convinced we would have a nuclear war. They were wrong, Americans and Russians can share the same world without killing each other. America and China faced off in Korea, now we trade dollars, not bombs. Viet Nam is a vacation destination for many Americans.
I am use to being called crazy, and of course I can’t dispute that title in many respects, just not about the progress, however slowly , of the barriers starting to come down.
One site that is talking about enemies becoming Peacebuilders is “Just Vision”:
The first thing I notice on the Just Vision web site is that you have a choice of many languages, including Hebrew and Arabic.
There are also over 60 interviews with Jews, Palestinians, citizens of Israeli, the West Bank and Gaza, all trying to bridge the gap between their communities to be builders of Peace.
I have down a lot of cutting and pasting, these are long interviews. I don’t think I took any statements out of context. I have provided links so you can read the whole interviews.
Yehuda Shaul, Jewish citizen of Israeli, and former solider:
From his interview – http://www.justvision.org/en/portrait/76157/interview
“My name is Yehuda Shaul. I’m 25; I was born in Jerusalem and grew up there. My parents made aliyah from North America; my father is Canadian, my mother is from New York, and they met here.
“I studied at a high school yeshiva in a settlement in the West Bank,in Maale Michmash near Ramallah. My uncle was a settler in Gush Katif, my sister is a settler.”
“I don’t think you can come prepared for the reality in the Territories, but I can’t say I was surprised. There isn’t a moment when in retrospect I’d say, “Wow!” Nobody trained me to do what I did.”
“When we encountered Hebron and understood that settlers could do as they please and nobody would stop them – we started getting very mad and frustrated.
“I saw graffiti that said “Arabs to the gas chambers”, “Arabs to the crematorium” and I understood the horror of the historical context.”
“One day, we were ordered to weld shut Palestinian shop doors, and that was too much. We had a discussion about refusing to serve – we were about seven or eight people who considered refusing.”
“Three months before the end of my military service I had a moment of disillusionment.” “When I stopped thinking like a soldier and started thinking in civilian terms, things changed completely. It made no sense to send a Palestinian on the street to pick up a suspicious bag. “It made no sense to arbitrarily choose a person to die. Suddenly all this no longer made any sense. Shooting a grenade into a neighborhood made no sense, nor did entering a house and terrorizing civilians.”
“I want people to listen, ask questions, go deeper into what they hear. Every person can answer his or her own questions and decide how to respond given the moral reality we are describing. We reach out to Israelis and to international audiences but we stress Israeli audiences. I see circles of responsibility: at the core are the Israelis, and there are external circles of responsibility around them. From a historical perspective, we are all responsible for what is done in our name.”
Palestian Raed Hadar – http://www.justvision.org/en/portrait/76156/interview
“My name is Raed Al Haddar. I was born in Yatta,near Hebron. I completed my high school studies in Yatta. During my final exams I was pursued by the occupation forces for a year and spent three years in Hebron’s central prison. After my release I went to Bir Zeit University where I studied sociology. After completing my studies at Bir Zeit I settled in Ramallah, where I have been living for the last thirteen years. I am married and have two daughters.”
“During the final high school exam period I was on my way home with a friend when we came across an Israeli army patrol. A group of us began throwing stones when we saw the jeeps. The stones we threw didn’t even make it halfway to the jeeps, but that didn’t stop an Israeli soldier from shooting my best friend dead.”
“I looked for ways to inflict the maximum number of casualties on the occupation forces in order to avenge my friend’s death. The means we used at the time against the occupation were demonstrations and stone throwing. Later on we managed to develop Molotov cocktails, and occasionally, somebody would open fire on some army units”
“We tried to produce bombs, but we had an accident and one blew up while we were working on it, injuring the hands of one of my friends. The information eventually reached the Israelis and one person from our group was arrested” “Eventually we were captured, and after being interrogated at length we were put in prison for three years.”
“All of these experiences hadn’t changed my view of the conflict and my attitude towards resisting the occupation. I was convinced we had to end the occupation by force and violence because there simply was no other way we could end it.”
“Almost two years into the second intifada my views began to transform.” “First of all, I had never previously had the chance to meet an Israeli. I didn’t know Israelis and had never dealt with them, talked to them or even considered how they might think.” “After meeting them, I discovered there were some Israelis who are very decent and have sincere and balanced positions and agree with the Palestinian right for a state and self-determination. They believe in the Palestinian right to live like any other people.”
“There are many Israelis with balanced and realistic political views, and I respect them for that. On the other hand there are many Israelis who hold extreme views whom we can also influence through our work. The fact that an Israeli soldier who used to think he was defending his country and didn’t regard what he did as occupation can change his mind indicates that to a certain extent there is an acceptance of changes in opinion among the wider Israeli public. In the future this public may apply pressure on the Israeli government and establishment. This could lead to the shortening of the occupation and progress toward a two-state solution. Palestinians may begin rethinking their philosophy of resistance and actions such as bombings inside Israel.”
Three of the following videos are for your entertainment. The last, an interview with a 15 year old boy from the Sudan, sold into slavery, is something you may not want to hear, but is something more of us need to hear.
1) The beautiful voice of Aaron Neville – Song of Bernadette
2) The King demonstrating why he was called that.
Elvis - Steamroller Blues
3) From a 1981 live performance by Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells
4) Interview by the Online Guardian Newpaper with Deng, a 15-year-old from Southern Sudan, who recounts being forced into slavery, joining the army to seek redress for the injustice against him, then coming back home where he is the primary provider for his family.
When I was 15 I got upset if my father wouldn’t buy the latest record I wanted. In places like the Sudan you become a man when you are 15, or younger, otherwise you die.