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Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Dr Seuss

Another beautiful sunny day, in a picture perfect week. Perfect weather, warm during the day (temps in the 80’s), cool at night (temps in the 60’s). Spent the day in the park, watching the kids and squirrels play. Mediated at a beautiful little chapel on what a great place I am in this life, in this world. Today’s mantra – beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

The art of Physic

Fifteen uncoupled simple pendulums of monotonically increasing lengths dance together to produce visual traveling waves, standing waves, beating, and (seemingly) random motion.

The apparatus was built from a design published by Richard Berg at the University of Maryland. The particular apparatus shown here was built by Harvard’s Nils Sorensen.

The period of one complete cycle of the dance is 60 seconds. The length of the longest pendulum has been adjusted so that it executes 51 oscillations in this 60 second period. The length of each successive shorter pendulum is carefully adjusted so that it executes one additional oscillation in this period. Thus, the 15th pendulum (shortest) undergoes 65 oscillations.

Monday is Memoral Day here in the US. It’s designated an offical holiday, but it is anything like a holiday for me. It is to honour the memory of those who sacrificed their lives for their country. There is honour in sacrifice, but war is the least honorable activity we humans take part in that I can think. I myself took part in war. Those memories only want to make me cry.

The face of war 2011

Abun, southern Sudan: A girl weeps while clutching a suitcase in a makeshift camp for internally displaced people (Pete Muller/AP)

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“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”
Albert Einstein

The World In Pictures

Ryo Taira (r.), and an unidentified man lift a baby porpoise out of a flooded rice field after it was swept inland by a tsunami following an earthquake in Sendai, in this picture taken Tuesday. Taira found the porpoise struggling in the shallow seawater and, after failing to net it, waded into the field, which had yet to be sown with rice, to cradle the animal in his arms and return it to the sea. (Asahi Shimbun/Reuters)

People who fled the unrest in Tunisia stand in line after arriving at the southern Italian island of Lampedusa. Almost 15,000 people have landed in Lampedusa since the beginning of the year, according to Interior Minister Roberto Maroni, exacerbating Italian fears that the upheavals in North Africa could unleash a wave of clandestine arrivals. (Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters)

A cat sits under a blanket at an evacuation center for pets and their owners near an area devastated by the earthquake and tsunami in Kesennuma, Japan (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

Port-au-Prince, Haiti: A boy walks past an incinerator for waste from a cholera hospital (Photograph: Hector Retamal/AFP)

Faith, what’s in a word? or Ed’s ramblings about faith.

Most of the people I interact with online, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, fall into two general groups. Christians and Atheist. When I speak to both groups about faith they assume I am talking about religious faith, belief in God.

The Mirriam-Webster dictionary tells me that when used as a noun faith means:

a : allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty b (1) : fidelity to one’s promises (2) : sincerity of intentions.

I think most people use the word as a verb:

a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust

This is why it is so important to start a discussion of a word, or idea, by defining it as precisely as possible.

I will admit it seems a bit of a stretch for me to use “Faith” in the way I use it. My faith is not an allegiance to anyone, or anything.

The source of my faith, the process found in nature, evolution of species, has been tested and proven, using the process of testing know as science. However a theory in science is never considered the final word. New evidence, better tools to examine evidence, will likely come-up with a better theory that fits this new evidence. The most I can say is I have 99.9% confidence in any theory, it is the best idea that fits the current evidence.

With both religious both and non-religious faith trust is vital. With religious faith 100% trust is the standard, although I think many of my Christian friends will admit that’s a standard that is hard to live up to.

To my Christian friends there is proof for their faith. Every time they feel they are in God’s presence their faith is validated. Just because I have never felt the presence of God I can’t say no one else has.

Enough rambling.

What is your definition of the word faith?

1) Bringing in the New Year

The face of 2011 – thoughtful, hopeful:

Fireworks explode over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House during a pyrotechnic show to celebrate the New Year January 1, 2011 (Guardian):
 
A group of revelers watch fireworks illuminating the scene, from their high vantage point over the city of Davos, Switzerland, at the beginning of the New Year, early on Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011:

Fireworks illuminate the Quadriga sculpture atop the Brandenburg Gate during a New Year’s Eve party in Berlin, January 1, 2011:

2) Looking back at 2010, looking forward to 2011

The last year was a very good for me.  I had a lot of laughs and great times with friends and neighbors, both online and in person.  This blog gave me a chance at being creative.  Most importantly good health. 

The worse thing that happen was a few bad weeks in December when some ghost from the past put me in a melancholy mood, instead of the Christmas spirit.  If that is the worst thing that happens in 2011 I will consider myself lucky.

There were way to many best times to list. Every week, almost every day, I shared love and laughter with friends, including new ones.  Any year when I make as many new friends as I did in 2010 is a great year. 

The world of science brought amazing new discoveries.  I read about the growing number of volunteers, especially young people.  This continues to fuel my faith in the future.

All of the evils of war, poverty, and slavery, are still will us.  I have no expectation they will go away in my lifetime.  I do see progress in attacking these evils.  Where we have progress we can have hope. 

In looking at my financial budget, and the scale which is telling me I have added more lbs than I should have, discipline will be my watch word for the 2011.

I will have to forgo any shiny new toys, like the iPad I would kill for, and cut back on the pies and cakes that have caused me to add another notch to my belt. 

It is impossible to know what tomorrow will bring, except change.  It is impossible to know what will change.  Change is needed.  The world I was born into in 1943 has changed, as it needed to.  The experiences in my lifetime give me the confidence to believe that the world will continue to change for the better.

I am looking forward with anticaption to 2011, are you?  What are you looking forward to?

I will be offline until after the New Year.  I hope 2011 will bring you peace, health, many laughs, and much good cheer.

1) Pictures of the Day – December 30th

a. a. Landscape – From the Guardian’s “24 Hours In Pictures slide show” – http://tinyurl.com/23j4z9o
 
British Columbia, Canada: The sun sets over the mountains and waters surrounding Howe Sound near Horseshoe Bay
 
b. People – LA Times “Pictures of the Day slide show” – http://tinyurl.com/29aedr4
 
  
Wanjak, Sudun. Boys smile as World Food Program staffers distribute food to refugees returning from Northern Sudun.
 

c. Humor – From the Cute Overload site – http://cuteoverload.com/

“And your little dog, too! [paws rubbing together]  OK OK I’m no witch—The hat is just a Petunia.”  Picture contributed by todorrovic.

d. Food – A Twinkie cake from the Cake Wrecks site – http://cakewrecks.blogspot.com/

2) Ed’s Doctrine of Faith

Please send me buckets of money so that I can spread my doctrine.  I guarantee it will bring peace, love and understanding to the world, or better yet a waterfront mansion, shiny big Limo, and some “healthy” chorus girls to help me preach my word.

a. My faith is in the unlimited potential for the human race to do good, to live with love and compassion.

b. The only doctrine, code or rule that will bring peace to the world is to live with love and compassion.  Without that all other doctrines won’t make any difference.

c. My faith is not in any one group, religious, non-religious, ethnic, or nation.  My faith is in the unlimited potential for all of humanity.  As long as that potential exist, which it will until the last humans breathe their last breathes, then I have hope.

d. If you want the perfect life in Heaven that the worlds different religious faiths promise you must follow their doctrine.  To live the best life you can in this world you only need one doctrine, live with love and compassion.

Please make your checks out to, “Ed’s Diamond Place of Faith”, but cash is preferred.

3) Predictions for 2011

The vast majority of people in the world will do their best to make the world a better place.  They will have some success, which will be ignored by the mass media, in favour of the murder, mayhem, and gossip, that most people seem to prefer to read about.

The world will change, and many will grumble about that change, no matter how, or if, it affects them.

Through the process of science we will make significant advances to our body of knowledge about the world. This will help us greatly in understanding our world, and help us do a much better job of living in it.

Sadly the New York Mets will not win the world series.

Have any predictions that you would like to share?

In her Friday post my blog buddy Mandy asked a question – Where are the miracles?  In my comment I went off on one of my rants and forgot to actually answer her question.

http://mandythompson.com/2010/10/22/where-are-the-miracles/

1) My perception is that I define the word miracle very differently than people of religious faith.  Since my faith is based in people, and the natural forces that shape my world, I see, or read about, miraculous events, created by people, and the natural forces, every day.  A cure for an illness that kills people is a miracle.  Someone overcoming enormous odds, or handicaps, to be a success in life is a miracle.  All of these miracles reinforce my faith in people.

My mother was told, because of her heart condition, that she could never survive childbirth.  Both me and my sister owe our lives to a miracle.

I attempted to end my life, but survived.  That I am here to write this blog is a miracle.

2) On the Christian Answers site I found a good definition of what I perceive the word miracle means to people of religious faith:

http://www.christiananswers.net/dictionary/miracle.html 

“A true miracle is an event in the external world brought about by the immediate agency or the simple volition of God, operating without the use of means capable of being discerned by the senses, and designed to authenticate the divine commission of a religious teacher and the truth of his message.”

The Bible has many accounts of the miracles performed by Jesus to prove to his followers that he was divine, the Son of God.

From Bibletruths.net – http://www.bibletruths.net/Archives/BTARO46.htm

“The nature of Jesus’ miracles. Not only does an understanding of Jesus’ miracles produce the belief that Jesus is the Son of God but such understanding also helps us detect and avoid pseudo miracles.

 Jesus had power over nature. Jesus exhibited power over nature when he turned water into wine, calmed the tempest, and walked on the sea (Jn. 2: 1-11; Mk. 4: 35-41; 6: 47-50).

Jesus displayed miraculous power over the material realm. Jesus manifestly displayed miraculous ability over the material in the feeding of the five thousand (Mk. 6: 37-44).

Jesus promised his apostles that they would be able to perform miracles. “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils…,” Jesus said (Matt. 10: 8). Compared to Jesus’ miraculous ability, however, their powers were limited (Jesus had unlimited ability, the apostles had the baptismal measure, Jn. 3: 34, Acts 1: 5-8, ch. 2). 

 Jesus demonstrated his power over death. Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter, the widow’s son, and Lazarus from the dead (Mk. 5: 22-24; 35-43; Lk. 7: 11-17; Jn. 11: 34-46).

Questions –

What is your definition of a miracle?

How important are miracles to reinforcing your faith? 

Have you ever witnessed a miracle? 

What is the most recent miracle you know about?

1) The face of humanity, Tuesday, September 28, 2010, from the Guardian Photos of The Day:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/gallery/2010/sep/28/24-hours-in-pictures#/?picture=367112859&index=0

Kabul, Afghanistan: A man with his bicycle passes children playing among discarded vehicles in the ruins of the Jangalak industrial complex.

 

Delhi, India: Workers rest in the shade outside the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium prior to the Commonwealth Games.

 

Taipei, Taiwan: Officials dressed as ancient Chinese scholars perform a traditional ritual.

 

Hebron, West Bank: Ultra-Orthodox Jews pray at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, also known as the Ibrahim Mosque, a shrine that is holy to Muslims and Jews. 

2) Warning, a bit of a rant about inhumanity in the deserts of Arizona

From an article in the New York Times, by Marc Lacey:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/27/us/27water.html?_r=2&ref=global-home

“Two years ago, Daniel J. Millis was ticketed for littering after he was caught by a federal Fish and Wildlife officer placing gallon jugs of water for passing immigrants in the brush of this 118,000-acre preserve.

Mr. Millis, 31, was not the only one to get a ticket. Fourteen other volunteers for Tucson-based organizations that provide aid to immigrants crossing from Mexico to the United States were similarly cited. Most of the cases were later dropped, but Mr. Millis and another volunteer for a religious group called No More Deaths were convicted of defacing the refuge with their water jug drops.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit weighed in on Mr. Millis’s appeal this month, ruling that it was “ambiguous as to whether purified water in a sealed bottle intended for human consumption meets the definition of ‘garbage.’ ” Voting 2-to-1, a three-judge panel overturned Mr. Millis’s conviction.

The issue remains far from settled, though. The court ruled that Mr. Millis probably could have been charged under a different statute, something other than littering. And the Fish and Wildlife Services continues to forbid anyone to leave gallon jugs of water in the refuge — a policy backed by this state’s immigration hardliners, who say comforting immigrants will only encourage them to cross.

From 2002 to 2009, 25 illegal immigrants died while passing through the refuge’s rolling hills, which are flanked by mountains and are home to pronghorns, coyotes, rattlesnakes and four different kinds of skunks. Throughout southern Arizona, the death toll totaled 1,715 from 2002 to 2009, with this year’s hot temperatures putting deaths at a record-breaking pace.”

I can understand why, with unemployment so high, many are calling for stronger measures to stop illegal immigration.  I can’t understand how some are willing to let people die in the desert.  How giving water, and medical help, to those we who are dying can ever be wrong.

I guess in Arizona it’s alright to litter the desert with died bodies, but not water bottles to save their lives.

The No More Deaths site :

http://www.nomoredeaths.org/

1) Weekend pictures from the Net:

Charmey, Switzerland: Swiss farmers guide traditionally decorated cows during the so-called Desalpe, the annual procession when cows are led back to the plain at the beginning of autumn after grazing during the summer months on mountain pastures

Khagendra Thapa, the world’s shortest man, at 1’10”, stands with Miss Nepal beauty pageant winners during a news conference in Kathmandu on Friday. The Nepal Tourism Board has nominated Thapa and Miss Nepal beauty pageant winners as goodwill ambassadors to promote tourism in Nepal.

Tourists climb the Singing Sand Dunes near the Crescent Moon Spring on July 20, 2010 in Jiuquan of Gansu Province China. The Crescent Moon Spring, named after its unique moon-like shape, is located at the north foot of the Singing Sand Dunes, about 50 meters (164 feet) from north to south and 5 meters (16 feet) deep on an average.

2) Why don’t Americans eat more vegetables?

I do now eat more vegetables than I use to, it only took becoming a diabetic.  I had to get sick to get healthy.

Besides obvious questions of health, how much money would we save in health-care cost if we just changed our diets.  The fact that most of us don’t have healthy lifestyles may be the biggest reason for our soaring health cost .  Of course we will blame everyone else but ourselves.

From a New York Times article on the subject:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/25/health/policy/25vegetables.html?hpw

“This month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a comprehensive nationwide behavioral study of fruit and vegetable consumption. Only 26 percent of the nation’s adults eat vegetables three or more times a day, it concluded. (And no, that does not include French fries.) ”

“This week, the company released the 25th edition of its annual report, “Eating Patterns in America.” The news there wasn’t good, either. For example, only 23 percent of meals include a vegetable, Mr. Balzer said. (Again, fries don’t count, but lettuce on a hamburger does.) The number of dinners prepared at home that included a salad was 17 percent; in 1994, it was 22 percent.”

In New York City on Saturday there were Memorial services to those who lost their lives in the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001.

There were beautiful moments that spoke to the great lost we all still feel for those who lost their lives, and their families.

The most poignant memorials are those created by the people.  In this picture New Yorker’s wrote their thoughts and prayers in chalk on the pavement in New York City’s Union Square on Sept. 14, 2001. 

 

The best memorial I can think of would be just a simple bed of flowers, one for each person who died.

What do you think the memorial on ground zero in New York City should be?

Congress has designated September 11 as National Day of Service and Remembrance Day.  I think a fitting memorial to the victims of 9/11 would if all Americans spent the day performing some type of community work.  No College sports, NFL, PGA, or MLB.  No photo ops for politicians.  Just every body reaching out to their neighbors.

We can’t seem to do anything collectively as a nation without some controversy.  One guy, with about 50 followers, was able to hijack the headlines by saying he was going to burn the Koran (Qur’an).  Why did anybody give this guy any publicity.  Now the world knows the name Terry Jones.  How many remember the name of one person who died on 9/11?

We have made a great deal of progress on the issue of diversity.  The America I grew up in, 1940’s and 1950’s, was a far more segregated country than it is today.  Now the vast majority of Americans live, and work, with people of all religious and ethnic groups every day, with no problems.  The Congress we voted into office in 2008 is the most diverse in our history.  Even one from my team got elected, Atheist Pete Stark, from California of course.

Pastor Terry Jones no more represents Americans, or Christians, than Osama bin Laden represents Muslims.

A better memorial for the front page of the news would just be a list of the names of those died that day in 2001.

I’ll start with a simple question.  🙂 

What aspect of your faith helps you the most in your daily life?

The source of my faith are the natural forces that shape my world.  These forces exist in perfect harmony.  Within this harmony is the catalyst for change, one thing transformed into another.  Without change my world would be static, devoid of life as life as we know it.  Mutation is one of the most beautiful words in the English language.

In studying the natural world I see the great beauty found in every living thing.  The animal that appears ugliest to my eyes is just a beautiful as any other.  In learning to appreciate the beauty found in all things I learn to love everything, everyone, everywhere. 

It is a fact of life that there are people who will try harm me, and I will have to protect myself, but even with these people the DNA in their cells works exactly the same as mine does. 

 We all belong to one family, Homo sapien.  We may call ourselves American, Chinese, Christian, Muslim, but those are just differences we have created with our cultures.

Looking through the lens of the process called science I see how similar we are.  Using the lens of cultural I am more likely to see differences, in our race, religion and country.  Some day we will all come to accept the science, and the barriers we have created will come down.

The better I understand the natural forces, the better I will learn to live in the world.  The more beauty will I see in everything, and everyone, I share my world with.

1) Two pictures from the Net today,  reflecting the gap between those who have and those who don’t.

Which group do you think is growing faster?

a. From the Christian Science Monitor Daily Photo slide-show of Aug 18th:

http://www.csmonitor.com/CSM-Photo-Galleries/Photos-of-the-Day/2010/Photos-of-the-Day-08-18

 

A Syrian vendor displays sweets during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan at al-Midan market in Damascus, Syria, on Wednesday. Muslims around the world abstain from eating, drinking and conducting sexual relations from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar.

b. From The Guardian’s daily 24 Hours In Picture. 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/gallery/2010/aug/18/1

One of the most upsetting picture I have seen in a long time.  No words are adequate.

 

Sindh, Pakistan: A young girl whose family lost their home in the devastating floods sleeps on the ground in a refugee camp

2) In answer to my question:

Pakistan flood aid is nowhere near the billions needed to deal with a calamity that’s swept through Pakistan, wiped out crops in the agricultural heartland, and affected some 20 million people.

a. Today’s headline from the Pakistani newspaper The Dawn:

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/04-nearly-half-funds-secured-qs-06

“Nearly half the $459 million needed for initial relief in Pakistan’s worst ever floods has been secured after days of lobbying donors and warnings that the country faces a spiralling humanitarian catastrophe, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

But despite the fresh funds, only a fraction of the six million Pakistanis desperate for food and clean water have received help after the worst floods in decades killed up to 1,600 people and left two million homeless.

“There has been an improvement in funding. Donors are realising the scale of the disaster,” UN spokesman Maurizio Giuliano told Reuters. “But the challenges are absolutely massive and the floods are not over.”

“The size of (the area affected by) this disaster is equivalent to Austria, Switzerland and Belgium combined. That’s pretty scary.”

A few days ago, only a quarter of aid pledged had been received, prompting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on a visit to Pakistan to urge foreign donors to speed up funding and avert more deaths.

So far, food rations and access to clean water have only been provided to around 700,000 flood survivors, the UN said.

Children most vulnerable

The damage and cost of recovery could shave more than one percentage point off economic growth, analysts say. Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Britain, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, said the cost of rebuilding could reach up to $15 billion.

Hundreds of villages are isolated, highways and bridges have been cut in half by floods and hundreds of thousands of cattle — the livelihoods of many villagers — have drowned.

The United Nations has warned that up to 3.5 million children could be in danger of contracting deadly diseases carried through contaminated water and insects in a crisis that has disrupted the lives of at least a tenth of Pakistan’s 170 million people.

“Who will treat her? The doctors said she has a hole in the wall of her heart,” said Bakhmina Said, whose one-year-old Naeema slept on a mat in sweltering heat at a fly-infested camp in northwestern Pakistan.

She had no fan, no chance of seeing a cardiologist anytime soon and at risk of catching other potentially fatal diseases in cramped, un-hygienic conditions.

UN Food and Agriculture Organisation says Pakistan could face food shortages if its farmers miss the sowing season which is due to start next month.

Some flood victims blocked highways to demand government help and villagers clashed with baton-wielding police on Tuesday after opposition leader Nawaz Sharif tried to distribute relief in Sindh.

b. From an editorial in Pakistan’s Daily Times, by Dr Manzur Ejaz:

“In the long run, the Pakistani people have to rise above their petty personal interests and start looking for common societal goals. Lessons should be learnt from the disasters Pakistan has been facing for the last few decades. From terrorism to floods, Pakistan is suffering because of a lack of collective consciousness and indifference to the basic rules of self-preservation. The ruling elite must learn to establish good governance if Pakistan is to survive. Basically, Pakistan has to be reinvented. No one said it would be easy, but there is no other way.”

3) Natural disasters will continue to occur, just as they always have.  There is also no question that global warming, the highest since records have been keep, 1880, will likely result in dramatic climate changes, more hurricanes, floods, etc, than we are currently prepared to deal with. 

As far as I can tell most governments seem to think just talking, and setting goals no one really is committed to keep, will make the problem go away.  It seems to me most Americans would just prefer to stick their heads in the sand.

August 13th press release from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

“Second Warmest July and Warmest Year-to-Date Global Temperature on Record”

http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2010/20100813_globalstats.html  

We know what the answers are, change how use and produce energy for one thing.  I am not taking about survival.  Some will be better prepared and thrive.  I am talking about the amount of pain future generations will have to suffer because of our inaction.

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