Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Time to finish




Time to stop this blog

For some time now I have been aware that I have reached the point where I should stop.

So without any regrets this will be the last blog

No regrets because it has taken me to many places I would otherwise not have gone.

Places where I learnt more about things I did not know.

I also shared with you what I have learnt about consciousness evolution.

Tried to give you some clues as to what it is all about.

How we can grow.

How we can create the lives we want.

How we can find peace of mind.

And now it is time to move on to other projects.

So thank you for visiting.

May your own journey in life be helpful and supportive of those you meet.

Blue skies

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Something to feel good about

A grassroots agricultural revolution is – almost unnoticed by the outside world – spreading across West Africa's Sahel desert




A grassroots agricultural revolution is – almost unnoticed by the outside world – spreading across West Africa's Sahel desert
The bushes turned out to be clusters of shoots from the buried stumps of trees.

The shoots could never grow much before being cut or eaten by livestock, but when Rinaudo pruned them down to a single stem and kept the animals away, they shot up into substantial trees within four years.

As the trees grew, so did crops. 

And as local farmers began reaping good harvests, neighbours and visitors followed suit. 

Now, two decades later, some 200 million trees have been regenerated in this way, covering five million hectares of Maradi and the neighbouring region of Zinder, enabling the growing of enough extra grain to feed two-and-a-half million people.

Nor is this all. 
Satellite images have shown that the same technique has been used successfully over 485,000 hectares of next-door Mali. 
And it is known to have spread to Senegal and the Niger regions of Tahoua and Dosso, though no one has had the resources to quantify it.
This was only one of the success stories that emerged at a conference in Switzerland this week on land restoration. 
Counter-intuitive techniques developed by Allan Savory, a Zimbabwean farmer and biologist, are successfully revitalising 15 million hectares of degraded land on five continents, by grazing livestock very intensively on small areas for short periods: their dung and the grass they trample enrich the soil, mimicking the natural practices of the once-vast herds of gnu or American bison.
Farmers converting to organic agriculture in Mashonaland, Zimbabwe, have boosted their annual incomes from $50 to $900 in a single year. 
Some 400 sand dams, built across rivers in East Africa and India, have enabled 97 per cent of farmers to increase production. 
And the revival of traditional water-harvesting techniques in Marwar – “the land of death” – in Rajasthan’s Thar Desert, has enabled enough fodder to be grown to support a million cattle.
Besides increasing harvests and reducing poverty, all this helps combat climate change. 
The Sahel’s regenerated trees can take 30 tonnes of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere per hectare, while Savory believes that such intensive grazing on just half the world’s available land could return concentrations to pre-industrial levels.
Just as importantly, it addresses the main cause of the 80 per cent of the world’s conflicts that occur in the drylands, as the degradation forces nomadic herds on to land occupied by farmers’ crops –and at a time of rapid population growth. 
Expanding productive land is the best way to ease this and, indeed, the number of conflicts in Niger has fallen by four-fifths in those areas where trees have been allowed to regenerate.
Rinaudo – who now works internationally for World Vision – still finds that previously “hopeless” people “dance and sing” when they discover the underground forest, and how they can “change their lives, and the world, with a pruning knife”.
Geoffrey Lean

Monday, July 22, 2013

On God or Gods


To regard God as an intelligent spirit, and accept at the same time his absolute immateriality is to conceive of a nonentity, a blank void.

The idea ... either of a finite or infinite nothing is a contradiction in terms.

We deny God both as philosophers and as Buddhists,’ says KH. 

He adds: ‘We know there are planetary and other spiritual lives’ – often called planetary spirits or dhyani-chohans (a term that usually refers to beings who have evolved beyond the human kingdom). 

But they are certainly not ‘extra-cosmic’ or ‘supernatural’ spirits devoid of any substantial nature. 

‘Intelligence as found in our dhyan chohans,’ he says, ‘is a faculty that can appertain but to organized or animated being – however imponderable or rather invisible the materials of their organizations.’ 

The organisms of the highest planetary spirits or dhyani-chohans are composed of matter in its seventh state. 

Even the lowest planetary spirits are made of matter ‘so impalpable ... that science calls it energy and force’.

Most of the mahatmas are said to be advanced fifth-rounders, meaning that they have developed their consciousness to a level that most humans will not attain until far into the fifth round of the earth’s evolution. 

Gautama Buddha is described as a sixth-rounder.KH writes:

When our great Buddha – the patron of all the adepts, the reformer and the codifier of the occult system – reached first nirvana on earth, he became a planetary spirit; i.e. his spirit could at one and the same time rove the interstellar spaces in full consciousness, and continue at will on earth in his original and individual body. ... 

That is the highest form of adeptship man can hope for on our planet. 

But it is as rare as the buddhas themselves ...

The God of the theologians,’ says KH, ‘is an imaginary power ...’

Our chief aim is to deliver humanity of this nightmare, and to teach man virtue for its own sake, and to walk in life relying on himself instead of leaning on a theological crutch, that for countless ages was the direct cause of nearly all human misery. 

Pantheistic we may be called – agnostic NEVER.

The one life of which occultists speak is anything but an extra-cosmic deity. Infinite and all-pervading, it is ‘the essence of every atom of matter’ in infinite space and is in fact ‘matter itself’.

KH continues:

Who but a theologian nursed on mystery and the most absurd supernaturalism can imagine a self-existent being of necessity infinite and omnipresent outside the manifested boundless universe? ... 

We deny the absurd proposition that there can be, even in a boundless and eternal universe, two infinite eternal and omnipresent existences.

Commenting on the behaviour of Jehovah as portrayed in the Hebrew Bible, KH says:

He who reads our Buddhist scriptures written for the superstitious masses will fail to find in them a demon so vindictive, unjust, so cruel and so stupid as the celestial tyrant upon whom the [orthodox] Christians prodigally lavish their servile worship and on whom their theologians heap those perfections that are contradicted on every page of their Bible.

Ignorance created Gods and cunning took advantage of the opportunity. ... 

The sum of human misery will never be diminished until that day when the better portion of humanity destroys in the name of truth, morality, and universal charity, the altars of their false gods.

David Pratt

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Anyone listening?


Despite deep hostility from the British public, the Government is stepping up its campaign in favour of genetic modification.


Posing as champions of progress and prosperity, ministers want European Union controls on

GM produce to be drastically relaxed. 


According to their public relations spin, once these outdated restrictions are abolished and public skepticism is overcome, then we will enter a brave new world of abundance.

But the propaganda pumped out by the Government remains hopelessly unconvincing. 

Fairy stories and hyperbolic claims won’t feed the world – or protect our health. 

The hollowness of the ministerial case was illustrated recently by the abject interview given on the BBC Rado 4 Today programme by the Environment Secretary Owen Paterson, in advance of a major pro-GM speech he was to make in Hertfordshire.

Despite deep hostility from the British public, the Government is stepping up its campaign in favour of genetic modification. Ministers now want European Union controls on GM produce to be drastically relaxed

Despite deep hostility from the British public, the Government is stepping up its campaign in favour of genetic modification. 

Ministers now want European Union controls on GM produce to be drastically relaxed

Paterson came across as an ill-briefed, slightly hysterical mouthpiece for the genetic modification industry. 

He tried to argue that science was on his side, yet he could only back up his arguments with ludicrous emotional blackmail.

At one stage, he melodramatically argued that, without the acceptance of GM crops, young people in Asia ‘will go to bed blind and some will die’. 

It almost sounded as if he had joined a religious cult which regards genetic modification as some kind of miracle cure.

Paterson had to resort to such nonsense precisely because his case is so weak. 

Contrary to his messianic rhetoric yesterday morning, GM technology is no panacea for the world’s ills. 

Even after more than 15 years of its intensive use in large parts of the world, particularly the United States, there is little evidence that it increases crop yields, assists global development or combats disease.

Just the opposite is true.

    There is now a growing amount of research demonstrating that genetic modification has the potential to cause serious health problems and widespread environmental degradation.

     The public is absolutely right to be sceptical. 

    While we cannot be sure that GM food is safe to eat, we can be sure that the overblown boasts of pro-GM lobby have not been fulfilled.

    As an investigative journalist and author, I have always opposed the introduction of genetically modified food into Britain. 

    Why? 

    Because despite the GM pioneers’ fa├žade of scientific sophistication, genetic engineering is actually a rather crude, almost cut-and-paste technique of manipulating biology.

    The process involves moving genetic material across species barriers, which carries the risk, in my view, of triggering unpredictable and irreversible changes in DNA, proteins and biochemical composition. 

    It is radically different from all previous methods of improving plants and breeds.

    Environment Secretary Owen Paterson yesterday argued that, without the acceptance of GM crops, young people in Asia 'will go to bed blind and some will die'

    Environment Secretary Owen Paterson argued that, without the acceptance of GM crops, young people in Asia 'will go to bed blind and some will die'

    The idea that such an approach can be completely safe is either dangerous wishful thinking, or a denial of reality motivated by vested commercial and political interests.

    The pro-GM lobby are the ones asking us to make a leap of faith. 

    But with each passing year, the case against genetic engineering becomes more persuasive.

    Only this month, a report from Flinders University in Australia revealed that genetically modified feed given to pigs may lead to severe stomach inflammations and far heavier uteruses, which can be an indicator of serious disease.

    According to some farmers, the stomach inflammations and irritations can also lead to pigs becoming more aggressive. 

    Commenting on this report, the American livestock adviser Howard Vlieger said: ‘For as long as GM crops have been in the feed supply, we have seen increasing digestive and reproductive problems in animals.’

    What is especially worrying, in the context of these findings, is not only that most of us eat pork, but also that the digestive system of pigs is similar to that of humans.

    A report from Flinders University in Australia revealed that genetically modified feed given to pigs may lead to severe stomach inflammations and far heavier uteruses, which can be an indicator of serious disease

    The Australian report backs up other evidence about the health risks of GM technology. 

    Studies on laboratory animals show that GM food can cause allergies and be toxic. 

    Rats fed GM tomatoes, for instance, have developed stomach lesions, while new research from New Zealand has found that one GM wheat variety has the potential to cause liver disease.  

    Human health may also be threatened by the damage that genetic engineering inflicts on the balance of the environment’s delicate eco-systems. 

    One of the most insidious aspects of genetic modification is that, contrary to the claims for its environmental friendliness, it actually encourages the aggressive use of herbicides. 

    The top-selling weedkiller glyphosate is marketed as ‘Roundup’ by the giant biotechnology company Monsanto, a leading campaigner for the relaxation of EU controls on genetic modification.

    The same company has also developed a range of crops that are genetically resistant to glyphosate. 

    This supposedly means that farmers can spray the herbicide over their land and kill all the weeds without damaging their crops.

    Yet there is a real risk that the environment and the consumers could be the losers. 

    Studies have revealed that glyphosate leaves a dangerous residue on foods, as well as leaching into the groundwater. 

    Glyphosate exposure has been associated with birth defects, hormone imbalances, Parkinson’s disease and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of blood cancer.

    Moreover, the excessive use of the glyphosate appears to have promoted the evolution of a destructive breed of ‘superweeds’. 

    Indeed, no fewer than 24 glyphosate-resistant weed species have been identified since Roundup-tolerant GM crops were introduced in 1996. 

    Tampering with nature is leading to unforeseen consequences.

    Nor is any of this justified by increases in production. 

    The lobbyists’ promises about ever-higher yields have been unfounded. 

    What usually happens with genetic modification is an initial series of good harvests, followed by a dramatic decline. 

    In fact, a study published this week showed that for the production of maize, soy beans, oil seed rape and cotton, European non-GM crops have significantly outperformed American GM crops.

    There is now a growing amount of research demonstrating that genetic modification has the potential to cause serious health problems and widespread environmental degradation

    There is now a growing amount of research demonstrating that genetic modification has the potential to cause serious health problems and widespread environmental degradation

    Last year, leading US agricultural expert Dan Basse, himself a farmer from Wisconsin, spelt out the truth. 

    Having said that the GM technology had increased the corn yield by just 0.1 per cent, he said: ‘47 per cent of the world’s corn crop is GM. 

    Why have we not seen more of a yield [increase] if GM has done what it was supposed to do?’

    The great irony is that, far from representing exciting modernity, genetic modification is unworkable, bankrupt technology. 

    There are far better ways of driving progress in agriculture.

    Scientists at Britain’s National Institute of Agricultural Botany, for example, have used a non-GM, natural process involving pollen from wild grass to produce a stronger, more productive form of wheat. 

    Early studies show that the yield could go up by 30 per cent.

    Other organic, non-GM success stories include drought-resistant maize, blight-resistant potatoes, and a new variety of African rice which is four times as productive as traditional types.

    This is where the future should lie. 

    Non-GM technology has real promise, whereas genetic engineering has brought only failure and frustration. 

    It should be consigned to the dustbin of history.

    Joanna Blythman


    Saturday, July 20, 2013

    Preparing


    How can we prepare? 

    We cannot prepare. 


    But we are being prepared


    Prepared for what?


    Whatever comes our way


    Every day


    Many days no obvious change


    Some days the unexpected


    Then you find out how you were being prepared


    When it happens

    That unexpected event occurs

    Now you understand what all those hours were for

    And that is how it is

    All the lessons we have ever learnt over many lives have made us what we are today

    Not some of them

    All of them

    Good and bad

    Tough and also pleasant ones

    So that we get better at things as we go along

    Some try to duck or avoid those that they do not like

    Nature might indulge you for a while

    Maybe even for a lifetime

    However at some point we have to face those difficult ones

    So where am I going with this?

    Simple build discipline into your life

    Face whatever comes your way

    Do not duck or dive, that is avoiding things you do not like

    Deal with whatever nature presents because once you have learnt that lesson you can move on.

    Other lessons will come your way for sure

    But that database of experience you are building will help you deal with new challenges more easily

    So this is my way of saying the apparently hard way is really the easier way

    Get it?

    We are being prepared each and every day, did we but have the wit to see it.


    Friday, July 19, 2013

    Seriously disturbing

    A monkey playing with a mobile phone

    Monkey business: 'Most people would be discomfited to learn how detailed a reconstruction of their lives their mobile phone operator could produce if required.' Photograph: Action Press/Rex Features
    'To be remembered after we are dead," wrote Hazlitt, "is but poor recompense for being treated with contempt while we are living." 
    Cue President "George W" Obama in the matter of telephone surveillance by his National Security Agency. 
    The fact that for the past seven years theagency has been collecting details of every telephone call placed in theUnited States without a warrant was, he intoned, no reason for Americans to be alarmed. 
    "Nobody is listening to your telephone calls,"he cooed. 
    The torch was then passed to Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate intelligence committee, who was likewise on bromide-dispensing duty. 
    "This is just metadata," she burbled, "there is no content involved."
    At which point the thought uppermost in one's mind is: what kind of idiots do they take us for
    Of course there's no content involved, for the simple reason that content is a pain in the butt from the point of view of modern surveillance. 
    First, you have to listen to the damned recordings, and that requires people (because even today, computers are not great at understanding everyday conversation) and time. 
    And although Senator Feinstein let slip that the FBI already employs 10,000 people "doing intelligence on counter-terrorism", even that Stasi-scale mob isn't a match for the torrent of voice recordings that Verizon and co could cough up daily for the spooks.
    So in this business at least, content isn't king. It's the metadata – the call logs showing who called whom, from which location and for how long – that you want. 
    Why? 
    Because that's the stuff that is machine-readable, and therefore searchable. 
    Imagine, for a moment, that you're an NSAoperative in Fort Meade, Maryland. 
    You have a telephone number of someone you regard as potentially "interesting". 
    Type the number into a search box and up comes a list of every handset that has ever called, or been called by, it. 
    After that, it's a matter of seconds before you have a network graph of second-, third- or fourth-degree connections to that original number. 
    Map those on to electronic directories to get names and addresses, obtain a secret authorisation from the Fisa court (which has 11 federal judges so that it can sit round the clock, seven days a week), then dispatch a Prism subpoena to Facebook and co and make some coffee while waiting for the results. 
    Repeat the process with the resulting email contact lists and – bingo! – you have a mass surveillance programme as good as anything Vladimir Putin could put together. 
    And you've never had to sully your hands – or your conscience – with that precious "content" that civil libertarians get so worked up about.
    Do people fall for the "it's only metadata" guff? 
    If they do, my hunch is that it's because their intuitions haven't kept pace with the extent that mobile technology has pervaded our lives, or with the scale of the data that outfits such as the NSA have been accumulating. 
    Most people would be discomfited to learn how detailed a reconstruction of their lives their mobile phone operator could produce if required – right down to a pretty good guess at when they have been speeding in their cars. 
    Four years ago a German Green party politician, Malte Spitz, sued to have Deutsche Telekom hand over six months of his phone data that he then made available to Zeit Online
    The paper then did what any decent NSA operative would do, namely combine his phone's geolocation data with information relating to his life as a politician – Twitter feeds, blog entries and websites – to create an extraordinary animated reconstruction of a day in his life.
    It's this revelatory power that enables metadata to expose far more than what a target is talking about. 
    "Metadata," says Matt Blaze, a crypto researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, "is our context. 
    And that can reveal far more about us – both individually and as groups – than the words we speak. 
    Context yields insights into who we are and the implicit, hidden relationships between us. 
    A complete set of all the calling records for an entire country is therefore a record not just of how the phone is used, but, coupled with powerful software, of our importance to each other, our interests, values, and the various roles we play." 
    So even if the NSA never listened to a single telephone conversation, it would still be able to build what Blaze calls "a national relationship database".
    In the old days, the medium was the message. 
    Now it's the metadata.
    John Naughton

    Thursday, July 18, 2013

    Life lessons

    Denis Wright, who is battling brain cancer, and his wife Tracey married in 2010.

    Denis Wright, who is battling brain cancer, and his wife Tracey married in 2010.

    Denis Wright wasn't meant to live this long. 

    He's had birthdays - 66 of them - but he's also had plenty of 'death days'  

    The dates he thought he would "cark it".

    Every date we've estimated so far has been wrong ... 

    I've embarrassed myself by staying alive," the historian from Armidale in country NSW said..
    Mr Wright doubted his two daughters and partner's son would see him marry Tracey, the woman who has loved and cared for him, after the "longest engagement in history".
    But they did, in 2010, and he said he is "so emotionally close" to his wife "you couldn't separate us with cigarette paper".
    Mr Wright has a death sentence named GBM 4 (glioblastoma multiforme). 

    It's an extremely aggressive brain tumour that's been trying to kill him since December 2009.
    Dr Charlie Teo, high-profile Australian neurosurgeon, has said the condition is "impossible" to cure.
    Mr Wright doesn't know how much longer he has to live. 

    His life is sustained by a drug called Avastin - but this time, he says, "there are no more arrows to fire".
    Since his diagnosis, Mr Wright has written hundreds of posts on a blog, called My Unwelcome Stranger ,about his experiences.
    He writes about his troubled health, why he would rather call someone than send them a text (it's too slow to say anything other than "OK") and how he missed the true importance of a wedding (and that is "the receipt of as many and as expensive a range of gifts as possible," he joked).
    Mr Wright wanted to share his life lessons, learned over his 66 years,. 

    He provided 10 tips via email as his vocal cords have been significantly damaged by an increasing number of seizures.
    Life lessons by Denis Wright:
    1. Don't spend your life in a job you hate. 

    Life is too short to live it only in the evening and at weekends.
    2. If there's something bad happening in your life you genuinely have no control over, learn all you can about it and how to live with it. 

    Beating your head against a brick wall is unproductive.
    3. If you think you can change it, then go all out to do so. 

    Try to understand its nature and work with it where you can.
    4. There are no 'good' and 'bad' decisions. 

    If you made what you think might have been a poor choice in life, learn from it, and you might make a better one next time. 

    You don't know what's going to turn out good or bad in the long run, so regrets are a waste of time.
    5. Don't agonise about the past, in the sense that you can't change it. 

    Live in the slice of time that's the now. 

    You can't live in the moment; it's too short. 

    The slice is richer. 

    It contains a little of past, present and future.
    6. Apologise as soon as you can when you think you've hurt someone. 

    Don't try to pretend you're perfect. 

    Accept responsibility where it's due.
    7. Keep your options open for as long as possible. 

    Don't close them unnecessarily.
    8. Try to keep your sense of humour if you can, though it's not always possible.
    9. Carpe Diem ... Or, for a change, seize the day!
    And there's one more.
    10. Do not be afraid of death. 

    "If you're not more afraid of your own death than you need to be, then you need have little fear for anything life can hand out."
    Mr Wright's blog, which has been visited more than 250,000 times by people from around the world, will be archived by the National Library of Australia online.
    Daniel Piotrowski

    Wednesday, July 17, 2013

    Definitions





    ADULT:
    A person who has stopped
                                                                          growing
    at both ends
    and is now growing
    in the middle. 

    BEAUTY PARLOR
    A place where women curl
    up and dye. 

    CHICKENS: 
    The only animals you
    eat before they are born and
    after they are dead. 

    COMMITTEE: 
    A body that keeps minutes
    and wastes
    hours. 

    DUST: 
    Mud with the juice
    squeezed out. 

    EGOTIST: 
    Someone who is usually
    me-deep
    in conversation. 

    HANDKERCHIEF
    Cold Storage. 

    MOSQUITO: 
    An insect that makes you
    like flies
    better. 

    RAISIN: 
    A grape with a bad sunburn. 

    SECRET: 
    Something you tell to one
    person
    at a time. 

    SKELETON: 
    A bunch of bones with the
    person
    scraped off. 

    TOOTHACHE: 
    The pain that drives you to
    extraction. 

    TOMORROW: 
    One of the greatest labor
    saving
    devices of today. 

    YAWN: 
    An honest opinion openly
    expressed. 

    WRINKLES: 
    Something other people have, 
    similar to my character lines.