Watch and listen soon, as they likely won't remain on YouTube long.
|Nature creates art, reflects Nature |
(at the Honolulu Zoo, July 2010)
Nervous systems developed as managers of life and curators of biological value, assisted at first by unbrained dispositions but eventually by images, that is, minds. The emergence of mind produced spectacular improvements in life regulation for numerous species, even when images lacked fine detail and lasted only during the perceptual moment, entirely vanishing thereafter....Damasio's "Rebelliousness" (as in culture's rebelling against and trying to improve nature) I can't but read in the context of this blog's recent theme of a few individuals rebelling against certain aspects of popular (or majority) culture: religious beliefs and practices that rational people would think we could have outgrown, burdensome traditions that tether us to unprofitable pasts, adolescent politics that degrade our national business into playground bullying....
Once self comes to mind, the game of life changes, albeit timidly at first. Images of the internal and external worlds can be organized in a cohesive way around the protoself [a theoretical entity in Damasio's theory of the sequence of brain/mind development] and become oriented by the homeostatic requirements of the organism....[pp. 286-287]
If nature can be regarded as indifferent, careless, and unconscionable, then human consciousness creates the possibility of questioning nature's ways. The emergence of human consciousness is associated with evolutionary developments in brain, behavior, and mind that ultimately lead to the creation of culture, a radical novelty in the sweep of natural history. The appearance of neurons, with its attending diversification of behavior and paving of the way into minds, constitutes a momentous event in the grand trajectory. But the appearance of conscious brains eventually capable of flexible self-reflection is the next momentous event. It is the opening of the way into a rebellious, albeit imperfect response to the dictates of a careless nature.
...The self that I envision as capable of rebelliousness is a recent development, on the order of thousands of years, a mere instant in evolutionary time. That self draws on features of the human brain acquired, in all likelihood, during the long period of the Pleistocene. It depends on the brain's capacity to hold expansive memory records not only of motor skills but also of facts and events—in particular, personal facts and events, those that make up the scaffolding of biography and personhood and individual identity...Last, it depends on the invention of external memory systems parallel to those held by each brain, by which I mean the pictorial representations offered by early painting, carvings, and sculpture, tools, jewelry, funerary architecture, and, long after the emergence of language, written records....[pp. 289-290]
|House from the street side of our friends' picket fence|
(all of the photos have been filtered artistically in Photoshop;
click to enlarge)
|We guessed the cat was a member of our friends' household|
(he or she seemed at home)
|Don't fail to click on this one so you can read the words|
|These Day Lilies adorn the earthen platform where|
our fountain would otherwise hold center stage.
|These Day Lilies are at the corner of our garden shed patio, |
right below one of our bird feeders.
The tall rock to the left in the background
is actually a light fixture (but it's real rock).
|These yellow Day Lilies are in the south corner of|
our yard, beyond the raised planter I constructed the
first summer we lived in Mebane.
|These "pumpkin" (or orange) Day Lilies grow|
alongside the fence on the northern side of our back yard.
The Japanese beetle seems to like them.
|The Butterfly Bush grows fifteen feet from the fountain, |
right outside our screened back porch.
Why didn't I make that list?And he even tells "aspiring Muslim martyrs" where to find him and what inscription to look for on the "crusader T-shirt" he often wears. "I'll be expecting some loser yelling 'alla-hu akbar' or whatever," he says.
Have my many letters to the editor expressing my contempt for the Islamists gone unnoticed? Does it count for nothing that I led the applause on our United flight when the pilot announced the killing of bin Laden?
I'm afraid you'll be taken to a beating by persons who will misconstrue what you argue. You're walking on a mine field.I wondered, however, why I would need to be misconstrued.
His fanaticism and the depth of his hatred for the United States and Israel are likely to define al Qaeda's actions under Zawahri's tutelage. In a 2001 treatise that offered a glimpse of his violent thoughts, Zawahri set down al Qaeda's strategy: to inflict "as many casualties as possible" on the Americans."One dark tale from Mr. Zawahri’s past" was reported by Scott Shane in yesterday's New York Times (in his article, "Qaeda Selection of Its Chief Is Said to Reflect Its Flaws"). The tale is
"Pursuing the Americans and Jews is not an impossible task," he wrote. "Killing them is not impossible, whether by a bullet, a knife stab, a bomb, or a strike with an iron bar."
recounted in Growing Up Bin Laden, a 2008 memoir by Bin Laden’s son Omar bin Laden. He describes an episode in Afghanistan in the 1990s when a friend—a teenage boy—was raped by several men in the camp where they lived. The men snapped photos of the abuse and circulated them as a joke.As a good Muslim, Zawahri might have had his own daughter stoned to death for dishonoring him by being raped. It's hard to discern what honor he might have fancied he was avenging in the case of the teenage boy.
Mr. Zawahri was incensed by the photos, believing that the young man was guilty of homosexual activity, Omar bin Laden wrote. Mr. Zawahri had the teenager put on trial and condemned to death.
“My friend was dragged into a room with Zawahri, who shot him in the head,” he wrote. The episode was a factor, he said, in his decision to break with his father and leave Afghanistan.
While up to this time contrary sexual instinct has had but an anthropological, clinical, and forensic interest for science, now, as a result of the latest investigations, there is some thought of therapy in this incurable condition, which so heavily burdens its victims, socially, morally, and mentally. [Emphasis mine]It occurs to me, though, that equally lunatic actions described in the Bible and the Qur'an (many of them attributed to God in the former and Allah in the latter) can be dismissed as merely "primitive" or "of an earlier time," before our race's average morality and cultural intelligence had advanced to its current state of almost being half-civilized.
The American girl is well acquainted with her body’s seductive capacity. She knows it lies in the face, and in expressive eyes, and thirsty lips. She knows seductiveness lies in the round breasts, the full buttocks, and in the shapely thighs, sleek legs—and she shows all this and does not hide it.As Sam Harris noted Tuesday in his blog, in the entry "On Spiritual Truths, "What a relief it must have been [to Qutb] to know [from studying his holy book] that the Creator of the universe intended these terrifying creatures to live as slaves to men."
|Thanks for their handy map |
to whatever restaurant provided the flier
|Nessebar's picturesque little harbor|
|I'm embarrassed not to be able to tell you what ancient ruin|
this was (from quite a few hundred years ago),
on perhaps Nessebar's highest ground
|A street in Nessebar, but not the one where the shop|
was located from which my wife bought me a cap
(see later photo)
|You know what a WC is; Nessebar was the best place we|
visited for telling us where we could find one, except
that the local merchants seemed to use them as a decoy
to get you to walk by their store so they could accost you
|A sign on the gate at the|
University of Sofia Botanical Garden
|More Tulips, not so brilliant as at Balchik,|
but it was overcast in Sofia
|We saw lots of wisteria in Bulgaria, none|
finer than what was growing in the
University of Sofia Botanical Garden
|Alexander Nevski Cathedral from the botanical garden|
(see aerial photo below, though I didn't take it)
|The University of Sofia Botanical Garden (upper left),|
Alexander Nevski Cathedral (lower right)
|A private garden in Rila; more Tulips!|
|A sheep herd in Rila|
(i.e., sheep literally being herded along)
|A goat herd in Rila|
|From the balcony of the suite we stayed in in Rila,|
in a sort of private hotel belonging to a clothing designer
and manufacturer (and patron of the arts)
|To the left of the photo above; the wooden structure|
is a platform hanging over the river that runs
alongside the clothing factory and private hotel
|My son photographed me standing on the platform;|
I'm wearing the cap my wife bought me in Nessebar
|My traveling companions to Rila and Blagoevgrad|
|To the right of the first photo of the garden below|
our suite; we were too low, and the garden was too big
to capture in a single photograph
|The side of the private hotel|
and part of the garden from the ground
(possibly from the platform over the river; I can't remember)
|The American University in Bulgaria, in Blagoevgrad;|
our son and daughter-in-law founded and sustain its
arts program; she plays solo harp for its commencements,
as she did most recently on May 15
|The American University in Bulgaria, another view of|
its main building, which belonged to the Communist Party
prior to the dissolution of the Soviet Union
(the dog is asleep, not dead)
High marks to Joe Moran for the additional restrictions he suggests for honoring and protecting the sacredness of life.Background before I continue. Mr. Moran's letter, titled "Women's rights," appeared this morning, on p. A6. He was writing about state legislators who "were said to have 'wrestled with deep philosophical and political differences before coming up with new restrictions on women seeking abortions' (New abortion rules for N.C., June 9)."
If the issue is truly the sacredness of life, I suggest that similar restrictions...should also apply...in the following instances:My own letter continued:
1) For judges and law enforcement officers, prior to executing a person
2) For intelligence and military officers prior to dropping guided missiles or bombs from Air Force drones [sic] on homes where there are also innocent people....
But Mr. Moran could and should have gone further. Appropriate information would also be useful in the following instances:There, I feel better already. Or is it worse, for having thought about the suffering of other animals one more time?
1) For people hired to work at Chik-fil-A, McDonald's, KFC, Smithfield's, etc., tell them how intelligent (and capable of suffering) are the animals whose flesh they'll be required to cook and serve, and show them how those animals are inhumanely raised and slaughtered, some of them still conscious when they're being skinned and dismembered.
2) For diners before they're served their hamburger, steak, barbecue, or fried chicken, the same.
That is, Mr. Moran might have given a nod to the rights of animals as well. Or, to be more accurate, the rights of animals other than human ones.
Suggested reading: Jonathan Safran Foer's 2009 book, Eating Animals, which is this summer's assigned reading for entering freshmen at Carolina and Duke.*
|Beatings will continue|
until morale improves
|Bulgaria Road Map|
(click to enlarge)
|A Shop Salad, or salad in the style of the Shopska region |
around Sofia (I ate many salads like this in
my nine days in Bulgaria, perhaps my favorite dish)
|A private garden in the village of German|
(pronounced with a hard g, as in "gerbil"),
|A street in Shumen, which we visited on our way to Varna|
|In Shumen, we listened to two or three of the competing |
violinists as they practiced with their piano accompanist
|The small, family-run hotel we stayed in near Varna,|
about a quarter-mile from the Black Sea
|A donkey cart in a small town on the way from|
Varna to Balchik (note the wooden wheels)
|My ticket to the University Botanical Garden in Balchik|
|A poster map of the University Botanical Garden in Balchik|
|Hats off to the university |
for this poster
(despite its English, reminiscent
of instructions for a Japanese
Mickey Mouse watch)
|We saw many balls of mistletoe like this along the Black Sea;|
these we spotted in the University Botanical Garden
|Flower beds in the University Botanical Garden,|
looking toward the Black Sea
|The flower beds from the Black Sea|
|Tulips in the University Botanical Garden|
(I took many more photos of them than I'm posting here)
|A lizard our son spotted in the cactus garden|
|Front entrance of Restaurant Corona, where we had lunch|
|A poster describing Restaurant Corona |
(or Crown Restaurant)
|Down to Queen Marie's garden|
|A waterfall in the University Botanical Garden|
|A pregnant cat we came across in Queen Marie's garden|
|My wife squealed with delight |
when she came upon this whimsy
in Queen Marie's garden
|View from Queen Marie's palace|
|A Red Bud tree in Queen Marie's garden, |
looking down from her palace
|Another Red Bud tree|
(or was it the same one?)
|The Restaurant Corona from Queen Marie's palace |
(brightened, near the center)
|Religious icons and other objects |
on sale near Queen Marie's Palace
(opportunities to buy icons
abound in Bulgaria)
|A commercial icon as well |
(read the small print in the image to the right);
our waiter let us take the glass home with us