This video, called “Insanlığın Dünyaya Zulmü” (“Humanity’s Persecution of the World”), amusingly and tragically sums up the history of mankind on Earth. I think it would have been slightly better if it ended without the aliens, but it’s pretty freaking great anyway.
Everyone is all abuzz about the asteroid flyby and the meteorite strike in Russia this week, and it was quite spectacular, and scary. Some of the video footage from Russia is amazing; watching the fireball appear in the sky through someone’s windshield, burning closer and closer, I couldn’t help but think what a pants-shitting moment that had to be.
It also made me remember my own close encounter with a meteor, many years ago. I survived, just as I survived the time I was struck by lightning, though the meteor was both a lot less dramatic and a lot cooler.
I was a teenager, visiting my maternal grandparents in a backward crack in the world called Valle Mines, Missouri. They lived in a farmhouse off a rural highway with a fair chunk of land, much of it thickly forested. The forest, of course, was the good part, especially to a kid who’d retreated to the woods most of his life as an escape from a horrible life at home. The bad part was the isolation from culture, and the lack of things to do. Nowadays, they probably have a big Teabagger dance or something to pass the time.
Anyway, late one dark country night, I was out back, and for some reason I was standing on my grandparents’ picnic table. The only light was from the windows of the house, and the sky was clear. Suddenly, I saw a thin streak of fire lancing toward me. It passed about ten feet over my head, sputtering into sparks as it fully disintegrated about twenty feet away, just short of the woods. A shard of space rock crumbling to fairy dust before my eyes.
Another cosmic encounter also comes to mind. Back in 1997, Comet Hale-Bopp streaked slowly cross earth’s skies, incredibly bright and visible to the naked eye for a record 18 months. Living in town, it was tough to see because of the light pollution, but I had a wonderful visit with it one cold spring night.
We took my son, Nathaniel, who was just under a year old, on his first camping trip, to Lake Conasauga, the highest lake in Georgia, on Grassy Mountain in the Chattahoochee Forest. It was chilly, but he enjoyed the woods and the lakeshore. Our late great akita, Travis, played with us, and charged through the woods like a white rocket. Towards dusk, we retreated to our tent and snuggled in, and Nathaniel was happy. Happy until night fell, that is, and with it, the temperature.
It was like a switch was thrown. The sun disappeared and suddenly it was below freezing. And Nathaniel started crying. We bundled him in several layers of clothing, including a pair of my thick wool socks and my Polartec jacket, and nestled together deep into the sleeping bags. The crying stopped, and he was content.
He fell asleep, as did his mom. I lay there, listening to the night sounds. We had planned to hike to the top of the mountain at night to see the comet, but it was so comfortable in the sleeping bags, and so damned cold outside them. But, knowing this was my best chance, I mustered the strength. I woke my son’s mom to give her the chance to do likewise, but that wasn’t happening. She, and Nathaniel, were too content where they were.
So I pulled on my cold boots and crawled out of the tent. I let Travis off his leash and the two of us headed up the trail.
When we reached the summit, the world was spectacular. Dark ridges of forest stretched away in every direction, and the sky above was utterly cloudless and perfectly black but for its trillions of bright stars, so many stars, up high, without city lights, without smog. Just that sky, alone, would have been reason enough to clamber up that trail that night.
Hale-Bopp burned out there, a streak of star fire, huge and otherworldly, stark against that dark sky, a titan among the glittering pinpricks that were the stars. I stood there staring at it, the cold forgotten, my dog pacing and hunting night critters, for a long cosmic moment.
See that picture up there? That’s representative of the good that the organization PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) does in the world. When it comes to providing cleverly staged fap-material of celebrities, they’re very good.
Know what they’re also good at? Picking ridiculous battles, like trumpeting that Fishkill, New York should change the name of its town because the name was mean to fish. They are extremists, raging at humans for killing animals, eating animals, using animal products, training animals, exhibiting animals, even keeping animals for pets. They make a hell of a lot of money from people who contribute to their coffers because they simply equate PETA with, well, ethical treatment of animals. You know, kindness. Saving animal lives. That sort of thing.
But PETA are huge fucking hypocrites.
And they’re responsible for the cold-blooded slaughter of thousands of animals entrusted to them by people who don’t know any better.
A few weeks ago, the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom reported that PETA slaughtered 96%of the stray dogs and cats it, ahem, rescued last year. Since 2005, PETA has killed over 90% of the animals delivered into its care. Since 1998, PETA has killed nearly 28,000 animals. As reported in the New York Post:
In 2010, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services discovered that fully 84 percent of the strays taken in by PETA were killedwithin 24 hours.
No wonder: The report concluded that PETA’s headquarters “does not contain sufficient animal enclosures to routinely house the number of animals annually reported as taken into custody.”
Need a little perspective today? Want to get a sense of where you really are in the fullness of reality? Interested in learning all kinds of cool things?
The app I link to below, which allows you to zoom in to the teeny tiniest bit of quantum foam or out to the fullness of the entire universe is one of the most astonishingly elegant scientific gizmos I’ve ever seen. It’s worth spending some time with.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson offers his “most astounding fact” about us and the universe. In it are the roots of a true spirituality, a spirituality that isn’t blind to the sheer scope and wonder of life and nature and the universe itself, a spirituality that recognizes the importance of all things and a true understanding of their interconnections: science.
In my last post, I wrote about how I’ve started “barefoot” or minimalist running, using shoes designed with very little support or cushioning to allow the feet, and the whole body, to perform as they are evolutionarily designed to do. I included a video of barefoot running guru Christopher McDougall giving a TED Talk, but upon rewatching that video I realized he didn’t say much directly about the actual biomechanics of barefoot running and why it’s apparently vastly better for us than running with high-tech running shoes.
So here are three more short videos on the subject, if you’re curious.
Everyone is all abuzz aboutGo The Fuck To Sleep, which is pretty funny, especially as read by Nick Fury of SHIELD.
But over on his blog, Dennis Detwiller offers up an even better “alternative children’s book,” Spiders Are Wonderful by Toby Vok. As Dennis rightly puts it, “If I had to describe it, I would perhaps call it a children’s book of existential horror. Toby Vok is a twisted, wonderful man.”
You can read it in its entirety by clicking the image below. Toward the bottom of the page, Vok also graciously offers it up for free in both PDF and epub formats.
you run for deer life
blood shoots through veins of flesh
horns rattling branches as
hooves sink in dark autumn mulch
and rifleshot cracks the cold air
shatters your ribs blood exploding spraying
you stagger pain and run on pain
world reels in your eyes
your head jerks odd angle
bony point on right antler splinters
in near miss pain in side inside
but then eyes clear as lovewarmthstrength
fills you pain washes away spindly legs become
muscled springs launching through forest faster than
before ever before and in mind mixed
of personal moment and species past is sudden
recognition of GODHOOD in you but
also utter terrifying aloneness
other deer in forest but you the last of herd
of line from out you heaved bloody sticky awkward
cold air run no pain run hunter far behind
you reach sweet drinking creek slow blood flow from
side of mouth hot sweet stagger fold
to earth painless grace vision rolls breathe
breathe breathe not
two spirits die in you
your herd your line
are no more.
If it’s wild to your own heart, protect it. Preserve it. Love it. And fight for it, and dedicate yourself to it, whether it’s a mountain range, your wife, your husband, or even (heaven forbid) your job. It doesn’t matter if it’s wild to anyone else; if it’s what makes your heart sing, if it’s what makes your days soar like a hawk in the summertime, then focus on it. Because for sure, it’s wild, and if it’s wild, it’ll mean you’re still free. No matter where you are.
I am sitting uncomfortably, strapped with my back to a pine, thirty-odd feet off the ground. It’s dark and cold, not yet five a.m. A periodic wind pushes the branchless length of trunk this way and that and cuts through the layers of clothing I wear. The worst part is my feet feel like ice sculptures in my boots. I can’t feel my toes.
I’m on a deer hunt, this autumn of ’91, but just as an observer. It’s bow season and I am unarmed. The men I’ve come with are spaced in hopeful stillness across several miles of night-dark Georgia forest, participants in a ritual much older than recorded time. Hunters. Predators. There is camaraderie, even when everyone is alone, frozen, quiet. Camaraderie building to beers to be shared, observations spoken, well-meant insults inflicted. But now there’s just stillness and darkness and cold.
Uncomfortable as I am, I have a thrilling sense of connectedness, an awareness of how alive I am, and how alive the woods are around me. This place, this rural, undeveloped parcel of land, still dreams the deep dreams of wilderness, and I, not back in my bed partitioned from the earth’s breath by walls with their own vented, heated breath, am a part of those dreams. Continue reading →
She rises lunar above the crumpled flannel horizon
Heavenly body shimmering with lambent light–
And the tide of blood in me flows toward her.
Then my Rising Sign waxes
Called by her–
And her fullness wanes
Across the dark-wall sky
And by the moonlight beacon of the window
I am eclipsed
By her darkness.
In the near future, it will be going up at other online venues, in other ebook formats. (If you don’t have a Kindle, you can still read Kindle books with free programs downloadable from Amazon, like Kindle for PC. I read Kindle books on my iPhone and desktop computer.)
Traditional tales across the world describe mankind’s joyful rise in a wild paradise like the Garden of Eden. But they also tell of our fall from such lives of bliss and natural grace.
Our technology, our cities, our toys, our wealth, all have done nothing to ground us as individuals or as societies. If they had, we would live in a near Utopia, rather than the reelingly chaotic and violent world-on-the-brink around us, for surely our affluence and level of comfort is greater than it has been for any people in the history of the earth.
Is Eden forever lost, or is there a way back?
Can we access that marvelous, mythic place in our souls, find a path to its joyful, natural wonders? Or have we slumbered so long in civilized ways that our vital selves are banished for the rest of time?
Can we reclaim the power of the primitive without denying ourselves the comforts and wonders of the modern world?
Exploring sources ranging from the Old Testament and Eastern mysticism, from poetry to popular fiction, from ancient fable to contemporary deep psychology, novelist Tim Byrd finds the prescription for our ills.
We need to live and love more fully, and do things that matter.
We need a renewal of a sense of sacredness towards the natural world, and intimacy with that world.
There is some spectacular and gorgeous footage of forests in this video. Which is apropos, as it’s about forests.
Yann Arthus-Bertrand was appointed by the United Nations to produce the official film for the International Year of Forests.
Following the success of Home which was seen by 400 million people, the photographer began producing a short 7-minute film on forests made up of aerial images from Home and the Vu du Ciel television programmes.
This film will be shown during a plenary session of the Ninth Session of United Nations Forum on Forests (24 January – 4 February 2011) in New York. It will be available to all from February 2 – for free – so that it can be shown worldwide.