Lifelong Learning: Thoughts on the Journey vs. End Results

by Jennifer Hartley

This is the third essay in a series on the topic of why our family is homeschooling (Part I is here and Part II is here).

Focusing on the journey, rather than any final achievements, seems to be part of my rationale for homeschooling — counteracting the cultural impetus towards “progress,” particularly destructive progress, by focusing on the path rather than the destination. When you suspect that humanity is headed for near-term extinction, is there a sane alternative?

Conventional schooling focuses on grades and tests. Even when lofty ideals are presented such as nurturing lifelong learning and respecting the individual process of each child, when grades and testing are present, there is invariably a sense that those are the paramount “achievements” rather than merely markers of achievement. (Dubious markers though they are — I seriously question what they’re actually measuring.) And if one questions the usefulness of grades and testing, one is countered with, “What about getting into a good college?” And if one questions the usefulness of college, one is faced with, “How do you expect your child to get a decent job?”

I’m here questioning all of that. I don’t believe that our current regime of conventional schooling, college, and “decent” jobs is producing a culture that we can live with and thrive in. I believe that it’s perpetuating the conditions that are killing us and thousands of other (blameless) species.

I also believe that it’s likely too late to reverse the murderous effects of a greedy, competitive culture. Even if we had a mass consensus to drop out of society and operate on radically different principles, we have initiated dangerous feedback loops that can’t be undone.

How can one face into this reality as a parent, or as any person with a conscience? I’m trying, hard, and with considerable anguish, to let go of attachment to final outcomes. To let go of “achievement.” To let go of “measuring up” or “being good enough.” To let go of “fixing” or “saving the world.” To let go of others’ approval, others’ definitions of success. There is no winning this mirage of a game. This is why I’m focusing on the path rather than the end results. We know the end results already, for all of us: death. We have not found a solution for death.

Our path seems to be about learning for its own sake; learning things that are useful and beautiful; and minimizing suffering.

With an overlay of pressure, tests, and grades, it can be difficult to appreciate the intrinsic value of learning. It can also be difficult to retain knowledge beyond its application to completing tests. Who are we without external assessment? Is the value in the grades, or the knowledge? The excitement and interest of the learner? Who gets to decide? As homeschoolers, we get to decide. I have heard that in democratic schools, such as Free Schools or Sudbury Schools, there is also such freedom to decide on the part of all involved.

I am a bit of a sentimental fool about scholarship. My heart remains wedded to the idea of passionate learning and research in a community of scholars. I was continually disappointed in academia in this regard; I thought if I could just jump through all the requisite hoops of school and college and grad school and the job market, that there could be a golden land of true scholarship, driven purely by intellectual passion, somehow beyond the reach of “the economy,” or competition or one-ups-manship or having to bend to hierarchy and domination. How wrong I was. But on the other side of that disappointment, I’ve come to realize that true scholarship can be achieved by anyone who seeks it, no matter one’s age or markers of supposed success. It’s possible to find mentors, inspiration, and fellow scholars in both obvious and unlikely places. As long as we love to learn, as long as that love is not extinguished, we can employ strategies for true scholarship.

I had a role model in this regard. My late grandfather, Luigi (“Gigi”) Foschi, was my prototype of a true scholar. He was born in 1912 into a working-class family and lived in Bologna, Italy, where he was a colonel in the Italian army. He did not go to college. (My parents were the first in their families to go to college.) Gigi was not enamored of the institutional structures of life; he was in the army because it was a job, not a calling. He held the Catholic Church at arm’s length, and had a particular disdain for priests. He had the same sort of fundamental distrust of Italian government that most Italians have. His true path, however, was that of intense, devoted, self-initiated scholarship.

What Gigi loved most were history, art, and architecture, particularly that of Bologna, but extending to most of Europe. He taught himself Spanish and French and also learned a decent chunk of English once my mother met my American father. He eagerly recited poetry from memory and wrote poems of his own, particularly in honor of family events. Gigi traveled, photographed, and wrote essay after essay in longhand with titles such as “The Bells of Europe” or “Sundials of Europe.” He did a great deal of independent research. He spent many hours guiding me and my sister around Bologna, giving us animated, in-depth disquisitions on the history and grandeur of sites both noted and obscure; occasionally passers-by would stop and listen as well to our own personal Cicerone. He would also regularly frequent the large Gothic basilica of San Petronio and meet people from around the world and offer to show them around, for free. (If they offered to pay him, he said he would only accept a postcard from their home country. He had a box full of these postcards.)

His enthusiasm for lifelong learning affected me deeply. His example enabled me to claim my own passion for learning, and to seek to nurture this quality in my child. As we stare down the abyss, I want to make every day of being alive count. I don’t want us to waste time trying to impress others or bow to their expectations or jump through their hoops. I want us to revel in the greatest joys—immersion in the beauty of the natural world, freedom to learn what is most useful and beautiful, the ability to fulfill our need for integrity as human beings.

I wonder what Gigi would have thought of homeschooling. I’m fairly certain it would have been a distinctly foreign concept to him, but I think he would have been interested. And I wonder what he would make of the disasters that lie at our feet. He endured the horrors of World War II; he described to me how awful war is, and how fortunate we were to be living in a time and place of relative peace (he said this to me in the 1980s). His vivid stories remain an anchor in my consciousness, grounding me in the reality of both suffering and joy.


Jennifer Hartley is a homeschooling mother, radical homemaker, permaculturally inspired gardener, and local food activist. She was a founding board member of the non-profit Grow Food Northampton, and lives on a budding, quarter-acre homestead with her family in western Massachusetts. She is also a former reference librarian and still gets excited about connecting people with resources and ideas, helping people evaluate information, and collecting scads of books. These days she and her daughter can be found reading books, making art, singing a lot, harvesting and preserving food, playing with numbers, and having deep conversations. Jennifer loves sharp hand tools, mows with a scythe, and splits wood with an axe.

Comments 121

  • As a homeschool evaluator i’ve met so many interesting young children and older students who dove into whatever their interest demanded (as well as being “better than average” in the required subjects). They could converse at length about the subjects and topics they were drawn to in excited tones reminicent of opening presents. Discovery and in depth knowledge are there for the taking, but far too many are distracted by television (probably one of the top ten worst inventions of humanity) and other electronic media, games and other “time-wasters” (not that there’s really any such thing – just in a relative sense).

    i find that more often than not i’m employed at the college level teaching 4th grade to 10th grade (remedial) math. There’s a great posting over at Question Everything regarding scrapping math teaching and incorporating it into better science teaching (and of course it’s debatable):

    i’ve heard similar complaints about English lit from high schoolers (“Why do we have to read Shakespears when we can’t fill out a job application?”) and other important life-skill topics such as how mortgages work, or insurance, or how to fill out your tax return when you’re single and life is uncomplicated. None of that is covered in our touted “education” and the crap that is taught is largely irrelevant.

    Another thing that bothers me (i know, who cares Tom – stfu already) is the fact that life is so complicated technologically speaking that nobody can do it all by themselves. Most people can’t fix their own car like one used to be able to do in the driveway at one time. Very few know how the electrical grid works (or all those things hanging on the telephone poles). Same for water and sewage treatment, farming (especially like the Amish do it – sans electricity or motor driven equipment), raising anything other than domesticated animals, basic medical knowledge, and (present company excepted) growing food. Hell, even cooking is becoming a lost art for too many (for whom it’s fast food all the time).

    Like the author, looking down the road it doesn’t seem like any of this is going to matter at all, but i’d like to think that if we did it correctly way back when (as if anyone could say any mode of civilization is the right one – would last in perpetuity), we would have limited population size, not gone the “tech route” (i know – what about medicine?) and not made life so complicated that as soon as the electrical grid fails it’s gonna be complete chaos and non-cooperation for most.

    Whatever – too late now, i’m afraid.

  • “I had a role model in this regard. My late grandfather, Luigi (“Gigi”) Foschi, was my prototype of a true scholar.”

    Jennifer, you appear to have the character and skills necessary to home-school a child. OTOH how many of us would be inspired by our parents alone? My father didn’t read books although he was able to compose technical manuals.(functionally literate) He would have had no patience teaching children; my mother had no aspirations academically so how could she instill that? I got a public education with all of the negatives associated with that experience. I could fill out a job app. & do long math but with those basic skills I was able function in a college environment and later learn on my own.

    Today the humanities are being run out of higher education. Critical thought is subversive. Google “career training” and you will have thousands of schools offering training for job placement.

    “Career Training Center can prepare you for a career in high demand fields such as business, information technology, health care and wellness, automotive …”

    Nowhere in the curriculum are requirements for citizenship and more particularly critical thought.

  • Jennifer, I commend you for your dedication; you’re obviously doing some things right.

    I would note (as I did on Guy’s Facebook page) that as a professor at a small Christian liberal arts college who previously worked in a state university, and whose father, sister and stepdaughter all work(ed) in public education, home-schooled students tend to be among the best and the worst students I’ve seen.

    In fact, any kid with committed parents is likely to get a good education–even if both parents have to work and those parents haven’t had great educations of their own. Likewise, any kid with apathetic parents likely won’t get a great education, unless s/he is either highly self-motivated OR s/he gets lucky by encountering a great teacher. And those encounters typically come in public schools.

  • Learning: it’s confusing. Beauty is truth, a thing of beauty is a joy for ever…but beauty is in the eye of the beholder…d’oh!

    Beauty and joy, while distinct,
    May forever be interlinked,
    But for humans, both die
    In the beholder’s eye
    As soon as we go extinct.

  • Focusing on the journey, rather than any final achievements

    That is the Journey Without Goal
    it is
    to let go of attachment to final outcomes

    Learning how to learn is the foundation of all education. But because it unshackles one from the prescripts that sustain the status quo, any semblance of it is duly recognised as a threat. Control of the content requires control of the conduit.

  • And those encounters typically come in public schools.
    True. And the chances of that are certainly better than winning the lottery. But the system still comes out ahead.

  • I’m trying, hard, and with considerable anguish,

    It has been said “The characteristics of the wise become the spiritual practice of the ignorant”. The numerous descriptions of the characteristics of the wise in the Vedanta and Buddhism – and indeed in other traditions,  as in The Sermon on the Mount – are not offered for admiration as adornments of the enlightened, but as signposts to guide others. Every one of these signposts points where all the other signposts do.

    The practice, like any worthwhile practice, demands effort in the beginning. When the practice becomes completely effortless, with it comes the awareness that one was always “enlightened”,  and that there was never any goal.

  • jennifer, i loved your memories of your cool italian grandpa. u were lucky to have him be such an influence.

    ‘Our path seems to be about learning for its own sake; learning things that are useful and beautiful…’

    it’s not called surreality for nothing. i’m addicted to learning because there’s no limit on fascinating subjects to learn about. curiosity leads to the most interesting discoveries.

    ‘“What about getting into a good college?” And if one questions the usefulness of college, one is faced with, “How do you expect your child to get a decent job?”’

    as a regular reader u’re aware that most regular posters to nbl anticipate a fairly rapid economic unraveling in the coming years. formal higher education opportunities will shrivel, like the number of ‘good jobs’ available. i’m a little surprised u didn’t point this out yourself. as u know, soon much different skills will be most valued, including some u’re already cultivating.

    i wouldn’t want to be in your shoes the day u have the first heart to heart talk with your little girl about the very troubled world and long term prospects she is inheriting. i find this subject quite distressing. it must be a very bitter sweet experience for u.

    re. education in general, i think a sane healthy culture would have no formal, mandatory schooling. in his interesting short autobiography titled ‘providence’, author daniel quinn (‘ishmael’) devotes a few pages to informal, ongoing, never-ending sharing of skills and knowledge out in the community as an ideal educational environment.

  • Jennifer Hartley

    Concentrating on the journey, and forgoing the end results is going to mean that it is a neverending journey, which growth to maturity and compassionate action is, in life. You are following a very corrageous path.
    I can comfirm the wisdom of finding specific mentors for the next phase of your journey. It is a very freeing avenue, and you will find people open up with great heart when you wish to learn from their experience, not just skills, but also their stories of wisdom on the way.

  • VT “as a regular reader u’re aware that most regular posters to nbl anticipate a fairly rapid economic unraveling in the coming years. formal higher education opportunities will shrivel, like the number of ‘good jobs’ available.”

    Good point. In fact some of us see the whole unraveling to come in the next few years and be as abrupt on the down side for civilization as the hockey stick is on the upside.

    But what a dilemma for parents of children still at home. What if civilization manages to hold it together for 10 years, 20 years. What if you plan for collapse tomorrow and collapse doesn’t come. While I think that is impossible, as a parent you have dreams for your children and they don’t usually include the collapse of industrial civilization and all that goes with it.

    Well those with kids might want to consider obtain matial arts training. Many kids I know are taking Tae Kwan Do even tho their parents are projecting societal collapse. Better than dance lessons or spending time playing computer games even if life goes on as normal for many years.

    But if 2050 is extinction date for life on this planet (due to global warming), we have 38 years – a child of 4 has 34 years of living left, but much less than that as we don’t go along as normal for 38 years and suddenly all die off, things get worse and worse every year with greater and greater die offs each year. I guess you just have to make every day as good as you can in whatever way is right for you and yours.

  • See the link for the images, article below
    An earlier post reported average hourly methane measurements as high as 2500 ppb recorded at Barrow, Alaska. Sadly, hardly any further in situ measurements have been publicly released from Barrow since, as illustrated by the image below….
    The images highlight a number of concerns:
    Methane levels are rising over the years;
    Methane levels are particularly high in the Arctic;
    Very high levels of methane are recorded in the Arctic in the month September, the very time when Arctic sea ice is at its lowest;
    Incidental measurements, such as at Barrow, show that levels can rise abruptly with significant amounts.
    Methane is more than 100 times as potent as a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide over 20 years, and even more potent over shorter periods. This makes methane a very powerful warming factor in the Arctic. While the Arctic is already warming more than three times as fast as the rest of the world, the sea ice still acts as a buffer to prevent even more acceleration of warming in the Arctic, but this situation will deteriorate dramatically as the sea ice disappears, as Professor Peter Wadhams recently described.

    The big danger is that ferocious warming in the Arctic will trigger methane releases from hydrates and from free gas in sediments, which will further accelerate warming in the Arctic and further trigger methane releases, in a vicious circle set to spiral into runaway global warming unless action is taken to reduce the danger.

  • Kathy, this is very bad news indeed. Methane levels are extremely high, Arctic ice is at historic lows, and two hurricanes are about to merge into one hell of an Arctic cyclone.

    No wonder Paul Beckwith isn’t answering emails from me. He’s busy standing on the fountain in front of the Canadian Parliament buldings holding up a sign that shows the climate change cycle and says, “All Hell Breaks Loose.”

    I wonder if all of us will have trouble ordering seeds for next spring. I hope the seed crops have not been burnt to a crisp. I think I’ll begin ordering now. Maybe some of the companies I order from will still have seed for 2012. I’ll just order extra, in case germination rates have fallen off a bit.

    I can save seed from many of my vegetables, but not such things as cabbage and cauliflower.

  • Maybe it may be mitigated if the Gas-X manufacturers gear up and the stuff is mixed into cattle feed.

  • MB, between a rock and a hard place. I appreciate the info from Arctic news but not their recommended solutions. In this post they recommend using HAARP to break up the methane. I am not sure how that is supposed to work and fear that any geoengineering will make things worse. But from their standpoint, seeing extinction of humans by 2050, they feel we have to try something. This is their article in which they make the case for using HAARP

  • BC Nurse, yes I have wondered which will be the last year we get to order seeds. I hadn’t thought about how the drought and heat might effect the availability and germination of seeds. Being in the south we try to grow plants adapted to hot weather, so perhaps the seeds I get won’t be too negatively affected. Others more north might find ordering seeds of plants bred for the south to be a good idea. Of course the weather may be so unstable from here on out that it is hard to know what to buy.

    I get most of my seeds from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.

    I think that to save your own seeds people are going to have to cut back on varieties that might cross. For instance in the Brassica family I would go to growing only Kale and not grow broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage or collards which can cross with Kale. Kale matures quickly, is prolific and easy to cook and easy to gather seed from. I have two crops a year – spring and fall but keep my fall beds going through the winter here in AL.

    I am trying to narrow my tomato choices down to one – perhaps Eva Purple Ball which has done well for me as far a disease until this year when I battled anthracnose. Seminole Pumpkin. Field Peas (Mississippi Silver). Rattlesnake beans (a healthy vigorous climbing green bean). French Sorrel – for us perenial and much better than lettuce. Garlic chives and Elephant Garlic. I have saved seed successfully from all except with Elephant Garlic it is the bulb not the seed. Garlic chives I have to destroy the seeds or my whole garden would be chives.
    When things get rough I will probably give up on melons and yellow squash – too much babying needed.
    Wild plants I encourage are chickweed, lambsquarters, and MAYPOPS!

  • What a luxury we have to choose between home schooling and public schooling

    “September 10, 2012 “New York Times” — — PATNA, INDIA — While investigating child labor in India last month for a book, I found myself in the northern state of Bihar, an established source of children for trafficking networks.

    Here, alongside the expected stories of abduction, I heard of another unexpected and heartbreaking path to servitude. Children as young as 10 had begun to directly offer themselves to traffickers because they could no longer go hungry.”
    rest at

  • Jennifer,

    This was beautifully written and obviously deeply felt. I admire your path greatly.

    Many years ago, kind of at the beginning of the charter school movement, I thought of creating my own school. This was before I was aware of the dire straits of the planet.

    I began w/what I would most want my child to know, and moved from there. Obviously, food, water and shelter come first. So thus one needed a farm, and a kitchen. I moved into selling healthy fast food from the farm. Figured there’d need to be housing for teachers, students, etc. A friend had a dad in a nursing home at the time who was always disoriented (who wouldn’t be w/florescent lights on 24/7, the same routine, the same people, the same noise, hour after hour after hour), so I added an old age home. Integrating much communal story sharing, supportive strategies, and giving in with the usual reading, writing and math (all of which would be integrated into real life work).

    Then I learned the charter school movement was not set up for such dreams. But the idea was there in my mind. And, basically, that’s what I think I am doing where I am, and that Guy is doing where he is, and obviously you are doing where you are, and many others are doing as well, in different ways and different places. Whether it will make a difference in the long run? Who knows? But I can’t think of anything better to do, other than start taking out sociopaths, and I’m not quite there yet.

  • Off essay topic in general, but useful when home schooling kids on the possible ramifications of non-compliance of TPTB regarding their own privacy laws….

    Further to a previous assertion of retained internet and browsing storage capacity of the agencies that are supposed to protect and serve…but maybe not the general public.

    ‘AppleLeaks: Is The FBI Spying On You With A Little Help From Apple?’

    A pertinent quote for general knowledge, it may help explain some intellegent moves on my part, or paranoia, depending on what your personal threat level is today.

    “A group called AntiSec, linked to international hacker movement Anonymous, claims that it has broken into an FBI computer to obtain the User IDs of 12 million Apple iPad and iPhone owners, which include private user data.

    Apple has declared that it has nothing to do with any collection of data by the FBI, while the U.S. federal investigators insist they never had the data in question in the first place. But even as the source of the data leak remains a mystery, at least one million and possibly up to 12 million Apple users have had their private information compromised. An expert, or a government, could use this information to monitor millions of users at a time.”

    If TPTB have that then they probably have it all. Only athe tip of a not melting but growing iceberg.

  • Kathy C

    I looked over the ‘comprehensive-plan-of-action’ ink, and even though I’m no specialist, it strikes me that these measures are not going to happen.

  • MB you wrote “My point is, what was going on in that movie wasn’t just some rogue elements getting away with it because of lax rules and rules enforcement, but rather, it involved many levels of interest, and was sanctioned at the highest levels.”
    No doubt, yet one of the ways that they encouraged the men on the ground to go rogue was to tell them they had immunity. In other words they said to the men, no rules apply to you while you are here, go do what you want. While some men never even wanted to do what is done, and some men would have done what they did rules with consequences or not, many did what they did because it was understood that rules in this situation would not be enforced, and thus did not exist. They themselves were not part of any larger plan, they were just men put in a war zone far away from home, lonely and scared and then told nothing they did would be punished. The rule makers understand that they can use rules both ways, one by controlling the population, another by selectively not controlling certain people.

    However for the locals, all rules of decent behavior to family and friends had already disappeared during the war and thus relatives find even the rules of kin selection that evolution firmly embeds in our brain to be rules they can break. In fact those who breed persecution of selected groups use the rules in our brains, the rules about who is in and who is out and define a group as being out based on religion, culture, color, nationality and play on those rules. The rules of civilization have to break down the evolutionary rules to create a mass of population that can live together uneasily in large groups. When it serves the rulers they appeal to the evolutionary rules to divide the groups.

    Our brains have rules, hunter-gatherers have rules, civilizations have rules, heck even the elite have rules (see them turn on one of their own who violates their rules). Rules are not bad, they are necessary for any animal that has a social lifestyle. Even wolf packs have rules – only the alpha male and alpha female mate. “Studies of captive wolves and wolf packs in the wild have shown that many complex rules of behavior seem to govern the way that the animals relate us each other,…”

    The problem is that we are programmed for the life-style of hunter-gatherers and have in our brains rules appropriate for that lifestyle. Added to that are the rules (ie traditions) that tribes evolve to further their success as a tribe. Civilization is unnatural and thus has a complex set of rules to uphold it and hold the elite in power. But not all of those rules are bad if you find yourself living in a Civilization. I like rules that assure me it is highly likely when the light turns green and I start to drive that no one is going to run the light and hit me (although once someone did-but the rules meant I could not be blamed for the accident). I like the rules that make some agency test what food I don’t grow myself for lead and bacteria saving me from getting a lead testing kit and a set of agar plates. I read The Jungle years ago and became thankful that it helped show people why they should want some rules about food. It will be better to go back to H-G life and rules, but on the way down when rules are tossed out the window many will wish for them back.

    But not to worry a little more time and all rules disappear as most if not all life on earth goes extinct.

  • OZ man you wrote “I looked over the ‘comprehensive-plan-of-action’ ink, and even though I’m no specialist, it strikes me that these measures are not going to happen.”

    Yeah it strikes me the same way – what do I put here, a 🙂 or a 🙁 It strikes me that in fact it is over for life on earth. Not exactly the Apocalypse most predicted eh? Well the 4 horsemen will ride, but not because god sends them, but because we in our hubris and greed invited them in.

  • (off topic to thread but relevant to site)


    The west coast could be on the verge of a (much expected) massive earthquake.

  • Kathy C

    We are in the unenviable position of foreknowldge that precludes all the happy ever after, I’ll die some day wayoff in the future fairy tale future type thinking. That makes me even more clear when encountering other people, just thinking they don’t seem to realise it’s all going to shit. Some do of course, but they are rare around here as far as I can tell, and I do get around to discussing the future a lot. People are a bit jumpy, on that topic, because they don’t trust the news and they know all the political blabbers are lying to them.

    On another front: How do you know your Beetroot is fully grown?

  • Re: ‘comprehensive-plan-of-action’

    While we are at it, why not just raise everyone’s IQ by 30 points?

    This is as much a fairy tale as, “The wizard of Oz.”

  • Climate Change Wreaks Havoc on US Power Plants

    Less water, more heat putting enormous strain on aging energy infrastructure

    All part of the complexity we don’t usually think about. Joseph Tainter proposed in his book The Collapse of Complex Societies that it was diminishing returns on increased complexity that was at the root of all past civilization collapses. I suppose you could call climate change an instance of diminishing returns 🙂 ?

  • MB well not such a big award but Kathryn Bolkovac did get an award and most importantly some awareness including a Panel discussion at the UN after Ban Ki Moon ordered showing of ‘The Whistleblower’.

    Synopsis: According to media reports, DynCorp International hired Kathryn Bolkovac as part of a UN-administered police task force to train local police officers in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Bolkovac, who was investigating human trafficking and forced prostitution, sent an e-mail to supervisors and UN officials alleging UN staff and DynCorp co-workers were participating in sex trafficking. She sued DynCorp in a British employment tribunal, claiming she had been unfairly dismissed. The tribunal ruled in her favor and awarded her $173,000. Within hours, DynCorp settled a case with another former employee, Ben Johnston, who alleged DynCorp employees were involved in sex trafficking and other illegal acts (see DynCorp instance “Human Trafficking in Bosnia-Herzegovina (Ben Johnston)”). DynCorp eventually dismissed several employees in Bosnia for “unacceptable behavior.”

    But DynCorp is still making money and saying this about themselves “The DynCorp International values that we apply to our job performance – We Serve, We Care, We Empower, We Perform, We Do the Right Thing – are also values that we carry into the communities where we live and work. Employing tens of thousands of people around the world provides us with unique opportunities to give back through philanthropic donations, local training programs and hands-on volunteer work.” Excuse me while I puke.

  • i’ve spent the past 2 days reading fascinating child abuse literature, like this appropriately titled autobiography of julie gregory:

    to the ideas of alice miller, whose intriguing book:

    i’ll be reading soon (or re-reading, as i think i read one of her books enough years ago to not be sure about it or recall it’s title).

    julie gregory’s memoir of a horrifically abusive childhood of a ‘happy in public’ family that was a cauldron of violent terrifying and seemingly cruel insanity within the privacy of their very isolated homestead in rural ohio. her tale sickened me just reading it, and not just because of horrific parental abuse. the surreal kicker is how ‘authorities’ who supposedly care for ‘wards of the state’ like unwanted, abused, troubled youth, or fail to protect them, enabling or adding to the abuse by their incompetence and/or lack of compassion.

    something’s surreally wrong with the whole damned ‘system’.

    quite apart from it’s global imperialism in the service of greed that facilitates ecocidal mania, american culture is stupid cruel and crazy. manipulation and abuse in a culture of dominance/hierarchy.

    sorry, i get carried away. finally getting to my original point, i like the title of this post. we’re all lifelong learners for as long as life’s worth living. learning is addictive because truth is stranger than fiction quite often. surreality is full of horror, beauty, fascination. we may be deprived many freedoms, but as long as we’re free and able to learn with our big brains, able to satisfy curiosities and derive pleasure from the experience, life isn’t all bad.

  • Morgan O. Reynolds was a professor emeritus at Texas A&M University and former director of the Criminal Justice Center at the National Center for Policy Analysis headquartered in Dallas, TX.
    He served as chief economist for the United States Department of Labor during 2001–2002, George W. Bush’s first term. In 2005, he gained public attention as the first prominent government official to publicly claim that 9/11 was an inside job, and is a member of Scholars for 9/11 Truth.

  • The brother of al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri is proposing to mediate a peace deal between the West and Islamists.
    In an exclusive interview with CNN, Mohamed al Zawahiri unveiled his proposal for the first time, saying he is in a unique position to help end the violence and that both sides need to make concessions.

  • We Know Who Did 9/11
    We know because they danced and cheered as Americans leapt to their deaths from the burning towers, “our purpose was to document the event.” We know because they said, “Very good,” as 3,000 Americans perished. We know because the President of the United States admitted having prior knowledge of 911 in a press conference. Don’t listen to what he says, listen to how he reacts.

  • MB the only rational for doing something about 911 rather than climate change is if climate change is now irreversible. If the Arctic Scientists are right and humans are extinct by 2050 you can expect every year between now and then to become progressively worse. I would say in a year or two politics, 911 etc will become irrelevant as humans try to cope with ever worsening climate change. Starvation will not be just something Africans do, it will become something Americans also do. I thought 10 years ago that revealing the truth of 911 was vital. I thought getting people to understand peak oil (and how it relates to 911) was vital. Now I think what is vital is for everyone to hug their loved ones and find what joys them can in life for soon there will be only suffering.

    One of the things I enjoy in the present is exploring the devious plots and plans of TPTB. But change our system by exposing 911 – right, that should have happened after JFK was murdered eh? Per wiki “A 2003 Gallup poll reported that 75% of Americans do not believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.[14] That same year an ABC News poll found that 70% of respondents suspected that the assassination involved more than one person.[15] A 2004 Fox News poll found that 66% of Americans thought there had been a conspiracy while 74% thought there had been a cover-up.[16]”

  • I don’t see it as an either/or. There’s a significant connection.

    If anything effective is to be done about climate change, ( and the many other crises ) it will require binding international agreements. That requires restoration of respect for international law and treaties, which was wrecked by Bush/Blair and the neocons.
    Before that can happen, there would need to be restoration of respect for law and justice in the USA.

    Personally, I doubt that will happen, and I agree with your ‘too late’ assessment, but I can understand why courageous people want to give it a try, and I commend their efforts. I would gain some satisfaction in seeing the criminals brought to justice, one way or another.

  • tweet I read..

    “If you’re not thinking about a net zero population outcome for humanity, you’re not thinking seriously about the future.”

  • “My experience in life thus far has shown that those who encourage the fight are missing in action when you do undertake the fight..”

    But, but, but… on the last thread, you told us all that YOU are not fighting for anything


  • “….let me share the results of a survey question I have posed to college students in my classes.
    Let’s see how you fare, imagining yourself to be in the same age bracket of 18–22:

    Approximately how far have humans traveled from the surface of the Earth in your lifetime? [e.g., since 1980 or so]

    a) 600 km (low Earth orbit, 0.1 times the Earth radius)
    b) 6,000 km (about the radius of the Earth)
    c) 36,000 km (geosynchronous orbit; about 6 Earth radii)
    d) 385,000 km (about the distance to the Moon; 60 Earth radii)
    e) beyond the Moon

  • ulvfugl:

    We blew it. One chance, and we wasted it on consumer crap and slaughtering each other.

  • And only 11% knew the right answer 🙁

  • I often pondered why New Mexico as Ground Zero for the testing of the first Atomic Bomb aside from the “Official” reasons given. Is there some sort of portal there? What is it?

    I hope you have at least encountered James Shelby Downard’s notorious essay King-Kill/33, which used, in part, the “mystical toponomy” of New Mexico to show that the assassination of Kennedy was a Masonic ritual slaying.

    In another essay, The Call of Chaos, Downard again examines place names in New Mexico, this time with reference to nuclear device testing. It seems the Trinity site of the first bomb test was close to the intersection of the Jornada del Muerto (Journey of the Dead Man) running north-south, and El Camino del Diablo (Devil’s Highway) running west-east.

    Every now and again someone asks: “Did Hubbard/Parsons/Crowley create a portal through which UFOs now enter uninvited?” No one seems to know.

  • MB:

    I was NOT making a value judgment. Strictly what was possible. The chance not to necessarily better ourselves, be simply to accomplish the task of maned exploration beyond the moon. The rapid use of resources, primarily oil, gave one chance, at the top of the energy curve to at least established a base on the moon and maybe get to Mars. We do not now have the physical resources, brains, will, organization or time to now make the leap.
    The resulting myopic failure, is only one example of our slide down the decline side of the civilization curve.

  • Mb, re your son writing on 911, he can write on the firemen and other first responders who went in to save people and their struggle to get medical help afterwards. Here is a moving song by Tom Paxton on the firemen called The Bravest. By dealing with the struggle to get compensation he can hit at the establishment in a accepted way. Recently 50 cancers were added to the list that are now covered. Google the Zadroga Act for more information on one firefighter now dead who helped others get care.
    By Tom Paxton
    (Written 9/24/01)

    The first plane hit the other tower
    Right after I came in
    It left a fiery, gaping hole
    Where offices had been
    We stood and watched in horror
    As we saw the first ones fall
    Then someone yelled, “Get out! Get out!
    They’re trying to kill us all”

    I grabbed the pictures from my desk
    And joined the flight for life
    With every step I called the names
    Of my children and my wife
    And then we heard them coming up
    From several floors below –
    A crowd of fire fighters
    With their heavy gear in tow

    Now every time I try to sleep
    I’m haunted by the sound
    Of firemen pounding up the stairs
    While we were running down

    And when we met them on the stairs
    They said we were too slow
    “Get out! Get out!” they yelled at us
    “The whole thing’s going to go”
    They didn’t have to tell us twice
    We’d seen the world on fire
    We kept on running down the stairs
    While they kept climbing higher


    Thank God we made it to the street
    We ran through ash and smoke
    I did not know which way to run –
    I thought that I would choke
    A fireman took me by the arm
    And pointed me uptown
    Then, “Christ!” I heard him whisper
    As the tower came roaring down

    So now I go to funerals
    For men I never knew
    The pipers play “Amazing Grace”
    As the coffins come in view
    They must have seen it coming
    When they turned to face the fire
    They sent us down to safety
    Then they kept on climbing higher.


  • More science fiction?

    Revisiting 9/11: Embracing the Facts
    A podcast from It’s Rainmaking Time!™

  • The article below was written for the Journal of 9/11 Studies for the eleventh anniversary of September 11, 2001, the day that terminated accountable government and American liberty. It is posted here with the agreement of the editors.

    In order to understand the improbability of the government’s explanation of 9/11, it is not necessary to know anything about what force or forces brought down the three World Trade Center buildings, what hit the Pentagon or caused the explosion, the flying skills or lack thereof of the alleged hijackers, whether the airliner crashed in Pennsylvania or was shot down, whether cell phone calls made at the altitudes could be received, or any other debated aspect of the controversy.

    You only have to know two things.

  • Climbing out of the well takes mucho resources:
    Gravity Wells

  • Back to the topic of what to teach your child. Supposing you knew for sure the world was going to be destroyed by an asteroid in 10 years and there was nothing that could be done about it. What would you teach your child then? We live in a state where we are sure things won’t continue as usual yet not sure how it will all play out. Unlike the followers of people like Harold Camping , we have various levels of certainty as to how this will play out and when. I am grateful to have no young children for I haven’t a clue what one should tell their kids, whether one should forget all schooling and travel the world to see what is to be seen, school them as usual (home or public) because we might be wrong about the coming extinction of humans or at least the time frame.

  • Kathy C,

    “Others more north might find ordering seeds of plants bred for the south to be a good idea.”
    Again, the question is when. Frost may have just crashed my garden for the year. Even though most of what we covered limped through Tuesday’s 27° F, the 25°F we woke up to today was the death knell for most of it. I may have saved a few tomatoes and peppers but it was just too cold, for too long (I figure it was below freezing for about 7 hours). Even with double covering it just couldn’t survive it. Luckily for us the greenhouse wasn’t touched and most of our harvest was already finished. So, back to the question. For some of us it is definitely not time to switch over to southern seeds bred for a longer hotter season. We are still working on less than 90 days between last and first frost here. Adding insult to injury, NOAA is telling us that it will be our turn for drought in 2013. Of course the folks at the Climate Prediction Center may be having the same problem as my local forecasters–weather in the real world does not seem to agree with the computer models.

    Michael Irving

  • Michael Irving:

    I’m so sorry to hear of freezing temperatures where you are. We just missed it here last night, in the “desert southwest” of Canada. I had the tomatoes covered, but they didn’t need it. I got up at 5:30 am and went out to the vehicles and ran my finger through the dew on the windshields. No crystals. Yay! It’s been such a short season this year in our valley. We had a hot summer, but we had a murderous late freeze in June that frosted off all of my fruit tree flowers. Now I have less fruit than normal, and a late start to the veggies. No peaches, no apricots, a few hazelnuts, and a bumper crop of plums (I have no idea how they survived). Now we’re having a warm fall and no frost even now, in September. I’ve got most stuff in, but there are so many more scarlet runner beans to mature, potatoes plants are not brown yet, soybeans not mature, and a few winter squash need a couple more weeks to be ready. They’re predicting a warming trend right now, but I’ve got to get everybody through tonight first.


    I grow scarlet runner beans for snap beans and for dry beans. They make the best re-fried beans in the world (the dry beans). So strange that this morning I went to check on the tomatoes and heard the chipping sound of a hummingbird. They are always gone by mid-August around here, but there she was, trying to get into the runner bean flowers and yelling at me.

    I have great luck with potatoes and peas. I grow fava beans every year – the northern lima, IMHO. I have an heirloom tomato variety from here. I grow lots of carrots, parsnips, soybeans, zucchini (of course) and cukes. This year I tried a PERENNIAL (yes, that’s correct – perennial) wheat and it performed beautifully. It’s not ready yet, but the kernels are past the milk stage. We’ll see. I even grow sweet potatoes, but not every year is a good one. I grow one kind of garbanzo and lots and lots of peppers and cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower and brussels sprouts and winter squash. I save seed from my onions and use it every year, and I have a well adapted garlic that I love to grow. I also grow tomatillos and I have to say they’re hardier than tomatoes. Salsa verde – it’s what I do because I can’t have avocados 🙁

    Plus saskatoon berries, high bush cranberries, gooseberries, black currents, fruit and nut trees, and rhubarb. I have a little herb garden, but there aren’t too many I can grow as perennials. Chives, yes, you have to rip off the flowers or your garden will be overwhelmed by chives. Same with Good King Henry. I finally dug it up and I’m still finding seedlings.

    The root cellar is getting full and the freezers are bulging. Life is good.

  • And beets – I forgot beets! And Pimientos de Padron. Mmmmmm.

BC Nurse Prof,

    I’m happy your garden (and what a garden!) is doing well yet. I live about 100 km southeast of you but higher. The warm-up they are predicting for you is scheduled for us too but there is not much left to save. As I told Kathy C, the greenhouse is still okay.
    We were lucky to have picked much of the “not quite ready” stuff last night in the hope that we can get it to ripen inside. Sometimes that works but it is never the same as fresh off the vine.
    Have you been getting any of our wildfire smoke up there? It’s been bad here at times.

    Michael Irving

  • Yes, we got a lot of your smoke, and we thought it was BC burning again, like in 2003, until someone looked at Google Earth. We got a double dose of smoke this summer. We got it from you and we got it from Siberia. I couldn’t see accross the valley.

    The only thing my greenhouse has in it right now is the basil, in planters. They would have croaked if I let them stay out last night. I need them to ripen their seeds if I want basil next year. I was able to cut them three times this year and make pesto for the freezer.

  • Michael, southern growing is only partly about long season veggies. It is much more about heat and drought which in part cut our season short. Thus I am often looking for short maturation times so I can fill my freezer before July arrives. The one southern vegetables that I grow with long maturation would likely not work for you. That would be my Seminole pumpkin (95 days). However our pole green beans have a 73 day maturation listed although I think it is usually somewhat shorter. It is called Rattlesnake Bean which some say is because of the purple streaking on the bean. It is a wonderfully hardy bean that does OK in the heat. It can be used for dried beans as well as it produces a seed that is virtually identical to pinto beans. Our long season means I can plant successive crops of it. But come July I stopped watering and early Aug. I put in a new planting. I pick short maturation on melons, cukes, etc. Southern tomatoes that are not hybrid I also pick a short maturation but more importantly one that has lots of resistance to disease as tomato diseases are rampant down here. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange has many varieties with short maturation but that are also good for heat and drought.
    Okra is also a Southern crop that has a short maturation (55 days) and does well in heat. I don’t plant it anymore because we are very buggy here and the ants just cover it up.

    In short we have two seasons here – spring early summer, and fall early winter. So we do have more time to grow stuff but our annual heat and drought (lately magnified) make each season more similar in length to a northern season.

  • Morocco Bama:
    I haven’t talked to my daughter (age 5) yet about 9/11. I don’t think she’s ready. I think too many very young children are endlessly bombarded with traumatizing images and messages from the media, and I don’t think that’s healthy. We don’t have a TV and we don’t miss it.

    Every once in a while, though, she’ll overhear or see some disturbing news, sometimes glancing over my shoulder at the computer, or hearing people talk when we’re out and about, or seeing a newspaper for sale. She was very disturbed to hear about the shooter in the Colorado movie theater. She kept asking, why would he want to kill people, and where was he now? I told her it can be really hard to understand why people do violent, destructive things, and that he is currently locked up. It’s often challenging to gauge how much I should tell her; mostly I err on the side of less exposure to disturbing topics. I am committed to not lying to her, but I also don’t want her to have nightmares.

    I don’t think it would be kind or fair to expect a 5-year-old to be able to confront directly the state of the world and what civilization has wrought. There are, of course, 5-year-olds who are forced to confront terrible things, atrocities. This does not make them stronger; this is grievous damage.

    I’m not trying to deny reality. My daughter picks up on every conflict she witnesses, every moral dilemma, every crease of concern on my brow. She knows there is worrisome stuff. When she asks questions or wants to talk about heavy things, we talk. If I see she is concerned about something, I ask her about it. I’ve always encouraged her to question and discuss things, and she does.

    Just yesterday, she overheard me say something to my father in the course of a conversation about politics– something about there not being real democracy in this country. She asked, “What’s a real democracy?” So we talked about how democracy is supposed to be a way for people to have their voices heard in group decision-making. We talked about what government is, and how our government is supposed to be a representative democracy, and what that means. We talked a little bit about power and fairness. Then she shifted focus and wanted to color with crayons. This is not a person who can yet take in all of the complexities and emotional impact of 9/11 or any other human-made atrocity such as climate change, nuclear disaster, war, exploitation, etc.

    She thinks about death a fair amount. I don’t introduce this topic; she does. She asks me fairly regularly, “When am I going to die? When are you going to die? What does it feel like to be dead?” I’m honest with her- I don’t know when we’re going to die. I don’t know what it feels like. All living things die. I hope we will have good, happy lives. I try to be direct, honest, and kind in responding to her. Sometimes I’m calm and other times my eyes fill with tears. She notices. “You have tears. Why?” “Because I love you. It’s hard when someone you love dies. It’s hard to even think about someone you love dying.” I try not to completely lose it in front of her, but I also don’t want to cut her off from my genuine feelings.

    I don’t know if I could sit her down and say, “Here’s the deal, you probably won’t get to live a normal human lifespan, and you’ll get to witness and experience enormous suffering at this psychotic time in history, and the world has been completely screwed by forces of staggering greed.” I don’t see how it would benefit her to say this. I know she will keep asking questions, keep noticing more and more.

    MB, I think the situation with your kids sounds very different, in large part because they are older. I’m sorry your child is required to write about 9/11 and probably be scrutinized for the “correctness” of his thoughts. I think he is not too young for you to have a talk with him about careful discernment– to gauge when it’s the right time to speak out, and when it’s not. This discernment is very difficult for full-grown adults, let alone children. (He should know that too.) Gauging risk is hard. Stuffing one’s thoughts and feelings and pretending to go along with the herd is hard. Being outspoken and getting slammed is hard. Feeling that silence is complicity is hard. I think if your kids know that they can come to you or other trusted people and talk about this, that’s huge. Just being able to acknowledge, aloud, that this is a tricky dilemma is good.

  • Democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for dinner. And the democratic process is the way of deciding at whom the gun of the state should be pointed. 

    The facts about death – its certainty, the uncertainty of its timing and the unknown beyond, are a part of Nature and should be treated as such. It may help one to value life all the more. 

    The evil and suffering in the world should should be recognized in the same manner. When people do evil for no apparent reason, it must be remembered that the operative word is apparent

  • An interesting image jumped up to the present by some digital changes…

    “Damn you all to Hell!”

  • Morocco Bama

    You mention to Kathy C about the obsessive behaviour of kids with their electronic gadgets. I agree it is an obsessive and IMO compulsive change we see in the youngsters. I have a view on it that may be of interest.

    These gadgets mimic very esoteric and high order intuitive connections of the bodymind, alongside very ordinary social functions that usually, in times gone past, parents have mediated for children. Access to anyone, known or unknown to a parient is easy forr many now. When was this permitted in the last hundred years?
    Also the high order functioning I mentioned is the way ‘the Gadget’ can via vision, or sound, or text connect your bodymind with another, or a realm of collective content that can be witnessed.

    These tele functions are what the bodymind can perform if functioning very high state of realisation. Now a form of that can be had for a fee. Granted it is mediated by a differnt set of needs and functioning ‘rules’. but it is addictive because it is what the Body-Mind is best at, giving a POV on reality, not a direct experience in Reality.

    Who knows where the obsession will end…?

  • Net population, zero. V. Gupta talk ( .ogg video )

  • oz man – “Who knows where the obsession will end…?”
    It will end when the grid fails.

  • Jennifer you wrote “I’m honest with her- I don’t know when we’re going to die. I don’t know what it feels like. ”

    Actually we know more about what it is like to be dead than we usually think about. Dreamless sleep is virtual death. While 5 year olds resist it and teenagers are so involved in living they try to get by without it, most of us a bit older welcome it and do not want to leave that state when the alarm rings. This is death, just nothingness. Things happen around the world and we are oblivious just as we were before we were born. Not necessarily the best way to explain it to a child as if they have picked up negative connotations on death they might begin to fear sleep. But I think meditation on blissful sleep or the anticipated blissful nothingness anesthesia gives us during surgery is a good meditation for adults to deal with their own fears of the unknown concerning death. While we may miss people who die before us, and want to extend living, being dead at certain points in history is not a bad thing. I was dead until 1948 and missed the Inquisition, two wars and all sorts of nasty things. Being alive turns out to carry good and bad, being unborn has no good but no bad. I fully expect death to also eliminate the bad with the good and be like an endless sleep. Nothing to fear – but getting there, the dying, that is almost always a fearful, painful transition.

  • Thyroid disease rate spiked to 43.7%, “About 1 in 2 children have nodule or cyst in Fukushima city”
    Posted by Mochizuki on September 11th, 2012 · 7 Comments
    Healthy children are decreasing in Fukushima.

    43.7% of children turned out to have nodules or cysts in Fukushima city.

    Fukushima local government conducted thyroid test for under 18 living in Fukushima city.

    The target persons were 53,619 and 44,959(83.8%)had the test. The test was conducted from 5/14 to 8/31/2012.

    On 9/11/2012, they released the result of 42,060 of them, which they finished the test with by 8/24/2012. (The results from 8/25 to 8/31/2012 are not published yet.)

    The result showed 18,119 (43.1%) of them have thyroid nodules (≦5.0mm) or cysts (≦20.0mm) and 239 (0.6%) of them have thyroid nodules (≧5.1mm) or cyst (≧20.1mm). In total, 43.7% of the children who had the test in Fukushima city turned out to have nodules and cysts.

    In their previous test, it was 35.8%, which means it spiked up by 7.9%. (cf. Thyroid nodules rate in Fukushima is 20 time higher than in Chernobyl)

  • Of the three states of waking, dreaming and dreamless sleep, it is dreamless sleep that most closely approximates the Fourth State, known as Turiya.

    Perturbations in Consciousness constitute all of awareness, including concepts such as body and mind, like waves on a body of water. A set of such perturbations is an individual sentience, and the largest perturbation in the set, the Mother of all tsunamis, is the “I”-ness. With the subsidence of the “I”-ness the Source of the individual sentience rests in Itself, the Source of all sentiences. As the Subject of all objects it is not an object, and hence it cannot be grasped; attempts to do so only find nothingness: death is then most closely approximated by dreamless sleep.

  • I had no dreaming during anesthesia, but I have experienced lucid dreaming many years ago. Incompatibility of dream scenarios with facts of awake reality do still bring me to the verge of licidity in dreams.

    The features of narcolepsy are early-onset REM (rapid eye movements = dreaming), daytime sleepiness, hypnagogic hallucinations (mistaking one object for another when sleepy) and sleep paralysis (complete paralysis lasting around a minute on awakening). I have the first consistently, the last never, and the other two occasionally in the past.

  • MB by dreamless sleep I mean that part of sleep that is without dreams. I seldom remember dreams but if I do they are just fragments, not 8 hours of mind pictures. However a strong dream can seem like it went on forever but I challenge you to reproduce 8 hours of dreams, or even dreams that lasted the whole time you were under anesthesia. Scientists believe dreams constitute at most about 2 hours of your sleep time.

    Per wiki
    “Dreams mainly occur in the rapid-eye movement (REM) stage of sleep—when brain activity is high and resembles that of being awake. REM sleep is revealed by continuous movements of the eyes during sleep. At times, dreams may occur during other stages of sleep. However, these dreams tend to be much less vivid or memorable.[2]

    Dreams can last for a few seconds, or as long as twenty minutes. People are more likely to remember the dream if they are awakened during the REM phase. The average person has about 3 to 5 dreams per night, but some may have up to 7 dreams in one night. The dreams tend to last longer as the night progresses. During a full 8-hour night sleep, two hours of it is spent dreaming.[3]”

  • Robin Datta, you didn’t reply to my question in the previous thread ( no need to ) but I take it that you don’t know turiya from your own direct experience ?

    Re dreams, I have advanced expertise in this area. My preferred term is non-physical realities.

    Lucid dreaming is not scientifically contentious. What is contentious is how to explain the phenomenon, when it doesn’t fit the contemporary orthodox paradigm of reality. For example, in a previous house, I slept on the third floor, directly above the hall where mail fell when the postman put it through the letter box. My lucid dream would be interrupted by the sound, I’d drop through the floors, look at the letters laying there and decide if I needed to get up and fetch them if there was something urgent and interesting, or else continue the dream if it was just bills and junk. How this can work in terms of physics and biology, nobody knows.

    Also, here, I sleep on a sofa. When I wake and get up, I kind of climb out of the dreaming, spend a few hours of activity, and when I return, the dream is still there, waiting for me, so I kind of climb back in and continue wherever I broke off.

    I have learned these techniques, just as someone might learn to ride a bicycle or play violin, over many decades.

    Materialists, rationalists, sceptics, routinely dismiss such phenomena as woowoo because they don’t fit what they learned in science text books. But that’s mere prejudice. Tom Campbell, a NASA physicist, whose videos are on my blog, describes two people, in separate sensory deprivation tanks, who record their experiences over a radio link onto tape. The accounts match up. The evidence seems irrefutable. It’s our theory of reality that is incorrect. Consciousness is not what most people think it is.

  • Climate change causing extinctions. Not just the polar bears.

  • MB since you don’t have dreamless sleep you can envision death this way – think about 100,000 years ago – were you there, NO. Try 1,000 years ago – were you there – NO. You can imagine a world existing without you not being in it. Therefore you can imagine death.

  • MB OTOH imagining dying – now that is scary –
    At the tender age of 16 I started volunteering in a nursing home for poor people. One woman had MS and had been paralyzed from the neck down for 10 years. I grew to love her. I remember one day being there when they turned her – This quite lovely woman who could barely speak above a whisper screamed and screamed as open bed sores can be very painful. Another man I would visit was in a wheel chair from MS but he died at 45 from a heart attack. When I learned of his death I was so happy for him as I did not want him to go the route that the woman I cared so deeply about was going. I learned at a very young age that death can be a wonderful welcome friend. But oh the dying which we all must do, that can be so awful, so god damned awful, but the death itself brings a release from pain into nothingness.

  • Indeed you have to be careful what you tell kids. I know of children who have been afraid to go to sleep because their parents told them that death was like sleep. This resulted in severe trauma.

    With regard to telling children about fairness. When my daughter was about 10 years old, her small kitten was run over and killed. She cried and cried and I held her and tried to comfort her. She said, “It’s not fair, Mom, it’s not fair. She was so little, she never hurt anybody.” I said, “Well, life is not fair.” She immediately stopped crying, pushed me away, and said in a loud voice, “What do you mean, life’s not fair? All my life you’ve told me: Do this, it’s fair. Don’t do that, it’s not fair. You must share because that’s fair. NOW you tell me life’s not fair??? What should I believe?”

    I had no answer for this. I mumbled something about the ideal and the real, about our interactions with an unfair world, etc. but it didn’t work. She was angry with me and I couldn’t blame her.

  • I found this comment buried below an Automatic Earth post:

    This GMO news just hit today. I’m a physician, MD since 1986. This is important food toxicity information.

    We’ve (most of us) come to accept our relation to other apes. It’s pretty obvious to see. We have discovered that we have a lot in common with rats, and can rely on studies which “sacrifice” them instead of people, to further medical knowledge. (No more Dr. Mengele…) Of course we’ve heard that we evolved from some primordial spark in the primeval soup kitchen making DNA, which could self replicate and begin this whole fabulous process. That genetic tree did most of it’s branching before multi celled organisms, before plants and animals diverged, and a lot of that early work persists as the foundations of cellular metabolism.
    Consider the structures of chlorophyll and hemoglobin:

    Feeling a bit older? You should. We have been engineered and re engineered for function and reliability over hundreds of millions of years in the most complex empirical process imaginable, with redundant testing over multiple generations, to study the comparative effectiveness of every little mutation in any single trait. This just exceeds the number of processes we can conceptualize. It’s a googleplex kinda’ number. The stars in the sky… Monsanto doesn’t have that kind of time. they have quarterly earnings reports. they want to own the global genome in our lifetimes, stuff like that. Think they might hotwire some stuff without testing it?

    Carbohydrate metabolism in eukaryotic cells has a lot of inter species similarity, because carbohydrates are one of the building block energy groups that go way, way, way back. Genetic engineers found that if they blocked a certain carbohydrate metabolic enzyme in wheat, they could stuff the grains with more carbohydrate, more energy, more weight, more profit, more better. They went on ahead and did just that. Big success!

    However, they either did not do, or did not reveal the extremely close relationship of the enzymes they were blocking to enzymes in humans and animals, which also regulate pathways of carbohydrate metabolism. It turns out that a lot of the gene sequences are spot-on, and that this wheat modification can directly block carbohydrate metabolic pathways in the human liver and muscle cells. Glycogen, the human form of stored carbohydrate, is regulated by these ancient plug-and-play similar enzymes, much as the oxygen and CO2 carrying and transfer similarities between heme and chlorophyl persist. When nature finds something that works, it is unlikely to be completely replaced in a complex metabolic system.

    This metabolic poison is in our bodies as we speak.
    Here is the scientific paper, by a Biochemist at the University of Canterbury (nice place) in Christchurch, New Zealand, Jack Heinemann Ph.D.

    Here is some information from Natural News, including press announcements from down-under and an oral explanation by Dr. Heinemann. (They misstate the location of the University of Canterbury.)

    I sure do see a lot of Americans with metabolic problems. Fatty liver is an epidemic. Obesity and diabetes are conditions where the human body stores excess fuel, just like those poor wheat kernels are forced to do. I’m not saying that this one thing is the cause, but Americans didn’t eat or exercise that much differently in the 1970s, and look at the difference now! It is illegal to put any label on any food in America, saying whether it does or doesn’t contain GMOs. It is illegal to distinguish GMO wheat in bulk sales, and it gets mixed. Wheat is wheat, and nobody can say different, at least in the land of the free.

    I am extremely concerned about this from a medical viewpoint,and I have found that I feel better with less wheat in recent decades. Damn, it’s hard to even limit it, let alone eliminate it. I’m trying to devise a strategy. We just don’t have that much rice in our food, and rice doesn’t stick together, or have the protein content of wheat.

    This is merely an EXAMPLE of the sorcerer’s apprentice at work in the realm of life itself. The US laws mean that the apprentice gets to do all he wants, completely in the dark, completely out of any supervision. All adverse effects are simply mysterious, and may be studied from some other angle, which blames fat, diabetic people for watching TV, and eating the cheap food they can afford, but doesn’t do anything to hurt American business.

    Hungary, if you may recall, cast out Monsanto and plowed-under their fields. Is it legal to advertise EXCLUSIVELY HUNGARIAN WHEAT in a product?

    I don’t have a solution, which I can enact today. I need to eat food which has absolutely-certain origins, and that is difficult, expensive and restrictive, very restrictive to do. Wheat, corn and soy are out, as is anything fattened on them. (Shit!)

    Conflicted Omnivore

  • BC Nurse, MB yeah, the kids challenge us for sure. Having bright insightful kids is even more of a challenge.

    So many ways to feel like we are failures with our kids, but if we as adults accept the responsibility for the rest of our lives and our own mental state instead of blaming our parents (which is a wise course) well I just figure they in the end can do the same. And learning comes from good and bad experiences both. Parents don’t become perfect when a baby exits the mother’s uterus.

  • You can imagine a world existing without you not being in it. Therefore you can imagine death.

    With the imagining, the imaginer is still there. 

  • Robin, good point. I correct myself – you can get close to imagining death

BC Nurse Prof,

    We got some of your smoke in 2003 so I guess we are even.
    About your plum crop: What kind of plums do you have and have you picked them already? If not, how do they survive some frost? We are supposed to warm up a bit again and I am hoping to get some late plums. We’ve already put up some early plums but the late ones are loaded. Two years ago a bear found the tree just as they got ripe and climbed up to feast, in the process breaking most of the branches. We’ve had a bear hanging around all summer; wandering through every week or so. We are hopeful that he/she misses us this years.

    Michael Irving

  • Kathy C,

    Very interesting. I will be looking into those rattlesnake beans. This year our dry beans included Yellow Indian Woman and Irish Annie. Both did well. As for green beans apparently my wife likes other colors better so she canned a mix of yellow and purple.

    Michael Irving

  • So many ways to feel like we are failures with our kids.

    Yes. I feel that way most of the time. But I attempt to discern what is truly under my control vs. what isn’t and take responsibility for my own actions. I tend to take responsibility for the mistakes of others too much– it isn’t right or fair, but I think it’s a coping mechanism that’s supposed to make me feel like I could have control if only I really wanted to. But the reality is that there is much I can’t control, and that can feel terrifying.

    Fairness: that was a vivid anecdote, BC Nurse Prof. I haven’t told my daughter “life isn’t fair” before, but now I will take extra pains to avoid it.

    Kathy C: I still find it hard to imagine death. I understand the parallel to dreamless sleep and to what it “felt” like before we were born, but it still doesn’t come together for me. Maybe my little mortal brain just revolts at the thought. I agree, though, that death is preferable to terrible suffering/dying.

  • Do this, it’s fair. Don’t do that, it’s not fair. You must share because that’s fair. NOW you tell me life’s not fair??? What should I believe?”

    We are part of Nature, but the sense of fairness is one of the things that makes us humans, like fragrance is one of the things that makes a flower a flower. And other sentient beings besides humans also have a sense of fairness.

  • Michael Irving: We grow Italian prune plums. We have not picked them yet because they are very slow to ripen this year. They do survive frost, but would not survive a deep freeze. There are a lot of bears around here and my neighbours’ trees have been hit hard, because they don’t have fences. Mine are behind a six foot fence. They could get through if they really wanted to, but with so much available nearby, they don’t do it. They come by and check out the trees each night. All my neighbours say they get to the point of “yes, yes, looking good, I’ll pick them tomorrow.” and the bear comes that night, eating all the plums and breaking all the branches. Some have lost trees entirely. One neighbour came out one morning to find a bear asleep in the plum tree, having eaten all the plums. I have pruned mine so that they look like dwarf trees, branching down low to the ground. So if the bear comes and eats them, he won’t have to break branches to do it. I’ll lose the plums but keep the tree. Then I’ll immediately call the fence guy and have him come out and extend the fence I have around the veggie gardens to include the orchard. It’s called a “wildlife exclusion fence” and it cost me a ton to have it done. It’s 12 feet high small square wire. They use it along the Coquihalla highway to keep the wildlife off the road. I didn’t want the extra expense of doing it around the orchard, too, but if the bear gets in, I’ll do it.

    We have a resident female black bear in the area. She has a cub or two every year, only comes down from the mountains at night, and runs away from people and dogs. Last year, however, a big male black bear showed up, ruined a few plum trees (but never touched the apple trees), sent two dogs to the vet for stitches, scratched up two wooden basement doors trying to get in, and in general terrorized the neighbourhood. Two people shot at him (even though they don’t have bear tags) and one claims he hit him. No one has seen him since.

    A few weeks ago I came down the hill one morning to go inside the fence to the gardens and a bear had obviously tried to dig under the gate. The claw marks gave me chills up my spine. Those claws must have been huge! But he didn’t get in – he gave up. I went inside and walked the fence to be sure he (or she) didn’t get in somewhere else. Nothing.

    So I will wait until the plums are ripe and hope the bear doesn’t get them first. I make prunes, I can them, and this year I want to try plum wine.

  • I correct myself – you can get close to imagining death

    Close, but no cigars.

  • Re dreams, I have advanced expertise in this area

    It is another aspect of the siddhis, phenomena unexplainable and mostly undocumentable by conventional science.

  • “It is another aspect of the siddhis, phenomena unexplainable and mostly undocumentable by conventional science.”

    I know that, Robin. What I asked you is if you experience/achieve/attain/whatever the word should be turiya.

    As you mention it, do you experience the siddhis ?

  • New monkey discovered in the Congo. Incredible expression and eyes…

  • OTOH Robin I have been dead (not born) longer than I have been alive. It appears that being dead before you are born is precisely nothing. You interact with nothing, you know nothing, you fear and feel nothing. You are nothing. Not until one specific sperm joins one specific egg do you even have the potentiality of being anything. And it takes time after that before you can even react to the bad meal your mother ate. The thing is that being nothing, knowing nothing, feeling nothing is well nothing, not good and not bad. I of course can’t remember being nothing because until that fateful day when my parents had unprotected sex I wasn’t. I fully expect to become nothing again when I take my last breath and the chemicals of my body no longer function as a living being. I can’t really know what nothing is like but I can meditate on the peaceful nothingness of a good night’s sleep. All sorts of things go on around me unnoticed. I don’t see the cockroaches come out in my kitchen so they don’t bother me (unless I wake up in the middle of the night). Someone could be murdering some one else down the road and I am unaware and unafraid. If I like that partial descent into nothingness, look forward to it, dislike waking and moving back into somethingness, why should I dread the nothingness of death. I don’t need any theories from the East or the West or inbetween about nothingness, I can find it in my own mind and daily life.

  • The thing is that being nothing, knowing nothing, feeling nothing is well nothing, not good and not bad.
    There has to be a feeler to feel nothing and a knower to know nothing.

  • all this talk of death reminded me of a well documented and utterly fascinating phenomenon, the near death experience, or nde.

    hallucination, or transition to an altered state of consciousness, perhaps robin datta’s turiya? at any rate, many sheople who have had this experience claim they no longer fear death.

  • Mini Collapse?

    Our internet went down last Friday when lighting struck the tower that transmits our signal (we use local wireless). It came back on today – more or less; running about the speed of a 14,400 dial-up modem – if I’m lucky. 🙂

    I’ve been checking in occasionally with my phone, but it’s too much trouble to post that way in my opinion (obviously, Robin is okay with it).

    Too much has been posted over the last week to catch up, so I guess I’ll just jump in here. . . .

  • hallucination, or transition to an altered state of consciousness, perhaps robin datta’s turiya?

    The attribution should to ancient Vedic traditions. Mentioning it does not merit a change in attribution or make it one’s own. And neither is it necessarily a feature of dying nor is dying (in the sense of the “Little Death”) a feature of it. 

  • So do I take it that you know the theory, but not the practice, Robin ?

    In other words, you are posturing ? Presenting someone else’s second-hand wisdom, rather than owning your own ?

  • “And if you know where to look, everywhere there is death — more specifically, the Grim Reaper-like visage of Santa Muerte (“Saint Death” or “Holy Death”). The increasingly popular, scythe-wielding folk saint, miracle worker and unofficial patron of many of Mexico’s narcos, prostitutes, prisoners, poor, gays, transvestites and others on the margins of Mexico’s Drug War-ravaged, poverty-stricken society is all around. She is found on clothing: A twentysomething man sports her on a T-shirt, on which rests the head of his sleeping infant, nestled in a front-slung harness. Another man honors the veiled skeleton with a chunky gold pendant around his bull-neck.

    And then there’s the jackpot: an entire stall given over to Santa Muerte devotion. Here, devotees of (as she is variously known) “La Madrina” (“the Godmother”), “La Flaka” (a slang spelling for “the Skinny Woman”) or “La Niña Blanca” (“the White Lady”) can buy candles, statues, posters and amulets for her veneration.”

  • In other words, you are posturing ? Presenting someone else’s second-hand wisdom, rather than owning your own ?

    That is a valid assertion from its perspective.

  • Hahahahaha….

    I thought it was people, with egos/brains/minds/consciousness/senses, etc, that have perspectives. How can something abstract ( an assertion ) have a perspective ?

    I suppose an assertion can be made, from a particular perspective. Which is why I have been pressing you. Can you, Robin, speak from turiya or only of a theoretical turiya that you have read about ? What is that ego that tries to find clever answers to my clever questions, eh ? 😉

    Regarding previous, I think it is helpful to distinguish between two kinds of death. There is the death of the organism, the physical body. But there can also be the death of the ego, the self ( whilst the body remains alive ) as experienced in many spiritual exercises, drug experiences, anaesthesia, deep sleep, some kinds of illness, vegetative states, and so forth.

    I would say that death of ego during advanced meditation ( jhanas, nirvilkalpa samadhi, etc ) requires letting go of self, so that there is no knower and known, and that is a kind of death, but one from which one can return.

    By repetition, it means that one becomes familiar with non-being, so that real physical death is no longer so strange and fearsome. It’s just like relaxing into a warm bath, or falling asleep. People don’t generally fear letting go to fall asleep, do they. They assume they will awaken, but there’s no guarantee.

    I like to live with death, every moment, partly as a zen practice, partly because I am forced to take medication that could prove lethal at any time. I think it is a wonderful way to be. Makes for great clarity and easy decision-making 🙂

  • Parroting someone else:

    He who knows, does not speak. He who speaks, does not know. – Lao Tzu

  • Of course, though few may understand it, we humans, as humans, have choice as to what we are. We can exist on may levels, as demonic beings or as angelic beings.

    Kathy C. outlines a standard prosaic scientific depiction of what living and death mean, following the Cartesian paradigm of Descartes, which split mind and matter into a duality.

    However, it is worth note, that Descartes received his insights from an angel, and also worthy of note, that Kathy C., despite her materialist, rationalist ontology and epistemology, appears, from her words and actions in the world, to be operating from an angelic perspective…

    I would like to ask Kathy C., from that paradigm, the one dominant in modern Western culture, does death mean that ‘you’, i.e. the me, the ego, cease, whilst everything and everyone else just carries on in your absence ? Or, as Wittgenstein suggested, at the moment of death, the whole Universe vanishes ? Or maybe something else ?

    Because, if there is no scientific evidence or proof, how does that view differ from all the other belief-systems, for example, those which posit notions of Afterlife, etc ?

  • Ah, but why not parrot the wisdom of Robin Datta, rather than that old Chinese fool ? 😉

  • Some recent studies on tree adaptation to rising temperatures in Andies.

    ‘At edge of Peruvian Andes, tracking impacts of warming’

    Some quotes:

    “Currently, to track the climate, trees in the Andes should be migrating upslope at a rate of roughly 20 feet a year, and that rate will increase to 30 feet a year if carbon dioxide levels continue to climb. (Under a “business as usual” emissions scenario, temperatures in the eastern Andes are expected to rise by 9 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100.) While this is significantly less than the rate trees would need to move if they were going to track the climate by migrating to a higher latitude, it’s still very fast — quite possibly faster than trees in the region have ever migrated in the past. Among the questions Silman and his colleagues are hoping to answer with his plots are whether trees are in fact capable of moving rapidly enough to track climate change, and if not, what will happen…

    Silman and his students first installed the plots in 2003. They re-censused them in 2007. Even after such a brief interval, one of Silman’s post-docs, Kenneth Feeley, found compelling evidence that some trees, were, in fact, on the move. Others, meanwhile, had remained stationary. Trees in the genus Schefflera, which includes the houseplant known as the umbrella tree, were moving the fastest; they had climbed upslope at the astonishing rate of nearly 100 feet a year. Trees in the coffee-family genus Ladenbergia, by contrast, had not migrated at all. For all the trees in the plots, Feeley, who now is on the faculty at Florida International University, calculated that the average migration rate was eight feet a year — significant, but not nearly enough for the trees to remain in equilibrium with the climate…
    In a 2010 paper published in the journal Global Change Biology, Silman and Feeley looked at what differing “migration scenarios” would mean for Andean plants. Under what they called a “perfect migration” scenario, in which all species are able to migrate fast enough to track the climate, some plant species will lose out, but many others will gain population as the climate warms. Under a “no migration” scenario, virtually all species becomes losers, with population declines of between 53 and 96 percent. And under an “observed migration” scenario, where plants move as fast as they have been observed to do in the tree plots, species will lose, on average, 40 percent of their population.

    In addition to speed of migration, another key variable, Feeley and Silman found, was land use. In the Andes, the highlands are often cleared for grazing — hence the cows we encountered at the top of the mountain — so the tree line is artificially depressed. If this pattern doesn’t change (and there’s no particular reason to believe that it will), then virtually all species now found at high elevations will decline, no matter how quickly they’re able to migrate.

    “If the tree line stands still, it doesn’t matter what scenario you have,” Silman said.

    That evening, we set up camp in a clearing near plot 4. Silman and Farfan went to get water, and when they came back, Farfan was carrying a spray of white berries interspersed with what looked like purple tassels. It was the infloresence of a tree in the Brassicaceae or mustard family. No one in the group had ever seen anything quite like it before, which led to speculation that it might belong to yet another new species. It was doused in alcohol for transport down the mountain, because especially now, with the future of the forest so uncertain, it seems important that every species be counted.”

    Sober reading.