the impulse of love

‘How the starting of an acapella group led to a musical addiction: the joy of making an unexpectedly beautiful sound together.’ brian eno says acapella group singing teaches empathy, exercises the chest, challenges mentally; it produces beauty and satisfaction.

in ‘The Price of Progress’ (‘a history of scotland‘, 1760-1783), greed meets morality as scotland exports its capital, men and ideas, to the ‘new’ world, and profits principally from sugar in the caribbean and tobacco from virginia with abhorrent slave labour. benjamin franklin travels to scotland, but is appalled by the disparity in wealth and living conditions; scot john whitherspoon (reese’s ancestor), who comes to america to head princeton, is appalled by the threat to democracy (though it would be nearly a century before all men were free, and more than a century-and-a-half before women too were recognised as persons, though by then corporations had been seen legally–but not morally–as persons for nearly two generations) and signs the american declaration of independence; naked greed appalls even scottish academic adam smith, author of the wealth of nations; however, the doc makes clear that this is not the source of wealth he imagined. slave joseph knight , born free in africa, is captured as a boy and taken to the caribbean, grows up, comes to scotland with his master, sleeps under the stairs, sues to become free (again), and disappears from history. morality trumps greed in the end, but at what price?

appalling, human-caused, greed-driven conditions still exist in canada, in america.

david suzuki writes, ‘ If we want to address global warming, along with the other environmental problems associated with our continued rush to burn our precious fossil fuels as quickly as possible, we must learn to use our resources more wisely, kick our addiction, and quickly start turning to sources of energy that have fewer negative impacts.’

that’s a big if, and while i am greatly loved, the ‘if’ is getting bigger. the future’s so dark, why am i wearing shades?

meanwhile, life goes on (once said poet robert frost, who lost four of six children before they grew up)

the very big, the very small, the very ridiculous, the very sublime…. i mean, the very very very big (like gravity) and the very very very small (like electrons), the at-times very very very ridiculous (like rick mercerflyboarding’, left–though rick ranted rightly about another omnibus bill, which some guy named stephen harper once said are undemocratic–rick’s weekly rants are seen by over a million, way way way more than’ll ever read this–that’s serious, not ridiculous), and the very very very sublime (like professor jim al-khalili, above right, exploring vacuum, the essence of the universe, in ‘everything and nothing‘). in it, prof al-khalili profiles the swiss/british, very eccentric, physicist paul dirac (1902-1984), who in 1928 was the first to unite gravity and quantum mechanics, with the dirac equation (left), which ‘represents one of the great triumphs of theoretical physics, fully on a par with the work of Newton, Maxwell, and Einstein before him.’ in 1927, in conversation with heisenberg and pauli, ‘Dirac said:

I cannot understand why we idle discussing religion. If we are honest—and scientists have to be—we must admit that religion is a jumble of false assertions, with no basis in reality. The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination. It is quite understandable why primitive people, who were so much more exposed to the overpowering forces of nature than we are today, should have personified these forces in fear and trembling. But nowadays, when we understand so many natural processes, we have no need for such solutions. I can’t for the life of me see how the postulate of an Almighty God helps us in any way. What I do see is that this assumption leads to such unproductive questions as why God allows so much misery and injustice, the exploitation of the poor by the rich and all the other horrors He might have prevented. If religion is still being taught, it is by no means because its ideas still convince us, but simply because some of us want to keep the lower classes quiet. Quiet people are much easier to govern than clamorous and dissatisfied ones. They are also much easier to exploit. Religion is a kind of opium that allows a nation to lull itself into wishful dreams and so forget the injustices that are being perpetrated against the people. Hence the close alliance between those two great political forces, the State and the Church. Both need the illusion that a kindly God rewards—in heaven if not on earth—all those who have not risen up against injustice, who have done their duty quietly and uncomplainingly. That is precisely why the honest assertion that God is a mere product of the human imagination is branded as the worst of all mortal sins.[44]

Heisenberg’s view was tolerant. Pauli, raised as a Catholic, had kept silent after some initial remarks, but when finally he was asked for his opinion, said: “Well, our friend Dirac has got a religion and its guiding principle is ‘There is no God and Paul Dirac is His prophet.’ ” Everybody, including Dirac, burst into laughter.[45]
meanwhile in the middle east, some don’t laugh; they riot, they kill. over a video they have no control over. similarly, the royals have successfully sued some french tabloid over pics of kate topless. whoopee. apart from the pornography, the cat is out of the bag, they can’t control copies of the pics.

great energy at tonight’s (2012-09-19) ootc bod mtg; tho there are funding and insulation challenges, we still see a year-round need.

i love this: somebody challenged hemingway in a bar bet that he couldn’t tell a story in six words or less. he said, ‘for sale: baby shoes, never worn.’ years later he said it was one of the best stories he ever told. or did he?

Love is Necessary–‘Community life demands that we constantly go beyond our own resources. If we do not have the spiritual nourishment we need, we will close in on ourselves and on our own comfort and security, or throw ourselves into work as an escape. We will throw up walls around our sensitivity; we will perhaps be polite and obedient, but we will not love. And when you do not love, there is no hope and no joy.’–Jean Vanier, Community and Growth, p. 168.

it strikes me that stephen harper is like hitler without guns or swastikas. why? because he’s undemocratic, using democracy to gain and maintain power. we’ll see how he responds to the nexen sale. i predict he won’t listen. however, i emailed our mp, bruce stanton (and cc’d john baird, paul dewar, dominic leblanc, and elizabeth may). i wrote, ‘i am gravely concerned that the sale of nexen to the state-controlled giant china national offshore oil corp poses a great security risk to our national interest, as reported by csis. i am also concerned that canada is besmirching its hard-won democratic values by encouraging trade with an anti-democratic nation known to torture its citizens.’

today (2012-09-21) they’re playing lots of js bach on r2. why? i don’t know; it’s not his birthday (1685-03-31) nor his deathday (1750-07-28). ahh! it’s the 80th anniversary of gould‘s birth on sep 25.  i was remarking last night to bob bruer that though bach and mozart (and others) must have been ‘in the moment’, ecstatic, when playing, creating, i’m glad he wrote stuff down, like ‘jesu, joy of man’s desiring’. hundreds of years later, at home, on a friday morning, i enjoy. we talked of lullabies sung anonymously, perhaps by neanderthals. i sang to my kids. i hope they sing to theirs. maybe this was what euripedes had in mind about breaking the cycle of violence. maybe this was what thornton wilder had in mind when he wrote, ‘but soon we shall die … and we ourselves shall be loved for a while and forgotten. but the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. even memory is not necessary for love. there is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.’

2012-09-21 fr clear skies; pancakes for bf, old friends (dave & nick) in the aft at gc, dinner with sue at ec, old band at cellarman’s; after reconnoitring with my old band-mates, i ended up discussing theology with cindy breadner–esp’ly john shelby spong, brian mclaren, marcus borg–and catching up on her and siska’s kids.

emay (elizabeth may) writes, ‘It would be easy to say “a plague on all their houses” [referring to the cons, libs, and ndp calling each other liars (about their plans to cap/trade ghg emissions) in the house of commons]. But global warming is a plague on all our houses. We have to stop the spin and focus on what matters. Science is divided on whether we still have time. For my children’s sake [i have kids too] I refuse to accept that it is too late. I will keep telling the truth about who did what and when, but history is just that. We better start talking about what we plan to do. NOW!

2012-09-22 sa woke up to rain, might go to bed with, rained off and on all day. sni watched ‘everything‘ online with professor jim al-khalili, right, exploring the whole of the universe, in ‘everything and nothing‘.

2012-09-23 su more rain.  sue to tor, o here, asleep.

watched rush‘s ‘beyond the lighted stage‘. i hadn’t listened to rush since ‘hemispheres’. i had heard about neil’s loss, but i didn’t realize the band was almost finished. geddy’s right, he–or alex or geddy–is irreplaceable–other bands have tried. also, i didn’t realize they’re so hugely influential. somebody near the end said that most importantly they are good, meaning morally good–like the beatles, i suppose. i wonder if that comes through, and how, and what?

shell wants to expand their activities in northern alberta. until oct 1st, you can submit your thoughts, which ‘presents an important opportunity for the public to directly oppose a major tar sands mine. You can voice your concerns directly to Shell and the Joint Review Panel. It’s important that industry and government feel about the expansion of the tar sands and how it effects all Canadians.​’  you can submit your thoughts here. i wrote, ‘My concern is that, while we stand to gain in the short term, in the long term we lose, and anything gained now will be lost in the future. For example, this project–i won’t call it a ‘development’ because that is being questioned: what do we mean by ‘development’?–this project may create short-term, general labour jobs now, but what will happen to those who depend on those jobs when those jobs end–the workers, their children, the shop-owners and the poor in the communities, government treasuries? Wouldn’t it be better to create sustainable, long-term employment?

Another way short-term gain is offset by long-term loss is money earned now will run out when the doctor’s bill comes due.

There is no gain for the flora and fauna, however, only loss. Part of Canada’s greatness is its flora and fauna. When they are gone, Canada won’t be so great. Just a few short years can undo what’s taken aeons to create: an intricate, complex web of relationships we are only beginning to understand.’

2012-09-24 mo sue back. oscar happy. watched ‘This Land is Our Land’ (‘a history of scotland‘, 1792-1880). tvo says,  ‘Sir Walter Scott’s romantic tartan image of Scotland was born of his fear that dangerous revolutionaries in industrial towns would sweep away everything distinctively Scottish. His story of doomed Jacobites and loyal Highlanders was a global success, but was it enough to protect his beloved Scotland?’ wikipedia says, ‘People fled from the countryside into the industrial towns of Scotland’s Central Belt. Rural workers became factory workers – in some of the worst conditions in Europe. This new Scotland became a seedbed of revolution. But it wasn’t just force that kept the Scottish people in their place, it was fantasy. Neil Oliver reveals how Sir Walter Scott created so powerful a myth, it haunts the Scots collective imagination to this day.’ the vote was extended to a few land-owning men, but many, many more suffered, in the ‘dark, satanic mills’ and in the highland clearances, ‘by which much of the population of the Highlands suffered forced displacement [to poor, coastal crofts; the crofters lived mainly on potatoes, until the potato famine of 1846–1852 blew in from ireland; the clearances and the famine gave rise to charity on the one hand and violence on the other, culminating in 1886 with political changes–but is it over, is it ever over?] as lands were enclosed, principally so that they could be used for sheep farming. The clearances followed patterns of agricultural change throughout the UK, but were particularly notorious as a result of the late timing, the lack of legal protection for year-by-year tenants under Scots law, the abruptness of the change from the traditional clan system, and the brutality of many evictions.’ some of my ancestors came to canada from scotland during this period. i wonder why? there’s nothing to suggest anything as horrific as the clearances. quite the opposite. still, you don’t emigrate without good cause. riveting backstory, eh? oscar slept.

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