Friday, April 28, 2006

Friday Pet Blogging 2 | New Toy!

The boys must have been pretty good, because Mrs. Brainwise surprised them with a toy yesterday. Here is an image with Otis wondering what happened to the mice (Milo ate their tails!):

"What happened to their tails, Momma?"

You can see more pics of the boys and their toys here. And here are the obligatory links to more good cat (and other pet) blogging ...

More Pet Blogging
  1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
  2. Check the M&O Archives for previous Milo & Otis appearances (currently up-to-date through Sept 2005. I'll finish the updates soon, I hope!).
  3. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.

Friday Pet Blogging | Under the Table

For today's Pet Blogging pleasure, I present a set of photos that show Milo in one of his favorite places -- under the kitchen table!

Click the collage to access all photos in the set

Links to more good cat (and other pet) blogging below...

More Pet Blogging
  1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
  2. Check the M&O Archives for previous Milo & Otis appearances (currently up-to-date through Sept 2005. I'll finish the updates soon, I hope!).
  3. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Quotable | "Diet of Delusions"

As an atheist and scientist-of-sorts, I don't suffer qualms that this will be my fate. But I do understand that there is a bit of me that "does God" whether I like it or not. I'm not alone in that. There are many thinkers who hold - and some good scientific evidence to back them up - that spirituality is hard-wired in humans to a variable extent, and that it is beneficial to health - physical and mental. What really causes the confusion is that while something of this sort can be good for us, can even be essential and has probably contributed enormously to our evolutionary survival - it is not necessarily true. I would say, it is manifestly not true. We subsist on a diet of delusions." -- Margaret Cook, "Even atheists believe in a lot more than the selfish gene" (Sun 23 Apr 2006)

Hansel and Gretel?

The Guide to Paganism is a guidebook that the Pagan Federation supplied to British prison governors. It outlines religious possessions, discusses the services of pagan chaplains, and describes rites and chants, all in the effort to help pagan British inmates practice their religious freedom while incarcerated. Brother Paul Stein, a brother with the Legionaries of Christ, isn't happy with the Guide to Paganism. Not happy at all. In fact, he goes so far as to say it should have a warning label affixed to its cover. A warning label that states:
“Your son and daughter might be the next Hansel and Gretel.”
Isn't that a lovely sentiment? Seems that Brother Stein has some rather strong feelings on the subject. And he feels strongly enough about it to post his thoughts at the Catholic Exchange under the cute title, The Witch Next Door. And you can read some interesting -- although not much better informed -- feedback at Free Republic. While Brother Stein is not entirely incorrect in regards to his historical summation of Wicca (Quote: "Neither is Wicca a historical expression of paganism. It was started by Aleister Crowley and Gerald Gardner sometime after 1900"), he falls far short in his descriptions of Wicca having empty rites that are devoid of spiritual meaning. If this were the case, why would people cite a greater sense of spiritual fulfillment as a reason for leaving the church? (Reference: PopOcculture - Wicca and Christianity). And although there may be ample evidence of Wicca practioners who are ... well ... OK, let's face facts ... maybe some of them can be described as being a little out there (look here, here, and here for examples; oh, Hel, just look at the blog post where I found them all), but one can hardly rate the whole of the movement on these individuals. That would be like (gasp!) evaluating the whole of Christianity by the actions of, say, just a few, extreme examples. Oh, and if I may address you directly, Brother Stein ... before you go and complain about the "inner contradictions" in Wicca (or any other belief system you personally find lacking), you should probably do something to resolve all of the contradictions (another list) and logical gaps in your own dogma.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Oscar the Cultural Archeologist

image from www.dltk-kids.com's Sesame Street craft pages. "Hey kids! Your trash speaks volumes about you!" [Image from dltk-kids.com craft pages]
"Though garbology remains a relatively unplumbed subject, several colleges and universities offer courses that look at what people throw away and how it reflects who they are." -- Tina Kelley; Class at N.Y.U. Looks for Deeper Meaning at Fresh Kills; The New York Times; Mar 23, 2000.
Garbage isn't simple refuse anymore. It's a cultural record. If you check over in the right column, you'll see (after scrolling down a bit) that I have a link for A.Word.A.Day. Today's word, garbology, is rather interesting. I had no idea there was actually a word -- let alone a course of study -- for such a phenomenon. Usually, the picture I have for someone engaged in rooting through trash is either one of the "dumpster diver" or the identity thief. Garbologists may change that presupposition. There is an Official Garbology Webpage, a page dedicated to adventures in garbology, and even some suggestions for professional development. As we are living in the first society that is threatened to be buried by its own refuse, garbology is certainly a timely branch of study.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Friday Pet Blogging | PetAura!

Going in a slightly different direction for the cat pics today. Mrs. Brainwise's friend, Teres, is something of an artist. And in the past few years, she has done paintings of Simon (who passed away in October, 2003) and Otis from photographs. Here are the results (click images to see larger versions):
Simon in Repose
Otis in Window
In my opinion, she got the basic concept of Simon (and we love having this piece hanging in our living room), but she really captured the essence of Otis. Apparantly, Teresa enjoyed this process so much that she decided to launch PetAura.com, which will go live in June this year. Until that opens, you can check out her past and current projects at: Links to more good cat (and other pet) blogging below...

More Pet Blogging
  1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
  2. Check the M&O Archives for previous Milo & Otis appearances (currently up-to-date through Sept 2005. I'll finish the updates soon, I hope!).
  3. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Imagine

It's not exactly poetry, but this post over at One Good Move features an excellent You Tube video presentation that mixes John Lennon's "Imagine" with .... well, just go check it out.
Disclaimer: Wait! Do not go and look at the clip if you are easily offended by any one or a combination of the following:
  1. Explitives,
  2. Images of war,
  3. Images of politicians (with soundbites!), or
  4. Images of Yoko Ono (particularly a singing Yoko).
Remember, you have been warned, so don't come crying to me.

Kathy Stevenson Waxes Poetic on National Poetry Month

OK, so she didn't exactly write a poem about a month dedictated to poetry appreciation. But she does wonder about National Poetry Month and what it might mean to the average person:
"Most people I know, even avid readers of other literary genres, confess to not understanding much of the poetry being written today. It's too obtuse, the language too rarefied, and the metaphors too far out, they complain."
And then, after extolling the virtues of poetry and giving a nod to its current popular resurgance, she asks the hard question:
"Still, do we need an entire month devoted to the promotion of a literary form that many people haven't been acquainted with since high school English classes? Why not Essay Month, or Unauthorized Biography Week, or Take a Novel to Work Day?"
Now, I've been known to tuck a novel (or two) and more than one non-fiction work in my laptop bag. But I can't tell you the last time I purchased, or even borrowed, a book of poems. But Kathy finishes her piece with some darn good comments on poetry. And she's right: It's important. For example, what does all the wisdom literature and scriptures of the world's religions amount to ultimately? It is (divinely?) inspired poetry and verse. Particularly when read in their original tongues. Then the words flow, rhyme, and sing like otherworldly creatures. The Eddas, the Upanishads, the (biblical) book of Jeremiah, the Tao Teh Ching, and on and on ... Poetry cuts straight to the heart of a feeling or experience, trying to distill it down to it's absolute -- albeit textual -- essense. Poetry is a hybrid language of heart and words. And even when you feel forced to wade through a hundred boring, insipid poems, finding that one that truly speaks to you ... that resonates with you ... feels like finding a fabulous treasure. Kathy doesn't say that exactly. But I think her whole piece is worth a read. And I'd love to hear your comments on poetry.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Quotable / Monday Poetry Blogging

A poor life this if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare. -- William H. Davies (1871 - 1940), poet and writer
How perfectly suited to a Monday! As we all know -- or at least I would dare say a majority of Internet-savvy folks have experienced -- Monday is a day of racing around. It's the beginning of a new work week, and all the incomplete tasks from the previous week come hurtling at you, competing with all the new crap you have to deal with. And this is right after an all-too-brief weekend in which you probably rushed about trying to complete hundreds of personal tasks, all the while trying to find the time for some much needed relaxation. Phew! By the way, today's quotable is the final two lines from W.H. Davies' poem, Leisure -- and they are probably what he is best known for. Did you know there was a whole (albeit brief) poem attached to these sage words? Take a little time today and go check out the full version.

Friday, April 14, 2006

ODIN: THE OPERA

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If you are in NYC this weekend, and don't really have any *ahem* Easter plans, then maybe you would like to take in this original work by "junk percussionist" Donald Knaack. According to the website, ODIN: THE OPERA "chronicles the story of Odin, God of the Gods, and Loko, militaristic mastermind with a dirty secret, in the days leading up to the war to end all wars: Ragnarok." Knaack's music is played on "Plastic bottles, Scrap Hardwood, Metal 55 Gallon Drums, Wood Wind Chimes, Frying Pans, a Snowboard Xylophone, a Cardboard Box, Artillery Shells, and Automobile Brake Drums" and the story is lifted from (but not an exact retelling of) the Eddas. But it looks rather interesting. ODIN: THE OPERA runs April 14,15,16 at the Frederick Loewe Theatre (NYU). For ticket info, go to www.odintheopera.com/tickets.html or call the box office at 212-998-5281. And if you go, could you get me a t-shirt or a recording? Or something?

Spiritual Transformation Public Symposium

Over April 6,7 and 10, Science & Theology News used it's daily e-newsletter (The Daily Dose) to report on the Spiritual Transformation Public Symposium. The Symposium, a three-day conference at the University of California-Berkeley, was sponsored by the Metanexus Institute who described it this way:
This symposium represents the first overall public presentation of the results of 22 rigorous investigations into the nature of the biological, psychosocial, and cultural conditions and factors that underlie spiritual transformations of individuals and groups. All of these projects are using today's cutting edge methodologies and sophisticated experimental designs to provide fresh insight into these phenomena under investigation. We anticipate that the many presentations from this unique symposium will help to create an innovative interdisciplinary field in the human sciences for the study of spiritual transformation.
Abstracts for the conference are available here. According to The Daily Dose reports, conference highlights included:

1. Day One: a. Plenary Session "Science, Society and Religion: From Dialog to Research" b. First National Survey of Spiritual Transformation c. Major Illness, Resilience and Spiritual Transformation

2. Day Two: a. Youth and Spiritual Transformation b. Spiritual Transformation Over the Life Course

3. Day Three: a. Descriptive and Ethnographic Studies of Spiritual Transformation b. Key Advances, Accomplishments and Challenges for the Future of the Spiritual Transformation Program

I have not finished The Daily Dose's commentaries, so I cannot *ahem* comment on them at this time. But here are links if you want to read them yourself:

I'll write more on this later.

Friday Pet Blogging | Napping Milo & Hiding Otis

Both boys are off the meds for now. I don't know what the last batch of pills did for them, but they have seemed perkier. And the change in diet seems to have had a positive effect as well. Maybe it is cutting down on the sediment in their systems, so they are less likely to have irritation issues and inflammation. At any rate, Milo has not had any recent incidents, though he still sleeps in the kennel overnight, just in case. Otis ... well, Otis is still a tad crazy, particularly after he has a -- *ahem* -- movement. (Maybe Otis just revels in lightening his load, so to speak. I don't know ... he's a weird cat). Although kenneled at night ... and for most of the working day ... Milo does get free reign of the house during the evening. And can you guess what is his favorite thing to do with all that freedom? Can you? You're looking at it:

Milo looks quite content, sleeping on our bed
He does, of course, play with his brother, Otis, a bit before retiring for an evening nap. Speaking of Otis, here is a pic of him taken moments before the Clash! image featured here on March 31:

Otis attempts to hide.

Links to more good cat (and other pet) blogging below...

More Pet Blogging
  1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
  2. Check the M&O Archives for previous Milo & Otis appearances (currently up-to-date through Sept 2005. I'll finish the updates soon, I hope!).
  3. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Quotable

Rare is the person who can weigh the faults of others without putting his thumb on the scales. --Byron J. Langenfeld

Friday, April 07, 2006

Kids with Cameras

Kids with Cameras is a non-profit organization that teaches the art of photography to marginalized children in communities around the world. They use photography to capture the imaginations of children, to empower them, building confidence, self-esteem and hope.

Sample Image from Kids With Cameras website
Photo: Kids With Cameras

For more information visit Kids-with-cameras.org/mission/

Friday Pet Blogging | A Cute Landing

There are moments in life, particularly a life that includes cats, when one's animal companion does something so cute that he or she actually looks as though they were saying, "See how cute I am?" This is one of those moments, captured digitally:
"Look at me! Look at me!" (Otis rolls about on the landing)

More Pet Blogging
  1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
  2. Check the M&O Archives for previous Milo & Otis appearances (currently up-to-date through Sept 2005!).
  3. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Quotable | Harmony

All things carry Yin and embrace Yang. The two breaths blend and produce harmony."
-- The Eastern Bible: Tao Teh Ching, 42