Thursday, October 28, 2010

US Midterm Elections. Let's Tea Party!

Let's Tea Party!

Ms. Pelosi, you are fired! And Mr. Obama! You and your zars - you are next! - Sarah Palin at the Tea Party Movement's rally

The Tea Party Movement is a grass-root political movement that emerged in 2009 as a sign of growing dissatisfaction with the current economic and political situation in the USA. People who were unhappy with the economy and the general direction the country was taking began to express their concern, if not outright outrage, in rallies. The biggest rally took place on August 28 at the National Mall. More than 500,000 people gathered peacefully in front of the Lincoln Memorial to "Restore Honor".

The movement that has no central leader, but is associated with such political figures as the former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin and the US Senator Jim DeMint, spread throughout the country like a prairie fire and managed to stir the American politics quite a bit. In states such as Alaska, Delaware and New York, the Tea Party candidates defeated the Republican Party nominees and are now running against the Democrats. 

The movement is often dismissed as irrational. The President, who now calls his opposition "our enemies", seems not to understand the growing dissatisfaction with his policies and believes that people are simply under stress and cannot think clearly. 

Well, the tea partiers may not be "as sophisticated as the Washington elites" (Karl Rove), but they are definitely not an irrational bunch. They do not like what is going on in the country and express their displeasure in a rational manner. They simply do not want to end up living in an European style social democracy. 

Dominique Allmon

Mid-term elections in five days! Remember to cast your vote! Act wisely!

Image by Rodney Smith

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why Food Stamps Are Not Good for You

When President Obama run for the Office in 2008, he promised change. For many Americans change came in the most unexpected way. Some lost their jobs, others not only lost their jobs, but also lost their homes. Many became completely dependent on the Government's handouts and even those who work receive food stamps hoping that this situation is only temporary. As many as 42 million Americans are now on food stamps and yet, the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi believes that food stamps are good for the economy!

"It is the biggest bang for the buck when you do food stamps and unemployment insurance. The biggest bang for the buck," Pelosi told the press at a press conference in her home town of San Francisco on October 6, 2010. She explained that the program's multiplier effect – the amount of money that is generated by the local economies as the result of the Government's subsidies – exceeds the nearly $60 billion spent this year by the Federal Government on the program and is a great way to stimulate the economy. For every dollar that a person receives in food stamps, Pelosi said that $1.79 is put back into the economy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated an even higher figure of $1.84!

According to this logic, the more people on food stamps, the better! And not just better for the economy! Better for the politics, as well. As people become more and more dependent on their Government's social programs, they are very unlikely to vote this Government out of power. Who would bite the hand that feeds him?

While social programs may be necessary in times of emergency, they should only be temporary as they create dependence and complacency. And although they may artificially stimulate economy for a while, they do a great harm to the spirit of the people. They demoralize the people, take away hope and destroy the pioneer spirit Americans are so well known for.

Former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, criticizes the Democrats for their way in handling the economy. He wants the Republican candidates to shape the political debate as one "between the Democratic Party of food stamps and the Republican Party of paychecks."

Rather than giving more and more handouts the Government should reduce its size, cut spending and extend the tax cuts. This would be the stimulus the economy needs right now, but instead, the blame game goes on.

On a rally for John Kitzhaber in Portland, OR, on October 20, the President made an eloquent statement. He compared the US economy to a car that was driven to a ditch by the Republican Party. He did not mention that the House and the Senate were in Democrats' hands at that time, but instead told the people that the Democrats have been working hard to get the above mentioned car out of the ditch. 
"We went down there we put on our boots, it was muddy down there and it was hot. There were bugs everywhere. But we knew we had to get that car out of that ditch. So we start pushing on that car. And every once in a while we look up and the Republicans are up there, just standing there, not lifting a finger. And we tell them to come down and help because you'all got the car into the ditch. They say, no that's alright, but you need to push harder. You're not pushing the right way." - President Obama
With more than one in eight Americans now on food stamps, participation in the program has jumped about 70 percent from 26 million in May 2007 to 42 million in September 2010 while the nation's unemployment rate rose from 4.3 percent in 2007 to 9.2 percent in this time. This really is a sign of change. So, maybe, after all, the Democrats are pushing hard, but in a wrong direction. 

By Dominique Allmon ©2010

Remember to cast your vote on November 2nd!

Write Something

To write something and leave it behind us,
It is but a dream.
When we awake we know
There is not even anyone to read it.

By Raymund M. Smullyan

From "The Tao is Silent"

Image credit here 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Art of War

“There are ways in which a ruler can bring misfortune upon his army by attempting to govern an army in the same way as he administers a kingdom, being ignorant of the conditions which obtain in an army." - Sun Tzu, The Art of War

"When presidential candidate Barack Obama proudly announced in the fall of 2007 that, if elected, he was going to “fundamentally change the United States of America” it was a warning shot across the bow of the U.S. military, its culture, and the men and women who bravely serve every day.

More to the point, while our armed forces take fire from enemies in the sands and mountains of the Middle East, they are also taking fire from a much more lethal source: their commander-in-chief. Yes, America’s military is at war with radical Islamists around the world and, more problematic, with their President at home.

Barack Obama’s war with the U.S. military is one with several fronts: social engineering of the military culture at the expense of readiness and capability; dictating the rules of engagement (ROE) that hinder our troops’ ability to fight an enemy that doesn’t wear traditional military uniforms and hides behind women’s burqas while operating from schools and mosques; and, slashing the necessary funding for force modernization and sustainability. And finally, morale - successful military operations always come down to morale.

Former President and World War II hero Dwight D. Eisenhower once said “Morale is the greatest single factor in successful wars.” It’s also a concept that Barack Obama seems incapable of grasping." 

Fragments from the article "Obama's War Against US Military" by Lt. Col. Buzz Patterson, United States Air Force (Retired), who is the author of Conduct Unbecoming: How Barack Obama is Destroying the Military and Endangering Our Security.

Image source here

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Duty to Remember the Fallen in Beirut

US Marines at Arlington National Cemetery 
Section 59 on October 17, 2010

At approximately 6:22 a.m., on Oct. 23, 1983, a Muslim terrorist drove a yellow delivery truck into the lobby of the Marine Corps barracks at Beirut International Airport. The vehicle exploded with a force equivalent to 12,000 pounds of TNT, destroying the building and killing 220 Marines, 18 sailors and three soldiers. Additionally, 58 French paratroopers were killed in a separate attack just two minutes later as they were mobilizing to assist their fellow service members.

Since 1984, the remembrance ceremony has been an annual event of sorrow and celebration for the men who gave their lives during a peace keeping mission in Beirut.  

On October 17, 2010, Veterans, families, friends and various dignitaries gathered under blue skies at section 59 in Arlington National Cemetery to remember their loved ones and brothers in arms.

“Most of our countrymen probably believe this global war on terror started on 9/11,” said Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James T. Conway. “I don’t believe that for a moment. I believe it started in October of 1983 when we first saw a significant strike on the young men – Marine, Navy and Army, who were in that building in Beirut.”

During the ceremony, families of the fallen were called forward to lead everyone in the pledge of allegiance.  Leaders, dignitaries and veterans spoke about the courage and sacrifice of all who were affected by the tragedy. Furthermore, the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps detachment of Mount Vernon High School laid white roses on the graves of those who died that day. To conclude the ceremony, a remembrance wreath was placed by the memorial stone next to the Beirut Cedar tree in section 59. 

“We hope you will be consoled in the knowledge that others remember, you are not forgotten and never will be,” said Carmella LaSpada, executive director of the White House Commission of Remembrance. “Love has brought us together today, a love for those we honor, and a love for our nation.”

This year, numerous guest speakers, including 28th commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Paul X. Kelly, 29th commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Alfred M. Gray, Jr., and Lebanese Ambassador Antoine Chedid were present to recognize the sacrifices of the veterans and their families, fulfilling the promise that they will never be forgotten. 

“They lost their lives while in a peace keeping mission,” Chedid said. “I’m here to pay tribute to them for their bravery. They paid the ultimate sacrifice in the service of peace. Twenty-seven years later, their memory is still in our hearts.”

For the Marines, sailors soldiers who were there, the memory will forever remain etched in their minds.

Craig Renshaw, president of Beirut Veterans of America, said it’s important to remember the lives of the men who died that day. Most Marines knew at least one person who died. For them, the memory is going to be there forever, but it’s up to the chapters, those who were affected and a younger generation to remind others what happened when we suffered the first blow in the war on terror.

“Remembrance is not letting the memory of the guys who gave their lives be forgotten,” he said. “It’s all about them.”

Article and image source here


Do Not Let Your Fire Go Out

Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swaps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists... it is real... it is possible... it's yours. - Ayn Rand

Friday, October 22, 2010

Here and Now


"The pure present is an ungraspable advance of the past devouring the future. In truth, all sensation is already memory."- Haruki Murakami

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Our Mind - Our Enemy?

 Buddha dangerously close to the cage
by Roberto Orgera, 2008

"Many of us are slaves to our minds. Our own mind is our worst enemy. We try to focus, and our mind wanders off. We try to keep stress at bay, but anxiety keeps us awake at night. We try to be good to the people we love, but then we forget them and put ourselves first. And when we want to change our life, we dive into spiritual practice and expect quick results, only to lose focus after the honeymoon has worn off. We return to our state of bewilderment. We're left feeling helpless and discouraged. It seems we all agree that training the body through exercise, diet, and relaxation is a good idea, but why don't we think about training our minds?" - Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

Image source here


Monday, October 18, 2010

Good Luck

Those who mistake their good luck for their merit are inevitably bound for disaster. - J. Christopher Herold

Once upon a time, a poor farmer was dismayed to learn that his horse had died during the night. "That's terrible," his neighbors said, "What a bad luck!" "Maybe," said the farmer to his friends. 

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the village, a certain rich man heard of the farmer's plight and took pity on him. He gave one of his many horses to the poor man as a gift. "That's wonderful! How lucky you are!" exclaimed the farmer's friends. But the farmer only said, "Maybe."

Only two months later, frightened by flashes of lightning and bursts of thunder during a fierce summer storm, the poor farmer's horse lept over the fence and ran away to the mountains. "That's terrible! What a bad luck!" the farmer's neighbors exclaimed. "Maybe." replied the farmer.

In less than three months time, and much to everyone's amazement, the runaway horse returned to the poor farmer. But he did not return alone, for he was accompanied by a magnificent stallion. Now the farmer had two horses! The neighbors marveled at such great fortune. "That's wonderful! How lucky you are!" they said. But the farmer simply replied, "Maybe."

One day the farmer's only son thought this would be a good time to break in the new stallion for riding. But the small, thin boy was no match for the mighty horse. He was violently thrown from the horse's back and severely injured. He broke several bones in his leg and would not walk for a long while. "That's terrible," said the neighbors, "now your son is lame. What a bad luck!" "Maybe," came the answer.

At this time in China there was a war going on between two rival warlords. One day a military officer came to the village to conscript young men. He took with him all able bodied young men to fight the war in a neighboring province. Many of the village's favorite sons would later perish. "How lucky you are that your son is lame, for he is safe with you," the neighbors said. Thanking them for their good wishes, the poor farmer said, "Maybe."


Not too sad and never too overjoyed! This was Taoist way of life. Probably like not many  other people, Taoists believed that the things are in a constant motion. They developed the philosophy of yin and yang which not only suggested the constant flux, but also clarified that everything in the universe has its opposite counterpart.

There is no good without evil, no beauty without ugliness, no joy without distress. Taoism taught that when dreadful things happen to us, extreme distress is improper because things are in constant motion and the energy in the universe flows into its other natural extreme. This is when really good things happen. But once again, extreme joy is improper. Those who understood this natural flow would enjoy their life with all its ups and downs. 

This constant flow of energy between naturally occurring dualities was  expression of the universal harmony between yin and yang forces that govern the universe. 

Since ancient times the Chinese understood that these two dynamic forces do not exist in opposition to one another. They are complementary. Everything in the universe has both aspects - the yin and the yang. Either of the forces may manifest more strongly in an object or a situation depending on the criterion of judgment and observation. The judgements we make depend on our perception of things but they do not reflect the underlying reality that often remains hidden. 

Only a foolish man believes that all that glitters is gold. And only a foolish man believes the opposite.

Dominique Allmon


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Health Benefits of Probiotics

 Home-made sauerkraut

In the past when antibiotics were first introduced into our world, most people had a very vague idea about bacteria in general. Most didn't recognize the extreme importance of the friendly bacteria living in our own bodies. The term "bacteria" was more often than not used to describe something harmful, something that could cause a disease.

Now people are becoming more and more aware of the fact that there are also beneficial bacteria without which life would not be possible. It is actually the friendly, life-sustaining bacteria which live inside our bodies and on our skin that keep our bodies functioning and thriving. Without them we would not be able to exist. They not only keep the bad bacteria in check, but have many other health-sustaining functions.

Our bodies are designed to function best with millions of friendly probiotic bacteria living in our intestinal tract and on our skins. There are more than four hundred different bacteria living in the human gastrointestinal tract. The most common forms of intestinal probiotics are L. acidophilus and Bifidobacteria bifidum.

In the past, we constantly replaced the probiotics in our system by eating organic vegetables grown in soil that was rich in soil-based organisms or by consuming raw milk products. Today we need to supplement as almost all milk products on the market are made of homogenized, pasteurized milk and most vegetable grow in depleted soil.

Our digestive systems especially rely heavily on friendly probiotic bacteria to aid in digestion and assimilation of our food. Hydrocarbons are broken down by probiotic bacteria which means that the food is being split into its most basic elements. This allows almost total absorption through the digestive system. In this way probiotics dramatically increase overall nutrition and enhance rapid cellular growth and development.

Probiotics not only aid digestion, but also help clean the digestive tract and reduce inflammation in the colon. Digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea and constipation are safely relieved by probiotics. The bowel movements become normalized.

Studies have shown that probiotics, especially acidophilus, promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon and reduce the conversion of bile into carcinogens or cancer-causing substances.

Probiotics also stimulate the production of many important enzymes such as the lactose digesting enzyme lactase, and increase the availability of vitamins especially Vitamin B, Vitamin K, and nutrients such as iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, and fatty acids.
The friendly bacteria also stimulate B-Lymphocyte and related anti-body production. They produce huge pools of extra anti-bodies, ready to protect and defend against infection. They not only stimulates the immune system thus helping the organism fight off acute infections but also help alleviate allergies, chronic fatigue syndrome and systemic candida.

Probiotics may also be useful in maintaining urogenital health. Like the intestinal tract, the vagina is a finely balanced ecosystem. The dominant lactobacilli strains normally make the vagina too acidic for harmful microorganisms to survive there. But this finely tuned system can be thrown out of balance by a number of factors, including extreme stress, antibiotics, spermicides, and birth control pills. Probiotic treatment may help restore the equilibrium and alleviate such common female urogenital problems as bacterial vaginosis, yeast infection, and urinary tract infections.

There are many probiotic products on the market now and they vary in quality and efficacy. In order to be effective, the bacteria in these supplements must be "alive" and active and able to reach the intestines unaffected by the stomach acid. The supplements must be sugar or glucose free as both, sugar and glucose, actually slow down the growth of lactobacilli. Very few supplements are actually viable.

The best way to deliver the healthy bacteria to the system is to acquire them through cultured foods where they are still actively involved in the fermentation process. Because the probiotics are in a food-based medium, the body can easily recognize and absorb them. Also, the food itself very easy to digest because it has been "predigested" by the friendly bacteria and is therefore an instant source of nutrients and life sustaining energy.

Cultured foods include kefir and yogurt made from organic raw milk, homemade sauerkraut and kimchi, unpasteurized miso paste, traditionally brewed unpasteurized kombucha, unpasteurized vinegars such as apple cider vinegar or coconut vinegar. People on a vegan diet may enjoy coconut or nut and seed based yogurts and cheeses made with controlled ferments.

Many common organically grown leafy green vegetable are also excellent sources of probiotics. The best green supplements for increasing probiotics include spirulina, chlorella, barley and wheat grass. The advantage of getting these disease-fighting bacteria from green sources is that these foods are also very high in other nutrients such a s the immune system-stimulating vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. They also help to alkalize and detoxify the body.

Because stress, unhealthy lifestyles, unhealthy acidic diets, and most importantly, over-medication with antibiotics, deplete probiotics naturally occurring in our bodies, it is vital to add probiotics to our diet. Probiotics must be used to re-populate intestines with the healthy bacteria after intensive treatment with antibiotics, radiation or chemotherapy.

Although it is easier to take a capsule or two, enriching your diet with naturally fermented foods is probably more effective and fun.

By Dominique Allmon

*This information is for educational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or cure a disease.

Populate Your Intestines With Beneficial Bacteria with Latero-Flora


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Benefits of Probiotics by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Liu Xiaobo Wins the Nobel Peace Prize for 2010

Liu Xiaobao

On October 8, 2010 Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China. He is a renowned literary critic, writer, and political activist based in Beijing. He served as President of the Independent Chinese PEN Center from 2003 to 2007 and currently holds a seat on its board. Liu Xiaobo was a professor at Beijing Normal University and has worked as a visiting scholar at several universities outside of China, including the University of Oslo, the University of Hawaii, and Columbia University in New York City.

On December 23, 2009, Liu Xiaobo was tried by the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court and pleaded not guilty to the charge of "inciting subversion of state power." The trial lasted less than three hours, and the defense was not permitted to present evidence. Two days later, on December 25, Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in prison and two years' deprivation of political rights. The Beijing High Court rejected his appeal on February 11, 2010.  

Liu Xiaobo was formally moved to Jinzhou Prison in Liaoning, his home province, on May 24, 2010. He will reportedly now have access to books published in China, and his wife will finally be permitted to visit him.

Liu Xiaobo was formally arrested by the Beijing Public Security Bureau on June 23, 2009 and charged with “inciting subversion of state power” for co-authoring Charter 08, a declaration calling for political reform, greater human rights, and an end to one-party rule in China that has been signed by hundreds of individuals from all walks of life throughout the country.  His case was officially moved to the prosecutor's office on December 8, 2009. He had been detained a year earlier, on December 8, 2008, and held for six months and two weeks under “residential surveillance” while police gathered evidence on his case. Liu Xia, Liu Xiaobo’s wife, has only been permitted to visit him twice, he did not have access to a lawyer and he was denied writing materials while detained at an undisclosed location in Beijing. He was held at the No. 1 Detention Center of Beijing City, where he has finally had access to his lawyers, from the date of his formal arrest in 2009 until May 24, 2010.

In the spring of 1989, Liu Xiaobo left his post at Columbia University and returned to Beijing to play a crucial role in the spreading pro-democracy movement, staging a hunger strike in Tiananmen Square in support of the students and leading calls for a truly broad-based, sustainable democratic movement. He was instrumental in preventing even further bloodshed in the Square by supporting and advancing a call for non-violence on the part of the students. He spent two years in prison for his role, and another three years of “reeducation through labor” in 1996 for publicly questioning the role of the single-party system and calling for dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama of Tibet.

In 2004, Liu’s phone lines and Internet connection were cut after the release of his essay criticizing the use of “subversion” charges used to silence journalists and activists, and he has been the target of regular police surveillance and harassment in the years since.

Just after 9:00 p.m. on December 8, 2008, before the formal release of Charter 08, police arrived at the Beijing homes of Liu and fellow activist Zhang Zuhua. At 11:00 p.m., they took both men away and searched their homes, confiscating computers and other materials. His arrest occurred during a period of several sensitive anniversaries, including the 100-year anniversary of the promulgation of China’s first constitution, the 60-year anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the 30-year anniversary of Beijing’s “Democracy Wall” movement.

While Zhang Zuhua was released the following morning, Liu Xiaobo remained in detention. He was held incommunicado until December 31, when he was finally permitted a visit from his wife.

Since Liu Xiaobo’s arrest, nearly all of the 300 original signatories of Charter 08 have been interrogated in a push to gather evidence against him and crack down on free expression in China. 

China warned the Norwegian Nobel Committee not to honor the democracy activist Liu Xiaobo. The committee didn’t listen. On Friday, Mr. Liu - who is locked in jail on an 11-year sentence for spurious subversion charges - became the first Chinese to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Nobel Committee rightly noted that the Chinese government has lifted millions of Chinese from poverty but political change has not kept up with economic reforms. China’s leaders can continue to repress their people or lead the way into an era of expanded freedoms.  

No matter what Beijing says or does, the world will not forget Mr. Liu. It will not forget Gao Zhisheng and Hu Jia and all the other jailed dissidents. We honor their courage and their struggle for freedom.  


Article source here & here
Image source here

Friday, October 15, 2010

Healing Properties of Apophyllite


Apophyllite is a potassium-calcium fluoride-silicate mineral from the family of phyllosilicates. It is structurally related to the zeolite family of minerals and commonly found with zeolites in basalt, granite, and gneiss formations. Like the zeolites, apophyllite has high water content and therefore, good energy conducting properties.

Apophyllite forms cubic or pyramidal crystals that can either be transparent or opaque. The color ranges from white, green, yellow to peach. There are also colorless forms. The name apophyllite is derived from the Greek word apophylliso which means "it flakes off". When heated, apophyllite loses its water and begins to flake.

Apophyllite is a fairly prevalent mineral. It can be found in abundance near Trentino in Italy, near Belfast in Northern Ireland, on Faroe Islands, near Kimberley in South Africa, and in Guananjuato in Mexico. Considerable amounts are also found in the Harz Mountains in Germany, on Mont St. Hillaire in Canada, and in Kongsberg in Norway, but probably the best apophyllite, however, comes from Puna, India. 

Like many other crystals-forming minerals, apophyllite is used in Reiki, meditation, and crystal healing. Its high energy conductivity makes it a perfect stone for this purpose. The naturally formed pyramids help to magnify and focus energy. Apophyllite is used to establish connection with higher realms. It is believed to create a conscious link between the material world and the spiritual sphere and to facilitate astral travel. It is associated with the sixth chakra, the seat of intuition and psychic abilities.

Apophyllite is believed to transfer vibrations and to correct energetic imbalances. It has the ability to clear and amplify the energy of spaces. On personal level, it helps to release mental blocks and negative thought patterns. It is used to stimulate intuition and introspection. A person who uses this stone in meditation develops the ability to understand things with a new clarity. Apophyllite allows us to reflect upon our own behavior and to recognize patterns that hinder our growth. It gives us the ability to look into the the deepest recesses of our minds and souls and to discover and embrace our true nature. It is a stone of truth that gives us not only the courage to show others our real face, but also to face and correct our deficiencies. 

Apophyllite helps to release suppressed emotions and to heal the soul. It is used to reduce fear and anxiety. It also helps to make a decision and to solve problems. It reduces stress and facilitates a state of deep relaxation. It facilitates meditation.

On a physical plane, apophyllite is used in connection with respiratory problems. It helps to neutralize allergies and to heal the mucosa. For this purpose green apophyllite is placed on the chest in the area of the heart chakra. Apophyllite pyramids are used to rejuvenate tired eyes and to heal problems related to vision. A person should lie down and place a small pyramid on a forehead between the eyes in the area associated with the third eye. Apophyllite is a very powerful stone, but depending on the condition more than one session may be necessary. The healing takes place on a quantum level and there is nothing magical about it. We are bodies of energy and apophyllite is a very powerful energy conductor.

Apophyllite is not only a healing stone, but also a beautiful mineral that gives joy to everyone looking at it. The diversity of forms and colors adds splendor to a collection and a wonderful energy to a home.

By Dominique Allmon

*This article is for educational purposes only and is not meant to heal or diagnose any disease.


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Healing Properties of Apophyllite by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

The World of Impermanence

 Discarded by Howard French, 2006

We live in a world of impermanence and instability, because we are blinded by tiny fragments to which we cling under the influence of unreasonable desires; and thus blinded we lose the great connections and inner relations which give meaning and harmony to the flux of life. If we could see the whole picture, the totality and completeness of relations, we would be able to see things and beings in their proper perspective. The change of movement- which until then could be conceived only under the negative aspect of impermanence (as the principle of destruction) - would reveal a consistency of rhythm, a stability of direction and a continuity of organic development and spiritual unfoldment which could restore to our world and life a higher order of permanence and value than ever conceived by intellectual abstractions and speculations. - Lama Anagarika Govinda

Image source here


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Charles Yeager - First Man to Break the Sound Barrier

 Charles Yeager with his Bell X-1

It didn't make any difference to me whether I thought the airplane would go faster than sound. I was assigned as a test pilot on it, and it was my duty to fly it." - Charles Yeager

Sixty three years ago, on October 14, 1947, Charles Yeager was the first man to break the sound barrier. After launch from a B-29 he accelerated to a speed of Mach 1.06 at 42,000 feet and shattered the myth of the once-dreaded "sound barrier" forever. 

Charles "Chuck" Yeager is unquestionably the most famous test pilot of all time. He won a permanent place in the history of aviation as the first pilot ever to fly faster than the speed of sound, but that is only one of the remarkable feats this pilot performed in service to his country.

Charles Elwood Yeager was born in 1923 in Myra, West Virginia and grew up in the nearby village of Hamlin. Immediately upon graduation from High School he enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps to serve in World War II.

Shot down over enemy territory only one day after his first kill in 1943, Yeager evaded capture and, with the aid of the French resistance, made his way across the Pyrenees to neutral Spain. Although army policy prohibited his return to combat flight, Yeager personally appealed to General Dwight D. Eisenhower and was allowed to fly combat missions again.

He flew 64 combat missions in World War II. On one occasion he shot down a German jet from a prop plane. By war's end he had downed 13 enemy aircraft, five in a single day.

After the war, Yeager continued to serve the newly constituted United States Air Force as a flight instructor and test pilot. In 1947, he was assigned to test the rocket-powered X-1 fighter plane. At the time, no one knew if a fixed-wing aircraft could fly faster than sound, or if a human pilot could survive the experience. Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier on October 14, 1947, only days after cracking several ribs in a horseback riding accident.

In 1952, he set a new air speed record of 1650 mph, more than twice the speed of sound. He flew test flights in Korea, and commanded a fighter squadron in Europe.

After the onset of the space race in 1956, Yeager commanded the Air Force Aerospace Research Pilots School to train pilots for the space program. In this capacity, Yeager supervised development of the space simulator and the introduction of advanced computers to Air force pilots. Although Yeager himself was passed over for service in space, nearly half of the astronauts who served in the Gemini, Mercury and Apollo programs were graduates of Yeager's school.

In 1963, Yeager was flying the experimental Lockheed Starfighter at over twice the speed of sound when the engine shut off and he was forced to abandon the spinning aircraft. Yeager's compression suit was set on fire by the burning debris from the ejector seat, which became entangled in his parachute. He survived the fall, but required extensive skin grafts for his burns.

The Air Force space school was closed in 1966, as NASA took over the training of astronauts. During the Vietnam War, Yeager -- now a full colonel -- commanded the 405th fighter wing out of the Philippines, flying 127 air-support missions, and training bomber pilots.

In 1968, Yeager was promoted to brigadier general. He is one of a very few who have risen from enlisted man to general in the Air Force. In 1970, General Yeager served as U.S Defense Representative to Pakistan and supervised Pakistan's air defense in its war with India. He retired from the Air Force in 1975, but continued to serve as a consulting test pilot for many years.

In 1976, Chuck Yeager was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery. He is the only American to be awarded the Medal for service in peacetime. His other decorations include the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star with V device, the Air Force Commendation medal, the Silver Star with oak leaf cluster, the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross with two clusters, and the Air Medal with ten clusters. His civilian awards include the Harmon International Trophy (1954) and the Collier and Mackay trophies (1948). He was the first and the youngest military pilot to be inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame (1973).

A bestselling nonfiction book The Right Stuff (1979) by Tom Wolfe, and the popular film of the same title (1983) made Yeager's name a household word among Americans too young to remember Yeager's exploits of the 1950s. Yeager's autobiography enjoyed phenomenal success and he remains much in demand on the lecture circuit and as a corporate spokesman. 

After a 34-year military career, he retired on March 1, 1975. At the time of his retirement, he had flown more than 10,000 hours in more than 330 different types and models of aircraft.

Chuck Yeager made his last flight as a military consultant on October 14, 1997, the 50th anniversary of his history-making flight in the X-1. He observed the occasion by once again breaking the sound barrier, this time in an F-15 fighter. 

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What We Can Learn From Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan on the White House lawn, 
February 20, 1985

Happy Birthday Maggie!

Baroness Margaret Hilda Thatcher, née Roberts, celebrated her 85th birthday yesterday, October 13. She served as a Britain's Prime Minister (1979 to 1990) and was a leader of the Conservative Party (1975 to 1990). She was the only woman who has ever held these posts in the United Kingdom. Her tough rhetoric earned her the nickname  The Iron Lady. She was a conservative politician who left a remarkable legacy.

Margaret Thatcher has often been described as a political soul-mate of Ronald Reagan with whom she shared conservative political philosophy and a leadership style. Her place in the world and the British history is indisputable and today, once again, conservative politicians are analyzing her policies in search for solutions to our current political and economic crisis. 

In a nation where more and more people expect the government to give more and more handouts and where the Speaker of the House believes that food stamps are good for the economy, a Tea Party Movement is on the rise with a purpose to restore the morale and the dignity of the people. The history repeats itself and those who look at Great Britain of the late 1970s may find some significant parallels. Although we may need a bit different approach today, the core of Thatcherism may prove more than useful to solving the mess created by the ever growing government and its excessive spending. America probably needs another Ronald Reagan. Fast!

By Dominique Allmon

Here are some excerpts from a lecture by Sir Rhodes Boyson and Antonio Martino that was given in October 1999 at the Heritage Foundation.

"What We Can Learn From Margaret Thatcher"

Political lessons

Margaret Thatcher has her place in world as well as British history. Her very name is used to denote a way of thinking: Thatcherism. She herself was not an original thinker, and on her resignation the editor of the Daily Telegraph described Thatcherism as a powerful collection of beliefs about the capacities of human beings in a political society. The ideas were not new but were put into operation by a very remarkable woman. It was the happy coincidence of the right person, in the right place, at the right time. 

When she became leader of the Conservative Party in 1975, Britain was on the brink of disaster, threatened by total collapse. The weak Labour government with a small majority presided over a bankrupt economy in hock to the IMF and threatened from within by a challenge to law and order itself. When she was forced from power in 1990, she left a sound economy and a confident and well-ordered society. The lessons are writ large.

The achievement was remarkable, starting with the fact of being the only woman Prime Minister in British history - something America has yet to emulate. She enjoyed 11 and a half years in office, longer than any other 20th century politician (in fact, the longest since Lord Liverpool in the 19th century). She won three successive general elections, two of them being landslide majorities, and lost none. The secret of her success lies in a combination of qualities, which both saw her into leadership and were the essence of her period in power:
  • Courage to see an opportunity and take it.
  • Decisiveness in times of crisis.
  • Clear beliefs held with an evangelical zeal. During the 1979 election, she ridiculed the Socialist Prime Minister Callaghan saying, "The Old Testament prophets did not say `Brothers, I want a consensus.' They said, `This is my faith; this is what I passionately believe; if you believe it too, then come with me.'" Her crusading qualities were embedded in her Methodist background, which gave a moral purpose to all she did.
  • Physical strength. She needed little sleep and would certainly have been killed by the IRA bomb in Brighton if she had not been working on her conference speech at 2:00 a.m.
  • Intellectual capacity. She entered Oxford at 17 reading chemistry.
She was a slight, pretty, feminine woman in a man's world. She turned what could have been a disadvantage into a useful weapon, and she had luck.

Few politicians in history have the opportunity or ability to shine in domestic and foreign policy. Margaret did both. She was patriotic and had no compunction in unfurling that flag. Her patriotism was instinctive and struck a chord with the British people. They saw her as a powerful leader who stood up for Britain.

She didn't pretend to be a diplomatist, and actually said of herself, "I know nothing about diplomacy, but I just know and believe I want certain things for Britain." These were increased respect for Britain as a leading power, limitations on European pretensions, and a close alliance with the U.S.

This latter was the most important and productive, and was cemented by the mutual attraction and meeting of minds of President Reagan and Margaret Thatcher on most issues. It enabled her to fight a war 8,000 miles away in the Falklands. She had the backing of the British people, but she needed American help. It was given, and she never forgot this. Neither did she forget European procrastination and obstructiveness. Later, she was to use her prestige to nudge President Bush into the Gulf War.

Britain remained America's strongest ally. She stood with America against terrorism in the Libyan crisis. Most important, she stood with President Reagan on the Strategic Defense Initiative but ensured that what was good for America did not undermine NATO, nor undermine the nuclear deterrent necessary for the rest of the West. It proved to be the final piece in the jigsaw that saw the end of the Evil Empire and the collapse of Russian Communism. The Iron Lady had played her part, and the chemistry that had worked with Reagan similarly worked with Gorbachev.

The repercussions of the changes that were pursued by the action of these three people were immense. The world was made a different place. As Margaret Thatcher herself said after leaving office, "The US and Britain have together been the greatest alliance in the defense of liberty and justice that the world has ever known."

Margaret Thatcher's part in the fall of Russian Communism bridged her American and European policies. She wanted the Eastern European countries free and absorbed into the European Community. This would dilute French and German dominance of Europe and make more likely a community of independent national states. From 1980 to 1988, she visited Eastern Europe as often as she could - Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Russia, and Poland. She was popular and was seen as the champion of the values they wanted - national determination, liberty, and the free market. She raised British prestige and gave the people of Eastern Europe hope.

Economic Lessons 

Margaret Thatcher's and Ronald Reagan's leadership has translated the revolution in economic thinking into actual policy changes. Also, by bringing those ideas out of the ivory tower and into the political arena, they have contributed in shifting the focus of political debate in a direction more favorable to a free society. If today's political discourse is so radically different from what it has been for the greatest part of this century, this is certainly due to the intellectual giants that have prepared the revolution - Friedman, Hayek, Buchanan, Stigler, to name just a few - but also to a great extent to two world leaders - Reagan and Thatcher - who have allowed those ideas to be implemented and, by so doing, to be known to the masses.

It is gratifying to look back at the political climate which has prevailed for most of this (20th) century and compare it to the present one. The century that is coming to its end has been the century of the State, a century of dictators, the century of Hitler and Stalin, as well as the century of arbitrary government and of unprecedented intrusion of politics into our daily lives. It has produced the largest increase in the size of government in the history of mankind.

For the greatest part of the 20th century, the prevailing intellectual climate has been in favor of socialism in one form or another. The future of freedom, of a society based on voluntary cooperation, free markets, and the rule of law, appeared uncertain, to say the least. Many people had become convinced of the "inevitability of Socialism." There is no need to insist on this point. We all remember how gloomy the political scenario was for freedom fighters until recently.

In the course of the 1970s, things started to change. Gradually, pessimism subsided and a new mood started to take hold. More and more people were expressing dissatisfaction with the old socialist prescriptions and indicating a preference for market mechanisms. Socialists of the old school became fewer and fewer. As a result, believers in a free society began to hope for the future of a liberal order.

Wrong economic theories, entrenched interest groups, and a widespread aversion for the free market had resulted in economic sclerosis, inflation, unemployment, and general decline served as a background for Margaret Thatcher's policies. She intended to change all of this, and she did.

Her first battle was in the field of macroeconomic policy, where there was a switch from reliance on fiscal policy as a means of managing aggregate demand to the use of monetary policy. In fiscal policy the aim was that of reducing the deficit (PSBR: Public Sector Borrowing Requirement). In the field of taxation, the goal was that of restoring incentives to work, save, and invest through cuts in all tax rates, especially at the highest levels. The underlying philosophy was that the restoration of incentives was more important than the search for equality.

Thatcher also succeeded in taming the unions. Even her detractors concede that that was one of her great successes. She also succeeded in shrinking government's direct role in the economy through privatization.

Thatcher succeeded in drastically reducing inflation in a country that had become dependent on it; taming the power of what were probably the most powerful labor unions in Europe; privatizing a large portion of a bloated public sector; enacting a tax code more favorable to entrepreneurship and investment; and establishing the conditions for long-term economic growth.

She dared do what no one else had had the courage to do in Britain for decades: challenge the prevailing consensus, the common wisdom, the entrenched interests, and drive a reluctant party and a befuddled country in a radically new direction.

Mrs. Thatcher's success owes much to the intellectual revolution in economic theory. She did not invent anything new; there was nothing novel or original in her economic policies. However, while those ideas had been available for a long time, they had not been translated into policy changes until she came about. It was her leadership, courage, determination, and intellectual integrity that allowed those intellectual insights to inspire actual economic policies and change Britain.

The limiting factor in politics today is not the comprehension of the nature of social problems and of their desirable solution - even though we still have a long way to go to make the case for economic freedom fully grasped by the majority of public opinion and of politicians. The really scarce resource is leadership. A principled and uncompromising leader capable of building a coalition, a majority consensus around his platform is essential if we want to move toward a freer world.

Unfortunately, however, the likes of Thatcher and Reagan are not in large supply, and we can't wait for another one to come about. "So long as the people of any country place their hopes of political salvation in leadership of any description, so long will disappointment attend them." We must continue polishing our case, making it more convincing, exploring new ways to enlarge our freedoms, and above all converting politicians to our cause. 

About the authors: 

Sir Rhodes Boyson was one of the architects of the Thatcherite Revolution and served in several senior posts in the Thatcher government. He delivered the remarks on politics at a meeting of The Heritage Foundation's Windsor Society in Sea Island, Georgia, on October 3-6, 1999.

Antonio Martino is Professor of Economics at LUISS "G. Carli" University in Rome. He is currently on leave as a Member of Parliament. He delivered the remarks about economics at a meeting of The Heritage Foundation's Windsor Society in Sea Island, Georgia, on 
October 3-6, 1999.

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