shaktinah's blog

For Earth Day...

Tip #1 on saving the world:

Stop buying bottled water.

First of all, there's the plastic bottles that the water comes in.  Don't let the idea that it's recyclable lull you into thinking it's environmentally friendly.  Only bottles labeled #1 and #2 have any chance of being recycled, and the production of new plastic still outpaces recycling several times over.  Most of it still ends up in landfills.  Not to mention the fact that both the production and recycling of plastic produces toxic fumes containg such carcinogens as benzine and vinyl chloride, which impact those living around the plants.

Don't Forget to Save the World

I used to have in my email signature:

P.S. Don't forget to save the world.

followed by a link to some form of online activism. For example, the Hunger Site, where the click of a mouse can donate a cup of grain.

Occasionally I would get comments from people about my signature. Perhaps they thought it was too glib. Or they thought that donating a cup of rice was not going to make a difference in the grand scheme of things. Perhaps they thought the challenge of "saving the world" was just too daunting a task to ponder, let alone as an afterthought in an email.

Free Will, Meaning and Morality

An interesting discussion came up on one of the online discussion forums. Someone posted the results of an fMRI study where researchers found patterns of brain activity that predict people's decisions up to 10 seconds before they're aware they've made a choice. The poster then asked the question whether this was the end of the belief in free will.

The study itself does prove there's no free will. But it does highlight how disassociated our "consciousnesses" are. We perceive ourselves as an integrated whole when in reality, different parts of the brain attend to different things. We are, as Buddhism teaches us, collections of aggregates.

Geek Rock!

 

Ok, so only the geekiest of people are going to get this. But I thought it was hilarious. 

 FYI: PCR = polymerase chain reaction It's a way to make lots of copies of a DNA sequence and it used routinely in biological research, as well as to identify or absolve people in criminal investigations. Dr. Kary Mullis is the guy credited with inventing PCR, for which he won the Nobel Prize in chemistry. Bio-Rad is a company that makes a lot of PCR products, and they obviously want scientists to remember them and buy their stuff! Hmm... I swear that guy in the blue shirt looks familiar... And of course, I can't help but be reminded of Jonathan Coulton's song: That Spells DNA

 

Pesach & Liberation from Oppression

Yesterday evening marked the first night of Passover or Pesach.  It's kind of a blessing when my UU church's annual observance of Pesach actually takes place at the right time.  (All Souls does a wonderful Seder dinner but it plays a little loose with the rules... which is very UU.)

Since this is a UU Seder, our Haggadah (the order of service for the Seder) emphasizes the social justice aspects of the Exodus story.  We talk not only of God delivering the Jews from the oppression of the Egyptians but also our recognition that others in the world are still oppressed and our hopes for their liberation too.  We link the enslavement of the Israelites in Egypt with the enslavement of African Americans in the U.S.  (Indeed, the Exodus story is a key part of black liberation theology.)  To be fair, I know a lot of Jewish Seders also broaden the focus towards all people who are oppressed, and teach that their own experiences show them that they must not be complacent to injustice.

Desperate Who?

This arrived in my emailbox this evening:

Subject: UUism and Desperate Housewives

Well, we're moving into pop culture.  Bree referred Lynette to go to a UU church (where she hears we are open to asking questions) last week on Desperate Housewives.

To which my reaction was, who is Bree and who is Lynette?  Maybe pop culture has moved into us but not all of us have moved into it. :P

Tibet... Again.

First there was the post on Making Chutney, talking about the feudal and oppressive governance in pre-communist occupied Tibet.  I was very happy to see a UU presenting the other perspective and recognizing an "anti-Chinese" sentiment in the Western response. But during the discussion within the comments, I became a little uncomfortable.  Understanding that Tibet was a theocracy ruled by the lamas should not then automatically become, "Tibetans are better off now under the communists."  That runs the danger of us not responding to oppression that continues to exist.

Update on the Evolution Debate in Florida

About two months ago, I blogged in recognition of Darwin Day, at which time I pointed to a disturbing trend in Florida. Twelve county school districts had passed resolutions banning the teaching of evolutionary theory.

There's a New Pope In Town

In case it was possible for anyone to not know, the Pope is in town.  And DC seems to be agog.  All week long the metro platforms have been announcing that you can take the train to Nationals stadium (if you have a ticket).  On the trains, I've heard several cellphone conversations about the pontiff.  And the Post is running stories about people who paid thousands of dollars to fly here, or drove all night... And of course there is stuff like this.

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