Tag Archive: Brave

Google Gagarin

It Was 50 Years Ago, Today

…when mankind left the gravitational confines of our Earth.

Google Gagarin

Google Gagarin

Yuri Gagarin

Yuri Gagarin

A poor boy from the steppes, Yuri Gagarin, simultaneously became the first man in space and the first man to leave Earth and orbit it completely.  (This is something that took NASA several steps before John Glenn finally emulated the feat).

While of humble background (like Jesus), his father was a carpenter (like Jesus) and his mother read voraciously (as Jesus knew the scriptures).  Obviously, Gagarin wasn’t Jesus, but he did die in his mid-thirties which parallels Jesus’s early death.

Gagarin Launch

Gagarin Launch

I was alive when Gagarin stunned the world by being shot into space.  I remember very few photos of the man or the event.  The West was naturally very embarrassed by being overshadowed by a dictator-led communist state.  Most scientists were just astonished.  Most politicians and the mainstream media were extremely alarmist in public (and fully actioned in private) because the inter-continental aspect of chucking a nuclear weapon sized piece of machinery aloft at the height of the cold war was paramount in their minds.

What struck me then and since was the fact that Gagarin always seemed to have a happy cheeriness about him.  When we now see his pre-flight pictures, his confidence is astounding, because remember, before the voyage, mankind had conflicting ideas about the very survivability for a man in the entirely hostile and unforgiving environment of space.  Some said that a man would die within half and hour from radiation….

Of course, the Soviet scientists had tested these theories with mammals (dogs & ape) and knew that even though the animals died on their space-flights (and were destined to die, by design), they knew that a man could survive the flight and if a return to Earth could be made, he’d live to see another day.  They’d also done a small step-by-step approach to their rocketry so even though the rocket was made primarily as an ICBM, its designer was actually more interested in getting men into space and had designed accordingly.  (see this article on Sergei Korolev and his space-flight dreams).

This, Gagarin duly did, by re-entering the atmosphere in his capsule and then, when the speed had sufficiently reduced, by opening his capsule and leaping from it to then descend on a conventional parachute.

Amazingly, this all worked, perfectly.

International Space Station

International Space Station

We now see the benefits of this early Soviet work because for the next few years, transport of people to the International Space Station (ISS) will be done by the Russian Soyuz spacecraft alone now that the NASA Space Shuttle is grounded for good.

The Soyuz is a direct descendant of Gagarin’s early capsule and the subsequent work and deaths of Soviet cosmonauts.  Later joint work with NASA and their own accidents and astronaut deaths have made the Soyuz platform very reliable, in space flight terms.  See this Wikipedia article for a full introduction to space-flight of all kinds.

Google Celebration

Google, characteristically, have celebrated Gagarin’s achievement (and that it was, make no mistake, he was a very, very, brave man), with a decorated main page which I’ve copied for posterity above.

Hooray For Gagarin.

So it was 50 years ago today.  An event that changed the world and our perception of it and ourselves  in the universe.

It’s only people some years older than myself who actually remember the previous world where people remained fixed to the planet and could only dream and wonder about the reality beyond.  For myself and folks younger than me, we can only to imagine what that world was like because we are part of the world that Gagarin’s bravery opened up for us..

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Whales and Space Demonstrate Contrasts In Humanity

Introduction

Two items on today’s news demonstrated the vast contrasts in our humanity. Stardust probe finds ‘subdued’ comet crater & Japan halts whale hunt after chase by protesters.

Our Absolute Ingenuity and Progress

Four views of comet Tempel 1 as the Stardust spacecraft swept past.

Four views of comet Tempel 1 as the Stardust spacecraft swept past.

The absolute ingenuity of us humans and how far we have come since our cave-dwelling days is supremely demonstrated by the return of pictures by the spacecraft, Stardust.

In this case, 12 years ago, Stardust was launched to look at an asteroid then collect samples from the dust of a comet, Wild 2It did all of this wonderfully.

Then, in the meantime, another spacecraft, Deep Impact, had been launched which crashed a small craft into another comet, Tempel, back in 2005, creating a crater.

The fantastic demonstration of our technical expertise is that almost on a whim, it was decided to get the first craft, Stardust, to have a look at this crater and beam the picture back to us – and it did all of this automatically, 336 million km from Earth, which a radio signal takes 18 minutes to travel!

Evidence of the crater: Left shows a Deep Impact photo from 2005; Right shows Stardust's image with a small extra crater.

Evidence of the crater: Left shows a Deep Impact photo from 2005; Right shows Stardust’s image with a small extra crater.

Our Reluctance to Depart from our Hunter-gatherer Past

Dead Minke Whales On the Nisshin Maru research factory ship

Dead Minke On the Nisshin Maru “research factory ship”

Some people still hunt for sport.  Some nations dress hunting up with weasel words and hide their blood-lust behind the veil of science.  Such a nation is Japan which kills whales for “scientific research” (900-odd this year) yet openly reveals this research as a fraud with with the real goals of short-term monetary gain and blood lust .

Whale for Sale: Sales of whalemeat have fallen, despite promotion

Whale for Sale: Sales of whalemeat have fallen, despite promotion

Here we see an advert for the “research” results.

mmm yummy.

It’s a desperate thing to see this because the Japanese claim that there lots of whales to eat – which was exactly what was said about the blue whale, right whale etc, all of which are now rarities of the ocean when once, they were plentiful.

It’s now being revealed by real research, that the more diverse an ecosystem is (and we live in one, you know), the more chance we will have of surviving all manner of disasters – disease, drought, climate change etc.

Thank Goodness For Bravery

Whalers clash with Conservationists

Whalers clash with Conservationists

So we should all thank the people from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society who have peacefully risked their lives “for the bigger picture”.

It’s another aspect of humanity revealed to me today, in the news.

Bravery & Courage.

Ady Gil and Shonan Maru 2 confrontation

Ady Gil and Shonan Maru 2 confrontation

The whalers say constant harassment has forced them to suspend operations – well dah!

That’s the definition of bravery, as seen in these dramatic shots.

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What is the Point of Fine Words?

Obama

Obama Hope Painting

Obama: Hope and Change?

President Obama was elected under the banner of change.

  • Change for the overall health of his nation
  • Change in economics and finance
  • Change of a re-assertion of the higher ideals of his nation expressed in the US Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Rights.

In this last, he even promised this change in his inaugural speech on that cold January day, and a very big thing was made of it too!

Freedom Cracks

The executive order signals a sharp break with the Bush Administration

The executive order signals a sharp break with the Bush Administration

Barely 100 days had passed before Obama was revealed as the head of a United States, professing freedom for all while at the same time condoning torture.

Guantanamo was promised to be closed and the abuses stopped. The guilty would face the full majesty of the law.

Broken Promises

Even this bold Obama-ite sensed something was possibly wrong when the author stated back in January,

In the last week or two, Obama has been making a point of saying really depressing and right-wing things

Then in July, the same author said,

His world view isn’t set by the media, and the Western media at that.

The thing is when Barack speaks…

Photos showing prisoner abuse in Iraq caused a major scandal in 2004 (click for news item)

Photos showing prisoner abuse in Iraq caused a major scandal in 2004 (click for news item)

The thing is, it all sounds great when Obama speaks.  But as with everything, it’s actions that count, not words.  And the latest action in America is not pleasant at all.

Under direct command from Obama, Defence Secretary Gates has blocked the publication of any more images featuring Americans abusing and torturing people.

Q. The Reason?

A. National security, of course!

These aren’t all old images, mind you!   No!    The images span the period from the Twin Towers’ collapse to 22 January 2009 – this year!  Gates’ reason for blocking the picture releases is;

“Public disclosure of these photographs would endanger citizens of the US, members of the US armed forces, or employees of the US government deployed outside the US”

Germany Calling

Now can you imagine the scenario if a German had said that at the Nuremberg Trials after WW2?  What would the US and British media have made of that?   Let’s see what it sounds like, should we?

“Public disclosure of these photographs would endanger citizens of Germany, members of the German armed forces, or employees of the German government deployed outside Germany”

It’s ridiculous, isn’t it?  The whole point is that these people have done wrong.

Obama and Opinion

Eye Swear, hope to die .......

Eye Swear, hope to die .......

Obama’s new response to the blocking of all torture images is wholly at variance with Eisenhower’s at the end of WW2.

Eisenhower got all media and persons to visit the death camps and tell everyone they knew all about them.

Obama?  He said;

“…the release of such images would be ‘of no benefit’ and might inflame opinion against the US” – !!!!  ???

My opinion is that across the globe, people have been yearning for some leadership on this.  A demonstration of the ‘right way’ to behave.  A feeling that justice can be done.   A beacon of hope to show that actions and attitudes really can change.

There’s a fat chance of anything like that now, is there?

Q. Just what exactly did Obama learn when he lived abroad and elsewhere as a “normal person” as this author confidently states?

A. It certainly wasn’t ethics and it certainly wasn’t honour.

France

Shakespeare says in Henry V, “Done like a Frenchman: turn, and turn again!”  So despite being cool about Sarkozy, Obama has definitely picked up lots of tips on his French trip on D-Day this year about how to behave like Frenchman and how to run a Republic.

See My Old Posts on This – I won’t stop until they do!

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Curious Suicide

The Coroner and The Law

I’m often struck when reading the papers or news, to see the coroner’s verdict on someone’s death as:

Ending his own life “while the balance of his mind was disturbed”

Dennis and Flora Milner said they wanted to decide when to die

Dennis and Flora Milner said they wanted to decide when to die

Well they have to say something, it’s their job, but the phrase is very peculiar.  It is also very common, over 110k webpages!

Take this couple, the Milners, who were found dead in their home on the 1st November, 2009.  They look quite jolly, don’t they.  Would you say that the balance of their mind is disturbed?

Current UK law says that it’s OK to end your own life, but illegal to help anyone do it.  I’ve emphasised the word “current”, because not that long ago, when the spoken language of the people of Britain would be comprehensible to us here today, it was actually a capital offence to commit suicide!  In other words, if you failed to kill yourself, the State would that ensure you got your wish, by hanging you.  This all came from the Catholic and then later Protestant religions’ view of life and the hereafter.

This shows that the view of suicide is highly flexible!

New Economy

Angst

A common view, is as I stated at the top; that someone has a mental problem.  This is a tautology, of course. (Statement: ‘All people who attempt suicide are mentally ill.’ Question: ‘How do you know they are mentally ill?’ Answer: ‘Because only mentally ill persons would try to commit suicide.’) But more to the point, what is the mind?

Mind

People have struggled since the dawn of self-comprehension about “the mind”.  Descartes said “I think therefore I am” which is as good as anything.

Nichiren, the Buddhist monk has said many things, usually by quoting other previous Buddhist scholars and the like, and with an alarming number of references to the concept of “mind“, “self” and “existence“.  For instance, quoting Dengyo he states,

“The two phases of life and death are the wonderful workings of one mind. The two ways of existence and non-existence are the true functions of an inherently enlightened mind.” – Nichiren, The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life

Which is all fine and dandy if you’re not depressed, isn’t it?  If you are feeling down, it’s as dust to the wind, isn’t it?

But the truth of what Nichiren is saying is that it encapsulates one’s concept of “self”, regardless of whether you are up or down with your life.

And surely, by knowing oneself, even if you are suicidal, then your mind is never disturbed because at that point you have a very clear idea of “self”?

Suicide Types

Disappearance/Appearance

Value

There are various forms of suicide, neatly classified on this Wikipedia entry.  What is clear to me, is that there are, in essence, only two types of suicide, and they both to varying degrees are to do with a lack of value to life, not a disrespect of it.

  • Respect is a concept based in honour and subservience.
  • Value is a concept that is transferable across many human activities and we all have a good idea of it’s meaning that is far removed from any concept of society, duty, kinship and a host of other things based around law and natural justice.

The first is when one perceives no value in one’s own life.

Here, I’m separating life and existence into two different things, much as all the world’s major religions do.  (Most religions, in one way or another, have at their core the premise that when you die, in the physical sense, that you “go” somewhere else afterwards).  In such a case, a person may be fed up with their lot and end it all for one of the reasons that Wikipedia lists.  For example, men with families like myself, when getting their pension statement will jokingly say amongst themselves that “I’m worth more dead than alive!”.  The truth is that this is a truly valid reason that many suicides will use and is a far closer statement of the reality of many in the Western World’s lives than they care to admit.

The second is when a person sees no value in other’s lives.

Such examples could be:

  • A soldier in Afghanistan
  • A soldier in WW1 or WW2
  • A suicide bomber in Iraq or Afghanistan
  • A kamikaze pilot in WW2

 

Grieving Woman

We must remember that so long as war exists on earth there will be some danger that even the nation which most ardently desires peace may be drawn into war . . .
I hate war . . .
Let those who wish our friendship look us in the eye and take our hand.
© Gettty Images https://tinyurl.com/looceef

In each of these cases, the potential for that person’s own death is there precisely because they set aside for an undefined period, any value of the person’s life they are going to kill, even though there’s a good chance they too will die.

By doing this they wrap up my first reason within the second.  It’s impossible not to!

Of course, they justify their reasons under the flags of patriotism or peace and the promise or expectation of a “better life” either elsewhere for themselves or their families or country.

Country-Person, Person-Country?

Nationalism and native land

Nationalism and native land

But what is the point of committing suicide for a country or a belief system like a religion?  These are temporary constructs of our human minds.  As Nichiren said;

There are not two lands, pure or impure in themselves. The difference lies solely in the good or evil of our minds. – On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime – The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Volume 1, page 4

and here;

It is like the case of a person who in a dream sees himself performing various good and evil actions. After he wakes up and considers the matter, he realizes that it was all a dream produced by his own mind. This mind of his corresponds to the single principle of the essential nature of phenomena, the true aspect of reality, while the good and evil that appeared in the dream correspond to enlightenment and delusion. – The Entity of the Mystic Law – WND1, page 418

So what we have is our own mind.

  • Who is to say whether it’s mad or bad?
  • Who is to say that life itself is a true reality, because every single thing we see with our eyes and perceive with our other senses, is actually processed information by, and a product of, our own mind!

This last is pure physics and logic.  We live, and see things just like TV.  A TV picture is just dots on a screen.  Our mind converts them into news, trees, people, porn.  But there’s nothing there, only dots.

Similarly with Great Art.  It’s just paint splodges.  It’s our mind that makes the Mona Lisa enigmatic – not even Leonardo’s – it’s our own mind that does it!!!. Just like the expression, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.

Life and Love

Soldier Love

Love

So who can put any suicide under any form of disdain?  Who can dare compare the suicide of a soldier (usually dressed up as medals and bravery, and they are brave, make no mistake) dying for his or her concept of patriotism with the suicide of a spurned lover, dying for their own concept of life and duty?

It takes just as much bravery for a young girl to walk into a market place and blow herself up as it does for a soldier to run across open ground through a field of enfilading machine gun fire.

And it takes the same bravery for a spurned or deceived lover to end their life when they’ve been through all the options in their own mind, using all the logic at their disposal and deduced that a new, different life for themselves in the next existence is a better option than the current life, especially if, as I said earlier, they consider the value of their life to be greater when they are dead!

To go through all these acts of certain death takes the same amount of courage from everybody, in that I see no distinction.

In this story, a very good Agatha Christie type of mystery, transported into the modern era in a multi-cultural ghetto that explores the social conflicts and mores from many angles, not least the personal, the social, the political, the economic and the cultural clash angles, one of the characters, Hassan, says,

‘Fucking love, ain’t it, messing with you, makes you unable to think clear.’

And that’s about the sum of it.

Let there be light

Let there be light

For the love of a woman, a man, your children, a country, a religion, a promise of a better future;  these are all good and valid reasons for a suicide.

Question?

Now can anyone tell me a valid reason to oppose someone’s suicide?

Answers must be logically consistent.  When you’ve got them, then either reply here or write them on a piece of paper and shove them up your arse.

I really don’t care.  It’s my blog space and I’ll say what I want.

 

Somewhat Related:

You may pile up dung and call it sandalwood, but when you burn it, it will give off only the odour of dung. You may pile up a lot of great lies and call them the teachings of the Buddha, but they will never be anything but a gateway to the great citadel of the hell of incessant suffering.

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Brave Italians versus Torture

CIA Guilty of Torture and Kidnap – Damages of 1.5 Million Euros

Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr was snatched from a street in Milan

Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr was snatched from a street in Milan

Amazing news today.  An Italian court has bravely taken on the leader of the Western World and convicted 22 CIA agents of kidnap and torture. (see CIA agents guilty of Italy kidnap).

The man on the left with the wacky beard and hat, was snatched from the street in Italy, flown to Egypt, and tortured.

America’s great liberal hope, President Obama, and his government, have expressed,

…”disappointment at the convictions”….

This is not surprising to me, given what I wrote here earlier in the year when I realised that after only 100 days in office, Obama thought torture was okay… (contrast this to the optimism shown here and here, for example.  Sometimes speaking well just isn’t good enough, especially if your actions are in complete disregard of your own constitution.)

Absent From Trial

The CIA people (including high ranking colonels etc) were all tried in their absence – you see, Italy doesn’t kidnap people! (Interestingly, the CIA, as judge, jury and executioner have just bombed 2 ‘insurgents’ in Pakistan with a drone plane again – “It is not clear if there was any high-value target, We also do not know the identity of the militants” the CIA said; but Insurgents …were pulling bodies out of the rubble… Obama condones all this as drone flights and civilian deaths have wildly escalated under his rule.)

So while Italy is usually thought of as the laughing stock of Europe because of the uncountable number of elections it has and the current buffoon of an incumbent that they keep electing – it’s actually been very brave and done the right thing.

Will America do the same?  Will it do the right thing?  Will Obama strive to regain the high moral ground that he stood on to be elected and which he espoused so eloquently on Inauguration Day?

No Confidence

I doubt it very much.  When 52% of USA citizens think torture is okay and Utah remains a cesspit of corruption and evil business practices, when most Americans don’t care a damn about rising sea levels – and the rest…  ..and the rest!!

I doubt it very much indeed.

UK Caught With Pants Down and Hands on the Trigger

Our UK government isn’t any better having colluded in the kidnaps (called extraordinary renditions as a smokescreen to reality) and torture.  Are they in Europe or out?  Do they agree with “The Hague” or not?  Have they signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or not?

Answers

Answers to these and other questions can be found in my earlier posts from this year.  What a year!

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