Monday, December 8, 2014

Bodhi

A Dharma talk

http://prairiezen.org/Audio/Sunday/bodhi_12-7-14.mp3

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes - "Watch Out for That Puddle, Soon It Could Be Federally Regulated"

In my opinion, government should protect and nurture individuals and society, support and insure "the certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness," as the Declaration of Independence states. Unfortunately, the power of government officials, especially un-elected "administrative" officials, to abuse their position and powers has a long history, as the Roman phrase  "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes - Who guards the guardians?" indicates.

Below are excerpts from an article which highlights what is potentially another example of the abuses of governmental power.

"Earlier this year the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers proposed a rule redefining the “waters of the United States” that are subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act. The two agencies recently finished collecting public comments on their draft rule and are deciding how to proceed. Their best course is to abandon the rule or anything like it."

The articles conclusions are:


The GAO (The Government Accountability Office) concluded “the definitions used to make jurisdictional determinations” were “vague.” This situation fosters uncertainty and undermines economic activity and development.
The proposed rule magnifies the problem. It starts by including all tributaries in the nation (e.g., your backyard creek), and then authorizes federal officials to decide on a case-by-case basis if any “other waters” or land should be regulated. The proposed rule also asserts that federal jurisdiction is not limited to water contained in “aquatic systems” but covers the “associated chemical, physical, and biological features” of any aquatic system “as a whole.”
What isn’t a chemical, physical or biological feature of an aquatic system as a whole? Does that cover an entire ecoregion? Probably, since agency bureaucrats generally have discretion to interpret and apply their own definitions. Rather than clarify federal jurisdiction, as promised, the proposed rule introduces vastly greater uncertainty.
By any fair reading, the proposed rule would federalize virtually all water in the nation, and much of the land, in direct contravention of Supreme Court precedent and express congressional policy in the Clean Water Act “to recognize, preserve, and protect the primary responsibilities and rights of States to prevent, reduce, and eliminate pollution, to plan the development and use . . . of land and water resources.” It is patently unreasonable and should be amended or withdrawn."

The full article with many comments added is here:

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Parting the Red Sea

Here is an interesting article which elaborates on and adds to a movie's "natural" explanation of the story of the parting of the Red Sea with a detailed scientific analysis which also leaves room for the miraculous  and, at the end of the article, connects to a similar ancient (80-40 BCE) explanation.

It is interesting to see the wide range of responses and reactions to the article and the "story" in the comments at the link below.

Enjoy.

How Did Moses Part the Red Sea?

The science of tides may have saved the Israelites from the Egyptians

Moses had lived nearby and knew where caravans crossed the Red Sea at low tide. Pictured, a scene from ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ Moses had lived nearby and knew where caravans crossed the Red Sea at low tide. Pictured, a scene from ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ 20th Century Fox
By

Ridley Scott’s “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” which opens in movie theaters across the country Dec. 12, will include, of course, the most famous of all biblical miracles: the parting of the Red Sea. But its depiction will look quite different from the one in Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 classic “The Ten Commandments.” In the earlier movie, Charlton Heston as Moses parted the sea into two huge walls of water, between which the children of Israel crossed on a temporarily dry seabed to the opposite shore. Pharaoh’s army of chariots chased after them only to be drowned when Moses signaled for the waters to return.

Mr. Scott has said that his new version of the story will have a more realistic and natural explanation of what happened and won’t rely on Moses to bring forth God’s miraculous intervention. He has decided to have the waters “part” as the result of a tsunami caused by an earthquake. Before a tsunami strikes, coastal waters often recede, leaving the seabed dry before the giant wave arrives. 

But there are problems with this version of the story, too. The period during which coastal waters draw back before a tsunami usually lasts only 10 or 20 minutes, too little time to get all the children of Israel across the temporarily dry seabed. Also, there would have been no way for Moses to know that the earthquake and tsunami were going to happen, unless God told him. That’s fine, but then the story would retain some element of the miraculous.

There is a much better natural explanation for how a temporary path across the Red Sea could have been revealed. It involves the tide, a natural phenomenon that would have fit nicely into a well-thought-out plan by Moses, because Moses would have been able to predict when it would happen. 

In certain places in the world, the tide can leave the sea bottom dry for hours and then come roaring back. In fact, in 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte and a small group of soldiers on horseback were crossing the Gulf of Suez, the northern end of the Red Sea, roughly where Moses and the Israelites are said to have crossed. On a mile-long expanse of dry sea bottom exposed at low water, the tide suddenly rushed in, almost drowning them.

In the biblical account, the children of Israel were camped on the western shore of the Gulf of Suez when the dust clouds raised by Pharaoh’s chariots were seen in the distance. The Israelites were now trapped between Pharaoh’s army and the Red Sea. The dust clouds, however, were probably an important sign for Moses; they would have let him calculate how soon Pharaoh’s army would arrive at the coast.

Moses had lived in the nearby wilderness in his early years, and he knew where caravans crossed the Red Sea at low tide. He knew the night sky and the ancient methods of predicting the tide, based on where the moon was overhead and how full it was. Pharaoh and his advisers, by contrast, lived along the Nile River, which is connected to the almost tideless Mediterranean Sea. They probably had little knowledge of the tides of the Red Sea and how dangerous they could be.

Knowing when low tide would occur, how long the sea bottom would remain dry and when the waters would rush back in, Moses could plan the Israelites’ escape. Choosing a full moon for their flight would have given them a larger tidal range—that is, the low tide would have been much lower and the sea bottom would have stayed dry longer, giving the Israelites more time to cross. The high tide also would have been higher and thus better for submerging Pharaoh’s pursuing army.

In ‘The Ten Commandments,’ Charlton Heston as Moses parted the sea into two huge walls of water, between which the children of Israel crossed on a temporarily dry seabed to the opposite shore.
In ‘The Ten Commandments,’ Charlton Heston as Moses parted the sea into two huge walls of water, between which the children of Israel crossed on a temporarily dry seabed to the opposite shore. Everett Collection.                Timing would have been crucial. The last of the Israelites had to cross the dry sea bottom just before the tide returned, enticing Pharaoh’s army of chariots onto the exposed sea bottom, where they would drown as the returning tidal waters overwhelmed them. If the chariots were expected to arrive before the tide came back in, Moses might have planned some type of delaying tactic. If the chariots were expected to arrive after the tide came back in, he could have gotten the Israelites across and then, at the next low tide, sent a few of his best people back onto the temporarily dry sea bed to entice Pharaoh’s chariots to chase them.                                                                                                                             The Bible mentions a strong east wind that blew all night and pushed back the waters. Ocean physics tells us that wind blowing over a shallow waterway pushes back more water than a wind blowing over a deep waterway. If a wind did by chance fortuitously blow before the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, it would have had more effect at low tide than at any other time, uncovering even more sea bottom.                               Such a wind would surely have been assigned to divine intervention, and over the centuries, as the story of the Exodus was retold, that aspect would have overshadowed Moses’ careful planning to take advantage of the low tide. But Moses couldn’t have predicted the suddenly beneficial wind, so he couldn’t have based his plan on it. His timing had to be based on a tide prediction.                                                                           When Napoleon and his forces almost drowned in 1798 at the northern end of the Gulf of Suez, the water typically rose 5 or 6 feet at high tide (and up to 9 or 10 feet with the wind blowing in the right direction). But there is evidence that the sea level was higher in Moses’ time. As a result, the Gulf of Suez would have extended farther north and had a larger tidal range. If that was indeed the case, the real story of the Israelites’ crossing wouldn’t have needed much exaggeration to include walls of water crashing down on the pursuing Egyptians.                                                                                                                                  One more piece of evidence is worth citing. As it turns out, my suggestion that Moses could have planned to cross the Red Sea at low tide isn’t entirely new. The ancient author Eusebius of Caesarea (263–339 A.D.) cites two versions of the story of the crossing of the Red Sea as related by the Hellenistic historian Artapanus (80–40 B.C.). One version, told by the people of Heliopolis, is similar to the account in the Bible. But in the second version, told by the people of Memphis, “Moses, being acquainted with the country, waited for the ebb and took the people across the sea when dry.”                                                                                     If the tide was indeed involved in Moses’ “parting” of the Red Sea, it has to qualify as the most dramatic and consequential tide prediction in history.                                                                                                  —Dr. Parker is the former chief scientist of NOAA’s National Ocean Service and is currently a visiting professor at the Stevens Institute of Technology. He is the author of “The Power of the Sea: Tsunamis, Storm Surges, Rogue Waves, and Our Quest to Predict Disasters.”   

        http://online.wsj.com/articles/how-did-moses-part-the-red-sea-1417790250 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Experiencing - A Dharma Talk

http://prairiezen.org/Sunday_audio.html

Encouraging the Bodhisattva Manifesting of Vaccinating (II)

I have previously written that in my opinion, if you vaccinate your children or your self, that is Bodhisattvic activity, serving the needs of this life of many beings and relieving them from potential harm and suffering.

And if you do not vaccinate, unless it is due to medical reasons or lack of opportunity, you are putting others and your self at risk, potentially causing harm and suffering, and maybe nurturing self-centeredness and delusion. What self do you protect? How? What is protecting? How far or narrow is self? What is being the Bodhisattva you are?

The book and article cited below further clarify the consequences of not-vaccinating - for the individual, their family and the larger community,

The first paragraph is an excerpt from a NY Times review of this interesting book, ON IMMUNITY: An Inoculation by Eula Biss

 "Biss unpacks what the fear of vaccines tells us about larger anxieties involving purity, contamination and interdependency. Deeply researched and anchored in Biss’s own experiences as a new mother, this ferociously intelligent book is itself an inoculation against bad science and superstition, and a reminder that we owe one another our lives."

And these are the introduction and conclusion from an article by Dr. Haider Javed Warraich:

"I was working on the hospital infectious-disease service when our team was asked to see a young girl with a mysterious illness that no one had been able to diagnose. She had come to the emergency room with a fever and runny nose and had a rash spreading across her body. She had developed a cough so harsh that “whooping cough” had been added to the long list of possible infirmities. But when the senior doctor on our team, Frank Berkowitz, an expert in pediatric infections—arrived at her room, he knew the diagnosis immediately: She had measles.

Many developing countries continue to suffer from measles, an extremely contagious respiratory disease, but the U.S. in 2000 was declared “measles free” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The news of a confirmed case set our hospital abuzz, and uniformed CDC officers soon swooped in.

How did the young girl get the disease? Her parents had refused to vaccinate her.

Hers is far from the only case. Measles is making a terrifying comeback in the U.S., with some 600 cases reported this year, more than in any year in the past two decades. There are two reasons: the ease of international travel, and an increasing number of people refusing vaccinations, usually on behalf of their children...."

"The re-emergence of measles may be the harbinger of other infections such as polio returning from the history books. While autonomy needs to be a central value driving medical decision-making, legislators need to protect American children. The young girl at my hospital with measles survived, but others might not be so lucky.  "

The full article is here:

http://online.wsj.com/articles/haider-javed-warraich-the-measles-outbreak-coming-near-you-1417652911

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Everyday Zen

The current ongoing class is a study     and discussion     of Joko Beck's book, "Everyday Zen". 

Check back in the future for later class postings.





Skillful Activity - A Dharma discussion


http://prairiezen.org/Sunday_audio.html  

Skillful Activity