Tuesday, April 20, 2010
President Barack Obama is expected to nominate Jesus Christ, an immigrant originally born to a virgin mother in Bethlehem, to fill the new vacancy on the Supreme Court. Although Mr. Christ is over 2,000 years old, He is immortal, so Democrats and Republicans expect that He will serve on the high court forever or until He decides to start the End Times. Republicans are expected to fight the nomination on the grounds that Mr. Christ would radically move the Court to the left. The GOP is also concerned that, despite decades of controversy and speculation, Mr. Christ has never revealed his position on abortion. Mr. Christ, according to many authorities, is expected to oppose the death penalty in all forms. Michael Steele, the head of the GOP national committee, issued a statement: "Christ is a complete mystery to us. He won't reveal His physical appearance and many of His positions are unknown or the subject of speculation. He is a stealth candidate. Why won't He reveal himself? Who does He think He is?"
Republicans are reportedly outraged that Mr. Obama even considered Mr. Christ, who has been widely quoted for his sentiments supporting the poor over the wealthy. In a Facebook post, former half-term Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin called for an investigation into the Bethlehem chapter of ACORN because of what she termed the "highly suspicious" coincidence that both President Obama and Mr. Christ had each spent three years as community organizers. In her post, Palin also wrote that "More and more of good God-fearing smalltime Americans from hardworking smalltime towns from great parts of this real America, West, South, East, North, are seeing more and more every day that Christ is a community organizer. We don't need another community organizer in the White House!"
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From The Blessed One's City of Dhamma
"The Blessed One's general shop, sire, is the nine-limbed Word of the Buddha, the shrines of his bodily relics and the things he used, and it is the jewel of the Order. And in the Blessed One's general shop, sire, the bliss of high birth is put on sale, the bliss of wealth, of long life, of good health, of beauty, of wisdom, human bliss, deva-like bliss, is put on sale, the bliss of Nibbana is put on sale. Whichever bliss they want, then, having given the price of the transaction, they buy the bliss desired. Some buy through undertaking morality, some buy through observing the formal acts of the Observance, and, in respect of this and that, they acquire the blisses from the smallest price of the transaction onwards.
"Such people as these, sire, dwell in the Blessed One's City of Dhamma: those versed in the discourses, those versed in the discipline, those versed in the Abhidhamma, speakers on Dhamma, Jataka-repeaters, Digha-repeaters, Majjhima-repeaters, Samyutta-repeaters, Anguttara-repeaters, Khudaka-repeaters; those possessed of morality, those possessed of concentration, those possessed of wisdom; those who delight in the factors of enlightenment, those with insight, those intent on their own goal; forest-dwellers, those living at the roots of trees, in the open air, on a heap of straw, in cemeteries, those who maintain a sitting posture; those who are practicing rightly, those enjoying fruition, stream-enterers, once-returners, non-returners, arahants; those with the threefold knowledge, those with the six super-knowledges, those of psychic power, those gone to the perfection of wisdom; those skilled in the foundations of mindfulness, the right efforts, the bases of psychic power, the spiritual faculties, the powers, the factors of enlightenment, the excellent path; meditation, the liberations, form and formlessness, and the attainments that are peaceful and happy. The City of Dhamma is peopled and packed, crowded and teeming with these arahants like a grove of reeds.
"Those monks, sire, who are experts in the unlimited noble knowledge, who are without attachment, whose special qualities are unequaled, whose fame, strength and incandescence are beyond measure, who are turners of the Wheel of Dhamma, gone to the perfection of wisdom — monks such as these, sire, are called Generals of Dhamma in the Blessed One's City of Dhamma.
"And those monks, sire, who are of psychic power, masters of the analytical knowledges, attained to confidence, movers through the sky, difficult to equal, difficult to overcome, movers without a support, able to shake the earth with its seas and mountains, able to touch the moon and the sun, skilled in assuming different forms and making volitional determinations and resolves — monks such as these, sire, are called royal priests in the Blessed One's City of Dhamma.
"And those monks who conform to the ascetic practices, who are of few wants, contented, detesters of not seeking alms according to the disciplinary code, who go on uninterrupted rounds for almsfood like bees that, having drunk in successive scents, enter secluded groves, who are reckless of body and life, having attained to arahantship, are proclaimed eminent in a special quality of ascetic practice — monks such as these, sire, are called judges in the Blessed One's City of Dhamma.
"And those monks, sire, who are completely purified, stainless, without defilements and, won to perfection in deva-vision, are skilled in the knowledge of the deceasing here and arising elsewhere of beings — monks such as these, sire, are called lighters of the city in the Blessed One's City of Dhamma.
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For decades physicists have suspected that neutrinos hold some of the universe’s darkest secrets. Determining their behavior and where they came from could tell rich stories of the early universe and potentially illuminate the curious nature of dark matter. Untold trillions of these tiny subatomic particles—some born soon after the birth of the universe, others born in the hearts of stars—have traveled unimaginable distances to pass through your body every second. So what does this mean for you? Not much, really. The nearly massless particles pass through almost all matter unabated, without leaving a trace. It’s this elusive nature that also makes them so difficult to detect and therefore study. Very occasionally, however, a neutrino collides into an atom, producing from the wreckage another particle—known as a muon—that can be detected (using special light sensors). At the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, a team of pioneering researchers has buried thousands of these sensors miles deep into the ice at the bottom of the Earth, all in an attempt to catch the rare neutrino that crashes into an atom of ice. By analyzing the specific path of this subatomic train wreck, the researchers can trace the neutrino’s path to its distant cosmic source. In this way, IceCube looks through the Earth and to the northern skies, using the planet as a filter to select neutrinos. “I like to say we’re building butterfly nets for ghosts,” says Francis Halzen, principle investigator of the project. “The ultra-transparent Antarctic ice itself is the detector. And a real bargain at just 25 cents per ton!”
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From The Symphony of a Lifetime
In the last stage of life, even with the cheeriest outlook, it isn’t easy to keep thoughts of death at bay. Consider, though, the advice of the Greek philosopher Epicurus (341-270 B.C.), who lent his name to the school of Epicureanism but who was, in my reading of him, the world’s first shrink. Epicureanism is generally understood to be about indulging fleshly pleasures, especially those of food and drink, but it is, I think, more correctly understood as the search for serenity.
Epicurus, who met with friends (disciples, really) in his garden in Athens, devised a program to rid the world of anxiety. His method, like most methods of personal reform, had set steps, in this case four such steps. Here they are:
Step One: Do not believe in God, or in the gods. They most likely do not exist, and even if they did, it is preposterous to believe that they could possibly care, that they are watching over you and keeping a strict accounting of your behavior.
Step Two: Don’t worry about death. Death, be assured, is oblivion, a condition not different from your life before you were born: an utter blank. Forget about heaven, forget about hell; neither exists — after death there is only the Big O (oblivion) and the Big N (nullity), nothing, nada, zilch. Get your mind off it.
Step Three: Forget, as best you are able, about pain. Pain is either brief, and will therefore soon enough diminish and be gone; or, if it doesn’t disappear, if it lingers and intensifies, death cannot be far away, and so your worries are over here, too, for death, as we know, also presents no problem, being nothing more than eternal dark, dreamless sleep.
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