Buddhism Does Not Need Recognitio​n. It is Not a Choice. It is like Life . It Just Is! — Written 07/26/12

For Your Entertainment (FYE)  ;+)

 

 

“(In 2009)The Geneva-based International Coalition for the Advancement of Religious and Spirituality (ICARUS) has bestowed The Best Religion In the World award this year on the Buddhist Community.

 

This special award was voted on by an international round table of more than 200 religious leaders from every part of the spiritual spectrum. It was fascinating to note that many religious leaders voted for Buddhism rather than their own religion although Buddhists actually make up a tiny minority of ICARUS membership.”

 

 

 

“Buddhism Does Not Need Recognition. It Does Not Compete. It is Not a Choice. It is Incomparable. It is like Life . It Just Is! ”

 

 

 

“Just sit, close your eyes and breathe from your abdomen, not your chest, just sit and experience “soto”………”

 

 

 

“1. “ A disciple goes forth and practices the moralities … (Sila)2. He guards the sense doors …

3. attains the four jhanas … Thus he develops concentration (Samadhi)

4. He attains various insights … (Panna)

5. and the cessation of the corruptions … (Awakening)”

 

 

 

 

“In Greek mythology, Icarus  is the son of the master craftsman Daedalus. The main story told about Icarus is his attempt to escape from Crete by means of wings that his father constructed from feathers and wax. He ignored instructions not to fly too close to the sun, and the melting wax caused him to fall into the sea where he drowned. The myth shares thematic similarities with that of Phaëton — both are usually taken as tragic examples of hubris or failed ambition — and is often depicted in art. Today, the Hellenic Air Force Academy is named after Icarus, who is seen as the mythical pioneer in Greece’s attempt to conquer the skies.”

 

“If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!”

 

“The road is generally taken to mean the path to Enlightenment; that might be through meditation, study, prayer, or just some aspect of your way of life. Your life is your road. That’s fairly straightforward as far as metaphors go.

But how do you meet the Buddha on this road? Imagine meeting some symbolic Buddha. Would he be a great teacher that you might actually meet and follow in the real world? Could that Buddha be you yourself, having reached Enlightenment? Or maybe you have some idealized image of perfection that equates to your concept of the Buddha or Enlightenment.

Whatever your conception is of the Buddha, it’s WRONG! Now kill that image and keep practicing. This all has to do with the idea that reality is an impermanent illusion. If you believe that you have a correct image of what it means to be Enlightened, then you need to throw out (kill) that image and keep meditating.

Most people have heard the first chapter of the Tao, The Tao that can be named is not the eternal Tao.‚ (So if you think you see the real Tao, kill it and move on).”

 

“The essence of enlightenment came to be identified with the interaction between masters and students. Whatever insight dhyana might bring, its verification was always interpersonal. In effect, enlightenment came to be understood not so much as an insight, but as a way of acting in the world with other people.”

 

“Mahāyāna Buddhism is based principally upon the path of a bodhisattva. According to Jan Nattier, the term Mahāyāna (“Great Vehicle”) was originally even an honorary synonym for Bodhisattvayāna, or the “Bodhisattva Vehicle.” The Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra contains a simple and brief definition for the term bodhisattva, which is also the earliest known Mahāyāna definition. This definition is given as the following.

 

 

“Because he has enlightenment as his aim, a bodhisattva-mahāsattva is so called.”

Mahāyāna Buddhism encourages everyone to become bodhisattvas and to take the bodhisattva vows. With these vows, one makes the promise to work for the complete enlightenment of all sentient beings by practicing the six perfections. Indelibly entwined with the bodhisattva vow is merit transference (pariṇāmanā).

In Mahāyāna Buddhism life in this world is compared to people living in a house that is on fire. People take this world as reality pursuing worldly projects and pleasures without realizing that the house is on fire and will soon burn down (due to the inevitability of death). A bodhisattva is one who has a determination to free sentient beings from samsara and its cycle of death, rebirth and suffering. This type of mind is known as the mind of awakening (bodhicitta). Bodhisattvas take bodhisattva vows in order to progress on the spiritual path towards buddhahood.

There are a variety of different conceptions of the nature of a bodhisattva in Mahāyāna. According to some Mahāyāna sources a bodhisattva is someone on the path to full Buddhahood. Others speak of bodhisattvas renouncing Buddhahood. According to the Kun-bzang bla-ma’i zhal-lung, a bodhisattva can choose any of three paths to help sentient beings in the process of achieving buddhahood. They are:

king-like bodhisattva – one who aspires to become buddha as soon as possible and then help sentient beings in full fledge;

boatman-like bodhisattva – one who aspires to achieve buddhahood along with other sentient beings and

shepherd-like bodhisattva – one who aspires to delay buddhahood until all other sentient beings achieve buddhahood. Bodhisattvas like Avalokiteśvara and Śāntideva are believed to fall in this category.

According to the doctrine of some Tibetan schools (like Theravāda but for different reasons), only the first of these is recognized. It is held that Buddhas remain in the world, able to help others, so there is no point in delay. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso notes:

 

In reality, the second two types of bodhicitta are wishes that are impossible to fulfill because it is only possible to lead others to enlightenment once we have attained enlightenment ourself. Therefore, only king-like bodhicitta is actual bodhicitta. Je Tsongkhapa says that although the other Bodhisattvas wish for that which is impossible, their attitude is sublime and unmistaken.

 

The Nyingma school, however, holds that the lowest level is the way of the king, who primarily seeks his own benefit but who recognizes that his benefit depends crucially on that of his kingdom and his subjects. The middle level is the path of the boatman, who ferries his passengers across the river and simultaneously, of course, ferries himself as well. The highest level is that of the shepherd, who makes sure that all his sheep arrive safely ahead of him and places their welfare above his own.”

 

“Ashoka (, ca. 304–232 BC), also known as Ashoka the Great, was an Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty who ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from ca. 269 BC to 232 BC. One of India’s greatest emperors, Ashoka reigned over most of present-day India after a number of military conquests. His empire stretched from the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan to the present-day Bangladesh and the Indian state of Assam in the east, and as far south as northern Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. He conquered the kingdom named Kalinga, which none of his ancestors had conquered starting from Chandragupta Maurya. His reign was headquartered in Magadha (present-day Bihar). He embraced Buddhism after witnessing the mass deaths of the Kalinga War, which he himself had waged out of a desire for conquest. He was later dedicated to the propagation of Buddhism across Asia and established monuments marking several significant sites in the life of Gautama Buddha.” Ashoka was a devotee of ahimsa (nonviolence), love, truth, tolerance and vegetarianism. Ashoka is remembered in history as a philanthropic administrator.”

 

“Ashoka played a critical role in helping make Buddhism a world religion. As the peace-loving ruler of one of the world’s largest, richest and most powerful multi-ethnic states, he is considered an exemplary ruler, who tried to put into practice a secular state ethic of non-violence. The emblem of the modern Republic of India is an adaptation of the Lion Capital of Ashoka.”

 

“One of the more enduring legacies of Ashoka Maurya was the model that he provided for the relationship between Buddhism and the state. Throughout Theravada Southeastern Asia, the model of rulership embodied by Ashoka replaced the notion of divine kingship that had previously dominated (in the Angkor kingdom, for instance). Under this model of ‘Buddhist kingship’, the king sought to legitimize his rule not through descent from a divine source, but by supporting and earning the approval of the Buddhist sangha. Following Ashoka’s example, kings established monasteries, funded the construction of stupas, and supported the ordination of monks in their kingdom. Many rulers also took an active role in resolving disputes over the status and regulation of the sangha, as Ashoka had in calling a conclave to settle a number of contentious issues during his reign. This development ultimately lead to a close association in many Southeast Asian countries between the monarchy and the religious hierarchy, an association that can still be seen today in the state-supported Buddhism of Thailand and the traditional role of the Thai king as both a religious and secular leader. Ashoka also said that all his courtiers were true to their self and always governed the people in a moral manner.”

 

“Ashoka, now a Buddhist emperor, believed that Buddhism is beneficial for all human beings as well as animals and plants, so he built 84,000 stupas, Sangharama, viharas, Chaitya, and residences for Buddhist monks all over South Asia and Central Asia. He gave donations to viharas and mathas. He sent his only daughter Sanghamitta and son Mahindra to spread Buddhism in Sri   Lanka (ancient name Tamraparni). Ashoka also sent many prominent Buddhist monks (bhikshus) Sthaviras like Madhyamik Sthavira to modern Kashmir and Afghanistan; Maharaskshit Sthavira to Syria, Persia / Iran, Egypt, Greece, Italy and Turkey; Massim Sthavira to Nepal, Bhutan, China and Mongolia; Sohn Uttar Sthavira to modern Cambodia, Laos, Burma (old name Suvarnabhumi for Burma and Thailand), Thailand and Vietnam; Mahadhhamarakhhita stahvira to Maharashtra (old name Maharatthha); Maharakhhit Sthavira and Yavandhammarakhhita Sthavira to South India. Ashoka also invited Buddhists and non-Buddhists for religious conferences. Ashoka inspired the Buddhist monks to compose the sacred religious texts, and also gave all types of help to that end. Ashoka also helped to develop viharas (intellectual hubs) such as Nalanda and Taxila. Ashoka helped to construct Sanchi and MahabodhiTemple. Ashoka never tried to harm or to destroy non-Buddhist religions, and indeed gave donations to non-Buddhists. As his reign continued his even-handedness was replaced with special inclination towards Buddhism. Ashoka helped and respected both Sramans (Buddhists monks) and Brahmins (Vedic monks). Ashoka also helped to organize the Third Buddhist council (c. 250 BC) at Pataliputra (today’s Patna). It was conducted by the monk Moggaliputta-Tissa who was the spiritual teacher of the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka.”

 

“As the legend goes, one day after the war was over, Ashoka ventured out to roam the city and all he could see were burnt houses and scattered corpses. This sight made him sick and he cried the famous monologue:

 

What have I done? If this is a victory, what’s a defeat then? Is this a victory or a defeat? Is this justice or injustice? Is it gallantry or a rout? Is it valor to kill innocent children and women? Do I do it to widen the empire and for prosperity or to destroy the other’s kingdom and splendor? One has lost her husband, someone else a father, someone a child, someone an unborn infant…. What’s this debris of the corpses? Are these marks of victory or defeat? Are these vultures, crows, eagles the messengers of death or evil?

 

Resources

http://www.dhammaweb.net/dhamma_news/view.php?id=429

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icarus

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pha%C3%ABton

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubris

http://www.dailybuddhism.com/archives/670

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C5%8Dan

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enlightenment_in_Buddhism

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhy%C4%81na_in_Buddhism

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%C5%8Dt%C5%8D

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rinzai_school

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodhisattva

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodhisattva_vow

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_bodhisattvas

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avalokitesvara

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodhidharma

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gautama_Buddha

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashoka

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edicts_of_Ashoka

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Edicts_of_Ashoka

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashokavadana

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divyavadana

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahavamsa

 

 

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It may be good for your Arthritis, But Bees Die When They Sting — Written 07/25/12

In case you didn’t know, For Your Entertainment (FYE) from “the Can Tho Curmudgeon Geographic”….! ;+)

 

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/nepalese-honey-hunters-scale-heights-endure-swarms-sweet-reward-article-1.1085778

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rai_people

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiranti_people

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nettle

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stinging_nettle

http://www.swicofil.com/products/016nettle.html

http://ecozeal.com/blog/stinging-nettle-%E2%80%93-the-fiber-of-the-future

http://www.nettlesoup.info/nettlecloth.htm

http://www.nnfcc.co.uk/business-directory/lifestyle-and-luxuries/clothes

http://www.natural-environment.com/blog/2008/01/22/the-stinging-nettle-an-eco-friendly-weed/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apis_dorsata

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melaleuca

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_Tree_Oil

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apis_dorsata_laboriosa

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wasp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bee

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bee_sting

http://earthsky.org/earth/why-do-bees-die-after-they-sting-you

http://ask.yahoo.com/20051125.html

 

 

Don’t let a bee (not a wasp) sting you, it may be just painful (unless you are allergic and you are also in danger) and good for your arthritis, but for them it is a “life and death” situation, bees die when they sting humans…..

 

“A honey bee that is away from the hive foraging for nectar or pollen will rarely sting, except when stepped on or roughly handled. Honey bees will actively seek out and sting when they perceive the hive to be threatened, often being alerted to this by the release of attack pheromones.

Although it is widely believed that a worker honey bee can sting only once, this is a partial misconception: although the stinger is in fact barbed so that it lodges in the victim’s skin, tearing loose from the bee’s abdomen and leading to its death in minutes, this only happens if the skin of the victim is sufficiently thick, such as a mammal’s. Honey bees are the only hymenoptera with a strongly barbed sting, though yellow jackets and some other wasps have small barbs.

The sting’s injection of apitoxin into the victim is accompanied by the release of alarm pheromones, a process which is accelerated if the bee is fatally injured. Release of alarm pheromones near a hive or swarm may attract other bees to the location, where they will likewise exhibit defensive behaviors until there is no longer a threat, typically because the victim has either fled or been killed. (Note: A true swarm is not hostile; it has deserted its hive and has no comb or young to defend.) These pheromones do not dissipate or wash off quickly, and if their target enters water, bees will resume their attack as soon as it leaves the water.

The larger drone bees, the males, do not have stingers. The female worker bees are the only ones that can sting, and their stinger is a modified ovipositor. The queen bee has a smooth stinger and can, if need be, sting skin-bearing creatures multiple times, but the queen does not leave the hive under normal conditions. Her sting is not for defense of the hive; she only uses it for dispatching rival queens, ideally before they can finish pupating. Queen breeders who handle multiple queens and have the queen odor on their hands are sometimes stung by a queen.

The main component of bee venom responsible for pain in vertebrates is the toxin melittin; histamine and other biogenic amines may also contribute to pain and itching. In one of the medical uses of honey bee products, apitherapy, bee venom has been used to treat arthritis and other painful conditions.”

 

“In some Melaleuca forests of southern Vietnam, people use a traditional method of collecting honey and wax from Apis dorsata colonies. This method of “rafter beekeeping” was first reported in 1902 by Fougères

According to Vietnamese sociologists, in the early 19th century honey hunting or raftering was the most important occupation of the people who lived in the Melaleuca forest swamp. At that time people paid taxes to the government in exchange for living in the forest. Beeswax was used to pay tax and for making candles and was sold to visiting ships from Hainan, China.

Between 1945 and 1975 the forests were devastated first by wars, and then by forest clearing for wood and agricultural purposes. As a consequence rafter beekeeping dramatically decreased in the area. The technique is still used today at the state farm of Song Trem in Uminh forest, South Vietnam. According to a survey, there are about 96 beekeepers in the area. In 1991, they harvested 16,608 litres of honey and 747 kilograms of wax.”

 

“Melaleuca  is a genus of plants in the myrtle family Myrtaceae known for its natural soothing and cleansing properties. There are well over 200 recognised species, most of which are endemic to Australia. A few species occur in Malesia and 7 species are endemic to New Caledonia.”

 

“The species are shrubs and trees growing (depending on species) to 2–30 m (6.6–98 ft) tall, often with flaky, exfoliating bark. The leaves are evergreen, alternately arranged, ovate to lanceolate, 1–25 cm (0.39–9.8 in) long and 0.5–7 cm (0.20–2.8 in) broad, with an entire margin, dark green to grey-green in colour. The flowers are produced in dense clusters along the stems, each flower with fine small petals and a tight bundle of stamens; flower colour varies from white to pink, red, pale yellow or greenish. The fruit is a small capsule containing numerous minute seeds.

Melaleuca is closely related to the genus Callistemon; the main difference between the two is that the stamens are generally free in Callistemon but grouped into bundles in Melaleuca. Callistemon was recently placed into Melaleuca[.

In the wild, Melaleuca plants are generally found in open forest, woodland or shrubland, particularly along watercourses and the edges of swamps.

The best-accepted common name for Melaleuca is simply melaleuca; however most of the larger species are also known as tea tree, and the smaller types as honey myrtles, while those species in which the bark is shed in flat, flexible sheets are referred to as paperbarks. The Tea tree is presumably named for the brown colouration of many water courses caused by leaves shed from trees of this and similar species (for a famous example see BrownLake (StradbrokeIsland)). The name “tea tree” is also used for a related genus, Leptospermum, also in Myrtaceae.

One well-known melaleuca, M. alternifolia, is notable for its essential oil which is both anti-fungal and antibiotic, while safely usable for topical applications. This is produced on a commercial scale and marketed as Tea Tree Oil.”

 

“Tea tree oil, or melaleuca oil, is a pale yellow colour to nearly colorless and clear essential oil with a fresh camphoraceous odor. It is taken from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia, which is native to the northeast coast of New South Wales, Australia. Tea tree oil should not be confused with tea oil, the sweet seasoning and cooking oil from pressed seeds of the tea plant Camellia sinensis (beverage tea), or the tea oil plant Camellia oleifera.”

 

“The indigenous Bundjalung people of eastern Australia use “tea trees” as a traditional medicine by inhaling the oils from the crushed leaves to treat coughs and colds. They also sprinkle leaves on wounds, after which a poultice is applied. In addition, tea tree leaves are soaked to make an infusion to treat sore throats or skin ailments.

Use of the oil itself, as opposed to the unextracted plant material, did not become common practice until researcher Arthur Penfold published the first reports of its antimicrobial activity in a series of papers in the 1920s and 1930s. In evaluating the antimicrobial activity of M. alternifolia, tea tree oil was rated as 11 times more active than phenol.

The commercial tea tree oil industry was born after the medicinal properties of the oil were first reported by Penfold in the 1920s. It was produced from natural bush stands of M. alternifolia that produced oil with the appropriate chemotype. The plant material was hand cut and often distilled on the spot in makeshift, mobile, wood-fired bush stills.”

 

“Nettle(Ortie in French) stems contain a bast fibre that has been traditionally used for the same purposes as linen and is produced by a similar retting process. Unlike cotton, nettles grow easily without pesticides. The fibres are coarser however.

In recent years a German company has started to produce commercial nettle textiles.

Nettles may be used as a dye-stuff, producing yellow from the roots, or yellowish green from the leaves.”

 

“Here are some examples of what nettle yarn has been used for:

Nettle is often used in Nepal for backing wool carpets

Nettle yarn was used in World War 1 and World War 2 as a substitute for cotton yarns that were unavailable

The uniforms from Napoleon’s Armada were made from nettles

In Nepal, nettle is used for both fine clothing and for sailcloth”

 

“No wonder Napoleon’s Armada ran all over Europe! They tried to escape the sting of their nettle’s(orties) uniforms………..”  ;+)

 

 

 

 

 

A friendly and respectful salutation from the Nepal’s Mongoloid Rai/Kiranti people, who also use nettle (ortie) clothes during their yearly offensive to collect honey and wax from their “Apis Dorsata Laboriosa” bees……….

 

The Nepalese mention the few annual human casualties but do not have any statistics on the number of bee casualties (in the thousands or more), and one’s wonder why bees population is in recession? Figure!…………..

Our Ridiculous Approach to Retirement​ — Written 07/23/12

For Your Entertainment (FYE)  ;+)

 

…..and this is valid worldwide!…….NO Kidding, Old Folks!!……;+)

 

“To maintain living standards into old age, in the USA, we need roughly 20 times our annual income in financial wealth. If you earn $100,000 at retirement, you need about $2 million beyond what you will receive from Social Security. If you have an income-producing partner and a paid-off house, you need less. This number is startling in light of the stone-cold fact that most people aged 50 to 64 have nothing or next to nothing in retirement accounts and thus will rely solely on Social Security.

 

Even for those who know their “number” and are prepared for retirement (it happens, rarely), these conversations aren’t easy. At dinner one night, a friend told me how much he has in retirement assets and said he didn’t think he had saved enough. I mentally calculated his mortality, figured he would die sooner than he predicted, and told him cheerfully that he shouldn’t worry. (“Congratulations!”) But dying early is not the basis of a retirement plan.”

 

 

 

“If we manage to accept that our investments will likely not be enough, we usually enter another fantasy world — that of working longer. After all, people hear that 70 is the new 50, and a recent report from Boston College says that if people work until age 70, they will most likely have enough to retire on. Unfortunately, this ignores the reality that unemployment rates for those over 50 are increasing faster than for any other group and that displaced older workers face a higher risk of long-term unemployment than their younger counterparts. If those workers ever do get re-hired, it’s not without taking at least a 25 percent wage cut.”

 

“Like the nation’s wealth gap, the longevity gap has also widened. The chance to work into one’s 70s primarily belongs to the most well off. Medical technology has helped extend life, by helping older people survive longer with illnesses and by helping others stay active. The gains in longevity in the last two decades almost all went to people earning more than average. It makes perfect sense for human beings to think each of us is special and can work forever. To admit you can’t, or might not be able to, is hard, and denial and magical thinking are underrated human coping devices in response to helplessness and fear.”

 

“Not yet convinced that failure is baked into the voluntary, self-directed, commercially run retirement plans system? Consider what would have to happen for it to work for you. First, figure out when you and your spouse will be laid off or be too sick to work. Second, figure out when you will die. Third, understand that you need to save 7 percent of every dollar you earn. (Didn’t start doing that when you were 25 and you are 55 now? Just save 30 percent of every dollar.) Fourth, earn at least 3 percent above inflation on your investments, every year. (Easy. Just find the best funds for the lowest price and have them optimally allocated.) Fifth, do not withdraw any funds when you lose your job, have a health problem, get divorced, buy a house or send a kid to college. Sixth, time your retirement account withdrawals so the last cent is spent the day you die.”

 

“As we all know, these abilities are not common for our species. The current model for retirement savings, which forces individuals to figure out a plan for their retirement years, whether through a “guy” or by individual decision making, will always fall short.”

 

” Can we afford to be in our own country, anymore, at retirement?…..or are we condemned to replicate the “Errant Wandering Jew” destiny and live a nomadic life of annual moves and cost of living adjustments until death?………”

 

“The Wandering Jew is a figure from medieval Christian folklore whose legend began to spread in Europe in the 13th century. The original legend concerns a Jew who taunted Jesus on the way to the Crucifixion and was then cursed to walk the earth until the Second Coming. The exact nature of the wanderer’s indiscretion varies in different versions of the tale, as do aspects of his character; sometimes he is said to be a shoemaker or other tradesman, while sometimes he is the doorman at Pontius Pilate’s estate.”

 

 

Resources

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/22/opinion/sunday/our-ridiculous-approach-to-retirement.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=general

http://www.aarp.org/work/retirement-planning/retirement_calculator/

http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/s/social_security_us/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier

http://crr.bc.edu/briefs/national-retirement-risk-index-how-much-longer-do-we-need-to-work/

http://teresaghilarducci.org/

http://americanexpatchiangmai.com/how-much-money-do-you-really-need-to-live-comfortably-in-chiang-mai/

http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/rankings_by_country.jsp

http://www.expatistan.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of_living

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wandering_Jew

 

 

“Pragmatis​m”, French “Home Health Aid (HHA)” to Quadripleg​y & All That Jazz! – A Message of Hope-! — Written 07/23/12

For Your Entertainment (FYE)!  ;+)

 

“The Intouchables (French: Intouchables, which translates literally as Untouchable) is a French film directed by Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano. In just nine weeks after its release in France on 2 November 2011 it became the second most successful French film of all time (in number of viewers) in the French box office, behind the 2008 film Welcome to the Sticks.

The feel-good dramatic comedy has become a cultural phenomenon in France where it was voted the cultural event of 2011 with 52% votes.

It is based on the book “You Changed My Life” by Abdel Sellou.”

 

“The movie relates the development of the improbable friendship between Philippe, a wealthy tetraplegic, and Driss, a young and poor man from the ghettos, who is hired as his live-in carer.

The film begins at night in Paris. Driss is driving Philippe’s Maserati Quattroporte at full speed, with Philippe in the front passenger’s seat. They are soon chased by the police. “I bet you 100 euros I shake them off,” Driss tells his passenger. When they are caught, Driss, unfazed, doubles his bet with Philippe, convinced they will get an escort. In order to get away with his speeding, Driss claims the tetraplegic Philippe must be urgently driven to the emergency room; Philippe pretends to have a stroke and the fooled police eventually escort them to the hospital. The two men are jubilant. As the police leave them at the hospital Driss says “Now let me take care of it,” and they drive off.

The story of the two men is then told as a flashback, which occupies most of the film.

Philippe, a rich tetraplegic who owns a luxurious Parisian mansion, is interviewing, along with his assistant Magalie, to recruit a live-in carer to help him. Driss, a candidate, has no ambitions to get hired. He is just there to get a signature showing he was interviewed and rejected in order to continue to receive his welfare benefits. He is extremely casual and shamelessly flirts with Magalie. He is told to come back the next morning to get his signed letter. Driss goes back to the tiny flat that he shares with his extended family in a bleak Parisian suburb. His aunt, exasperated from not hearing from him for six months, orders him to leave the flat.

The next day, Driss returns to Philippe’s mansion and learns to his surprise that he is on a trial period for the live-in carer job. He learns the extent of Philippe’s disability and then accompanies Philippe in every moment of his life, discovering with astonishment a completely different lifestyle. A friend of Philippe’s reveals Driss’s criminal record which includes six months in jail for robbery. Philippe states he does not care about Driss’s past as long as he does his current job properly.

Over time, Driss and Philippe become closer. Driss dutifully takes care of his boss, who frequently suffers from phantom pain. Philippe discloses to Driss that he became disabled following a paragliding accident and that his wife died without bearing children.

Gradually, Philippe is led by Driss to put some order in his private life, including being more strict with his adopted daughter Elisa, who behaves like a spoiled child with the staff. Driss discovers modern art, opera, and art, and even takes up painting.

For Philippe’s birthday, a private concert of classical music is performed in his living room. At first very reluctant, Driss is led by Philippe to listen more carefully to the music and opens up to Philippe’s music. Driss then plays the music he likes to Philippe (Earth, Wind & Fire).

Driss discovers that Philippe has a purely epistolary relationship with a woman called Eleonore, who lives in Dunkirk. Driss encourages him to meet her but Philippe fears her reaction when she discovers his disability. Driss eventually convinces Philippe to talk to Eleonore on the phone. Philippe agrees with Driss to send a photo of him in a wheelchair to her, but he hesitates and asks his aide, Yvonne, to send a picture of him as he was before his accident. A date between Eleonore and Philippe is agreed. At the last minute Philippe is too scared to meet Eleonore and leaves with Yvonne before Eleonore arrives. Philippe then calls Driss and invites him to travel with him in his private jet for a paragliding weekend. Philippe gives Driss an envelope containing 11,000 euros, the amount he was able to get for Driss’s painting, which he sold to one of his friends by saying it was from an up-and-coming artist.

Adama, the younger brother of Driss, who is in trouble with a gang, takes refuge in Philippe’s mansion. Driss opens up to Philippe about his family and his past. Philippe recognizes’s Driss’s need to support his family and advises him, who “may not want to push a wheelchair all his life”, to seek work elsewhere.

Driss returns to his suburbs, joining his friends, and manages to help his little brother. Due to his new professional experience, he lands a job in a transport company. In the meantime Philippe has hired carers to replace Driss, but he isn’t happy with any of them. His morale is very low and he stops taking care of himself. Yvonne becomes worried and contacts Driss, who arrives and decides to drive Philippe in the Maserati, which brings the story back to the first scene of the film, the police chase. After they have eluded the police, Driss takes Philippe straight to the seaside. They arrive at a restaurant with a great view of the ocean. Driss suddenly leaves the table and says good luck to Philippe for his lunch date. Philippe does not understand, but a few seconds later Eleonore arrives. Philippe looks outside and sees Driss through the window, smiling at him.”

 

“Pragmatism is a philosophical tradition centered on the linking of practice and theory. It describes a process where theory is extracted from practice, and applied back to practice to form what is called intelligent practice. Important positions characteristic of pragmatism include instrumentalism, radical empiricism, verificationism, conceptual relativity, and fallibilism. There is general consensus among pragmatists that philosophy should take the methods and insights of modern science into account.  Charles Sanders Peirce (and his pragmatic maxim) deserves most of the credit for pragmatism, along with later twentieth century contributors William James and John Dewey.

Pragmatism enjoyed renewed attention after W. V. O. Quine and Wilfrid Sellars used a revised pragmatism to criticize logical positivism in the 1960s. Another brand of pragmatism, known sometimes as neopragmatism, gained influence through Richard Rorty, the most influential of the late 20th-century pragmatists. Contemporary pragmatism may be broadly divided into a strict analytic tradition and a “neo-classical” pragmatism (such as Susan Haack) that adheres to the work of Peirce, James, and Dewey. The word pragmatism derives from Greek πρᾶγμα (pragma), “deed, act”,[3] which comes from πράσσω (prassō), “to pass over, to practise, to achieve”.”

 

“Tetraplegia, also known as quadriplegia, is paralysis caused by illness or injury to a human that results in the partial or total loss of use of all their limbs and torso; paraplegia is similar but does not affect the arms. The loss is usually sensory and motor, which means that both sensation and control are lost.”

 

“François Cluzet (born 21 September 1955) is a French film and theatre actor, best known in the English-speaking world for starring in the 2006 French film “Tell No One”, based on the novel of the same name by the American author Harlan Coben. He won the 2007 César Award for Best Actor for his role as Dr Alexandre Beck in the film.”

 

“Omar Sy (born 20 January 1978) is a French film actor, best known for his duo with Fred Testot, Omar et Fred, and for his role in The Intouchables, written and directed by Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano, which became the second highest grossing French film of all time in the French box office.[1] He received the César Award for Best Actor on 24 February 2012 for his role in The Intouchables.

Sy was born in Trappes, France. His father is Senegalese and his mother is from Mauritius.”

 

Resources

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intouchables

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pragmatism

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pragmatic_maxim

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetraplegia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fran%C3%A7ois_Cluzet

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omar_Sy

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maserati_Quattroporte

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth,_Wind_%26_Fire

http://www.amazon.com/You-Changed-Life-Abdel-Sellou/dp/160286182X

http://weinsteinco.com/sites/the-intouchables/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaumont_Film_Company

http://www.palacecinemas.com.au/movies/theintouchables/

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/movie-reviews/english/The-Intouchables/movie-review/14821471.cms

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASSEDIC

https://www.cms.gov/Center/Provider-Type/Home-Health-Agency-HHA-Center.html?redirect=/center/hha.asp

http://www.citytowninfo.com/employment/home-health-aides

http://healthcareers.about.com/od/alliedmedicalprofiles/p/Home-Health-Aide-Careers-How-To-Become-A-Home-Health-Care-Aide.htm

 

“Les Shadoks” and the World Crisis — Written 07/22/12

For Your Entertainment! ;+)

 

“If there is no solution, there must be no problem”……;+)

 

“Les Shadoks is an animated television series created by French cartoonist Jacques Rouxel (26 February 1931 – 25 April 2004) which caused a sensation in France when it was first broadcast in 1968-1974;

The Shadoks were bird-like in appearance (in the tradition of cartoon birds they had beaks with teeth), were characterised by ruthlessness and stupidity and inhabited a two dimensional planet.

Another set of creatures in the Shadok canon are the Gibis, who are the opposite to the Shadoks in that they are intelligent but vulnerable and also inhabit a two-dimensional planet.

Rouxel claims that the term Shadok obtains some derivation from Captain Haddock of Hergé’s The Adventures of Tintin and the Gibis (who wear Bowler hats, which unlike their heads, contain their brains) are essentially GBs (Great Britons).

The Shadoks were a significant literary, cultural and philosophical phenomenon in France.

Even today, the French occasionally use satirical comparisons with the Shadoks for policies and attitudes that they consider absurd. The Shadoks were noted for mottos such as:

“Why do it the easy way when you can do it the hard way?”

“When one tries continuously, one ends up succeeding. Thus, the more one fails, the greater the chance that it will work.”

“If there is no solution, it is because there is no problem.”

“To reduce the numbers of unhappy people, always beat up the same individuals.”

“Every advantage has its disadvantages and vice versa.”

The Shadoks were also noted for their seemingly useless and endless pumping — as the Shadok say: “Better to pump even if nothing happens than to risk something worse happening by not pumping”.

 

 

Resources

http://www.lefigaro.fr/conjoncture/2012/07/20/20002-20120720ARTFIG00442-quand-les-shadoks-eclairent-les-paradoxes-de-la-zone-euro.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Shadoks

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacques_Rouxel_(animator)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_Pi%C3%A9plu

http://www.lesshadoks.com/

http://www.ina.fr/fictions-et-animations/animation/dossier/47/les-shadoks.20090331.CPF86651821.non.fr.html

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0218789/

 

The World in 2030! — Written 07/16/2012

For Your Entertainment (FYE)!  ;+)

 

http://www.freeworldacademy.com/globalleader/trends.htm

http://www.hammond.co.uk/

http://www.rayhammond.com/The%20World%20In%202030.html

http://www.cpdpconferences.org/Resources/HAMMOND_Ray.pdf

http://www.speakers.co.uk/media/pdf/Ray_Hammond_-_The_World_In_2030_2011_Edition.pdf

http://www.iss.europa.eu/publications/detail/article/espas-report-global-trends-2030-citizens-in-an-interconnected-and-polycentric-world/

 

“4-ADVANCES IN KNOWLEDGE

 

Clearly, we have known more discoveries from 1945 until today than since the beginning of mankind until 1945. This high flow of discoveries will boost the future growth.

 

41-Some expected advances

 

All the future technical progress from here to 2030 is yet in the laboratories because it needs decades to go from the basic research to the marketing of the new products. We may only list some likely developments:

 

-Computers: The computing power is following a curve of exponential growth. Artificial intelligence is yet embedded everywhere in today’s society ( Medical devices such as electrocardiogram machines and credit card fraud detection software). Before 2030, computers will be embedded in the environment and into materials such as clothing and eyeglasses. Images will be written directly on human retinas ( Today, the military are using this technology in modeling virtual reality environments)

 

-Nano technologies and Biotechnology: Devices from internet to direct computer-to-brain connections will enhance the human ability. Nanotechnologies can replace used organs in compliance with the general trend extending the duration of life.

 

-Genetics: Work will mainly concentrate on prevention of diseases and on prostheses. We will manage to invent prostheses that make it possible to cure certain types of blindness. Advances should also be made for the paralyzed. The possibility of improving intellectual capabilities of individuals by means of genetics no doubt relies in a more distant future. On the other hand, genetic researches could be slowed down by ethical restrictions.

 

-New energy sources : One of the future challenges is achieving nuclear fusion that can provide mankind with an unlimited supply of energy. Moreover, the industrial development of satisfactory electric vehicles will take place in the years to come.

 

-Space exploration: A landing on March can be expected by 2030. However, many people are questioning about the scientific outcomes of space exploration that consumes big money.

 

-Weaponry : Non lethal weapons based on the use of microwaves that temporarily disrupt the conscious faculties of the enemy would be developed. These non-lethal weapons could represent an amazing progress in the history of humanity, by avoiding the killing inherent to conflicts.”

 

“Best links-Click below

 

http://www.cia.gov : The “worldfactbook”

 

CIA Global trends 2020

 

The Millennium project

 

http://www.rand.org

 

http://www.wto.org

 

http://www.chinadaily.net

 

http://www.scmp.com

 

http://www.globalchange.com

 

http://www.kurzweilai.net : This site explores the possibilities of nanotechnologies and the prospect of human immortality. A fascinating site with a robotic human called Ramona!”

The Dawn of Symbolic Life, The Future of Human Evolution! — Written 07/08/12

For Your Entertainment (FYE)!  ;+)

http://www.symboliclife.net/

http://www.symboliclife.net/introduction

http://www.symboliclife.net/our_fatal_flaw

http://www.symboliclife.net/the_transition_to_a_new_life_form

http://www.symboliclife.net/masters_slaves_and_robots

http://www.symboliclife.net/contact_us

http://www.symboliclife.net/references_and_links

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nick_Bostrom

http://www.nickbostrom.com/

http://www.fhi.ox.ac.uk/our_staff/research/nick_bostrom

http://www.nickbostrom.com/fut/evolution.html

http://humanityplus.org/?gclid=COe9gsKBh7ECFQGu4godxB2ROg

http://singularity.org/ourmission/

http://singularity.org/files/strategicplan2011.pdf

http://singularity.org/what-is-the-singularity/

http://singularity.org/why-work-toward-the-singularity/

http://www.humansfuture.org/

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/11/091124-origin-of-species-150-darwin-human-evolution.html

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7103668/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/human-evolution-crossroads/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_intelligence

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lisp_programming_language

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prolog

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expert_system

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knowledge_engineering

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knowledge_engineer

http://www.wtec.org/loyola/kb/c1_s1.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KEE

http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/expert/try.html

http://www.exsys.com/?gclid=COee2a6Mh7ECFedV4godu35N1Q

http://www.arc.sci.eg/NARIMS_upload/CLAESFILES/3744.pdf

http://www.claes.sci.eg/Department.aspx?DepId=272&lang=en

http://www.expertise2go.com/e2g3g/tutorials/knoweng/

 

 

“Artificial intelligence, by claiming to be able to recreate the capabilities of the human mind, is both a challenge and an inspiration for philosophy. Are there limits to how intelligent machines can be? Is there an essential difference between human intelligence and artificial intelligence? Can a machine have a mind and consciousness? A few of the most influential answers to these questions are given below.

Turing’s “polite convention”: We need not decide if a machine can “think”; we need only decide if a machine can act as intelligently as a human being. This approach to the philosophical problems associated with artificial intelligence forms the basis of the Turing test.

The Dartmouth proposal: “Every aspect of learning or any other feature of intelligence can be so precisely described that a machine can be made to simulate it.” This conjecture was printed in the proposal for the Dartmouth Conference of 1956, and represents the position of most working AI researchers.

Newell and Simon’s physical symbol system hypothesis: “A physical symbol system has the necessary and sufficient means of general intelligent action.” Newell and Simon argue that intelligences consist of formal operations on symbols. Hubert Dreyfus argued that, on the contrary, human expertise depends on unconscious instinct rather than conscious symbol manipulation and on having a “feel” for the situation rather than explicit symbolic knowledge. (See Dreyfus’ critique of AI.)

Gödel’s incompleteness theorem: A formal system (such as a computer program) cannot prove all true statements. Roger Penrose is among those who claim that Gödel’s theorem limits what machines can do. (See The Emperor’s New Mind.)

Searle’s strong AI hypothesis: “The appropriately programmed computer with the right inputs and outputs would thereby have a mind in exactly the same sense human beings have minds.” John Searle counters this assertion with his Chinese room argument, which asks us to look inside the computer and try to find where the “mind” might be.

The artificial brain argument: The brain can be simulated. Hans Moravec, Ray Kurzweil and others have argued that it is technologically feasible to copy the brain directly into hardware and software, and that such a simulation will be essentially identical to the original.”

 

“Artificial Intelligence is a common topic in both science fiction and projections about the future of technology and society. The existence of an artificial intelligence that rivals human intelligence raises difficult ethical issues, and the potential power of the technology inspires both hopes and fears.

In fiction, Artificial Intelligence has appeared fulfilling many roles, including a servant (R2D2 in Star Wars), a law enforcer (K.I.T.T. “Knight Rider”), a comrade (Lt. Commander Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation), a conqueror/overlord (The Matrix), a dictator (With Folded Hands), a benevolent provider/de facto ruler (The Culture), an assassin (Terminator), a sentient race (Battlestar Galactica/Transformers/Mass Effect), an extension to human abilities (Ghost in the Shell) and the savior of the human race (R. Daneel Olivaw in Isaac Asimov’s Robot series).

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein considers a key issue in the ethics of artificial intelligence: if a machine can be created that has intelligence, could it also feel? If it can feel, does it have the same rights as a human? The idea also appears in modern science fiction, including the films I Robot, Blade Runner and A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, in which humanoid machines have the ability to feel human emotions. This issue, now known as “robot rights”, is currently being considered by, for example, California’s Institute for the Future, although many critics believe that the discussion is premature. The subject is profoundly discussed in the 2010 documentary film Plug & Pray.

Martin Ford, author of The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future, and others argue that specialized artificial intelligence applications, robotics and other forms of automation will ultimately result in significant unemployment as machines begin to match and exceed the capability of workers to perform most routine and repetitive jobs. Ford predicts that many knowledge-based occupations—and in particular entry level jobs—will be increasingly susceptible to automation via expert systems, machine learning and other AI-enhanced applications. AI-based applications may also be used to amplify the capabilities of low-wage offshore workers, making it more feasible to outsource knowledge work.

Joseph Weizenbaum wrote that AI applications can not, by definition, successfully simulate genuine human empathy and that the use of AI technology in fields such as customer service or psychotherapy was deeply misguided. Weizenbaum was also bothered that AI researchers (and some philosophers) were willing to view the human mind as nothing more than a computer program (a position now known as computationalism). To Weizenbaum these points suggest that AI research devalues human life.

Many futurists believe that artificial intelligence will ultimately transcend the limits of progress. Ray Kurzweil has used Moore’s law (which describes the relentless exponential improvement in digital technology) to calculate that desktop computers will have the same processing power as human brains by the year 2029. He also predicts that by 2045 artificial intelligence will reach a point where it is able to improve itself at a rate that far exceeds anything conceivable in the past, a scenario that science fiction writer Vernor Vinge named the “singularity”.

Robot designer Hans Moravec, cyberneticist Kevin Warwick and inventor Ray Kurzweil have predicted that humans and machines will merge in the future into cyborgs that are more capable and powerful than either. This idea, called transhumanism, which has roots in Aldous Huxley and Robert Ettinger, has been illustrated in fiction as well, for example in the manga Ghost in the Shell and the science-fiction series Dune.

Political scientist Charles T. Rubin believes that AI can be neither designed nor guaranteed to be friendly. He argues that “any sufficiently advanced benevolence may be indistinguishable from malevolence.” Humans should not assume machines or robots would treat us favorably, because there is no a priori reason to believe that they would be sympathetic to our system of morality, which has evolved along with our particular biology (which AIs would not share).

Edward Fredkin argues that “artificial intelligence is the next stage in evolution”, an idea first proposed by Samuel Butler’s “Darwin among the Machines” (1863), and expanded upon by George Dyson in his book of the same name in 1998.

Pamela McCorduck writes that all these scenarios are expressions of the ancient human desire to, as she calls it, “forge the gods”.”