Little Bit of Love


Music is the one tool able to pull down barriers between apposing points of view. I’m not talking musical genres; Rap vs. country or top 40 hits. my ponder rests on something much harder to define.

Music is an integral part of our lives. Aside from Dr. Hook playing at the race track when I was 14, the first real concert I saw was Queen, Night at the Opera tour in 1976. I can still picture Freddy Mercury in all his glory. My early 20s are bookmarked by shows at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver. The Commodore hailed from the 1930s, held 1000 people or so, and had a springy dance floor reportedly lined with horse hair. I danced to The Clash, Elvis Costello, Talking Heads, John Cale, , the Ramones, Billy Idol.  Jonathan Richmon at The Fillmore in San Fransisco on my way getting married in Las Vegas. All stamped on my brain as if it were yesterday.

As memorable as my musical diary might be, it still isn’t the point of my musical ponder.

Music is primal.It can shred our hearts, move us to tears, or elevate us to the stars. It strikes when you least expect it. Finding the unexpected as a crowd gathers around a busker, or getting goosebumps when hearing Allison Krause for the first time. Music is that moment when an old man taps his foot, or you realize a silly grin is plastered on your face.

Music isn’t about the best musician or singer, it’s about how it makes you feel. That magical moment when out of the blue you laugh, cry, or dance your ass off.

At the moment I’m listening to this silly little song, and it makes me smile.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmbX_W8FX2E&list=PL95678043CB51D947

2012 DA 14 on February 15, 2013


On February 15th breathe a sigh of relief as asteroid 2012 DA14 miraculously passes us by. No need to worry about a collision, this one will be close but harmless. When I say close, I mean really, really close. The moon is around 240,000 miles away, DA14 will pass an estimated 21,000 miles from earth. In cosmic terms, this is about as close a call as you get.

DA14 is only about 150 feet wide; certainly nothing like the KT asteroid that is suspected of wiping out the dinosaurs. The trouble with asteroids is that they move so fast, even a little rock can be cataclysmic. In 1908 an asteroid about the same size is suspected of smashing into Siberia. Known as the Tunguska Comet it pancaked miles of forest and killed herds of reindeer. Had it found a city, the bad day would have been epic.

http://earthsky.org/space/asteroid-2012-da14-will-pass-very-close-to-earth-in-2013

We tend to forget  our fragile existence. Far from suggesting we fret over cosmic calamities; my only hope is at some point it will sink in that squandering our lives is rather absurd. I’ll cut some slack on the 20 something crowd, but for those years we would all be dull. Beyond that – I say; no excuses.

Look at the stars, plant a garden, try making bread simply because it smells so good while baking, send a hand written letter before you forget what cursive writing is, travel – understand the world can not be seen from an all inclusive resort or cruise ship, better yet – take a road trip. Vow to never “tweet” about celebrities – ever again! Don’t be afraid to speak your mind, and realize it doesn’t matter how much money you make.

The Mayan calendar silliness should have taught us something. Asteroids whiz by; DA14 a little close for comfort, but no different from talk of the long overdue Yellowstone super volcano or anticipated mega quakes. We have one shot at life, there are no “do overs”, what a waste of time to spend it poorly.

A Little More Gun Talk


Since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, over 1000 Americans have been killed by guns. Think about that for a moment. Most of these deaths nothing more than a passing story on the local news. It hasn’t even been two months since America’s latest horrific headliner, yet 1000 people have been wiped from the face of the earth.

According to a report by Christiane Amanpour;  13,186 people were killed worldwide in 2010 by terrorist attacks. In the same year 31,672 Americans fell victim to gun violence. Her source for this data was a report by Tom Diaz of the Violence Policy Centre.

On average the number of people killed by guns in Canada is 600 – 1000 annually. Of those 80% are suicide deaths. Canada doesn’t escape gun nonsense; just last week a stray bullet came through a townhouse wall in Brampton, Ontario – killing a nine year old boy.

I’m tired of debating America’s “right to bear arms”, the NRA, and gun control. Likewise defending my perspective as a Canadian. I accept that arguing gun issues with America is like trying to reason with evangelical Christians. I realize my broad generalization of America doesn’t apply to all. Hopefully my exasperation will be recognized for what it is by those enlightened few who understand my ponder.

My hope is that; if only for a brief moment – people will grasp the magnitude of far too many gun deaths.

http://amanpour.blogs.cnn.com/2013/01/15/more-americans-killed-by-guns-than-by-terrorists/

Photo – Jessica Hill. The Associated Press, post Media News

What Is It About Orion?


With the exception of our moon, and perhaps the Big Dipper, I would bet that more people could locate Orion’s belt over any other feature in the night sky.  Bright and distinctive, Orion jumps out of the night; familiar and instantly recognizable,  a mystery despite its shining prominence.

In Greek mythology Orion was known as The Hunter. A giant, who hunted with an immense bronze club. His father was Poseidon,  who is said to have taught Orion to walk on water. Several accounts of Orion’s demise exist – in one he was slain by the sting of a scorpion, in another Artemis the Goddess of the moon and hunting fell in love with him. Her twin brother Apollo, enraged because love made her forget to light up the night sky, convinced her to shoot an arrow at what appeared to be a wave in the sea. Not knowing it was Orion out for a swim, the grief stricken Artemis put Orion’s body in the night sky to gaze at for all eternity.

Ancient Egyptians believed their Gods, Isis and Osiris came from the belt stars of Orion. They also believed that it was the place their pharaohs would travel to upon their deaths.

There isn’t a corner of the ancient world untouched by Orion; an integral part of creation myth from Africa, Europe, China, South America, to the American south west.

I’m pondering the universal fixation on a single nebula. The great pyramids of the Giza Plateau, Teotihuacan in Mexico, Karnak, Nabta Playa, Thornborough Henges, Hopi villages – all aligned with the constellation Orion. Ancient civilizations, worlds apart, yet united in a single belief that life originated within Orion.

Nabta Playa


Nabta Playa is an ancient wonder few people have ever heard about. Relegated to that shady  grey area inhabited by rogue archaeology, lateral thinkers, alien conspiracies, and atheists. Aliens aside, I happily claim my place in that club. Nabta Playa is another irrefutable example of civilization lost.

Archeology defines civilization as people who developed a written language. This pondering thinker begs to differ.

Located about 100 miles from Abu Simbal in Egypt, Napta Playa dates back to the Neolithic period. A place that featured a natural basin to collect water in the wet season of the vast Saharan wasteland; a gathering place for nomadic hunter gatherers, beginning around 11,000 years ago. Evidence of domesticated animals and ceramics are interesting, but not anything special to set this site apart from countless other ancient settlements.

Nabta Playa confounds because it is another ancient example of  Orion worshippers,  unexpected men of science who built astronomical observatories to mark the solstices. Credited as the oldest discovered astronomical site on earth, pre-dating Stonehenge by 1000 years; the stones align perfectly with the constellation Orion.

Ponder distant hunter gatherers capable of the organization, planning, and implementation  of such a feat.

Pondering Michael Ruppert


Flicking through the channels I stumbled upon the HBO documentary  Collapse. It featured Michael Ruppert, a chain smoking ex Los Angeles police officer sitting alone in a dark room – he talked, I listened. Ruppert appeared tired, not in the lack of sleep sense. He struck me as worn out.Without the slightest inclination to grandstand, Ruppert told a story of collapse.

Ruppert’s parents worked for the CIA. He graduated from UCLA in 1973 with an honours degree in Political Science. Declining recruitment attempts by the CIA, he became a Los Angeles police officer. He left the force, starting a website called From The Wilderness. An author and lecturer, he warns of economic collapse,” peak oil”, and the break down of society.

The fascinating thing about Michael Ruppert is his delivery. Some criticize it as arrogant, I viewed it as matter of fact; the world according to Michael Ruppert – take it or leave it. I listened as he explained peak oil, warned of economic meltdown,  suggested we buy gold, and stockpile organic corn seed. He certainly held my attention, digesting his words even if some were tough to swallow.

Ruppert believes society is working through the stages of grief. Having lost our ability to live life as we pictured it, we watch helplessly as expectations melt faster than the ice cap – denial is fueling increased violence, fundamentalist religious views, and hatred. Ruppert asserts only those who work through denial, anger, bargaining and depression to reach acceptance will make it. Take Michael Ruppert with a grain of salt, but watch Collapse. A fascinating perspective, and something to ponder.

 

Timbuktu


In my mind Timbuktu resided on a book shelf, along side Shangri La and El Dorado. I saw it as a place born in the mind of Edgar Rice Burroughs, nothing more than a fictional backdrop for characters like Allan Quartermain. Unlike King Solomon‘s Mine Timbuktu lacked biblical reference, escaping Hollywood treatments featuring Charlton Heston. Instead it was relegated to a euphemism for the ends of the earth, it became synonymous with expressions like “when pigs fly” or “when hell freezes over”.

Timbuktu is far from fictional, and finds itself in a rather tough spot. Located in Mali, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is on the endangered list. Timbuktu was the centre of Islamic teaching in Africa during the 15th and 16th centuries. Located on the edge of the Saharan trade routes, it was believed to have housed 100,000 people in the glory days of the Askia dynasty. Of concern to UNESCO are the Sankore, Djingareyber, and Sidi Yahia Mosques. Urban development, climate, and now war threaten to impact these historical treasures beyond repair.

My ponder is not that Timbuktu is tangible, my thoughts are stuck on Islam and what went wrong. Built during the golden age of Islam, Timbuktu epitomizes a society built on science and knowledge. Europe wallowed in the Dark Ages, while Islam flourished. Of course there was , violence, war, and conquest; human nature is unavoidable. The sad fact is; these once great centres of science and innovation have disintegrated into rigid, closed minded societies, engulfed in religious fervor to the exclusion of all else.

The cradle of civilization is imploding, and it appears history has taught us nothing. Timbuktu exists for now, not as it was but as it has become. I liked it better when it was on my book shelf.

                   Timbuktu            © UNESCO