Saturday, May 26, 2012

Eric John Sawyer - Running In The Dark

My old South African pal Eric doing some blues around the kitchen table the way it ought to be done!

Friday, May 25, 2012

St. Louis Boys Will Always Show You A Good Time

Or at least a good tan.

What possesses people to rip off their clothes in the middle of a crowded stadium? No, it's not the Budweiser. That just gives you the courage. Some old school chums of mine went streaking through the local Dairy Queen wearing jock straps for masks back in the 70s when streaking was the fashionable thing to do. And of course “shooting the moon” (or the “stars” from the ladies) from a moving vehicle was almost a daily occurrence back then. Women taking off their tops while sitting on their boyfriend's shoulders at rock concerts was less fashionable, but it made for a good story at the next beer blast. I very nearly dropped my towel and swam naked at Ballys one day, though it would have only been a good laugh for a few friends in the place. But who on Earth takes off their clothes amid thousands of strangers, and in front of TV cameras, for a few fleeting moments of fame followed by a night in jail and a police record for lewd and lascivious behavior? St. Louis boys! No need to thank us. Just remember us fondly.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Prophecies Of Saint Malachy

I've always had an interest in world hunger, but my last post was spurred on by James Rollins' novel—The Doomsday Key. This is the third book I've read by Rollins. He's a veterinarian turned novelist who has a great mind for science and history. But besides the hunger and overpopulation scenario played out in his story, he brought up the Prophecies Of Saint Malachy, a 12th century bishop in Ireland who, while in Rome, was purported to have had a vision of every future pope to the end of time. They number 111 or 112 depending on how you look at things. He simply uttered a symbolic name for each pope while a servant recorded them. Many of those names seem to be very accurate. For instance the late John Paul II he refers to as “De Labore Solis” which seems to mean “from the sun's labors.” As it turns out, John Paul was born on the day of a solar eclipse.

Anyway, many of those mystical names don't seem to have any connection to the popes, but several others do. Some people think the prophecies are a 16th century forgery because they weren't published until then, supposedly having been found among the Vatican's archives. What's interesting to think about though is that the current pope is the second to last according to these prophecies. The last pope is referred to as Petrus Romanus (Peter the Roman). The prophecy claims that the Church will undergo some kind of persecution during his reign, and that he, “shall feed the sheep amid great tribulations, and when these have passed, the City of the Seven Hills shall be utterly destroyed, and the awful Judge will judge the people.” Of course the Vatican is the City of the 7-hills.

Quite honestly I don't believe in the prophecies at all. Obviously, not being Catholic, I don't think there's anything at all special about the Catholic Church compared to any other sect or see any reason why God would single them out in a prophecy about the end of the world. (I'd like to think that's what us Episcopalians are for!) More importantly, there was not one mention of these prophecies prior to their being “found” 4 centuries after they were written. Even St. Bernard of Clairvaux, who was a friend of St. Malachy and the author of his biography, never said anything about any prophecies coming from his friend.

Still, it is interesting to note that if the next pope is the last one, that the world hunger/population problem will just happen to reach it's doomsday point during his reign.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Population Control and the Coming Food Shortage

With all the talk and worry about political upheavals around the globe, the one very real threat that's on the horizon, and which you seldom hear discussed in America, is a devastating food shortage that is bound to come and come quickly.

The world's population has increased by more than one third in the past 20 years alone from 4-billion to 7-billion. Right now somewhere between 25 – 35 thousand people starve to death daily. Nearly one billion are malnourished. At the current rate of population growth (which shows no signs of slowing down) we'll be over 9-billion in another 10 – 20 years easily. Yes, there's plenty of land, but most of it is not arable farmland. Climate change is only going to make this worse expanding tundras and dessert regions. While the population grows exponentially, food production does not and can not. Up until now the vast majority of wars have been fought over land, but not because of the food that land produces. In 20-years that will change. There will be world wide wars over food unless we find a way to stop population growth. Genetic engineering of food products will help a little, but not enough. The calamity is coming, and right now I see no good way to stop it. And it will happen in most of our lifetimes. Not our children's or grandchildren's—ours.

There is no way to prepare for this short of picking up stakes and moving to the wilderness, some place like Alaska or the Northwest Territory. Life is hard in places like those, but you can still eek out a living from the land with a lot of work. For those who stay behind in the heartland, the world is going to be a very scary place. People will be starving to death left and right in the middle of America's biggest cities. Every single model that's been done has shown that nearly 90% of the world's population will die as a result of of the food shortage (mostly from the resulting wars). We don't think about it because it hasn't hit our shores yet. But it will hit, and hit like a meteor.

There is only one way to prevent this, short of divine intervention, and that is by imposing severe birth control restrictions globally that will almost have to include mandated sterilization techniques very soon to bring populations under control now while there's still time. People will laugh and scoff at that, but if we don't do this, the only other alternative is a massive extermination of human beings.

Whoa! you say. Good Christians would never support such a thing! Of course not. We'd sooner go down with the ship. We have no fear of death. The thing you have to keep in mind though is that governments are not run by good Christians. Politicians see themselves as the destiny makers of man, and most have the ego to prove it. Nearly 100 million people were murdered in the last century by destiny makers such as the Marquis de Sade, Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Joseph Stalin, Benito Mussolini, Nikita Khrushchev, Leonid Brezhnev, Artur Axmann, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Ho Chi Minh, Che Guevara, Fidel Castro and Adolf Hitler. Social engineering is old hat at this point. A few heads of state from various countries (or perhaps just one) will put together a think tank to tackle the problem, and the think tank will recommend the best way to annihilate humans under covert circumstances. One day we'll wake-up to find a pandemic sweeping the world and we'll never know how it started. Perhaps a new deadly strain of bird flew. A new kind of food contaminate. Even an ancient bacteria come back from the swamps and bogs. Then those same politicians will shake their heads and feign sadness, putting on the act of their lives.

Some of you will no doubt shake your heads at me, saying, “Is he for real?” I'm actually being fairly level-headed about all of this. The numbers simply do not lie. Either a lot of people will be killed off due to a man-made device in the next two decades, or most of the world's population will start dying off via wars and starvation shortly thereafter. There's simply no way around this unless we can mandate birth control procedures now.

Why is this not a bigger concern for everybody? Here we live in this technological age and we go all gaga over our fancy toys and flashy cars and half million dollar homes, but in just twenty years we and our toys may all be gone if we don't do something to stop population growth. People have been sounding the alarm for several decades, and every leading expert in the fields of social and food sciences agrees about it, yet no one is listening. I just don't get it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Letters Through the Mist

From me (sent last night) to N. B., a Professor of Psychology at a University
Dear Ms. N. B.,

I hope you’ll remember me. I’m the fella that owns the [...]. We’ve corresponded a couple of times before. I have a question about a point of psychology if you don’t mind. The reason I’m curious about it is simply because I’ve not heard of anyone else doing this. What I’m going to tell you will probably sound stranger to you than it feels for me, because it seems perfectly normal and natural at the time it’s happening. But perhaps there’s nothing normal about it. Fortunately it only happens when I’m asleep. Since we’re all completely insane a third of our lives, I won’t worry too much about it unless it effects my waking life.

I often dream of whole lifetimes. Several in fact. In one I’m married to a blonde lady whose name I can never recall, and we have two young boys. In another I’m married to a brunette, and we have a boy and a girl. In another I’m a teenager again and I have different parents and several brothers. (In waking life I have only one older sister.) In another, I live in a small town I’ve never been to in waking life, but I know everybody and everything that goes on there—the entire history of the town. In still another I have a second sister who is younger named Cathy. She’s around 12 to 14 years of age. I’m in my late teens, and my older sister is about 25. She and I really like Cathy. Cathy has long brown hair, is cute, bright, and just a pleasure to be around. And there are one or two more similar dream worlds also.

The thing is, when I’m in these dream worlds, I have memories that go back for as many years as I’ve been alive in them. My sister Cathy for instance: I could tell you the hospital she was born in, what all her teacher’s names were since Kindergarten. Her favorite foods, all kinds of little anecdotes about her life growing up. I apparently revisit these worlds all the time. Of course, upon waking I can remember very little of them. Often I do remember names. In one world I have a best friend named Nathar. In another I have a teenage daughter named Desarda. I met God in a dream once (not a regular recurring dream world though), and he introduced me to a friend of his from before our world began by the name of Agott. I wake-up even knowing how to spell these strange names as though they’re very familiar to me.

These are not like past lives at all. They’re more like concurrent lives, as though I’m living in them all at once and can move to and from any of them in a moment and pick up right where I left off.

I did once, however, dream of being in the distant past (something I almost never do). I found myself at Oxford a few hundred years ago. I was in either two libraries, or two sections one library. All of the books were in wooden sheathes and chained to the shelves. In one of them there was a large circular table in the middle and you would actually take a book from the shelves and drag it, chain and all, to the table where you had to stand to read it. In the other, there were isles with wooden booths. These were set-up similar to the way booths are at fast food restaurants with benches facing each other and tables between them. [Edited to say that the benches were actually turned away from each other.] You would sit down at a booth close to the book you wanted to read and pull the book down from the shelf still attached to its chain. But at least you could sit. I found what appeared to be a front desk with a short little man working there who I guessed was the librarian and asked him why all the books were chained up like that. He looked at me as though I were an idiot and said, “Because they’re very valuable of course.” [Edited to say that, before the Gutenberg printing press, books were hand copied, so they were rare and expensive.]

This dream occurred in the late 90s. I was already online back then, so I searched around a bit and found the email of a man who repaired old books. I wrote and asked him if he had ever heard of books being chained to wooden sheathes before. He said yes and sent me a picture attachment of the Hereford Chained Library at Oxford. I’ll attach that same photo here for you. The library with booths in this photo is exactly the one I was in during my dream. I had never heard of chained libraries before that dream. Nor did I have any inkling that Oxford happens to have the second largest collection of chained libraries in the world today. I’ve never been to England and have no connection with the university.

I also had an acquaintance who was a neurosurgeon. He died several years ago, but before he died I had mentioned this dream to him once. He and his wife liked to travel a lot. He told me that he had been to Oxford and saw another library there with a round table and chained books just like the other one in my dream. I’ve searched for a photo of it, but have so far never found one.

While I don’t have hallucinations, nor anything particularly strange that happens to me when I’m awake, there are times when I’m sitting here at my computer chair exhausted and will be right on the cusp of sleep. When that happens, I will sometimes have a sort of visionary experience of one of those recurring dream worlds that lasts only a split second. I must confess that I went through a period more than ten years ago where I had bouts of ASP (awareness during sleep paralysis) that lasted about a year. Those generally led to out of body experiences, though they seldom lasted more than 15-seconds. Those almost never happen anymore, and I don’t feel they’re at all related to my dream worlds.

What say you doc? Am I wired weird? Have you ever heard of anyone else living entire lifetimes during sleep? If you know of any books on the subject, I’d love to read them.

Thanks for reading,

C. S.
I got the following letter back from her today:

Dear C. S.,

How wonderful to hear from you—and of course I remember you! [Etc....]

Let me start by saying that I'm not a clinical psychologist (personally I think many people these days, and many clinical psychologists, tend to be diagnosis-happy), but I am very interested in dreams, and actually teach a whole unit on dreams in my intro. course. So I was fascinated to hear about your elaborate dreamworlds that include whole lifetimes. I hadn't heard of experiences like this, but when I got your message last night I started looking, and quickly ran across this article that cites a number of references:

I haven't checked out all the references, but perhaps you'll find something of interest. It looks as if the author is more interested in the perception of the passage of time in dreams than in other possible ways of explaining these experiences—but it might at least be a place to start, and a chance to see that you're not alone in having these extraordinary dreams. To me it sounds like a rare gift and a sign of a highly developed imagination—using that word in the sense George MacDonald had in mind (not in the way most people these days seem to understand it, to mean something invented or unreal).

Your comment that these dream lives are more like concurrent lives than like past lives is very interesting too, because I tend to think that if we're talking about an experience of the spiritual world, there is really no past or future it's all now, and we could be living many concurrent lives that we're not aware of in our time and space-bound everyday reality. . . I like this quote from P. L. Travers (author of the Mary Poppins books, who also loved George MacDonald's stories):

“There are worlds beyond worlds and times beyond times, all of them true, all of them real, and all of them (as children know) penetrating each other.”

So, who knows? maybe you've found a way to access some of those worlds beyond worlds. . . Of course, many (maybe even most) psychologists these days are die-hard materialists, and would try to come up with some other explanation—but to me it's not scientific (one of their favorite terms) to rule out something just because you can't see or measure it.

And how wonderful that you've also had that clairvoyant dream about the "chained libraries"—and later learned that they actually existed (I love the picture)! Your story reminded me immediately of the psychologist C. G. Jung (considered "too mystical" by many modern psychologists), who started having dreams with strange symbols and words that he'd never seen before. . .and later discovered the same images and phrases in some medieval manuscripts about alchemy! And of P. L. Travers' mentor, the mystical Irish poet A. E. (George Russell), who heard the name "Aeon" in a vision. . . and soon afterward just happened to pass by a desk in a library where he saw the name in book someone had left open, and discovered that it was the Gnostic name for the first created being. . . .

Anyway, my guess is that such visionaries may also have had the kinds of elaborate dreams you've experienced. I don't know offhand of any books about such dreams, but when I go up to the office a little later I'll check a couple of things I have there and let you know if I find something (I stayed at the house this morning to finish grading exams). But the short answer is that you're certainly not the only person who has such elaborate dreams, although it does seem like a rare gift. I do hope you enjoy them! I'll keep an eye out and let you know if I run across something that might be of interest. And thanks for sharing your fascinating experiences!


N. B.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Allen Craig is the Next Ted Williams

Albert Pujols and Allen Craig

Mark my words. I told everybody back in April, be prepared to be amazed when this guy gets into the Cards lineup fulltime in May. Craig is the most natural hitter I’ve seen since Josh Hamilton. He may even prove to be better. Since Tuesday, May 1st Craig has played in four games and batted 16 times. He has six hits already, 4 of them for extra bases.

Batting Average .375

Watch that RBI total go through the roof. Craig seems to actually hit better with men on base. Even though he missed all of April with his knee rehab, I expect him to be leading the team in RBIs by the 2nd week of June (and that’s going to be a tough feet since Freeze already has 24). He’s just that good.

They say that Josh Hamilton is the closest thing to "The Natural" in baseball. But Craig is so good I predict we'll be calling him "The Un-natural" as in, out of this world good.

I miss Albert, and I’m tickled pink that he finally got his first homer of the season today. But who needs Albert when you’ve got Allen?