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Interesting Findings And World Unfolding Through My Eyes.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Million Dollor Stone

Visitors look at a stone covered with a kind of fossilised organism during a stone exposition in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province, April 28, 2007. The stone has an evaluated price of 10 million yuan ($1.3 million), Tianfu Morning News reported.
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Posted by Ajay :: 4:39 PM :: 0 comments

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Me On Mountain

I'm going for vacation so there will be slow or no posting for next three days.

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Fun With Clouds

Cool images.

A cloud is a visible mass of condensed droplets or frozen crystals suspended in the atmosphere above the surface of the Earth or another planetary body...

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The Hippies Were Right?

From SFGates.Com:Go ahead, name your movement. Name something good and positive and pro-environment and eco-friendly that's happening right now in the newly "greening" America and don't say more guns in Texas or fewer reproductive choices for women or endless vile unwinnable BushCo wars in the Middle East lasting until roughly 2075 because that would defeat the whole point of this perky little column and destroy its naive tone of happy rose-colored sardonic optimism. OK?

I'm talking about, say, energy-efficient light bulbs. I'm looking at organic foods going mainstream. I mean chemical-free cleaning products widely available at Target and I'm talking saving the whales and protecting the dolphins and I mean yoga studios flourishing in every small town, giant boxes of organic cereal at Costco and non-phthalates dildos at Good Vibes and the Toyota Prius becoming the nation's oddest status symbol. You know, good things.

Look around: we have entire industries devoted to recycled paper, a new generation of cheap solar-power technology and an Oscar for "An Inconvenient Truth" and even the soulless corporate monsters over at famously heartless joints like Wal-Mart are now claiming that they really, really care about saving the environment because, well, "it's the right thing to do" (read: It's purely economic and all about their bottom line because if they don't start caring they'll soon be totally screwed on manufacturing and shipping costs at/from all their brutal Chinese sweatshops).

There is but one conclusion you can draw from the astonishing (albeit fitful, bittersweet) pro-environment sea change now happening in the culture and (reluctantly, nervously) in the halls of power in D.C., one thing we must all acknowledge in our wary, jaded, globally warmed universe: The hippies had it right all along. Oh yes they did.

You know it's true. All this hot enthusiasm for healing the planet and eating whole foods and avoiding chemicals and working with nature and developing the self? Came from the hippies. Alternative health? Hippies. Green cotton? Hippies. Reclaimed wood? Recycling? Humane treatment of animals? Medical pot? Alternative energy? Natural childbirth? Non-GMO seeds? It came from the granola types (who, of course, absorbed much of it from ancient cultures), from the alternative worldviews, from the underground and the sidelines and from far off the goddamn grid and it's about time the media, the politicians, the culture as a whole sent out a big, wet, hemp-covered apology.

Here's a suggestion, from one of my more astute ex-hippie readers: Instead of issuing carbon credits so industrial polluters can clear their collective corporate conscience, maybe, to help offset all the savage damage they've done to the soul of the planet all these years, these commercial cretins should instead buy some karma credits from the former hippies themselves. You know, from those who've been working for the health of the planet, quite thanklessly, for the past 50 years and who have, as a result, built up quite a storehouse of good karma. You think?

Of course, you can easily argue that much of the "authentic" hippie ethos -- the anti-corporate ideology, the sexual liberation, the anarchy, the push for civil rights, the experimentation -- has been totally leeched out of all these new movements, that corporations have forcibly co-opted and diluted every single technology and humble pro-environment idea and Ben & Jerry's ice cream cone and Odwalla smoothie to make them both palatable and profitable. But does this somehow make the organic oils in that body lotion any more harmful? Verily, it does not.

You might also just as easily claim that much of the nation's reluctant turn toward environmental health has little to do with the hippies per se, that it's taking the threat of global meltdown combined with the notion of really, really expensive ski tickets to slap the nation's incredibly obese ass into gear and force consumers to begin to wake up to the savage gluttony and wastefulness of American culture as everyone starts wondering, oh my God, what's going to happen to swimming pools and NASCAR and free shipping from Amazon? Of course, without the '60s groundwork, without all the radical ideas and seeds of change planted nearly five decades ago, what we'd be turning to in our time of need would be a great deal more hopeless indeed.

But if you're really bitter and shortsighted, you could say the entire hippie movement overall was just incredibly overrated.
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Posted by Ajay :: 9:53 AM :: 0 comments

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Magic Of Sheer Will

In the late 1960s, a young Israeli man named Uri Geller gained a substantial amount of attention and fame following a collection of remarkable demonstrations on US and British television. In full view of astonished audiences, Uri was seemingly able to manipulate metal with his mind. Spoons softened in his hands, keys curled at the gentle stroke of his fingers, and he was able to cause compasses to wobble at his cajoling. He was also known to restart stopped wristwatches by merely holding them in his hands. According to Geller, these feats were the products of sheer will, a phenomenon known as psychokinesis.

In addition to his mental metallurgy and magnetism, the dashing young Israeli demonstrated potent psychic abilities, most notably in his ability to reproduce drawings which he had never seen. A volunteer would draw a picture while Uri was not watching, and Geller would use his gifts to attempt to reproduce the image. Although his recreations were not always completely accurate, they were sufficiently similar as to provoke astonishment from onlookers.

Geller's high-profile exploits in the 1970s significantly raised awareness of "paranormal science" worldwide, and since that time many have gone on to mimic his feats. Though there are throngs of skeptics who have reproduced his handiwork under the harsh light of reality, there are still a handful of yet-to-be-explained effects exhibited by Geller and his spoon-bending contemporaries.

Most Americans became acquainted with the charismatic Uri Geller following a series of high-profile television and magazine appearances in the late 1960s and early 1970s. As the cameras looked on, spoons softened and became almost taffy-like in his fingers. Often his audiences were awestruck when a spoon's head separated from its body and clattered to the floor. An early Uri Geller TV appearanceWhen he reanimated wristwatches on television, he further dumbfounded observers by urging viewers to each hold their own broken wristwatch if they had one, allowing him to act as the psychic conduit. Much to their amazement, some of the viewer's watches reportedly started ticking again.

By 1972, the media frenzy surrounding Geller finally drew serious attention from the scientific community as supporters and skeptics began to polarize. In order to better understand Uri's methods, the scientists at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) asked him to participate in a series of impartial experiments. Uri eagerly agreed. For five weeks, researchers Harold E. Puthoff and Russell Targ made the controversial character the target of their scientific scrutiny as he was subjected to a host of laboratory adventures.

Following some informal demonstrations by Geller, Stanford's first test revolved around a number of drawings which had been made prior to the experiments and placed in nested envelopes. Uri was asked to recreate each selected image on his own paper. Some of the drawings had been examined by the researchers before entering the experiment room with Uri; some were double-blind, where not even the researchers knew what was within each envelope before it was opened; and some of the images were brought in by outside consultants, sealed in their envelopes before arriving at the facility. Before most of these experiments Geller expressed a measure of insecurity about his abilities, and in fact he declined to respond about 20% of the time due to lack of confidence in his response. But for those he did complete, he displayed a shocking level of accuracy. His representations were crude, but they frequently bore an unmistakable resemblance to the original, though sometimes reversed.

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