Mindful

Every day

I see or hear

something

that more or less

kills me

with delight,

that leaves me

like a needle

in the haystack

of light.

It was what I was born for –

to look, to listen,

to lose myself

inside this soft world –

to instruct myself

over and over

in joy,

and acclamation.

Nor am I talking

about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,

the very extravagant –

but of the ordinary,

the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.

Oh, good scholar,

I say to myself,

how can you help

but grow wise

with such teachings

as these –

the untrimmable light

of the world,

the ocean’s shine,

the prayers that are made

out of grass?

Mary Oliver

Black Hole Caught Red-handed in a Stellar Homicide

“Astronomers have gathered the most direct evidence yet of a supermassive black hole shredding a star that wandered too close.

Supermassive black holes, weighing millions to billions times more than the Sun, lurk in the centers of most galaxies. These hefty monsters lay quietly until an unsuspecting victim, such as a star, wanders close enough to get ripped apart by their powerful gravitational clutches.

Astronomers have spotted these stellar homicides before, but this is the first time they can identify the victim. Using a slew of ground- and space-based telescopes, a team of astronomers led by Suvi Gezari of The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., has identified the victim as a star rich in helium gas. The star resides in a galaxy 2.7 billion light-years away.” (via HubbleSite)

Perigee “Super Moon” On May 5-6

Lunar perigee and apogee apparent size compari...
Lunar perigee and apogee apparent size comparison

“The full Moon has a reputation for trouble. It raises high tides, it makes dogs howl, it wakes you up in the middle of the night with beams of moonlight stealing through drapes. If a moonbeam wakes you up on the night of May 5th, 2012, you might want to get out of bed and take a look. This May’s full Moon is a “super Moon,” as much as 14% bigger and 30% brighter than other full Moons of 2012.

The scientific term for the phenomenon is “perigee moon.” Full Moons vary in size because of the oval shape of the Moon’s orbit. The Moon follows an elliptical path around Earth with one side (“perigee”) about 50,000 km closer than the other (“apogee”). Full Moons that occur on the perigee side of the Moon’s orbit seem extra big and bright.” (via NASA Science).

The Psychopath Dilemma

photograph of the justices, cropped to show Ju...
Antonin Scalia
Anders Breivik

David Barash, University of Washington psychologist: “What to do with psychopaths? They’re the Anders Breivik’s, the Ted Bundy’s, the people who kill without remorse, sometimes for sport, profit, out of boredom, or for no particular reason at all, their despicable actions lubricated by a literally inhuman lack of empathy. And, as I noted earlier, there is no known treatment for psychopathy.

For all of my oft-expressed lefty political positions (on war – especially nuclear weapons – social justice, environmental protection, health care, etc.) the more I know about psychopathy the more readily my opinion on one issue at least converges with such hanging judges as the right-wing lunatic Antonin Scalia. Thus, even though I am against the death penalty generally, believing that the state shouldn’t kill people in an effort to demonstrate that people shouldn’t kill people, I’m not so sure I feel that way when it comes to clearly diagnosed, murderous psychopaths.

Given that psychopaths appear to derive their behavior from nervous systems that function differently than the rest of us, they raise an interesting question: Can such people be held legally responsible for their actions? To tell the truth, I don’t really care. To my mind, psychopaths are so dangerous (and intractable) that I’m much less concerned about their rights than about our rights to be protected from their depredations.” (via The Chronicle of Higher Education).