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Author Archives: MisterX55547
Posted: December 10, 2016 at 1:52 pm
The Founder of Scientology, L.Ron Hubbard, was part of the generation whose crucibles were World War II and the advent of nuclear weapons that could vaporize civilization. The stakes were so high, victory was either a win or a lossthere were no draws or rematches. Another great man of that era, Englands Winston Churchill, commented that without victory, there is no survival.
Mr. Hubbard imbued Scientology with one paramount imperative: survival. But to survive, humanity had to flourish, had to be free. The one impulse in Man which cannot be erased is his impulse toward freedom, Mr.Hubbard wrote in 1954, his impulse toward sanity, toward higher levels of attainment in all of hisendeavors.
The Church of Scientology has traveled that path for more than six decades, growing and strengthening. At every step in its first several decades, the religion was assaulted by totalitarian and manipulative interestsin governments, organized psychiatry, pharmaceutical conglomerates, the small minds of the religiously intolerant. The Church won, won and won againand, by the way, won some more.
At the helm of Scientology for the last 30 years, David Miscavige has had a single, driving purpose: to spread the survival tools of Scientology to every corner of the globe and, thereby, halt the lurching downward spiral of civilization. The vast majority of the job is building the young religion, for today and for all tomorrows to come.
Thats called expansion. It takes hard work to establish a global Church. The spiritual path of Scientology becomes available to more people, who see that it works. That Church grows, carries out humanitarian programs that push back against the darkness of social decay, crime and mental and spiritual slavery. The Church opens groups and missions, which grow into Churches of their own, and the cycle accelerates.
Aiding all that is the dazzling momentum of the religions publishing, filmmaking, broadcasting and online dissemination endeavors. The greatest advance in that arena came in 2016, with the opening of a renowned and vintage Hollywood studio that is now Scientology Media Productions.
All of these episodes of growth are recounted in this special year-in-review issue of Freedom, the voice of the Church. The real beneficiaries of the progress and the triumphs in these pages are youevery man, woman and child on the planetbecause our goal is freedom and survival for all.
Read more here:
Posted: December 9, 2016 at 6:10 am
The Golden Rule can be found in Matthew 7:12. This famous quote by Jesus Christ actually begins in the context of verse 7, which says we can go to God for our needs and receive help from Him: Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. The next few verses elaborate on this thought. Just as a caring human father gives good gifts to his children, so, too, God gives good things to those who ask Him (verses 9-11).
Verse 12 then concludes the thought: Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets (emphasis added throughout). The word therefore connects the Golden Rule verse to the preceding assurances that we can ask God for help in our lives and receive it.
Matthew 7:8 assures us that it is Gods desire to help us: For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
The book of James also tells us the source of everything good in our lives: Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning (James 1:17).
Do we have a part to play in how God answers our prayers?
There are many passages in the Bible that make a connection between how we live our livesspecifically, how we deal with othersand how God deals with us. Two such verses can be found in the Sermon on the Mount.
Among the Beatitudes in Matthew 5, we find this: Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy (Matthew 5:7). We all want to receive mercy when we need it, but we may not always be so eager to extend it to others! God clearly expects us to be merciful if we expect to receive the same from Him.
In the model prayer in Matthew 6, we notice the same principle being applied to forgiveness and forgiving: And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors (Matthew 6:12). Again, a clear connection is madethis time between being forgiving toward others and receiving Gods forgiveness for ourselves.
In the area of judging others, Jesus made it quite clear that we will receive judgment from Him in the same manner we judge others. Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you (Matthew 7:1-2). Jesus Christ Himself is our judge (2 Timothy 4:8), so this passage tells us that when we judge others, we are setting the standard He will use in judging us!
With these examples in mind, lets be reminded again what Jesus said in Matthew 7:7: Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. These are wonderful assurances. Verse 8 tells us everyone who asks will receive, all who seek will find, and the door will be opened to those who knock.
However, God always has perfect understanding and flawless judgment to determine what gifts are best for us and when its best for us to receive them.
Earlier, we saw in James 1:17 that every good gift and every perfect gift is from above. If a 10-year-old child asked for a powerful motorcycle to drive to school, would a loving parent give it to him? No, in reality it would be harmful to give a motorcycle to a 10-year-old. In a similar way, God may not give us a gift that could be to our detriment, but He would instead give us something helpful.
You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures (James 4:3). The word translated amiss in this passage is from the Greek word kakos, and it carries the connotation of asking improperly, wrongly (Thayers Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament). God will not grant a request that would carry us away from our relationship with Him.
Gods long-term plan for us may not be something we can see, at least in the short term. (Please refer to the article Gods Plan on this website.) Though we can be assured that He has our best interest in mind and greatly desires to give us good gifts, we may not always receive the gift we expectbut the gift God gives will be one that is better for us.
Notice the experience that the apostle Paul encountered when faced with a physical ailment: Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Corinthians 12:8-9).
Whether or not we apply the Golden Rule in our life will have a direct impact on how God deals with us!Paul chose to move forward, knowing that Gods will for him was still being done.
In other cases, God allows us to wait to receive an answer in order for us to develop patience and character. Probably the most outstanding example of this is Abraham, who waited 25 years to receive his promised son Isaac, who was born when Abraham was 100 years old (Genesis 21:2-5).
The most common phrasing of the Golden Rule is do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the Golden Rule as: A general rule for how to behave that says that you should treat people the way you would like other people to treat you.
The statement made by Jesus in Matthew 7 mirrors the same concept expressed in the Old Testament, in Leviticus 19:18: You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. Gods instruction is the same in both the Old and New Testaments.
Whether or not we apply the Golden Rule in our life will have a direct impact on how God deals with us!
The parallel Gospel account in Luke makes a statement not found in Matthew 7. Notice how God expects us to be acting toward others if we expect to receive blessings and gifts from Him: Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you (Luke 6:37-38).
Once again, the way we treat others sets the standard of how we will be treated by God. And this includes receiving Gods gifts!
Many in our modern society espouse a general philosophy of looking out for the selffirst taking what you want and need, and considering others later. Lets look again at the Golden Rule as stated in Matthew 7:12: Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. The word therefore connects us directly back to the promises about asking, seeking and knocking in verses 7-11.
Which path will you choose to pursue in your life? How do you want to be received by God when you are asking, seeking and knocking? Bear in mind that how you treat others sets the tone for how God will treat you!
Read more about Gods expectations and how He wants us to pray to Him in the following articles:
Posted: December 8, 2016 at 5:07 pm
The Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides: “[N]or shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb . . . .” The four essential protections included are prohibitions against, for the same offense:
Jeopardy attaches in jury trial when the jury is empaneled and sworn in, in a bench trial when the court begins to hear evidence after the first witness is sworn in, or when a court accepts a defendant’s plea unconditionally. Jeopardy does not attach in a retrial of a conviction that was reversed on appeal on procedural grounds (as opposed to evidentiary insufficiency grounds), in a retrial for which “manifest necessity” has been shown following a mistrial, and in the seating of another grand jury if the prior one refuses to return an indictment.
In United States v. Felix 503 U.S. 378 (1992), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled: “a[n]…offense and a conspiracy to commit that offense are not the same offense for double jeopardy purposes.”
Sometimes the same conduct may violate different statutes. If all elements of a lesser offense are relied on to prove a greater offense, the two crimes are the “same offense” for double jeopardy purposes, and the doctrine will bar the second prosecution. In Blockburger v. United States, 284 U.S. 299 (1932), the Supreme Court held that “where the same act or transaction constitutes a violation of two distinct statutory provisions, the test to be applied to determine whether there are two offenses or only one, is whether each provision requires proof of an additional fact which the other does not”. The test was applied in Brown v. Ohio, 432 U.S. 161 (1977), where the defendant had first been convicted of operating an automobile without the owner’s consent, and later of stealing the same automobile. The Supreme Court concluded that the same evidence was necessary to prove both offenses, and that in effect there was only one offense. Therefore, it overturned the second conviction.
In other cases, the same conduct may constitute multiple offenses under the same statute, for instance where one robs many individuals at the same time. There is no explicit bar to separate prosecutions for different offenses arising under the same “criminal transaction”, but it is not permissible for the prosecution to re-litigate facts already determined by a jury. In Ashe v. Swenson, 397 U.S. 436 (1970), the defendant was accused of robbing seven poker players during a game. John Ashe was first tried for, and acquitted of, robbing only one of the players; the defense did not contest that a robbery actually took place. The state then tried the defendant for robbing the second player; stronger identification evidence led to a conviction. The Supreme Court, however, overturned the conviction. It was held that in the first trial, since the defense had not presented any evidence that there was no robbery, the jury’s acquittal had to be based on the conclusion that the defendant’s alibi was valid. Since one jury had held that the defendant was not present at the crime scene, the State could not re-litigate the issue.
Once acquitted, a defendant may not be retried for the same offense: “A verdict of acquittal, although not followed by any judgment, is a bar to a subsequent prosecution for the same offense.” Acquittal by directed verdict is also final and cannot be appealed by the prosecution. An acquittal in a trial by judge (bench trial) is also generally not appealable by the prosecution. A trial judge may normally enter an acquittal if he deems the evidence insufficient for conviction. If the judge makes this ruling before the jury reaches its verdict, the judge’s determination is final. If, however, the judge overrules a conviction by the jury, the prosecution may appeal to have the conviction reinstated. Additionally, although a judge may overrule a guilty verdict by a jury, he or she does not have the same power to overrule a not guilty verdict.
More specifically, as stated in Ashe v. Swenson, 397 U.S. 436 (1970): “…when an issue of ultimate fact has once been determined by a valid and final judgment, that issue cannot again be litigated between the same parties in any future lawsuit.” Res judicata is a term of general application. Underneath that conceptual umbrella is the concept of collateral estoppel. As applied to double jeopardy, the court will use collateral estoppel as its basis for forming an opinion.
If a defendant charged with murder in the first degree is convicted for murder in the second degree, and later the jury’s conviction is overturned on procedural grounds, the defendant may be retried for second degree but not first degree murder; the jury, by convicting the defendant of second degree murder, is deemed to have implicitly acquitted them of first degree murder.
As double jeopardy applies only to charges that were the subject of an earlier final judgment, there are many situations in which it does not apply, despite the appearance of a retrial. For example, a second trial held after a mistrial does not violate the double jeopardy clause because a mistrial ends a trial prematurely without a judgment of guilty or not, as decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Josef Perez (1824). Cases dismissed because of insufficient evidence may constitute a final judgment for these purposes, though many state and federal laws allow for substantially limited prosecutorial appeals from these orders. Also, a retrial after a conviction that has been set aside following the grant of a motion for new trial, that has been reversed on appeal, or that has been vacated in a collateral proceeding (such as habeas corpus) would not violate double jeopardy because the judgment in the first trial had been invalidated. In all of these cases, however, the previous trials do not entirely vanish. Testimony from them may be used in later retrials, such as to impeach contradictory testimony given at any subsequent proceeding.
Prosecutors may appeal when a trial judge sets aside a jury verdict for conviction with a judgment notwithstanding verdict for the defendant. A successful appeal by the prosecution would simply reinstate the jury verdict and so would not place the defendant at risk of another trial.
If a defendant appeals a conviction and is successful in having it overturned, they are subject to retrial.
Retrial is not possible if the verdict is overturned on the grounds of evidentiary insufficiency, rather than on the grounds of procedural faults. As noted above, if the trial court made a determination of evidentiary insufficiency, the determination would constitute a final acquittal; in Burks v. United States 437 U.S. 1, (1978), the Court held that “it should make no difference that the reviewing court, rather than the trial court, determined the evidence to be insufficient.”
If the earlier trial is a fraud, double jeopardy will not prohibit a new trial because the party acquitted has prevented themselves from being placed into “jeopardy” to begin with.
The Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment does not attach in a grand jury proceeding, or bar a grand jury from returning an indictment when a prior grand jury has refused to do so.
A person who is convicted of one set of charges cannot in general be tried on additional charges related to the crime unless said additional charges cover new facts against which the person in question has not yet been acquitted or convicted. The test that determines whether this can occur is the Blockburger test.
An example of this are the charges of “conspiring to commit murder” and “murder”. Both charges typically have facts distinct from each other. A person can be charged with “conspiring to commit murder” even if the murder never actually takes place if all facts necessary to support the charge can be demonstrated through evidence. Further, a person convicted or acquitted of murder can, additionally, be tried on conspiracy as well if it has been determined after the conviction or acquittal that a conspiracy did, in fact, take place.
Mistrials are generally not covered by the double jeopardy clause. If a judge dismisses the case or concludes the trial without deciding the facts in the defendant’s favor (for example, by dismissing the case on procedural grounds), the case is a mistrial and may normally be retried. Furthermore, if a jury cannot reach a verdict, the judge may declare a mistrial and order a retrial as was addressed in United States v. Josef Perez, 22 U.S. 579 (1824). When the defendant moves for a mistrial, there is no bar to retrial, even if the prosecutor or judge caused the error that forms the basis of the motion. An exception exists, however, where the prosecutor or judge has acted in bad faith. In Oregon v. Kennedy, 456 U.S. 667 (1982), the Supreme Court held that “only where the governmental conduct in question is intended to ‘goad’ the defendant into moving for a mistrial may a defendant raise the bar of double jeopardy to a second trial after having succeeded in aborting the first on his own motion.”
The defendant may not be punished twice for the same offense. In certain circumstances, however, a sentence may be increased. It has been held that sentences do not have the same “finality” as acquittals, and may therefore be reviewed by the courts.
The prosecution may not seek capital punishment in the retrial if the jury did not impose it in the original trial. The reason for this exception is that before imposing the death penalty the jury has to make several factual determinations and if the jury does not make these it is seen as the equivalent of an acquittal of a more serious offense.
In Arizona v. Rumsey, 467 U.S. 203 (1984), a judge had held a separate hearing after the jury trial to decide if the sentence should be death or life imprisonment, in which he decided that the circumstances of the case did not permit death to be imposed. On appeal, the judge’s ruling was found to be erroneous. However, even though the decision to impose life instead of death was based on an erroneous interpretation of the law by the judge, the conclusion of life imprisonment in the original case constituted an acquittal of the death penalty and thus death could not be imposed upon a subsequent trial. Even though the acquittal of the death penalty was erroneous in that case, the acquittal must stand.
Double jeopardy also does not apply if the later charge is civil rather than criminal in nature, which involves a different legal standard (crimes must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, whereas civil wrongs need only be proven by preponderance of evidence or in some matters, clear and convincing evidence). Acquittal in a criminal case does not prevent the defendant from being the defendant in a civil suit relating to the same incident (though res judicata operates within the civil court system). For example, O. J. Simpson was acquitted of a double homicide in a California criminal prosecution, but lost a civil wrongful death claim brought over the same victims.
If the defendant happened to be on parole from an earlier offense at the time, the act for which he or she was acquitted may also be the subject of a parole violation hearing, which is not considered to be a criminal trial. Since parolees are usually subject to restrictions not imposed on other citizens, evidence of actions that were not deemed to be criminal by the court may be re-considered by the parole board. This legal board could deem the same evidence to be proof of a parole violation. Most states’ parole boards have looser rules of evidence than is found in the courts for example, hearsay that had been disallowed in court might be considered by a parole board. Finally, like civil trials parole violation hearings are also subject to a lower standard of proof so it is possible for a parolee to be punished by the parole board for criminal actions that he or she was acquitted of in court.
In the American military, courts-martial are subject to the same law of double jeopardy, since the Uniform Code of Military Justice has incorporated all of the protections of the U.S. Constitution. The non-criminal proceeding non-judicial punishment (or NJP) is considered to be akin to a civil case and is subject to lower standards than a court-martial, which is the same as a civilian court of law. NJP proceedings are commonly used to correct or punish minor breaches of military discipline. If a NJP proceeding fails to produce conclusive evidence, however, the commanding officer (or ranking official presiding over the NJP) is not allowed to prepare the same charge against the military member in question. In a court-martial, acquittal of the defendant means he is protected permanently from having those charges reinstated.
The most famous American court case invoking the claim of double jeopardy is probably the second murder trial in 1876 of Jack McCall, killer of Wild Bill Hickok. McCall was acquitted in his first trial, which Federal authorities later ruled to be illegal because it took place in an illegal town, Deadwood, then located in South Dakota Indian Territory. At the time, Federal law prohibited all except Native Americans from settling in the Indian Territory. McCall was retried in Federal Indian Territorial court, convicted, and hanged in 1877. He was the first person ever executed by Federal authorities in the Dakota Territory.
Double jeopardy also does not apply if the defendant were never tried from the start. Charges that were dropped or put on hold for any reason can always be reinstated in the futureif not barred by some statute of limitations.
Although the Fifth Amendment initially applied only to the federal government, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the double jeopardy clause applies to the states as well through incorporation by the Fourteenth Amendment (Benton v. Maryland).
The government of the United States and of each State therein may each enact their own laws and prosecute crimes pursuant thereto, provided there is no prohibition by the Constitution of the United States or of the state in question. Such is known as the “dual sovereignty” or “separate sovereigns” doctrine.
The earliest case at the Supreme Court of the United States to address the matter is Fox v. State of Ohio in 1847, in which the petitioner, Malinda Fox, was appealing a conviction of a state crime of passing a counterfeit silver dollar. The power to coin money is granted exclusively to Congress, and it was argued that Congress’s power precludes the power of any State from prosecuting any crimes pertaining to the money, an argument the Supreme Court rejected in upholding Fox’s conviction.
A case that followed on Fox is United States v. Cruikshank, in which the Supreme Court stated that the government of the United States is a separate sovereign from any State:
This does not, however, necessarily imply that the two governments possess powers in common, or bring them into conflict with each other. It is the natural consequence of a citizenship which owes allegiance to two sovereignties, and claims protection from both. The citizen cannot complain, because he has voluntarily submitted himself to such a form of government. He owes allegiance to the two departments, so to speak, and within their respective spheres must pay the penalties which each exacts for disobedience to its laws. In return, he can demand protection from each within its own jurisdiction.
In 1920 the United States was fresh in to the Prohibition Era. In one prosecution that occurred in Washington state, a defendant named Lanza was charged under a Washington statute and simultaneously under a United States statute, with the federal indictment stating several facts also stated in the Washington indictment. The Supreme Court addressed the question of the Federal government and a State government having separate prosecutions on the same facts in United States v. Lanza:
We have here two sovereignties, deriving power from different sources, capable of dealing with the same subject matter within the same territory. Each may, without interference by the other, enact laws to secure prohibition, with the limitation that no legislation can give validity to acts prohibited by the amendment. Each government in determining what shall be an offense against its peace and dignity is exercising its own sovereignty, not that of the other.
It follows that an act denounced as a crime by both national and state sovereignties is an offense against the peace and dignity of both and may be punished by each. The Fifth Amendment, like all the other guaranties in the first eight amendments, applies only to proceedings by the federal government (Barron v. City of Baltimore, 7 Pet. 243), and the double jeopardy therein forbidden is a second prosecution under authority of the federal government after a first trial for the same offense under the same authority.
There may also be Federal laws that call other facts into question beyond the scope of any State law. A state may try a defendant for murder, after which the Federal government might try the same defendant for a Federal crime (perhaps a civil rights violation or a kidnapping) connected to the same act. The officers of the Los Angeles Police Department who were charged with assaulting Rodney King in 1991 were acquitted by a jury of the Superior Court, but some were later convicted and sentenced in Federal court for violating King’s civil rights. Similar legal processes were used for prosecuting racially motivated crimes in the Southern United States in the 1960s during the time of the Civil Rights movement, when those crimes had not been actively prosecuted, or had resulted in acquittals by juries that were thought to be racist or overly sympathetic with the accused in local courts.
Federal jurisdiction may apply because the defendant is a member of the armed forces or the victim(s) are armed forces members or dependents. U.S. Army Master Sergeant Timothy B. Hennis was acquitted in state court in North Carolina for the murders in 1985 of Kathryn Eastburn (age 31) and her daughters Kara, age five, and Erin, age three, who were stabbed to death in their home near Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Two decades later, Hennis was recalled to active duty, court-martialed by the Army for the crime, and convicted. Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, observed of this case, “Certainly, no one [in the US] has been exonerated and then returned to death row for the same crime except Hennis.”
Furthermore, as ruled in Heath v. Alabama (1985), the “separate sovereigns” rule allows two states to prosecute for the same criminal act. For example, if a man stood in New York and shot and killed a man standing over the border in Connecticut, both New York and Connecticut could charge the shooter with murder.
Only the states and tribal jurisdictions are recognized as possessing a separate sovereignty, whereas territories, commonwealths (for example, Puerto Rico), the military and naval forces, and the capital city of Washington, D.C., are exclusively under Federal sovereignty. Acquittal in the court system of any of these entities would therefore preclude a re-trial (or a court-martial) in any court system under Federal jurisdiction.
Though the Supreme Court of the United States has recognized the dual sovereignty doctrine as an exception to double jeopardy, the United States will not exercise its dual sovereignty power on everyone who becomes subject to it. As a self-imposed limitation on its dual sovereignty power, the United States Department of Justice has a policy called the “Petite” policy, named after Petite v. United States, 361 U.S. 529 (1960). The formal name of the policy is “Dual and Successive Prosecution Policy”  and it “establishes guidelines for the exercise of discretion by appropriate officers of the Department of Justice in determining whether to bring a federal prosecution based on substantially the same act(s) or transactions involved in a prior state or federal proceeding.”
Under this policy, the Department of Justice presumes that any prosecution at the State level for any fact applicable to any Federal charge vindicates any Federal interest in those facts, even if the outcome is an acquittal. As an example, a person who commits murder within the jurisdiction of a State is subject to that State’s murder statute and the United States murder statute (18 U.S.C.1111). The Federal government will defer to the State to prosecute under their statute. Whatever the outcome of the trial, acquittal or conviction, the Department of Justice will presume that prosecution to vindicate any Federal interest and will not initiate prosecution under the United States Code.
However that presumption can be overcome. The policy stipulates five criteria that may overcome that presumption:
The existence of any of these criteria is to be determined by an Assistant Attorney General of the United States. If a prosecution is determined to have proceeded without authorization, the Federal government may and has requested the Court vacate an indictment. Such a move is in line with the Courts vacating indictments wherein prosecutions were discovered to have violated Department of Justice policy. Indictments have also been vacated when the Federal government first represents to the Court the prosecution was authorized but later determines that authorization to have been mistaken.
Double Jeopardy Clause – Wikipedia
Posted: at 5:06 pm
President-elect Trump’s choice of Gen. James Mattis to be Defense Secretary has raised more than a few eyebrows. Not only as a military officer in a traditionally civilian position, but also as an executive in a leading defense contractor. His views on Iran are also considered extreme and not grounded in reality.
The Iranian regime in my mind is the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East. …Iran is not an enemy of ISIS. They have a lot to gain from the turmoil in the region that ISIS creates.”
Ron Paul asks “Will the mad dog be leashed?” in the following live discussion (starting at 12ET)…
* * *
As Ron Paul detailed earlier, President-elect Donald Trump told a Cincinnati audience this week that he intends to make some big changes in US foreign policy. During his thank you tour in the midwest, Trump had this to say:
We will pursue a new foreign policy that finally learns from the mistakes of the past. We will stop looking to topple regimes and overthrow governments. In our dealings with other countries we will seek shared interests wherever possible…
If this is really to be President Trumps foreign policy, it would be a welcome change from the destructive path pursued by the two previous administrations. Such a foreign policy would go a long way toward making us safer and more prosperous, as we would greatly reduce the possibility of a blowback attack from abroad, and we would save untold billions with a foreign policy of restraint.
However as we know with politicians, there is often a huge gap between pronouncements before entering office and actions once in office. Who can forget President George W. Bushs foreign policy promises as a candidate 16 years ago? As a candidate he said:
I am not so sure the role of the United States is to go around the world saying this is the way its got to be. If were an arrogant nation they will resent us, if were a humble nation but strong theyll welcome us.
Unfortunately as soon as he took office, George W. Bush pursued a completely different foreign policy, attacking countries like Iraq at the urging of the neocons he placed in positions of power in his White House and State Department.
Some people say that personnel is policy, and that much can be predicted about Trumps foreign policy by the people he has appointed to serve his Administration. That is where we might have reason to be worried. Take Iran, for example. While Trump says he wants the US to stop overthrowing governments, on the issue of Iran both the candidate and his recent appointees have taken a very different view.
Trump’s pick for National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, has said the following about Iran: “I believe that Iran represents a clear and present danger to the region, and eventually to the world…” and, regime change in Tehran is the best way to stop the Iranian nuclear weapons program.
Trumps CIA choice, Mike Pompeo, has said of President Obamas Iran deal, The Iranian regime is intent on the destruction of our country. Why the President does not understand is unfathomable.
And Trumps selection for Defense Secretary, General James Mattis, was even more aggressive, saying, The Iranian regime in my mind is the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East. …Iran is not an enemy of ISIS. They have a lot to gain from the turmoil in the region that ISIS creates.”
Donald Trump’s words in Cincinnati don’t seem to match up with the views of the people that he’s assigning to high places. At least when it comes to Iran.
While I hope we can take President Trump at his word when it comes to foreign policy, I also we think we should hold him to his word especially his encouraging words last week. Will the incoming president have the ability to rein in his more bellicose cabinet members and their underlings? We can be sure about one thing: if Trump allows the neocons to capture the State Department, keeping his foreign policy promises is going to be a lot more difficult.
Posted: December 7, 2016 at 8:01 am
Pick up an academic book, and theres no reason to expect the writing to be graceful or elegant. Many factors attract people to the scholarly life, but an appealing prose style was never a requirement for the job.
Having spent the past 23 years editing a scholarly journal, Philosophy and Literature, I have come to know many lucid and lively academic writers. But for every superb stylist there are a hundred whose writing is no better than adequate or just plain awful.
While everyone moans (rightly) about the decline in student literacy, not enough attention has been given to deplorable writing among the professoriate. Things came to a head, for me, a few years ago when I opened a new book aptly called The End of Education: Toward Posthumanism. It began:
This was written by a professor of English. Hes supposed to teach students how to write.
Fed up, I resolved to find out just how low the state of academic writing had sunk. I could use the Internet to solicit the most egregious examples of awkward, jargon-clogged academic prose from all over the English-speaking world. And so the annual Bad Writing Contest was born.
The rules were simple: Entries should be a sentence or two from an actual published scholarly book or journal article. No translations into English allowed, and the entries had to be nonironic: We could hardly admit parodies in a field where unintentional self-parody was so rampant.
Each year for four years now the contest has attracted around 70 entries. My co-editors at Philosophy and Literature and I are the judges, and the winner is announced in the journal.
No one denies the need for a specialized vocabulary in biochemistry or physics or in technical areas of the humanities like linguistics. But among literature professors who do what they now call theory mostly inept philosophy applied to literature and culture jargon has become the emperors clothing of choice.
Thus in A Defense of Poetry, English Prof. Paul Fry writes: It is the moment of non-construction, disclosing the absentation of actuality from the concept in part through its invitation to emphasize, in reading, the helplessness rather than the will to power of its fall into conceptuality. If readers are baffled by a phrase like disclosing the absentation of actuality, they will imagine its due to their own ignorance. Much of what passes for theory in English departments depends on this kind of natural humility on the part of readers. The writing is intended to look as though Mr. Fry is a physicist struggling to make clear the Copenhagen interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. Of course, hes just an English professor showing off.
The vatic tone and phony technicality can also serve to elevate a trivial subject. Many English departments these days find it hard to fill classes where students are assigned Milton or Melville, and they are transforming themselves into departments of so-called cultural studies, where the students are offered the analysis of movies, television programs, and popular music. Thus, in a laughably convoluted book on the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding affair, we read in a typical sentence that this melodrama parsed the transgressive hybridity of un-narratived representative bodies back into recognizable heterovisual modes.
The pretentiousness of the worst academic writing betrays it as a kind of intellectual kitsch, analogous to bad art that declares itself profound or moving not by displaying its own intrinsic value but by borrowing these values from elsewhere. Just as a cigar box is elevated by a Rembrandt painting, or a living room is dignified by sets of finely bound but unread books, so these kitsch theorists mimic the effects of rigor and profundity without actually doing serious intellectual work. Their jargon-laden prose always suggests but never delivers genuine insight. Here is this years winning sentence, by Berkeley Prof. Judith Butler, from an article in the journal Diacritics:
To ask what this means is to miss the point. This sentence beats readers into submission and instructs them that they are in the presence of a great and deep mind. Actual communication has nothing to do with it.
As a lifelong student of Kant, I know that philosophy is not always well-written. But when Kant or Aristotle or Wittgenstein are most obscure, its because they are honestly grappling with the most complex and difficult problems the human mind can encounter. How different from the desperate incantations of the Bad Writing Contest winners, who hope to persuade their readers not by argument but by obscurity that they too are the great minds of the age.
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Posted: at 7:55 am
Transhumanismus (zusammengesetzt aus lateinisch trans jenseits, ber, hinaus und humanus menschlich) ist eine philosophische Denkrichtung, die die Grenzen menschlicher Mglichkeiten, sei es intellektuell, physisch oder psychologisch, durch den Einsatz technologischer Verfahren erweitern will. Die Interessen und Werte der Menschheit werden als Verpflichtung zum Fortschritt angesehen.
Die Vertreter des Transhumanismus finden sich vor allem im angelschsischen Raum. Es handelt sich dabei um eine lose und heterogene Verbindung von Vertretern unterschiedlicher soziokultureller Hintergrnde und unterschiedlicher Disziplinen.
Transhumanisten sehen die Wurzeln ihrer Philosophie im Renaissance-Humanismus und dem Zeitalter der Aufklrung angelegt. Es wird von Transhumanisten intensiv diskutiert, ob und inwiefern Friedrich Nietzsche als Ahnherr des Transhumanismus angesehen werden kann und sollte.
Der Biologe und Eugeniker Julian Huxley hat 1957 in seinem Buch New Bottles for New Wine den Begriff Transhumanismus im gleichnamigen Kapitel postuliert.
Mensch, der Mensch bleibt, aber sich selbst, durch Verwirklichung neuer Mglichkeiten von seiner und fr seine menschliche Natur, berwindet.
Der Begriff kam anschlieend in Abraham Maslows Toward a Psychology of Being (Psychologie des Seins, 1968) und Robert Ettingers Man into Superman (1972) vor. Wie Maslow und Ettinger benutzte auch der iranisch-amerikanische Futurist FM-2030 (geborener F.M. Esfandiary, Namensnderung Mitte der 1970er) den Begriff in seinen Schriften aus den 1970er Jahren in Bezug auf Personen, die sich neue Technologien, Lebensweisen und Weltbilder zu eigen machen, die einen bergang zum Posthumanen erkennen lassen. In seinem Buch Are You Transhuman? von 1989 schreibt der transhumanistische Philosoph FM-2030:
Transhumane sind die erste Manifestation einer neuen Art von evolutionren Wesen. Sie hneln darin den ersten Hominiden, die vor vielen Millionen Jahren die Bume verlieen und begannen sich umzuschauen. Transhumane haben nicht notwendigerweise das Ziel, die Evolution hherer Lebensformen zu beschleunigen. Viele von ihnen sind sich ihrer Rolle als bergangsform der Evolution gar nicht bewusst.
Eine moderne Definition des Transhumanismus geht auf Max More zurck:
Transhumanismus ist eine Kategorie von Anschauungen, die uns in Richtung eines posthumanen Zustands fhren. Transhumanismus teilt viele Aspekte mit dem Humanismus, einschlielich eines Respekts vor Vernunft und Wissenschaft, einer Verpflichtung zum Fortschritt und der Anerkennung des Wertes des menschlichen (oder transhumanen) Bestehens in diesem Leben.  Transhumanismus unterscheidet sich vom Humanismus im Erkennen und Antizipieren der radikalen nderungen in Natur und Mglichkeiten unseres Lebens durch verschiedenste wissenschaftliche und technologische Disziplinen .
Die frhen Transhumanisten trafen sich formal in den frhen achtziger Jahren an der Universitt von Kalifornien in Los Angeles, die zur zentralen Anlaufstelle fr Transhumanisten wurde. Dort konferierte auch FM-2030 ber die futuristische Ideologie der Upwingers. John Spencer von der Gesellschaft fr Weltraumtourismus organisierte viele transhumanistische Events zum Thema Weltraum. Natasha Vita-More (frher Nancie Clark) stellte Breaking Away bei EZTV-Media aus, ein Treffpunkt fr Transhumanisten und andere Futuristen. FM-2030, Spencer und Vita-More lernten sich kennen und organisierten gemeinsam Treffen fr Transhumanisten in Los Angeles.
In Australien schrieb der Science-Fiction-Autor Damien Broderick das Judas Mandala. 1982 verfasste Vita-More das Transhumanistische Knstlermanifest und produzierte spter die erfolgreiche Fernseh-Show TransCentury Update zum Thema Transhumanitt.
1986 wurde Eric Drexlers bekanntes Buch zur Nanotechnologie Engines of Creation verffentlicht.
Der Schwerpunkt der Transhumanismusbewegung ist die Anwendung neuer und knftiger Technologien, u.a.:
Die Technologien sollen es jedem Menschen ermglichen, seine Lebensqualitt nach Wunsch zu verbessern, sein Aussehen sowie seine physikalischen und seelischen Mglichkeiten selbst bestimmen zu knnen. Niemand solle zu irgendeiner Vernderung gezwungen werden.
Es lassen sich im Transhumanismus Unterstrmungen ausmachen, die in der Realitt aber selten klar voneinander abgegrenzt sind.
Die Eugenik spielt im Transhumanismus eine zentrale Rolle. Allerdings hofft man, nicht durch Sterilisation eine Geburt zu verhindern, sondern durch Genmanipulation fr die Geburt eines gesunden Kindes zu sorgen. Dabei soll die menschliche Evolution knftig, an vom Menschen gewhlten Zielen orientiert, gesteuert werden. Diese Zchtung von Menschen soll nicht in staatlicher Hand liegen (wie etwa von der nationalsozialistischen Eugenik angestrebt), sondern in die Hnde der einzelnen Eltern gelegt werden.
In Deutschland knpfen hnliche Diskussionen eher an Friedrich Nietzsches Begriff des bermenschen an und sind damit nicht vornehmlich technisch orientiert, sondern immer auch von Gedanken einer kulturellen Weiterentwicklung durchdrungen.
Die Frage, inwiefern transhumanistische Zukunftsprognosen ber die technologische Entwicklung realistisch sind, und welche ethischen und anthropologischen Konsequenzen sich daraus ergben, wird kontrovers diskutiert. Der Transhumanismus wurde von Francis Fukuyama einem ausgesprochenen Gegner eine der gefhrlichsten Ideen genannt, whrend ein Befrworter (Ronald Bailey) dem entgegensetzte, dass diese Bewegung das khnste, mutigste, visionrste und idealistischste Bestreben der Menschheit sei.
Der Genetiker und Wissenschaftsautor Steve Jones argumentiert, dass die Menschheit die Technologie nicht hat und nie haben wird, die die Befrworter des Transhumanismus suchen. Jones behauptet, dass Technologien wie die Gentechnik nie so leistungsfhig sein werden, wie allgemein angenommen wird.
In seinem Buch Futurehype: Die Tyrannei der Prophezeiung zhlt der Soziologe Max Dublin viele fehlgeschlagene Vorhersagen des vergangenen technologischen Fortschritts auf und postuliert, dass moderne futuristische Vorhersagen hnlich ungenau ausfallen werden. Er tritt auch gegen das, was er als Fanatismus und Nihilismus in der Befrwortung transhumanistischer Zwecke sieht, ein und behauptet, dass historische hnlichkeiten zu religisen und marxistischen Ideologien bestnden.
Dem Transhumanismus wird vorgeworfen, auf technologische Entwicklungen zu setzen, ohne die damit einhergehenden ethischen Aspekte hinreichend zu bercksichtigen.
Der Politikwissenschaftler Francis Fukuyama meint, dass Transhumanismus die progressiven Ideale der liberalen Demokratie auf kritische Weise unterminieren knne. Dies geschehe durch eine fundamentale Vernderung der menschlichen Natur und der menschlichen Gleichheit.
Science Fiction hat Transhumanismus schon seit vielen Jahren in verschiedensten Formen dargestellt.
In der bekannten Neuromancer-Trilogie von William Gibson sind viele Elemente des Transhumanismus enthalten. So sind die meisten Menschen mit Microchips ausgerstet, die sie unter anderem intelligenter machen und die sie jederzeit auswechseln knnen. Knstliche Intelligenzen agieren frei im Cyberspace und die Charaktere wechseln zwischen realer und virtueller Welt. Auch die meisten anderen Romane von Gibson (z.B. die Kurzgeschichtensammlung Cyberspace) befassen sich mit Transhumanismus.
Eine intensive Auseinandersetzung mit dem Thema findet man bei Greg Egan. In Distress beschftigt er sich unter anderem mit dem Konzept der morphologischen Freiheit, dem (knstlichen) Anpassen des Krpers an sein eigenes Selbstbild. In Permutation City und Diaspora beschftigt er sich mit dem Uploaden, mit der Entwicklung komplexer Gesellschaftssysteme basierend auf simulierten Individuen.
Die Ousters im Hyperion-Zyklus von Dan Simmons sind ein Beispiel fr eine transhumane Menschheit, bis hin zum Posthumanen. Anstatt sich an Felsen zu klammern wie der Rest der Menschheit (die sie als Barbaren hassten und frchteten), zogen sie in Richtung Weltraum, passten sich an die Umgebung mittels Nanotechnologie an, und traten in eine symbiotische Beziehung zu ihrer Technologie. Simmons spteres Buch Ilium zeigt eine andere Situation in der fernen Zukunft, wo Posthumane von ihrer eigenen Technologie scheinbar absorbiert wurden, whrend eine kleine Bevlkerungsgruppe von weniger vernderten Menschen weiterhin auf der Erde lebt und dabei komplett von einer Technologie abhngig ist, die sie nicht lnger verstehen (siehe Technologische Singularitt).
Der Roman Die Abschaffung der Arten von Dietmar Dath, der 2008 auf der Shortlist des Deutschen Buchpreis war, spielt in einer Welt, in der das transhumanistische Projekt verwirklicht wurde, indem ein Teil der Menschheit sich durch gesteuerte Evolution in die Gente verwandelt hat. Sie sind eine Art umfassendes auf den heute bekannten Tieren beruhendes Geschlecht, welches zur Informationsbermittlung auf ein Duftstoffnetz zurckgreift.
Auerhalb der Science-Fiction wurde der Transhumanismus zum Beispiel von Michel Houellebecq in seinen Romanen Elementarteilchen und Die Mglichkeit einer Insel thematisiert. Die Menschheit beschliet hier als Reaktion auf die Desillusionen der Moderne, zugunsten einer geschlechtslosen, unsterblichen Spezies von der Weltbhne zu verschwinden.
In dem 2012 erschienenen Roman Maschinenmann des australischen Autors Max Barry verliert ein Wissenschaftler durch einen Unfall ein Bein, welches er durch eine biomechanische Prothese ersetzt. Als der Wissenschaftler feststellt, dass sein neues synthetisches Bein wesentlich leistungsfhiger ist als ein natrliches, beginnt der Mann, weitere seiner Krperteile auszutauschen, um seinen organischen Leib zu perfektionieren.
Im 2013 erschienenen Roman Inferno von Dan Brown erschafft ein Wissenschaftler, der sich als Transhumanist sieht, ein Virus, das die Welt vor der drohenden berbevlkerung und dem seiner Ansicht nach damit unvermeidlichen Kollaps der Erde retten soll.
Auch in aktuellen Computerspielen tauchen Ideen und Konzepte des Transhumanismus auf. Die Deus-Ex-Reihe behandelt auch und vor allem die Auswirkungen berlegener Technik wie knstlicher Implantate und knstlicher Intelligenz auf den menschlichen Geist und die Gesellschaft.
Ein weiteres Beispiel fr eine transhumanistische Organisation in Computerspielen ist die Cerberus-Gruppe in der RPG-Serie Mass Effect. Diese versucht durch Genmanipulation und Implantologie der Menschheit einen Vorteil im intergalaktischen Wettbewerb mit den anderen, auerirdischen Rassen zu verschaffen. Obwohl der Spieler im ersten Teil der Serie die teils unmoralischen Experimente und Machenschaften der Gruppe aufdeckt, wird er zu Beginn des zweiten Teils durch eben deren Technik wieder zum Leben erweckt und versucht im Folgenden mit Untersttzung von Cerberus die Vernichtung allen organischen Lebens durch die sog. Reaper, uralte und hoch entwickelte Maschinenwesen, zu verhindern. Der Spieler kann dabei an mehreren Stellen in Dialogen seine Einstellung zur Cerberus-Gruppe darstellen und sich dabei sowohl loyal zeigen als auch abgrenzen.
Das Computerspiel BioShock dreht sich um ein gescheitertes libertres Gesellschaftsmodell, welches dem Transhumanismus hnelt. Die elitren Bewohner der Unterwasserstadt Rapture verwendeten dabei exzessive Genmanipulation, um ihre Krperfunktionen zu erweitern, was ihnen schlielich zum Verhngnis wurde. Autor Ken Levine greift dabei Ayn Rands Objektivismus auf und zeichnet das Portrt einer Gesellschaft, in der diese Weltanschauung in Gnze gelebt wurde, aber letzten Endes scheiterte.
In den Syndicate Computerspielen ist es mglich, seinen Agenten vorteilsbringende Prothesen zu kaufen, wodurch sie im spteren Spielverlauf zunehmend zu Cyborgs werden.
Der Horror-Titel Soma des schwedischen Studios Frictional Games verwischt die Grenze zwischen Mensch und Maschine und mchte Grauen mit daraus entstehenden Fragen vermitteln.
Das Open-World Rollenspiel “Fallout 4” des US-amerikanischen Spieleentwicklers Bethesda Game Studios, ermglicht dem Spielenden sich ausfhrlich mit der Frage zu beschftigen, ob bzw. ab wann knstliche Intelligenzen (hier:Synths) “Lebewesen” sind und als solche entsprechende Rechte verdienen. Die fortschrittlichsten dieser Synths sind vollstndig synthetische Menschen, die jedoch mittels eines “Synthmoduls” programmiert und Sprachgesteuert werden knnen. Das “Institut”, welches fr die Entwicklung und Produktion der Synths verantwortlich ist, sieht in Ihnen die “Menschheit -neu definiert”, wird dabei jedoch von der Untergrundorganisation “Railroad” bekmpft, welche dem Institut vorwirft die Synths zu versklaven und auszubeuten. Demgegenber steht die “Sthlerne Bruderschaft”, eine militrisch disziplinierte Organisation, welche die Synths trotz ihres eigenen Vertrauens in hoch entwickelte Technologien fr eine Gefahr hlt.
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Posted: December 4, 2016 at 11:25 pm
Xian (Chinese: //; pinyin: xin; WadeGiles: hsien) is a Chinese word for an enlightened person, translatable in English as:
Xian semantically developed from meaning spiritual “immortality; enlightenment”, to physical “immortality; longevity” involving methods such as alchemy, breath meditation, and T’ai chi ch’uan, and eventually to legendary and figurative “immortality”.
The xian archetype is described by Victor H. Mair.
They are immune to heat and cold, untouched by the elements, and can fly, mounting upward with a fluttering motion. They dwell apart from the chaotic world of man, subsist on air and dew, are not anxious like ordinary people, and have the smooth skin and innocent faces of children. The transcendents live an effortless existence that is best described as spontaneous. They recall the ancient Indian ascetics and holy men known as i who possessed similar traits.1994:376
According to the Digital Dictionary of Buddhism, Chinese xian () can mean Sanskrit i (rishi “inspired sage in the Vedas”).
The most famous Chinese compound of xin is Bxin ( “the Eight Immortals”). Other common words include xinrn ( sennin in Japanese, “immortal person; transcendent”, see Xinrn Dng), xinrnzhng ( “immortal’s palm; cactus”), xinn ( “immortal woman; female celestial; angel”), and shnxin ( “gods and immortals; divine immortal”). Besides humans, xin can also refer to supernatural animals. The mythological hlijng (lit. “fox spirit”) “fox fairy; vixen; witch; enchantress” has an alternate name of hxin (lit. “fox immortal”).
The etymology of xin remains uncertain. The circa 200 CE Shiming, a Chinese dictionary that provided word-pun “etymologies”, defines xin () as “to get old and not die,” and explains it as someone who qin ( “moves into”) the mountains.”
Edward H. Schafer (1966:204) defined xian as “transcendent, sylph (a being who, through alchemical, gymnastic and other disciplines, has achieved a refined and perhaps immortal body, able to fly like a bird beyond the trammels of the base material world into the realms of aether, and nourish himself on air and dew.)” Schafer noted xian was cognate to xian “soar up”, qian “remove”, and xianxian “a flapping dance movement”; and compared Chinese yuren “feathered man; xian” with English peri “a fairy or supernatural being in Persian mythology” (Persian pari from par “feather; wing”).
Two linguistic hypotheses for the etymology of xian involve the Arabic language and Sino-Tibetan languages. Wu and Davis (1935:224) suggested the source was jinn, or jinni “genie” (from Arabic jinn). “The marvelous powers of the Hsien are so like those of the jinni of the Arabian Nights that one wonders whether the Arabic word, jinn, may not be derived from the Chinese Hsien.” Axel Schuessler’s etymological dictionary (2007:527) suggests a Sino-Tibetan connection between xin (Old Chinese *san or *sen) “‘An immortal’ men and women who attain supernatural abilities; after death they become immortals and deities who can fly through the air” and Tibetan gen
The word xin is written with three characters , , or , which combine the logographic “radical” rn ( or “person; human”) with two “phonetic” elements (see Chinese character classification). The oldest recorded xin character has a xin (“rise up; ascend”) phonetic supposedly because immortals could “ascend into the heavens”. (Compare qin “move; transfer; change” combining this phonetic and the motion radical.) The usual modern xin character , and its rare variant , have a shn ( “mountain”) phonetic. For a character analysis, Schipper (1993:164) interprets “‘the human being of the mountain,’ or alternatively, ‘human mountain.’ The two explanations are appropriate to these beings: they haunt the holy mountains, while also embodying nature.”
The Shijing (220/3) contains the oldest occurrence of the character , reduplicated as xinxin ( “dance lightly; hop about; jump around”), and rhymed with qin (). “But when they have drunk too much, Their deportment becomes light and frivolousThey leave their seats, and  go elsewhere, They keep  dancing and capering.” (tr. James Legge) Needham and Wang (1956:134) suggest xian was cognate with wu “shamanic” dancing. Paper (1995:55) writes, “the function of the term xian in a line describing dancing may be to denote the height of the leaps. Since, “to live for a long time” has no etymological relation to xian, it may be a later accretion.”
The 121 CE Shuowen Jiezi, the first important dictionary of Chinese characters, does not enter except in the definition for (Wo Quan “name of an ancient immortal”). It defines as “live long and move away” and as “appearance of a person on a mountaintop”.
This section chronologically reviews how Chinese texts describe xian “immortals; transcendents”. While the early Zhuangzi, Chuci, and Liezi texts allegorically used xian immortals and magic islands to describe spiritual immortality, later ones like the Shenxian zhuan and Baopuzi took immortality literally and described esoteric Chinese alchemical techniques for physical longevity. On one the hand, neidan ( “internal alchemy”) techniques included taixi ( “embryo respiration”) breath control, meditation, visualization, sexual training, and Tao Yin exercises (which later evolved into Qigong and T’ai chi ch’uan). On the other hand, waidan ( “external alchemy”) techniques for immortality included alchemical recipes, magic plants, rare minerals, herbal medicines, drugs, and dietetic techniques like inedia.
The earliest representations of Chinese immortals, dating from the Han Dynasty, portray them flying with feathery wings (the word yuren “feathered person” later meant “Daoist”) or riding dragons. In Chinese art, xian are often pictured with symbols of immortality including the dragon, crane, fox, white deer, pine tree, peach, and mushroom.
Besides the following major Chinese texts, many others use both graphic variants of xian. Xian () occurs in the Chunqiu Fanlu, Fengsu Tongyi, Qian fu lun, Fayan, and Shenjian; xian () occurs in the Caizhong langji, Fengsu Tongyi, Guanzi, and Shenjian.
Two circa 3rd century BCE “Outer Chapters” of the Zhuangzi ( “[Book of] Master Zhuang”) use the archaic character xian . Chapter 11 has a parable about “Cloud Chief” () and “Big Concealment” () that uses the Shijing compound xianxian (“dance; jump”):
Big Concealment said, “If you confuse the constant strands of Heaven and violate the true form of things, then Dark Heaven will reach no fulfillment. Instead, the beasts will scatter from their herds, the birds will cry all night, disaster will come to the grass and trees, misfortune will reach even to the insects. Ah, this is the fault of men who ‘govern’!” “Then what should I do?” said Cloud Chief. “Ah,” said Big Concealment, “you are too far gone!  Up, up, stir yourself and be off!” Cloud Chief said, “Heavenly Master, it has been hard indeed for me to meet with youI beg one word of instruction!” “Well, thenmindnourishment!” said Big Concealment. “You have only to rest in inaction and things will transform themselves. Smash your form and body, spit out hearing and eyesight, forget you are a thing among other things, and you may join in great unity with the deep and boundless. Undo the mind, slough off spirit, be blank and soulless, and the ten thousand things one by one will return to the rootreturn to the root and not know why. Dark and undifferentiated chaosto the end of life none will depart from it. But if you try to know it, you have already departed from it. Do not ask what its name is, do not try to observe its form. Things will live naturally end of themselves.” Cloud Chief said, “The Heavenly Master has favored me with this Virtue, instructed me in this Silence. All my life I have been looking for it, and now at last I have it!” He bowed his head twice, stood up, took his leave, and went away. (11, tr. Burton Watson 1968:122-3)
Chapter 12 uses xian when mythical Emperor Yao describes a shengren ( “sagely person”).
The true sage is a quail at rest, a little fledgling at its meal, a bird in flight who leaves no trail behind. When the world has the Way, he joins in the chorus with all other things. When the world is without the Way, he nurses his Virtue and retires in leisure. And after a thousand years, should he weary of the world, he will leave it and  ascend to  the immortals, riding on those white clouds all the way up to the village of God. (12, tr. Watson 1968:130)
Without using the word xian, several Zhuangzi passages employ xian imagery, like flying in the clouds, to describe individuals with superhuman powers. For example, Chapter 1, within the circa 3rd century BCE “Inner Chapters”, has two portrayals. First is this description of Liezi (below).
Lieh Tzu could ride the wind and go soaring around with cool and breezy skill, but after fifteen days he came back to earth. As far as the search for good fortune went, he didn’t fret and worry. He escaped the trouble of walking, but he still had to depend on something to get around. If he had only mounted on the truth of Heaven and Earth, ridden the changes of the six breaths, and thus wandered through the boundless, then what would he have had to depend on? Therefore, I say, the Perfect Man has no self; the Holy Man has no merit; the Sage has no fame. (1, tr. Watson 1968:32)
Second is this description of a shenren ( “divine person”).
He said that there is a Holy Man living on faraway  Ku-she Mountain, with skin like ice or snow, and gentle and shy like a young girl. He doesn’t eat the five grains, but sucks the wind, drinks the dew, climbs up on the clouds and mist, rides a flying dragon, and wanders beyond the Four Seas. By concentrating his spirit, he can protect creatures from sickness and plague and make the harvest plentiful. (1, tr. Watson 1968:33)
The authors of the Zhuangzi had a lyrical view of life and death, seeing them as complimentary aspects of natural changes. This is antithetical to the physical immortality (changshengbulao “live forever and never age”) sought by later Daoist alchemists. Consider this famous passage about accepting death.
Chuang Tzu’s wife died. When Hui Tzu went to convey his condolences, he found Chuang Tzu sitting with his legs sprawled out, pounding on a tub and singing. “You lived with her, she brought up your children and grew old,” said Hui Tzu. “It should be enough simply not to weep at her death. But pounding on a tub and singingthis is going too far, isn’t it?” Chuang Tzu said, “You’re wrong. When she first died, do you think I didn’t grieve like anyone else? But I looked back to her beginning and the time before she was born. Not only the time before she was born, but the time before she had a body. Not only the time before she had a body, but the time before she had a spirit. In the midst of the jumble of wonder and mystery a change took place and she had a spirit. Another change and she had a body. Another change and she was born. Now there’s been another change and she’s dead. It’s just like the progression of the four seasons, spring, summer, fall, winter.” “Now she’s going to lie down peacefully in a vast room. If I were to follow after her bawling and sobbing, it would show that I don’t understand anything about fate. So I stopped. (18, tr. Watson 1968:1912)
Alan Fox explains this anecdote about Zhuangzi’s wife.
Many conclusions can be reached on the basis of this story, but it seems that death is regarded as a natural part of the ebb and flow of transformations which constitute the movement of Dao. To grieve over death, or to fear one’s own death, for that matter, is to arbitrarily evaluate what is inevitable. Of course, this reading is somewhat ironic given the fact that much of the subsequent Daoist tradition comes to seek longevity and immortality, and bases some of their basic models on the Zhuangzi. (1995:100)
The 3rd-2nd century BCE Chuci ( “Lyrics of Chu”) anthology of poems uses xian once and xian twice, reflecting the disparate origins of the text. These three contexts mention the legendary Daoist xian immortals Chi Song ( “Red Pine”, see Kohn 1993:1424) and Wang Qiao (, or Zi Qiao ). In later Daoist hagiography, Chi Song was Lord of Rain under Shennong, the legendary inventor of agriculture; and Wang Qiao was a son of King Ling of Zhou (r. 571545 BCE), who flew away on a giant white bird, became an immortal and was never again seen.
The “Yuan You” ( “Far-off Journey”) poem describes a spiritual journey into the realms of gods and immortals, frequently referring to Daoist myths and techniques.
My spirit darted forth and did not return to me, And my body, left tenantless, grew withered and lifeless. Then I looked into myself to strengthen my resolution, And sought to learn from where the primal spirit issues. In emptiness and silence I found serenity; In tranquil inaction I gained true satisfaction. I heard how once Red Pine had washed the world’s dust off: I would model myself on the pattern he had left me. I honoured the wondrous powers of the  Pure Ones, And those of past ages who had become  Immortals. They departed in the flux of change and vanished from men’s sight, Leaving a famous name that endures after them. (tr. Hawkes 1985:194)
The “Xi shi” ( “Sorrow for Troth Betrayed”) resembles the “Yuan You”, and both reflect Daoist ideas from the Han period. “Though unoriginal in theme,” says Hawkes (1985:239), “its description of air travel, written in a pre-aeroplane age, is exhilarating and rather impressive.”
We gazed down of the Middle Land [China] with its myriad people As we rested on the whirlwind, drifting about at random. In this way we came at last to the moor of Shao-yuan: There, with the other blessed ones, were Red Pine and Wang Qiao. The two Masters held zithers tuned in perfect concord: I sang the Qing Shang air to their playing. In tranquil calm and quiet enjoyment, Gently I floated, inhaling all the essences. But then I thought that this immortal life of  the blessed, Was not worth the sacrifice of my home-returning. (tr. Hawkes 1985:240)
The “Ai shi ming” ( “Alas That My Lot Was Not Cast”) describes a celestial journey similar to the previous two.
Far and forlorn, with no hope of return: Sadly I gaze in the distance, over the empty plain. Below, I fish in the valley streamlet; Above, I seek out  holy hermits. I enter into friendship with Red Pine; I join Wang Qiao as his companion. We send the Xiao Yang in front to guide us; The White Tiger runs back and forth in attendance. Floating on the cloud and mist, we enter the dim height of heaven; Riding on the white deer we sport and take our pleasure. tr. Hawkes 1985:266)
The “Li Sao” ( “On Encountering Trouble”), the most famous Chuci poem, is usually interpreted as describing ecstatic flights and trance techniques of Chinese shamans. The above three poems are variations describing Daoist xian.
Some other Chuci poems refer to immortals with synonyms of xian. For instance, “Shou zhi” ( “Maintaining Resolution), uses zhenren ( “true person”, tr. “Pure Ones” above in “Yuan You”), which Wang Yi’s commentary glosses as zhen xianren ( “true immortal person”).
I visited Fu Yue, bestriding a dragon, Joined in marriage with the Weaving Maiden, Lifted up Heaven’s Net to capture evil, Drew the Bow of Heaven to shoot at wickedness, Followed the  Immortals fluttering through the sky, Ate of the Primal Essence to prolong my life. (tr. Hawkes 1985:318)
The Liezi ( “[Book of] Master Lie”), which Louis Komjathy (2004:36) says “was probably compiled in the 3rd century CE (while containing earlier textual layers)”, uses xian four times, always in the compound xiansheng ( “immortal sage”).
Nearly half of Chapter 2 (“The Yellow Emperor”) comes from the Zhuangzi, including this recounting of the above fable about Mount Gushe (, or Guye, or Miao Gushe ).
The Ku-ye mountains stand on a chain of islands where the Yellow River enters the sea. Upon the mountains there lives a Divine Man, who inhales the wind and drinks the dew, and does not eat the five grains. His mind is like a bottomless spring, his body is like a virgin’s. He knows neither intimacy nor love, yet  immortals and sages serve him as ministers. He inspires no awe, he is never angry, yet the eager and diligent act as his messengers. He is without kindness and bounty, but others have enough by themselves; he does not store and save, but he himself never lacks. The Yin and Yang are always in tune, the sun and moon always shine, the four seasons are always regular, wind and rain are always temperate, breeding is always timely, the harvest is always rich, and there are no plagues to ravage the land, no early deaths to afflict men, animals have no diseases, and ghosts have no uncanny echoes. (tr. Graham 1960:35)
Chapter 5 uses xiansheng three times in a conversation set between legendary rulers Tang () of the Shang Dynasty and Ji () of the Xia Dynasty.
T’ang asked again: ‘Are there large things and small, long and short, similar and different?’ ‘To the East of the Gulf of Chih-li, who knows how many thousands and millions of miles, there is a deep ravine, a valley truly without bottom; and its bottomless underneath is named “The Entry to the Void”. The waters of the eight corners and the nine regions, the stream of the Milky Way, all pour into it, but it neither shrinks nor grows. Within it there are five mountains, called Tai-y, Yan-chiao, Fang-hu, Ying-chou and P’eng-Iai. These mountains are thirty thousand miles high, and as many miles round; the tablelands on their summits extend for nine thousand miles. It is seventy thousand miles from one mountain to the next, but they are considered close neighbours. The towers and terraces upon them are all gold and jade, the beasts and birds are all unsullied white; trees of pearl and garnet always grow densely, flowering and bearing fruit which is always luscious, and those who eat of it never grow old and die. The men who dwell there are all of the race of  immortal sages, who fly, too many to be counted, to and from one mountain to another in a day and a night. Yet the bases of the five mountains used to rest on nothing; they were always rising and falling, going and returning, with the ebb and flow of the tide, and never for a moment stood firm. The  immortals found this troublesome, and complained about it to God. God was afraid that they would drift to the far West and he would lose the home of his sages. So he commanded Y-ch’iang to make fifteen  giant turtles carry the five mountains on their lifted heads, taking turns in three watches, each sixty thousand years long; and for the first time the mountains stood firm and did not move. ‘But there was a giant from the kingdom of the Dragon Earl, who came to the place of the five mountains in no more than a few strides. In one throw he hooked six of the turtles in a bunch, hurried back to his country carrying them together on his back, and scorched their bones to tell fortunes by the cracks. Thereupon two of the mountains, Tai-y and Yan-chiao, drifted to the far North and sank in the great sea; the  immortals who were carried away numbered many millions. God was very angry, and reduced by degrees the size of the Dragon Earl’s kingdom and the height of his subjects. At the time of Fu-hsi and Shen-nung, the people of this country were still several hundred feet high.’ (tr. Graham 1960:978)
Penglai Mountain became the most famous of these five mythical peaks where the elixir of life supposedly grew, and is known as Horai in Japanese legends. The first emperor Qin Shi Huang sent his court alchemist Xu Fu on expeditions to find these plants of immortality, but he never returned (although by some accounts, he discovered Japan).
Holmes Welch (1957:8897) analyzed the beginnings of Daoism, sometime around the 4th-3rd centuries BCE, from four separate streams: philosophical Daoism (Laozi, Zhuangzi, Liezi), a “hygiene school” that cultivated longevity through breathing exercises and yoga, Chinese alchemy and Five Elements philosophy, and those who sought Penglai and elixirs of “immortality”. This is what he concludes about xian.
It is my own opinion, therefore, that though the word hsien, or Immortal, is used by Chuang Tzu and Lieh Tzu, and though they attributed to their idealized individual the magic powers that were attributed to the hsien in later times, nonetheless the hsien ideal was something they did not believe ineither that it was possible or that it was good. The magic powers are allegories and hyperboles for the natural powers that come from identification with Tao. Spiritualized Man, P’eng-lai, and the rest are features of a genre which is meant to entertain, disturb, and exalt us, not to be taken as literal hagiography. Then and later, the philosophical Taoists were distinguished from all other schools of Taoism by their rejection of the pursuit of immortality. As we shall see, their books came to be adopted as scriptural authority by those who did practice magic and seek to become immortal. But it was their misunderstanding of philosophical Taoism that was the reason they adopted it. (Welch 1957:95)
The Shenxian zhuan ( Biographies of Spirit Immortals”) is a hagiography of xian. Although it was traditionally attributed to Ge Hong (283343 CE), Komjathy (2004:43) says, “The received versions of the text contain some 100-odd hagiographies, most of which date from 6th-8th centuries at the earliest.”
According to the Shenxian zhuan, there are four schools of immortality:
Q (Pneumas): Breath control and meditation. Those who belong to this school can
“…blow on water and it will flow against its own current for several paces; blow on fire, and it will be extinguished; blow at tigers or wolves, and they will crouch down and not be able to move; blow at serpents, and they will coil up and be unable to flee. If someone is wounded by a weapon, blow on the wound, and the bleeding will stop. If you hear of someone who has suffered a poisonous insect bite, even if you are not in his presence, you can, from a distance, blow and say in incantation over your own hand (males on the left hand, females on the right), and the person will at once be healed even if more than a hundred li away. And if you yourself are struck by a sudden illness, you have merely to swallow pneumas in three series of nine, and you will immediately recover. But the most essential thing [among such arts] is fetal breathing. Those who obtain [the technique of] fetal breathing become able to breathe without using their nose or mouth, as if in the womb, and this is the culmination of the way [of pneumatic cultivation].” (Campany 2002:21)
Fn (Diet): Ingestion of herbal compounds and abstention from the Sn Sh Fn (Three-Corpses food)Meats (raw fish, pork, dog, leeks, and scallions) and grains. The Shenxian zhuan uses this story to illustrate the importance of bigu “grain avoidance”:
“During the reign of Emperor Cheng of the Han, hunters in the Zhongnan Mountains saw a person who wore no clothes, his body covered with black hair. Upon seeing this person, the hunters wanted to pursue and capture him, but the person leapt over gullies and valleys as if in flight, and so could not be overtaken. [But after being surrounded and captured, it was discovered this person was a 200 plus year old woman, who had once been a concubine of Qin Emperor Ziying. When he had surrendered to the ‘invaders of the east’, she fled into the mountains where she learned to subside on ‘the resin and nuts of pines’ from an old man. Afterwards, this diet ‘enabled [her] to feel neither hunger nor thirst; in winter [she] was not cold, in summer [she] was not hot.’] The hunters took the woman back in. They offered her grain to eat. When she first smelled the stink of grain, she vomited, and only after several days could she tolerate it. After little more than two years of this [diet], her body hair fell out; she turned old and died. Had she not been caught by men, she would have become a transcendent.” (Campany 2002:2223)
Fngzhng Zh Sh (Arts of the Bedchamber): Sexual yoga. (Campany 2002:3031) According to a discourse between the Yellow Emperor and the immortaless Sn (Plain Girl), one of the three daughters of Hsi Wang Mu,
The sexual behaviors between a man and woman are identical to how the universe itself came into creation. Like Heaven and Earth, the male and female share a parallel relationship in attaining an immortal existence. They both must learn how to engage and develop their natural sexual instincts and behaviors; otherwise the only result is decay and traumatic discord of their physical lives. However, if they engage in the utmost joys of sensuality and apply the principles of yin and yang to their sexual activity, their health, vigor, and joy of love will bear them the fruits of longevity and immortality. (Hsi 2002:99100)
The White Tigress Manual, a treatise on female sexual yoga, states,
A female can completely restore her youthfulness and attain immortality if she refrains from allowing just one or two men in her life from stealing and destroying her [sexual] essence, which will only serve in aging her at a rapid rate and bring about an early death. However, if she can acquire the sexual essence of a thousand males through absorption, she will acquire the great benefits of youthfulness and immortality. (Hsi 2001:48)
Dn (“Alchemy”, literally “Cinnabar”): Elixir of Immortality.(Campany 2002:31)
The 4th century CE Baopuzi ( “[Book of] Master Embracing Simplicity”), which was written by Ge Hong, gives some highly detailed descriptions of xian.
The text lists three classes of immortals:
These titles were usually given to humans who had either not proven themselves worthy of or were not fated to become immortals. One such famous agent was Fei Changfang, who was eventually murdered by evil spirits because he lost his book of magic talismans. However, some immortals are written to have used this method in order to escape execution. (Campany 2002:5260)
Ge Hong wrote in his book The Master Who Embraces Simplicity,
The [immortals] Dark Girl and Plain Girl compared sexual activity as the intermingling of fire [yang/male] and water [yin/female], claiming that water and fire can kill people but can also regenerate their life, depending on whether or not they know the correct methods of sexual activity according to their nature. These arts are based on the theory that the more females a man copulates with, the greater benefit he will derive from the act. Men who are ignorant of this art, copulating with only one or two females during their life, will only suffice to bring about their untimely and early death. (Hsi 2001:48)
The Zhong L Chuan Dao Ji (/ “Anthology of the Transmission of the Dao from Zhong[li Quan] to L [Dongbin]”) is associated with Zhongli Quan (2nd century CE?) and L Dongbin (9th century CE), two of the legendary Eight Immortals. It is part of the so-called Zhong-L () textual tradition of internal alchemy (neidan). Komjathy (2004:57) describes it as, “Probably dating from the late Tang (618906), the text is in question-and-answer format, containing a dialogue between L and his teacher Zhongli on aspects of alchemical terminology and methods.”
The Zhong L Chuan Dao Ji lists five classes of immortals:
The ragama Stra, in an approach to Taoist teachings, discusses the characteristics of ten types of xian who exist between the world of devas (“gods”) and that of human beings. This position, in Buddhist literature, is usually occupied by asuras (“Titans”, “antigods”). These xian are not considered true cultivators of samadhi (“unification of mind”), as their methods differ from the practice of dhyna (“meditation”).
The rest is here:
Posted: at 11:25 pm
Angel: Buffy, be careful with this gift. A lot of things that seem strong, good and powerful, they can be painful. Buffy: Like say… immortality? Angel: Exactly. I’m dying to get rid of that. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Put your hand down. This is not a vote. The worst fate possible might well be immortality. Sure, you might like the idea that you get to live forever and see what the world’s like hundreds of years from now, but what’s eternal life compared to the pain of life in general? From eventual boredom to eternal entrapment and torture to the emotional anguish of seeing your loved ones die, one by one, as you stay fixed in time. When done Anviliciously, this can seem like Sour Grapes on the part of the very much mortal writers. May be used as a Fantastic Aesop. This attitude toward immortality is Older Than Feudalism, going back at least as far as the Greek myths about Tithonos’s Age Without Youth and Prometheus’s punishment and of course the appeal behind He why is your hand still up!? Compare Blessed with Suck for those that angst as well as And I Must Scream for the mindset this can create. Contrast Living Forever Is Awesome for those who like it, and Immortality Seeker for those who seek it, and Eternal Love where immortals fall in love. See Living Forever Is No Big Deal for the middle ground. See also Immortality Hurts, which is a subtrope. Immunity Disability is a supertrope (here, the “immunity” is to death). See Analysis for more horrifying details.
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A thousand years have come and gone, but time has passed me by Stars stopped in the sky Frozen in an everlasting view Waiting for the world to end, weary of the night Praying for the light Prison of the lost Xanadu
And there’s never gonna be enough money And there’s never gonna be drugs And we’re never gonna get old And there’s never gonna be enough bullets And there’s never gonna be sex And we’re never gonna get old
If I’ve lived a thousand times before And if I’m gonna live anymore Always brings me down Everyone wants to live forever Thinkin’ that it’d be a lot better… Everyone wants to live forever But no one ever gets it together
Radiation got me as well made me immortal in this hell An old dream coming true but why now when there is nothing to do? Since then I’ve been searching around going from town to town Could it only have happened to me? Am I doomed to be I’m the last man on earth
“Eternity is permanent boredom A cheerless cycle with neither beginning, nor end For all the time the same is repeated from the start No exultation, no horror Only the boring Idiotic Eternity”
Nothing ever really happens to me. I am completely safe from harm, and this is a great burden… I think that one day, this world will simply talk itself to death, and I will be left to flit about in the void. I will be the Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives Nowhere.
Freeze: You want to live like this? Abandoned and alone, A prisoner in a world you can see but never touch. Old and infirm as you are, I’d trade a thousand of my frozen years for your worst day.
Originally posted here:
Posted: December 2, 2016 at 12:33 pm
Here’s an off-the-wall idea that has some appeal to me … as a long-time Transtopian fantasist and world traveler….
The desert island nation of Nauru needs money badly, and has a population of less than 15,000
There are problems with water supply, but they could surely be solved with some technical ingenuity.
The land area is about 8 square miles. But it could be expanded! Surely it’s easier to extend an island with concrete platforms or anchored floating platforms of some other kind, than to seastead in the open ocean.
The country is a democracy. Currently it may not be possible to immigrate there except as a temporary tourist or business visitor. But I’d bet this could be made negotiable.
Suppose 15,000 adult transhumanists (along with some kids, one would assume) decided to emigrate to Nauru en masse over a 5-year period, on condition they could obtain full citizenship. Perhaps this could be negotiated with the Nauruan government.
Then after 5 years we would have a democracy in which transhumanists were the majority.
Isn’t this the easiest way to create a transhumanist nation? With all the amazing future possibilities that that implies?
This would genuinely be of benefit to the residents of Nauru, which now has 90% unemployment. Unemployment would be reduced close to zero, and the economy would be tremendously enlarged. A win-win situation. Transhumanists would get freedom, and Nauruans would get a first-world economy.
Considerable infrastructure would need to be built. A deal would need to be struck with the government, in which, roughly,
To ensure employment of the relocated transhumanists, we would need to get a number of companies to agree to open Nauru offices. But this would likely be tractable, given the preference of firms to have offices in major tech centers. Living expenses in Nauru would be much lower than in, say, Silicon Valley, so expenses would be lower.
Tourism could become a major income stream, given the high density of interesting people which would make Nauru into a cultural mecca. Currently there is only one small beach on Nauru (which is said to be somewhat dirty), but creation of a beautiful artificial beach on the real ocean is not a huge technological feat.
It would also be a great place to experiment with aquaculture and vertical farming.
What say you? Let’s do it!
Other candidates for the tropical island Transtopia besides Nauru would be Tuvalu and Kiribati; but Kiribati’s population is much larger, and Tuvalu is spread among many islands, and is also about to become underwater due to global warming. So Nauru would seem the number one option. Though, Tuvalu could be an interesting possibility also, especially if we offered to keep the island above water by building concrete platforms or some such (a big undertaking, but much easier than seasteading). This would obviously be a major selling point to the government.