{ Under The Bluegums }

A personal blog with craft tutorials, reviews of books, films, and music, parenting advice, and opinions on society and politics.

September 27, 2011

Near-Death Experiences

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27 September 2011

I am slightly upset with myself for not purchasing that book about Victorian investigations into the afterlife, now that I've read this...

The book was nestled on a shelf in the history section, along with South African experiences and a biography on Queen Victoria. I decided that it was one book that I didn't have to have on my shelf at home, so left it. But this article reminded me of it.

Apparently near-death experiences occur quite easily. Although many people believe in an afterlife, there has not been any solid proof of this aside from faith and spiritual experiences. But scientists have found that a near-death experience is not paranormal at all, but it is connected to brain functions.

In many cases, it seems, that near-death experiences are reported by people who are not actually in any danger of dying. However, the perception that one is dying is enough to cause the experience, which includes euphoric feelings and travels towards white lights.

This might not be what religious or spiritual people would like to hear, but I would like to know what you think?

September 26, 2011

Beeware

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26 September 2011

In South Africa, it is bee swarming season, but please don’t kill the bees!

Swarming is when honey bee colonies reproduce. It happens when the original queen bee leaves the hive with about 60% of her workers. The swarm that remains will see a virgin queen take over. Sometimes the swarm can consist of tens of thousands of bees, and there are even small occurrences of afterswarms with their very own virgin queens, if the original colony was large enough.

If you have a swarm hiding somewhere on your property, you can have them removed by a reputable hive removal service. But please don’t hire the service if they are going to kill the bees!

I’m certain that you’ve noticed – no matter where in the world you are – that there are fewer bees buzzing around. This is because our bee colonies are suffering from something called colony collapse disorder. The cause for the disappearance of the honey bees is not yet known, and is a debatable subject.

Many say that it is perhaps the result of the increased wireless communication capabilities throughout the world, which interfere with the bees’ inherent natural communication system. There are also theories that Earth’s magnetic field is shifting and this disturbs the bees’ navigation, while some suspect a virus wipes out the colony.

Whatever the real issue, the existence of bees is of the utmost importance; agricultural crops are dependent on being pollinated by the colonies, so if our bees disappear, we’ll have a serious food shortage problem.

Thus it is important that you don’t kill the bee swarm on your property. Remember also that if a bee removal company says they’ll remove the bees at night, they will kill the bees to remove them. An operation to remove a bee swarm will take only a few hours during the day, as it involves catching the queen and moving her. It is a very simple operation, and keeping the bees alive is well worth the small amount of time it will take to remove the swarm!


{Image by Mark Osgatharp, Wikimedia Commons}

September 25, 2011

How about a seastead?

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25 September 2011

How about living on a floating city?

Imagine if you could start over? No money, no possessions, no political agendas, no social construction - just living. You could wake up in the morning and peer out of your window at an endless ocean, climb out onto your porch into the crisp sea air and dive straight into the saltiness.

This is exactly the idea inspiring the Seasteading Institute, which has challenged architects and people dreaming of liberty to come up with the first independent "seastead" in the world by 2015. The aim is to house at least 50 full-time residents and be completely self-sufficient. It must also offer real estate on the stead to the open market, and is completely autonomous regarding politics.

Participants have to take heavy sea storms into consideration, while the cities must be completely modular and able to expand with the population.

I think this is a wonderful idea. Humankind needs a new way of living, because things are not working for people now.

What do you think of the idea?

September 20, 2011

Stand Up For Yourself

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20 September 2011

It appears that in the working world, women simply learn to put up with sexist, and might even find themselves complicit in it.

After reading an article on Care2 about how, though most women say they would confront someone who made sexist remarks and take them to task, many actually don't. A Forbes Woman article refers to a study done among women: the majority of respondents originally claimed they would not answer sexist questions in a job interview, while 28% of them said they would actually confront the person. However, when these respondents were interviewed and crunch-time came, every single one of the women answered the offensive question. No one confronted the interviewer either.

I am sort of embarrassed to admit that I have never once taken anyone to task about a sexist comment - aside from my hubby - and I'd like to blame that on the fact that I am shy and prefer no confrontations in general. My work life is the same and, even more embarrassingly, I find myself complicit in these remarks. I smile at them - and shake my head that there are still people who hold those beliefs - and though inwardly I'm enraged that people can even suggest that the receptionist we hire must wear a short skirt every day as a prerequisite or any other such sexist comment, I laugh it off and shrug. "Silly men", I think, but isn't it really me who is being silly?

If there is no one to stand up to these comments, then will they not prosper?

It might be heartening to know that the Forbes Woman article claims that another study, at Loyola University in Chicago, which found that men who are confronted on their sexist comments are nicer to their confronter, even to the point of liking them, while those who remained silent were not as well liked. The men also lessened their use of sexist language.

The problem I have with personally taking someone to task for their comment is that sometimes such a conversation leads nowhere. The person whom you are confronting needs to be someone who already shows you some respect - because otherwise they really don't care what you think. A debate such as this could also lead to an uncomfortable workplace, because we all know what office politics are like.< Do you have such an experience, and what do you think is the solution?

September 17, 2011

Sex and success

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17 September 2011

I consider whether women's use of sexual capital is not good for society ...
Before I hit puberty, I became intensely aware of my feminine body - I was an early bloomer, and concurrently I developed a self-esteem issue too early. I was aware of being observed - not by boys, yet - but by girls, and to this day I am undecided as to whether it was jealousy that inspired their observations or a desire to shame me. I am, however, today thankful for this scrutiny, for, although it created insecurity through most of my young life, it also brought with it shyness, and this meant that I never made use of my feminine wiles, as they say, to achieve anything.

Even today I am the little-noticed quiet type of the office, and I overdress every day - literally wearing pants and covering everything up. Yet, I'd like to regard myself as being relatively successful for my scant ambitions.

I have in the past shown concern for the manner in which the young children of today are being brainwashed to behave a certain way by the media, television, music and toys, and worry about my children growing up in a society that is so sexually-advanced that children as young as 10 are already sexually active at a time in their lives where I was still playing with toys.


Particularly in cases of young women, they are shown that being beautiful and sexy is the only way to gain respect in any way, and a new novel, called "Honey Money", is urging women to use their sexuality to their advantage. It states that women should use their "erotic capital" to improve their situations. Author Catherine Hakim adds that, although women and men both have erotic capital, the former can use their's more successfully merely because men have something called a "sexual deficit" - men's supposed weakness against the beauty of women and the sex that they offer.

I agree with The Good Men Project's Hugo Schwyzer. Hakim is not just insulting women by saying that the only way they can gain any respect in the business world or anywhere is by exploiting their sexual capital. She is also insulting men by perpetuating the myth that men are all panty-chasers ready to shed their clothes for the first bit of action offered up by any woman.

My argument in any debate about whether men have a genetic predisposition to sowing their wild oats any- and everywhere - which is one of the reasons more than one partner is so acceptable for men - is that, sure, we evolved from the ape, from a wild animal and so still have the genetic calling to procreate to save the species; but the entire point is that we have evolved. There is so much more to the human than there is to the ape - such as having a conscience and being able to surpass these primitive requirements to meet other requirements, such as companionship and partnership and love.

This promulgation of the line of thinking that men are just sex-hungry all the time is one of the most damaging of our time, I'd think - as damaging as telling your little girl that she's so pretty that she'll get to marry a rich man one day. It is one of the reasons, in my opinion, that people today are so unhappy, in general. Women are constantly told that they need to be beautiful for success, and men are constantly told that their sexual desire will get them anything they want. This has created a perpetual lack in our society - because no one can encounter success no matter what they do. Women will never look as beautiful as they want, and men are constantly trying to match up to the 007-life - women, women everywhere.

Where do you think we've gone wrong?


{[Image from Photostock; FreeDigitalPhotos}

September 6, 2011

Masses of animals dying

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6 September 2011

Have you noticed all the stories in the media about masses of animals dying?

There haven't been any recent articles - aside from the usual sad stories about animals threatened by extinction - but I've been reading articles of bees disappearing, then there was the #Aflockalypse at the beginning of the year when all those birds, fish and cows dropped dead...

A story that attracted my attention a while ago was the death of 10 000 bats in a cave in Durham. Certainly, the deaths are being attributed to a natural issue: White Nose Syndrome - an apparently mysterious disease that, I've read elsewhere, resembles a fungi - but how can something so damaging appear so suddenly?

The bats have hibernated in an abandoned mine for generations, but only a fraction of them survived.

What do you think is really going on?

Image from Velho, Wikimedia Commons

September 5, 2011

General Theory Correct

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September 5, 2011

So, it seems that Einstein's general theory of relativity is true, at least two parts of it.

NASA's Gravity Probe B's results have been in the making for years, and it finally confirmed two predictions, namely that of space-time warping and frame-dragging. The theory generally describes a theory of gravitation currently accepted in modern science, stating that gravity is the result of the properties of space and time. I don't really understand it, actually! :) But basically this means that Einstein's other theories, such as black holes, and other theories based on spacetime, such as time travel, could also be true.

This remains to be seen. I would personally like to see a teleportation device though. Personally, I cannot imagine how it is possible that we still don't have this kind of technology - if you can dream it you can do it - at least that's been true for most of the things that humans have so far achieved.

Star Trek's replicators would also be an excellent invention. Imagine the world's food problems solved within seconds...

September 3, 2011

Intensely close

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My parents came to visit again today. It was an odd visit: they were here for a shorter time than normal, and had less to say than normal. My mom in particular was very quiet, while my dad was equally silent - but this is normal for him now.

The silent moments were more strained, and I feel so guilty for not knowing how much they are going through.

After they left, I remembered how much they love each other. They've been together for 31 years - I've been with Shaun for four - I imagine that their love for each other is at least seven times more intense than my love for Shaun, and I love him pretty intensely.

I can't imagine how my mom feels knowing how close she is to losing him.