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The Seneca White Deer are a rare herd of deer living within the confines of the former Seneca Army Depot in Seneca County, New York. When the 10,600-acre (43 km2) depot was created in 1941, a 24-mile (39 km) fence was erected around its perimeter, isolating a small herd of White-tailed deer, some of whom had white coats. These deer are not albino, but instead carry a recessive gene for all-white coats. With the protection of the fence, the wildlife inside the depot flourished. The white deer are an example of artificial selection. In the 1950s, the depot commander forbade GI’s from shooting any white deer. The deer population has since grown to about 700 head, approximately 300 of which are white, making it the largest herd of white deer in the world.
“Buddhist ethical practices aim at taking the self out of self-cultivation.”
Nov. 13, 2009 / Psychology Today
by Dale Wright
One common criticism in our time of the entire topic of self-cultivation is that the extent of focus on the “self” that self-cultivation implies is itself inappropriate because it is essentially self-absorbed and because it fails to acknowledge the more fundamental communal or social dimension of human life.
This is an important criticism, one that Buddhists have faced as directly and as responsibly as anyone in other traditions. The overall Buddhist response to this critique entails two primary points. First, and most important, Buddhists maintain that the beneficiary of your practice of self-cultivation is not just you but others around you, ultimately, the whole of humanity. Early in the career of Mahayana Buddhists who are serious about engagement in self-cultivation, a vow is taken–the bodhisattva vow–in which practitioners vow to seek enlightenment not just for themselves but globally on behalf of everyone. It is the whole of society that needs to be enlightened, not just certain individuals, even if individuals are the catalyst through which such enlightenment might become a reality. In effect, the vow is just to seek enlightenment, at whatever level and to whatever degree that can be accomplished, and not be possessive about it-enlightenment not simply for oneself but on behalf of greater vision for everyone and everything.
The second point follows from the first. We have no choice but to begin this quest wherever we happen to be. If, like most people, we attend primarily to our own well-being, then our interest in enlightenment or self-cultivation or anything else extends only so far as the good we think it will do for us as individuals. If the range of our interest and concern doesn’t extend far beyond our own lives, then that is where we must begin, imagining our ethical practices of enlightenment as beneficial for us as individuals, which, of course, they are. Nevertheless, ethical practice, Buddhist or otherwise, functions as a system of training to overcome the narrow and myopic sense of self that we all have in immature stages of development. As human beings engage in ethical self-cultivation–even if they began for essentially selfish reasons–the practices themselves undermine that sense of self, gradually showing us its superficiality and opening us to a more comprehensive vision. The general criticism of self-cultivation as being too individualistic fails to recognize that we are unable to be of service to others until we have undergone enough self-transformation to begin to see larger realities beyond the importance of our own personal well-being.
So we might say, paraphrasing a Buddhist point on this matter, that all of us need self-cultivation up to a certain point of maturity but that beyond this point there is very little point in calling it self-cultivation because our concerns have broadened dramatically to the point where we are just cultivating human enlightenment. This enlightenment is not intended as the property of anyone in particular but as the common good. Making the transition from the primacy of one’s own personal development to a broader concern for the well-being and development of all beings is the overarching intention of Buddhist practices of self-cultivation. From that point of view, we are always in the process of shaping ourselves to be more attentive to the needs of everyone, even when, at an advanced point of development, we no longer think of it primarily as a process of self-sculpting.
There is no end to the need to open ourselves to the world. There is a beginning, however, and that point of departure is by definition immature, to some extent at least, self-centered. We have no choice but to begin wherever we are and work out from there. The good intentions of self-cultivation are important as motivation for the journey, even if, at some point in the process, the “self” in self-cultivation begins to be displaced by larger collective sources of inspiration.
But it raises a number of moral and ethical concerns. These include the possibility of children being born through entirely artificial means, and men and women being sidelined from the process of making babies.
Forever fertile? Infertile men and women could have their own biological children using the breakthrough sperm and eggs
Opponents argue that it is wrong to meddle with the building blocks of life and warn that the advances taking place to tackle infertility risk distorting and damaging relations between family members.
The U.S. government-funded research also offers the prospect of a ‘miracle pill’ which staves off the menopause, allowing women to wait longer to have a child.
It centres on stem cells, widely seen as a repair kit for the body.
Scientists at Stanford University in California found the right cocktail of chemicals and vitamins to coax the cells into becoming eggs and sperm.
The sperm had heads and short tails and are thought to have been mature enough to fertilise an egg.
The double success, published in the journal Nature, raises the prospect of men and women one day ‘growing’ their own sperm and eggs for use in IVF treatments.
The American team used stem cells taken from embryos in the first days of life but
hope to repeat the process with slivers of skin.
The skin cells would first be exposed to a mixture which wound back their biological clocks to embryonic stem cell state, before being transformed into sperm or eggs.
Starting with a person’s own skin would also mean the lab-grown sperm or eggs would not be rejected by the body.
The science also raises the possibility of ‘male eggs’ made from men’s skin and ‘female sperm’ from women’s skin.
This would allow gay couples to have children genetically their own, although many scientists are sceptical about whether it is possible to create sperm from female cells, which lack the male Y chromosome.
The U.S. breakthrough could unlock many of the secrets of egg and sperm production, leading to new drug treatments for infertility.
Defects in sperm and egg development are the biggest cause of infertility but, because many of the key stages occur in the womb, scientists have struggled to study the process in detail.
However, safety and ethical concerns mean that artificial sperm and eggs are much further away from use.
Dr Reijo Pera said any future use of artificial eggs and sperm would have to be subject to guidelines.
‘Whether one builds the boundaries on religion or just on an internal sense or of right and wrong, these are important. In this field, it is not “anything goes”.’
Scientists at Newcastle University claimed to have made sperm from embryonic stem cells earlier this year but the research paper has been retracted.
Dr Allan Pacey, a Sheffield University expert in male fertility said: ‘Ultimately this may help us find a cure for male infertility. Not necessarily by making sperm in the laboratory, I personally think that is unlikely, but by identifying new targets for drugs or genes that may stimulate sperm production to occur naturally.
‘This is a long way off, but it is a laudable dream.’
Dr Peter Saunders, of the Christian Medical Fellowship, said that IVF should be the preserve of married couples.
‘The question is, why are we creating artificial gametes (eggs and sperm) and aborting 200,000 babies a year when there are many, many couples willing to adopt?’
Josephine Quintavalle, of the campaign group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, warned that any flaws in the artificial sperm or eggs could be passed on to future generations.
Anthony Ozimic, of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said: ‘The use of artificial gametes in reproduction would distort and damage relations between family members.
‘There are no instances of any major medical advance achieved by abandoning basic ethical principles such as safeguarding the right to life.’
I’m confused. Coppola’s view of the new cinema, as he describes it, seems a lot like The Stage, except with cameras. I don’t see how that would work, but I’m sure that I’m missing something here. Hope you can clear it up for me. At any rate, it sounds like Mr. Coppola has saved up enough “Godfather” money to do whatever he pleases, take as much time as he wishes, in whatever style. American dream. ~5700
Interview by Ladane Nasseri / Bloomberg.com
Oct. 12 (Bloomberg) — “The cinema as we know it is falling apart,” says Francis Ford Coppola.
“It’s a period of incredible change,” says the director of “The Godfather” and “Apocalypse Now.” “We used to think of six, seven big film companies. Every one of them is under great stress now. Probably two or three will go out of business and the others will just make certain kind of films like ‘Harry Potter’ — basically trying to make ‘Star Wars’ over and over again, because it’s a business.”
Coppola, 70, sporting a dark suit, is being interviewed in the Lebanese capital Beirut, where his latest movie “Tetro” opened the Beirut Film Festival after premiering at the Cannes Film Festival this year.
“Cinema is losing the public’s interest,” says Coppola, “because there is so much it has to compete with to get people’s time.”
The profusion of leisure activities; the availability of movies on copied DVD and on the Internet; and news becoming entertainment are reshaping the industry, he says. Companies have combined businesses as customers turn to cheap downloads rather than visit shops or movie theaters.
“I think the cinema is going to live off into something more related to a live performance in which the filmmaker is there, like the conductor of an opera used to be,” Coppola says. “Cinema can be interactive, every night it can be a little different.”
Sitting on a red velvet sofa, surrounded by stone statues of Greek figures in the lobby of the Albergo hotel, Coppola says he did not direct for a decade until 2007 when “Youth Without Youth” was released: He spent that period working on abortive projects and readjusting to changes in the film industry.
The director, who aside from his Californian winery has also been active in the publishing and hotel business, does not elaborate on future projects or say whether he plans to experiment in other industries.
“I don’t make a living anymore, I don’t have a job, I’m not trying to have a career, I’m not trying to be rich, I’m just trying to learn,” he says.
“Tetro”, which is based on an original screenplay, tells the story of a young man of Italian descent who sets off to Buenos Aires to reconnect with his long-lost older brother.
“I always hoped, even when I was younger, to do films that were original screenplays and more personal. My career changed a lot when I made ‘The Godfather’ because it became so successful,” Coppola says.
“Now, at this age, I’m doing what I wanted to do when I was 22,” Coppola says.
Coppola moves on to discuss Lebanon: “Beirut is the symbol of a sophisticated cosmopolitan city damaged by civil war and political differences but it’s very regenerative.”
The filmmaker also tells of his interest in Middle-East history and the “relation between east and west.” He is intrigued about the conflict between Iran’s ruling elites after the June’s re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad which led to days of mass protests.
Last Updated: October 11, 2009 19:00 EDT
Snitches and snoops wanted: Internet Eyes is a new “game” where the public is invited to watch thousands of CCTV cameras for criminal activity. The most successful crimespotters can win cash prizes. The site will also feature a rogues gallery of alleged perpetrators. The service launches next month in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England. It’s free to watch the cameras and £20 a week to have your CCTV up for monitoring. From the Internet Eyes site (image above from Wikimedia Commons):
The locations of the feeds are not disclosed and Viewers reporting remain anonymous. Viewers can earn money by detecting an event that matches the above scenarios. The Viewers notification is sent to an SMS device of the owner of the video feed. The owner of the video feed is known as a Customer. The customer will also get a screenshot sent to their Customer Control Panel. As a Viewer you’ll need to be quick if you’re certain of activity as there maybe other Viewers watching the same video feeds. Only the first notification gets through. Internet Eyes
From the Daily Mail:
(Company founder) Tony Morgan, a former restaurant owner, said it would give local businesses protection against petty criminals, and act as a deterrent once ‘Internet Eyes patrol here’ signs are prominently displayed…
‘There are over four million CCTV cameras in the UK and only one in a thousand gets watched, (he said).
‘Crimes are bound to get missed but this way people the cameras will be watched by lots of people 24-hours-a-day.
‘It gives people something better to do than watching Big Brother when everyone is asleep.
‘We’ve had a lot of interest from local businesses and hope to roll it out nationwide and then worldwide.’