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Color my sunset sky
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A Walk in the Park

Two roads diverged in a wood and I –
I split the difference; don’t ask me why.

The truth of it is, I don’t remember why I strayed from the path.

No doubt it seemed like a good idea at the time. It was the second day of a five-day walking trip I had mapped out across the Lake District in northern England, hoping to channel the spirit of William Wordsworth and find inspiration in the exquisite British landscape.

But after the deflating experience of my first day’s outing, I should have been far more circumspect before turning down the road of impetuosity.

My little adventure began as I sallied forth from the youth hostel in Kendal for a twelve-mile hike to Windermere. I had plenty of backpacking experience, having twice hiked the Grand Canyon and once crested the Sierra Nevada. So I felt no cause for concern as I set off on this leisurely ramble along well-trodden trails.

The first lesson I might have remembered from my backpacking days was that any hike requires preparation.

Click to read the rest:
https://yonasongoldson.com/about/essays/a-walk-in-the-park/
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California and the Waters of Life and Death

Whenever headlines carry the painful images of human being caught in the path of catastrophic flooding, we should all take a few moments to contemplate how quickly nature can become our greatest adversary. Water is both the source of all life and the greatest destructive force on earth. I ponder the paradox in these reflections from after the Pacific Rim tsunami of 2005.

Read the rest here:
https://yonasongoldson.com/2017/02/21/california-and-the-waters-of-life-and-death/
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It’s right before your eyes

Yesterday’s supermoon, the closest and brightest in seven decades, is dramatic precisely because it fails to push back the darkness of night. King Solomon warns us of the pitfalls of living “under the sun,” reminding us that too much light can blind us to the dangers posed by our own misperception. I’m taking the opportunity to revisit this article from 2009.


Imagine if, in the late 1990s, a freshman congressman in the House of Representatives had submitted, as his first piece of legislation, a bill requiring airlines to install high-security doors on all passenger planes between the cockpit and the cabin. Imagine that the bill narrowly passed, was signed into law, and resulted — at great inconvenience and expense — with enhanced security for every commercial flight crew by the summer of 2001.

What would such an initiative have produced? Most notably (or really, just the opposite), September 11 would be a date of no greater significance than August 3. No terrorists would have seized those airliners and flown them into the Twin Towers that day. Perhaps American troops would never have gone into Afghanistan or Iraq. Perhaps the economy would not (yet) have collapsed. Quite possibly, Barack Obama would never have been elected president in an anti-George W. Bush backlash.

In his book The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, economist Nassim Nicholas Taleb proposes just such a scenario.

Click here to read more:
https://yonasongoldson.com/2016/11/15/its-right-before-your-eyes/
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One Step Closer to Eden

Awake from the north and come from the south! Blow upon My garden and let its spices flow. Let My beloved come to his garden and partake of its precious fruit.
— Song of Songs 4:16

Would the world be better off without mankind?

Many environmentalists think so. It’s hard to deny that, from a purely ecological point of view, life on earth would do much better without human beings around to interfere with the natural order.

But without mankind, there would be no point and, ultimately, no reason for the world to exist at all. Only Man seeks to create; only Man strives to become more than he is; and only Man directs his efforts toward ideals that transcend mere survival and procreation.

If we are to act as responsible custodians of the world, however, we have to stop from time to time and let the world remind us what those ideals are.

In the late 1800s, the great Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch announced his plan to travel from Germany to see the storied mountain ranges of Switzerland. This was entirely in keeping with Rabbi Hirsch’s philosophy of integrating worldly knowledge and experience into his religious outlook. That being said, the incomparable leader of Orthodox Jewry was well into his seventies, seemingly much too old to undertake such an adventure.

Some of the rabbi’s closets acolytes questioned the wisdom of embarking on such a strenuous journey at his advanced age. The rabbi replied that it was precisely because of his age that he felt it necessary to go.

“I may not have much longer to live,” explained Rabbi Hirsch. “And when I stand in judgment upon my arrival in the World to Come, what will I say when the Almighty asks me, “Samson, why did you not see My Alps?”

Rabbi Hirsch understood what we too easily forget: That the wonder and beauty of the world are here for us to experience, for us to enjoy, and for us to find inspiration in the masterful Hand that fashioned all of Creation.

But North Americans need not travel to Switzerland to find their inspiration. Within our own borders we have the “American Alps.” That’s what Louis Hill, president of the Great Northern Railway, called the mountains of Glacier National Park. It was Hill who found the region so extraordinary that he lobbied congress to designate Glacier as a national park in 1910. And it was Hill who influenced the Alpine design of the park’s hotels and facilities to echo the mountains’ namesake across the sea.

Read the whole essay here:
https://yonasongoldson.com/essays/one-step-closer-to-eden/
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Why do we Cry? The Psychology of Tears

My dog died. I just got engaged. An earthquake leaves thousands homeless. “Time in a Bottle” comes on the radio. I passed my college physics exam. My best friend has leukemia. My daughter just gave birth to twins. Another senseless terror attack takes innocent lives. Jimmy Stewart’s friends and neighbors all rally to his defense at the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

It would be hard to compose a more random grouping, would it not? Taken individually, the items on this list seem so far removed from one another that anyone having the same emotional response to every one of them might reasonably be diagnosed as schizophrenic.

Well, maybe schizophrenic is what we are, since any of them could send any of us into a spell of sniffles, if not outright sobbing.

Which has to make us wonder: why do we cry? We all know when we cry.

We cry when we’re sad, and we cry when we’re happy. We cry when we’re lonely, when we’re in pain, when we hear bad news, and when we hear good news. We cry when we’re so overwhelmed with work or debt or family or life in general that we can no longer cope, and we cry when we’re so filled with joy that we want hug the world.

But what do all these highs and lows have in common? And why is crying our natural, involuntary reaction to emotional intensity?

Read more at: http://www.learning-mind.com/why-do-we-cry/
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The Miracle of Music

Why do the human mind and heart respond so passionately to an arrangement of sounds and words that provide absolutely no tangible or evolutionary benefit? The answer reveals much about ourselves and the world we live in.

We spend much of our lives looking and hoping for miracles. But the greatest miracle of all is right before our eyes: nature itself, the seamless fusion of all the forces of the world into a unified, unvarying system.

Science itself testifies to this: the principle of entropy, intrinsic to Newton’s second law of thermodynamics, describes the natural state of the universe as tending always toward disorder. In other words, nature’s law cannot account for the laws of nature, cannot explain the original ordering of the natural world that produced the immutable regularity of nature itself. What greater testimony to intelligent design can one find than the unnatural, persistent order evident in every aspect of the workings of Creation?

But what does this have to do with music?

Read the whole article here: http://www.learning-mind.com/the-miracle-of-music-how-sounds-affect-the-human-mind-and-heart/
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