Dust flux, Vostok ice core

Dust flux, Vostok ice core
Two dimensional phase space reconstruction of dust flux from the Vostok core over the period 186-4 ka using the time derivative method. Dust flux on the x-axis, rate of change is on the y-axis. From Gipp (2001).

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The temple builders

So many of us in life start out building temples: temples of character, temples of justice, temples of peace. And so often we don’t finish them. Because life is like Schubert’s "Unfinished Symphony." At so many points we start, we try, we set out to build our various temples. And I guess one of the great agonies of life is that we are constantly trying to finish that which is unfinishable.
                             - Martin Luther King, 3 March 1968

One fact of life is that we can't fulfill all of our dreams. We have only limited time and resources. But modern life has a major additional obstacle which makes building temples more difficult than it needs to be--government. In particular, government's confiscation of resources which you might choose to use for your own benefit.

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Bali is full of temples. Not only are there large public temples and town temples, but every home has a temple as well.

Temple in a lake. Too tired to look up its name.

The family temples start off simple, using blocks cut and fabricated on a mass scale from sandstone or lava. The temples are nevertheless ornate as the blocs are combined in an exceptionally creative manner, and decorated with intricate finials. As the family becomes wealthier, they will add more finials to the gate, and the temples themselves, as well as add more (pagodas), decorate them with finials of stone or metal. It is clear that a significant portion of the family's capital and time have gone into them. Temples are key focal points for the family, and the village.

One shrine within a homeowner's temple

Lest you feel superior for not succumbing to superstition, I should remind you (as a North American or European) also devote a large portion of your income to the building of temples. However, these temples are not in your backyard, nor do you have much input into them. Instead, your income is diverted, often before you see it, towards temples built supposedly on your behalf by your elected representatives. Examples follow:

 Source: mindfrieze
Here's a Canadian one. Source: Jcart1534

Did you ask for these? Did you want them built? Would you have built a different temple with your resources had they not been taken from you? Did building them fill you with serenity?

Have you seen the upkeep on them (especially the first two examples)? At least when you build a temple in your backyard, if you can't afford the maintenance, you can let it fall apart. What happens next is between you and God. But you aren't given the choice to let the Pentagon fall apart.

It's already hard to build the temples you want to build. Building a bunch of temples you don't want makes it harder.

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