“Shooting hits Orlando in the heart” by Willoughby Mariano (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

The Orlando I know best was shot through the heart Sunday morning. This may sound like a cliché, but I believe it is true.

I lived there for nine years, mostly in the gay neighborhoods near downtown. If I could pull the city close and lay my ear on its chest, the streets near the scene of the massacre at Pulse nightclub are where I would hear its beating heart.

It is hard to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender in America, and Orlando is no different. But if your parents turned their backs on you because you are gay, if you felt that you had nowhere to go, you could find a home in these sleepy streets, 20 miles north of the fantasy worlds of Walt Disney.

This solidarity is not strictly the kind that brings together any embattled group. It is a choice of the city’s political and civic leadership. Downtown Orlando was revived in the 1990s and early 2000s by gay homeowners and transformed by gay developers, many of them drawn to the city for jobs as Disney artists and entertainers. These neighborhoods elected Central Florida’s first openly gay official—a city councilwoman who was voted into office 16 years ago and still serves to this day.

In the years before gay marriage became legal, they fought for and won a gay rights ordinance, domestic partner benefits for city employees, and a domestic partner registry. Even when Central Florida politics was dominated by forces that were lukewarm to gay rights, Orlando supported it.

Now gayness is celebrated and protected by the city’s Democratic political elite. When the editor of Watermark, the region’s gay newspaper, got married last year, a U.S. Congressman, the city’s mayor, the county’s elected tax collector, a former police chief and a host of other politicos crowded into rows of folding chairs alongside chronic club goers, artists and liberal activists.

I was a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel from 2001 to 2010, mostly covering crime and criminal justice. For five of those years, I lived within walking distance of Pulse. As a straight married homebody, exhausted from long hours as a police reporter, I never went dancing there and never knew the gay club scene.

Instead, I came to know and love Orlando best through two of my neighbors who were gay and lived in cramped apartments behind a house I used to rent with my husband. When one was too broke to buy HIV medication, they would share it.

One was Brian, an Orlando native whose family lived less than two miles away but never visited. He manned the counter at a gay-owned optometrist office a mile or so north of Pulse on the same street.

Brian felt shunned by his family, of course. But also by the gay elite who he felt treated those with HIV as outcasts. When he was feeling mischievous, he’d shout at our wealthier gay neighbors through their fence: “Arrogant fags.”

I was driving home from an assignment when one of his friends called to tell me that Brian had died of a heart attack. The service was at a storefront funeral home that did services for cheap. Rumor was that his family planned to show up out of spite, just to peer into the windows to see how lonely they had made him.

But Brian was never abandoned by Orlando. Latecomers to the service had to stand, and the crowd spilled out the door into the heat. Programs that featured a faded picture of him dressed as a court jester ran out.

Midway through the service, I saw a relative peak her head in the door and stomp away. Brian won.

I thought of Brian’s funeral early Sunday when I watched Orlando police on television, piling the wounded into the back of a pickup truck they used as a makeshift ambulance. Hours later, when footage showed at least hundreds of people, if not more than a thousand, lining up to give blood, I thought of him again.

The Orlando I love best was shot through the heart early Sunday, yet somehow, it is still alive. I like to think that it, like Brian, will win.

Contributed by Michael Kelly.

“Please don’t stop the music” by Richard Kim (thenation.com)

Orlando

The Orlando shooter violated a sanctuary, but his desecration will not defeat us.

My first gay bar was Crowbar. Like all great gay bars, Crowbar was a dump: dark, low-ceilinged, shitty sound system. It was off Tompkins Square Park and Avenue B, when Tompkins Square Park was still a place you’d go to to buy drugs. It smelled like mildew, urine, cheap vodka, and Designer Imposters body spray. It’s long gone—made extinct like too many wonders by gentrification and Giuliani—but for a hot moment in the ’90s, it was the single most fabulous place in the galaxy. Dance moves were invented there. People went in, and when they came out, they weren’t just drunk—they were different people. That’s how powerful its juju was.

Before the ’80s were hijacked by hipsters in tiny jackets, Crowbar had a theme night called 1984, which was ridiculously fun. But because I was underage and stupid and felt the need to piss on fun things, I once said something catty there like: “Isn’t it kinda pathetic and weird that all these gays are nostalgic for a decade that ended 10 seconds ago?” And some guy I knew, who I considered ancient but was probably all of 32 at the time, snapped back at me: “Listen, you little piece of shit, we didn’t get to dance to this music the first time. We were burying each other. So take your bad vibes and get the fuck out of here. I need this more than you need to suck!” before twirling, fabulously, away from me and my toxic aura.

That was my first lesson that gay bars are more than just licensed establishments where homosexuals pay to drink. Gay bars are therapy for people who can’t afford therapy; temples for people who lost their religion, or whose religion lost them; vacations for people who can’t go on vacation; homes for folk without families; sanctuaries against aggression. They take sound and fabric and flesh from the ordinary world, and under cover of darkness and the influence of alcohol or drugs, transform it all into something that scrapes up against utopia.

I’ve never been to Pulse, the Orlando gay nightclub where Omar Mateen killed 50 people and wounded another 53. But I know that for some queer people there it was their utopia. Or, as Daniel Leon-Davis movingly recollects, a “safe haven,” the place “where I learned to love myself as a gay man,” and the place “where I learned to love my community.” Or as President Obama put it, “a place of solidarity and empowerment.” Last night, this place was violated.

We may never know how much homophobia drove Mateen to do what he did, or what other springs of madness and extremism he drank from. But we can definitely say this: Just as Dylann Roof preyed upon the specific openness and hospitality of the Mother Emanuel Church, Omar Mateen exploited the specific things that make gay bars magic. He took the dark, the loudness, the density, the chaos of the dance floor—and he made them his accomplices in what is the largest mass shooting in this nation’s history.

But he does not own these things, and his desecration cannot defeat us. This next week is going to suck hard—but we must remember that our joy is its own purpose; it is a higher calling.

To all the bartenders and bar-backs and bouncers and gogo boys and drag queens and club kids and freaks who make the nightlife—I love you. Stay strong.

Sunday night Translation!

Aloha all, really enjoyed this particular translation, due to the appearance in Florida?

Sense testimony; killing, dying for beliefs is a wasteful, disrespectful, possessive, distortion of God?

conclusions; 1) I We Thou are Creating and Governing Thought, self evident Universal Individuated Integrity, abundant well being, pleasing agreement and orderly beauty.

2) Wisdom untouched is the innate integrity of eternal reality I am-ness, oneness of the Thinker in the universe.

3) Truth is master of its own house, home, being the only necessary owner, dominion which is absolute omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, formless energy beautifully unique in perpetual harmonious instant expression.

Word tracking is a beautiful compliment to Translation, disrespectful; to look behind, to notice with special attention, to consider, honor, spectacle, spying, prophecy, a mirror, meditate appearance, to look at habitually, examine or study, investigate. And this is only one of the words, that brought me to a new understanding:>).

Maggie Nelson at Radar Reading Series


Maggie Nelson is the author of five books of nonfiction and four books of poetry. Her most recent book is The Argonauts, a work of “autotheory” about gender, sexuality, sodomitical maternity, queer family, and the limitations and possibilities of language, forthcoming from Graywolf Press in May 2015. Her 2011 book of art and cultural criticism, The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning (W. W. Norton), was featured on the front cover of the Sunday Book Review of the New York Times, as well as named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and Editors’ Choice. Her other nonfiction books include the cult hit Bluets (2009); a critical study of poetry and painting titled Women, the New York School, and Other True Abstractions (2007), and an autobiographical book about sexual violence and media spectacle titled The Red Parts: A Memoir (2007). Her poetry books include Something Bright, Then Holes (2007); Jane: A Murder (2005; finalist, the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of Memoir), The Latest Winter (2003), and Shiner (2001). She has taught literature and writing at Wesleyan University, Pratt Institute of Art, and the New School Graduate Writing Program; in 2005 she joined the faculty of the School of Critical Studies at CalArts, where she now teaches. Recent awards include a 2007 Arts Writers Grant from the Creative Capital/Andy Warhol Foundation, a 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship in Nonfiction, a 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry, and a 2013 Literature grant from Creative Capital. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

“Universe Expanding Faster Than Expected” by Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley

A Hubble Space Telescope image of the galaxy UGC 9391, one of the galaxies in the new survey. (NASA, ESA, and A. Riess [STScI/JHU])

A Hubble Space Telescope image of the galaxy UGC 9391, one of the galaxies in the new survey. (NASA, ESA, and A. Riess [STScI/JHU])

June 9, 2016 (from The Epoch Times)

Astronomers have obtained the most precise measurement yet of how fast the universe is expanding, and it doesn’t agree with predictions based on other data and our current understanding of the physics of the cosmos.

The discrepancy—the universe is now expanding 9 percent faster than expected—means either that measurements of the cosmic microwave background radiation are wrong or that some unknown physical phenomenon is speeding up the expansion of space, the astronomers say.

“If you really believe our number—and we have shed blood, sweat, and tears to get our measurement right and to accurately understand the uncertainties—then it leads to the conclusion that there is a problem with predictions based on measurements of the cosmic microwave background radiation, the leftover glow from the Big Bang,” said Alex Filippenko, a University of California, Berkeley, professor of astronomy and co-author of a paper announcing the discovery.

“Maybe the universe is tricking us, or our understanding of the universe isn’t complete,” he added.

The cause could be the existence of another, unknown particle—perhaps an often-hypothesized fourth flavor of neutrino—or that the influence of dark energy (which accelerates the expansion of the universe) has increased over the 13.8 billion-year history of the universe. Or perhaps Einstein’s general theory of relativity, the basis for the Standard Model, is slightly wrong.

“This surprising finding may be an important clue to understanding those mysterious parts of the universe that make up 95 percent of everything and don’t emit light, such as dark energy, dark matter, and dark radiation,” said the leader of the study, Nobel laureate Adam Riess, of the Space Telescope Science Institute and Johns Hopkins University, both in Baltimore. Riess is a former UC Berkeley postdoctoral fellow who worked with Filippenko.

The results, using data from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Keck I telescope in Hawaii, will appear in an upcoming issue of the Astrophysical Journal.

A few years ago, the European Space Agency’s Planck observatory—now out of commission—measured fluctuations in the cosmic background radiation to document the universe’s early history. Planck’s measurements, combined with the current Standard Model of physics, predicted an expansion rate today of 66.53 (plus or minus 0.62) kilometers per second per megaparsec. A megaparsec equals 3.26 million light-years.

Previous direct measurements of galaxies pegged the current expansion rate, or Hubble constant, between 70 and 75 km/sec/Mpc, give or take about 5−10 percent—a result that is not definitely in conflict with the Planck predictions. But the new direct measurements yield a rate of 73.24 (±1.74) km/sec/Mpc, an uncertainty of only 2.4 percent, clearly incompatible with the Planck predictions, Filippenko said.

The team, several of whom were part of the High-z Supernova Search Team that co-discovered the accelerating expansion of the universe in 1998, refined the universe’s current expansion rate by developing innovative techniques that improved the precision of distance measurements to faraway galaxies.

The team looked for galaxies containing both a type of variable star called a Cepheid and Type Ia supernovae. Cepheid stars pulsate at rates that correspond to their true brightness (power), which can be compared with their apparent brightness as seen from Earth to accurately determine their distance and thus the distance of the galaxy.

Type Ia supernovae, another commonly used cosmic yardstick, are exploding stars that flare with the same intrinsic brightness and are brilliant enough to be seen from much longer distances.

By measuring about 2,400 Cepheid stars in 19 nearby galaxies and comparing the apparent brightness of both types of stars, the researchers accurately determined the true brightness of the Type Ia supernovae. They then used this calibration to calculate distances to roughly 300 Type Ia supernovae in far-flung galaxies.

“We needed both the nearby Cepheid distances for galaxies hosting Type Ia supernovae and the distances to the 300 more-distant Type Ia supernovae to determine the Hubble constant,” Filippenko said. “The paper focuses on the 19 galaxies and getting their distances really, really well, with small uncertainties, and thoroughly understanding those uncertainties.”

Calibrating Cepheid Variable Stars

Using the Keck I 10-meter telescope in Hawaii, Filippenko’s group measured the chemical abundances of gases near the locations of Cepheid variable stars in the nearby galaxies hosting Type Ia supernovae. This allowed them to improve the accuracy of the derived distances of these galaxies, and thus to more accurately calibrate the peak luminosities of their Type Ia supernovae.

“We’ve done the world’s best job of decreasing the uncertainty in the measured rate of universal expansion and of accurately assessing the size of this uncertainty,” said Filippenko, “yet we find that our measured rate of expansion is probably incompatible with the rate expected from observations of the young universe, suggesting that there’s something important missing in our physical understanding of the universe.”

“If we know the initial amounts of stuff in the universe, such as dark energy and dark matter, and we have the physics correct, then you can go from a measurement at the time shortly after the Big Bang and use that understanding to predict how fast the universe should be expanding today,” said Riess. “However, if this discrepancy holds up, it appears we may not have the right understanding, and it changes how big the Hubble constant should be today.”

Aside from an increase in the strength with which dark energy is pushing the universe apart, and the existence of a new fundamental subatomic particle–a nearly speed-of-light particle called ‘dark radiation’–another possible explanation is that dark matter possesses some weird, unexpected characteristics.
Aside from an increase in the strength with which dark energy is pushing the universe apart, and the existence of a new fundamental subatomic particle—a nearly speed-of-light particle called “dark radiation”—another possible explanation is that dark matter possesses some weird, unexpected characteristics. Dark matter is the backbone of the universe upon which galaxies built themselves into the large-scale structures seen today.

The Hubble observations were made with Hubble’s sharp-eyed Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), and were conducted by the Supernova H0 for the Equation of State (SHOES) team, which works to refine the accuracy of the Hubble constant to a precision that allows for a better understanding of the universe’s behavior.

The SHOES Team is still using Hubble to reduce the uncertainty in the Hubble constant even more, with a goal to reach an accuracy of 1 percent. Telescopes such as the European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite, and future telescopes such as the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), an infrared observatory, and the Wide Field Infrared Space Telescope (WFIRST), also could help astronomers make better measurements of the expansion rate.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy in Washington, D.C. The W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii is operated as a scientific partnership among the California Institute of Technology, the University of California and NASA.

Filippenko’s research was supported by NASA, the National Science Foundation, the TABASGO Foundation, Gary and Cynthia Bendier, and the Christopher R. Redlich Fund.

Originally published by Berkeley News.

Book recommendation: “The psychology of man’s possible evolution” by P.D. Ouspensky

PsychologyofMans

When you have had your first ‘education’ by the way of years of “ordinary” life; when you have been exposed to thousands of works of literature, art, science, religion–and these have created a hunger in you; at a certain point, you may be ready to receive a certain quality of knowledge. When you do, when you recognize its value and if you apply it to your daily life, you yourself can truly change. This book, in the hands of one who seeks, can be a key to the start of a path to a larger and richer world.
How well do you *really* know yourself? Are you willing to go digging? The world is waiting, and a man named Piotr Demianovich Ouspensky saw fit to help you know both it, and yourself, in ways you never guessed.
Yes, there are books that can truly change lives. This is one of them. Do not read if your aim is only to remain comfortable. I wish you the best on your Way.  (Customer review on amazon.com)

P D Ouspensky – The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution Audiobook

Consciousness, sexuality, androgyny, futurism, space, art, music, physics, astrology, democracy, photography, humor, books, movies and more