Monday, October 26, 2009

The Memory of Bleachy-Clean. From Paris

"When nothing else subsists from the past, after the things are broken and scattered, the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls, bearing resiliently, on tiny and almost impalpable drops of their essence, the immense edifice of memory." --Marcel Proust

I was intrigued by the BYU study regarding the sense of smell. According to Trygg Engen, a psychology professor at Brown University, the sense of smell has a very strong role in instantaneously recalling memory. Humans can detect 10,000 odors. But what makes up an odor? According to Engen, "the way we sense odors are all a result of "nurture" and not "nature." Initially, all smells are neutral. If an odor is perceived as unpleasant, the memory trigger is conditioned on the memory of which it is most closely associated.

Windex scent? Bleachy clean.

ALFRED - He had a plan for renewal and healing. There were four essential parts to his plan - you couldn't have one part without the other three - and his plan worked.


Given the name AElfred, which meant elf wisdom, Alfred became the King of Wessex in the 9th century. His response to his world’s darkest challenges can guide our response to the challenges we face today.

Alfred faces Viking invasions

Alfred was born when the shadows of invaders were falling across all the kingdoms of England. Vikings were plundering, burning towns and enslaving those they didn’t kill. Everywhere, wrote a 9th century chronicler, there is nothing but dead bodies – clergy and laymen, nobles and common people, women and children.

The fourth son of the King of Wessex, Alfred was not expected to rule or become a warrior. His love of books - he famously memorized a book when he was child so he could win it - suggested a clerical career. But in AD 865, when Alfred was sixteen, Vikings arrived in hundreds of ships, to conquer England’s northern kingdoms.

Raiding, raping, pillaging, burning and terrorizing, Viking plunderers took the farms and houses that belonged to others for their own. They inflicted the blood eagle on the defeated king of Northumbria. This was a Viking rite in which the victim had his ribs and lungs cut from his living body and spread like eagle’s wings as an offering to the Norse god Odin.

The kingdoms of the north fell. The shadows of destruction fell as far south as France, where Paris had been sacked. Only the kingdom of Wessex remained standing, but Wessex seemed doomed. Doors were closing - on life.

Character matters enormously, more so than most things that can be seen, measured, or documented. ~Thomas Sowell

Viking ship on sea with sunset

Alfred was twenty-two when the Vikings attacked Wessex. Danes and Norsemen were regarded as Vikings if they engaged in the activities of pirates and plunderers.

Alfred was a Christian who believed that Christ had asked him to turn his cheek to an insult, but he did not believe that Christ had asked him to die rather than defend himself. He did not believe he should turn the cheek of an innocent child so she could be hit a second time - or sold as a slave by the Vikings.

In AD 870, Alfred fought the Vikings like a boar, charging against their shield wall in battle after battle. When his remaining elder brother died, the Witan named Alfred king. He was just twenty-three years old. In 871, the Vikings attacked again.

Alfred raised the homeguard, known as the fyrd. Most of them were farmers, not warriors, and they were defeated. Alfred was forced to buy off the Vikings, who swore by their god Odin’s ‘holy ring’ or armlet to uphold the peace - knowing full well that in the old myths Odin had broken his sworn word.

Twice the Vikings broke their word, and each time Alfred paid more gold - Danegeld- to restore the peace. In 878, on Twelfth Night, while the people of Wessex were celebrating the last day of Christmas, Vikings brought fire and the sword. Alfred fled from Chippenham into the snowy woods with his wife and two young children.

Bleak winter woods in England

A homeless king without a kingdom, protected only by a small band of warriors, Alfred headed west, to hide on the island of Athelney in the Somerset swamps. With him were
six-year old Aethelfleda and three-year-old Edward.

Alfred and his people faced the end. Pillaging towns and monasteries, killing and taking captives and seizing farms, the Vikings had come in force, and intended to stay. Alfred was urged to flee abroad. He knew he had to act swiftly, but he was painfully ill - he had a chronic condition that may have been Crohn's Disease which afflicted him much of his life. There is also evidence that he felt some guilt.


He had been personally warned that a covenant of justice unites a king and his people and that his misdeeds would lead to his downfall. We don't know what wrongs he may have committed as king, but Alfred's subsequent actions suggest that in the Somerset swamps he had several dazzling epiphanies. The first revelation he had was understanding what he owed his people.

Disguising himself as a harpist, Alfred embarked on a mission to the Viking chief's stronghold at Chippenham. There he learned the strength of Guthrum's Viking army. Back in the swamp he sent messages across Wessex, asking his farmers and warriors to meet him at Egbert’s Stone on an appointed day in May, and face the Vikings with him one last time. What he needed from his people was their support.

What he owed them was his life.

On the day, three thousand farmers and warriors of the Wessex fyrd rode and walked into the treeless, wind-swept valley. With Alfred at their head they marched and rode to Ethandun, prepared to defeat the Viking army, or die.

They fought for their God-given birthright,
Their country to have and to hold,
And not for the lust of conquest
And not for the hunger of gold. (Emily Hickey)

Outnumbered, they charged the Vikings’ shield wall. In the fierce, hand-to-hand battle they triumphed. At this point, Alfred surprised everyone. It was his second epiphany.

He did not kill his defeated foes. He invited them to share in a new way of life.


Alfred's plan for transformation - from violence and war to peace; from misery and fear to joy and a good life had practical and spiritual dimensions.

1) Clearing and holding

To hold what he had cleared, he established a network of fortified towns. These he laid out with cross-shaped street patterns that divided land into blocks, like those of modern cities today. He rebuilt the navy to defend Wessex’s coast. He set up rotations for the fyrd so one force was always ready if another Viking attack came.

In 884, Vikings sailed up the Medway and attacked Rochester, but the city’s defenses held out until Alfred arrived. In 892-893 another huge host of Vikings invaded Wessex, but Alfred and his son Edward called up the fyrd and led the men of Wessex to victory. In 894 Vikings moved up the River Lea and attacked London. Alfred moved his army between the Lea and London so the citizens could gather their harvest then constructed two forts to trap the Viking fleet.

Alfred had learned -

A leader must defend his people since nothing else he or she does will matter if he fails to keep them safe.

Winchester Cathedral library

The Winchester Cathedral Library, built after Alfred was dead, but a direct result of his determination to encourage learning and build a safe and peaceful country.

Image: Winchester Cathedral

2) A Common Law

Alfred established one just law for everyone - Common Law. The rule of just law is our first defence against prejudice, exploitation and injustice. It has contributed to the prosperity of the people in Britain, Canada, the United States, New Zealand and Australia. Alfred established the Common Law by combining Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Danish laws consistent with Christian ethical teachings and rational thought.

He based the Common Law on these principles -

The law should express universal principles of fairness, truth and common sense.

Just law depends on the inherent dignity and freedom of every individual and the principles of fairness, responsibility, reason and truth.

People have to be confident that when a person breaks the law he will be punished. They have to trust that the law is impartial and constant.

Establishing common law was a great beginning, but it was not enough.

3) Trust

Alfred invited Guthrum and the Vikings to share the ground rules of his country by following the teachings of Christ, and living in peace. Alfred had seen that Christ’s teachings worked, and that men and women could not live, and society could not survive, without Christ’s teachings of truth- telling, promise keeping, forgiveness and trust.

Civilisation rests on trust between people. Trust is created by a shared culture of honesty, promise-keeping, compassion and forgiveness.

Alfred helped to create a culture based on the Golden Rule -

Treat others as you wish to be treated.

People guided by the Golden Rule, whose word is their bond and who reach out to help their neighbours, create trust. They live in the world’s successful societies. Without widespread commitment to speaking the truth, acting with integrity and refraining from stealing or taking bribes, a people cannot prosper no matter how many laws are on the books.

4) Education

Alfred opened grammar schools across Wessex for young students and had them trained in hunting, ethics, history and reading and writing English. He had a school opened at court for children - his daughter Aethelflaeda was included.

Since there were not enough books written in English, and so few people knew Latin, Alfred translated books written in Latin into English.

For Alfred, a good education included exercise, learning to read and write and understanding and practicing honesty and the Golden Rule.

The door into the light

Alfred lived what he believed -

Your immortal soul has been given reason, memory and free will for a purpose.

He had found the door into the light.

Alfred died on 26 October 899. He was barely fifty. His daughter Aethelflaeda became the Lady of the Mercians and successfully defended her people from Viking attacks, while son Edward began to unify the English kingdoms into the country of England.

How expensive is your law school?

  • About Pepperdine | School of ...
  • Yale ($50,140) Yale Law School
  • Columbia ($49,642)
  • Northwestern ($49,563)
  • UC-Berkeley ($48,153)
  • NYU ($47,452)
  • Duke ($47,000)
  • Chicago ($46,737)
  • Penn ($46,514)
  • Stanford ($46,341)
  • Michigan ($46,270)
  • Georgetown ($45,460) ... Law Students, Law Schools
  • Harvard ($43,900)
  • Virginia ($43,900)
  • Light And Sound Vibrations Trapped Together In Nanocrystal For First Time – this is HUGE (in a very small space)

    Top: Scanning electron micrograph of the optomechanical crystal. Bottom: closer view of the device's nanobeam

    Painter points out, the interactions between sound and light in this device -- dubbed an optomechanical crystal -- can result in mechanical vibrations with frequencies as high as tens of gigahertz, or 10 billion cycles per second. Being able to achieve such frequencies, he explains, gives these devices the ability to send large amounts of information, and opens up a wide array of potential applications -- everything from lightwave communication systems to biosensors capable of detecting (or weighing) a single macromolecule.

    Clean Smells Promote Moral Behavior, Study Suggests – in this case Windex

    BYU business prof Katie Liljenquist led a study that found that clean scents lead to more ethical behavior.

    "This is a very simple, unobtrusive way to promote ethical behavior."

    People are unconsciously fairer and more generous when they are in clean-smelling environments, according to a soon-to-be published study led by a Brigham Young University professor.

    In rooms freshly spritzed with Windex.

    The first experiment evaluated fairness.

    As a test of whether clean scents would enhance reciprocity, participants played a classic "trust game." Subjects received $12 of real money (allegedly sent by an anonymous partner in another room). They had to decide how much of it to either keep or return to their partners who had trusted them to divide it fairly. Subjects in clean-scented rooms were less likely to exploit the trust of their partners, returning a significantly higher share of the money.

    • The average amount of cash given back by the people in the "normal" room was $2.81. But the people in the clean-scented room gave back an average of $5.33.



    The Toughest Bird In The Upper Atmosphere

    ROCAF U-2 OPERATIONSOctober 26, 2009: This year, two 41 year old American U-2 reconnaissance aircraft each achieved a record 25,000 hours in the air. One of these aircraft made three belly (landing gear up) landings, requiring extensive rebuilding after each incident. With a range of over 11,000 kilometers, the 18 ton U-2s typically fly missions 12-18 hours long. All U-2s have been upgraded to the Block 20 standard, so they can be kept in service for up to another decade. Or at least until the robotic RQ-4 Global Hawk is completely debugged, and available in sufficient quantity to replace all the U-2s. The U-2 has been in service since 1955, in small numbers. Only about 850 pilots have qualified to fly the U-2 in that time.

    All this is something of a comeback for the U-2. Three years ago, the U.S. Air Force wanted to retire its 33 U-2 reconnaissance aircraft, and replace them with UAVs like Global Hawk.

    Golf and 'ObamaCare'. Guess what can wait what can not

    Obama plays more golf in 9 months than Bush did in nearly three years... CS - Obama Golf

    Troops hope Afghan sacrifices not in vain...


    Senate on Verge of Health Care Bill With 'Public Option'

    Democrats are close to unveiling a measure with stiffer penalties on employers and a gov't-run insurance optionPublic Option

    Thousands Turn Out for Kickoff of Tea Party Express II in San Diego and Cincinnati

    Thousands have turned out in beautiful San Diego for the kickoff rally for the Tea Party Express! It's an amazing crowd, and we're right on the water with the USS Midway as our backdrop.

    Cincinnati Tea Party concluded four-day protest on Saturday

    The secret of a happy marriage? ... find a man 5 years older who hasn’t been hitched before

    The Best Wedding Reception ...

    According to the study, the couples with the best chance are those where a woman with a superior education marries a man who is five or more years older than herself.

    Neither should be a divorcee.

    By comparison, a marriage where a woman partners an equally poorly educated male divorcee who is five or more years her junior is up to five times more likely to fail.

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