Karuna – A Neologism



  1. the universal compassion of a Bodhisattva.
  2. any action that is taken to diminish the suffering of others.
  3. active sympathy or a willingness to bear the pain of others.

We ask a lot of the word “sorry.”  We use it when we are distressed, when we are feeling regret, to apologize, to ask someone to repeat something, to express sympathy, and to describe someone or something in a pitiful condition.  We’ve saddle the word with so much that at this point I think use of the word fails at the primary purpose of words – to convey information from one person to another. Instead of informing the word ‘sorry’ instead confuses and requires further explanation and explication.

We have other words we could use to convey some of the information that “sorry” is now used for. Today, I just want to focus on that fifth definition above, “to express sympathy.” Instead of using ‘sorry’ one could say, “I sympathise with you/you’re situation.” Or you could say, “I’m empathetic.” Or you could try and use the word ‘compassion’ not sound clunky in a sentence. All of these words though sound paternalist and patronizing. They all convey a strong felt emotion but they also come off as distant and intellectual. ‘Sorry’ conveys very little of the emotion of compassion but does feel close and personal when it conveys the correct message at all!

Enter ‘karuna.’ The word is found in both Sanskrit and Pali and is often simply translated into English as ‘compassion.’ This loses some of the subtlety found in those original languages though where the word is not just describing an emotional state but an emotional state that moves one to action on behalf of the one suffering. When a family member or friend shares a pain or hurt with us and we are moved to take that pain or hurt on ourselves and act to reduce that pain or hurt we are experiencing karuna. But, what we say is ‘sorry’ a word that conveys none of that depth of emotion and may leave the listener saying, “you didn’t do anything wrong.”

So, I suggest that we stop using ‘sorry’ to express sympathy and instead say ‘karuna.’ This both solves the confusion use of the word ‘sorry’ sometimes creates and better conveys our actual thoughts and feelings in a concise, clear manner.

  1. The Wikipedia article on ‘karuna’ is here.
  2. Brahmaviharas – the four Buddhist virtues, karuna is the second.


The Build a Civilization Kit

Global Village Construction Set in 2 Minutes from Open Source Ecology

As regular readers of DiMortuiSunt (now False(B)logic) -Ed) probably already know I’m a big fan of DIY. I grew up living an average suburban lifestyle: separated from the people, processes, land, and animals that make my life possible. As I’ve grown up I’ve recognized this glaring absence in my life. D and I have been trying, slowly, to become more involved. We belong to a Co-op; we garden and compost; we are learning to make our own food products; we are pickling and canning. I grew up being a consumer and I want to make sure as an adult I am a maker.

I’m not the only person who feels this way. There is an entire movement among my generation of people who are trying to get back to a more sustainable and authentic lifestyle (by authentic I mean one in which the person is making something, working with their hands, and creating tangible items). Some people are taking it farther than others. Everything they are doing, is amazing. Some of them I’m sure will change the world, like the man in the video above.

The idea of a DIY Civilization kit seems ridiculous on its face. The task of knowing how to and being able to create all the things necessary for the comforts of a modern lifestyle are just too complicated for a single person or small group of people to know. Despite that though the Open Source Ecology Project is an attempt to put all the plans, instructions, know-how, etc onto a single DVD that will allow the owner the ability to build and operate advanced technologies to jumpstart an economy and even a civilization.

What’s in this Nestle Ice Cream Sandwich?


I was hungry for a donut the other day but couldn’t find one anywhere near the Capitol the other day. I ended up settling for A Nestle King Sized Sandwich (only now do I realize that no where are the words Ice cream to be found on this wrapper.) As I was eating the sandwich I turned over the wrapper and looked over the nutritional information and list of ingredients, as is my want. I noticed that for the vast majority of them I had no idea what they were… Considering that monoglycerides don’t sound that appealing I decided to investigate!

For those of you who can’t make out the list in the picture above this “frozen dairy dessert” contains:

Whey, sandwich wafers (bleached white flour, sugar, caramel color, dextrose, palm oil, corn flour, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, baking soda, modified corn starch, salt, mono and diglycerides, soy lecithin, cocoa), sugar, corn syrup, cream, tapioca maltodextrin, propylene glycol monostearate, skim milk, guar gum, monoglycerides, sodium carboxymethylcellulose, carrageenan, annatto color, artificial flavor, caramel color, salt.

Good lord, some of those are a mouthful aren’t they? Now let’s see if I can find out what they all are? And if you didn’t know ingredients on food are listed by the quantity in the product, so the first item is the most, and the last item is the least.

The Ingredients

Ice cream:

Whey – is the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained. It can be used to make ricotta or brown cheeses but is most often used as an additive in many processed foods, such as this ice cream sandwich

Sandwich wafers – see below

Sugar – this is a fairly generic term, I’m assuming that it is referring to sucrose hear, as it is the most common and popular.

Corn syrup – made from the starch of maize. Corn syrup is mostly glucose. According to Wikipedia it is used, “in foods to soften texture, add volume, prevent crystallization of sugar, and enhance flavor.”

Cream –  skimmed from the top of milk; this is butterfat. This is a common ingredient in ice cream.

Tapioca maltodextrin – a modified food starch that thickens and stabilizes fatty compounds. It is produced from tapioca starch by a natural enzymatic process to give desirable fat-like and stabilizing properties. Van be used as a fat-replacer in desserts, cheese products, and ice cream. Some of the benefits include the neutral flavor which makes it an excellent flavor release with improved smooth texture. The off-white color and low application rate of 2% to 10% makes it a great substitute for fat, milk, gums and other stabilizers.

Propylene glycol monostearate (PGM) – ss a colourless, viscous, colorless liquid. It is mixable with water alcohol, and many solvents. PGM has a wide range of applications including industrial solvents, paint and coating solvents, polyester and alkyd resins, antifreeze coolants, heat transfer fluids, deicing fluids, plasticizers, detergents and surfactants, and bactericide (YUM!) Pharmaceutical grade PGM is used in foods, pharmaceutical, and personal care products. Propylene glycol monostearate can be used as a lipophilic emulsifier and emulsion stabilizer in food.

Skim milk – milk with all of its cream removed.

Guar gum – the ground endosperm of guar beans. Typically produced as a free-flowing, pale, off-white colored, coarse to fine ground powder. Guar gum has man applications from the explosives to mining industry. Most likely its use here is to help maintain the homogeneity and texture of the dessert.

Monoglycerides – a common food additive used as an emulsifier, to help  blend certain ingredients together such as water and oil. When you bake or make ice cream at home you use an egg yolk.

Sodium carboxymethylcellulose (SCMC) – Commonly used in pharmaceuticals. SCMC is a gummy substance that is a sodium salt of carboxymethyl cellulose; used as a thickening or emulsifying agent. It is also used in paints, detergents, and most disturbingly the oil drilling industry (as part of the mud they use to plug wells.)

Carrageenan – derived from seaweed carrageenan gel increases viscosity.

Annatto color – derived from the achiote tree. Annatto is used to produce a yellow to orange food coloring.

Artificial flavors – through the magic of science we can create volatile (how else would you be smelling them?) compounds which mimic the complex chemicals that give flavor to the foods we eat. The flavor business is a cut-throat one which is why manufacturers don’t have to tell use what they are using.

Caramel color –  another food coloring. Caramel color is one of the oldest and most widely-used food colorings, and is found in almost every kind of industrially produced food.

Salt – you should know already

Sandwich wafers:

Bleached white flour – white flour that has been chemically treated, usually with the same chemicals used to age the flour, to remove the light yellow color caused by xanthophylls, a variety of carotenoid also found in potatoes and onions.

Sugar – see above

Caramel color – see above

Dextrose – is glucose how this is different from fructose and sucrose is beyond my grasp of chemistry.

Palm oil – edible plant oil derived from the fruits of palm trees. Palm oils are high in saturated fat. Common in processed foods because of how cheap it is.

Corn flour – A powdery flour made of finely ground cornmeal. White corn flour is used as a filler, binder and thickener in cookie, pastry and meat industries.

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) – According to Wikipedia, HFCS “comprises any of a group of corn syrups that has undergone enzymatic processing to convert some of its glucose into fructose to produce a desired sweetness. In the United States, consumer foods and products typically use high-fructose corn syrup as a sweetener.” This is because it is usually cheaper than sucrose, or table sugar.

Corn syrup – see above

Baking soda – sodium bicarbonate. Baking soda is used in baking because it facilitates the rising of dough.

Modified corn starch – created by physically, enzymatically, or chemically treating native starch, thereby changing the properties of the starch to enhance their performance in different applications. Most likely used here to prevent the wafers from dripping while they defrost.

Salt – see above

Mono and diglycerides –  see monoglycerides above

Soy lecithin – a yellow-brownish fatty substances occurring in Soy beans. Its use here is probably for its emulsifying properties since it reduces fat and egg requirements. It also acts as a releasing agent to prevent sticking and simplify cleaning (important in mass production.)

Cocoa – the low-fat component of chocolate.


Before carrying out this exercise I had no idea what the majority of these items were (outside the ones with common household names and the various sugars) or how they were made.  Now that I do know I’m only slightly perturbed (disturbed.) The idea that many of these items are produced in chemistry labs instead of grown on a farm, while alarming, doesn’t seem to indicate that they are  actively harmful.

Sadly, the same cannot be said for the industry that uses and creates them. HFCS is no more harmful than common sugar but, the system that created that made  HFCS viable as a substitute is quite harmful.

I enjoyed the sandwich but I don’t think I’ll make eating them a habit. I continue to follow Michael Pollan’s advice from In Defense of Food, “don’t eat anything that your great-great grandmother would not recognize as food.”

What is Di Mortui Sunt all About?

Di Mortui Sunt is my personal blog and it shows, the things I write about here are varied and mostly unrelated.  In an attempt to perhaps focus the blog on a specific topic and to satisfy my own curiosity I visited Wordle and had a Word Cloud made of my blog, (it’s that image up there, at the top.  The one that looks like a large grouping, or cloud, of words) two things happened as a result of this:  I found a really fun new font, coolvetica, that I will be using in documents; and two, that I write mostly about games.

The question is do I want Di Mortui Sunt to be a blog about videogaming?  As much fun as that sounds I don’t see myself contributing much to the discussion, when there are really excellent gaming blogs out there (Gamespite, Dubious Quality, Gamasutra, oh, and my own Gamestooge to name only a few) who are taking the hobby seriously.   Okay, so gaming isn’t what this site is about, what about writing?  I’ve posted my writing here and I’ve certainly talked about it here.  Since, writing is important, as is the written word, I think it’s safe to say that they are apart of what Di Mortui Sunt is.  I’ve talked about government here as well and I’ll continue to do so, as I’m involved in it at a professional level and I won’t be able to get around it

I think that I’d like to see Di Mortui Sunt have more focus.  I’m writing for myself here, but I’d like to have what I say be of some use to those who read it, even if they take nothing more from it but a smile.  Since, I’m lacking inspiration now, besides making this a blog about the lack of Gods, (the title up there says “the Gods are dead” in Latin) and everyone know we have a overabundance of atheist blogs and sites.  I’ll ask you dear reader what you think?   Perhaps a blog about being spiritual without being religious?  Or attempted at living authentically in an inauthentic culture?  Or maybe I should just rant here about the black helicopters, Glenn Beck and Area 51?  Let me know in the comments.

I’m going to keep writing about games and other things but I think I’ll find a new place to do so.

EDIT:  Light colors on a white background doesn’t work very well does it, click for the full-sized image and things will be easier to read

EDIT: I re-named the blog on 8/1/11 to False(B)logic

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