Saturday, January 06, 2007

Buddha as Archetype

Tricycle's Daily Dharma: January 6, 2007:
Buddha as Archetype

[We can] view the Buddha as a fundamental archetype of humanity; that is, as the full manifestation of buddha-nature, the mind that is free of defilement and distortion, and understanding his life story as a great journey representing some basic archetypal aspects of human existence. By viewing the life of the Buddha... as a historical person and as an archetype, it becomes possible to see the unfolding of universal principles within the particular content of his life experience. We can then view the Buddha's life not as an abstract, removed story of somebody who lived twenty-five hundred years ago, but as one that reveals the nature of the universal in us all. This becomes a way of understanding our own experience in a larger and more profound context, one that connects the Buddha's journey with our own. We have undertaken to follow the same path, motivated by the same questions: What is the true nature of our lives? What is the root cause of our suffering?

~ Joseph Goldstein, Seeking the Heart of Wisdom
from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book

Quote of the Day

"I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life's realities."
~ Dr. Seuss

PS3 vs. Wii

You've all seen the Apple commercials with the "cool" Apple guy and the "geeky" PC guy? If not, here's the first one in the series.

So now, someone has spoofed this format with a commercial for the new Wii game system, pitting it, uh her, against the PS3 system. At least I think this is a spoof.

If it's an actual commercial, it's brilliant and ballsy.

Satire: God Denies Talking to Pat Robertson

From the twisted mind of Andy Borowitz:
God Denies Talking to Pat Robertson
Supreme Being Calls Televangelist ‘Delusional’

Just days after the Rev. Pat Robertson claimed on his “700 Club” program that God warned him of “mass killings” in the U.S. late in 2007, God held a rare press conference today to deny having spoken to the controversial televangelist.

For the usually publicity-shy King of the Universe, the press conference held at the Chicago Airport Marriott signaled a sharp break with tradition.

But appearing before the press in His trademark flowing robes and white beard, and carrying what appeared to be a lightning bolt, God said that He decided to convene the extraordinary press briefing because “I had to set the record straight about this.”

“I want to make it clear that at no time at the end of the year did I have any conversation with the Rev. Pat Robertson,” the Supreme Being said. “Personally, I think the guy is delusional.”

God then distributed His personal phone logs for the month of December to prove that He had in fact no contact with the Rev. Robertson.

“I don’t make a habit of talking to TV personalities,” God emphasized. “Although on New Year’s Eve I did have a brief chat with Ryan Seacrest to wish him good luck.”

Answering a reporter’s question, God acknowledged that with war raging around the globe, 2006 had been a “difficult year” for the forces of goodness, but He remained upbeat, pointing to some of His accomplishments in the year just past.

“At least I got Judith Regan fired,” He said.

Elsewhere, Britney Spears checked into a rehab center after being driven there by her one-year-old son, Sean Preston.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Gratitude 1/5/07

I was reminded today of something a friend told me many years ago when I was first beginning to explore a spiritual path. He said, "Your deepest wound is your greatest gift."

It's easy to forget sometimes when we are going through tough things that there may be a purpose for the challenge beyond our small lives. The ways of the Kosmos are mysterious and often beyond our ability to grasp. But I firmly believe that we are given challenges in whatever form they come so that we may learn from them. In doing so, especially in facing our deepest wounds, we develop our gift to the world.

I've written many times on this blog about my efforts to break down the barriers that prevent me from accessing my vulnerability, and with it my emotions. I think of this as my deepest wound. Over the past couple of years, I have made a lot of progress.

Today I was given an opportunity to help someone else who is facing the same struggle, the same journey toward wholeness. She is at the beginning of an adventure that will be scary and challenging, and that will lead her to a deeper connection with who she is and who she can become.

But when it first begins, when that first rupture occurs and emotions flood into consciousness, especially without any framework for understanding what is happening, the experience is frightening. I was fortunate to have that framework when I began the journey. She was not so lucky.

But she was brave enough to reach out for help -- and I was able to offer the benefit of my experience. It helped.

I am so humbly grateful that I was able to help her through a tough afternoon. In that moment I was not me, at least not my little self -- I was an instrument of the Kosmos.

Today, I am grateful for that experience, for the opportunity to be of service. And I am grateful for the recognition, however briefly, that the world can be a compassionate and loving place and that each of us, through facing our wounds and developing our gifts, can be instruments of that love.

And through this experience I was reminded of what it means to be a friend, a lesson summed up in this little parable from The West Wing:
A man is walking along and he falls into a hole.

He sees a doctor walk by and shouts up, "Hey, doctor, I've fallen into this hole. Can you help me out?" The doctor writes out a prescription, throws it down into the hole, and keeps walking.

The man sees a priest walk by and shouts up, "Hey, Father, I've fallen into this hole. Can you help me out?" The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down into the hole, and keeps walking.

The man sees a friend walk by and shouts up, "Hey, Joe, I've fallen into this hole. Can you help me out?" Joe immediately jumps down into the hole with him. The man says," What are you doing, now we're both down in this hole." And Joe replies, "Yeah, but I've been here before. I know the way out."

What are you grateful for? How are you developing your gift?

The World Is in Reality a World of Bliss and Awakening

This is from the current (Winter 2006) issue of Tricycle, Norman Fischer on The Lotus Sutra:
The Lotus teaches that [the Buddha] appears not from karma, as do all other beings, but due to the "One Great Causal Condition," which is the interdependent nature of existence/nonexistence, a field whose true shape and purpose is love. This is a deep and astounding teaching: that far from being a world of trouble and tears as it appears to be, this world of existence/nonexistence, seen in the light of suchness and lived according to upaya is in reality a world of bliss and awakening. But beings don't know this. They are awash in a sea of suffering. Reality's true trajectory is toward relieving this suffering through love.

It seems to me that somehow we all know that love is our real nature and our real goal; we all long to realize this goal, however confused and misguided our longing may be. Being human has embedded right in the middle of it some sense of longing and reaching out for something very, very large, not outside our lives, but as our lives.
Great quote. I think this resonates with me right now because some awareness of this truth is beginning to surface in me. Slowly, sometimes painfully, but I think I'm beginning to feel this in some way.

Cool Site: Cultures on the Edge

Found this cool site via Neatorama, Cultures on the Edge:
Cultures On The Edge is an online magazine published quarterly by a team of experienced web entrepreneurs, along with world-renown author Wade Davis and professional photographer Chris Rainier. Together we have molded our skills to present a dynamic online magazine that hopes to support cultural diversity through education.

We are dedicated to open dialogue and increasing global awareness about unique segments of humanity. Through the use of the Internet, Cultures On The Edge brings contrasting worlds closer. The magazine allows developing cultures a chance to explore new technology while cultivating social awareness in our modern world. We hope developing cultures will communicate with and learn about similar groups around the planet, while modern cultures discover and study the rituals of history that still live today.
As well as having an admirable agenda, the site contains some amazing photographs as part of photo essays.

Mandaly, Burma, 1994

Agra, India, 1999

Day of Challa (Thanksgiving), Bolivia

The site currently contains two photo essays from which these pictures are taken (SE Asia and The Andes). There are also some articles and a forum. No RSS feed though, so those interested in the site will have to check back from time to time.

Journal of Men, Masculinities and Spirituality

There's a new online, open source journal in the world: Journal of Men, Masculinities and Spirituality. It looks interesting, though a bit academic and stuffy. I haven't had a chance to read anything, but it feels pretty postmodern to me -- a bit too much span (horizontal) and not enough depth (vertical), but I could be jumping to conclusions.

Here is their introductory note on the home page:

The Journal of Men, Masculinities and Spirituality (JMMS) is an online, scholarly, peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary journal. JMMS is published twice a year with provision for other special editions.

JMMS seeks to be as inclusive as possible in its area of enquiry. Papers address the full spectrum of masculinities and sexualities, particularly those which are seldom heard. Similarly, JMMS addresses not only monotheistic religions and spiritualities but also Eastern, indigenous, new religious movements and other spiritualities which resist categorization. JMMS papers address historical and contemporary phenomena as well as speculative essays about future spiritualities. The academic interests of the editorial board reflect these diverse positions.

JMMS is an Open Access journal, which means it is available to all readers, free of charge.

The articles are all online as PDFs for easy downloading, which is a bit of hassle if you'd rather read online. Here is the table of contents as currently posted:

Joseph Gelfer, Editor's Note (pp. 1-2)

Research Notes:
Yvonne Maria Werner, Manliness and Catholic Mission in the Nordic Countries (pp. 3-18)

Anna Prestjan, Christian Social Reform Work as Christian Masculinization? A Swedish Example (pp. 19-34)

Roland Boer, Skin Gods: Circumcising the Built Male Body (pp. 35-44)

Frank A. Salamone, Hausa Concepts of Masculinity and the ‘Yan Daudu (pp. 45-54)

David Shneer, Queer is the New Pink: How Queer Jews Moved to the Forefront of Jewish Culture (pp. 55-64)

Juan M. Marin, A Jesuit Mystic’s Feminine Melancholia: Jean-Joseph Surin (1600-1665) (pp. 65-76)

Rini Bhattacharya Mehta, The Bhagavadgita, Pistol, and the Lone Bhadralok: Individual Spirituality, Masculinity, and Politics in the Nationalist Writings of Aurobindo Ghose (1872-1950) (pp. 77-98)

Book Reviews:
Joseph Gelfer, Review of Bret Stephenson, From Boys to Men: Spiritual Rites of Passage in an Indulgent Age (pp. 99-100)

James Bryant, Review of Shayne Lee, T. D. Jakes: America’s New Preacher (pp. 101-102)

Wisam Mansour, Review of David M. Friedman, A Mind of Its Own: A Cultural History of the Penis (pp. 103-104)

Sophie Smith, Review of Lahoucine Ouzgane (Ed.), Islamic Masculinities (pp. 105-108)

Katharina von Kellenbach, Review of Herbert Anderson, Edward Foley, Bonnie Miller-McLemore and Robert Schreiter, Mutuality Matters: Family, Faith and Just Love (pp. 109-111)

Nathan Abrams, Review of Peter Lehman (Ed.), Pornography: Film and Culture (pp. 112-113)

Like I said, a bit stuffy.

They are also seeking papers:

JMMS is currently seeking papers and reviews. The deadline for the second issue is 10 MARCH 2007. JMMS will consider previously published papers that are not available elsewhere on the Internet if the author has retained copyright.

Authors are encouraged to use the online submissions system. If this proves problematic authors may submit via email attachment (MS Word or RTF file) to the Managing Editor.

Yasemin Besen of Montclair State University is editing a special edition of JMMS focusing on youth masculinities and spirituality for publication in August 2007. Anyone interested in contributing should email her directly for further information.

This is just the first issue, so I am hopeful that they will become a little more relevant over time.

Speedlinking 1/5/07

Quote of the day:

"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Image of the day:

~ Spice Up Your Health This New Year -- "Using more herbs and spices and fewer traditional seasonings like sugar, salt and fat, can help to improve the overall health benefits and flavor of the foods we eat every day, says Suzanna Zick, N.D."
~ Cancer warning over stem cell therapies -- Sounds like we need to be cautious before embracing this new technoogy.
~ FTC Fines Weight Loss Pill Firms $25M -- Among the losers are TrimSpa and Xenedrine.
~ Research Says Sanitizers No Better Than Soap And Water -- But in the absence of soap and water, they're better than nothing, especially in the gym.
~ Gender affects genes' influence on blood pressure -- "Variations in genes that play a role in regulating heart rate and kidney function appear to affect blood pressure differently in men and women, new research suggests."
~ Be Very Careful Eating Chickens You Buy at the Supermarket -- Be sure that chicken is cleaned and fully cooked.

~ Online Prayer Helps Cancer Patients -- "Breast cancer patients who pray in online support groups get mental health benefits through reduced stress, a new study finds."
~ Glass Half Empty for Binge-Drinking Women -- Another look at this study here: What Gender Has to Do With Drinking and Depression.
~ 7 resolutions for sensational sex in '07 -- "Here is a menu of seven resolutions for 2007 that will go at least a little way toward making us the high rpm love machines we know we would be if only our partners were magically turned into Eva Longoria or that guy from Grey’s Anatomy."
~ Binge eating disorder can be persistent problem -- "Binge eating disorder may last much longer than the more well-established eating disorders of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, research shows."
~ Freedom is slavery looks at an article in the New York Times on free will. Another take here: Spinning Free Wheels.
~ Cognitive biases and the start of war -- "Foreign Policy magazine has an article by Daniel Kahneman and Jonathan Renshon on the role of cognitive biases in the decision to go to war." This post looks at that article.
~ The Self is an Archetype from Mushin at Love, Truth, Beauty.
~ From Anxious Living: Writing to Cope -- A very good post.

~ A Burning Silo film review: atanarjuat - the fast runner -- Loved this film.
~ Polio Is Four Countries Away From Total Eradication.
~ Pollsters, Strategists Laud Success Of Consulting Firm Advising Democratic Candidates To Speak About Reducing Abortions.
~ Jay Sekulow as Tonya Harding -- Pat Robertson's pit bull wants to take away the right of Americans to file suit on establishment issues (separation of church and state). It's part of their plan to create a theocracy.
~ Shared Intentionality in Human and Primate Cognition -- "There are many theories of how human behavior came to differ so profoundly from that of even our closest primate relatives - language, recursion, theory of mind, and enhanced working memory are just a few of the "critical components" that have been proposed as enabling human intelligence. A very different perspective, advocated by Tomasello and Carpenter, suggests that it is simply humans' extreme propensity for social interaction that is at the core of the evolution of human intelligence."
~ Democrats take power in US.
~ Pelosi: Proud Grandmother Makes History.

~ Warmer Seas Leave Fish Gasping -- "Warming oceans, one of the major consequences of global climate change, are making another marine species feel like a fish out of water, scientists report."
~ Free-Falling Atoms Offer New Test of Gravity's Strength: Technique promises a sharper view of the weakest force.
~ A greener city with less red tape.
~ Scientists Say 2007 May Be Warmest Yet.
~ Democrats take control of U.S. Congress, vow energy-fund reallocation -- Let's hope.
~ Mysterious Object Crashes Through Roof -- very strange -- "Authorities were trying to identify a mysterious metallic object that crashed through the roof of a house in eastern New Jersey."
~ ebuddha links to Worldchanging: What's Next at WorldChanging - 32 Perspectives Look Ahead.

~ Samfar at Open Integral dismantles the lunacy of Singularity theory in An Inconsiderable Failure (Re-Edit).
~ Matthew Dallman gives an update on the progress of his integral artistry book: ME, MY BOOK, THE TIME FOR IT.
~ Joe Perez takes a look at intersubjectivity using Chris Dierkes post on Sam Harris as a jumping off point: The spiritual path where Reality gets crucified.
~ Prerational and Transrational Spirituality: The Difference Is? -- A discussion at the Zaadz I-I pod.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Film: The Sadness of Sex

This is a strange little ten-part film about a "dramatic love story." Of course, these things never have happy endings. Here is their explanation of the film:
This poignant comedy about love is from Rupert Wainwright (Stigmata) and stars Peta Wilson and Barry Yourgrau.

It traverses the hilarious and outrageous journey of a hopeless romantic along a stream of consciousness, riding the cycle of passion, romance, laughter and the seemingly inevitable, heartwrenching breakup. Interweaving dream logic with everyday reality, it dives headfirst into the craziness and contradictions of sexual relations between men and women, the soulful search for understanding and love.
It's often a very melodramatic video poem. But it's oddly entertaining.

Here is the first installment:

Some of the installments have nudity and very suggestive scenes, but there is nothing terribly graphic. You can view the rest of them at I-Film.
Other episodes:

Episode 1: Poison
Episode 2: Silver Arrows
Episode 3: Domestic Intelligence
Episode 4: Demoiselle
Episode 5: Udders
Episode 6: Strawberries
Episode 7: Riddle
Episode 8: Fin de Siecle (Century's End)
Episode 9: Revolt
Episode 10: Elm

13 Photos that Changed the World

I found this cool entry at Neatorama, who posted it in conjunction with Mental Floss, one of the coolest magazines you may have never seen.

I'm a sucker for anything numbered 13, which happens to be my favorite number and the number I wore on most of my soccer jerseys.

13 Photographs That Changed the World

Any picture can speak 1,000 words, but only a select few say something poignant enough to galvanize an entire society. The following photographs screamed so loudly that the entire world stopped to take notice.

1. The Photograph That Raised the Photojournalistic Stakes:
"Omaha Beach, Normandy, France"
Robert Capa, 1944

"If your pictures aren’t good enough," war photographer Robert Capa used to say, "you aren’t close enough." Words to die by, yes, but the man knew of what he spoke. After all, his most memorable shots were taken on the morning of D-Day, June 6, 1944, when he landed alongside the first waves of infantry at Omaha Beach.

Caught under heavy fire, Capa dove for what little cover he could find, then shot all the film in his camera, and got out - just barely. He escaped with his life, but not much else. Of the four rolls of film Capa took of the horrific D-Day battle, all but 11 exposures were ruined by an overeager lab assistant, who melted the film in his rush to develop it. (He was trying to meet the deadline for the next issue of Life magazine.)

In an ironic twist, however, that same mistake gave the few surviving exposures their famously surreal look ("slightly out of focus," Life incorrectly explained upon printing them). More than 50 years later, director Steven Spielberg would go to great lengths to reproduce the look of that "error" for his harrowing D-Day landing sequence in "Saving Private Ryan," even stripping the coating from his camera lenses to echo Capa’s notorious shots.

2. The Photograph That Gave a Face to the Great Depression
"Migrant Mother"
Dorothea Lange, 1936

As era-defining photographs go, "Migrant Mother" pretty much takes the cake. For many, Florence Owens Thompson is the face of the Great Depression, thanks to legendary shutterbug Dorothea Lange. Lange captured the image while visiting a dusty California pea-pickers’ camp in February 1936, and in doing so, captured the resilience of a proud nation facing desperate times.

Unbelievably, Thompson’s story is as compelling as her portrait. Just 32 years old when Lange approached her ("as if drawn by a magnet," Lange said). Thompson was a mother of seven who’d lost her husband to tuberculosis. Stranded at a migratory labor farm in Nipomo, Calif. her family sustained themselves on birds killed by her kids and vegetables taken from a nearby field - as meager a living as any earned by the other 2,500 workers there. The photo’s impact was staggering. Reproduced in newspapers everywhere, Thompson’s haunted face triggered an immediate public outcry, quickly prompting politicos from the federal Resettlement Administration to send food and supplies. Sadly, however, Thompson and her family had already moved on, receiving nary a wedge of government cheese for their high-profile misery. In fact, no one knew the identity of the photographed woman until Thompson revealed herself years later in a 1976 newspaper article.

3. The Photograph That Brought the Battlefield Home
"Federal Dead on the Field of Battle of First Day, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania"
Mathew Brady, 1863

As one of the world’s first war photographers, Mathew Brady didn’t start
out having as action-packed a career as you might think. A successful daguerreotypist and a distinguished gentleman, Brady was known for his portraits of notable people such as Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee. In other words, he was hardly a photojournalist in the trenches.

In fact, Brady had everything to lose by making a career move - his money, his business, and quite possibly his life. Nevertheless, he decided to risk it all and follow the Union Army into battle with his camera, saying, "A spirit in my feet said, ‘Go!’" And go he did - at least until he got a good look at the pointy end of a Confederate bayonet.

After narrowly escaping capture at the first Battle of Bull Run, Brady’s chatty feet quieted down a bit, and he began sending assistants in his place. In the span of only a few years, Brady and his team shot more than 7,000 photographs - an astounding number when you consider that developing a single plate required a horse-drawn-wagon-full of cumbersome equipment and noxious chemicals. Not exactly what you’d call "point-and-shoot."

Tethered as he was to his equine-powered darkroom and with film speeds being much slower then, Brady produced war photos that are understandably light on the action and heavy on the aftermath. Still, they mark the first time Americans were so immediately confronted with the grim realities of the battlefield.

Check out the other ten.

And the Obama Bashing Begins

Well, it must be sign of Barack Obama's impending super stardom that the wingnuts are already trying to trash his reputation. And who would you most expect to be doing the trashing? That's right -- far far faaaar right -- Faux News.

It seems that the MSM has finally realized that Obama wrote another book eleven years ago about his experiences growing up. In that book he admits to cocaine use, smoking pot, and living the life of a black inner city kid on his way to nothing good. Personally, I totally identify with Obama's youthful experiences -- hell, I was a much worse kid than he was and I turned out (sort of) okay.

So, of course, Faux News, who couldn't be bothered to actually read the book and respond critically to its message of redemption through religious faith, took the WaPo article as a jumping off point to trash Obama and call him a drug addict as many times and in as many ways as they could.
[Andrew] Napolitano went so far as to suggest that Obama had been a drug addict, saying voters will ask themselves, "Do we want somebody like that in the White House, who was addicted to drugs in his teen-aged years?" [Steve] Doocy corrected him that it was unclear whether Obama was "addicted," but the damage was done.

Doocy himself then insisted that Obama was "kind of boasting" about not having used heroin, although it's not clear how Doocy would know that since he hasn't read the book.

You can watch the video clip as provided by News Hounds:

The coolest part of this video is when Kiran Chetry goes way off topic to mention GWB's coke use and alcohol problems. The others try valiantly to get her back on topic -- trashing Obama.

Anyway, I really think this dumbass crap is going to come back to haunt the right. Barack Obama is that rarest of American icons -- a devoutly religious man who has pulled himself up from the depths of drug use and hopelessness to become a well-spoken leader capable of inspiring us to strive to be our best selves.

You can't create that and you can't bottle it -- it's the scent of greatness.

Now, it's a whole other question as to whether or not Obama wants that burden and whether or not Americans are ready for a Black president. The next few months will be very interesting.

Size Matters

No, not that. Sheesh.

No, I'm thinking size in the grand scheme of things, like the size of the Earth compared to other planets, or to the sun. When you start getting a sense of how tiny, and I mean TINY, the Earth really is, it's mind boggling. We are just a minute speck of debris floating around a minuscule star in a microscopic solar system in a rather nondescript galaxy. It's humbling.

Nothing like a little perspective to start the day.

This was found at Dark Roasted Blend, who boosted it from Ochevidec.

Astronomy, Science, Digital Photography
Astronomy, Science, Digital Photography
Astronomy, Science, Digital Photography
Astronomy, Science, Digital Photography
Astronomy, Science, Digital Photography
Astronomy, Science, Digital Photography
Astronomy, Science, Digital Photography

Astronomy, Science, Digital Photography

Earth is small enough to be swallowed by an average sunspot:
(picture credt)
Astronomy, Science, Digital Photography

Second series of images (from this site) shows the similar progression, now in 3-D:

Astronomy, Science, Digital Photography
Astronomy, Science, Digital Photography
Astronomy, Science, Digital Photography
Astronomy, Science, Digital Photography
Astronomy, Science, Digital Photography

David Lynch in Wired

Wired has an interview with filmmaker David Lynch up at their site. Lynch is definitely one of my all-time favorite directors, so it's always cool to see what he's up to and what he's thinking about.

Here's the intro and beginning of the interview:

The mere mention of the name "David Lynch" conjures images of velvety shadows and extreme violence. Over the past three decades Lynch has honed a surrealist aesthetic -- characterized by nightmarish and dreamlike sequences, stark images and meticulously crafted audio -- that can only be described as "Lynchian."

Considered one of the foremost auteurs in the film industry -- and one of the most original -- Lynch is also an accomplished writer, television producer, cartoonist, graphic artist and photographer. Plus, he's a guy with a big passion for high tech.

David Lynch

In March, September and December 2006, Wired magazine's Scott Thill spoke with Lynch about his innovative website, his new film, transcendental meditation and coffee. The entire, unedited transcript of these interviews can be viewed here.

Wired: When you started, you said the internet was still "sleepy" and slow. But now with a few years under your belt, has the sleeper, to quote Dune, awakened yet?

Lynch: The sleeper hasn't awakened yet. It's weird. Obviously, the internet is huge and getting bigger, but it is divided.... And I guess MySpace is the place where people go now, but even that's divided, know what I mean?

But over here (at, we've got our thinking caps strapped on. We've got a great bunch in our membership who all really like each other and find things to talk about. And when we get new members, they really like the site and say that it's different from other sites.... It's all an experiment. I want to find things that fire me up, and see if it works for the people.

Wired: How do you feel taking your work onto the internet years ago has changed you as a filmmaker?

Lynch: Well, it's huge, because I like to conduct experiments.... And because of the internet I've learned about AfterEffects, Flash animation and discovered and fallen in love with digital video. So I just think that going onto the web was so good for me. It's just sort of starting, but it's a beautiful world.... I always like random access, and I like the idea that one thing relates to another. And this is part of the internet: It's so huge, that it is really an unbounded world. And I think that if we keep our thinking caps strapped on, we could find something beautiful out there in the ether.

Wired: Digital video seems to have made the process of filmmaking easier for budding auteurs.

Lynch: Digital video is so beautiful. It's lightweight, modern, and it's only getting better. It's put film into the La Brea Tar Pits.

Wired: So you are serious about working exclusively in DV from here on out?

Lynch: For sure.

Wired: Because of its mobility and lower overhead?

Lynch: Everything about it. In one word, film is heavy. It's gone, just gone.

Read the rest of the interview.

Here is the trailer to Inland Empire, Lynch's new film:

And here is a Giorgio Armani Perfume commercial (2:30) Lynch did back in 1992.

Speedlinking 1/4/07

Quote of the day:

"Yesterday I was a dog. Today I'm a dog. Tomorrow I'll probably still be a dog. Sigh! There's so little hope for advancement."
~ Charles Schulz

This morning's image is from The Finest:

~ From T-Nation: One Mile to Ripped, Part II -- Aerobics vs. intervals: A personal case study
~ Study Suggests That Body Composition Is Key Player In Controlling Cancer Risks -- Lower bodyfat means lower estrogen, a contributing factor to many cancers. According to the article, lower bodyfat levels simply correlate with lower cancer risks, they just don't tell you why.
~ Top 10 Health Stories of 2006 from ABC News.
~ Want longevity and a sharp mind? It's in the genes -- "A variation in a particular gene involved in regulating cholesterol is known to be associated with longevity, and now it seems it also confers mental sharpness in old age, according to new findings."
~ No One Knows -- Or is Telling You -- How Much Toxins Are in Your Potato Chips. Simple: don't eat chips.
~ Which diet is best for you? -- These diets are aimed at personality types, which is not a bad idea. But the best diet is the no-diet approach that will keep you healthy for life, not for a few weeks of weight loss.
~ New Year, New Understanding of How Fasting Affects the Brain -- "A protein in brain cells helps keep appetites alive during fasting and plays a role in a complex molecular mechanism that may be involved in diabetes and obesity."

~ Dawn simulator curbs wintertime blues -- Help for those with seasonal affective disorder. "For people who suffer from winter depression triggered largely by reduced sunlight, a bedside device that simulates the rising of the sun may provide relief, a study shows."
~ Jury still out on fish oil for depression -- I have clinically depressed clients who use fish oil. They still take their meds, but they take less of them and have shallower lows.
~ Smokers More Likely To Think Fate Decides Who Gets Cancer -- Magical thinking, anyone?
~ Memory And Future Thought Go 'Hand-In-Hand' -- "Human memory, the ability to recall vivid mental images of past experiences, has been studied extensively for more than a hundred years. But until recently, there's been surprisingly little research into cognitive processes underlying another form of mental time travel -- the ability to clearly imagine or "see" oneself participating in a future event."
~ What is empathy? -- "Like many terms in psychology, it can seem intuitively obvious what 'empathy' means, but on closer inspection the definition is not so clear."
~ Homesickness as Psychological Condition -- Are we pathologizing everything?
~ ADHD and Essential Fatty Acids -- This is the new treatment, fish oil to the rescue.

~ 'Brainy' chickpeas conquered the world -- "Could the humble chickpea have changed the course of history? The Mesopotamian civilisation may have risen with bellies full of them."
~ Cost Of Caring For Elderly Parent Affecting Retirement For Baby Boomers -- It's a tough world when the folks live long enough to be a burden to their retired kids.
~ Few openly gay teens tell their doctor. "Most lesbian, gay and bisexual teenagers who are "out" do not tell their doctor their sexual orientation, according to a survey by the RAND Corporation and the University of California, Los Angeles."
~ Drug Abuse Rising Among American Adults -- Strangely enough, it's dropping among teens. I guess the parents are bogarting the spliff.
~ Pat Robertson predicts 'mass killing' -- Can't we just institutionalize this guy? God told him there would be a terrorist attack late this year -- which has nothing to do with keeping his sheople scared enough to keep sending him their hard-earned money.
~ Clock Starts Ticking on Democrats' 100 Hours -- "After a dozen years in the minority, Democrats are preparing to wield power on Capitol Hill by moving through an ambitious agenda in the House, but many are waiting to see exactly what they will be able to accomplish with a Republican in the White House and the barest of majorities in the Senate."
~ Hindu Festival Begins in India -- "Ash-smeared and naked Hindu saints led millions of devotees Wednesday in a pre-dawn holy dip at the meeting of three major rivers in northern India, starting a weeks-long pilgrimage to wash away their sins."
~ Keith Ellison to Use Jefferson's Qur'an for Oath -- Didn't even know TJeff had a Qur'an, but then again, not at all surprised.
~ From Mike at Unknowing Mind: Interfaith Blog Event #4: The Role of Justice.

~ Narcolepsy May Be Caused By Environmental Exposures. Not surprising considering how much crap we breathe in each day.
~ Green-Collar Jobs for Urban America -- From Utne, "Residents of a California city band together to turn its social and economic plight into a sustainable -- and lucrative -- future."
~ Highway Robbery -- This is also from Utne.
~ Poverty Pendulum Swings, Press Yawns -- "More Americans now live in poverty in suburbs than in cities, a somewhat surprising shift that the Brookings Institution says 'signals the latest stage in the long-run decentralization of people and jobs in the United States."'
~ Scientists Find Way to Slash Cost of Drugs -- an ethical pharmaceutical industry?
~ Farm Helps Homeless Horses -- cool.
~ Move Thyself: A roundup of pedal-powered news in the new year.

~ Joe explains the Whole Writing process: On the Lightness of Belly Buttons and Other Topics.
~ More from Joe's Until blog: What do I mean by "interiors"? and Investigating the quadrants.
~ An integral approach to textual reading: The grammar of interpretation.
~ An interesting discussion in the I-I pod at Zaadz: Spiritual Atheism.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Spiders on Drugs

This video riffs on an actual study from a while back where they gave spiders LSD to see how it would change their web patterns. But this takes it a bit further and is laugh-out-loud funny.


Richard Dawkins on Hanging Saddam Hussein

As noted this morning, I find Richard Dawkins to be a fundamentalist loudmouth. And it pains me to mention him again today, but he has a post over at Huffington that actually makes a lot of sense.

First let me backtrack a bit. I haven't posted on the execution of Saddam Hussein. I may be one of the few bloggers outside of Iraq not to have mentioned it.

The problem, for me, is that I oppose capital punishment of any kind. That said, I did not feel sad in the least that they hanged him. Certainly, if anyone deserves to be hanged, it was Saddam. So rather than deal with my inner conflict, I avoided it completely.

But Dawkins has bailed me out. He has provided a non-moral rationale for not hanging Saddam.

From HuffPo:

Saddam Hussein could have provided irreplaceable help to future historians of the Iran/Iraq war, of the invasion of Kuwait, and of the subsequent era of sanctions culminating in the current invasion. Uniquely privileged evidence on the American government's enthusiastic arming of Saddam before they switched loyalties is now snuffed out at the tug of a rope (no doubt to the relief of Donald Rumsfeld and other guilty parties -- it is surely no accident that the trial of Saddam neglected those of his crimes that might -- no, would -- have implicated them).

Political scientists of the future, studying the processes by which unscrupulous leaders arise and take over national institutions, have now lost key evidence forever. But perhaps the most important research in which a living Saddam Hussein could have helped is psychological. Most people can't even come close to understanding how any man could be so cruel as Hitler or Saddam Hussein, or how such transparently evil monsters could secure sufficient support to take over an entire country. What were the formative influences on these men? Was it something in their childhood that turned them bad? In their genes? In their testosterone levels? Could the danger have been nipped in the bud by an alert psychiatrist before it was too late? How would Hitler, or Saddam Hussein have responded to a different style of education? We don't have a clear answer to these questions. We need to do the research.

The whole post presents a better argument, but you get the idea.

We can call this the scientific-rational argument against capital punishment in this case. It's likely to carry a lot more weight in many circles than my knee-jerk rejection of murder as a viable form of legal response.

But is it ethical? What do you think?

What Am I Optimistic About?

Yesterday I posted on this year's Edge question: What are you optimistic about?

Today I thought I'd answer. For me, this is a challenge -- I've always been a glass half empty kind of guy. But growth happens, it you allow it, and I think my position has grown and changed.

So here's my answer: I am optimistic about people.

I don't mean the whole of humanity. What I mean is individual people. You. Or you, or her, or that guy over there. In the last year, and especially in the last few months, I have been repeatedly surprised by the generosity and compassion I have seen in the people I know, both meat-based and virtual.

So, if there is anything that makes me hopeful for the future, it is that I see more and more that there are many people out there who are striving to be good, honest, helpful human beings. And our numbers are growing.

Poem: W. S. Merwin

The River Of Bees

In a dream I returned to the river of bees
Five orange trees by the bridge and
Beside two mills my house
Into whose courtyard a blind man followed
The goats and stood singing
Of what was older

Soon it will be fifteen years

He was old he will have fallen into his eyes

I took my eyes
A long way to the calenders
Room after room asking how shall I live

One of the ends is made of streets
One man processions carry through it
Empty bottles their
Images of hope
It was offered to me by name

Once once and once
In the same city I was born
Asking what shall I say

He will have fallen into his mouth
Men think they are better than grass

I return to his voice rising like a forkful of hay

He was old he is not real nothing is real
Nor the noise of death drawing water

We are the echo of the future

On the door it says what to do to survive
But we were not born to survive
Only to live

One Sentence Challenge

Cosmic Variance posted an exchange between two other bloggers attempting to reduce their field of knowledge to a single sentence. I found the concept rather intriguing.
From Paul Kedrosky, via Rebecca Blood, an excellent challenge:

Physicist Richard Feynman once said that if all knowledge about physics was about to expire the one sentence he would tell the future is that “Everything is made of atoms”. What one sentence would you tell the future about your own area, whether it’s entrepreneurship, hedge funds, venture capital, or something else?

Examples: An economist might say that “People respond to incentives”. I had an engineering professor years ago who said all of that field could be reduced to “F=MA and you can’t push on a rope”.

There’s lots of good and diverse responses out there…

People power culture with the tools they have at hand.
The future is built by the curious — the people who take things apart and figure out how they work, figure out better ways of using a system, and explore how to make new things fit together in unexpected ways.
The only freedom that can never be taken away from us (and hence our only area of true control) is our response to a situation.
The Secret to Existance is Movement.
Whatever else you do, don’t skimp on backups or fire extinguishers.

This actually relates to a project I’ve been thinking about a bit, which maybe I’ll say more about later. Anyways, here’s my summary of the Universe in a sentence.

The Universe began, about 13.7 billion years ago, as a hot, dense soup of elementary particles, and has been expanding, cooling, and clumping ever since.

The comments section is filled with readers adding their own sentence to the mix. Some of them are interesting, some not so much.

So I'm trying to think of my own one sentence summations.

For poetry:
The flesh of the imagination speaks through the heart.

For Buddhism, The Heart Sutra nails it:
Form itself is emptiness; emptiness itself is form.

What are your one sentence summations in your fields of knowledge? How about integral, does anyone want to take an attempt at that?