Saturday, January 13, 2007

James Randi to Go After Sylvia Browne, John Edward, and Others

After more than ten years of looking into every bizarre claim that has been presented in an effort to win the million dollars James Randi has been offering for proof of psychic abilities, he's narrowing the field to those who already have some media attention -- that means you Sylvia Brown, John Edward, Uri Geller, and James Van Praagh.

Wired has a background story on Randi's efforts over the years as the skeptic's skeptic and a look at his new mission. Here is an excerpt:

Randi says he'll start actively investigating professional mind-readers and mediums for proof of criminal fraud, or opportunities for civil lawsuits. Like Elliot Ness stalking Al Capone, he's not above busting a psychic for tangential infractions like tax code violations or an SEC matter.

At the same time, the foundation will choose six to eight high-profile targets each year, meticulously outline their claims, and then call them out one-by-one.

"We're going to pick people every year and hammer on them," says Wagg. "We're going to send certified mail, we're going to do advertising. We're going to pick a few people and say, we are actively challenging you. We may advertise in The New York Times. This will make the challenge a better tool, to be what it is supposed to be."

The foundation will launch this public-shaming initiative with a list of four targets, including self-proclaimed medium John Edward, and daytime talk show darling Sylvia Browne, who claims she can tell the future and see angels.

Browne is one of the United States' best known psychics, a best-selling author who frequently appears on Montel Williams and CNN's Larry King Live. In a 2001 appearance on Larry King, goaded by Randi, she seemed to agree to take the Million Dollar Challenge. She later backed away in an open letter to Randi on her website.

"As the saying goes, my self worth is completely unrelated to your opinion of me, and I've worked far too hard for far too many years, and have far too much left to do, to jump through hoops in the hope of proving something you've staked your reputations on mocking," she wrote. "I have no interest in your $1 million or any intention of pursuing it."

That's a disappointment, because if Browne's claims were ever to stand up to a scientific test in an adversarial process, it would be an unprecedented event in modern history, potentially changing our scientific understanding of the universe. Instead, you can buy a psychic phone call with her for $700.

Unlike Browne, Edward has never flip-flopped on the Randi test. He won't do it. In an appearance on CNN Headline News last October, he dismissed the notion with a quip. "Would I allow myself to be tested by somebody's whose got an adjective as a first name?" he said -- a reference to Randi's stage name, "The Amazing Randi."

CNN host Glenn Beck didn't press Edward for a serious answer. Instead he asked Edward about the time he contacted his mother beyond the grave -- "What was that like?" -- then opened the phones to callers looking for psychic advice. Edward specializes in passing messages between bereaved family members and their deceased loved ones; he told the first caller that someone in his family has cancer.

Edward didn't respond to an e-mail query for this story; Browne didn't return a phone call, and neither responded to several minutes of intense concentration. The other two psychics in Randi's fantastic four are Israeli spoon-bender Uri Geller and James Van Praagh, co-executive producer of CBS' Ghost Whisperer.

The media's lightweight treatment of professional psychics is a deadly serious matter to Randi. "People like Sylvia Browne have a very high profile, and she's always going to be on Montel Williams and she's going to be on Larry King," he says. "And they know what's going on, they're smart people. They know what's going on and they don't care."

Does anyone else get the feeling that the scientific-rational developmental stage is starting to emerge more forcefully? With Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and other atheists attacking the fundamentalist religious worldview and James Randi stepping up his efforts to discredit the "psychic" charlatans, it feels like we are seeing the growing edge of rationalism in opposition to the magical-mythic, pre-modern worldviews that seem to have been so dominant.

Maybe it's just wishful thinking on my part, but if nothing else, these proponents of rationalism are certainly getting more media attention.

Unfortunately, it feels like we might be seeing a flatland rationalism (all horizontal and no vertical) as a kind of antithesis to the thesis of pre-modernism. We might have to weather this until a synthesis can emerge that allows for vertical reality.

Rob Preece on Bodhisattvas

Dharma quote from Snow Lion Publications:
Dharma Quote of the Week

The bodhisattva, as the personification of individuation, discovers a unique capacity to awaken his or her potential to work for the welfare of others in whichever way most suits his or her individual disposition. When I consider my own teachers, one thing I particularly value is their capacity to be authentically themselves. They each have their unique personality and quality that is a genuine expression of their individuality. There is no contradiction between our Western need to be individuals and the Buddhist path. Buddhism does not demand that we become clones of some ideal. Rather, it asks us to respond to who we are and awaken our full potential, expressing it within our particular individual capacity. My Tibetan teachers have supremely individualistic personalities, something I love and value deeply. They respond to me as an individual with my own personality, which they would never ask me to relinquish. The fact that they were each on their own unique journey within the Buddhist path was, for me, a sublime example of the bodhisattva as an individuated person who has truly responded to the inner call to awaken.

~ From The Wisdom of Imperfection: The Challenge of Individuation in Buddhist Life by Rob Preece, published by Snow Lion Publications.

What You Need to Know to Be a 21st Century Intellectual

Apparently, as one might expect, there is now a list -- and I assume that there will soon be a test so that anyone who passes can earn an ID card stating that s/he is an intellectual. There's probably also a cool little ring that subtly indicates to other members of the club that you, too, are an intellectual.

Or maybe I'm just reading too much into this innocuous blog post.

Over at Sentient Developments, George P. Dvorsky has elaborated on the original list (linked to above) with an expanded and revised list that includes definitions (as one of the apparently non-intellectuals, since I didn't know some of the terms, I am grateful for this).

Here is Dvorsky's explanation of the list and a few of the first entries (in alphabetical order):
First, I am trying to come up with a list of the most fundamental and crucial terms that are coming to define and will soon re-define the human condition, and that subsequently should be known by anyone who thinks of themselves as an intellectual. I admit that there's an elitist and even pompous aspect to this exercise, but the fact of the matter is that the zeitgeist is quickly changing. It's not enough anymore to be able to quote Dostoevsky, Freud and Darwin. This said, while my list of terms is 'required' knowledge, I am not suggesting that it is sufficient.

My definition of an 'intellectual' also requires explanation. To me an intellectual in this context is an expert generalist -- a polymath or jack-of-all-trades who sees and understands the Big Picture both past, present and future. While I value and respect the work of specialists, they can be frustratingly out of touch with other disciplines and some of the more broader applications of science, technology and philosophy. Given the obvious truism that nobody can know everything, there is still great value in having individuals understand a diverse set of key principles.

Also, I admit that my list is biased in favour of my own personal specialties and interests, but I have made a conscious effort to be as cross-disciplinary as possible. There are terms from computer science, cosmology, neuroscience, environmentalism, sociology, biotechnology, philosophy, astrobiology, political science, and many other fields.

Finally, I tried to be as generalized as possible and keep the number of terms down to a minimum; I made an effort to include other integral concepts in the descriptions.

With that lengthy preamble complete, here is my revised list:
  • Accelerating Change: That the pace of technological development is accelerating is now undeniable. The steady onslaught of Moore's Law and its eerie regularity is the most profound example. As thinkers like Ray Kurzweil and others have shown, the onslaught of accelerating change throws commonly held time-frames out the window. And that this rate of change is exponential implies radical social disruption around the mid-point of the 21st Century.

  • Anthropic Principle: Once considered a philosophical lark, the anthropic principle has become an integral methodological tool with which to best analyze the extreme unarbitrariness of the Universe's parameters. The AP, which suggests that our Universe's qualities are unavoidable in consideration of the presence of observers, has helped cosmologists, astrobiologists and quantum physicists as they work with such related concepts as the fine-tuning hypothesis, string theory, and various multiverse theories.

  • Artificial General Intelligence: This ain't your daddy's AI. Rather, AGI describes the kind of intelligence that you and I have -- the commonsense knowhow we have when we're put into unfamiliar situations. Once developed, artificial agents endowed with AGI will be non-specialized intelligent entities that will come to represent the bona fide synthetic equivalent to human intelligence, and then move beyond.

  • Augmented Reality: AR describes the fusion of the real world with the virtual. By using eyetaps, eartaps and implants, individuals will be able to filter unwanted information from their sensory fields (such as annoying advertising and sounds). Alternately, users will have new information virtually inserted into their environment, including descriptions of landmarks, maps, or even an alert notification that a familiar person is approaching. Imagine the gaming possibilities...

  • Bayesian Rationality: Bayesian rationality is a probabilistic approach to reasoning. Bayesian rationalists describe probability as the degree to which a person should believe a proposition. They also apply Bayes' theorem when inferring or updating their degree of belief when given new information. Some scientists and epistemologists hope to replace the Popperian view of proof with a Bayesian view.

  • Cosmological Eschatology (aka physical eschatology): CE is the study of how the Universe develops, ages, and ultimately comes to an end. While hardly a new concept, what is new is the suggestion that advanced intelligence may play a role in the universe's life cycle. Given the radical potential for postbiological superintelligence, a number of thinkers have suggested that universe engineering is a likely activity for advanced civilizations. This has given rise to a number of theories, including the developmental singularity hypothesis and the selfish biocosm hypothesis.
  • You can (and should) read the rest of the list.

    This is actually an interesting post, despite my making fun of the premise. I tend to agree, from an integral point of view, that future "intellectuals," whatever that term really means, will need to be at least marginally educated in a vast array of fields. The age of the specialist is past.

    And as people interested in integral understanding, I think we will NEED to be well versed in as many fields of knowledge as we can be. The world -- and our understanding of it -- is too interrelated to be simply grasped through a single field of knowledge.

    In that sense, I think this list is worthy effort toward creating a dialogue in the direction of integral knowledge.

    Essays: Robert Anton Wilson

    With Wilson's passing this week, there have a multitude of tributes to the man and his work. Among those writing such tributes we find RU Sirius, Paul Krassner at Huffington Post, ebuddha of Integral Practice, TimBomb of He's Just Had Coffee, and others.

    RAW used to a write a column, Getting It, for an early incarnation of 10 Zen Monkeys. Jeff Diehl has posted links to and brief excerpts from those columns. This is interesting reading for those of us who knew and loved his work, and a good introduction for those who never had the joy of reading Wilson.

    This is a favorite of mine:
    Bugs Bunny And Other UFO Victims: Reality isn’t always consensual

    Can we believe both Dr. Mack and Dr. Hammond at the same time, and accept that while extraterrestrials or even weirder nonhumans have been raping people and teaching ecology, another conspiracy is simultaneously torturing and reeducating children to make them Slaves of Satan? Or might we more economically assume that a lot of people have had a lot of non-ordinary experiences -- psychedelic trips without drugs -- and we all tend to interpret these according to our own hopes and fears?
    Wilson was a wise and mischievous man. He will be missed.

    Friday, January 12, 2007

    Taking the One Seat

    Tricycle's Daily Dharma: January 12, 2007:

    Take the One Seat

    When we take the one seat on our meditation cushion we become our own monastery. We create the compassionate space that allows for the arising of all things: sorrows, loneliness, shame, desire, regret, frustration, happiness.

    Spiritual transformation is a profound process that doesn't happen by accident. We need a repeated discipline, a genuine training, in order to let go of our old habits of mind and to find and sustain a new way of seeing. To mature on the spiritual path we need to commit ourselves in a systematic way. My teacher Achaan Chah described this commitment as "taking the one seat." He said, "Just go into the room and put one chair in the center. Take the seat in the center of the room, open the doors and the windows and see who comes to visit. You will witness all kinds of scenes and actors, all kinds of temptations and stories, everything imaginable. Your only job is to stay in your seat. You will see it all arise and pass, and out of this, wisdom and understanding will come."

    ~ Jack Kornfield, A Path with Heart, from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book.
    A Path With Heart was the first Buddhist book I read that wasn't traditional texts. It started me on the path I am on today. I will always be grateful for that book.

    Daily Om: Feeling Lost

    This was yesterday's Daily Om. I have some thoughts on this below the quote.
    Uncharted Territory
    Feeling Lost

    When we are lost, we typically look at a map to figure out where we are and how to get to our chosen destination. This works well, assuming that there is a map of the territory in which we find ourselves, and assuming that we know our destination. However, this is not always the case. At this time in human history, we are all venturing into uncharted territory, whether we know it or not. And as individuals, we may find ourselves covering ground that our predecessors never even knew existed. When we look to them for guidance, they often come up short. Not knowing exactly where we are, we find ourselves unsure of which way to go, and eventually the uneasy feeling that we are lost presents itself.

    The beauty of being lost is the same thing that makes it scary—it asks us to look within ourselves to find the way. If we have no map, we must go on instinct, relying on our inner compass to show us which way to go. This can be scary because so much seems to be riding on it. We fear we might go too far in the wrong direction, or become paralyzed and make no progress at all. And yet, this is the very challenge we need to develop our ability to trust ourselves. We are also learning to trust that the universe will support and guide us. We may believe this intellectually, but it is only through experience that it becomes knowledge of the heart. Learning to be okay with being lost and trusting that we will be guided, we begin our journey.

    We can support ourselves by confirming that we don’t need to know exactly where we are going in order to take our first steps. We are learning to feel our own way, rather than following an established path, and in doing so we learn to trust ourselves. It is this trust that connects us to the universe and reminds us that no matter how lost we feel, and even as we journey, on the inner level we are already home.
    For most of human history, there was only a limited access to inner states for the majority of people, and very little emphasis placed on exploring those states unless one was a theologian, philosopher, or some other type of privileged person.

    All that changed in the 20th Century. And while psychology and various religions tried -- and still try -- to offer us maps of our interior worlds, many of us still feel lost on occasion. This is a common feeling that many people are afraid to admit. We are expected, especially men, to know who we are, where we are going in life, and what we want. We are supposed to have a plan and a map.

    I think that's a load of crap.

    Feeling lost is the first step toward giving up our certainty. When we are certain, there is no new information getting in, so we are closed off, isolated, and stagnant. When we are certain, life is not a marvelous mystery buzzing with newness and filling us with curiosity -- it becomes an ism: theism, atheism, scientism, integralism, and on and on.

    Certainly, some maps are useful (and I have been and will continue to be a fan of certain maps I have found useful over the years), and if nothing else they can help orient ourselves when things get tough. But the real living takes place far from any maps, far from any certainty -- if we allow it.

    I like the mystery, though I certainly wish I had a better map on some occasions. But I like living without a plan, with no idea what might be around the next corner. And I like making up the map as I go along. We are all explorers, and we are all creating the known terrain from which future generations will wander, lacking a map and making it up as they progress.

    Life should be about the exploration, not the map or the plan. Life should be a mystery.

    Rivals of Jesus

    I found this at Throw Away Your TV. The videos are all from YouTube, but rather than one long one there are five parts. Some of this is stuff I knew from reading about early Christian history (like Elaine Pagels and Karen Armstrong), but some of it was new information, which is always cool.

    From the National Geographic Channel website:
    Rivals of Jesus
    Rivals of Jesus [TV-PG]
    Thursday, December 21, 2006, at 12P

    NGC examines those competing faiths and rival prophets that challenged early Christianity, such "lost" Messiahs as Mithras, Simon Magus, and Apollonius of Tyana. Some of these Messiahs and their faiths were once more popular than Christianity but their beliefs and practices were borrowed from the growing Christian movement. With historical re-enactments and interviews with Biblical scholars, theologians and historians, Rivals of Jesus presents a lost chapter of religious history.

    Part 1

    Part 2

    Part 3

    Part 4

    Part 5

    Total Run Time ~ Approx 50 mins.

    God, Inc.

    From that title, you might think this was a post about corporate use of "God" to make money off of the faithful. But not quite. These are actually the first three (of six) episodes of a little series at YouTube that posits a world where God is actually a corporation subject to all the office politics and inefficiencies of any large business. It's kind of like The Office, where the office is actually God, Inc.

    This is how the creators describe it:
    A comedy about life in the corporate offices of God. What if all the problems on earth were not caused by a spiteful deity, or karma, or fate, but just office politics and the Peter Principle?
    Here are the first three episodes.
    Episode 1 of 6: "In The Beginning, There Was Paperwork..." New hire Sarah is given a tour by Brad and meets the Product Development team.

    Episode 2 of 6: "The Miracles Department" Austin and Charlie, the last of the Miracles staff, have different ideas about the job. Features music by Jon Brion from the "I Heart Huckabees" soundtrack.

    Episode 3 of 6: "Who Stole God's Lunch?" Someone steals God's lunch.

    You can subscribe to the series here to enjoy final three episodes, but you have to register at YouTube (free) and log in to your account.

    Speedlinking 1/12/07

    Quote of the day:

    "Today's public figures can no longer write their own speeches or books, and there is some evidence that they can't read them either."
    ~ Gore Vidal

    Image of the Day:

    ~ Hot moves to get in shape for winter sports.
    ~ Can't Prove It: 8 coaches explain what they believe to be true, but can't prove. This is good, from T-Nation, the authority in real training.
    ~ No Breakfast And Frequent Fast Food Leads To Extra Pounds In Aging Teens -- No!? Really?! Are you sure?
    ~ Supermarkets to Promote Food Pyramid -- Too bad it's useless.
    ~ How iPods, TV can affect your workout -- "An iPod or TV can inspire better workouts, but distractions also can hurt performance. In a way, music can add static to the mind-body connection."
    ~ Benefits Of Testosterone Treatment Unknown, Research Shows -- I call bullsh!t on this "study." I personally have read dozens of studies on the benefits of T replacement -- check out PubMed or Medline.
    ~ It's Not Your Weight, It's Your Waist -- Drs. Michael Roizen and Mehmet Oz Share Their Diet Secrets. These guys have a no nonsense book, You: On a Diet, that's pretty good.

    ~ Better-Educated Older Adults Had Greater Declines In Word Memory Than Their Less Educated Peers, Study Finds -- "Adults over 70 with higher levels of education forgot words at a greater rate than those with less education, according to a new study from the University of Southern California." But maybe it's because they have a lot more words to forget?
    ~ 25 Stress relief tips -- Some good suggestions.
    ~ The Limits of Rational Thought -- "In The Echo Maker, Powers' character Mark flips his truck on an icy stretch of road in Nebraska and ends up in the hospital in a near-vegetative state. His sole-remaining family member, his sister Karin, immediately rushes to his bedside to nurse him back to health."
    ~ A researcher uses his understanding of the human brain to advance on a popular quiz show -- "Boston University's doctoral program in cognitive neuroscience prepares students for a career in brain modeling, robot design, or biomedical engineering—or for winning cash on the television quiz show Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?."
    ~ Want To Improve Memory? Strengthen Your Synapses. Here's How -- "Nurturing neuronal connections can protect your memory and help you stay mentally alert.A sharp mind and strong memory depend on the vitality of your brain's network of interconnecting neurons, and especially on junctions between these neurons called synapses."
    ~ Why do opposites attract? It's all in the genes -- "It is an age old adage that opposites attract - now scientists believe they have found out why this is the case. A study has shown women are genetically pre-programmed to seek out men who are different to themselves."
    ~ That Scene Was Amazing! -- A look at the mass psychology of media.
    ~ Gratitude: Becoming Grateful Enough to Miss the Negative.
    ~ From Aaron at Anxious Living: More on Writing to Cope.

    ~ One Fourth of American's Calories Come From Soda -- That's just plain scary.
    ~ Robert Anton Wilson 1932-2007, By R.U. Sirius. Wilson rocked my world when I read Quantum Psychology back in college. Then I read Prometheus Rising and Coincidance : A Head Test, which I used for my grad school paper on James Joyce's Ulysses (and I got damned B because Wilson and I agreed that Jung was better for reading Joyce than was Freud), and was convinced the man was pure genius. The world will be a lesser place without him.
    ~ Blake’s notes go on display -- This is cool for lovers of literature.
    ~ The Surge: Just Enough to Lose?
    ~ The Minimum Wage Faces Maximum Flak -- "The No. 1 rule in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is "Don't Panic." That's the message small business might want to take to heart now as the House of Representatives embarks on passing promised legislation during its first 100 hours." Any story that references Douglas Adams in the fist line is worth posting.
    ~ Excerpts of Pulitzer Winners and Finalists.

    ~ Turtle Thought Extinct Found in Thailand -- "Thai villagers have caught a river terrapin turtle that was thought to be extinct in the country, a leading conservation group said Wednesday."
    ~ Beavers Could Be Frogs' Best Friends -- "Beaver dams could be the answer to stopping the decline of amphibian populations in Canada's conifer forests."
    ~ The cost of climate change -- "Reducing our contribution to global warming may be expensive. Global warming itself, however, is likely to be much more expensive."
    ~ New Alien-Life Search Aims to Eavesdrop on ETs -- "A new project plans to detect low-frequency signals sent by alien civilizations—from military radar to the ET version of talk radio."
    ~ Eight New Neighboring Galaxies Found, Scientists Announce -- "The discovery of eight tiny galaxies near our own may provide scientists with insights into the structure of the universe."
    ~ Google Partners With High-Tech Telescope to Map Universe -- Cool.

    Thursday, January 11, 2007

    learning the secrets of time

    I originally posted this poem on March 25 of last year, but I am reposting it so that I can enter it in The Zero Boss's Blogging For Books contest this month.

    learning the secrets of time

    he tells his father he has been here before,
    sitting cross-legged on the gray carpet,
    eating from a bowl of cinnamon oatmeal,
    the inevitable summer sky beyond the window,
    watching the same scene of Wile E. Coyote
    painting a tunnel onto a wall of flat rock

    his father explains that time is a rope
    so long we cannot see the ends, that it stretches
    through a vast room with no visible walls,
    and we can only move along the rope
    in one direction, forward, so it is not possible
    to have experienced this moment before now

    the boy nods, takes the empty bowl
    to the kitchen and walks out the back door,
    sees the same familiar sun repeating
    its daily arc across the sky, and
    at that moment he notices the still body
    of a young starling fallen from its nest

    he stares at the broken creature
    in his small hands, buries the bird beneath
    the Chinese maple, knowing he will relive
    this scene many times, every detail held
    within knotted strands of blue yarn
    placed as a cross on the fresh grave

    [This poem originally appeared in Crab Creek Review, Winter/Spring 2000]

    What is your Numerology Name Analysis?

    ~C4 is spreading another meme, this time it's numerology.

    So I entered my full name: William Harryman.

    Expression: 6

    The Expression number shows us who we truly are, what we came into this life already knowing. This is where we feel most comfortable and how we automatically act. We attract people and situations to us that require our Expression so that they can further evolve. In this way we play the role of teacher. Naturally we are attracted to occupations that we resonate to, so the Expression number can be a strong factor in our choice of a career as well. Our Expression is the vehicle, with all its virtues and vices, that drives us along the path of our Destiny. It is the essence of our identity.

    Family and home life are your main interests. You know how to nurture and accept anyone, therefore, many are drawn to you including those that others call, "strays". You have an eye for anything beautiful and your home is sure to reflect this, no matter what your budget is. You are proud of all your possessions and especially of the talents of your family members. Your generous, creative nature makes you the ideal host or guest at a party.

    Soul Urge: 1

    The Soul Urge number has also been called Heart's Desire and Spiritual Urge. It is our secret, innermost longing. Our dream, our motivation, the fuel that energizes our journey. The Soul Urge number reveals what we secretly strive to be or accomplish. Some have said that this number tells us what we have been in previous lifetimes, the accumulated growth of our soul.

    You are the essence of individuality and independence. You are intense and convicted when it comes to defending your beliefs, as you never doubt your inner strength and ability to handle any challenge. Many are inspired by your confidence, while others may feel irritated and view it as arrogance. You are likely to attract people and situations that allow you to express this part of yourself or else they will mirror these traits back to you .

    Persona: 5

    The Persona number describes the way we appear to the outside world, the first impression people have of us. We may not even be aware of how we are perceived by others because we are so often focused on our inner world, and many times the inner does not match the outer. Persona gives us a peek at some hidden talents we have. The talents that we use to get along in the world and in some instances, protect us from it. It is likened to a bag of tools (jewels) that we carry with us along the way.

    You've got charisma, and a following to prove it. You live by your belief that change is progress, and so there tends to be a quick turn over in your relationships, jobs and even educational interests. You are the proverbial, " jack of all trades-master of none.", and this gives you a multi-dimensionality that befriends you to people of every walk of life. You are colorful in your dress and possess a magnetic sensuality.

    I think it's a little more accurate if I just enter my first name, but then, really, it's probably somewhere in between the two.

    Expression: 7

    The Expression number shows us who we truly are, what we came into this life already knowing. This is where we feel most comfortable and how we automatically act. We attract people and situations to us that require our Expression so that they can further evolve. In this way we play the role of teacher. Naturally we are attracted to occupations that we resonate to, so the Expression number can be a strong factor in our choice of a career as well. Our Expression is the vehicle, with all its virtues and vices, that drives us along the path of our Destiny. It is the essence of our identity.

    Yours is the path of the mind. Silence and solitude are your doorways into the deep recesses of the mind and the universe. You are the philosopher, the analyst, the seeker and if you'd be willing, the teacher. The time and energy that you spend discovering the microscopic core of things has gifted you with the ability to tap into psychic energy. It is with this energy that you can separate the true from the false.

    Soul Urge: 1

    The Soul Urge number has also been called Heart's Desire and Spiritual Urge. It is our secret, innermost longing. Our dream, our motivation, the fuel that energizes our journey. The Soul Urge number reveals what we secretly strive to be or accomplish. Some have said that this number tells us what we have been in previous lifetimes, the accumulated growth of our soul.

    You are the essence of individuality and independence. You are intense and convicted when it comes to defending your beliefs, as you never doubt your inner strength and ability to handle any challenge. Many are inspired by your confidence, while others may feel irritated and view it as arrogance. You are likely to attract people and situations that allow you to express this part of yourself or else they will mirror these traits back to you .

    Persona: 6

    The Persona number describes the way we appear to the outside world, the first impression people have of us. We may not even be aware of how we are perceived by others because we are so often focused on our inner world, and many times the inner does not match the outer. Persona gives us a peek at some hidden talents we have. The talents that we use to get along in the world and in some instances, protect us from it. It is likened to a bag of tools (jewels) that we carry with us along the way.

    People and animals are attracted by your maternal nurturing and affectionate appearance. It feels good being around you, as you are always looking for ways that you can make someone more comfortable. Your home is probably beautiful and welcoming too. You dress to reflect your harmonious and comfortable nature.

    I think the second one sounds more like me, to me, but the first one might be more how others see me. Go here to play along at home.

    CLICK here to see What is your Numerology Name Analysis

    What Happens If You Microwave a Lightbulb?

    Because I would never do this in my own home -- and, like a little kid who doesn't any better, it's fun. Courtesy of Neatorama.

    tag: , ,

    Bush's New Plan: More of the Same

    And Americans aren't buying into it:
    Americans broadly reject President Bush's plan for a surge of U.S. forces into Iraq, with substantial majorities dismissing his arguments that it'll end the war more quickly and increase the odds of victory, an ABC News/Washington Post poll finds.

    Indeed, rather than Bush bolstering public confidence, the national survey, conducted after his address to the nation on his new Iraq strategy, finds that a new high — 57 percent — think the United States is losing the war. Just 29 percent think it's winning.

    These and other results underscore the depth of the challenge Bush faces in reversing public skepticism on Iraq. While 61 percent of Americans oppose his proposal to send more than 20,000 additional U.S. military forces there, 36 percent support it. Fifty-eight percent continue to say the war was not worth fighting — essentially unchanged from a month ago — while 64 percent disapprove of how he's handling the situation.

    tag: , , ,

    Exploring the Mind-Body Orgasm

    Wired has a cool interview with the authors of The Science of Orgasm. Their research is very cool and very fascinating, and it might be the beginning of a redefinition of what sexual stimulation means.

    Here is a taste:

    Wired News: What have we learned about orgasms in the past five to 10 years?

    Beverly Whipple: With new technology and women being more open, we're able to document that women can experience orgasms from many different forms of stimulation. There's more than one nerve pathway involved: Orgasm is not just a reflex.

    Barry Komisaruk: We recognize four different nerve pathways that carry sensory signals from the vagina, cervix, clitoris and uterus, and they all can contribute to orgasms. That's a new recognition.

    WN: You've discovered that women can have orgasms when a variety of parts of their bodies are stimulated, right?

    Komisaruk: Orgasms have been described as being elicitable from any part of the body -- the mouth, the nipples, the anus, the hand. It leads us to think that there is a general orgasmic principle of building up excitation from different parts of the body leading to a climax and a resolution -- not necessarily ending in ejaculation, but a feeling of an orgasmic experience.

    Whipple: We have documented in our laboratory that women can have orgasms from imagery alone without touching their body. The point is that women can experience orgasms and sexual pleasure from many forms of stimuli. It does have not have to be through genital stimulation.

    Read the rest.

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    Satire: Tony Romo Regrets Eating Greasy Fried Chicken During Crucial Field-Goal Attempt

    I hesitated for a moment about posting this from The Onion, even though I am a Seattle Seahawks fan. Seattle didn't deserve to win that game. I felt really bad for Romo. I can't imagine what it must feel like to be him right now, to know that his team is sitting at home for the rest of the playoffs because he couldn't handle the snap on a routine field goal attempt.

    But then I said to myself, "Self, who the hell cares. It's not like Romo reads IOC."

    So there you have it.
    Tony Romo Regrets Eating Greasy Fried Chicken During Crucial Field-Goal Attempt

    DALLAS—Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, whose bobbling of the snap on a crucial fourth-quarter field goal ended the season for Dallas, took full responsibility for the gaffe Wednesday by admitting he should not have been eating a bucket of grease-covered fried chicken while play was in progress. "I keep running through it in my mind—Martin Gramatica lines up the kick, I kneel and put down my bucket of chicken with my left hand, I transfer the chicken leg in my right hand to my mouth to hold it there, I signal for the snap, and the ball slips right off my fingers," Romo told reporters while cleaning out his locker at the Cowboy's practice facility. "It could easily have been the chicken grease, which sickens me—this was a play we'd run a hundred times in practice. But this time I let the chicken get in the way." Romo promised to make improving his ball- and fried-chicken-handling skills a priority in the offseason.

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    Literary Eccentricities

    I found this fun little post over at Neatorama, which is something they posted in conjunction with Mental Floss.

    Literary Eccentricities

    James Joyce [wiki] was nearly always seen wearing an eye patch, which was not mere accessorizing: He suffered from glaucoma throughout adulthood and eventually went completely blind. In fact, he dictated much of his latest book, Finnegans Wake, to his research assistant, Samuel Waiting for Godot Beckett.

    But Joyce sometimes wore five wristwatches on one arm, which was mere eccentric accessorizing. He also asked his wife, Nora Barnacle, to sleep with another man so he could understand the feeling of being cuckolded, which seems a bit odd. (Nora declined.)


    Nineteenth-century French poet Charles-Pierre Baudelaire [wiki], who besides being quirky was addicted to opium, once famously wrote, "If you would not be the martyred slave of time, / Get drunk! …" He wasn’t kidding about making the most of his time: In his house he kept a clock with no hands that bore the inscription "It’s later than you think." Incidentally, the positively batty Baudelaire also happened to own a pet bat, which he’d captured at (where else?) a graveyard.


    Charles Dickens [wiki] could not sleep unless his bed was aligned in a north-south position. Also, he habitually touched certain objects three times "for luck."


    When he was 29, George Bernard Shaw [wiki] lost his virginity to a widow 15 years his senior. Apparently it wasn’t all that good, because thereafter Shaw rarely, if ever, had intimate physical relationships - not even with his wife, to whom he was married for 45 years.


    Although Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie [wiki] did not like the taste of brussels sprouts (as would befit a boy who never grew up), he often ordered them at restaurants. Why? "I cannot resist ordering them. The words are so lovely to say."


    "Little Mermaids" and "Thumbelina" author Hans Christian Andersen [wiki] was so intensely afraid of being buried alive that he left a note by his bed each night that read, "I only appear to be dead." Andersen was right to feel anxiety around sleeping, incidentally: In 1875, he died as a result of injuries sustained falling out of bed.


    Although Emily Dickinson [wiki] was not quite the utter recluse that she is often made out to be, she was unquestionably eccentric: She wore white from head to toe, exclusively, for the last several years of her life.


    From mental_floss’ book Scatterbrained, published in Neatorama with permission.

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    Richard Dawkins on Ted Haggard

    I was unaware that Richard Dawkins had singled out Ted Haggard for derision long before Teddy by got himself kicked out of the God club for liking sex with men. My friend TikkunGer sent me these links. Dawkins goes after the mythical belief system of fundamentalism.

    Really, what you have here is fundamentalism in two different gowns, one Christian and one science, but the difference is horizontal mostly, not vertical. For this dance, I'm liking the girl in the rational-colored gown.

    Ted Haggard in "Root of All Evil?"

    Ted Haggard - Richard Dawkins Interview Uncut?

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    Daily Dharma: Balance

    Tricycle's Daily Dharma: January 11, 2007

    Balanced and Complete While we may concentrate on one particular aspect of the path at a time, it is important to have an overall balance between the different aspects. Meditation should progress hand in hand with study, without either one being neglected. Having cleared away doubts intellectually, we should integrate our understanding with the experience of meditation. In this way our practice will be balanced and complete.

    ~ The Dalai Lama, A Flash of Lightning in the Dark of Night from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book.

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    Speedlinking 1/11/07

    Quote of the day:

    Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play.
    ~ Heraclitus

    Image of the day:

    ~ Healthy Eating Is At A Supermarket Near You -- "Supermarket grocery store tours could be the key to healthier lifestyles and prevent chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease (CHD) concludes a study published in the Health & Fitness Journal."
    ~ Dieting at new low, but most want to lose -- "The percentage of Americans who are dieting is at its lowest in at least 16 years even though a majority of adults say they would like to lose 20 pounds, according to a study released on Wednesday."
    ~ New Therapy For Chronic Fatigue Syndrome To Be Tested At Stanford. A drug used to treat viruses in the herpes family may be a new wonder therapy.
    ~ For weight loss that counts, count calories -- In other words, keep a food log.
    ~ Obesity operations jump in United States -- Always looking for a shortcut.
    ~ Armstrong: Washington weakens fight against cancer -- "I'm not known for my patience. Patience is a polite quality and often appropriate, but it rarely gets things done. Impatience, however, is the hunger for results and intolerance for excuses and delays. Impatience got me over countless mountain passes, across the finish line in New York City and through four rounds of ruthless chemotherapy 10 years ago."
    ~ More Revelations About The Latest Spicy Cancer Fighter -- Mmmm, love those peppers.
    ~ Pet owners have poorer health than normal -- That reverses previous assumptions.
    ~ Perimenopause: Ups and downs can last years -- "What shapes a woman's reality -- how she sees the world, how she relates to the people in her life, and how she feels about herself? Contrary to what you may think, the rockiest time isn't age 12, with the fresh flood of hormones, or age 51, the average age of menopause, according to neuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine. It's those years before a woman enters menopause."

    Eye Candy -- The image in this post is not moving -- your eyes are lying to you. Cool, huh?
    ~ Cognitive Rehabilitation Not Covered By Many Health Insurers -- "The Wall Street Journal on Monday examined how many brain injury patients who experience subsequent problems with memory, mental processing or behavior often do not receive cognitive rehabilitation because their health insurers do not cover the treatment."
    ~ Lower IQs in Childhood Linked to Accident-Prone Adulthood -- "The lower your IQ in childhood, the more accident-prone you might be as an adult."
    ~ Women Who Have Migraine Are More Likely To Get Depressed -- "A new study by US scientists reveals that women who get chronic headaches or migraine are the most likely to suffer depression and other somatic symptoms like fatigue, joint pain and insomnia."
    ~Maybe Tonight Honey, I Have a Migraine -- "Overall, men in the study reported levels of sexual desire that were 24 percent higher than women. But women with migraines had levels of sexual desire similar to men with mere tension headaches."
    ~ Memory's Link To Recovering From Addiction.
    ~ Life Purpose Begins With a Eulogy -- "Begin pursuit of life purpose by writing your own legacy. Visualizing how you want to be remembered forms your plan for a life of purpose, fulfillment, and happiness."
    ~ Trust Your Instincts And Get It Right -- "A UCL (University College London) study has found that you are more likely to perform well if you do not think too hard and instead trust your instincts."
    ~ Why We Procrastinate -- "A scientist who used to procrastinate like crazy has gotten his act together and figured out why so many others wait until the last minute."

    ~ White House stands firm in stem cell debate -- "Supporters and opponents of human embryonic stem cell research promoted their positions on Wednesday ahead of a congressional vote on the issue, but the White House made clear it disapproves of any changes in legislation."
    ~ Pastor Answers Prayer by Donating his Kidney -- “He said, ‘I understand you need a kidney. Has anyone come forth?'”

    When Bricker told him doctors had not found a match, the pastor replied, ‘I'm your man.'
    ~ Canada Court Says Child Can Have 2 Moms, 1 Dad -- "In a ruling released on Tuesday, the Ontario Court of Appeal said the female partner of the child's biological mother could be legally recognized as the boy's third parent."
    ~ Trump and Walters: It's War! -- When EGOS collide.
    ~ Assessing Apple's iPhone -- "Apple's iPhone debut Tuesday morning sucked the oxygen out of CES. 'The whole place is moping like a dumped boyfriend,' an NPR reporter wrote me from Vegas. 'It's as if everyone here went to the wrong party.'"
    ~ A Change in Tactics, Not Strategy -- "As Washington journalists debate whether to call President Bush's plan to send 20,000 more American troops into Iraq a "surge" or an "escalation," they are letting the White House get away with a much more momentous semantic scam."

    ~ Sen. Kennedy seeks universal health plan -- "The federal government should join the state of Massachusetts in enacting universal health coverage, said Sen. Edward Kennedy, the new chairman of the Senate committee with jurisdiction over numerous health issues."
    ~ New Breed of Economists Highlight Importance of Behavioral Health.
    ~ The Green Gripe With Obama: Liquefied Coal Is Still ... Coal -- "The Democratic senator from Illinois gets stellar marks from greens. So why then, environmentalists ask, is Obama backing a law supporting the expanded use of coal, whose emissions are cooking the globe?"
    ~ Bush Lifts Oil-Drilling Ban in Alaska's Bristol Bay.
    ~ Porpoises Starving in Europe Due to Ocean Warming.
    ~ Video: "Elephant Woman" Goes Wild for Research -- "Meet Wildlife Conservation Society biologist Andrea Turkalo, who doesn't just study forest elephants—sometimes she lives with them."

    ~ From ~C4, Ken Wilber is So Not New Age -- Wikipedia weirdness.
    ~ Not explicitly integral in topic, but close enough: A Couple of Blog Conversations, from Blogmandu.
    ~ God vs. Science and A Challenge to the Integrally-Informed, again from ~C4.
    ~ There's another good discussion going at Zaadz centered on Sam Harris's annoying article on Killing the Buddha, from Shambhala Sun last spring. I responded to this article last June.