Saturday, February 10, 2007

Integral Blogs in Holons

Holons, the e-journal of the Integral Institute, has listed a nice collection of staff-picked, integrally-inspired blogs in the current edition. IOC is one of the blogs listed, for which I am grateful.

So, a friendly welcome to new readers who are coming over here from Holons! Please make yourself at home.

10 Changes You Can Make to Your Diet

I found this at Former Fat Guy, and I thought that it was good advice:

10 Changes To Your Diet That Will Instantly Make it 90% Better

Most individuals do not eat like they are supposed to. Out of those individuals 95% of them don’t realize that by making 10 simple changes to their eating lifestyle they can improve their diet by 90% along with improving their health and overall well-being.

Apply these changes to your diet today and you too will be experiencing an increased benefit to your health, probable weight loss, a leaner body, and likely improvements to your blood profile. This all equals a longer healthier life.

Now let’s get started so you can benefit from these 10 simple changes that everyone can make immediately.

1. Hydration: Is there a difference

Consume Green Tea or Water instead of calorie filled drinks such as soft drinks. Green Tea has many health benefits and is a powerful antioxidant. You should be drinking 1ml of non-caffeinated fluid for every calorie that you consume. This works out between (8-12) 8oz glasses of Green Tea or Water a day.

2. Benefits of Fiber

Recommend consuming 25-35 grams of fiber per day. Since the average diet contains only 14 grams we could all use more fiber. Fiber will help satisfy hunger pangs as well as control insulin and blood sugar levels which tend to promote fat storage when they are elevated. By simply eating at least 1 serving of fruit and vegetables at every meal should get you to the goal of 25-35 grams of fiber per day.

3. The Importance of Protein

Eat lean protein sources which include; lean beef, chicken breasts, turkey breasts, salmon, low-fat cottage cheese and other low-fat dairy products, and whey protein powders, at every meal. This will also help control insulin levels and satisfy hunger pangs which tend to promote fat storage. You will find yourself naturally eating less food throughout the day if you eat some type of lean protein at every meal.

4. Frequent Meals: Why?

Eat 4-6 small meals day a day instead of the usual 2-3 large meals. Eating frequently will help regulate and boost your metabolism to burn more calories. By also including your protein and vegetables at these meals you will tend to eat less overall thereby reducing your calorie intake.

5. What are Whole Foods?

Consume whole foods that are high in fiber and low in sugar such as lean protein (lean beef, chicken, fish, and whey protein), fruits & vegetables (oranges, apples, strawberries, blueberries, broccoli, peppers, asparagus, carrots, nuts (almonds, cashews, & walnuts), and whole grains.
Try to minimize processed foods that come in a box or a bag. Instead choose whole grain choices such as whole wheat foods, oatmeals, and vegetables.
You can read the next five here.

[image source]

Humanity's Possible Future: Transhumanists Speak

~C4Chaos has been blogging a bit of late on the transhumanist movement (in honor of Transhumanist Week), so I figured I'd offer up this BBC Horizon video I found at

Here is the text that was posted with the video:

Meet the scientific prophets who claim we are on the verge of creating a new type of human - a human v2.0.

It’s predicted that by 2029 computer intelligence will equal the power of the human brain. Some believe this will revolutionize humanity - we will be able to download our minds to computers extending our lives indefinitely. Others fear this will lead to oblivion by giving rise to destructive ultra intelligent machines.

One thing they all agree on is that the coming of this moment - and whatever it brings - is inevitable.

And here is the video (which may not be new to those who follow this subject area):

Barack Obama: Destiny's Child?

Rolling Stone has a fairly lengthy piece on Barack Obama, the charismatic candidate many of us hope can show himself worthy of our vote for president.
Destiny's Child

No candidate since Robert F. Kennedy has sparked as much campaign-trail heat as Barack Obama. But can the one-term senator craft a platform to match his charisma?

Shortly after Barack Obama was elected to the United States Senate in 2004, he began residing, Monday through Thursday, in a one-bedroom apartment a few blocks from the Capitol. For a forty-three-year-old man who had been married for thirteen years and who had two young daughters, it was an isolating experience. The building has a yoga studio and a running track and a decidedly own-and-urban view of some ratty rooftops in the city's tiny Chinatown district; its decor, glass and brick, is less U.S. senator than junior management consultant. In his return to bachelor life, Obama found himself "soft and helpless. My first morning in Washington, I realized I'd forgotten to buy a shower curtain and had to scrunch up against the shower wall in order to avoid flooding the bathroom floor." The other new Democrat elected to the Senate that year, Ken Salazar of Colorado, took an apartment in the same building with his brother John, who is himself a congressman; they spent their time watching documentaries about leathery old cowboys on the Western Channel. Obama spent most of his time reading briefing books.

When Obama first got to Washington, he wanted to be a wonk, to keep his head down and concentrate on small issues. "The plan was: Put Illinois first," one of his aides tells me. Obama himself admits that his initial agenda had a "self-conscious" modesty. His early legislative accomplishments have been useful and bipartisan -- he has even sponsored bills with ultraconservative Sen. Tom Coburn, who believes that high school bathrooms breed lesbianism -- but they have been small-scale and off the headlines: a plan to make it easier for citizens to find out about government spending, increased research into ethanol, more job training and tax credits for "responsible fathers." This is the kind of head-down diligence that plays well in the Senate. "I am amazed by his sheer stamina," says Sen. Dick Lugar, a Republican from Indiana who has become something of a mentor to Obama.

But Washington has plenty of wonks, and Obama wasn't going to distinguish himself through diligence alone. He came to the Capitol equipped with his own, swelling celebrity; the Senate was not a perfect fit. Beyond his considerable charm, Obama can be righteous and cocky. He came to Washington pushing the hope that politics could be better -- but now he can give the impression that he'd rather be just about anywhere other than in Washington. "It can be incredibly frustrating," he tells me. "The maneuverings, the chicanery, the smallness of politics here." Listening to a bloviating colleague at his first meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Obama slipped a three-word note to a member of his staff: "Shoot. Me. Now." On a recent day, as Obama made his way through the Capitol's corridors, his fellow senators seemed like good-natured sportscasters, jolly and easy with their power, bantering about the fortunes of baseball teams in their home states. . Obama is aloof and quiet. He prefers to listen, attentive as a rector, not quite of this world, silently measuring it. "The typical politician pushes himself on people to get them to pay attention," says Frank Luntz, the Republican campaign strategist. "Obama is quieter. He doesn't push -- he has a laid-back feel that pulls you in. That is so rare."

Read the whole article.

Daily Dharma: Suffering

[Garden of Earthly Delights -- click to enlarge]

Tricycle's Daily Dharma: February 10, 2007:

The Truth of Suffering

The essence of the Buddha's message is contained in the Four Noble Truths. The first of these is the truth of suffering.... The Buddha declared that all our experiences of joy, indifference and pain are unsatisfactory. Are not even our greatest mundane pleasures tainted with dissatisfaction? When these pleasures pass away are we not left with unfulfilled longing and discontent? But in spite of this, we tend to cling to the pleasures of life, ignoring our transient nature.....

The suffering we must recognize includes not only the kind we experience at the loss of a loved one, or when we lose our job for example, but also includes the more fundamental conditions of our human experience, namely, aging, sickness, and death.

~ B. Alan Wallace, Tibetan Buddhism from the Ground Up, from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book.

I feel I want to add that suffering is not the inherent state of all things, but only the result of our egos clinging to desires, wants, and needs. We are all already enlightened, but our egos stand between us and that awareness.

Too many people, I think, hear the First Noble Truth and think that Buddhism is a pessimistic approach to life. Quite the opposite. Buddhism offers us the hope -- and the tools -- to free ourselves from the limited viewpoint of ego attachment, to know ourselves as we already are -- filled with Buddhanature.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Tucson Barbies

A friend sent this to me today in an email -- source unknown. Just so we're clear, this piece deals in stereotypes, so if you are offended by humor that plays off of stereotypes, you might want to skip this post.

And, in the spirit of full disclosure, I live in the Foothills.

Big Sellers in Tucson, Arizona

Mattel recently announced the release of the improved limited-edition Barbie Dolls for the Greater Tucson market:

" Foothills Barbie"
This princess Barbie is sold only at La Encatada Mall. She comes with an assortment of Kate Spade Handbags, a Lexus SUV, a long-haired foreign dog named Honey and a cookie-cutter house. Available with or without tummy tuck and face lift. Workaholic Ken sold only in conjunction with the augmented version.

"Northwest Barbie"
The modern day homemaker Barbie is available with Ford Wind star Minivan and matching gym outfit. She gets lost easily and has no full-time occupation. Traffic jamming cell phone sold separately.

"South Tucson Barbie"
This recently paroled Barbie comes with a 9mm handgun, a Ray Lewis knife,a Chevy with dark tinted windows, and a Meth Lab Kit. This model is only available after dark and must be paid for in cash (preferably small, untraceable bills) .unless you are a cop, then we don't know what you are talking about.

" Oro Valley Barbie"
This yuppie Barbie comes with your choice of BMW convertible or Hummer H2. Included are her own Starbucks cup, credit card and country club membership. Also available for this set are Shallow Ken and Private School Skipper. You won't be able to afford any of them.

"Marana Barbie"
This pale model comes dressed in her own Wrangler jeans two sizes too small, a NASCAR t-shirt and tweety bird tattoo on her shoulder. She has a six-pack of Bud light and a Hank Williams Jr. CD set. She can spit over 5 feet and kick mullet-haired Ken's butt when she is drunk. Purchase her pickup truck separately and get a confederate flag bumper sticker absolutely free.

" Midtown Barbie"
This tobacco-chewing, brassy-haired Barbie has a pair of her own high-heeled sandals with one broken heel from the time she chased beer-gutted Ken out of Oro Valley Barbie's house. Her ensemble includes low-rise acid-washed jeans, fake fingernails, and a see-through halter-top. Also available with a mobile home.

"Sam Hughes Barbie"
This doll is made of actual tofu. She has long straight brown hair, arch-less feet, hairy armpits, no makeup and Birkenstocks with white socks. She prefers that you call her Willow. She does not want or need a Ken doll, but if you purchase two Sam Hughes Barbies and the optional Subaru wagon, you get a rainbow flag bumper sticker for free.

" Tucson Barbie"
This Barbie now comes with a stroller and infant doll. Optional accessories include a GED and bus pass. Gangsta Ken and his 1979 Caddy were available, but are now very difficult to find since the addition of the infant.

" 4th Avenue Barbie/Ken"
This versatile doll can be easily converted from Barbie to Ken by simply adding or subtracting the multiple snap-on parts.

Colorful But Poisonous Frogs

They're so pretty . . . and poisonous.

From Dark Roasted Blend:
Not all beautiful frogs depicted here are poisonous, but those who are - can be very deadly indeed. The most poisonous animal is not a snake or a spider. It's a beautiful little frog! "Most frogs produce skin toxins, but the dart poison frogs from Central and South America are the most potent of all. The golden poison frog, called terribilis (the terrible), is so toxic that even touching it can be dangerous. A single terribilis contains enough poison to kill 20,000 mice or 10 people. It is probably the most poisonous animal on Earth." (source)
Animals, nature, Photography

Animals, nature, Photography

Animals, nature, Photography

Animals, nature, Photography
Animals, nature, Photography

There are a lot more frog pictures at the site.

Daily Dharma: Metta

Tricycle's Daily Dharma: February 9, 2007:

So Much Goodness

The practice of metta, uncovering the force of love that can uproot fear, anger, and guilt, begins with befriending ourselves. The foundation of metta practice is to know how to be our own friend. According to the Buddha, "You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection." How few of us embrace ourselves in this way! With metta practice we uncover the possibility of truly respecting ourselves. We discover, as Walt Whitman put it, "I am larger and better than I thought. I did not think I held so much goodness."

~ Sharon Salzberg, Lovingkindness, from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book.

15 Questions Couples Should Discuss Before Getting Married

In a practical, no fun kind of way, this list makes a lot of sense. Too many people think that love is all you need and then end up hating each other because of one of these issues. Relationships have to work in all quadrants, including the less fun ones like finances or shared beliefs.

This is from The New York Times:
Relationship experts report that too many couples fail to ask each other critical questions before marrying. Here are a few key ones that couples should consider asking:

1) Have we discussed whether or not to have children, and if the answer is yes, who is going to be the primary care giver?

2) Do we have a clear idea of each other’s financial obligations and goals, and do our ideas about spending and saving mesh?

3) Have we discussed our expectations for how the household will be maintained, and are we in agreement on who will manage the chores?

4) Have we fully disclosed our health histories, both physical and mental?

5) Is my partner affectionate to the degree that I expect?

6) Can we comfortably and openly discuss our sexual needs, preferences and fears?

7) Will there be a television in the bedroom?

8) Do we truly listen to each other and fairly consider one another’s ideas and complaints?

9) Have we reached a clear understanding of each other’s spiritual beliefs and needs, and have we discussed when and how our children will be exposed to religious/moral education?

10) Do we like and respect each other’s friends?

11) Do we value and respect each other’s parents, and is either of us concerned about whether the parents will interfere with the relationship?

12) What does my family do that annoys you?

13) Are there some things that you and I are NOT prepared to give up in the marriage?

14) If one of us were to be offered a career opportunity in a location far from the other’s family, are we prepared to move?

15) Does each of us feel fully confident in the other’s commitment to the marriage and believe that the bond can survive whatever challenges we may face?

More from Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges, who I blogged about yesterday, is a Pulitzer Prize winning writer and author of American Fascists. He stopped by The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos to discuss the new book. As we saw in yesterday's post, the former New York Times correspondent is comparing the Christian right to 20th century fascism -- but so far failing to make a good case for such a comparison. Here he talks more in-depth about the book and his point of view.

Via: VideoSift

Robot Chicken - Calvin & Hobbes: The Untold Story

Robot Chicken trashes Calvin & Hobbes. Strangely, it feels more sad than funny.

Via: VideoSift

Speedlinking 2/9/07

Quote of the day:

"The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is at all comprehensible."
~ Albert Einstein

Image of the day:

~ Study: Pseudoephedrine can improve performance of runners and other athletes -- But you'll have to wrestle the meth-heads for it.
~ Parents Blind To Their Children's Weight -- "The study of more than 1100 families found that 89 per cent of parents of overweight 5 - 6 year-olds and 63 per cent of parents of overweight 10 - 12 year-olds were unaware their child was overweight."
~ Stroke victims train brains to see again -- "A new study bolsters evidence that people partially blinded by a stroke or brain injury may be able to improve their field of vision by teaching new parts of their brain to see, U.S. researchers said on Thursday."
~ Americans have adopted heart-healthier diets -- "Over the past 20 years, the diets of American adults have become more consistent with most dietary recommendations for heart disease prevention -- but the trend may not be continuing, research suggests." Not the people I see.
~ S. Africa launches biggest AIDS vaccine trial -- "South Africa, burdened with one of the world's major HIV/AIDS epidemics, unveiled plans on Thursday for its biggest AIDS vaccine trial."
~ Autism more common in U.S. than thought -- "Autism is more common in the United States than anyone had estimated, affecting about one in every 150 children, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Thursday."
~ More Evidence Vitamin D Prevents Cancer -- From Dr. Mercola.
~ Why You Should NOT Use Bottled Water Whenever Possible -- "People pay premium prices for exotic bottled water brands like Fiji and Evian in the hopes that it is more pure than water from nearby sources. However, this puts a giant strain on both the environment and your pocketbook."
~ Fighting Fat With an Earlier Bedtime -- "A new study published in the current Child Development finds that children who sleep more tend to weigh less than children who sleep less and are less likely to be overweight five years later."

~ Health Tip: Symptoms of Addiction -- "Addiction to drugs or alcohol can lead to a variety of behavioral and physical changes in teenagers."
~ Relationship Of Neonatologists' End Of Life Decisions To Their Personal Fear Of Death -- "Doctors who fear their own death say they are more prepared than other doctors to hasten death in sick newborns for whom further medical treatment is considered futile."
~ The art of decompression: Stress busters that work -- "Stress leaves us exhausted, tearful, and nervous. It also makes us more likely to struggle with high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, and overeating. So what to do? brings you a slew of strategies that'll help you get your stress in check without doing you in."
~ Dads may increase daughters’ risk of bulimia -- "Fathers are important influences on their daughters’ perceptions of their weight and shape during childhood, and can increase their risk of developing an eating disorder in adolescence, research shows."
~ More spiritual help needed for the dying -- "Doctors may have to take a more active role in addressing the spiritual needs of patients with terminal illnesses, a study suggested on Thursday."
~ Getting Closer: The Art of Self-Disclosure -- "Turning an acquaintance into a good friend can be hard. Whether it's romantic or platonic, there are endless reasons why people fail to connect and maintain their relationships with each other."
~ Can music convey meaning in the same way as language? [Cognitive Daily] -- "The musical notes weren't just noises; they were intended to convey a meaning above and beyond a mere sequence of sounds. But if her music really did convey such deep meaning, why did she have to explain it to the audience beforehand? Can music ever express semantic meaning directly, without requiring a composer or someone else to "translate" for us?"
~ New Games Turn Focus to Mental Health -- "Video games, once the subject of much societal concern, have been receiving something of a PR face-lift recently through cycles of positive media coverage of the potential for healthy lifestyle improvements that come from gaming."
~ Unconscious Shopping [The Frontal Cortex] -- "Another week, another fascinating seminar over at Mind Matters. The paper in question concerns a topic near and dear to me: decision making."
~ Common gene version optimizes thinking -- but with a possible downside -- "Most people inherit a version of a gene that optimizes their brain's thinking circuitry, yet also appears to increase risk for schizophrenia, a severe mental illness marked by impaired thinking, scientists at the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) have discovered."

~ The Ecstasy of Influence -- An essay on plagiarism in which much of the text is plagiarized, sort of.
~ Democratic Presidential Candidate Edwards Releases Universal Health Coverage Plan That Includes Employer Mandates, Regional Health Ins. Purch. Pools.
~ Supporters Push Gore 2008 -- "Veterans of Al Gore's past are quietly assembling a campaign to draft the former vice president into the 2008 presidential race — despite his repeated statements that he's not running."
~ What Pulp Fiction stole from the prophet Ezekiel -- "The Lord vows revenge against the Edomites, Moabites, Philistines, and Ammonites. Why is this chapter important in American pop-cultural history? I didn't know, either, but several readers gave me a heads-up. It's a key source for Pulp Fiction."
~ The critical buzz on Paul Auster -- "Auster's new novel—in which characters from his previous books visit an unnamed amnesiac narrator who seems to represent Auster himself—has exhausted some critics with its metafictional games. Salon sighs, 'When Auster gets cooking, he's like a magician who can amaze us by sawing a woman in half; when he's not, as in Travels in the Scriptorium, it's as if he's sawing away without a woman in the box.'"
~ Ex-Playmate Anna Nicole Smith Dies -- "Anna Nicole Smith, the former Playboy playmate whose bizarre life careened from marrying an octogenarian billionaire to the untimely death of her son, died Thursday after collapsing at a South Florida hotel." May she find some peace.
~ NYC Cabbie Finds and Returns Gems -- "Honesty was the best policy for New York taxi driver Osman Chowdhury, who found 31 diamond rings in his cab -- and returned them to their owner."
~ Worst President Ever? -- "Is George W. Bush the worst President the United States has ever seen? Nicholas von Hoffman examines how Bush stacks up in a race to the bottom with other miserable failures who occupied the White House."
~ Gallery: Toys for Grown-Ups -- "In Japan, toys aren't just for kids. From drinking game accessories to ghost detectors, you can have fun at any age."

~ If Leonardo Had Made Toys -- "LEONARDO DA VINCI’S 15th-century vision of mechanical flight apparently never included fixed wings assisted by propellers or jet engines. His chief inspiration was birds, reflected in drawings of a flying machine fashioned to stay aloft by flapping its wings."
~ The Alarm Clock as a Moving Target. Catch It if You Can -- "This alarm clock doesn’t just make noise, it breaks the snooze-button habit: after the first snooze period, Clocky rolls off the nightstand and runs away."
~ AOL Founder to Launch -- "Steve Case's Web Site Will Include Expert Advice, Patient's Doctor Ratings."
~ Microsoft's new OS Vista spurs computer sales -- "US sales of computers carrying Microsoft's new operating system Vista soared in the week after it was launched, defying the expectations of analysts who gave Vista lackluster reviews."
~ Group Names Top 10 Polluting Refineries -- "Environmental activists on Thursday said more stringent air-quality regulations are needed for oil refineries along the Gulf Coast, a region densely populated with petroleum industry plants."
~ Sea Shepherd Ships Attack Japanese Whaling Fleet in Antarctic Waters -- "The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s two ships, the Farley Mowat and the Robert Hunter, have found the Japanese whaling fleet in Antarctic waters after six weeks of searching and attacked them."
~ Enceladus, a moon of Saturn, is a 'cosmic graffiti artist,' astronomers discover -- "Astronomers from the University of Virginia and other institutions have found that Enceladus, the sixth-largest moon of Saturn, is a "cosmic graffiti artist," pelting the surfaces of at least 11 other moons of Saturn with ice particles sprayed from its spewing surface geysers."
~ Coyote-Tracking Web Site Exposes Canine, Human Troublemakers -- "A project that tracks coyotes in real time can pinpoint which animals are at risk of becoming urban pests—and which households might be to blame." Awww, leave the poor coyotes alone.

~ BIG LOVE, Big heart, Big Life from Gary at Integral in Seattle, on relationships and love. See also Shamanic Breathwork and Open Heart. Gary is doing some good stuff, check it out.
~ The eclipse of a cry -- An excellent post from Dave at Via Negativa on poetry.
~ What is a Kronoscope? -- "Kronoscopes are one of the first applications of Kronology, the holistic symbolic system that I am developing for my forthcoming book." From Joe at Until.
~ From Lotus In the Mud: do amida buddhists meditate? - updated.
~ Inevitable Consequences! On Karma.
~ Bruce Lipton on Epigenetics -- Two videos.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Black Holes, Neutron Stars, White Dwarfs, Space and Time

Found this through Video Sift. Kind of cool.

This was the text with the video:
A journey of simulations of Black Holes, Neutron Stars, White Dwarfs and Space and Time. Though, it is only a simulation, nothing more.

The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth -- it is the truth which conceals that there is none.

The simulacrum is true.


Poem: Rainer Maria Rilke

Water Lily

My whole life is mine, but whoever says so
will deprive me, for it is infinite.
The ripple of water, the shade of the sky
are mine; it is still the same, my life.

No desire opens me: I am full,
I never close myself with refusal-
in the rhythm of my daily soul
I do not desire-I am moved;

by being moved I exert my empire,
making the dreams of night real:
into my body at the bottom of the water
I attract the beyonds of mirrors...

The Rise of Christian Fascism and Its Threat to American Democracy

If you have a minute, go check out The Rise of Christian Fascism and Its Threat to American Democracy over at AlterNet. The title is sure to piss some people off, but Chris Hedges makes some valid points, as I try to outline below. I'm not sure if things are as dire as Hedges suggests, but he clearly gets the source of the issue.

Here is the key section:
[ Dr. James Luther Adams, Hedges ethics professor at Harvard Divinity School] understood that totalitarian movements are built out of deep personal and economic despair. He warned that the flight of manufacturing jobs, the impoverishment of the American working class, the physical obliteration of communities in the vast, soulless exurbs and decaying Rust Belt, were swiftly deforming our society. The current assault on the middle class, which now lives in a world in which anything that can be put on software can be outsourced, would have terrified him. The stories that many in this movement told me over the past two years as I worked on "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America" were stories of this failure -- personal, communal and often economic. This despair, Adams said, would empower dangerous dreamers -- those who today bombard the airwaves with an idealistic and religious utopianism that promises, through violent apocalyptic purification, to eradicate the old, sinful world that has failed many Americans.

These Christian utopians promise to replace this internal and external emptiness with a mythical world where time stops and all problems are solved. The mounting despair rippling across the United States, one I witnessed repeatedly as I traveled the country, remains unaddressed by the Democratic Party, which has abandoned the working class, like its Republican counterpart, for massive corporate funding.

The Christian right has lured tens of millions of Americans, who rightly feel abandoned and betrayed by the political system, from the reality-based world to one of magic -- to fantastic visions of angels and miracles, to a childlike belief that God has a plan for them and Jesus will guide and protect them. This mythological worldview, one that has no use for science or dispassionate, honest intellectual inquiry, one that promises that the loss of jobs and health insurance does not matter, as long as you are right with Jesus, offers a lying world of consistency that addresses the emotional yearnings of desperate followers at the expense of reality. It creates a world where facts become interchangeable with opinions, where lies become true -- the very essence of the totalitarian state. It includes a dark license to kill, to obliterate all those who do not conform to this vision, from Muslims in the Middle East to those at home who refuse to submit to the movement. And it conveniently empowers a rapacious oligarchy whose god is maximum profit at the expense of citizens.

It's rare to see someone actually get what is happening from a big picture, worldview position. Maybe Sam Harris is having more impact that I thought.

I tend to think that Hedges is a little over the top, especially because it seems that the far right is losing some of its power over the last year or so. But he makes one very valid point, one that does scare me a bit -- and I hope it never happens:
The radical Christian right, calling for a "Christian state" -- where whole segments of American society, from gays and lesbians to liberals to immigrants to artists to intellectuals, will have no legitimacy and be reduced, at best, to second-class citizens -- awaits a crisis, an economic meltdown, another catastrophic terrorist strike or a series of environmental disasters. A period of instability will permit them to push through their radical agenda, one that will be sold to a frightened American public as a return to security and law and order, as well as moral purity and prosperity. This movement -- the most dangerous mass movement in American history -- will not be blunted until the growing social and economic inequities that blight this nation are addressed, until tens of millions of Americans, now locked in hermetic systems of indoctrination through Christian television and radio, as well as Christian schools, are reincorporated into American society and given a future, one with hope, adequate wages, job security and generous federal and state assistance.
He is spot-on correct here. The only way to alter a worldview is to change the life conditions that created it or allowed it to rise. This is classic Spiral Dynamics, and it is something that I believe to be true. The question now, when so many of our politicians bow down before the far right even if they don't agree with them (they fear them), is how do we fix it before it does get as bad as Hedges suggests, or before that next event that destabilizes everything?

The Best of Stewie

I think my inner child is a bit too much like Stewie.

Via: VideoSift

CNN Disses Atheists

Here is the video, in two parts. The story is below.

Part One:

Part Two:

This is the story about the whole thing, courtesy of The Questionable Authority.

A recent CNN story on atheism has sparked a great deal of outrage from the online atheist community. The story, which was broadcast on the January 31st edition of Paula Zahn Now (transcript) (video) detailed the plight of two families of atheists who say they were ostracized from their communities as the result of their beliefs - in one case, just for having identified themselves as atheists, and in another for objecting to the prayer and bible study that were taking place at their child's public school. The show then moved from the story to a panel discussion. The topic, displayed prominently behind the panel, was, "Why do atheists inspire such hatred?" The panel consisted of three people - a sports commentator, a journalism professor, and a right-wing political commentator. None of these three was an atheist, and two of the three quickly decided that the hatred toward atheists is the result of outspoken atheism, and that atheists need to, in the words of the journalism professor, "shut up and let people do what they do." (The sports comentator was the lone voice of reason on the panel, and even there reason consisted of arguing that there are lots of people who should shut up and don't, so why penalize atheists for that.)

I was disgusted by the tone of the discussion, but I am more upset at the substantial lack of anything even remotely similar to balance in the treatment of the topic. There is absolutely no excuse for a "news" broadcast to conduct a discussion like that without including an atheist. Had they attempted something similar involving any other minority group, there would already have been a massive outcry.

I'm reading Richard Dawkins' new book on atheism right now, and there is quite a lot in there that I disagree with, but there is one thing that he definitely gets right. If those of us who are agnostics, or atheists, or freethinkers or other nonbelievers want to change the way we are treated as a group, we need to act like a group. We need to be more vocal, not less vocal, in demanding our basic rights.

CNN did something that was very wrong here, and we need to get them to right the wrong. A tactic that has worked for other groups faced with similar situations is a boycott, and I think one is called for here. Let's tell CNN that they need to take definte steps to address the unfair and unbalanced way they treated atheists on that program, and that if they do not, we will boycott their advertisers. At a minimum, these steps should include: (1) a public apology for their failure to include atheists in a discussion about the treatment that atheists sometimes receive; and (2) a broadcast that re-examines this issue and that does include atheists in the discussion.

If you think this is a good idea, and are willing to participate in something like this, leave your name and the city that you live in in the comments section of this post, or click on the "contact" tab up top and send me an email. If there is a good response over the next couple of days, I'll contact CNN with the relevant information.

Having seen the videos, do you agree?

I'm not a huge fan of the atheist movement of late, but personally, the thing that ticks me off is that CNN didn't even put on the facade of a fair debate. What a load of shit. CNN has been Faux News lite for quite a while now, but it seems they may be trying to use the tactics of their masters and idols.

Speedlinking 2/8/07

Quote of the day:

"Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule."
~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Image of the day:

~ BONUS ARTICLE: The Rest-Pause Technique -- By Charles Staley at T-Nation.
~ Conquering Enemies of the Spine -- Are you 30 years old but feel like you've got the spine of a 90-year-old well digger? Michael and Cassandra can cure what ails ya'. Practice their deloading drills regularly and your spine will soon be as straight and springy as a young poodle dog's tail."
~ 6 Dumb Training Mistakes: Want to be Stupid? Do One of These things! -- By Christian Thibaudeau. "Thibs is on a mission. The angry Canadian wants to see the incidence of training stupidity decrease. Are you a "kitchen sink" trainer or coach? Have you misinterpreted the concept of overtraining? If so, duck!"
~ Garlic Hope In Cystic Fibrosis Infection Fight -- "Garlic has been hailed a wonder drug for centuries and has been used to prevent gangrene, treat high blood pressure, ward off common colds and is even believed by some to have cancer-fighting properties. Now, scientists at The University of Nottingham are leading a new pilot study to see if the pungent bulb could also hold the key to preventing cystic fibrosis patients from falling foul of a potentially-fatal infection." Mmmm . . . garlic.
~ First nonprescription diet drug wins approval -- "The first over-the-counter weight-loss pill won approval from U.S. health officials on Wednesday, giving the two-thirds of Americans who are obese or overweight another option to help them shed pounds." This is crap -- don't buy it.
~ Human Proteins Evolving Slowly Thanks To Multi-Tasking Genes -- "Many human proteins are not as good as they might be because the gene sequences that code for them have a double role which slows down the rate at which they evolve, according to new research published in PLoS Biology."
~ Breast-feeding enhances kids' eyesight -- "Breast-fed children are significantly more likely to do well in measures of stereoscopic vision than are those who received formula during infancy, according to UK researchers."
~ Drug combo improves Parkinson's -- "Manipulating chemicals in the brain that produce similar effects to marijuana could pave the way for a new treatment for Parkinson’s disease, scientists said on Wednesday."
~ Study: Male sweat causes female hormones to rise -- "Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have conducted a study that concluded a few whiffs of androstadienone--a pheromone found in male sweat and perfumes--can raise levels of the hormone cortisol in women. Cortisol is associated with stress, but also arousal and brain activation."

~ Antidepressant, counseling may help hypochondriacs -- "Cognitive behavior therapy and treatment with the antidepressant paroxetine, better known as Paxil or Seroxat, may both be effective short-term treatments for people with an excessive concern about illness, according to Dutch researchers."
~ Doctors’ personal beliefs can hinder care -- "A disturbing number of doctors do not feel obligated to tell patients about medical options they oppose morally, such as abortion and teen birth control, and believe they have no duty to refer people elsewhere for such treatments, researchers say."
~ Born to be bad? Genetic research says maybe -- "If some children seem like they were born to be bad, new research suggests it may be true." Well, that explains a lot.
~ Neuroanatomical basis for Psychic EEG fMRI psychical parasomething ability.
~ Beauty Is In the Eye of the Beer-Holder -- "A research project commissioned by Bausch and Lomb, and headed by Nathan Efron, Professor of Clinical Optometry at the University of Manchester, tried to reduce the "beer goggles effect" down to an equation. No college student is unfamiliar with beer-goggling: that regrettable effect that alcohol and dark rooms have on our ability to judge attractiveness."
~ Survey Identifies Teen Online Behaviors Associated With Online Interpersonal Victimization -- "Teens who talk to strangers online are more likely to become victims of online harassment than those who share their personal information on the Internet."
~ Therapy: The Loneliest Profession -- "The life of a therapist can be socially isolating."
~ Understanding Meditation -- "Exploring some of the mystique and misunderstandings of meditation and finding a method that suits your personality."
~ Learning to Fly -- From Life 2.0.

~ The First Global Think Tank? -- "In a move that portends potentially far-reaching changes in the Washington think-tank scene, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a venerable institution founded in 1910 with money from industrialist Andrew Carnegie, has formally relaunched itself as the 'first multinational and ultimately global – think tank.'"
~ Is Edwards the Howard Dean of 2008? -- "With his anti-war stance and universal health plan, the 2004 VP nominee wants to establish himself as the progressive candidate - forcing Clinton and Obama farther left."
~ Ex-NBA Player Comes Out -- "John Amaechi is gay, and now the first NBA player to come out publicly is ready to talk about it." There are undoubtedly a lot of gay athletes afraid to come out -- maybe this will help.
~ Music: A Sorrowful Lucinda Williams -- "The songs on her new album deal with the death of her mother and the breakup of a love affair--and that’s the good news."
~ Amanda Marcotte Incident Proves The John Edwards Campaign is Run by Troglodytes (and Mitt Romney Likes Balls) -- A liberal blogger gets blind-sided by wingnuts, and The Zero Boss has an opinion. This is another BIG ISSUE in the liberal blogosphere, so The New Republic, among many others, has weighed in: THE LATEST EDWARDS PSEUDO-SCANDAL.
~ If Chris Rock Says It, It's Funny; If Sarah Silverman Says It, It's Tasteless -- Sexism in comedy.
~ Bush DOJ Has Orders to Sic Dems -- "Not only has the Bush administration been purging out-of-favor U.S. attorneys across the nation, it has also been using its DOJ to investigate Democrats far more frequently than Republicans, according to TPMmuckraker. From 2001 to 2006, when Democrats made up just half of all elected officials (local and national) in the country, 79 percent of the DOJ's investigations targeted Dems."
~ Students Use Chat Lingo in Class -- "Middle school teacher Julia Austin is noticing a new generation of errors creeping into her pupils' essays."

~ Wal-Mart, union call for universal health care -- "Wal-Mart and one of its most vocal labor foes joined forces on Wednesday to call for universal health-care coverage for all Americans by 2012, but offered no specific proposals."
~ Orangutans Losing Their Forests Faster Than Expected, Extinction Draws Near, & How You Can Avoid Making Their Prognosis Worse.
~ New data shakes accepted models of collisions of the Earth's crust -- "New research findings may help refine the accepted models used by earth scientists over the past 30 years to describe the ways in which continents clash to form the Earth's landscape."
~ "Global Cooling" Wiped Out North America's Reptiles, Amphibians, Study Finds -- "Fossils suggest a worldwide cold spell millions of years ago caused the extinction of many cold-blooded animals in North America, thanks to a reverse greenhouse effect."
~ Bush’s Budget: Hello Petroleum, Goodbye Endangered Species, Clean Water, Amtrak...
~ In tiny supercooled clouds, physicists exchange light and matter -- "Physicists have for the first time stopped and extinguished a light pulse in one part of space and then revived it in a completely separate location. They accomplished this feat by completely converting the light pulse into matter that travels between the two locations and is subsequently changed back to light."
~ From Burning Silo: close encounters with Dolomedes spiders -- I like spiders, as long as they are in photographs and not in my house.

~ Meditation sandwich with a side order of impermanence. Nice post.
~ From Ryan at Buddhist Geeks: What Do We Know About Buddhism?!
~ Integrating Rational Distinctions with Expansive Spirituality -- A discussion in the Zaadz I-I pod.
~ From Julian at Zaadz: Z-Bate! #1 {Exchange Two} Faith, Reason & The Four Quadrants.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Akira Kurosawa's Dreams - Sunshine Through the Rain

One of the better segments from this film.

Via: VideoSift

Bush's Plan: Send Pallets of Cash Into Iraq

Literally . . . pallets . . . of cash . . . into Iraq.

363 tons of cash.

On pallets.

Billions of dollars.

Are we sure Bush gave up the drugs and alcohol? Oh sure, you can blame it on the The Federal Reserve, but someone pretty damn high up had to authorize this dumbass plan.

From CNN:
The Federal Reserve sent record payouts of more than $4 billion in cash to Baghdad on giant pallets aboard military planes shortly before the United States gave control back to Iraqis, lawmakers said Tuesday.

The money, which had been held by the United States, came from Iraqi oil exports, surplus dollars from the U.N.-run oil-for-food program and frozen assets belonging to the ousted Saddam Hussein regime.

Bills weighing a total of 363 tons were loaded onto military aircraft in the largest cash shipments ever made by the Federal Reserve, said Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. (Watch Democrats put the former top U.S. official in Iraq on the spot Video)

"Who in their right mind would send 363 tons of cash into a war zone? But that's exactly what our government did," the California Democrat said during a hearing reviewing possible waste, fraud and abuse of funds in Iraq.

On December 12, 2003, $1.5 billion was shipped to Iraq, initially "the largest pay out of U.S. currency in Fed history," according to an e-mail cited by committee members.

It was followed by more than $2.4 billion on June 22, 2004, and $1.6 billion three days later. The CPA turned over sovereignty on June 30.

Read the whole, insane story.