Friday, June 01, 2007

Speedlinking 6/1/07

Quote of the day:

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."
~
Mark Twain


Image of the day:


BODY
~ Muscle Soreness is Necessary for Improvement -- "If you go out and jog the same two miles at the same pace, day after day, you will never become faster, stronger or have greater endurance. If you stop lifting weights when your muscles start to burn, you won't feel sore on the next day and you will not become stronger. All improvement in any muscle function comes from stressing and recovering."
~ Change you life with a bunch of little questions -- "The next process is 100 questions or so that you need to ask yourself in a deliberate manner from the moment you wake up in the morning until the moment you go to sleep at night. Some of these questions you ask too often and some of these questions you never ask yourself. This is the stuff of your life and once you question it you can make 100 little changes and your life will never be the same."
~ Nutrition Tip: Go Bananas! -- "If you need to recharge your batteries before your evening workout, then the fruit in the yellow jacket is perfect for you." Unless you are trying to lose fat.
~ Jet Lag Is All About Chemical Reactions In Cells -- "Circadian clocks regulate the timing of biological functions in almost all higher organisms. Anyone who has flown through several time zones knows the jet lag that can result when this timing is disrupted."
~ Spider venom may yield virility -- "Scientists have discovered a potentially marketable contraceptive in the venom of Chile’s black widow spider, whose bite is fatal to many but can also cause prolonged, painful and involuntary erections in men."
~ New diet shrinks calories, carbon footprint (AFP) -- "A soon-to-be-published weight-loss book helps dieters reduce not just their intake of calories, but the negative impact of their food consumption choices on the environment."
~ Nifty Flash Reflexology Map -- "Most Flash sites make me cringe. This one, however, is lacking the semi-standard lame techno track & glacial load time. It’s a handy map of your foot with reflexology areas all laid out for you to poke and prod."


PSYCHE
~ Brain Electrodes Zap Depression -- "Deep brain stimulation may offer help for severely depressed patients."
~ Smoking may increase risk of depression -- "Persistent smokers appear to be at increased risk for becoming depressed compared to never smokers, results of a long-term study of Finnish twins suggest. On the other hand, this association was not seen in individuals who stopped smoking many years ago."
~ Diners Spend More In Lavender-Scented Restaurant -- "The effects of smell are rarely researched in psychological studies. That's why it's great to come across this study by Gueguen and Petr (2006) on the effect of different smells on how much time and money people spend in a restaurant. But not, as you might imagine, the smell of the food, but the smell of lavender."
~ How employers can help boost the happiness of their employees (and how you can boost your own happiness) -- "Yesterday I made the case that employers should care whether their employees are happy: happier people outscore their less-happy peers on performance and productivity. So how can employers help make their employees happier?"
~ Freud, neurobiology and psychotherapy -- "American TV discussion host Charlie Rose has a series of programmes available online where some of the world's leading researchers discuss Freud, neurobiology and the latest in psychological treatments for mental illness." I saw the first one of these and it was awesome.
~ The A.P.E. Method to Get Out of a Bad Mood -- "You may be wondering, should I get out of a bad mood? Suppose that our answer is already, YES. Now, what do we do? Karen Reivich, co-author with Andrew Shatte of The Resilience Factor, suggests some concrete steps."
~ My Turn: The Real Burden of Eating Disorders -- "At a clinic for anorexia sufferers, I found real girls behind the sensationalized images of this tragic disorder."


CULTURE/POLITICS
~ William Meredith: 1919-2007 -- "According to the poet Edward Hirsch, Meredith "has looked generously and hard at our common human world...his work reverberates with old-fashioned terms such as fairness, morale, cheerfulness, joy and happiness." Meredith passed away on May 30, 2007, at the age of 88."
~ Public Gives Clinton, Giuliani Best Odds of Winning Nominations -- "According to a recent Gallup Panel survey, the public thinks Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Rudy Giuliani have the best chances of winning their party's 2008 presidential nominations. Clinton is given slightly better odds than Barack Obama among the Democratic field of candidates."
~ Fired McCain Campaign Aides Sound Off -- "Two former aides hired to spearhead religious outreach for presidential candidate John McCain say that they were virtually ignored by the campaign and that McCain's top campaign strategists are intent on winning votes of religious voters without having to develop serious ties to faith communities." McCain's hypocrisy in action.
~ Clift: How Osama bin Laden Haunts Bush -- "Al Qaeda had a plan—and it is working. Osama bin Laden’s survival may be the Bush administration’s biggest political failing."
~ With an Empire to Build, Who Needs an Iraqi Parliament? -- "Away from the media's gaze toward partisan politics, however, a much more significant story was developing in Baghdad that essentially went unreported. On May 8, a majority of Iraq's parliament signed a petition demanding a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops. But the United States isn't listening to that message, much less heeding it."
~ 'Sgt. Pepper' at 40 -- "There's a lot of irony to the celebrations today of the 40th anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The Beatles' landmark record could have been the beginning of something grand, an era in which ears, minds, and imaginations opened and grew wide with possibility; in hindsight, however, it seems more like the last gasp of a vibe that, even as early as 1967's "Summer of Love," was already giving way to a sensibility more hollow-eyed, desperate, and mercenary."
~ Bush's Climate-Change Feint -- "The White House yesterday showed that it still knows how to play the American press like a harp."


HABITATS/TECHNOLOGY
~ Google Super-Brain to Harvest Human Behavior -- "Google is planning to build a powerful “human database” computer, and has full backing from the U.S. government to do so. What is the database going to do? Provide a “general life assistant” that will be able to predict what you might need before you even realize it."
~ iPhone's Secret Ingredient: Google -- "When it comes to Apple's widely anticipated new gadget, both companies are starting to see the benefits of friendship."
~ iTunes new audio format -- "This week, Apple's iTunes Music Store began selling some songs in a new audio format that the company says has two advantages over its previous offerings: The tracks are free of digital rights management (DRM) restrictions, meaning you can play them on devices other than an iPod, and they have higher audio quality. The new iTunes Plus tracks also come at a premium: $1.29 compared with $0.99 for the old format."
~ Google Buys Feed Distributor FeedBurner -- "Online search leader Google Inc. said Friday it purchased FeedBurner, which helps bloggers and podcasters syndicate and make money from their online content, for an undisclosed sum."
~ Astronomers Find Their Third Planet With Novel Telescope Network -- "Astronomers using the Trans-atlantic Exoplanet Survey (TrES) network of small telescopes are announcing today their discovery of a planet twice the mass of Jupiter that passes in front of its star every 31 hours. The planet is in the constellation Hercules and has been named TrES-3 as the third planet found with the TrES network."
~ Recycled garden compost reduces phosphorus in soils -- "Broccoli, eggplant, cabbage and capsicum grown with compost made from recycled garden offcuts have produced equivalent yields to those cultivated by conventional farm practice, but without the subsequent build up of phosphorus."
~ Japan warned over whaling plans, threatens to quit IWC -- "Japan was warned Friday it risks international anger if it includes endangered humpbacks in its annual whale cull, after threatening to pull out of the 75-nation International Whaling Commission."


INTEGRAL/BUDDHIST
~ Big Mind. Buddha Mind. One Mind -- "Since me and you really are interdependent, dependently arising and empty of inherently existing essence, there really is no me and there really is no you. So, how about that parking space, can I have it?"
~ How about a nice game of 3-D chess? -- "This week on Integral Spiritual Center...."
~ Conversations: The Buddhist Blogs -- "Here are some excellent recent posts from the Buddhist blogs. Enjoy!"
~ Belly center neutrality -- "Each center has it’s own form of “one taste”, and each one can appear in different ways."


Blaming the Media?

Al Gore's new book, I think, makes a lot of good points (mine is on its way, but I've seen him talk about it on Charlie Rose and a number of other places). One of them is that the media has contributed to our current political crises by being unwilling to tell the truth, or to take the time necessary to do so. Network and cable news is not really news -- it's entertainment. Gore presents some disturbing facts about the amount time spent on Anna Nicole Smith (or some other dumbass story) compared to the time spent on actual news.

Of course, the alternative media complain about being lumped in with the infotainment industry.

I'm going to pull together a few different viewpoints here. The first is Gore speaking about his new book. This is long, and Gore can be a little dry, but it's worth checking out.


Via: VideoSift

The Columbia Journalism Review defends Gore against a recent attempt to paint him as the stiff, boring, elitist politician -- the same thing that was done in 2000.

Compounding his sins, according to Milbank [Washington Post], Gore mentioned too many historical figures: "Imagine the Iowa hog farmer cracking open "Assault on Reason," and meeting Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Paine, John Kenneth Galbraith, Walter Lippmann, Johannes Gutenberg, John Stuart Mill, Thomas Jefferson and Marshall McLuhan -- all before finishing the introduction." Milbank--who has made a career of skewering pomposity--lets his own elitism get the better of him here; he might be surprised to find out that even an "Iowa hog farmer" might have heard of one or two of these guys. And if they haven't, well, since most people read books to learn stuff, one can assume that they picked up Gore's book for a reason.

The whole article is a brief defense of Gore from the attempts to make him a one-dimensional caricature.

On the other hand, The New York Observer defends television from Gore's attacks.

And so Al Gore blames the messenger—i.e., the media, and first and foremost, the reliably hateful medium of television: “The replacement of an easily accessible, print-based marketplace of ideas with a restricted-access, television-based realm has led to a radical transformation of the nature and operation of the marketplace of ideas in the United States.” He also suggests, leaning on some speculative-sounding research culled from former adman Jerry Mander’s Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, that the act of viewing television contorts the physiology of our brains so that they become soft-pated panic centers: “The physical effects of watching trauma on television—the rise in blood pressure and heart rate—are the same as if an individual has actually experienced the traumatic event directly. Moreover, it has been documented that television can create false memories that are just as powerful as normal memories. When recalled, television-created memories have the same control over the emotional system as do real memories.”

Sorry, but no. If this were “actually” the case, as Mr. Gore insists, we would all be severely traumatized by the continually broadcast footage of the World Trade Center attacks. Or permanently scarred by the compulsive broadcast of events such as “the Laci Peterson tragedy and the Chandra Levy tragedy ... Anna Nicole Smith’s death, embalming, and funeral plans”—the vacuously ghoulish fare Mr. Gore justly derides as symptomatic of a terminal “strangeness of our public discourse.” TV footage can be harrowing or trivializing; Mr. Gore wants it to be both at once.

There’s another problem with the well-worn claim that TV has lobotomized a once-vigorous, civically engaged citizenry: The country’s “marketplace of ideas” has always featured lots of cut-rate demagogy and lethal propaganda. From the Salem Witch trials down through the anti-Masonic party and the Ku Klux Klan, from the McCarthy era and the War on Drugs to the invasion of Iraq, we Americans have often let ourselves be ruled by spasms of hatred and ignorance while spurning the counsels of reason.


In the end, the review agrees with Gore as far as Bush and Iraq are concerned.

Finally, Lewis Black offers a humorous viewpoint, suggesting that cable news is why Americans have ADD. This is NSFW.


Via: VideoSift

I know I'm relying on you readers to have more familiarity with this topic than I have offered here. So, is it fair to blame the media, as Gore does, for the decline in the American political system? Are the various news sources in this country complicit in the current decline in democratic values?


Hallelujah - Jeff Buckley

I hadn't seen this version before -- and I've posted a few different versions of this song in the past. It's one of those songs that makes me feel good and sad at the same time. Beautiful.

I'm sure this came up because the 10th anniversary of Buckley's death recently went by. Sad, that.


Via: VideoSift


What's Your Power Element?

Your Power Element is Earth

Your power color: yellow

Your energy: balancing

Your season: changing of seasons

Dedicated and responsible, you are a rock to your friends.

You are skilled at working out even the most difficult problems.

Low key and calm, you are happiest when you are around loved ones.

Ambitious and goal oriented, you have long term plans to be successful.



Got that one right.


Thursday, May 31, 2007

Speedlinking 5/31/07

Quote of the day:

"Never explain--your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyway."
~ Elbert Hubbard

Image of the day:


BODY
~ How long is a training session? -- "An hour is just a measure of time. What you are really doing within that hour is X number of sets of Y number of reps right? Let's say you do 8 exercises, 3 sets of 10 reps each for 24 total sets and 240 total reps. Then someone else hires you -- and when designing their program you come up with 7 exercises, and 3 sets of 8 reps each. 21 total sets and 168 total reps. Does the second client get a discount because they did "less"? Of course not."
~ Big Seminar in Little Rock -- "You get to sit in on a seminar featuring Alwyn Cosgrove, Dos Remedios, Chad Waterbury, Charles Staley, Mike Roussell, Lou Schuler, and others, all for free. We've got just one question for you: Just how much do you love us now?"
~ Exercising in hot weather and the body’s need for salt -- "Fatigue during hot-weather exercise is caused by lack of water, salt, sugar or calories. Of the four, exercisers are most ignorant of their sodium needs. A study from The University of Otago in New Zealand shows that taking a salty drink prior to competition can help an athlete to exercise longer and harder." Other than sugar and calories being the same thing, good article.
~ Alcohol Craving For Some Alcoholics Influenced By The Appetite-Regulating Peptide Leptin -- "Craving is an important contributor to the development and maintenance of alcoholism. New findings show that appetite-regulating peptides leptin and ghrelin influence alcohol craving."
~ Starbucks Switches to 2 Percent Milk -- "Starbucks Corp. said Thursday it will replace whole milk with 2 percent for espresso drinks in all of its U.S. and Canadian stores by the end of the year...."
~ Fatty acid supplement may aid body fat loss -- "Supplements containing the fatty acid conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) may help the body shed excess fat, according to a new study."
~ How Curcumin Helps Fight Cancer -- "Scientists showed that curcumin, the main ingredient of the Indian herb turmeric, restores key immune cells that fight off cancer.The immune system of patients with advanced cancer is significantly weakened, mostly because the main cells that fight off tumors either cannot proliferate anymore or have died off." Mmmm . . . . curry.
~ Exercise May Boost 'Good' Cholesterol Levels -- "Regular exercise seems to help boost levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the "good" cholesterol, say Japanese researchers. A low level of HDL cholesterol is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease."


PSYCHE
~ Depression More Common in Women than Men -- A good, though simple, look at the role of hormones in female depression.
~ Can Stress Addiction Be a Good Thing? -- "While the larger population spends millions of dollars and countless hours each year searching for the ultimate stress-relief formula through exercise, structured relaxation and chemical cocktails both prescribed and recreational, many people (including a large number in that very group) actually seem to thrive on high-anxiety situations and lifestyles, seeking out or creating dramatic circumstances and relying on the adrenaline rushes they provide."
~ Selling disgust -- "An article in Time magazine discusses how an understanding of the psychology of disgust is being applied to selling products and the arrangement of items in supermarkets."
~ The Neuroscience of Imagination [Developing Intelligence] -- "Imagination allows us to escape our current time, place, or perspective in favor of an alternative context, whether that may be fanciful or mundane. So imagination is a mechanism for specifying and maintaining a context that differs from our more immediate and stimulus-driven environment (at least, that is what I mean by "imagination")."
~ In A Relationship, Sacrifices Mean More If Made For The Right Reason -- "If you do something positive for your mate, does it matter why? The answer is yes, according to new research from University of Rochester research assistant professor Heather Patrick. She unveiled a study at a Toronto conference this month that shows both small sacrifices, like doing the dishes for your partner, and big ones, like moving across the country for a new job he or she really wants, mean more if you do them because you genuinely want to."
~ Choice And Motivation Means Success For Smokers Who Want To Quit -- "Smokers who have a say in how they quit are more likely to try kicking the habit and are more successful, according to new research at the University of Rochester."
~ Gratitude and Giving Will Lead to Your Success -- "Gratitude researcher Robert Emmons recently reviewed the growing evidence that feelings of gratitude improve the quality of our lives. In one study he found that people who “wrote up to five things for which they were grateful or thankful” on a weekly basis “exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week.” Positive Psychology co-founder Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania, and his colleagues also discovered that when people took a few minutes each evening to write down “three good things” that happened to them during the day, their happiness increased and their depressive symptoms decreased."
~ People Think They Reap What They Sow -- "People gauge how responsive their partners are primarily by how they themselves respond to their partners— not the other way around, according to a series of Yale studies in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology."


CULTURE/POLITICS
~ Harry Potter theme park swoops to Fla. -- "Universal Studios is opening up a Harry Potter theme park in Florida complete with the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, ..." Isn't this one of the signs of the end of the world?
~ Shock and gore -- "Salvador DalĂ­ was the greatest painter of the 20th century - but his disturbing films belong to the 21st, writes JG Ballard."
~ Wages Through the Ages: Men Earn Less Than Fathers at Same Age -- "Why Are Men Today Earning Less Money Than Their Fathers Did 30 Years Ago?"
~ Repudiation, Not Impeachment -- "The former weapons inspector and author of “Waging Peace” argues that the mere impeachment of President Bush would fail to repair the damage caused by an executive branch run amok and an uninformed and uninvolved citizenry."
~ Yeats meets The Sopranos -- "It is not often that a poem functions as a major plot point on a TV show. But on the most recent episode of The Sopranos, a morbid A.J. Soprano—suffering from depression after a breakup—is roused from his torpor when a professor teaches W.B. Yeats' "The Second Coming" to his class. The poem's prophetic intensities move A.J. to contemplate the violence of conflict in the Middle East and the general horror of a world in which the old orders are collapsing around him at every turn. He even reads the poem aloud in bed; shortly afterward, he tries to commit suicide."
~ Backstory: Civil Unions in New Hampshire -- "The governor of New Hampshire signed legislation today legalizing civil unions for same-sex couples starting in January, joining seven states that already allow civil unions or domestic partnerships, including Massachusetts, the only state to allow gay marriage. Oregon also will join those ranks in January."
~ Fineman: Is U.S. Political System Collapsing? -- "Al Gore believes a steady diet of fact-free media is dumbing down America and threatening the political system."


HABITATS/TECHNOLOGY
~ Man Claims to Have Loch Ness Video -- "Some say the video is among the finest ever taken of the mythical creature."
~ Corals reveal impact of land use -- "Using the corals on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) as a history book, researchers have linked land use along the coast to decades of declining water quality and poor coral health."
~ More of what bike-friendly looks like -- "Separate bikeways are the lead actors in bike-friendly cities, but many supporting actors complete the cast: bikes on transit facilities, good traffic law enforcement, even bike "lifts" on steep hills. Three more worth mentioning are blue lanes, parking cages, and cyclibraries."
~ Lessons from the orangutans: Upright walking may have begun in the trees -- "By observing wild orangutans, a research team has found that walking on two legs may have arisen in relatively ancient, tree-dwelling apes, rather than in more recent human ancestors that had already descended to the savannah, as current theory suggests."
~ Revised Global Warming Forecast: Even More Rain -- "As world warms, rainfall could become more intense than previously predicted." Unless you live in AZ, USA.
~ Small-scale agricultural changes may help eradicate widespread disease -- "Small changes in agricultural and sanitation practices may eliminate the spread of a disease that affects some 200 million people living in developing nations around the world."


INTEGRAL/BUDDHIST
~ What Does It Take For Us to Wake Up? -- "In short, Bush may now declare himself absolute ruler at any moment and Congress can like it or lump it. Naturally, this act of betrayal is of so little importance and consequence, the corporate media believes you are better served knowing Justin Timberlake is in love."
~ Dark nights and patterns -- "I am still reading Bernadette Robert’s Path to No Self. She writes about the path better than almost anyone I can think of, especially in a Christian context."
~ BLOG: Meta-Genius: A Celebration of Ken's Writings (Part 3) -- "A Celebration of Ken is dysfunctional green, or extreme and absolutistic pluralism. This extreme pluralism--which maintains all views are absolutely the same--is open to infection by narcissism, since all views are allowed. Thus, under the extreme-green post-modern banner, every pre-modern, pre-rational, preconventional, prepersonal, egocentric impulse can parade."
~ Re-Framing Meditation for the Scientifically Minded -- "What I suggested to Mike is that meditation can be framed very much in scientific terms. Pulling on the perspective of urchinTracker ('/outbound/article/www.alanwallace.org');">Alan Wallace and urchinTracker ('/outbound/article/www.kenwilber.com');">Ken Wilber I shared my own reflections on the scientific method and meditation."
~ Aspects of People I Find Interesting -- "Buddhists and Integralists, like me, tend to be people watchers -- interested in others‘ thinking and behavior. Now, there are a large number of Buddhists who specifically are not interested in all of this amateur psychoanalysis crap; they think that study of all this hoo-hah is very much the ilk of confusion and calamity we should step away from."


Daily Om: Stepping Out From Where We Were


Today's Daily Om is a nice reminder that if we want to solve problems in our lives, we need to change the way we think about and relate to those problems.

Raising Our Consciousness
Stepping Out From Where We Were

Albert Einstein said, “No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it. We must learn to see the world anew.” A Nobel Prize winner, Albert Einstein’s scientific theories transformed the world’s understanding of the universe and its workings, so we can believe that these words come from his personal experience and helped him to explore both science and life itself. He offered us an example of what can be learned by looking deeply into nature to reach a deeper understanding of all life and by following our ideas to their logical conclusions in our minds before acting upon them in the world.

When we apply this quote to our lives, we can see that we cannot create abundance by staying in a consciousness of poverty, nor can we gain a sense of power in our lives while identifying ourselves as a victim. Situations begun from anger or fear can have little chance of reaching a state of peace and trust unless someone involved can conceive of that possibility and act upon it. We need to find ways to step outside of our limited understanding in order to seek a bigger picture. One way to do this is to shift our perspective to see the situation from another’s point of view and ideally the perspective of all others involved. Even if we can’t truly know another’s motivations, by imagining what they might be, we open ourselves up to numerous possibilities and an expanded vision. This alone can shift our feelings of anger to compassion and the desire for a positive solution for all involved.

Once we have opened our mind to greater possibilities, we can connect to our higher self for inspired solutions. From the peace at our center, we gain distance from our emotions to connect to intuitive wisdom that offers us understanding of the underlying causes and the inspiration needed to guide our steps in a new direction. Albert Einstein showed us the impact that can be made when we raise our consciousness and allow ourselves to imagine the possibilities.


Shamans of the Amazon: Terrance McKenna

I always kind of liked Terrance McKenna, even though he seemed a bit "off." I saw him at a New Age conference in Seattle back in 1997 or so, and as a volunteer in the bookstore, I assisted him at a signing. Unlike some other famous authors who were quite demanding and seemed put out to be there, he was friendly and warm with everyone who bought books for him to sign (worth noting: Gary Snyder was equally warm and open). He seemed to enjoy talking with everyone he met.

I found this short video at Video Sift and thought it was cool.

Terence McKenna's documentary about going to the Amazon rainforest to paticipate in a hallucinogenic Ayahuasca ritual with two Amazon shamans.



Via: VideoSift


iTunes U Debuts

From Mental Floss:

iTunes U

We’ve covered free stuff on the iTunes Store before, including educational material, but Apple has decided to make it official: today they introduced iTunes U, a new part of the iTunes Store (launch iTunes U in iTunes). iTunes U is an initiative to provide higher education institutions a mechanism for distributing digital content to students. Many of the original iTunes educational content providers are there: Stanford, UC Berkeley, and MIT (that last one is adapted from MIT OpenCourseWare, a _floss favorite).

Digging into the iTunes U collection, I found some winners:

Time to get learnin’, people!


Lama Surya Das: Six Steps to Anger Management

I like Lama Surya Das -- he seems like a down-to-earth American Buddhist. And anger management is an issue for me some days, so I thought I'd post this. It was originally posted at Beliefnet.



Six Steps to Anger Management

Instead of reacting with rage, Buddhist teacher Lama Surya Das says to take a sacred pause and transform your life. By Lama Surya Das

Excerpted from "Buddha Is As Buddha Does; The Ten Original Practices for Enlightened Living," (HarperSanFrancisco, 2007). Reprinted with permission.

Patience means not retaliating with anger for anger, or harm for harm, and voluntarily bearing up under difficulties in order to progress on the path of spiritual awakening. How do we actually do this? How do we slow down our conditioned, knee-jerk reactions while speeding up and sharpening our conscious, mindful, moment-to-moment, awareness? How do we broaden the gap between stimulus and response so that we have time to give the situation a proper amount of consideration? This takes clarity, resolve, meditation, and practice.

I call this gap the Sacred Pause, because it is the only possible source of peace and harmony in our interactions with people or events. By consciously minding and utilizing the Sacred Pause, we can master ourselves and assert leverage over our clumsy, semiconscious, often unwarranted conditioned reactions. Begin the process by taking a deep breath, smiling, and relaxing.

Much of the accumulated pressure and tension may begin to dissipate right away, thus providing more space and clarity for mindful work. Breathe, smile, relax, and center yourself. Then apply what I call the Six Steps to Anger Management, which also could be called steps to mindfulness, freedom, and authentic responsiveness. Collectively, they are like cool, fresh breaths of mindful awareness that can help you let go of negativity and keep you from falling into regrettable outcomes. To remember these steps, think of them as the six R’s:

  1. Recognizing: Noticing with objective equanimity a familiar stimulus—like harsh words—that pushes a hot button for you, triggering an unskillful retaliatory response.
  2. Recollecting: remembering the disadvantages of returning anger with anger, negative with negative, and the advantages of practicing patience, forbearance, tolerance, and acceptance.
  3. Refraining by restraining and reframing: seeing things from alternative points of view, including that of your antagonist (if the situation involves a button-pushing person); cultivating compassion; acknowledging the law of karma (what goes around comes around); and considering the situation an opportunity to develop patience or the person a teacher who can help you do this.
  4. Relinquishing: letting go of habitual reactivity and impulsive urges in favor of more consciously chosen and intelligent courses of action.
  5. Reconditioning: Going back over what you have done and learned so far—the entire dynamic—to help you substitute a healthier response process for your old knee-jerk conditioning. Repetition is crucial.
  6. Responding: Addressing the person or situation patiently, appropriately, intelligently, and proactively (rather than reactively). Let spiritual intelligence be your guide.

Applying the Six Steps of Anger Management is an adult version of kindergarten’s counting to ten in order to give yourself time to think before you act. Keep in mind that it is not other people or external circumstances that determine our karma, our character, our experience, and our destiny. It is how we relate to these other people and circumstances that makes all the difference. It is not what happens to us but what we make of it that makes all the difference; this is the secret of autonomy and spiritual self-mastery. The gift of patience is truly the gift of yourself, but not in any way that diminishes you, the giver. Instead, you share your strength with someone and become stronger yourself in the process.

Please keep in mind these wise words on patience from the Dalai Lama: When we talk about patience or tolerance, we should understand that there are many degrees, starting from a simple tolerance, such as being able to bear a certain amount of heat and cold, progressing toward the highest level of patience, which is the type of patience and tolerance found in the great practitioners, the bodhisattvas. One should not see tolerance of patience as a sign of weakness, but rather as a sign of strength coming from a deep ability to remain steadfast and firm. We find that even in being able to tolerate a certain degree of physical hardship, like a hot or cold climate, out attitude makes a big difference.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Speedlinking 5/30/07

Special Announcement from POLYSEMY:

PODCAST: The Joshua Bell Experiment, part II -- "World-class musicians aren't supposed to be street performers. But that is just what violinist Joshua Bell was in a recent impromptu performance in a subway stop in the American capital city. The reactions of the commuters were ... interesting, as documented by the Washington Post.

For us as working artists, this experiment raised many questions: Why didn't more people in the station slow down and listen? Do we have sensory overload, and no mental space for music like Bell's? Why did every child in the subway want to stop to listen?"

* * * * *

Quote of the day:

"I have an existential map. It has "You are here" written all over it"
~ Steven Wright

Image of the day:


BODY
~ Iron Levels Boosted More Efficiently By Different Type Of Iron Supplement -- "Fortifying cereals with a different type of iron supplement reduces anaemia, iron-deficiency anaemia and general iron deficiency in children in developing countries, and boosts three major iron status indicators, conclude authors of an Article published in The Lancet. Sodium Iron EDTA (NaFeEDTA) was found to be much more effective than electrolytic iron, despite the electrolytic form being the most frequently used iron supplement in flour." And of course, no iron for adult males or post-menopausal women.
~ Real Fast Fat Loss -- "This is a no bullshit fat loss article. There will be no motivational tips, no psychological analysis, no complicated nutritional plan, and no puny-ass exercises. In fact, just one of the exercises in this plan is probably more demanding than your entire, out-dated fat-loss training program. And that's a good thing."
~ Researchers Find Room For Improvement In Substance Beneficial To Blood Flow -- "Walk in to any health food store, and you'll see new products claiming to contain nitric oxide."They don't," said Jack R. Lancaster, professor of anesthesiology at UAB. "Nitric oxide is a toxic gas."The recent interest in nitric oxide stems from a 1987 discovery that the body naturally produces a harmless amount of the substance, which is essential to a number of bodily functions." Nitric Oxide supplements are useless, so don't waste your money.
~ Extent Of DNA Repair Army Revealed By Analysis -- "Cells have the remarkable ability to keep track of their genetic contents and -- when things go wrong - to step in and repair the damage before cancer or another life-threatening condition develops.But precisely how cells monitor the integrity of their genomes, identify problems, and intervene to repair broken or miscoded DNA has been one of nature's closely held secrets."
~ The immediate benefits of quitting smoking -- "Within minutes, your health starts to improve as your blood pressure drops. In as little as 8 hours, the carbon monoxide levels in your blood will drop by half and oxygen levels will normalize. Within two days, you'll have cut your risk of a heart attack. It really is amazing how quickly your body responds to the absence of cigarettes."


PSYCHE
~ Growth Factors And Environment Combine To Increase Brain Maturation -- "A new study showing that growth factors and the environment combine to increase brain maturation appears in the May 30th issue of the online, open-access journal PLoS ONE."
~ Dissociation to Integration: Reconstructing the study of memory [Developing Intelligence] -- "While the "modal model of memory" is still widely taught and accepted as a general theory, an enormous amount of recent research has focused on how short-term memory enables higher cognitive processes like those involved in planning, goals, and executive functions. Yet this research has revealed surprisingly intricate links between short- and long-term memory. Increasingly, it appears that interactions among prefrontal areas (traditionally thought to be important for short-term memory) and medial temporal lobe areas (traditionally thought to be important for long-term memory) are important for understanding a wide variety of behaviors."
~ Why people believe in bad ideas [Pharyngula] -- "There is a must-read article at Edge by Paul Bloom and Deena Skolnick Weisberg—it's an attempt to explain why people resist scientific knowledge that takes a psychological view of the phenomenon."
~ Psychology Quotes -- "Some funny psychology quotes - and some serious quotations about mental illness, neurosis, psychoanalysis, and shock treatment from Hemingway, Freud, and Jung."
~ Six Steps to Anger Management -- "Instead of reacting with rage, take a sacred pause and transform your life." By Lama Surya Das.
~ Fishing for Personalities -- "Theoretical biologists demonstrate how an aggressive personality might make evolutionary sense."


CULTURE/POLITICS
~ That Highest Candle -- American Religious Poems, ed. by Harold Bloom and Jesse Zuba. The Library of America. $40.00 -- "This anthology appears at an interesting moment in cultural history. America is now widely considered to be the last bastion of religious belief in the developed world. Whether or not this is true—the influence of American culture on immigrants and on global culture is widely assumed to be secularizing—there are those who assign the failings of the country to its lapse from traditional religion, and there are those who assign our failings to the obdurate persistence of traditional religion." I own and love this book.
~ Revising Sherman Alexie -- "Alternately heartbreaking and wondrous, Sherman Alexie's first novel in ten years tells the story of an orphan careening through foster homes until finally, not long after we meet him, he walks into a bank and comes unstuck in time. Gritty, intense, and especially timely, it's a lightning-fast read besides." Alexie acknowledges the debt to Vonnegut in his premise.
~ The Religious Left is Left Out by the Commercial Media -- "A new study by Media Matters for America shows that when the topic is religion, the media looks disproportionately to hard-line right-wingers for comment."
~ Edge #211 is up -- lots of good reading.
~ Fred Thompson Almost Announces That He'll Announce -- "Whispers Editor Paul Bedard reports today that former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson has decided to toss his hat in the ring and run for the Republican nomination for president and will make the first formal moves next week, which will allow him to begin raising money."
~ The pleasure of hating Kobe Bryant -- "On Wednesday, Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant demanded a trade. His beefs: The team didn't tell him that it would be trying to rebuild rather than contend for championships, and the front office has repeatedly planted rumors that he pushed to get rid of Shaquille O'Neal. Last May, Sam Anderson cataloged his hatred of Bryant. The short version: "I hate Kobe Bryant's rotten and derivative soul." The entire story is reprinted below." I was a die-hard Laker fan until the Kobe & Shaq era began.
~ Mark Regnerus' Forbidden Fruit: Sex & Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers -- "A 19-year-old virgin walks into a bar. He's got his lucky cross in his pocket and his best jersey on. Please God, he says to himself, let this be the night. He spies a girl sitting at a table—blonde, wholesome-looking, just his type. He sidles up closer to the girl, who is chatting with some friends. Over the din, he can make out snippets of her conversation: at Bible study the other night … Pastor Ted says … saving it for marriage. Discouraged, he walks away in search of a more promising target."
~ Too Much Information: Blogs Have Ruined My Dating Life -- "Gone are my days of lazily unwrapping new prospects like birthday presents, asking intrusive questions as seductively as possible over brunches and lengthy drinks. Nope. These days, you can't swing a cat in this town without hitting a boy with a blog . . . "


HABITATS/TECHNOLOGY
~ Communication Tools: Make Them Simple and Ubiquitous or They Won't Be Used -- "As part of my current work contract, and in some of my blog posts, I've grappled with the ineffective and inappropriate use of the various communication tools that are available in the workplace. I've developed a variety of 'tool choosers' -- decision trees and charts that identify the criteria for use of different tools."
~ The deer departed -- "And the ones that will remain while the National Park Service conducts a controversial mammal birth-control experiment at Point Reyes National Seashore."
~ Galaxy cluster takes it to the extreme -- "Evidence for an awesome upheaval in a massive galaxy cluster was discovered in an image made by NASA`s Chandra X-ray Observatory. The origin of a bright arc of ferociously hot gas extending over two million light years requires one of the most energetic events ever detected."
~ Why Are Galaxies without Black Holes Uncommon? -- "Recent calculations indicate that when two galaxies, and the supermassive black holes that lie at their centers, merge, these galactic 'marriages' frequently produce gravitational forces strong enough to kick the new combined black hole right out of its merged galaxy. However, so far, none of the many 'empty nest' galaxies predicted by such calculations have been found."
~ Emissions trading could misfire, economists warn -- "With the report of the Prime Minister`s Task Group on Emissions Trading due to be handed to Prime Minister John Howard tomorrow, environmental economists from The Australian National University have warned that an emissions trading scheme could misfire if it is poorly designed or captured by interest groups."
~ CBS Buys Last.fm for $280 Million Cash -- "CBS Corp. said Wednesday it is buying Last.fm, a music-focused online social network, for $280 million in cash in a bid to attract younger viewers and listeners across its businesses."
~ MySpace Parent to Buy Photobucket Site -- "A Web site that enables its users to store photos and video for inclusion in MySpace profiles will become a part of the popular online hangout." Damn, can't use photobucket anymore.


INTEGRAL/BUDDHIST
~ The Flesh Colored Crayon of Reality -- "When it comes to interpreting life, we tend to color our experiences with the tools we have. It makes sense, really. Afterall, we can’t use something we don’t have and we can’t use information we don’t know. That is an over-simplified explaination of postmodernist view on science and philosophy."
~ a plea for a pluralist metaphysic -- A look at the Amidist view of Christianity.
~ The Courage to Call 911 -- "Today I received a lesson in understanding other people’s perspectives. In general I think that if you are non-judgmental and compassionate toward other people suffering than you have an understanding of their perspective."
~ Inquiry: I need to make a good impression -- "Statement: I need to make a good impression. Is it true? Yes, feels true sometimes." Cool post.
~ Integral means connecting the human aim of liberation -- "Integral means connecting the human aim of liberation (the search for liberation from suffering) with the embrace of the given (the body and the transient cycles of existence). At a minimum, it means embracing a path of transcendence such as Zen with a path of immanence (such as psychoanalysis)."
~ Integrative Spirituality -- "There's nothing revolutionary in this post, as it's mainly an attempt to clarify my own thoughts. Not being a native English speaker, I only aspire to provide an excuse for some fine discussion. I will deliberately avoid any lingo, or a specific religious framework. Without imposing on readers an inclusivistic platform, this is a deliberately fragmented record of what came to mind, a smorgasbord of sorts."


Being Gentle with Ourselves

I have come to look forward to new articles by Susan Piver. The May issue of Shambhala Sun has her latest, Out of Fear, a look at ways we can move through and beyond the fears that run our lives.

Here are a couple of sections from her article that make a lot of sense to me.

When you clear away the judgments, criticisms, assumptions, and beliefs about your internal experience, you discover that what is left is tenderness and the ability to feel things deeply. You can be kind to yourself, not because you earned it by achieving goals or living up to an ideal, but because you possess a human heart that, when left to its own devices, comes back over and over to its natural state.

Who are we harder on than ourselves? Deep down, we're not convinced we're good enough at any thing. Self-doubt is our constant companion. Often, we don't know where this harsh self-criticism comes from. Our own mind? Parents? Teachers? Lifestyle magazines? We con ourselves into believing thoughts, such as I'm too needy, I'm not clever, I'm ugly/fat/old, I'm a loser, and I'm sure it's all my fault (my personal favorite). How does one suddenly become gentle without faking it, without using gentleness itself as just another device for self-improvement?

* * * * *

Gentleness arises when you recognize your innate, limitless, and extremely powerful goodness. When you remember how basically good you are, you can stop pushing and pulling yourself toward perfection, struggling for acceptable proof of your value -- the perfect job, the perfect boyfriend, the perfect body/mass index, the perfect sofa, the perfect what-have-you. You are already so totally beyond good enough.

How do I know that you possess this goodness? We all do.

Even if you can't identify it in yourself, it's easy to recall a time when you saw goodness in others. Perhaps you felt this way while reading the story of a saint, a hero, or even a regular human being who gave his or her all in the name of generosity or kindness. Seeing how people greet each other or say goodbye at the airport, overhearing a particularly sweet exchange between lovers, or watching television and seeing victims of disaster being rescued can bring tears to your eyes. Noticing a flock of birds move together in perfect connection or listening to an extraordinarily soulful piece of music can deeply touch you, too. You remember childhood slights with vividness because it was confusing and painful to have your goodness questioned. Goodness comes first in all of us, and our world is full of proof that this is so.

This is good advice for people with a powerful inner critic -- like me. The critic can't be beaten down (I've tried that approach), but it can be lulled into being more quiet when we can be gentle with ourselves. It's not all that easy to do, but it does work if we stick with it.


Cool Site: Bookyards

I found this site by accident, while looking for ebooks on psychology. Bookyards wants to make ebooks (and information in general) freely available to anyone with an online connection.

Welcome to BookYards.com!

Our goal is to be "The Library To The World", in which books, education materials, information, and content will be provided freely to anyone who has an internet connection.

Bookyards has a total of 13,924 books, 38,297 web links, 4,197 news & blogs links, 384 videos and access to hundreds of online libraries (500,000 eBooks) for your reading pleasure.

We hope you enjoy it!

Here is the main listing for philosophy, which has recently been expanded:

eBooks:

View all 491 eBooks


The philosophy page, like the psychology page that I visited (and I assume most other pages) has a basic outline of the history and major movements, with copious linkage to expanded info.

Definitely a new addition to my bookmarks.