Saturday, June 16, 2007

Gratitude 6/16/07

I'm not feeling very grateful today, but I'll give it a try:

1) The US soccer team beat Panama 2-1 in the Gold Cup, advancing to the semi-finals. They looked vulnerable at times on defense, but they pulled out a win.

2) I just had a brief conversation with a gecko on my deck. It was pretty one-sided, but it was good to talk to someone.

3) I know this hell I've been living will eventually come to an end, one way or another. I'm grateful for the Dharma for offering me ways to cope with this.

What are you grateful for?


Iluzii Optice - A Love Story in M.C. Escher's world

Cool animation and nice music. Kind of sad . . .

This animated short was created by Eugen Erhan. He has created a 3D journey in a world of paradox and illusion. A must-see for fans of M.C. Escher.

The video follows a paper character's journey through a world that isn't always as it appears. The soundtrack, "Do You Dream of Me" by Tiamat, is an excellent choice for this work.

Via: VideoSift

Daily Dharma: Compassion and the Individual

Today's Daily Dharma from Tricycle:

Compassion and the Individual

Whether people are beautiful and friendly or unattractive and disruptive, ultimately they are human beings, just like oneself. Like oneself, they want happiness and do not want suffering. Furthermore, their right to overcome suffering and be happy is equal to one's own. ...When you recognize that all beings are equal in both their desire for happiness and their right to obtain it, you automatically feel empathy and closeness for them.

Through accustoming your mind to this sense of universal altruism, you develop a feeling of responsibility for others: the wish to help them actively overcome their problems. Nor is this wish selective; it applies equally to all.

~ The Dalai Lama, Compassion for the Individual

Daily Om: Resentment

Some wisdom from the Daily Om:

Demolishing Anger’s Walls

Anger, when channeled into the pursuit of change, can be a useful tool in our emotional palette. Anger is experienced by most people, some more than others. It is when anger has no outlet and morphs into resentment that it carries with it the potential to cause great turmoil. Allowing us to assign blame for the pain we are feeling, thereby easing it, resentment tends to smolder relentlessly just below the surface of our awareness, eroding our peace of mind. The target of our resentment grows ever more wicked in our minds and we rue the day we first encountered them. But resentment is merely another hue on the emotional palette and therefore within the realm of our conscious control. We can choose to let go of our resentment and to move on with our lives, no matter how painful the event that incited it.

Hanging onto resentment in our hearts does not serve us in any way. Successfully divesting ourselves of resentful feelings can be difficult, however, because doing so forces us to mentally and emotionally confront the original source of anger. When we cease assigning blame, we realize that our need to hold someone or something responsible for our feelings has harmed us. We thought we were coping with our hurt when in fact we were holding onto that hurt with a vice grip. To release resentment, we must shift our attention from those we resent back toward ourselves by thinking of our own needs. Performing a short ceremony can help you quell resentful feelings by giving tangible form to your emotions. You may want to write down your feelings and then burn the paper and close your ceremony by wishing them well. When you can find compassion in your heart, you know you are on your way to healing.

Free of resentment, we have much more energy and attention to devote to our personal development. We can fill the spaces it left behind with unconditional acceptance and joy. And, as a result of our subsequent freedom from resentment, blessings can once again enter our lives as the walls we built to contain our anger have been demolished.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Gratitude 6/15/07

Some things I am grateful for today:

1) I am alive and healthy.

2) I had another light day today, and I need the down time right now.

3) Even when I am not working very much (this week), I don't have to freak out about money the way I did a few years ago. I'm not wealthy, but I am comfortable (which to many people would look like poverty, but my life is simple).

4) I'm grateful that the monsoon season will be starting in a couple of weeks. The periodic storms can cool off a very hot day in minutes.

What are you grateful for?


Speedlinking 6/15/07

Quote of the day:

"We do not know what we want and yet we are responsible for what we are - that is the fact."
~ Jean-Paul Sartre

Image of the day (David Winston):

~ Compliance, habits and behaviors -- "You see, in my opinion, most people don't follow ANY dietary philosophy with any type of adherence. And until you can get compliance at any level -- you're wasting your time trying to facilitate change."
~ Canned tuna - the cornerstone of a quick meal -- "Years ago when I first met my wife I was doing a lot of weightlifting but always had trouble getting enough protein into my diet. One of the things that I learned from her was to eat canned tuna." Caution: limit tuna consumption to 3-5 cans a week to avoid excess mercury.
~ Low Blood Sugar Symptoms Require an Explanation -- "When blood sugar levels drop, you may feel anxious, shaky, sweaty, hungry, a tingling in your skin or your heart may beat rapidly. More severe symptoms include confusion, a sensation of warmth, weakness or fatigue, loss of memory and in its extreme, seizures and passing out. As you suffer repeat attacks of low blood sugar, they affect you less and your symptoms lessen."
~ Alcohol may prevent rheumatoid arthritis: study -- "More good news for drinkers -- imbibing regularly may halve your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, according to scientists."
~ Chefs don't count calories, so it's up to you -- "Americans are eating out more than ever, a trend that's worrying to obesity experts. Here are some science-based strategies for battling portion bloat."
~ Health Tip: Ward Off Jet Lag -- "Jet lag occurs when the body has trouble adjusting to travel across time zones. The American Academy of Family Physicians offers these recommendations to minimize symptoms."
~ Beyond Bread - The Essential High Fiber Diet -- "A high fiber diet contains foods that have a lot of fiber. Can it get any more basic than that? How about this one? Fiber has no calories. Are you getting the picture?"

~ Guided imagery therapy can help insomniacs -- "A technique called imagery rehearsal therapy not only helps chronic insomniacs get a good night's sleep, it also seems to help lessen depression and anxiety, according to research presented this week at SLEEP 2007 -- the 21st annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies."
~ Mood Disorder, or Mad Disorder? -- "Depression, Psychosis More Closely Linked than Some Realize."
~ "The Cognitive Brain" -- "... is a book by Arnold Trehub that is now available online, along with a few other papers by him."
~ The Two Face of Pride -- "Pride has perplexed philosophers and theologians for centuries, and it is an especially paradoxical emotion in American culture. We applaud rugged individualism, self-reliance and personal excellence, and indeed encourage these traits with gold stars and blue ribbons and statues. But don’t you dare let it go to your head. Too much pride can easily tip the balance toward vanity and haughtiness and self-love."
~ The Miracle and the Irony of Forgiving -- "Several months ago a man made an appointment to meet with me regarding some of his personal struggles. When the appointed time arrived I was more than a little curious about what was on his mind and how I could help. After sharing a heart rending story of his life experiences, he summed it up by saying that the biggest burden he carried was his inability to forgive those who had hurt him. What a heavy burden it was for him to carry."
~ Objects in the Home Reflect Your Relationship -- "When I walk into someone's home, almost without thinking I look around at the whole decor, but I'm particularly interested in prominently displayed objects. It gives me a sense of the person. Indeed studies have shown it is possible to draw some limited conclusions about personality from personal spaces like homes or offices (Gosling et al., 2002). What about couples though? Is it possible to tell anything about relationships from objects that are prominently displayed? Research by Lohmann, Arriaga and Goodfriend (2003) suggests it is."
~ The will to be happy? -- "Free will happens to be such a label for something that scientists can’t (yet) locate in the brain. Happiness itself is also such a word, nice that everybody uses it, but Neuroscientists can not yet determine its whereabouts."
~ 20 Ways to Get and Stay Happy -- "As experts gather for the International Conference on Happiness, TIME looks at proven ways to find more joy in life."

~ Raising America's children -- "Millions of grandparents are filling in for missing or misguided parents."
~ America on the Rack -- "Some commentators are now raising this question as well: Have the Bush administration's policies in the War on Terror undermined, if not destroyed, our ability to be a voice for freedom and human rights around the world?"
~ Clift: Will 2008 Be the Liberals' Year? -- "The country is ripe for a progressive presidential candidate--or so the progressives say. Let the battle of ideas, within the Democratic Party and without, begin."
~ New Life for Immigration Reform -- "The President's emphasis on border security has given his bill a second chance, but he's still a long way from victory."
~ Pace Says He Refused to Quit Voluntarily -- "Gen. Pace Discloses That He Refused to Voluntarily Retire As Joint Chiefs Chairman."
~ Spurs edge Cavs to complete finals sweep -- Did anyone even care?
~ More warnings about a U.S.-Iran war -- "A leading British journalist warns of the imminent dangers caused by what he calls 'the neoconservative ideologues who still run the Bush Administration.'"

~ Computer models suggest planetary and extrasolar planet atmospheres -- "The world is abuzz with the discovery of an extrasolar, Earth-like planet around the star Gliese 581 that is relatively close to our Earth at 20 light years away in the constellation Libra"
~ Turning Plants into Plastic—And Replacing Oil in the Process -- "A new process may allow plants to become the root of chemicals, plastics and fuels rather than oil."
~ Judge says farmed fish can't be counted -- "A federal judge in Spokane, Wash., has ruled that only wild fish can be counted in determining which species are endangered."
~ Exploring the Dark Matter of the Genome -- "Not so long ago, the difficult-to-sequence, highly repetitive, gene-poor DNA found in regions of chromosomes known as heterochromatin was called "junk." Like dark matter in the universe, the true nature of heterochromatin was unknown."
~ In nature, proteins sweep up nanoparticles -- "Here`s a pollution-control tip from nature: Deep inside a flooded mine in Wisconsin, scientists from several institutions including the U.S. Department of Energy`s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have discovered a world in which bacteria emit proteins that sweep up metal nanoparticles into immobile clumps. Their finding may lead to innovative ways to remediate subsurface metal toxins."
~ Environmentally Friendly New Jet Planned -- "The —easyJet ecoJet— would emit 50 percent less CO2 than today's newest short-haulers."
~ Strange Things Do Happen at Full Moon -- "Police actions during full moon reveals institutional lunacy."

~ The Mind Outside the Brain (Part 4) -- "To gain credibility, the mind outside the brain must also be mirrored inside the brain. If your brain didn't register what the mind is doing, there would be no way to detect the mind. Like a TV program being broadcast in the air, a receiver picks up the signal and makes it visible. The brain is a receiver for the mind field. The field itself is invisible, but as mirrored in our brains, it comes to life as images, sensations, and an infinite array of experiences."
~ Video Documentary - A history of G-D -- Tikkunger posts a 90-minute documentary based on Karen Armstrong's excellent book.
~ The Worldspace of Integral Zen -- "This week on Integral Spiritual Center...."
~ Is Ken right on Derrida? -- "I’m sure you all know what Ken thinks of Derrida. But is he accurate? And if not, why? Following are excerpts of an “integral” analysis of Derrida that is very different than Ken’s. I’d suggest that if Ken’s kosmic address is this far off on one of his contemporaries (only recently dead) then one really must question whether Ken’s naviagtion system has a true “global” positioning satelite."

Blue October - Into the Ocean

My current favorite radio song. Very cool . . . .

Dan Rather Speaks the Truth

TV news in this country has long ago become irrelevant. Dan Rather got himself into trouble earlier this week by saying the truth that the news industry didn't want to hear -- that it has become entertainment, not news. The key quote was that CBS News with Katie Couric was “dumbing down and tarting up.” Some people wrongly interpreted the comment to be aimed at Couric -- so he had to go on Fox News to defend himself.

Unfortunately for Rather, this problem began years and years ago, while he was still an anchor, so he comes off looking a little hypocritical.

The Columbia Journalism Review looks at the issue:

Another controversy swirling around Dan Rather? Maybe. But this time, his insights into the future of journalism—and what, in fact, is real news—are most timely. The hoopla began after Rather’s interview with MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough on Monday, in which he said that CBS is “dumbing down and tarting up” its evening news broadcast with Katie Couric. Rather asserted that the network—not the “nice” Katie Couric, made the mistake—“to try to bring the ‘Today Show’ ethos to the ‘Evening News…’ in hopes of attracting a younger audience.” Newspapers and bloggers picked up on the story, which spread far and wide on the Web.

Ann Althouse, a blogger and University of Wisconsin law professor, charged that “sexism” was at the heart of Rather’s comments:

“I don’t like the dumbing down of the news, but I see…feminist issues. Is Rather insinuating that having a ‘female’ newscaster is part of the process of ‘tarting up’ the news? I know he doesn’t precisely make that connection, but, to me, it’s just glaring that the word ‘tart’means ‘prostitute.’ How on earth does it matter what ‘time’ the news is on? If something is wrong for the evening news, why isn’t it just as wrong for the morning news? I think what is unstated is that only women are watching those morning ‘shows’, so the standards are lower. We don’t even call the evening news a “show,” do we? It’s not a ‘show,’ it’s a ‘program!’”

In response, Rather differentiates between substantive, serious nightly newscasts and the lighter, feel-good morning shows featuring gardening tips, summer salad recipes, and Sopranos wrap-ups.

But Leslie Moonves, CBS’s CEO, agreed with Althouse, calling Rather’s comments “sexist” and partly to blame for Couric’s lackluster ratings (in fact, a twenty-year low for CBS Evening News). “I’m sort of surprised by the vitriol against her. The number of people who don’t want news from a woman was startling,” Moonves said.

In response to Moonves’ criticism, Rather appeared on FOX News to defend his earlier remarks. He immediately went on the offensive to discredit Moonves for his conflict of interest as CBS’s chief and entertainment guru. A telling exchange with host David Asman:

“RATHER: He [Moonves] is head of CBS News.
ASMAN: He’s head of the whole thing...
ASMAN: ... both entertainment and news. And you think the lines between the two are disappearing?
RATHER: I think they have disappeared.”

A powerful statement from a veteran newsman. Rather continued, “They [network directors] don’t know what hard news is, the top corporate leadership. They know about entertainment, but they don’t know about news.”

Rather also released a statement through HDNet, clarifying his criticism of CBS:

“This is not about Katie Couric. Never has been. It has NOTHING to do with gender. I find it disappointing and insidious that Les Moonves would try to mask the real point with that line of attack. Plenty of women have made incredible sacrifices in the name of hard news. Just look at the record of CBS News Correspondent Kimberly Dozier for one. This is not about gender, this is about leadership at the very top of CBS. They started weakening the role of hard news at the network long before Katie arrived there. Les Moonves started talking about “naked news” -- a comment that should live in infamy. He talked about ‘blowing up’ CBS News and suggested that the landmark journalistic work of Edward R. Murrow should be de-emphasized. Moonves has weakened the News Division at CBS News since he took over.”

Read the whole article.

Connectedness, Intimacy, and Self

Some wisdom from The Art of Intimacy:

"Only through our connectedness to others can we really know and enhance the self. And only through working on the self can we begin to enhance our connectedness to others."

~ Harriet Lerner

Healing relationships often requires healing ourselves.

Wanting intimacy with our partner often means working through our own issues, difficulties, and insecurities, for as we become whole, our relationships can blossom.

This is the hard truth of relationships that a lot of people don't want to look at. There is no better crucible than a relationship for exposing our wounds and our issues. The path to true intimacy requires us to pay attention to those things that get exposed and to heal them. If we don't, the relationship will lose its intimacy and begin to crumble.

Gratefulness in the Now

This is a preview of a talk with Brother David Steindl-Rast and Roshi Joan Halifax. The full-length DVD will be available from Upaya Zen Center. [For more information, please email]

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Gratitude 6/14/07

Some things I am grateful for today:

1) I got 8 hours of sleep last night for the first time in weeks.

2) I saw a few minutes of Oprah today in which she was talking to the straight guy who lived for 30 days with a gay man in SF's Castro district. It was cool to see that he was able to accept that gay people deserve all the rights of citizenship that straight people have. And it was cool to see how supportive the gay man was in helping his new roommate adapt to the "foreign" culture of the Castro.

It reaffirms my belief that if people actually get to know each other, the walls break down and we begin to see that all human beings face the same struggles and deserve the same compassion.

3) Once again, I am grateful for air conditioning on a 103 degree day in the desert.

What are you grateful for?

Speedlinking 6/14/07

Quote of the day:

"I think computer viruses should count as life. I think it says something about human nature that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive. We've created life in our own image."
~ Stephen Hawking

Image of the day:

~ Adjusting the Thermostat for Fat Loss Success -- "Your metabolism is like a thermostat. If the temperature in the room is 75 degrees. chances are good that the thermostat is set for 75 degrees. Is it possible that a window is open and is cooling the house, so that the temperature drops to 65? Sure. But the thermostat will kick in and pretty soon you'll be back at 75."
~ "The Man" Talks Training -- "In this audio interview, Stan [McQuay] talks about training - not his childhood, his favorite color, whether he believes in love at first sight or any of that newsstand magazine horse piss. Just training."
~ Runner’s Knee and the processes of prevention & healing -- "The term “runner’s knee” refers to an inflammation of the tendon, the (ITB), that is located on the outside of the thigh. As injury to this tendon often results from overuse of the knees, and runner’s rely on their knees to function within their sport, the title “runner’s knee” is quite appropriate."
~ Anti-Aging Tips -- "Find out how to turn back the clock."
~ Believe me: alli is no wonder drug; diet and exercise are -- "Folks, if it came down to a choice between torture and taking alli, the weight-loss drug to be available over the counter starting Friday, I’d take the red-hot pokers rammed through my intestines." I'm with her, well, except for the hot poker thing.
~ Kellogg to boost nutrition in cereal, snacks -- "Kellogg Co. has agreed to raise the nutritional value of cereals and snacks it markets to children."
~ Landmark Study Prompts DNA Rethink -- "There's more to "junk" DNA than meets the eye, say researchers." Ya think!?
~ Gabapentin Shown Effective For Fibromyalgia Pain -- "New research supported by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) shows that the anticonvulsant medication gabapentin, which is used for certain types of seizures, can be an effective treatment for the pain and other symptoms associated with the common, often hard-to-treat chronic pain disorder, fibromyalgia."
~ Bookmarkable: Super Simple Calorie Calculator -- "This calorie calculator is extra-simple and easy to use. No frills, just info. Pick your activity from the extensive list on the left, enter your stuff on the right, and you’re done."

~ She's Gotta Have It -- in Her Dreams -- "Women Report as Many Sex Dreams as Men Do, Researchers Say."
~ Self-effacing people are secretly confident -- "No matter how meek they might appear, most people are endowed with the same self-confidence, new research reveals. For some, however, that confidence is buried deep inside."
~ Guys and Sex: 5 Things You’ve Probably Got Wrong -- "Psychology Today is laying to rest some long standing stereotypes about males and their special purpose. So here’s a quick summary of what you think is going on with your sex-stuff, and what actually is."
~ What Can You Learn From a Society With No Words For "Want" and "Worry"? -- "The Moken are a group of nomadic islanders who live off the coast of Thailand and Burma. What makes them special, other than their adherence to their traditional culture while the world around them changes, is that their language is lacking, or, perhaps, free, of key words that Americans use daily."
~ Injection of brain cells offers hope for Parkinson's -- "A single injection of neural stem cells into monkeys with the disease produces a marked improvement in symptoms."
~ The reflected relationship: the science of transference -- "This week's Science News has an article on transference, originally a Freudian concept of how feelings from one relationship can affect another if the two people share similarities. In its simplest sense, transference is taking out your feelings of frustration on your partner when you've just had an argument with the bus driver. You've just transferred them from one person to another."
~ Mimic His Moves -- "Empathy and compassion are linked to mimicking others."

~ Dad's absence ‘decimates’ black community -- "For Chris Gardner, who was played by Will Smith in the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness,” fatherhood is the greatest job in the world. But many in the black community feel there is a father-absence crisis in America."
~ America's irrational voters -- "How the electorate is irrational."
~ Barack Obama's campaign -- "Crowds love him. But can the charismatic young senator from Illinois lead?"
~ The critical buzz on Queens of the Stone Age -- "Led by their enigmatic singer, Josh Homme, Queens of the Stone Age have managed to keep fans from across a wide musical spectrum—rock, metal, even dance—entertained for four albums. The band's fifth, Era Vulgaris, features guest appearances from the likes of Mark Lanegan, Trent Reznor, and the Strokes' Julian Casablancas, and critics mostly like it."
~ Massachusetts Keeps Gay Marriage -- "The Bay State's legislature has voted to keep a gay marriage amendment off the November 2008 ballot."
~ How she got to the top - author renga -- "OpenDemocracy authors explore gender and power through storytelling. Check back as the story grows. Each writer will add a paragraph until the story is complete, and all participants' names will be published at the end,"
~ New Presidential Debate Site? Clearly, YouTube -- " The presidential debates are about to enter the world of YouTube, the anything-goes home-video-sharing Web site that puts the power in the hands of the camera holder. YouTube, which is owned by Google, and CNN are co-sponsoring a debate among the eight Democratic presidential candidates on July 23 in South Carolina, an event that could define the next phase of what has already been called the YouTube election, a visual realm beyond Web sites and blogs."

~ Scientists tailor light waves to desired frequencies -- "The ability to control light is vital for many of today`s technologies, most notably in communications and advanced computing. For example, by using materials from mirrors to nanoparticles, scientists can alter light`s speed with refraction, use diffraction to bend light, use electric fields to rotate light`s polarization, and more."
~ YouTube Clips to Pose Debate Questions -- "CNN and YouTube will host a Democratic debate next month in which questions for the candidates will come entirely from citizens posting video clips, the latest sign of how the Internet has transformed presidential politics."
~ Some Common Birds Not So Common Anymore -- "The populations of nearly two dozen common American birds - the fence-sitting meadowlark, the frenetic Rufous hummingbird and the whippoorwill with its haunting call - are half what they were 40 years ago, a new analysis found."
~ Pluto Isn't Even Largest Dwarf Planet -- "Pity poor Pluto, the puny former planet is facing yet another indignity. Demoted from planethood a year ago into a new category of dwarf planet, it now turns out that it isn't even the biggest one of those."
~ 2 qubits in action, new step towards the quantum computer -- "Researchers at Delft University of Technology have succeeded in carrying out calculations with two quantum bits, the building blocks of a possible future quantum computer. The Delft researchers are publishing an article about this important step towards a workable quantum computer in this week`s issue of Nature."
~ AssignmentZero: By the People Formerly Known as the Audience -- "This story is rife with Web 2.0 geek buzzwords. Open Source, crowdsourcing, citizen media, peer production, information commons, swarming...It's a tale of an online project called AssignmentZero, the first collaborative journalism project from, which we wrote about last year when it was announced by its founder, NYU professor Jay Rosen, who wanted to create a platform for professional journalists to collaborate with 'the people formerly known as the audience.'"
~ Could Some Win With Global Warming? -- "It's not in Al Gore's PowerPoint presentation, but there are some upsides to global warming."

~ Indigo Buddhism? -- "In Integral Spirituality (IS) Ken talks about evolutionary enlightenment. He defines enlightenment as the highest level and state at a given historical period. When the originators of the perennial tradition formulated its paradigm it was pre-modern, or possibly mythical-rational. But it had yet to achieve modernity and certain not postmodernity."
~ The Edge #213 is up.
~ The Wilber Effect? -- "Its worth asking whether Wilber's material, or at least some of his more famous books have a mood altering effect."
~ DharmaFlix video wiki -- Check it out (thanks to Moving Mountains for the tip).
~ Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment Podcast - Part 1 -- "I hope you enjoy watching this four part series with Deepak and Wild Divine: Part 1."
~ BLOG: Guest Blog: Imperfect Perfection - An Experiment in Semantics (Jordan Quaglia) -- "In a vague clarity, it all makes sense. Articulation bound by grammar suffocates the Witness, and so I speak in tongues unspoken. Heard. The periodic table of elemental bliss: "Form is emptiness, emptiness is form," and so this simple complexity is translated: "Imperfect is perfect, perfect is imperfect." Life is art. Colorful, fluid, flowing Godhead."
~ Who Knows You Better - Western Psychology or Buddhism? -- "I began practicing Buddhism a year or so before entering into my graduate counseling program, and ever since I have sought to understand the relationship between Buddhism and Western psychology, at least on a personal level. Now that I have finished that program and am in a graduate Indo-Tibetan Buddhist program, I’m beginning to see connections between the two1."

Daily Dharma: Everyday Zen

Today's Daily Dharma from Tricycle:

Everyday Zen

Intelligent practice always deals with just one thing: the fear at the base of human existence, the fear that I am not.

And of course I am not, but the last thing I want to know is that.

I am impermanence itself in a rapidly changing human form that appears solid. I fear to see what I am: an ever-changing energy field...

So good practice is about fear. Fear takes the form of constantly thinking, speculating, analyzing, fantasizing. With all that activity we create a cloud cover to keep ourselves safe in make-believe practice. True practice is not safe; it's anything but safe. But we don't like that, so we obsess with our feverish efforts to achieve our version of the personal dream. Such obsessive practice is itself just another cloud between ourselves and reality.

The only thing that matters is seeing with an impersonal searchlight: seeing things as they are. When the personal barrier drops away, why do we have to call it anything? We just live our lives. And when we die, we just die. No problem anywhere.

~ Charlotte Joko Beck

Chanting the Heart Sutra

Beautiful and haunting sound . . . .

Via: VideoSift

Jurgen Habermas writes an obiturary for American philosopher Richard Rorty

I found this obituary by Jurgen Habermas kind of interesting, even though I knew little of Richard Rorty's work.

Philosopher, poet and friend

Jürgen Habermas writes an obiturary for American philosopher Richard Rorty

The American philosopher Richard Rorty passed away on Friday. Rorty, whose work ranges over an unusually broad intellectual terrain, was the author of many works, including "Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature" (1979), "Consequences of Pragmatism" (1982), and "Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity" (1989).

Richard Rorty. Photo: Suhrkamp Verlag

I received the news in an email almost exactly a year ago. As so often in recent years, Rorty voiced his resignation at the "war president" Bush, whose policies deeply aggrieved him, the patriot who had always sought to "achieve" his country. After three or four paragraphs of sarcastic analysis came the unexpected sentence: " Alas, I have come down with the same disease that killed Derrida." As if to attenuate the reader's shock, he added in jest that his daughter felt this kind of cancer must come from "reading too much Heidegger."

Three and a half decades ago, Richard Rorty loosened himself from the corset of a profession whose conventions had become too narrow - not to elude the discipline of analytic thinking, but to take philosophy along untrodden paths. Rorty had a masterful command of the handicraft of our profession. In duels with the best among his peers, with Donald Davidson, Hillary Putnam or Daniel Dennett, he was a constant source of the subtlest, most sophisticated arguments. But he never forgot that philosophy - above and beyond objections by colleagues - mustn't ignore the problems posed by life as we live it.

Among contemporary philosophers, I know of none who equalled Rorty in confronting his colleagues - and not only them - over the decades with new perspectives, new insights and new formulations. This awe-inspiring creativity owes much to the Romantic spirit of the poet who no longer concealed himself behind the academic philosopher. And it owes much to the unforgettable rhetorical skill and flawless prose of a writer who was always ready to shock readers with unaccustomed strategies of representation, unexpected oppositional concepts and new vocabularies - one of Rorty's favourite terms. Rorty's talent as an essayist spanned the range from Friedrich Schlegel to Surrealism.

The irony and passion, the playful and polemical tone of an intellectual who revolutionised our modes of thinking and influenced people throughout the world point to a robust temperament. But this impression doesn't do justice to the gentle nature of a man who was often shy and withdrawn - and always sensitive to others.

One small autobiographical piece by Rorty bears the title 'Wild Orchids and Trotsky.' In it, Rorty describes how as a youth he ambled around the blooming hillside in north-west New Jersey, and breathed in the stunning odour of the orchids. Around the same time he discovered a fascinating book at the home of his leftist parents, defending Leon Trotsky against Stalin. This was the origin of the vision that the young Rorty took with him to college: philosophy is there to reconcile the celestial beauty of orchids with Trotsky's dream of justice on earth. Nothing is sacred to Rorty the ironist. Asked at the end of his life about the "holy", the strict atheist answered with words reminiscent of the young Hegel: "My sense of the holy is bound up with the hope that some day my remote descendants will live in a global civilization in which love is pretty much the only law."

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Gratitude 6/13/07

Some things I am grateful for today:

1) I had a light day today, which I needed. It's good to have some down time when things are rough.

2) I am grateful for my (newish) friend Susan.

3) I am grateful for old episodes of The West Wing. I own all seven seasons, but the first four are especially good medicine when I am down. They both make me laugh (and laughter is the best medicine) and inspire me.

4) And finally, I am grateful for a friend who wrote to me last night to let me know that my gratitude post last night was not humble -- in fact, it was filled with hubris, the exact opposite of humility and gratitude. He wasn't as blunt as that, but he was right. And I am grateful for the much-needed slap upside the head. There is compassion, and then there is idiot compassion. Sometimes true compassion is speaking hard truths, and I am grateful that he exercised some true compassion.

What are you grateful for?

Speedlinking 6/13/07

Quote of the day:

"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards."
~ Soren Kierkegaard

Image of the day:

~ How To Stimulate Maximal Fat Loss -- "Everything you wanted to know about how to bring those abs to the surface, and, given that it's Dave Barr, even some stuff you didn't want to know."
~ My one year re-birthday -- "At 10am one year ago I was on the tenth floor of the UCLA hospital having just finished a week of intensive chemotherapy that brought my blood count close to zero. At 10am the medical team performed a stem cell transplant. They call it "Day Zero" - the day you are literally "reborn" from a cellular level."
~ Studies may link athletes and hypothyroidism -- "My mood was great, my weight was fine, and my running times had never been better – I was in the best shape of my life. So why was I in my doctor’s office, being told I had hypothyroidism? How does a 21-year-old, daily runner with energy to spare wind up on medication to treat a condition commonly associated with middle age, lethargy and weight gain?"
~ Diet And Exercise Key To Surviving Breast Cancer, Regardless Of Obesity, New UCSD Study Says -- "Breast cancer survivors who eat a healthy diet and exercise moderately can reduce their risk of dying from breast cancer by half, regardless of their weight, suggests a new longitudinal study from the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD)."
~ Fun Ways to Get Fit -- "We've got activities for every interest and every location. Get outside and get in shape."
~ Personal Trainers Beneficial In Or Out Of The Gym - Study Finds In-Home Personal Training Also Effective -- "Personal fitness training doesn't have to take place in a gym to have worthwhile health benefits or increase motivation, according to a study presented at the 54th American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Annual Meeting in New Orleans." I could have told them that -- I have several in-home clients.
~ Study: Cereal Aids Recovery After Exercise - Breakfast Cereal And Milk May Be Better Than Sports Drink -- "Whole-wheat flake cereal and nonfat milk may facilitate recovery after exercise at least as well as a specialized sports drink, according to research presented in New Orleans at the 54th Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Researchers hope the findings will help home exercisers who may find it convenient to grab a post-workout snack from their kitchen." I can see the Wheaties commercial now . . .
~ Dietary Preferences And Patterns May Be Linked To Genes -- "The relative amount of protein, carbohydrate, and fat that people choose to eat may be influenced by genetics, according to new research." This is why cookie-cutter diet approaches don't work. I thrive on very carbs, while others I need need lots of carbs to feel good.
~ Over-the-Counter Weight Loss Drug Approved -- DON'T DO IT -- this drug sucks.

~ Yoga Improves Concentration, Motivation - Benefits Beyond Strength And Flexibility -- "Practicing yoga can lessen anxiety, heighten concentration and improve motivation in as little as eight weeks, according to research presented in New Orleans at the 54th Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Researchers sought to quantify benefits that go beyond the strength and flexibility typically associated with yoga in the western world."
~ Women like guys who look like dear old dad -- "Women who got along well with their dads as kids are attracted to men who resemble their fathers, whereas women who had a bad father-daughter relationship do not."
~ Slow brain function linked with solo knee injuries -- "In a new study, researchers found measurable decrements in the brain function of intercollegiate athletes who sustained anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries that were not associated with a collision with another athlete or object." Interesting research, especially since I blew out my knee in a non-contact injury. It seems it was my brain's fault.
~ When Forgetting Is Good: Control Reductions at Retrieval [Developing Intelligence] -- "What was your 6th birthday party like? If you successfully retrieved that memory, you may now be ever so slightly less able to remember your other childhood birthdays. A variety of behavioral evidence has shown that such "retrieval induced forgetting" of strongly competing memories is fundamental to memory retrieval. In a new article in Nature Neuroscience, Kuhl et al. provide neuroimaging evidence which ties retrieval-induced forgetting to activity in prefrontal cortex."
~ Guide to Psychology Blogs - Part 4 -- "Here is part four of the most accessible psychology blogs on the internet. Read part 1, part 2 and part 3."
~ The First Instinct Fallacy -- "Test-takers: Your gut response isn't always right."
~ Judgment Under Fire -- "Decision-making when you're under pressure."
~ Codependency – When Caring Becomes Self-Destructive -- "Many of the characteristics of codependency sound like good qualities – caring, nurturing, unselfish and devoted. Some codependent behaviors are well-intentioned. But people in codependent relationships can quickly spiral into destructive, dysfunctional patterns of behavior."

~ Americans More Likely to Believe in God Than the Devil, Heaven More Than Hell -- "Roughly 9 in 10 Americans believe in God or a universal spirit, while fewer than 10% are firm in their belief that there is no God. Eighty-one percent of Americans believe in heaven. At the same time, 7 in 10 profess belief in the Devil and in hell. These updates of Americans' beliefs were measured in a May 10-13, 2007, Gallup poll survey."
~ Majority of Republicans Doubt Theory of Evolution -- "The majority of Republicans in the United States do not believe the theory of evolution is true and do not believe that humans evolved over millions of years from less advanced forms of life. This suggests that when three Republican presidential candidates at a May debate stated they did not believe in evolution, they were generally in sync with the bulk of the rank-and-file Republicans whose nomination they are seeking to obtain."
~ New "Cheese Heroin" Threatens Youths -- "Cheese is a mix of derivatives from over-the-counter medicines like Tylenol PM and adulterated heroin, two sedatives that can combine to stop the heart."
~ Is Your Next Web Obsession? -- "Answer yes or no. This new social-networking site is based upon your responses to all kinds of questions."
~ Anti-War Marine Gets General Discharge -- "Marine Who Was Caught in Uniform at War Protest Gets Discharge 1 Notch Below Honorable."
~ House Passes Post-Virginia Tech Gun Bill -- "The House passed what could become the first major federal gun control law in more than a decade. The bill was spurred by the Virginia Tech killings and buttressed by help from the NRA. The bill would improve state reporting in background checks."
~ Twinkies Go Bananas: Hostess Turns Back Time for the Spongy Sweet -- "Company Returns Twinkie Filling to WWII-Era Flavor [banana cream]; Vanilla Creme No Longer Available."

~ Bacteria ferry nanoparticles into cells for early diagnosis, treatment -- "Researchers at Purdue University have shown that common bacteria can deliver a valuable cargo of "smart nanoparticles" into a cell to precisely position sensors, drugs or DNA for the early diagnosis and treatment of various diseases."
~ Human activities increasing carbon sequestration in forests -- "Human-caused nitrogen deposition has been indirectly “fertilizing” forests, increasing their growth and sequestering major amounts of carbon, a new study in the journal Nature suggests."
~ Plants recognize their siblings, biologists discover -- "The next time you venture into your garden armed with plants, consider who you place next to whom. It turns out that the docile garden plant isn`t as passive as widely assumed, at least not with strangers. Researchers at McMaster University have found that plants get fiercely competitive when forced to share their pot with strangers of the same species, but they`re accommodating when potted with their siblings."
~ Top fossil hunter finds giant bird-like dinosaur -- "One of the world's top fossil hunters unveiled a previously unknown gigantic, chicken-like dinosaur Wednesday that may change evolutionary theory on prehistoric animals."
~ Next Generation Bulb: Aluminum Foil? -- "Thin panels made from aluminum foil, sapphire and gas offer efficient light."
~ Century-Old Weapon Found in Whale -- "A 130-year-old whale took a hit a century ago, but wasn't killed until last month."
~ Tibet To Ban Gold Mining To Protect the Environment -- "Local officials in Tibet plan to ban the mining of gold, mercury, arsenic and peat to preserve mineral resources and protect the environment, state media reported Wednesday."

~ PODCAST: The Joshua Bell Experiment, part III -- "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."
~ Selfishness is "Heaven and Hell" -- "Now I don't believe in a physical, separate "Hell" or "Heaven" from the ones that we create and live in right here, right now. However, I agree with this parable in the sense that it points out the problems that come from being selfish, dualistic and trying to fight the Universal Law of inter-dependency and co-arising."
~ 5 Question Interview Series with Mike Weir -- "Michael Weir is the owner of Heritage Hypnotherapy Center located in Pittsburgh PA. Michael is a certified hypnotherapist with a personal mission to “empower each and every client to reach their highest goals”. His motto is “the answers are within”. Michael has graciously agreed to take part in my on going “5 Question Interview Series”."
~ As the family goeth, so goeth the character of God -- "This is a provocative article in Policy Review, that challenges the common notion that the so-called “modern age” or “modernity” leads to secularization and thus reduced religious and theological awareness and participation."
~ SCENE: Hurts More, Bothers You Less -- "A new video has been uploaded to YouTube, entitled Hurts More, Bothers You Less. When we taste the infinite Absolute of consciousness, the world is seen just as it is--radiant, perfect, and whole. The relative, however, does not cease to be. Quite the contrary, the pains and pleasures of our relative lives are intensified to an unimaginable degree."
~ Strength program -- "As mentioned in another post, I see this very clearly in the form of bodywork I am doing, where both the terminology and practices are great at the centaur and soul level (and allows for a continuing deepening here), but also create a ceiling for anything beyond - for unraveling beliefs and patterns which reveals what we are as Ground. It is fully possible to have a system that focuses on the centaur and soul levels, yet is transparent to and aligned with what is beyond."

Satire: Steroids Scandal Hits Major League Superheroes

As reported in Wired:

Steroids Scandal Hits Major League Superheroes

Commentary by Lore Sjöberg

06.13.07 | 2:00 AM

May 8, 2007, Metropolis

The Justice League of America responded today to the accusations of doping leveled by former member The Atom's new tell-all book, Small-Time Justice. In it, the diminutive crime fighter accuses his fellow superheroes of various indiscretions and infidelities, but the most controversial chapter in the book deals with steroid abuse. While he stops short of naming names, the context makes it clear to which leaguer he's referring.

"Now ask yourself," he writes. "How does a guy with absolutely no superhuman abilities get to hang out with the most powerful beings in the solar system? When you're busy learning science and picking up detective skills and custom-building cars and special devices, how are you going to find the time to hit the gym as hard as you need to even sit at the same table with Superman and Wonder Woman? Isn't it possible that maybe you're going to look for a little outside help, maybe of a chemical nature?"

The Justice League categorically denied these accusations. Superman, speaking for the group, suggested that The Atom was suffering from an inferiority complex and lashing out. "I hate to speak ill of any fellow crime fighter," said the godlike Kryptonian. "But you have to understand that when a person's powers are 'being smaller than anyone else,' that person is going to end up feeling pretty inferior to those who have something to contribute. This is nothing more than an attempt to raise his own stature, if you will, by diminishing others."

The press conference was then interrupted by the attack of a dozen of Brainiac's death bots.

May 22, 2007, Metropolis

Their hand forced by a wave of bad publicity and brutal congressional hearings, the Justice League of America today agreed to institute steroid testing and other drug testing for all members. At a press conference, the entire league stood behind Superman as he announced the new policy.

"While we have nothing but confidence in our members, and do not suspect any of them of wrongdoing, we understand the public interest in being sure that the nation's, and indeed the planet's, guardians are not involved in the use of performance-enhancing drugs, except for the Gingo juice that gives Elongated Man his powers. Seriously, 'Gingo juice'?

"Accordingly, each member of the league will be subject to random, mandatory drug testing. Any member found using steroids, human growth hormone, Martian growth hormone or similar substances will be given a lifetime ban from the league, and their Rapscallions Brought In stats will be given an asterisk in the record books.

"I'm going to have to expose myself to Kryptonite just to get a blood sample," the deific visitor from the planet Krypton said. "I hope you're happy. It hurts."

June 13, 2007, Metropolis

In a surprise development in the ongoing Justice League drug controversy, the league announced the expulsion of founding member Green Lantern for steroid use. While the league refused to speak to the press, instead announcing the decision in a press release, Green Lantern himself spoke to reporters outside league headquarters.

"You have to understand here," he said, visibly weary from the ordeal. "The rest of the guys, they're always running and punching and lifting things. They get a workout just by doing their jobs. Me, what do I do? I think. I just hover there and whatever I think of, my power ring does. I may be flying around, but I have the superhero equivalent of a desk job. If I didn't watch my figure, I'd end up putting on so much weight I'd have to change my name to the Green Lighthouse. Given a choice between spending half my time in the gym and actually, you know, saving the world, yeah, I did a few 'roids."

All other members of the league, including the Batman, have come out clean in their tests, although it was discovered that what Elongated Man was calling "Gingo juice" is actually 180-proof grain alcohol, and has nothing to do with his powers. He is currently in rehab.