Saturday, July 14, 2007

Fractal Expressionism -- Jackson Pollock


I found this interesting article that looks at the paintings of Jackson Pollock as an expression of fractal geometry.

Abstract:

Fractal Expressionism

Can Science Be Used To Further Our Understanding Of Art?

Content : Richard Taylor, Adam P. Micolich and David Jonas

This question triggers reservations from both scientists and artists. However, for the abstract paintings produced by Jackson Pollock in the late 1940s, scientific objectivity proves to be an essential tool for determining their fundamental content. Pollock dripped paint from a can on to vast canvases rolled out across the floor of his barn. Although recognised as a crucial advancement in the evolution of modern art, the precise quality and significance of the patterns created by this unorthodox technique remain controversial. Here we analyse Pollock's patterns and show that they are fractal - the fingerprint of Nature.


If you like math and art, check it out.


Daily Dharma: A Bigger Container


Today's Daily Dharma from Tricycle:

A Bigger Container

We can talk about "oneness" until the cows come home. But how do we actually separate ourselves from others? How? The pride out of which anger is born is what separates us. And the solution is a practice in which we experience this separating emotion as a definite bodily state. When we do, A Bigger Container is created.

What is created, what grows, is the amount of life I can hold without it upsetting me, dominating me. At first this space is quite restricted, then it's a bit bigger, and then it's bigger still. It need never cease to grow. And the enlightened state is that enormous and compassionate space. But as long as we live we find there is a limit to our container's size and it is at that point that we must practice. And how do we know where this cut-off point is? We are at that point when we feel any degree of upset, of anger. It's no mystery at all. And the strength of our practice is how big that container gets. . . . This practice of making A Bigger Container is essentially spiritual because it is essentially nothing at all. A Bigger Container isn't a thing; awareness is not a thing. . . .

~ Charlotte Joko Beck, Everyday Zen

Friday, July 13, 2007

Gratitude 7/13/07

Some things I am grateful for today:

1) It's Friday. I have to work tomorrow, but I only have two clients and nothing before noon. So I can sleep in and get in a good workout in the morning.

2) Meal replacement bars. Today was a busy day, so two of my five meals were bars. The quality of the protein has really gone down in the last five years (hydrolyzed gelatin counts as protein, even though it isn't really "protein" -- but it is good for the joints), but the taste has gotten much better thanks to alcohol sugars.

3) Did I mention it was Friday?

What are you grateful for today?


Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann Discuss Heathcare

From Truthdig:

Keith Olbermann and Michael Moore move the “SiCKO” discussion into the meaningful hows and whens of fixing the system by shooting past the CNN media controversy.





Speedlinking 7/13/07

Quote of the day:

"Art is science made clear."
~ Jean Cocteau

Image of the day:


BODY
~ BETA-7: The Legal Performance-Enhancement Edge for Athletes -- "The edge. In elite competition, it's the difference between first and fifth place. In the gym, it's the difference between 8 reps and 10 reps with the same weight. In the real world, it can be the difference between merely looking "fit" and looking hyper-muscular and lean."
~ The single best exercise for fat loss -- "The kettlebell swing is one of the best, if not THE best exercises for fat loss." With a video demonstration.
~ Asthma Severity Linked To Poor Diet -- "A new study shows that diet may be a key culprit in asthma, a chronic swelling of the airways that affects some 20 million Americans, six million of them children. Researchers report in the journal Chest that adolescents are more likely to experience respiratory problems if their diets are deficient in certain nutrients."
~ Lifestyle Changes, Not Diets, Are Key To Losing Weight -- "Lifestyle changes, not diets, are key to losing weight. It seems that new diet plans are published almost every day. Some of these diets might even help you lose weight. But many diets are so restrictive, either in calories or in variety, that they can be unhealthy in the long term."
~ Top 9 Bodybuilding Recipes -- "We have to warn you - these aren't the typical, "cook 12 pounds of lean hamburger, let cool, and eat" bodybuilding recipes. They actually require a little work and a little finesse, but man, are they worth it."
~ Exercises may curb falls by Parkinson's patients -- "For some people with Parkinson's disease, a personalized home program of exercises and instructions appears to help prevent them from falling, UK researchers have shown."
~ Trimming the waist may trim diabetes, heart risks -- "People who manage to reduce their waistlines may also lower their risk for diabetes and heart disease, a study suggests." Intra-abdominal is the leading indicator for heart disease and diabetes, so this is just common sense.


PSYCHE
~ Into the Heart of Fear -- "Fear is adrenaline-infused contractile aversion, manifesting as a mildly to profoundly unpleasant gripping sensation that compellingly and viscerally announces: I am not safe, I am threatened, I am in danger."
~ Loudest Voice = Majority Opinion -- "New research reveals even if only one member of a group repeats their opinion, it is more likely to be seen by others as representative of the whole group."
~ Fishing for a Good Mood -- "A diet high in omega-3s beats the blues."
~ Head and Heart: Deep Sea Fishing -- "Eating fish can boost your mood and heart."
~ Hypnosis redux -- "Thanks to everyone who came along to discuss the neuropsychology of hypnosis last night. For anyone who wants to investigate further, here's more on the psychology and neuroscience of hypnotic states." Links to four articles.
~ Debate Contines Over Uncontrollable Anger as a Disease -- A chronic tendency toward simmering feelings of anger wont to explode in 10-20 minute bursts of untethered rage is not simply a personality defect, it is a certifiable disorder, and new studies reveal that it is far more common than previously thought. Intermittent Explosive Disorder has been in the DSMV for more than 25 years, but has only recently begun to receive the amount of attention it clearly deserves."
~ Audio: Brian Tracy and Jim Rohn Discusses Confidence and Self-Esteem -- "It’s the two famous personal development speakers/writers Brian Tracy and Jim Rohn having a discussion about self-confidence and self-esteem, the difference between them and how to build them both. Definitely recommended listening."
~
The Courage To Change What You Can -- "Often times we find that we are unhappy with certain aspects of our lives, our selves, our work, or other things. Most people will be unhappy with these things, but will never change them. Why? Because change can be an extremely hard thing to try and consciously make happen. Finding the courage to do so can be scary, and a lot of the time, people would rather remain the same than face the frightening prospect of change."


CULTURE/POLITICS
~ 'Nobody Goes to Hell': Minister Labeled a Heretic -- "One Minister Challenges the Idea of Hell and Loses His Congregation."
~ Overweight child removed from home -- "A mother in northwest England is fighting to get her 8-year-old daughter back after the town council removed the girl because she was extremely overweight." Should this be considered child abuse?
~ Murtha: Bush Is "Delusional" -- "Think Progress has transcript and video of Jack Murtha's appearance on CNN with Wolf Blitzer, whereon he discussed Bush's claims of "progress" in Iraq, and "chaos" if U.S. troops were to withdraw. BLITZER: All right, what do you say to the president? MURTHA: Well, it’s delusional, to say the least. As I said earlier, and you heard me say, it’s a failed policy wrapped in illusion. Nothing has gotten better. Incidents have increased. We’ve had more Americans killed in the last four months than any other period during the war. More Iraqis have been killed. Incidents are up."
~ Bad News in Bush's Iraq Report Card -- "Reassuring grades can't mask the fact that the administration's report highlights the specter of failure."
~ What's the Story With Hillary's Story -- "In the debut of Rhetoric Watch, two speechwriters find a familiar chord in a much-used Clinton anecdote."
~ Smashing Pumpkins Not So Smashing -- "Billy Corgan seems to want to take Smashing Pumpkins back to their early '90s success, but he can’t find the right formula." You can never go backwards. . . .


HABITATS/TECHNOLOGY
~ The Vatican to go carbon neutral -- "The Vatican has agreed to become the first entirely carbon neutral sovereign state."
~ Google CEO: Will Fight Viacom Suit -- "Google Inc. CEO Eric Schmidt says he plans to fight a $1 billion lawsuit from entertainment company Viacom Inc. aggressively, saying the technology company has been obeying the law with its YouTube video-sharing service."
~ Intel, '$100 Laptop' Project Make Peace -- "The nonprofit that aims to seed the developing world with inexpensive laptop computers for schoolchildren has made peace with Intel Corp., the project's most powerful rival."
~ Why We Worry About The Weather -- "Weather still happens to us, but now we all know more about it and the forecasts are more precise. You can plan an outdoor lunch at a New York cafe at 1 pm comfortable in the certainty that the squall won’t arrive until 3. Thanks to the Internet and the Weather Channel and cable news and radio weather on the 8’s, we have a dash of knowledge. Thing is, that just makes us worry more."
~ Scientists Study Livestock Emissions -- "Scientists at eight universities are conducting the largest-ever study of air emissions at the nation's hog, dairy and poultry farms." This is actually a serious issue.
~ Geologists witness unique volcanic mudflow in action in New Zealand -- "Volcanologist Sarah Fagents from the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) at the University of Hawaii at Manoa had an amazing opportunity to study volcanic hazards first hand, when a volcanic mudflow broke through the banks of a volcanic lake at Mount Ruapehu in New Zealand."


INTEGRAL/BUDDHIST
~ John Mackey: Yet another nefarious Friend Of Ken? -- "Among Ken Wilber’s 2nd-tier friends are Adi Da, Marc Gafni, Andrew Cohen and John Mackey. With friends like these, who needs Integral Psychology or Integral Economics or Integral Ethics? Speaking of Jonathan Swift, I now consider time spent studying the works of Ken Wilber Gullible’s Travails." See also: John Mackey's Alter-Cyber-Ego.
~ Ancestral Consciousness -- "I have thought of ancestral consciousness (which I believe to be part of the collective unconscious for most) on several occasions over the past six months. The contemplation followed deep intuitions and felt experiences of the pain and hope of our ancestors while in non-ordinary states of consciousness (NOSC). For me, tapping into this stream results in a deep communion with all of humanity."
~ Suffer What To Suffer -- "I have been focusing on the wrong aspects. That much should have been obvious. The way to transmute the poison is not by focusing on how much the poison hurts. Negative intention creates a self-perpetuating recursion zone and further encodes the holographic engram instead of actively opening and releasing it."
~ What's Your Learning Edge? And, "Come Hell and High Water" -- "I was just tagged by Bill at Integral Options Cafe with a challenge to think about this topic that's making the rounds in the blogosphere. I don't know. Maybe I need a new one. The big one for me recently has been a change in media. For more years than I care to remember, I have thought of myself--and practiced--as a writer. For this, I have actually needed no more than a ballpoint pen and a yellow pad--though I've discovered that a computer actually does come in quite handy."


JibJab: What we call the News

Sadly true -- and funny.


Via: VideoSift


Poem: SU TUNG P’O

This poem by Su Tung P'o was translated by Kenneth Rexroth. You can find many of his translations and other writings by and about him here.

MOON, FLOWERS, MAN

I raise my cup and invite
The moon to come down from the
Sky. I hope she will accept
Me. I raise my cup and ask
The branches, heavy with flowers,
To drink with me. I wish them
Long life and promise never
To pick them. In company
With the moon and the flowers,
I get drunk, and none of us
Ever worries about good
Or bad. How many people
Can comprehend our joy? I
Have wine and moon and flowers.
Who else do I want for drinking companions?



Don Beck on Spiral Dynamics and AQAL


This question and reply were posted in the SDi Yahoo group. There has been quite the falling out between Don Beck and Ken Wilber in the past few years, which I think is sad -- they both have a lot to offer in creating a well-rounded integral theory. It would be nice if the intellectual leaders of integral theory didn't feel themselves to be in competition, but rather working toward a shared goal -- a more comprehensive view of human beings.

Anyway, here is the question and answer:

Steve McDonald: Wilber refers to Graves' research as measuring a line of development called the 'values line'. In my opinion the values line overlaps with other lines though (the lines are really a continuum it seems, which we divide up just as we divide the continuum between hot and cold into various degrees).

I find it very useful to think about lines of development when I'm working with clients. For example I recently came across a manager who showed up solidly Green in a CultureSCAN, yet her observed behaviour (I know her quite well) is very much strive/drive Orange. I've also come across many people in the SDi community who seem to be able think at Yellow, but the way they live their life is very much first tier and characterised by struggle. These paradoxes can be explained by using lines of development. Someone may be intellectually attracted to, and capable of thinking (cognitive line) at Green or Yellow, yet at an emotional level (emotional line) they may still be Orange (for example) and living in a strive/drive way. It seems that we need to reach a certain vmeme across more than one line of development before that vmeme becomes the dominant driver of our way of being.

One of Wilber's criticisms of Spiral Dynamics is that it's not an all encompassing way of measuring development (as some claim it to be). While it may be useful for measuring and understanding a number of different lines, including values, there are some lines that it doesn't address. For example, to the best of my knowledge, you can't use SDi to measure someone's development in musical/rhythmic intelligence, visual/spatial intelligence or bodily/kinaesthetic intelligence. If someone can demonstrate otherwise, I'm all ears!

Don Beck: The "lines" you mentioned at the bottom belong in the areas of IQ, EQ, and temperament,which are independent variables, quite separate from the Complex Adaptive Intelligences that Graves revealed and we have documented. These are defined operationally in the l996 book and in presentations. In the 1978 lecture at UNT Graves clearly said that "values" are but a derivative of his larger work, and most certainly not the whole ball of wax. I should think that Graves would be in a better position to define his work than anybody else.

The emerging spiral belongs right at the core of the quadrants -- Graves called them bio-psycho-social domains long before Wilber "invented" his four quadrants. Clearly, there is a need for "spirals of maturity" of various mental functions, which do not fit the Gravesian Double Helix model. A friend in German just designed a wonderful, vertical model of how the spiral lifts up, in a three-dimensional fashion, to shape the movements of individuals and groupings. I would encourage Ken and his supporters to stop using any of the Spiral Dynamics symbols, language, examples, colors etc. when explaining their work, because they do not belong within the SD family. Same goes for any reference to "Third Tier" which exploits the "tier" language as copyrighted in Spiral Dynamics. This is what happens when someone simply attempts to align different theoretical models rather than allow each to stand on its own. It also happens with concept builders who do no original research themselves. Nothing is "just like" anything else.

In Gravesian language these are not types of people but ways of thinking about something, which means one can think in different levels (memetic codes) in different areas of one's life. Yet, too much stress on different "lines" can be misleading. One can make a pretty good case, as we used to do in our Ph. D work at the University of Oklahoma in the mid l960s, for showing that "cognitive" and "emotions" flow together. And, my Ph.D dissertation on the causes of the American Civil War developed an "integral" viewpoint of politics, religion, historicity, psychology, sociology etc in setting the stage for l861. I guess I was early with "integral."

Wilber has his own agenda for misrepresenting this work. He has a right to his opinion, but, also, the ethical responsibility to be accurate. We all do. He rightly named it "The Theory that Explains everything" in his recent book. I believe in an "invisible spiral" and support any wrapping around it, and avoid making any statement regarding other such models. We need them all, rather than put them in competition. Just let Gravesian/Spiral Dynamics be what it is and let people decide what works best for them. The real content of Spiral Dynamics, however, is not about the eight or nine levels, but how human systems emerge from the interaction of people with their life conditions. Otherwise, one is trapped with a Calvinistic, pre-determined roll out, maybe like reincarnation. Different developmental theorists will, of course, see different wrappings, because of who they are, how they do research, who is in their studies, with what data-gathering technologies. The essence of Spiral Dynamics is this Double-Helix effect. I would like to know the source of the "levels" or "types" generated by other developmental theorists and research groups. These differences must come from somewhere.


21st Century S.E.X. Ed

Sex education has taken quite a hit in the last six years of the Bush administration. The abstinence-only approach has been proven not to be effective -- in fact, teens "educated" about abstinence-only are just as likely (maybe even more likely according to some studies) to have sex and end up pregnant or with sexually transmitted diseases.

In Seattle, someone is trying to offer a more inclusive and holsitic approach to sex education -- it looks good to me. She was interviewed by Wire Tap, and the article was picked up by AlterNet. Here is a taste:

Thirty-seven-year-old Seattle resident Heather Corinna's mission is to make sure teenagers have accurate sex information that speaks directly to them. In 1999, she started her pioneering site Scarleteen.com, which gets 10,000-30,000 visitors a day, and has just come out with S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-To-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College.

WireTap: How is S.E.X. different from other books for teens about sex?

Heather Corinna: The two largest differences are that it is holistic and inclusive. It's holistic in the sense that it presents sexuality as being one part of a larger whole. There's information on body image, self-esteem, personal identity, gender roles, general health, and both interpersonal relationships and the relationship one has with oneself.

It is inclusive in that it doesn't presume that it's speaking to girls or guys, to heterosexuals or homosexuals, to people who are dating or people who aren't.

You start out telling readers that they can choose to create a "healthy, happy and fulfilling sexual life." This notion alone is at odds with the tone of most media reports about teens and sex; why do you think teen sexuality sets off such controversy?

Corinna: Teenagers being sexual are often presented as teens "out of control," even when historically, psychologically and physiologically what they're doing is completely developmentally normal and appropriate. I think one reason why teenage sexuality is so controversial has to do with adult fears about losing control over a class of people who, quite earnestly, can have an awful lot of power and influence when they choose to harness it.

But some of that is also just plain old worry, coming from a good place. A lot of parents really love their kids, and feel they made errors with sexual partnership or sexuality they don't want their own kids to make.


Read the whole article
.


Charles Darwin -- Legacy

A cool documentary for those of us interested in evolution science -- from UKTV.


Via: VideoSift


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Gratitude 7/12/07

Today was an interesting day.

I had a brief but very crucial conversation with my first client of the day, my friend Mary, that helped me clarify some things about what is important to me. I'm grateful for her wisdom.

Later I had another interesting conversation with some clients, a husband and wife, in which they basically called me out on my lack of presence of late. Certainly, the depression I have been dealing with (which is improving) has gotten in the way of my work, which is something I was trying to pretend wasn't happening -- but it is. It was really helpful to hear their feelings, which they presented with extreme tact and compassion. I'm grateful for their courage in talking to me.

Finally, I heard from an old friend this morning. She is someone I once dated briefly -- and one of the few of my exes I have stayed in touch with. Considering that I was an ass back then, I am grateful that we are still friends. It was good to hear from her -- we are in similar places in our lives relating to writing.

What are you grateful for today?


Speedlinking 7/12/07

Quote of the day:

"A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people."
~ Thomas Mann

Image of the day:


BODY
~ Milk And Dairy Products Protect Against "Metabolic Syndrome" -- "A daily pint or a helping of dairy foods protect against the clustering of abnormal body chemistry known as the metabolic syndrome, suggests a study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health .The syndrome has been linked to an increased risk of diabetes, coronary artery disease, and premature death."
~ First-time Link Between Food Intolerance And Illness -- "Researchers from University College London have found compelling evidence for the first time to link food intolerances and serious illness.A six-month programme has shown potential links with foodstuffs and Crohn's Disease, and ulcerative colitis.The discovery could prompt an entire rethink in the medical profession across a range of conditions, from irritable bowel syndrome to migraine."
~ Muscle Wasting More Bad News For Smokers -- "Researchers at The University of Nottingham have got more bad news for smokers. Not only does it cause cancer, heart attacks and strokes but smokers will also lose more muscle mass in old age than a non-smoker. The effect of this predisposes smokers to an accelerated decline in physical function and loss of independence."
~ Triglycerides Explained -- "When your body has more triglycerides than it can use, the excess triglycerides end up being transported to fat cells (rather than being used by your body for energy). If your triglyceride levels remain elevated it can lead to atherosclerosis and heart damage." High triglycerides may be a better indicator of trouble ahead than high cholesterol.
~ Woman drops 110 pounds, 8 dress sizes -- "Three years ago Sharon Twitchell was miserable. Carrying 227 pounds on her tiny 5'2" frame, the 51-year-old mother and wife could barely squeeze into her plus-size clothing. Twitchell is the first of eight CNN.com I-Reporters who shared their weight loss stories with CNN."
~ No Evidence Tomatoes, Lycopene Cut Cancer: FDA -- "There's little hard evidence that a diet rich in tomatoes and the tomato antioxidant lycopene can ward off cancer, according to research from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration."
~ Diet Mistakes: 6 Reasons You're Not Losing Weight -- "Are you dieting and not losing weight? The truth is that even when you're "on a diet," you may be eating a lot more calories than you think." The first mistake is when you think of it as a diet instead of a lifestyle change.


PSYCHE
~ Weight Bias Threatens Obese Children's Health And Quality Of Life -- "Overweight children who are stigmatized by peers and their parents and teachers sustain profound and potentially lasting harm, according to a paper by scientists from Yale and the University of Hawaii at Manatoa. "Weight-based discrimination is as important a problem as racial discrimination or discrimination against children with physical disabilities," the authors write in the July issue of Psychological Bulletin."
~ You can forget the unhappy past: study -- "Researchers have confirmed what common wisdom has long held -- that people can suppress emotionally troubling memories -- and said on Thursday they have sketched out how the brain accomplishes this." I'm thinking there might be serious risks in doing this.
~ How rage can make you ill -- "New research confirms it: Men are mad as hell. Problem is, our rage isn't just hurting us, it's killing us."
~ Social Anxiety Damages Mental, Physical Health -- "Beyond breeding isolationist behavior and complicating comorbid cases of depression and related mental illness, chronic social anxiety disorder can contribute to such physical infirmities as heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure, ultimately decreasing one's overall lifespan."
~ How NOT to think about human behavior [A Blog Around The Clock] -- "Echidne, Amanda Marcotte, Laelaps and Larry Moran beautifully destroy the "Ten Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature" article from the recent issue of 'Psychology Today', the latest garbage from the Evolutionary Psychology crowd. Much fun was had by all...." Follow the links to the various posts.
~ Magnetic brain stimulation not proven to fight depression -- "At a recent American Psychiatric Association meeting, commercial companies were showing off custom made magnetic brain stimulators as a treatment for depression. A review article in the latest Nature Reviews Neuroscience looks at the technology and finds there's still no convincing evidence that it's an effective treatment."
~ 5 Inspirations for Being in the Moment -- "How often have you eaten a meal and not really tasted it, or completed a chore or drove to work without really thinking about it? Our days often pass us by while our minds are elsewhere."
~ Short-term memory ability may predict IQ -- "U.S. psychologists have found people with high IQs might be able to remember more than the four objects an average person can store in short-term memory." If this is true, then I am exception to the rule.


CULTURE/POLITICS
~ ‘Fat tax’ could save thousands each year -- "A “fat tax” on salty, sugary and fatty foods could save thousands of lives each year, according to a study."
~ Surgeon General Nominee Faces Tough Probing on Capitol Hill -- "Holsinger's Views on Sex and Science Face 'Grave Reservations' from Senate Liberals."
~ Alberto Gonzales -- "Alberto Gonzales's Justice Department is falling apart."
~ Report on Iraq Shows Mixed Results -- "A Bush administration report on Iraq shows satisfactory progress on eight benchmarks, unsatisfactory progress on another eight and mixed results on the other two."
~ How the Democrats Got Religion -- "The party ignored the faithful for decades, but now its front runners want to level the praying field."
~ Hirsh: World Prepares for Post-Bush Era -- "While Republicans abandon him at home, the rest of the world is preparing for the era beyond Bush. What the next president should do to repair the breach between Washington and the world."
~ Is Cheney Evil or Just a Weasel? -- "The Dark Lord. Voldemort. Darth Vader. The Shadow President. These threatening, macho soubriquets have been applied to Dick Cheney over the past six years, and are in rapid circulation in the wake of recent charges that Cheney's office, beginning in 2003, refused to submit annual reports about how it classifies secret documents to the National Archives' Security Oversight Office. Turns out Cheney claims to be above such laws."
~ FBI Employees Face Criminal Probe Over Patriot Act Abuse -- "An internal investigation is looking into the misuse of National Security Letters to gain access to Americans' phone records, top bureau officials tell privacy groups."


HABITATS/TECHNOLOGY
~ Warming causing gray whales to lose weight, say scientists -- "Scientists on the US Pacific coast are increasingly observing emaciated gray whales in what they fear is a sign that global warming is wreaking havoc in the whales' Bering Sea summer feeding grounds."
~ Higher efficiency organic solar cell created -- "Using plastics to harvest the energy of the sun just got a significant boost in efficiency thanks to a discovery made at the Center for Polymers and Organic Solids at the University of California, Santa Barbara."
~ How plants learned to respond to changing environments -- "A team of John Innes centre scientists lead by Professor Nick Harberd have discovered how plants evolved the ability to adapt to changes in climate and environment. Plants adapt their growth, including key steps in their life cycle such as germination and flowering, to take advantage of environmental conditions."
~ Researchers witness natural selection at work in dramatic comeback of male butterflies -- "An international team of researchers has documented a remarkable example of natural selection in a tropical butterfly species that fought back - genetically speaking - against a highly invasive, male-killing bacteria." Nature is SO cool.
~ One man's junk may be a genomic treasure -- "Scientists have only recently begun to speculate that what`s referred to as “junk” DNA - the 96 percent of the human genome that doesn`t encode for proteins and previously seemed to have no useful purpose - is present in the genome for an important reason. But it wasn`t clear what the reason was. Now, researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine have discovered one important function of so-called junk DNA."
~ The emerging age of hydrogen energy -- "This is a guest essay by Geoffrey Holland, co-author (with James Provenzano) of The Hydrogen Age: Empowering a Clean Energy Future, which will be out in the fall. I know there are many hydrogen skeptics in the audience, so remember: keep it civil and substantive."


INTEGRAL/BUDDHIST
~ Oceanic She -- "Yesterday, I felt that same urge come on: to feel good, to feel comforted. And as visions of the country cooking buffet up the road (collards! okra! barbeque! butter beans!) danced in my head, I changed clothes, grabbed my bag and a book, and was getting ready to head out the door when another thought hit: why not go to the beach instead? And so instead of spending $9 at the buffet, I bought some waterproof 30+ sunscreen for my pasty body and hit the beach."
~ Learning Edge +7 -- "Yesterday William from Integral Options Cafe tagged me to take part in a What is Your Learning Edge? meme. What a coincidence! Minutes ago I finished selecting classes for my return to university in September, and I wanted a good excuse to share that."
~ Walking our path.. 'know how' or 'no how'? -- "We've talked quite a lot recently about 'being awake', 'following our bliss', 'finding flow' and 'being true to our Self' (all very much the same thing) and how it's not about walking around in a happy-clappy, pastel stupor.. but a hugely practical thing. It's actually about getting real.. being profoundly open to whatever life brings us in each moment and allowing it to serve our best interests."
~ The Faces of Buddhism in Tucson -- "Tucson is becoming a hotbed of Buddhist activity. Is the religion's popularity a significant trend or just a passing fad?" At least there's one good thing about living here. Well, OK, there's more than one.
~ Roundup on July 6, 2007 -- "No theme, no meme, just stream, today. Here are some quick words on some of the excellent posts just a click away, out in the Buddhoblogosphere [and maybe a little beyond, into the Integral savanna] that popped up during this young month." Lots of good links.


Daily Om: Shedding Light On Ourselves

Another good Daily Om, and one I am posting for a friend who needs to read this.

Shedding Light On Ourselves
Parts That Don’t Want To Heal

In almost every case, we know what is best for us in our lives, from the relationships we create to the food we eat. Still, somewhat mysteriously, it is often difficult to make the right choices for ourselves. We find ourselves hanging out with someone who leaves us feeling drained or choosing to eat fast food over a salad. We go through phases where we stop doing yoga or taking vitamins, even though we feel so much better when we do. Often we have no idea why we continue to make the less enlightened choice, but it is important that we inquire into ourselves to find out.

When we choose that which is not best for us, the truth can be that there is a deep seated part of us that does not want to heal. We may say it’s because we don’t have the time or the energy or the resources, but the real truth is that when we don’t take care of ourselves we are falling prey to self-sabotage. Self-sabotage happens unconsciously, which is why it’s so difficult to see that we are doing it. The important thing to realize is that this very part of us that resists our healing is the part that most needs our attention and love. Even as it appears to be working against us, if we can simply bring it into the light of our consciousness, it can become our greatest ally. It carries the information we need to move to the next level in our healing process.

When we recognize that we are not making healthy choices, we might even say out loud, “I am not taking care of myself.” Sometimes this is the jolt we need to wake up to what is actually happening. Next we can sit ourselves down in meditation, with a journal, or with a trusted friend to explore the matter more thoroughly. Just shining the light of our awareness on the source of our resistance is sometimes enough to dispel its power. At other times, further effort is required. Either way, we need not fear these parts that do not want to heal. We only need to take them under our wing and bring them with us into the light.


Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly Timelapse

This is cool.

Beautiful film of the stages of metamorphosis of the Cloudless Sulphur butterfly. The song is "Traces" from the Technician album "Silicon Landscape".



Via: VideoSift


Cool Site: Trek Nature

Trek Nature's tag line is Learn about nature through photography. Very cool. Here are some pictures.







The Dalai Lama - A Simple Tibetan Monk

An interview with the Dalai Lama. Here is the text that was posted at Video Sift:

He calls himself a simple Tibetan monk, but he is far more than that to his people and most of the Buddhist world.

He is a Nobel Peace laureate who has had to live in exile in northern India since he fled his homeland as a teenager.

Tenzin Gyatso, known around the world simply as The Dalai Lama was the first Tibetan spiritual leader to travel to the West.

It is a trend he has continued as he regularly meets with world leaders to publicise the cause for a free Tibet.

Tibet is governed by China and the Dalai Lama has led a government in exile in Dharamsala, in northern India since fleeing his homeland in 1959.

Tenzin Gyatso has had a colourful life from an early age. He was taken from his family around the age of two, for intensive training, after being identified as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama. He was enthroned as Tibet's head of state at the age of 15.

In 1989, this simple monk – to use his words – was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts for a peaceful resolution in the struggle for a free Tibet.

Part One:

Via: VideoSift

Part Two:



Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Gratitude 7/11/07

I'm not feeling grateful for much of anything tonight, so I'll leave you with today's Daily Om:

Offerings Of The Day
Finding Gifts In All

When we have good days, we often find ourselves going over the details later, enjoying them a second and third time as we feel the joy of our good fortune. When we have bad days, we may find ourselves poring over the details of our misfortunes. However, we can reframe those bad days by making it a daily practice to spend some time before going to bed each night to review the gifts we received that day. Regardless of our evaluation of the day—good, bad, mediocre—we can call forth the many blessings that were present. This practice transforms our consciousness as it reveals the fullness at the heart of our lives.

Some days it’s easy to recount the gifts we’ve received; on other days, we have to look harder for the offerings of the day, but once we do, we will find there are always quite a few. We can keep it simple and be grateful for the fact that we have a roof over our head, nature, food, and our health. Once we have fully experienced these gifts, we can move outward to the gifts that may require a little more thought such as the gifts of forgiveness, tolerance and acceptance that we may have learned that day. We can also always be grateful for the people in our lives who support us, no matter how bad our day may have been.

Just reviewing the many positive offerings in our lives provides a context for our difficulties that puts them in proper perspective, but we can also make an effort to see the gifts even in adverse circumstances. This can be challenging and may require some practice before it feels authentic, but we have all had the experience of a disappointment or loss leading to a surprising gain. Just remembering this and trusting the give and take of life can help us to remember that sometimes the best gifts of all are the ones we don’t recognize right away. In addition, the lessons we learn in the face of adversity are offerings in their own right, allowing us to count patience, wisdom, and fortitude alongside the other gifts of the day.


What Is Your Learning Edge?

Garnet David, of Glittering Stew, tagged me with a new meme floating around the blogosphere: What is your learning edge. Here's the gist of it:

“Write a post about your “learning edge” and what you’re into these days. Feel free to mention any books you’re reading, classes you’re taking, people you’re learning from or collaborating with, etc. Tell us about the gems you’re picking up, the fun you’re having, etc., especially if they’re shifting the way you look at what you do.”

I've been sitting with this for a day or so, unsure of what I wanted to post about. But something that happened earlier this week (that I just blogged about today) shifted my thinking a little bit. So, this is my learning edge:

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?

~ Hamlet


This is the only question worth asking in life. And unless one chooses to end it, we have a responsibility to live life as fully as possible.

To say "yes" to life, to say "I want to live" -- this is only the beginning of the journey.

Many of us do not really live our lives -- and this is certainly true of me at times. We get up, go to work, maybe go to the gym or the grocery store, come home, eat, go to bed, and then do it all again the next day. On weekends we try to get some rest, maybe see a movie or go shopping, and before we know it another Monday has arrived.

The days pass quickly and then the years and then the decades. What a waste. Many of us do not even enjoy the work we do -- and we spend more time working than we do in most other parts of our lives.

Three years ago I decided I wanted to do my passion as my work, full time. I quit my marketing/sales job and became a full-time personal trainer and freelance writer. I can't express how much better my life has been since doing this.

Still, I often am not really living a lot of the time. My days become a routine. I am single, so I feel the loneliness of not having someone to share my life with -- and I feel sorry for myself. I read a lot, watch DVDs, hang out with friends when I can. I sit on the cushion several times a week. But I often feel like my life is on auto-pilot, and I am just a bystander.

My learning edge is learning how to really be ALIVE.

Certainly, meditation helps me be more present, to feel more plugged into life. And when I am with clients, I am much more present and alive than when I am at home. When I am writing, or blogging, I also feel more plugged in, more a part of the flow of life. When I am working out I feel more alive than almost any other time in my life, aside from my recent relationship (where I felt TOTALLY alive until it ended).

I am learning more and more about subpersonalities (see the sidebar for posts on this topic), which helps me understand how certain parts within me push me toward disconnection. Working with shadow stuff also helps me see what holds me back from being more present in my life.

Each day I struggle to face the day with openness and hope -- wanting to make each day the best day it can be. Often, at night when I am going to bed, I feel like I have wasted another day. But I am trying to end each day with a sense of gratitude, and that helps me see the good things each day that I might otherwise take for granted.

So, now I am supposed to tag some other people, so I tag Peter, Tim, and Apollo.


Speedlinking 7/11/07

Quote of the day:

"We are continually faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems."
~ John W. Gardner

Image of the day:



BODY
~ Motivate Lagging Muscles -- "Thibs lists five reasons why you're not growing (not including the fact that your workout consists of 5 minutes on the Thigh Master you found in your mom's closet). Oh yeah, he also gives some pretty cool quick fixes."
~ Eat healthy on the cheap -- "Find ways to lose weight and save money."
~ The Bottom Line on Creatine -- "World's greatest muscle-builder? Kidney poison? We dig in to fitness' favorite supplement debate for the latest. Here's what you need to know." Mostly good info. But you don't need to take it with a lot of sugar, and you don't need to load it, and it has a LOT more health benefits other than bigger & stronger muscles.
~ Cross-Training: Climb Out Of Your Fitness Rut -- "Although fitness centers offer a wide array of options, it's easy to fall into a narrow rut of using the same treadmill or exercise machine day in and day out. No wonder "boredom" is among the top excuses for not sticking with an exercise program. "You hear about hitting a plateau - and it happens," said Andrea Sprik, personal trainer with the Avera Fitness Center. Muscles can also get in a "rut," never being challenged beyond a certain level of performance." Research indicates that 80% of gym goers aren't doing enough work, or working hard enough, to change their physiques.
~ Strange But True: Testosterone Alone Does Not Cause Violence -- "It's commonly assumed that testosterone, that stereotypically male hormone, is intimately tied to violence. The evidence is all around us: weight lifters who overdose on anabolic steroids experience "roid rage," and castration--the removal of the source of testosterone--has been a staple of animal husbandry for centuries." Not strange -- just stupid.
~ Older women should avoid hormone therapy: study -- "Women long past menopause should not use hormones to prevent heart disease, researchers said on Wednesday."
~ Your Spouse Can Pass On Good Health Habits -- "Being a good role model can truly help a spouse to adopt a healthy lifestyle. When one spouse quits smoking or drinking, gets a cholesterol screening or rolls up a sleeve for a flu shot, the other spouse is more likely to follow suit, according to a new study published in the journal Health Services Research."We consistently find that when one spouse improves his or her behavior, the other spouse is likely to do so as well," said study co-author Tracy Falba, Ph.D."
~ Researchers discover evidence of very recent human adaptation -- "A Cornell study of genome sequences in African-Americans, European-Americans and Chinese suggests that natural selection has caused as much as 10 percent of the human genome to change in some populations in the last 15,000 to 100,000 years, when people began migrating from Africa."


PSYCHE
~ Can Women Separate Love and Sex? -- "Sex, like eating, is a biological drive, and you will lose your mind if you repress it for too long. But some women stave off the need much longer than others." Don't really agree with this, but I thought I'd toss it out there.
~ Joke Comprehension May Decrease With Age -- "New Psychology Study Finds Joke Comprehension May Decrease With Age."
~ Brain Pathway May Underlie Depression -- "High-speed camera snapshots may have pinpointed a spot in the brain that serves as a marker for depression. Investigators have observed that electrical chatter in the dentate gyrus-a C-shaped region of the hippocampus-contracts in depressed rats but expands again after the animals receive antidepressants."
~ This Wednesday: How to feel happier BY THE END OF THE DAY: Your menu of options -- "Do you need a happiness boost—right now? If so, take a look at this menu of options and make your choices. Remember, the more you tackle, the bigger the boost you’ll receive."
~ What Money Can't Buy -- "The link between self-doubt and materialism."
~ Field Guide to the Materialist -- "For some people, stuff reigns and to shop is to be."
~ Divorce begets divorce -- but not genetically -- "The first study to examine genetics as a culprit in the higher-than-usual divorce rate among children of divorced parents found that the parents' divorce itself, not genes or even problems such as parental substance abuse or delinquency, played a key role in the failed unions."


CULTURE/POLITICS
~ Kings don’t rule the castle — queens do -- "Men might throw their weight around at the office, but at home, women are the bosses. A study, which was just released, finds that wives have more power than their husbands in making decisions and dominating discussions."
~ The perpetuation of bad arguments [Respectful Insolence] -- "Lately, I've been becoming increasingly interested in how bad scientific arguments make it into the collective consciousness and stay there. While it's true that there are such things as astroturf campaigns and paid flaks whose job it is to get such messages in the medium and keep them there, but it's more than just that. I shudder to use the dreaded M-word here, but it's probably appropriate. What happened two weeks ago showed how these sorts of memes can propagate in even the least expected places."
~ Brand it like Beckham -- "Now in its eleventh season, Major League Soccer is a relatively young sports franchise in North America, but games are televised on ESPN and enthusiasm is growing steadily. In January, the legendary British soccer player David Beckham gave MLS its biggest boost yet by signing on with the Los Angeles Galaxy, bringing his game to the United States after several seasons with the Real Madrid club in Spain. Beckham's move has triggered an avalanche of publicity."
~ Behind McCain's Campaign Chaos -- "With key staff resignations and dwindling cash, the Republican hopeful tries to keep his campaign from imploding."
~ Look Who's Talking -- "Remember when GOP Senator David Vitter, caught in the DC Madam sex scandal, inveighed against Clinton's moral failings? David Corn savors the irony."
~ Philosopher Daniel Dennett On Religion, Gould and UFOs at Monsters & Critics -- "Philosopher Daniel Dennett, author of Darwin's Dangerous Idea, Freedom Evolves, and most recently, Breaking the Spell, is interviewed by Dan Schneider over at Monsters & Critics. Wading through the overwrought, pretentious and often confused questions, there are some Dennettian gems to be mined from it."
~ The Notion: Michael Moore v. CNN -- "Filmmaker turns an insurance-industry friendly attack on 'Sicko' into an exposé of the cable news network's flawed journalism."


HABITATS/TECHNOLOGY
~ Online Help Sought to Organize Galaxies -- "Scientists need help sorting through an unusual digital photo album: pictures of about 1 million galaxies."
~ CO2 hurts reef growth -- "Coral reefs are at risk of going soft, quite literally turning to mush as rising carbon dioxide levels prevent coral from forming tough skeletons, according to UQ research."
~ Water Found Outside Solar System -- "The first extrasolar planet found to house water is an uninhabitable gas giant."
~ E.O. Wilson on Bill Moyers Journal -- "In a great interview with Bill Moyers, Wilson talks about his new Encyclopedia of Life project, and what it will take to spark a new green revolution. "We desperately need leadership," he says." Follow the links.
~ A First-Principles Model of Early Evolution -- "In a study publishing in PLoS Computational Biology, Shakhnovich et al present a new model of early biological evolution - the first that directly relates the fitness of a population of evolving model organisms to the properties of their proteins."
~ The Mandelbrot Set [Good Math, Bad Math] -- "The most well-known of the fractals is the infamous Mandelbrot set. It's one of the first things that was really studied as a fractal. It was discovered by Benoit Mandelbrot during his early study of fractals in the context of the complex dynamics of quadratic polynomials the 1980s, and studied in greater detail by Douady and Hubbard in the early to mid-80s."


INTEGRAL/BUDDHIST
~ History and Dharma (8) -- "Development in states and structures is obviously distinct, though not entirely separate. The nature of growth is quite different, though in both cases we find a shift in one's "center of gravity" (COG). However, one cannot "peak-experience" a higher structure, and also structures cannot be skipped. On the other hand, you can peak-experience any state plus you can master the formless without developing serious competence in the subtle domain, and vice versa. Hence, the states are much more fluid and overlapping than structures."
~ Banging My Head on Steps Two and Three -- "Tonight, I am picking up my 11-year sobriety chip. I can still remember what it was like living through the Hell of my previous life. I feel a lot of compassion for that young lady that I was who longed for peace, but with little hope of finding it. How many nights did I cry out to God for a way out? My soul ached for years."
~ Evolution and Religion: Why "The God Delusion" is also a Delusion -- "Here's a lecture by David Sloan Wilson criticizing the mainstream intelligent design vs. evolution and atheism vs. religion debates, calling them merely as "sideshows." Very mind-expanding. Check it out and see why Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett (and other angry atheists) are missing the point when it comes to religion."
~ A Bird In The World, my new record -- "I’m excited to announce that my newest record releases soon! Ceremonially, it releases July 26 — Twyla’s birthday. That is because the album is dedicated to her. And specifically, it is dedicated to her emergence into the world. The EP of seven songs will be available through iTunes, eMusic.com, and other outlets."
~ How do you Meditate? -- "I'd like to open up a thread for readers to discuss the ins and outs of meditation--especially since I'm aware that some readers are new to the practice. What specific techniques have you found useful, or problematic? Does anyone need help/advice? I'd be happy to hear from you... "
~ Anatomy of resistance -- "Resistance to experience is one of those things that seem so solid and substantial, but turns out to be ephemeral and even fall away (at least as something identified with) when seen more for what it is."
~ Kundalini Yoga -- "The word Kundalini is a familiar one to all students of Yoga, as it is well known as the power, in the form of a coiled serpent, residing in Muladhara Chakra, the first of the seven Chakras, the other six being Svadhishthana, Manipuraka, A nahata, Visuddha, Ajna and Sahasrara, in order."
~ Is Your Ego Your Enemy or Your Friend? -- "Isn't it interesting that people who would never think of killing anything else think that killing the ego is so important?"