Friday, November 02, 2007
I just watched Hero for the first time since it came out on DVD. When I first saw this film, I was caught up in the sword play and special effects and didn't really notice the integral overtones. Jet Li is excellent as Nameless, the assassin, so it was easy to be distracted.
Here is a plot summary from IMDB:
In feudal China, the King of Qin is waging a bloody campaign to conquer the entire land. He has been made a target of three dangerous assassins: spear-wielding Sky, and the lovers Broken Sword and Flying Snow. One day word comes that he has nothing left to fear; a prefect known only as Nameless has killed all three assassins. Nameless is called to the palace and asked to recount the tale of how he accomplished this amazing feat. After he tells his story, however, the King notices some flaws in it...
The story, at its heart, looks at the efforts of a king to unite his land and put an end to war and violence. His motives are good, even if he is brutal in executing them.
I highly recommend this film to anyone who has not already seen it. It's a good interpretation of the rise of the Amber meme in China and how it subdued the Red meme that was prevalent at the time.
"There are lots of ways of being miserable, but there's only one way of being comfortable, and that is to stop running round after happiness. If you make up your mind not to be happy there's no reason why you shouldn't have a fairly good time."
~ Edith Wharton
Image of the day:
~ Training Like an O-Lifter, Without The O-Lifts -- "It's recently dawned on me that if you follow my training recommendations, you'll be essentially training like an Olympic weightlifter, although you may not actually be doing the O-lifts themselves."
~ Fix Anything with Yoga -- "Whether you can't touch your toes or have lost a step turning the corner, yoga can pump up your sports performance and fend off injuries from shin splints to back pain. Watch Ford model Tara Stiles' yoga-jock workout video and see if you're man enough."
~ Christams Gift Ideas To Fight Obesity -- "For a healthy kick-start to 2008 choose Christmas gifts that promote healthy habits and fight obesity, says Australia's leading nutrition organisation, the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA)."
~ Exercise improves balance in older adults -- "Growing older is a cause of concern for many individuals in our age-obsessed society. However, with medical and cosmetic advances making fast progress, aging isn’t nearly as scary as it used to be."
~ Healthy Diet Unaffordable for the Poor -- "The cost of fruits, vegetables may put healthy eating out of reach for the poor."
~ Weight loss during menopause linked to bone loss -- "Weight loss during menopause appears to be associated with increased rates of bone loss at the hip, the findings of a long-term study suggest."
~ Diet and Exercise May Help Prevent Ovulation-Linked Infertility -- "Following a so-called fertility diet and exercising may promote fecundity in otherwise healthy women with an ovulatory disorder, researchers here reported."
~ Let Your Unconscious Mind Go To Work for You - Part II© -- "This month on Positive Psychology News Daily, I want to return to the power of the unconscious mind. Today’s article is a follow-up to the one I wrote earlier this year."
~ PTSD, Depression Sufferers Find Success with Web Based Treatment -- "An investigation undertaken by the Veterans Administration Boston Healthcare System and Boston University, and funded in large part by the NIMH, has found that an online self-treatment program was successful at treating post-traumatic stress disorder and depression in survivors of the 9/11 attacks and the war in Iraq."
~ 7 Ways to Help Your Child be a Homebody -- "After a 10 hour road trip this past weekend, my family and I spent the balance of the weekend puttering around the house and enjoying some of the simple things in life. We have come to accept that we are content spending time at home just being a family. Here are seven simple tips for helping you and your children enjoy time at home."
~ Evolution, cooperation and kinds of altruism -- "In a first approximation, a cooperative behavior i) benefits the recipient and ii) is beneficent or costly to the actor. Thus cooperation has two components: altruism (costly,) and mutual benefits (beneficent)."
~ Empathy And Understanding Should Be Employed When Patient Nondisclosure Requested -- "When family members ask physicians not to disclose bad news to ill loved ones, clinicians often struggle to balance their obligation to be truthful to the patient with the family's belief that the information would be harmful."
~ How Do I Know What I Feel? -- "Many people’s goal, in counselling and out, is to be ’sure of themselves’, which they conceive of as knowing exactly what they think and feel all the time. I would say that this is unlikely to work."
~ The Subliminal Thinker By Michael Mcgrath -- "Throughout your day you think an average of 50,000 thoughts. In what direction are yours going? Have you become a habituated negative thinker?"
~ Mind Tools: Egos at Work -- "Managing a Co-worker's Superiority Complex - All Readers - Do you work with people who have big egos? Learn how to manage egotists' behavior without sinking to their level."
~ Potter Author Begins Post-Harry Career With Fairy Tales -- "J.K. Rowling's first book after her wildly popular Harry Potter series is a hand-crafted collection of fairy stories called The Tales of Beedle the Bard."
~ The Feminine Critique -- "Writing about life and work means receiving a steady stream of research on how women in the workplace are viewed differently from men. These are academic and professional studies, not whimsical online polls, and each time I read one I feel deflated. What are women supposed to do with this information? Transform overnight? And if so, into what? How are we supposed to be assertive, but not, at the same time?"
~ Stephen Balkam: Towards a New Culture of Responsibility -- "The Internet has changed everything -- including the Internet itself. This vast, global, organically growing online medium has seeped into every facet of our lives and upended how we work, learn and play. And it is changing the way our children experience the world -- for good and ill."
~ Ben Fractenberg: Generation What? -- "A lot has been said recently about my generation: we are cynical apathetic, privileged, irrationally optimistic, ironically detached, isolated, connected in new ways through the Internet. We like to volunteer but not to protest, we like to protest but not to do grassroots organizing, and on and on. How can there be this much contradictory talk about today's youth?"
~ Tailgate Nation -- "The party before kickoff is often just as big as the game itself. Photographer David Burnett travels America in search of the best collegiate revels."
~ Election Scorecard: Romney on the cusp of leading all three early-primary states -- "A new Winthrop/ETV poll in South Carolina shows Mitt Romney tied for second with Rudy Giuliani in the state, only one point behind Fred Thompson for first. Romney's numbers have been trending upward recently, corresponding with increased advertising in the state. In case the GOP candidates need more motivation, the poll says nearly 30 percent of Republicans are still undecided."
~ The evangelical crackup is a myth -- "As a politically interested evangelical, I'm constantly surprised to find that newspapers know more about my political feelings than I do. I haven't even picked my presidential candidate yet, but, it turns out, I'm supposed to be frustrated and dissatisfied with my options—and my peers."
~ Study Challenges Bush Counterterrorism Strategy -- "The Bush administration's 2006 National Strategy for Combating Terrorism may rely too heavily on the benefits of democratization while ignoring some of the key factors driving terrorist violence, according to a new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service."
~ Best Inventions of the Year -- "The iPhone (surprise!) heads TIME's list, but there's more, from a building made of water to a remote-controlled dragonfly."
~ Burrowing Mammals Dig For A Living, But How Do They Do That? -- "Next time you see a mole digging in tree-root-filled soil in search of supper, take a moment to ponder the mammal's humerus bones. When seen in the lab, they are nothing like the long upper arm bones of any other mammal, according to a paleontologist."
~ Microbes Plus Sugars Equals Hydrogen Fuel? -- "Wanted: Bacterium that can eat sugar or sludge; must be team player or electrochemically active; ability to survive without oxygen, a plus. Thus might read the bacterial "job description" posted by scientists, who are collaborating on ways to make microbial fuel cells more efficient and practical."
~ Divers find new species in Aleutians -- "There are unknown creatures lurking under the windswept islands of the Aleutians, according to a team of scientific divers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks."
~ Bursting dark energy's bubble -- "Theorist suggests mysterious force could be an 'artefact' of a void in space."
~ Shrinking glaciers threaten China -- "China's glaciers in western Xinjiang Uygur region are shrinking alarmingly due to global and regional warming, posing a threat to the oases in the area."
~ The Happiness Gap and the Future -- "David Brooks wrote a column Tuesday on The Happiness Gap that ought to be required reading for every bright green advocate on the planet, for here, now that we have come to the end of the beginning, is what the opposition sounds like. Brooks (who in 2002, you may remember, wrote an appalling pean to "Patio Man" in which he said that suburban sprawl was the highest manifestation of the American ideal, and a wholly good idea), makes the argument that American voters (by whom Brooks invariably means upper-middle class suburban voters) suffer from a "happiness gap," between their private success and their public gloom and fear for the future of the country and planet...."
~ New Blog -- Integral Strategies -- "The Integral Strategies website is written, designed and produced by me, Matthew Kalman, a founder member of the Integral Institute. It was launched on October 25th 2007. In 2000 I also founded the London Integral Circle (then called ‘Politics and Spirit’) – an integral/Ken Wilber-orientated salon/group – which is also featured on this site."
~ If You Meet Wilber on the Road, Kill Him -- "In the current essay I'd like to highlight three areas of criticism that seem relevant to me:
- Evolutionary theory,
- postmodernism and
- meditation research.
~ Deepak Chopra: A CAT-Scan of the Global Brain (Part 2) -- "When it first came into usage, "the global brain" seemed like only a metaphor. But the more we learn about how the human brain functions, the more convincing the parallels are in real life. In many ways each of us is participating in a brain without borders, one that encompasses humankind. I'd like to focus on several striking similarities between individual and collective intelligence."
~ Suicide Dictionary, a new book by Paul Lonely -- "Suicide Dictionary, a new book by author Paul Lonely, offers an intellectually moving and poetic expression of spirituality in our time. We now live in an age where to be Integral is to be on the leading edge of human consciousness."
~ Neuroscience and The Enlightenment Machine -- "In this episode we spoke with neuroscientist and Buddhist meditator Daniel Rizzuto. Vince and he discussed a number of topics including the link between contemplative and scientific methodologies, some of the potential technologies that could emerge for the neuroscientific research, including Daniel's favorite, an empathic training device."
~ FlailingFruit: Falling Fruit, the new podcast website, launches into a sea of green -- "Two-thirds of the Buddhist Geeks have teamed with eight others to form the webspace Falling Fruit, which is the new home for the "Buddhist Geeks" podcast series and a second, new podcast show -- as they‘re calling it -- "Conscious Business."
~ Postformal dialectics -- "The following is copied-and-pasted from the Integral Review forum on this topic. I pasted the first few posts here and the rest of the posts to date in the comments section."
~ I GET LETTERS -- Brad Warner -- "You guys can say whatever you want. All I know is that the comments section under my Suicide Girls articles is always pleasurable and informative. The comments section here is like a visit to the nut house."
Just how aware are these elephants? Some scientists think they may cry when sad, just like you and me.
Personally, I think there is a lot of evidence that elephants, in particular, are quite sentient, maybe more than some primates.
Today's Daily Dharma from Tricycle:
In a famous parable, the Buddha imagines a group of blind men who are invited to identify an elephant. One takes the tail and says it's a rope; another clasps a leg and says it's a pillar; another feels the side and says it's a wall; another holds the trunk, and says it's a tube. Depending on which part of Buddhism you grasp, you might identify it as a system of ethics, a philosophy, a contemplative psychotherapy, a religion. While containing all of these, it can no more be reduced to any one of them than an elephant can be reduced to its tail.
- Stephen Batchelor, Buddhism Without Beliefs; from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book
From The Onion:
Third-Person Limited Omniscient Narrator Blown Away By Surprise Ending
November 2, 2007 | Issue 43•44PROVIDENCE, RI—The third-person limited omniscient voice, a narrative mode used to convey a story through the thoughts and senses of a literary character, was reportedly "caught totally off guard" after the main character was unexpectedly killed in the last chapter of the new novel Bertram's Way.
"Holy shit, I did not see that coming. Did you see that coming?" the disembodied literary device said on page 367 following the last paragraph of the novel. "Man, right in the head!"The popular narrative method said it would try to pay closer attention when utilized in the book's planned sequel, Bertram's Revenge.
Mr. Giuliani, who has made references to 9/11 the foundation of his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, was "like a deer in the headlights" when the surprise question about 9/12 came his way, observers said.
The former New York mayor had been cruising through the town hall meeting up to that point, answering a wide range of questions about immigration, the economy, and global warming, all by referring to 9/11.
But the tone of the event changed abruptly when one audience member, Tracy Klujian of Cedar Rapids, asked the GOP frontrunner, "Can you name one thing that happened on September 12?"
Mr. Giuliani seemed taken aback by the question, clearing his throat and drinking from a glass of water as if to buy time before responding.
"That's a good question," Mr. Giuliani said. "September 12 happened one day after September 11 -- and we must never forget the lessons of September 11."
Mr. Giuliani's aides later said that their candidate had expertly parried a difficult question, but also offered excuses for Mr. Giuliani's apparent failure to refer to any other date besides September 11.
"The man has a lot of dates to keep track of," one aide told reporters. "For one thing, he's had three different wedding anniversaries."
Elsewhere, President Bush eulogized Washoe, the chimp who had a 250-word vocabulary, issuing this official statement: "Me miss Washoe. Me sad Washoe dead."
Thursday, November 01, 2007
"After I'm dead I'd rather have people ask why I have no monument than why I have one."
~ Cato the Elder
Image of the day:
~ Making tuna tastier -- "Tuna is one of the classic ‘bodybuilding’ foods that many resort to as an easy source of protein. Not only is it pretty much 100% pure protein but it is also quite cost effective as well, making it a good option for the heavier males out there who need to be consuming between two and three hundred grams of protein per day."
~ Weight Training's Dirty Little Secret -- "Chris wants to tell you a secret, but you gotta promise not to tell any strength coaches. And, after you read the article, bust up your CPU with a hammer and chuck it out the window so no one else can read it."
~ Excess Body Fat Causes Cancer -- "People should aim to be at the lower end of the healthy weight range, according to a landmark report published recently that links body fat and cancer more closely than ever before. The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) report is the most comprehensive ever published on the link between cancer and diet, physical activity and weight."
~ Tired of Orange Juice? Try Concord Grape Juice -- "Are you tired of facing down a glass of orange juice every morning? How about trying another juice that has more than twice the natural antioxidant power of orange juice?" How about ditching the juice and actually eating fruit?
~ Study Of Complementary Therapies On Patients Recovering From Heart Surgery -- "A new Mayo Clinic study shows that massage therapy decreases pain levels for patients after heart surgery. During a five-month period in 2005, 58 patients undergoing surgery participated in a pilot study to examine the effect of massage on pain after surgery. Of the 30 who received massage, the mean pain scores were less than 1 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 as the most painful."
~ Health Tip: Protect Your Joints -- "Osteoarthritis, a disease of the joints, can be triggered by injury and overuse, by obesity, and by musculoskeletal problems. Here are ways to help protect your joints, courtesy of the Arthritis Foundation...."
~ Husband and wife find joy in living apart -- "My husband and I have been married for 14 years, and we’ve never lived together. Unbeknownst to us, demographers have devised a name for our arrangement: living apart together, which refers to married couples living separately."
~ 10 Effective Ways to Increase Your Energy Levels -- "Here are 10 simple (and unique) exercises you can use to increase productivity and energy levels. If you are in search of a boost, consider implementing a few of these recommendations over the next few weeks and see how you feel."
~ The Neural Substrates of Addiction -- "The social burden of substance abuse and addiction is astounding. In the United States, the economic toll arising from the associated crime, loss of productivity, and medical consequences reaches an estimated half a trillion dollars per year."
~ Effective is Not the Same as Efficient -- "The key to effectiveness is that you’re doing things that lead to results in the realm of your responsibilities. Meanwhile the key to efficiency is getting your things done in a manner that consumes just the appropriate amount of energy and resources."
~ Mind meets body...and animal spirits run wild -- "This weekend's edition of All in the Mind looks at the interactions between the body and mind, and the challenge for scientists in nutting out just how the two 'talk' to each other. Woolly territory if you think the mind is something ethereal and not of the flesh. How do states of the mind - moods, emotions, feelings - influence bits of matter - blood and bone? Ah yes, the old Mind-Body problem strikes again..."
~ Feeling Self Conscious? Relax, No One is Staring -- "If you’re human, you’ve done something embarrassing in a public place. And if you’re like most people, you probably felt like everybody was staring at you and judging you harshly. But were they?"
~ Depression and Mindfulness: Making Contact -- "Depression is the most isolating thing. It seems as though there were an invisible sheet of glass between you and other people. This sheet of glass comes, in fact, between you and the world itself, between you and your own experience. Everything is covered in a kind of fog, everything is wrong, tasteless, dull, not as it should be, an insurmountable task, a deep pointlessness."
~ Are We Happier Facing Death? -- "A new psychological study reports an intriguing finding - that terrifying thoughts trigger unusually positive emotions."
~ “Openness” & “The Closing of the American Mind” -- "Nevertheless, conservatives were right to champion Bloom, just as left-wingers were right to regard him with fear and loathing. Not only was The Closing of the American Mind a powerful indictment of intellectual and moral corruption in the academy, it was also, if incidentally, an indictment that might make the public sit up and take notice. Jobs, tenure, academic institutes, and college curricula might finally be subject to open scrutiny."
~ When Poetry Meets Politics -- "Time and Materials, Robert Hass' fifth collection of poems, is a book about hitting the cold water of late middle age, but the story it tells is not so much of decline as of reinvention. Hass is in the front lines of a baby-boom generation coming to terms with its past."
~ Most OK with birth control at school, poll finds -- "People decisively favor letting their public schools provide birth control to students, but they also voice misgivings that divide them along generational, income and racial lines, a poll showed."
~ Chris Dodd: The Questions I Wish We Were Asked -- "For me, it starts with our Constitution. In November of 2006, the American people overwhelmingly elected Democrats with a mandate to change course. Much attention was focused on Iraq, but make no mistake - Americans were also signaling that they wanted Congress to rein in the abuses to the Constitution under the Bush administration and the Republican Congress. Over the last few weeks, we've seen issues pertaining to the rule of law come up time and again."
~ Anti-Gay Church Must Pay $11 Million -- "Members of a fundamentalist Kansas church who picket military funerals to protest homosexuality were ordered to pay nearly $11 million in damages to a grieving family." The only way to stop these idiots is to take away their resources.
~ Examining the Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act -- "The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act passed the House of Representatives on Oct. 23 by a vote of 404-6. The wide margin is indicative of a growing concern among U.S. authorities about the potential for so-called "homegrown terrorism" in the United States."
~ Bush: Questions to Mukasey on torture "unfair" -- "U.S. President George W. Bush defended on Thursday his attorney general nominee Michael Mukasey, who has come under fire from Senate Democrats for refusing to say whether an interrogation technique that simulates drowning is illegal torture."
~ Candidates Pander to Geeks in the Webbiest Campaign Ever -- "Wired checks out the six leading candidates' online efforts. While there's a lot to like, we see plenty to suggest that this geek thing is still pretty new."
~ Hubble Sees Graceful Dance Of Two Interacting Galaxies -- "Two galaxies perform an intricate dance in this new Hubble Space Telescope image. The galaxies, containing a vast number of stars, swing past each other in a graceful performance choreographed by gravity."
~ White Dwarf 'Sibling Rivalry' Explodes into Supernova -- "Astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) have found that a supernova discovered last year was caused by two colliding white dwarf stars. The white dwarfs were siblings orbiting each other. They slowly spiraled inward until they merged, touching off a titanic explosion. CfA observations show the strongest evidence yet of what was, until now, a purely theoretical mechanism for creating a supernova."
~ Groups Seek Stop to Comcast Net Meddling -- "A coalition of consumer groups and legal scholars on Thursday formally asked the Federal Communications Commission to stop Comcast Corp. from interfering with file sharing by its Internet subscribers."
~ Scientists rotate electron spin with electric field -- "Researchers at the Delft University of Technology`s Kavli Institute of Nanoscience and the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM) have succeeded in controlling the spin of a single electron merely by using electric fields. This clears the way for a much simpler realization of the building blocks of a (future) super-fast quantum computer."
~ Flying lemurs are the closest relatives of primates -- "While the human species is unquestionably a member of the Primate group, the identity of the next closest group to primates within the entire class of living mammals has been hotly debated. Now, new molecular and genomic data gathered by a team including Webb Miller, a professor of biology and computer science and engineering at the Penn State University, has shown that the colugos -- nicknamed the flying lemurs -- is the closest group to the primates."
~ Supermassive Black Holes Produce Powerful Galaxy-shaping Winds -- "Supermassive black holes can produce powerful winds that shape a galaxy and determine their own growth, confirms a group of scientists. The scientists for the first time, observed the vertical launch of rotating winds from glowing disks of gas, known as accretion disks, surrounding supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies."
~ Rounding Up the Buddhas - Nov. 1, 2007 -- Renegade Buddha is back with a Buddhist blog roundup.
~ Enightenment Ain't Cheap: How Do We Support Our Partners' Transformation? -- "I have a T-Shirt on the i-Boutique that says "Enlightenment ain't cheap." It's a dual meaning: Yes, we pay a lot of money to attend workshops, etc., but we also pay with our relationships, our jobs, and our blood, sweat, and tears."
~ The Feminine Divine -- "One of the things that came up at this ISC event that I really feel aligned with is the sense that what is really needed right now is a full integration of the feminine. The divine feminine, of course, but also in a practical sense, socially, politically, and personally. Not just more feminine leadership and guidance, but a more full unfolding of the feminine in men as well."
~ Evolutionary Linguistics: A New Look at an Old Landscape -- "This paper by anthropologist Marc D. Hauser, David Barner & Tim O’Donnell explores the evolution of language, focusing on insights derived from observations and experiments in animals, guided by current theoretical problems that were inspired by the generative theory of grammar, and carried forward in substantial ways to the present by psycholinguistics working on child language acquisition."
~ Integral Life is Looking for Music Submissions..... -- "We are looking for some instrumentals to accompany our audio files on the new Integral Life portal, and are accepting submissions from the community. We are looking for positive, upbeat, professional-sounding tracks from pretty much any genre imaginable (although it's somewhat dificult to imagine a positive, upbeat Avant Garde Norwegian Black Ambient Metal track, but who knows....)"
~ Investigating participatory epistemologies: towards inclusional research -- "Alan Rayner, along with an impressive crew of participants, has launched a website devoted to an in-depth investigation of participatory forms of knowing, which he calls inclusionality, and is opposted to the isolationist effect of pure objectivist views, which sees objects as separate from their invisible environments...."
~ Kalmans Kosmos: The U Process -- "This is an article posted by Matthew Kalmann in new Integral Leadership Review. I have introduced Matthew Kalmans newly launched website yesterday, so here are reflections about the latest book written by Otto Scharmer. I have written seveal times about work of Otto Scharmer and I am endorsing his work. When I spoke personally with him in March 2004 it was very clear that he did not have an elaborated and in depth understanding of AQAL."
Another good Daily Om, this time on meditation and why we don't do it. A little woo-woo, as always, but useful.
Avoiding Your True Power
Afraid To Meditate
There are times when we feel the pull to meditate but are swayed from it by the excuses that spring to mind. We may think that we are too busy, have no time to ourselves, or that we do not have the right place to meditate. Our minds can think of dozens of reasons to put off meditation. But those are even stronger reasons to look past the illusion of the hustle and bustle of daily life and to connect to the place within that intersects with the timeless power and limitless potential of the universe. From that place we can experience that potent stillness that exists at all times, and it is only as far as away as our breath.
It might be useful to ask yourself why you would put off something so beneficial to your peace of mind and general well-being. There may be fear that if you were to stop your frantic pace, your world might fall apart, and then you would have to face the undeniable reality of who you really are and the results of the choices you have made. You might be afraid that you will be forced to make huge changes in order to align yourself with the universe and harness your true potential. Sometimes the frustrations of the known world seem less scary than the possibilities of the unknown. But the truth is that when we cooperate with the universe by creating our lives from the truth of our being, life becomes less of a struggle and more of a process of living blissfully on purpose.
Finding yourself alone for a few moments can give you the opportunity to turn within to infuse a sense of calm wisdom to your work. Whenever you can take the time to recenter and refocus, it will remind you how beneficial it is to connect to your source. Then you will make the time for longer sojourns of spirit, because once you are rejuvenated and enlivened by knowing that you are made of energy and light, you can channel the power to create your life in alignment with the highest potential of your soul.
Bono would be one of my heroes, if I actually had any heroes at all. His talent is incredible, and his humanitarian work is unparalleled. Rolling Stone interviewed Bono for its 40th anniversary issue.
What is your most cynical vision of the future?
That's a good one. I'm genuinely excited about the future, but it's clear that there's jeopardy. I don't know if you've read Martin Amis' short-story collection Einstein's Monsters. He's writing about the post-splitting-the-atom universe. In an essay at the start, he writes about feeling sick in his stomach because he can't escape the mathematical implications of there being all these nuclear weapons around the world and the odds of them going wrong. He's putting his kids to bed, and he just can't put that thought out of his head. He wrote that in the late Eighties or early Nineties, when there were vaguely organized control systems to hold back Einstein's monsters. What are the odds now?
We don't know where Einstein's monsters are. Are they moving around the world? Are they coming to my city? If you talk about a demonic view of the world, that's my first thought. Unless things calm down, it is clear that if you want to take out the head of a nation, you probably can. Now that's always been true, as we found out in the Sixties, but in the future, I can imagine a situation in which heads of state no longer have a set residence. And it also might be true that you can take a city out if you really want to.
It is absolutely the monster in the room. And you feel it here in Manhattan. You must. But of course you don't talk about it. You don't think about it. But it must change the way you walk. And it must change the shape of your day in some tiny, tiny little increment. That thought is in the back of your head.
So we're in the era of asymmetrical war. The greatest army cannot protect you from hatred that gets busy and organized and has enough of an audience to protect it. There's a moment. Was that true of Caesar? Was that true of Napoleon? No. Might was always right. Strangely, we have now entered a phase where being powerful and having the biggest nuclear arsenal leaves you completely defenseless.
Now let's flip that. That could be a positive. Because if for the first time in history, military capacity doesn't protect you, what would? It would point us in the direction of prevention, rather than protection. When I'm arguing for increased aid to Africa, I always say, "Isn't it cheaper and smarter to make friends out of potential enemies than to defend yourself against them later?"
We seem to be headed in exactly the opposite direction. Maybe it was possible to think that way right after 9/11, but that opportunity was squandered.
When the French have you on the cover of their most treasured newspaper with the headline WE ARE ALL AMERICANS, something has been stirred! [Laughs]
But this administration destroyed that. I know that you have to deal with a lot of these people. . .
There was a plan there, you know. I think the president genuinely felt that if we could prove a model of democracy and broad prosperity in the Middle East, it might defuse the situation. I don't believe that, and in the capacity I had, I told them that.
Read the whole interview.
November 01, 2007
Colorado Rockies: 'What The Fuck Just Happened?'
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Some things I am grateful for today:
1) Halloween -- it's fun to see the kids dressed up in their little costumes. It reminds me of the fun we had when I was a kid. Halloween was always a magical holiday for me.
2) Truffle flavor Hershey Kisses -- how did I not know about these before this week?
3) Some good workouts the last couple of weeks. I've been getting stronger lately, and it feels good.
What are you grateful for today?
Letting Go Of Understanding
All of us who seek to be conscious and aware regard our experiences as teachers, and we try to discern what lessons we are learning from the things that happen in our lives. Sometimes the lesson is very clear from the get-go, and other times we have to really search to understand the deeper meaning behind some event. While this search often yields results, there also comes a point in the search where what we really need to do is move forward. It is possible that we are not meant to know the deeper meaning of certain occurrences. Answers may come later in our lives, or they may come as a result of letting go, or they may never come.
We are all part of a complex system of being, and things work themselves out in the system as a whole. Sometimes we are just playing a necessary part in that process with a result larger than we can understand. It may have very little to do with us personally, and while that can be hard to understand, it can also free us from overthinking the matter. Sometimes it is best to see it in terms of karma, a past debt we have been able to repay in this way, or as the clearing of energy. We can simply thank the event for being part of our experience and let it go. This completes the process that the occurrence has made possible.
To make this letting go official, we can perform a ritual, make a final journal entry on the subject, or sit in meditation with the intention of releasing the event from our consciousness. As we do so, we summon it one last time, honoring it with our attention, thanking it, and saying good-bye. We then let it go out the door, out the window, out the top of our heads, or into the earth through the bottoms of our feet, liberating ourselves from any burden we have carried in association with it.
"You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake."
~ Jeanette Rankin
Image of the day (David Winston):
~ The Round-Up Interviews: Chad Waterbury -- "Waterbury talks about his new e-book, Larry David, his gig with Rickson Gracie, and oh yeah, training and stuff. In fact, we're heading off to the gym right now to test drive his little dip, chin, and deadlift training circuit."
~ The importance of routine change -- "When you first started going to the gym, progress was steady. Your body was responding favourably, you enjoyed your workouts and you could see yourself getting stronger. Now however things have started to slow, your motivation levels are weaning and the scale hasn’t moved in the last few weeks. What’s going on?"
~ No Connection Found Between Vitamin D And Overall Cancer Deaths -- "No relationship was found between vitamin D levels and the overall risk of dying from cancer, according to a study published online October 30 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. However, higher vitamin D levels were associated with a decreased risk of colorectal cancer death. Several epidemiological studies have supported the hypothesis that that vitamin D can reduce cancer mortality by decreasing cancer incidence or improving survival."
~ Researchers Find Chemical In Red Wine, Fruits And Vegetables Stops Cancer, Heart Disease, But Is Dose-Dependent -- "The next cancer drug might come straight from the grocery store, according to new research published in the November 2007 issue of The FASEB Journal. In the study, French scientists describe how high and low doses of polyphenols have different effects. Most notably, they found that very high doses of antioxidant polyphenols shut down and prevent cancerous tumors by cutting off the formation of new blood vessels needed for tumor growth."
~ Pre-pregnancy weight linked with child's weight -- "The amount of body fat a child accumulates over time may be related to their mother's body mass index prior to and during pregnancy, study findings suggest."
~ Obesity Linked to Increased Cancer Risk (HealthDay) -- "Weight management, exercise and proper nutrition are key to reducing your risk of cancer. And the earlier in life you adopt these practices, the better off you'll be, a new study suggests."
~ Scientists Identify Chemical That Triggers Parkinson's Disease -- "Researchers at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine have discovered the key brain chemical that causes Parkinson's disease -- a breakthrough finding that could pave the way for new, far more effective therapies to treat one of the most common and debilitating neurological disorders."
~ 10 Tips for a Thinner Thanksgiving -- "With a little know-how, you can enjoy a guilt-free Thanksgiving feast -- and the only thing that will be stuffed is the turkey!"
~ Fibromyalgia Pain Caused By Neuron Mismatch, Suggests Study -- "The unexplained pain experienced by patients with fibromyalgia is the result of a mismatch between sensory and motor systems, new research suggests. In a study published in the journal Rheumatology, researchers asked patients to look at a reflection of one arm whilst moving their other in a different direction which was hidden behind the mirror."
~ Near-death experiences: Hard to forget -- "Trapped beneath a capsized raft on a churning river in northern California, Galena Mosovich realized her body was "panicking," but not her mind."
~ 15 Common Defense Mechanisms -- "In some areas of psychology (especially in psychodynamic theory), psychologists talk about “defense mechanisms,” or manners in which we behave or think in certain ways to better protect or “defend” ourselves. Defense mechanisms are one way of looking at how people distance themselves from a full awareness of unpleasant thoughts, feelings and behaviors."
~ Scientists Seek a Better Understanding of Fear -- "For some, however, situations that others view as commonplace, walking at night, for example, can lead to overwhelming fear. Fear affects us all, but for some people, relentless fears never seem to go away or appear to have no cause."
~ Amnesia's Allure -- "The mysteries of identity and personality."
~ The neurobiology of fear -- "Fear, that most primitive of emotions, is good, at least when it is kept under control. It is essential for survival, allowing an organism to detect a potential threat to its life. Too much fear, however, can lead to pathological conditions such as anxiety, phobia, paranoia, or post-traumatic stress disorder."
~ How to Quickly Change a Negative Mood into a Positive One -- "I have found that certain actions can work as a new starting point on days like that. A starting point that you can build upon and that leads the day away on a more positive note than you may have predicted."
~ Compassionate Mind Therapy -- "Compassion is not something artificial, like telling yourself you are good at something when you're not, or that you are a 'good person' when you don't feel as if this is true. Compassion naturally flows once the blocks of shame and self criticism are removed."
~ Coping With Stress and Anxiety -- "Feelings of anxiety & fear can be overwhelming. Stress relief & anxiety management includes listening to music, visualization, & distinguishing between reality & fantasy."
~ The Tell-tale Symptoms of Depression -- "People who may be suffering from depression or manic disorders actually exhibit or show each and every kind of symptom of depression that doctors will tell you that depressed people have. Sometimes it’s actually quite easy to overlook such symptoms and not be able to help one’s self or others who are suffering from depression for that matter."
~ Poems about the Underworld -- "Dante's guide through the Inferno is the poet Virgil, who himself described Hell in his epic the Aeneid. While Virgil describes Hell in a book of his epic ("Some heave at a great boulder, or revolve, / Spreadeagled, hung on wheel-spokes"), he is not as relentless as Dante, who spends a full third of his masterwork detailing doomed souls' suffering." This post goes way beyond Dante.
~ What the New Atheists Don’t See -- "The search for the pure guiding light of reason, uncontaminated by human passion or metaphysical principles that go beyond all possible evidence, continues, however; and recently, an epidemic rash of books has declared success, at least if success consists of having slain the inveterate enemy of reason, namely religion."
~ Kathleen Nye Flynn: Dispatch from the Heart of Slutty Halloween -- "Why do girls want the opportunity to "get away with" looking like prostitutes? The logic implies that women have an inner need to impress boys (and other girls) by over-sexing their bodies, and it's only because of societal conservatism that they don't do it more often. Call me an optimist, but I suspect women like to be valued for more than just their cleavage."
~ Ron Galloway: Defending Ann Coulter -- "More than a few HuffPo posts have been devoted to Coulter lately. It's understandable liberals rail against President Bush. They are protesting his actions, not his words. Okay, maybe we should all protest his syntax. But Ann Coulter simply offers up words. Sometimes bizarre, imprudent words, but simply words nonetheless. For this she has to travel to speeches with a bodyguard."
~ War on Iraq: Cashing In on Terror -- "What a boondoggle 9/11 has been for the merchants of war, who this week announced yet another quarter of whopping profits made possible by George Bush."
~ The mystery at the heart of Henry James' The Ambassadors, solved -- "Ever since the 1903 publication of Henry James' The Ambassadors, critics and readers have puzzled over a literary mystery that has come to be known as the Woollett Question. What, everyone from E.M. Forster to David Lodge has wanted to know, is the "little nameless object" manufactured in Woollett, Mass.? The case went cold at some point in the 1960s, but earlier this week it was reopened … and cracked."
~ Fed Cuts Interest Rate Again -- "The Federal Reserve, confronted with surging oil prices and a slumping housing market, cut a key interest rate by a quarter-point on Wednesday, the second rate reduction this year."
~ Cat's eye view of DNA sheds light on human disease -- "The first full genetic map of a cat -- a domestic pedigreed Abyssinian -- is already shedding light on a common cause of blindness in humans and may offer insights into AIDS and other diseases, researchers reported on Wednesday."
~ Oil Back in Record Territory -- "Crude futures rose to their highest level ever Wednesday as extremely bullish inventory figures from the Energy Information Administration combined with the expectation for a rate cut to send prices soaring."
~ Mich. Arborist Looks to Clone Redwoods -- "When David Milarch first visited Northern California in 1968, he thought he would see avenues of coast redwoods 100 miles long. What he found instead, he said, was a 'moonscape.'"
~ Paleontologists Discover Ancient Jurassic Mammal with New Type of Teeth -- "A team of Chinese and American scientists has discovered a new mammal from the 165 million-year-old lakebeds of the Jurassic Period in Northern China."
~ Cultic City And Fortress Unearthed In Southern Turkey -- "New excavations in southern Turkey have revealed the remains of a massive bastion fortification dating to the Hittite Imperial Period (ca. 1300 BC). Sirkeli Höyük, one of the largest settlement mounds in Cilicia during the Bronze- and Iron Ages, was already known to archaeologists and historians because of two Hittite rock reliefs located at the site."
~ Researchers warn Gulf of Mexico 'dead zone' could grow -- "The New Jersey-size Gulf of Mexico "dead zone" will likely grow in coming years unless federal policies to control it change, in part because the demand for corn-based ethanol fuel will worsen the problem, University of Michigan scientists say."
~ Recommended reading: The Complete Poetry of John Milton -- "Milton (who’s work is part of the POLYSEMY Bookshelf) is of course essential reading. What I particularly like about the Shawcross edition is: 1) it preserves Milton’s original language, for all its rich sonorities (something contemporary poetry has really lost, by my lights); and 2) all of Milton’s early poetry, written both Greek and Latin, is included."
~ Mirror, mirror… -- "Now that I’m back in the cradle of civilization – i.e. Metuchen, NJ, U.S.A. – I’m once again confronted by my own reflection several times a day. And I do look different. Older. A bit more worn down. In need of a haircut, certainly. You’d think one’s reflection would be objective, showing the cold, hard facts, but I don’t think so. For me, the mirror has been a canvas upon which I cast my hopes and fears, creating a sense of illusion like any good stage magician."
~ The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits -- "Conventional wisdom says that scaling social innovation starts with strengthening internal management capabilities. But a recent study of 12 high-impact nonprofits including Teach for America, Habitat for Humanity and the Exploratorium shows that real social change happens when organizations go outside their own walls and find creative ways to enlist the help of others."
~ The Secret of Being Happy -- "Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert says that you ‘synthesize’ your happiness. That you have a ‘psychological immune system’ that helps you change your views about your world, in order to feel better about the world in which you find yourself."
~ Living Meditation -- "Sustainability and living a greener life are significant causes to me. I do not think that I can live a life that is entirely environmentally true. But I do think that I can lead a life in which I place a continuous effort into living in such a way that will do less harm to future generations."
~ Why cant I meditate properly -- "Have you been in the position where although you have tried really hard you just can’t seem to get your dharma practice working? You keep telling yourself that you should learn how to meditate or meditate each day for a week but, then life gets in the road!"
~ My Teachers, the Leaves -- "It felt really good to forget myself and just clear up the lawns of the leaves. The minute I stepped outside, the fresh air invigorated my body and mind and brought the present moment sharp into focus. There was a slight breeze blowing around, making the vividly colored leaves dance in front of me. I smiled watching the performance and began to mindfully rake the fallen foliage."