Saturday, December 29, 2007

Perfection - Patriots Go 16-0

Few thought it could happen, but for the first time since the 1972 Miami Dolphins completed a perfect regular season on their way to a Super Bowl win, the New England Patriots have completed a perfect season. Now they must win another Super Bowl to enter the record books as the best team ever.

This was a great game. Eli Manning played like the quarterback everyone thought he could be coming out of college. But Brady and Moss are unstoppable. They now hold the individual records for TD throws in a season (Brady passing Eli Manning's brother Peyton) and TD catches in a season (Moss passing the great Jerry Rice).

I didn't expect the NY Giants to play that well, but I'm glad they did. It was fun to watch.

From Yahoo Sports:

With one mighty heave, Tom Brady and Randy Moss took care of the record books. Now it's down to business for the unbeaten New England Patriots: stamping themselves as the greatest team in NFL history.

The Patriots completed a perfect if somewhat joyless journey through the regular season Saturday night, finishing with a remarkable 16-0 record following a thrilling 38-35 comeback victory over the New York Giants.

New England became the first NFL team since the 1972 Dolphins to win every game on the schedule, and that one was only 14-0. This victory required a comeback from a 12-point deficit engineered by the brilliant Brady, and smashed the Patriots' league mark for consecutive victories.

"Going undefeated during the regular season is a remarkable achievement," 1972 Dolphins coach Don Shula said. "I know firsthand how difficult it is to win every game, and just as we did in 1972, the Patriots have done a great job concentrating on each week's opponent and not letting any other distractions interrupt that focus. If they go on to complete an undefeated season, I will be the first to congratulate Coach Belichick and the Patriot organization."

Validation of the Patriots' inexorable march through the season can only come by adding a Super Bowl championship, their fourth of the decade. Do that and there'll be no challenge to their spot at the top.

"I think it's a lot of hard work," Brady said. "I'm proud of the way this team responded. We're losing there in the second half and came out and played some of our better football."

In gaining their 19th straight win over two seasons, the Patriots also got record-setting performances from Brady and Moss, including the winning score, a 65-yard bomb with 11:06 remaining. Brady beat Peyton Manning's mark of 49 touchdown passes by throwing two to Moss against the Giants (10-6), giving the star quarterback 50. Moss broke Jerry Rice's record of 22 TD receptions. And the Patriots finished with an incredible 589 points for the season, another single-season record.

Belichick was barely more animated than usual. He shared hugs with players and assistant coaches on the sideline once the victory was clinched, but there was no thought of carrying him off on the Patriots' shoulders.

That will have to wait for three more wins -- if they come.

Yet this was anything but a coronation. The Giants, already guaranteed a playoff game against Tampa Bay next weekend and with little to play for except spoiling New England's perfect ride, led 28-16 in the third quarter. It was the Patriots' largest deficit all year as the Giants showed no fear and plenty of versatility, scoring the most points New England allowed in a game during this remarkable run.

An efficient Eli Manning, at times resembling his vaunted older brother, threw for four touchdowns. Domenik Hixon, in his first game as New York's primary kick returner, went 74 yards for a score 11 seconds after Brady and Moss tied their respective records.

Not to worry. These Patriots are unflappable, and they matched their comebacks in wins over Indianapolis, Philadelphia and Baltimore earlier in the season. A 73-yard drive ended with Laurence Maroney's 6-yard run to make it 28-23 with 4:00 to go in the third period.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) is brought down by New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan after Brady released a pass, as Patriots' Ryan O'Callaghan looks on during the third quarter of an NFL football game at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2007.
AP - Dec 29, 10:28 pm EST
More Photos
Then came the most familiar of scenes: Brady dropping back, winding up and hitting a wide-open Moss in stride for a touchdown. The final go-ahead TD in their perfect year.

Although many are eager to hail these Patriots as the NFL's all-time best, such acclaim won't come unless they win two playoff games and their fourth Super Bowl this decade. And for those who might deny such greatness considering the "Spygate" scandal from early in the season, well, 19-0 would speak pretty loudly.

Certainly louder than any of the postgame celebrations at Giants Stadium, the same building where they were caught videotaping New York Jets assistant coaches in Week 1, a rules violation that cost Belichick and the franchise $750,000 in fines and a 2008 first-round draft choice. That made Belichick even more close-mouthed and dour than usual, and his team followed his lead -- right to 16-0.

The Giants opened the game as if they were, well, the Patriots, driving 74 yards, sparked by a 52-yard completion on which Plaxico Burress outleapt Ellis Hobbs for Manning's jump-ball throw. Brandon Jacobs broke Tedy Bruschi's tackle to score on a 7-yard reception for a 7-0 lead.

Naturally, the Patriots, the highest-scoring team in NFL history, struck back. After Stephen Gostkowski's 37-yard field goal, New England went on top -- and surpassed Minnesota's league mark of 556 points -- on the record-tying 4-yard TD pass from Brady to Moss, who soared above rookie Aaron Ross for the score.

The 10-7 lead lasted all of 11 seconds. The usually staid Patriots gathered around Moss as he did a dance in the end zone, prompting a 15-yard excessive celebration penalty. Belichick argued the call with referee Mike Carey, perhaps sensing how costly it might be.

It was as Hixon sped 74 yards untouched to lift the Giants back in front.

Gostkowski kicked two more field goals as the Patriots grabbed a 16-14 lead with 1:59 left in the half.

That's when Manning, coming off several rough games, was at his best, leading a quick 85-yard drive that included a rare scramble for 11 yards just before he found Kevin Boss in the middle of the end zone with 13 seconds remaining. The 21-16 deficit was only the second time New England has trailed at halftime this season; the other was to the older Manning and the Colts.

But with such a potent offense, the Patriots never are out of any game. Once they got the lead, they closed it out with another touchdown drive, Maroney scoring from the 5. Manning hit Burress again from 3 yards with 1:04 to go, but New England recovered the onside kick.

"We're down 10 or 11 (actually 12) in the third quarter, the crowd was into it, and we found a way to win," Brady said. "That's the way it's going to be down the stretch ... just hope we can continue to play this kind of football."

I'm not really a Patriot's fan, but I am enjoying the opportunity to see sports history being made.

Neuroscience and Buddhism

The still emerging field of neuroscience has revolutionized our understanding of human behavior and the human mind. We now know that certain chemicals (or the lack of them) in the brain can cause specific mental illnesses, and that we can treat these illnesses with drugs. We have learned a great deal about how the mind processes information and funnels that perception into actions or feelings.

One of the downsides, however, has been the relegation of consciousness to the scrapheap of our experience. For most neuroscientists, consciousness is at best a byproduct of neuro-chemical function, and at worst it is believed not to exist at all.

Merlin Donald, in A Mind So Rare, highlights this view in some of the evidence we have so far:

During the past forty years, in countless laboratories around the world, human consciousness has been put under the microscope and exposed mercilessly for the poor thing it is: a transitory and fleeting phenomenon. The ephemeral nature of consciousness is especially obvious in experiments on the temporal minima of memory -- that is, the length of time we can hold on to a clear sensory image of something. Even under the best circumstances, we cannot keep more than a few seconds of perceptual experience in short-term memory. The window of consciousness, defined in this way, is barely ten or fifteen seconds wide. Under some circumstances, the width of our conscious experience on the world may be no more than two seconds wide. [Pg. 15]

Donald doesn't hold to this hardliner view of consciousness that is held by luminaries such as Steven Pinker and Antonio Damasio. He believes that consciousness is larger than most hardliners will accept.

[Consciousness] is not sensation, which runs only in the foreground of human awareness. Nor is it language, which is, at best, the bastard child and obedient slave of awareness, ever at its beck and call. Rather consciousness is a multilayered, multifocal capacity and a deep, enduring cognitive system with roots far back in evolution. [Pg. 10]

I agree with Donald on this point. But we are here concerned with what neuroscience believes about consciousness. What neuroscience has discovered about the fleeting nature of human awareness, the very few seconds that we can hold an object in thought, was discovered by Buddhists 2,500 years ago. We have come to think of this reality as monkey mind:

Anyone who has tried meditation has some idea of what it means. Thoughts pull attention here and there and may seem to take us out of meditation altogether; they become obsessive. Feeding the monkeys is buying into the show of proliferating thought, reifying it, being led off by it. It is taking thought too seriously. A related metaphor is the allegory of a monkey stretching as far as he can to grab the reflection of the moon in water. He cannot understand that he is looking in the wrong place.

No matter which form of meditation one practices, we all have experienced monkey mind. We sit down with the intention of focusing on the breath, or an image, or a mantra, and soon our mind is composing shopping lists, enumerating the ways we were slighted during the day, planning a vacation, or whatever else might arise. Yet the purpose of meditation is to learn to focus the mind, to get the monkey in its cage.

One of the most effective strategies in Buddhist practice is deity yoga, a Vajrayana tantric practice
that involves, at least initially, holding the image of a deity in our awareness.

During practice, we must involve the two stages. First, the Development Stage - visualisation of the deity to purify negative thoughts during that time so that one's thoughts become purer within the concept. Second, the Final Stage (Accomplishment Stage), after completing the visualisation of deity, when the deity and oneself becomes inseparable and we realise that the non-duality like space, cannot be explained or differentiated, ie the State of Ultimate Nature or the Dharmakaya. The Buddha Nature of the Deity and that of your own mind have no difference in size or any other aspects. So you can accomplish the Ultimate State, which is produced through the Development of the Deity.

Whether or not we can purify negative thoughts, and/or negative karma, through deity meditation is open to debate. However, as a method of focusing our awareness beyond the ten or fifteen seconds that the findings of neuroscience allows us, deity yoga may be unparalleled.

The Buddha and his students knew as much about how our minds function as any modern neuroscientist. Some of what they discovered is couched in magical thinking, but the essential truth is there. What Buddhism adds, however, is the belief and the proof that we can expand that limited window with devoted practice.

With continued and dedicated practice, we can become fully conscious in this moment, and this moment, and this moment. A truly enlightened bodhisattva is fully present in every moment, without the interference of monkey mind.

Rather than basing consciousness studies on college students, who are often the easiest and most available pool of subjects, it would be interesting to see some studies of long-term meditation practitioners. Whether Buddhists, Christian mystics, Sufis, or whoever, it seems to me that those who have learned to expand that limited window of consciousness beyond the few seconds most of us can manage would yield a more promising picture of what consciousness really is.

The true nature of our consciousness is as vast as the Kosmos. This is what Buddhism teaches and offers us the technology to realize in our own lives. Neuroscience has a long way to go before it comes to this truth.

Slate: The Top 10 Movies of 2007

An interesting list of the ten best movies for 2007, from .

Even in a movie-rich year like this one, I find Top 10 lists a trial to put together. I'm constitutionally averse to hierarchical systems, grading, ranking, and rows of tiny stars. I'd rather just heap all the films that mattered to me into a great squirming pile, like puppies, and shower them with love.

The very concept of "10 best" brings up that thorny, irresolvable question at the heart of the critical enterprise: When it comes to cultural products like books or movies, is there any meaningful distinction between "best" and "favorite"? We can get into that when next week's Movie Club kicks into gear; for our purposes, let's just say that these were the movies I staggered out of, those that have taken up permanent residence somewhere in my brain. In alphabetical order (it was hard enough to pick just 10, let alone rank them):

4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days

Away From Her

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

The Host

Killer of Sheep re-release

No End in Sight




There Will Be Blood

Elbowing mightily for a spot were David Cronenberg's flawed but monumental Eastern Promises; Tony Gilroy's trenchant Michael Clayton; Sidney Lumet's steel-tempered melodrama Before the Devil Knows You're Dead; Todd Haynes' mercurial anti-biopic I'm Not There; Ang Lee's glittering spy romance Lust, Caution; and Into Great Silence, a meditative three-hour documentary about daily life in a French monastery. And in the "my own private cult classic" department, there's Mike Judge's Idiocracy, whose January release on DVD after a long and troubled distribution history arguably qualifies it for the 2007 list. See you next week in the Movie Club, where we'll rage about the year's disappointments (damn you, Spiderman 3!) and confess our secret passions (get out of my head already, Music & Lyrics!).

To see more info on each film, go to Slate.

Satire: Edwards Blasts Obama for Criticizing Hillary's Claim That Obama Criticized Edwards

From Andy Borowitz:

Edwards Blasts Obama for Criticizing Hillary's Claim That Obama Criticized Edwards

Posted December 29, 2007 | 02:25 PM (EST)

An already perplexing Iowa race became even more impenetrable today as former Sen. John Edwards blasted Sen. Barack Obama for criticizing Sen. Hillary Clinton's claim that Sen. Obama had criticized Sen. Edwards.

At a campaign rally in Cedar Rapids, the former North Carolina senator said that the Illinois senator's criticism of the New York senator for claiming that the Illinois senator had criticized the North Carolina senator was "an attempt to confuse the voters."

Mr. Edwards' comments set off a new round of charges, countercharges, and counter-countercharges between the three Democratic rivals, with Sen. Obama lashing out at Sen. Clinton for supporting Mr. Edwards' criticism of Sen. Obama's criticism of Sen. Clinton.

In a particularly nasty remark, Mr. Obama called Mr. Edwards a son of a mill worker, "but not in so many words."

Davis Logsdon, chairman of the political science department at the University of Minnesota, says that the Edwards-Obama-Clinton battle royal may be contributing to Iowa voters' fatigue: "Without a doubt, the Iowa caucuses are turning into the grossest three-way in history."

New polls taken after the latest volleys and counter-volleys between the three candidates were inconclusive, as a majority of Iowans polled said they were "fucking sick" of being polled.

With less than a week to go before the Iowa caucuses, 61% of likely voters agreed with the statement, "If one more fucking pollster asks me one more fucking question I swear I will strangle him or her with my bare hands, I really fucking will."

Robert Thurman on Buddhism

This is a very long introduction to Buddhism by the noted scholar Robert Thurman. I'm only through the first part right now, but I'm looking forward to the second. The intro (below) says these are not for beginners, and I'd have to agree that some background would be useful. But even for novices, there is much here to learn.

"Take refuge in the three jewels, the three precious gems," begins Robert A.F. Thurman's introduction to Buddhism: "the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha." Each of these is the focus of one tape in Thurman's three-part lecture series On Buddhism, an extremely thorough introduction to the philosophy, theology, and history of Buddhism. Thurman is well-known as a professor of Indo-Tibetan studies at Columbia University, having also translated The Tibetan Book of the Dead into English. In these lectures, Thurman patiently takes apart each jewel of Buddhism: the Buddha as the teacher of enlightenment, the Dharma as the teaching, or enlightenment itself, and the Sangha as the historical and current community of learners seeking to become Buddhas. The videotapes themselves do not have elaborate production values: these are essentially college lectures, and they are not for newcomers to Buddhism. For people who have done some reading or have some personal experience with Buddhism and want to gain greater insight and understanding from a leading scholar, however, these lectures are an excellent foray into the intellectual, philosophical, and spiritual underpinnings of Buddhism.

Part One:

Part Two:

You can also watch these at Google -- Part One, Part Two.

Daily Dharma: Right Practice, Right Now

Today's Daily Dharma from Tricycle:

Right Practice, Right Now

Some students of religion postpone their lives and then wake up one day and say, "Wait a minute, here I am forty years old and I don’t have a spouse or a career. What am I going to do when I grow up?” They have let things back up as they wait to be enlightened, or to be settled in mind. This shows a misunderstanding of the nature of practice.

Right practice, the ninth step of the Eightfold Path, does not involve waiting for the psyche to ripen. The clock is ticking. Right Practice is taking yourself in hand. For the lay student, it can include college, a career, and a family. It is to get on with living.

~ Robert Aitken, Encouraging Words; from Everyday Mind, a Tricycle book edited by Jean Smith

Marty Stouffer's Wild America - Marmet Mountain

Most of what passes for Saturday morning entertainment for kids is crap. But one local network here in Tucson airs a two hour block of nature shows, one of which is Marty Stouffer's Wild America. I love this show. Not only do I learn a lot, but Stouffer has a deep love of nature that he imparts in his shows.

I just watched this show on Marmets, an animal I really knew nothing about. I particularly enjoyed the guest appearance by a coyote about midway through the episode. There are lots of episodes at AOL.

This is the text that came with the video:

Amid the scenic springtime beauty of the wild Rockies, we meet a colony of Yellow-bellied Marmots waking from winter hibernation. As summer progresses, these social "Rock-chucks", close kin to the Woodchuck, teach their fuzzy young about communal life. One major lesson is diving for safety when a sentry whistles that their primary predator, the Golden Eagle, hovers overhead.

Friday, December 28, 2007

New Poem: Remembrance


The heart grows fonder.


Blueberry ice cream
and playing marbles.


Yes, Virgina,
we were all children


Clapped hands
make a noise, but


The heart grows
like a weed.


Ring around the roses,
pocket full of posies,
ashes, ashes,
we all fall down.


Falling and falling,
but never all the way


The heart grows
fragile tendrils
seeking source.


Can it be


Hopscotch was never
just a game.


We drew chalk outlines
of our bodies
against the wall.


The heart grows cold,
silent, lost amid
the detritus of youth.


What have I become
that marbles
no longer matter?


And blueberry ice cream,
turning the crank
by hand.


The heart grows fonder.

Daily Om: Mind Over Matter

Today's Daily Om. My comments below.

Culling Out The Weeds
Mind Over Matter

The power of the mind is a curious thing, because it is so powerful yet so difficult to control sometimes. We find ourselves thinking a certain way, knowing that this thought may be creating trouble for us yet we find it difficult to stop. For example, many people have the experience of getting sick at the same time every year or every time they go on a plane. They may even be aware that their beliefs impact their experiences, so continue to think they will get sick and then they do.

Sometimes we need to get sick in order to process something or move something through our bodies. But often we get sick, or feel exhausted, because we don’t make the effort to galvanize the power of our minds in the service of our physical health, which is one of its most important functions. We really can use it to communicate to our bodies, yet we often regard the two as separate entities that have little to do with one another.

Knowing this, we have the power to create physical health and mental health, simply by paying attention to the tapes running in our minds. Once we hear ourselves, we have the option to let that tape keep running or to make a new recording. We harness the power of the mind in our defense when we choose supportive, healing words that foster good health and high spirits. All we need to do is remember to tend the field of our mind with the attentive and loving hand of a master gardener tending her flower beds, culling out the weeds so that the blossoms may come to fruition.

This sounds like some New Age mumbo-jumbo, but I think it really does work. I almost never get sick, and even when I do it is short-lived. I credit this in part to my exercise and supplements, but I also credit part of it to my beliefs that I do not get sick and am not susceptible to getting sick. For the body, this may be magical thinking, but it seems to work for me and for others I know who hold similar beliefs.

For the psyche, however, I think this is very true. Our feelings are tied in large part to our beliefs. One of the enormous benefits of working with mindfulness is that we come to see our thought patterns, both positive and negative. When we can identify the negative patterns, we then have the power to change them.

From my point of view, a lot of the "negative tapes" that run in our heads are actually the voices of various subpersonalities that have developed to "protect" us from things that might harm us, including feelings. Working with subs, in conjunction with mindfulness, is a great way to reprogram those tapes.

Like all things, it takes time and patience, and a great deal of gentleness with our own patterns of behavior and thinking.

Barack Obama: Our Moment Is Now (Full Speech)

I linked to the text of this speech earlier this morning. Now the full video is available. It's in nine parts, but they are all in this video, so just hit play and they will cycle through in order.

Speedlinking 12/28/07

Quote of the day:

"My theory is that all of Scottish cuisine is based on a dare."
~ Mike Myers

Image of the day (David Lorenz Winston):

~ Apparently, Hell Just Froze Over -- "Last year, the American Diabetes Association gave me a nice little spanking for an article I wrote criticizing their nutrition guidelines. (You can read my original story HERE, and see their response to it HERE, along with my rebuttal.)" The ADA has seen the light, finally.
~ The Benefits and Pitfalls of Skipping Meals -- "How effective is skipping meals when it comes to your health? We all skip meals sometimes for one reason or another, particularly when we are busy. Some people skip too many meals in order to lose weight. A study published in the medical journal Metabolism takes a first-hand look at how our eating habits affect our health and weight."
~ 25 Physique-Friendly Recipes: Great Food & Great Taste! -- "I sat down with my good friends - all noted recipe maestros - and together we came up with a ton of physique-friendly recipes that BOTH taste great and are great for you. In this article, I'm going to share with you 25 of them."
~ Diet 101: Basics Of A Sound Nutrition Plan! -- "A person's diet is the number one key to achieving the goals they desire in any fitness program they partake in. Use these great suggestions when shopping, dining out, preparing your own, and more right here!"
~ High Schools Try Teamwork to Put Trainers on Site -- "Some high schools around the United States are using novel, and even unorthodox, methods to get trainers at a reduced cost into their sports programs." This is good news -- the coaches at my high school knew nothing about proper training.
~ High-fat, high-carb meals more harmful to obese (Reuters) -- "Eating a high-fat, high-carb fast food meal produces damaging cellular changes that are greater and longer-lasting in obese people than in normal-weight people, a new study shows."
~ Fish oil capsules pack same omega-3 punch as fish -- "Fish oil capsules and fatty fish do an equally good job of enriching the blood and other body tissues with healthy omega-3 fatty acids, new findings suggest."
~ Wealth and Waistlines -- "A new book explains how the obesity epidemic has been shaped by economics, and what we can do to reverse the trend."

~ Empathy: Could It Be What You're Missing? -- " You may not realize it, but a great number of people suffer from EDD. No, you're not reading a misprint of ADD or ED. The acronym stands for empathy deficit disorder."
~ Borderline Personality Disorder Linked to Brain Abnormality by Novel Scan -- "Loved ones often despair of ever understanding the inscrutable emotional vortex of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Those with BPD experience rapid shifts in emotion and perspective that lead to rash relationship decisions and impulsive career moves. Their lack of impulse control is particularly apparent in situations with negative emotional significance, sometimes leading to extreme expressions of anger or disappointment over objectively minor setbacks. These outbursts have been difficult to understand and predict, but a study in the most recent edition of the American Journal of Psychiatry uncovered a neurological basis for the problem."
~ Turning the 80/20 Rule on its Head -- "It’s called the Pareto Principle: in its simplest form, it means that 80% of your time is spent doing 20% of your work. It has seemingly become fashionable to apply the Pareto Principle to every conceivable activity and outcome, no matter its suitability. I’ve become convinced that it doesn't work in every situation."
~ Personal Development: How Old Are You Really? -- "I think we’d also benefit from thinking about where we are, emotionally, on a continuum. Some people have decided, as early as 40 or 45, that they are 'old,' and that there is not much they can do to improve their lives simply because they’re 'too old.'"
~ 6 Guilt-Free Steps To Review Your New Year Resolutions -- "The end of the year is always a good time for me to review my resolutions and take stock of what I have done over the past year. However, for some people, reviewing New Year resolutions can be a painful affair. Some of you may have goals unaccomplished. A resolution review is just a stark reminder of how little you have achieved. You may feel guilty and disappointed about your lack of discipline to follow through on your goals. As much as possible, you will want to avoid being reminded of these little failings."
~ 7 Common Sense Love Lessons that Could Save Your Life -- "I’ve learned a lot about love over the past 20 years. Most of what I’ve learned is common sense, but I’m going to repeat these common-sense love lessons here because it’s pretty clear that the world needs them, common-sense or no."
~ Best of Zen Habits in 2007 -- "It’s been an amazing year here at Zen Habits. From starting out with only two readers (my wife and my mom) in January 2007 to today, when Zen Habits has more thank 26K subscribers and is one of the Top 100 blogs. As it is impossible to avoid reading “Best of” posts this time of year, I figured that there’s no sense in resisting … and so, for my new readers and as a review for older readers, I present the Best of Zen Habits, 2007 edition."
~ Brain Evolution and Why it is Meaningful Today to Improve Our Brain Health -- "Now we are launching a new Author Speaks Series to provide a platform for leading scientists and experts writing high-quality brain-related books to reach a wide audience. We are honored to start the series with an article by Larry McCleary, M.D, former acting Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Denver Children's Hospital, and author of The Brain Trust Program: A Scientifically Based Three-Part Plan to Improve Memory, Elevate Mood, Enhance Attention, Alleviate Migraine and Menopausal Symptoms, and Boost Mental Energy (Perigee Trade, 2007)."
~ Keeping Resolutions - The Stages of Change Approach -- "If you have ever made (and broken) a New Year's Resolution, you understand how difficult it can be to change a behavior."
~ Your Baby is Watching (and Judging) You -- "Next time the baby shoots you a dirty look, it might not be gas."
~ Scientific American Mind: Psychedelic Healing? -- "Mind-altering psychedelics are back--but this time they are being explored in labs for their therapeutic applications rather than being used illegally. Studies are looking at these hallucinogens to treat a number of otherwise intractable psychiatric disorders, including chronic depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and drug or alcohol dependency." It's about freaking time.

~ The Painful Elaboration of the Fatuous -- "Norman Levitt Deconstructs Steve Fuller’s Postmodernist Critique of Evolution."
~ A Call to National Service -- "Voluntary service on a national scale would make America a stronger, more participatory democracy; unite citizens of all backgrounds in common cause; and help address many unmet social needs. Service and shared sacrifice have always been at the core of America’s success, and this program—which we will lay out in detail—taps into that great truth to imagine a better future."
~ Facing diversity -- "The national discussion has reached such a pitch that in a radio debate among the Democratic candidates this month one of the most incendiary issues was whether it was the duty of American citizens to turn in people they knew to be illegal immigrants."
~ American dreamer -- "Richard Ford is the dazzling chronicler of the real America. He talks to Anthony Byrt about suburban beauty, literary "product" - and why the country is in danger."
~ The moral agent -- "What he wants us to see is: the lot. Not one side or another, but the whole shooting match A Polish immigrant, cabin boy and gunrunner, Joseph Conrad wrote action-packed adventure stories, which were also modernist classics. Giles Foden celebrates an enduring master on the 150th anniversary of his birth." Conrad is one of my favorite fiction writers, mostly due to the psychological depth in his best work.
~ The Five Levels of Political Awareness -- "How many times have you tried to have an intelligent political conversation with a friend, fellow worker or family member only to discover that two of you are talking on completely different levels? What starts off as a well intended interaction quickly devolves into a struggle to avoid insult or seriously offend. As a way to calculate where you and yours stand, the following are general definitions for the five levels of political awareness."
~ Daughter of Destiny -- Christopher Hitchens -- "Her tenure ended—as did her subsequent "comeback" tenure—in a sorry welter of corruption charges and political intrigue, and in a gilded exile in Dubai. But clearly she understood that exile would be its own form of political death. (She speaks well on this point in an excellent recent profile by Amy Wilentz in More magazine.) Like two other leading Asian politicians, Benigno Aquino of the Philippines and Kim Dae-jung of South Korea, she seems to have decided that it was essential to run the risk of returning home. And now she has gone, as she must have known she might, the way of Aquino."
~ Benazir Bhutto: An Age of Hope Is Over -- " Young Gandhi and Bhutto, both killed in suicide attacks, ultimately became the victims of inherited policies. Rajiv Gandhi had tried to put an end to Indian meddling in Sri Lanka and its support for a vicious Tamil Tiger rebellion. He was killed by a Sri Lankan Tamil suicide bomber, a woman who moved toward him to touch his feet in an age-old gesture, then triggered an explosion that blew them both apart. While it is too early to know who killed Benazir, Pakistan's policies on Afghanistan are the backdrop to this tense and dangerous moment."
~ Editors: State of Doubt -- "Benazir Bhuttos assassination is a national as well as a personal tragedy. For the moment it has fomented chaos in Pakistan."
~ Cronenberg Drifts From Tech Horror, but Shocks Remain -- "In an age of readily available "snuff porn," director David Cronenberg trades his sci-fi-tinged terrors for more everyday, earthly nightmares."

~ The Software That Will Take Digital F/X to the Next Level of Awesome -- "Explosions. Storms. Waves. CGI ace Jos Stam is creating a physics machine that can make special effects look absolutely, completely real."
~ Privacy Delays Ad Targeting on Phones -- "Your cell phone is a potential gold mine for marketers: It can reveal where you are, whom you call and even what music you like. Considering the phone is usually no more than a few feet away, these are powerful clues for figuring out just the right moment to deliver the right coupon for the store just around the corner."
~ The Craziest Science Stories of 2007 -- "Vote for the strangest revelation of the year."
~ 2007: How Science Came Full Circle -- "The top science stories of 2007 weaved together."
~ New Zealanders seek to save endangered kiwi bird -- "Since humans began populating New Zealand, some 75 percent of the islands' indigenous bird species have gone extinct. Due to habitat loss and nonnative predators, it looks as though the same fate may befall the kiwi, New Zealand's iconic flightless bird."
~ Deep-sea Species' Loss Could Lead To Oceans' Collapse, Study Suggests -- "The loss of deep-sea species poses a severe threat to the future of the oceans, suggests a new report in Current Biology. In a global-scale study, the researchers found some of the first evidence that the health of the deep sea, as measured by the rate of critical ecosystem processes, increases exponentially with the diversity of species living there."
~ Polynesian Chickens in Chile -- "The team found that the chicken's DNA sequence was related to that of chickens whose remains were unearthed from archaeological sites on the Polynesian islands of Tonga and American Samoa. Radiocarbon dating shows the El Arenal chicken lived sometime between a.d. 1321 and 1407, well after Polynesians first settled Easter Island and the other easternmost islands of the Pacific."

5 Favourite Dharma Books -- "Thanks to The Worst Horse for reminding me that I have yet to answer my own question on what are the top 5 dharma books on my reading list. Here goes (in no particular order)..." And so the meme begins.
~ Five favourite Dharma books... -- From
~ The Five Favorite Dharma Books Meme -- From Blogmandu.
~ Five Favorite Dharma Books -- From Hokai.
~ More Dharma Books -- "These are some books that didn't make it into my Top5 choice, but which definitely have been read and re-read, providing crucial study."
~ In Memory of Benazir Bhutto: Presence, Freedom and Fullness -- "I spend a lot of time thinking about the role of integral theory and practice in this world. Integral is daunting because of its simultaneous depth and breadth, and yet tragedy cuts through the clutter of our Starbuck's-fed lives like a hit from the Zen master's stick: the world is literally crying out in anguish for greater understanding that can reduce the hatred that stems from fear and faulty action, and integral can provide that understanding."
~ Habermas on World Order -- "Rummaging around the “internets” I found this fascinating article by Jurgen Habermas, written just after the US invasion of Iraq. While not wanting to endorse (necessarily) his defense of the UN over against the “coalition of the willing”, there is a great deal of truth in what he says."

Daily Dharma: Letting Go of Holding On

Today's Daily Dharma is from my favorite teacher, Pema Chodron.

Letting Go of Holding On

Renunciation does not have to be regarded as negative. I was taught that it has to do with letting go of holding back. What one is renouncing is closing down and shutting off from life. You could say that renunciation is the same thing as opening to the teachings of the present moment....

Renunciation is realizing that our nostalgia for wanting to stay in a protected, limited, petty world is insane. Once you begin to get the feeling of how big the world is and how vast our potential for experiencing life is, then you really begin to understand renunciation. When we sit in meditation, we feel our breath as it goes out, and we have some sense of willingness just to be open to the present moment. Then our minds wander off into all kinds of stories and fabrications and manufactured realities, and we say to ourselves, "It's thinking." We say that with a lot of gentleness and a lot of precision. Every time we are willing to let the story line go, and every time we are willing to let go at the end of the outbreath, that’s fundamental renunciation: learning how to let go of holding on and holding back.

~ Pema Chodron, Tricycle, The Buddhist Review, Vol. I, #1; from Everyday Mind, a Tricycle book edited by Jean Smith.

New York Times: You Must Remember This

The New York Times thinks that we have been so caught up in the pointless reporting on Britney Spears, Anna Nicole Smith, Paris Hilton, and whatever other inane "news" that people follow, that we might have missed some more subtle but important stories. Here is their list.

IT was a year of miraculous events. President Bush invited Al Gore to the Oval Office for a friendly chat about global warming. France elected a president who likes and admires Americans. Eliot Spitzer discovered the virtue of humility. In mid-rant, Hugo Chávez was finally told to shut up. The cute little Canadian dollar — the “loonie” — became worth more than a greenback.

People rooted for Kevin Federline to get the kids. After electing 43 consecutive white male presidents, Americans seriously considered a woman, a black man and an Italian-American from New York on his third marriage.

Amid such strange occurrences, one could be excused for missing news of more subtle — but lasting — importance. Here are a few developments you haven’t heard the last of:

HOW DRY WE ARE One of the consequences of global warming for the United States, climatologists warn, will be prolonged droughts. This summer, more than 40 percent of the country found itself in the grip of “extreme or moderate” drought. In the Southwest, seven years of rainless skies and warmer temperatures left the Rockies without much snow pack, and created alarming bathtub rings around the Lake Mead and Lake Powell reservoirs.

In the Southeast, a drought of a severity not seen in more than a century destroyed crops and turned rivers and lakes to dust in several states; Atlanta’s primary source of drinking water, Lake Lanier, fell to a record low, setting off a water war between Florida and Alabama. Things got so bad that Gov. Sonny Perdue of Georgia staged a prayer ceremony. “God, we need you,” he beseeched the heavens. “We do believe in miracles.” The heavens have yet to respond.

NOT-SO-BENIGN NEGLECT After a 40-year-old highway bridge in Minneapolis collapsed on Aug. 1, dropping 50 cars and trucks into the abyss and killing 13 people, the public was surprised to learn that engineers had given 74,000 other bridges in the United States the same rating as the fallen span: “structurally deficient.” Engineers and state officials clamored for repairs to these aging bridges, but estimates of the total cost were as high as $188 billion. Representative Jim Oberstar, Democrat of Minnesota, proposed a temporary five-cent gas tax to pay for the repairs, but his legislative colleagues argued that Congress and the states simply had to spend existing highway funds more wisely, instead of wasting them on earmarks for pet projects. Instead, Congress allocated $1 billion to inspect and repair deficient bridges, about $13,500 per bridge.

In the same bill that established the bridge fund, Congress voted to spend $7.4 billion on such earmarks as a National First Ladies’ Library in Canton, Ohio; a project to improve “rural domestic preparedness” in Kentucky; and a high-speed ferry to the remote Matanuska-Susitna Borough in Alaska.

GAY PRAIRIE Culture warriors may be fighting over gay marriage, but acceptance of gays and lesbians is growing even in the most conservative states. The gay population of Nebraska jumped 71 percent from 2000 to 2005, according to a new analysis of Census Bureau statistics. In Kansas, the number of people who said they were gay rose 68 percent. In Iowa, the increase was 58 percent.

It’s not that more people are gay, or that there’s been a huge migration of gays from San Francisco and New York to the Farm Belt, demographers say. Gay people are simply “coming out” in places where they once hid or fled.

Read the rest.

Barack Obama - Our Moment Is Now

This is a very recent speech by Barack Obama. I am repeatedly amazed by the quality of his speeches. It's so refreshing to hear a politician whose mission is to inspire hope, and who can actually articulate that vision in a way that inspires. Four years ago, I was wanting to see this among any of the candidates, and only Howard Dean came even within the neighborhood of hope. But Obama lives there, or at least that's the impression I get from his words.

Ten months ago, I stood on the steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois, and began an unlikely journey to change America.

I did not run for the presidency to fulfill some long-held ambition or because I believed it was somehow owed to me. I chose to run in this election - at this moment - because of what Dr. King called "the fierce urgency of now." Because we are at a defining moment in our history. Our nation is at war. Our planet is in peril. Our health care system is broken, our economy is out of balance, our education system fails too many of our children, and our retirement system is in tatters.

At this defining moment, we cannot wait any longer for universal health care. We cannot wait to fix our schools. We cannot wait for good jobs, and living wages, and pensions we can count on. We cannot wait to halt global warming, and we cannot wait to end this war in Iraq.

I chose to run because I believed that the size of these challenges had outgrown the capacity of our broken and divided politics to solve them; because I believed that Americans of every political stripe were hungry for a new kind of politics, a politics that focused not just on how to win but why we should, a politics that focused on those values and ideals that we held in common as Americans; a politics that favored common sense over ideology, straight talk over spin.

Most of all, I believed in the power of the American people to be the real agents of change in this country - because we are not as divided as our politics suggests; because we are a decent, generous people willing to work hard and sacrifice for future generations; and I was certain that if we could just mobilize our voices to challenge the special interests that dominate Washington and challenge ourselves to reach for something better, there was no problem we couldn't solve - no destiny we couldn't fulfill.

Read the rest of Obama's speech.

Avril Lavigne - Adia

Avril Lavigne covers Sarah Mclachlan's "Adia," live at the Roxy Theater in Hollywood.


Leonard Cohen - First We Take Manhattan - 1988

I haven't heard this in ages. Gotta love Cohen's voice.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Five Favorite Dharma Books

I've been tagged by TMcG to present my five favorite dharma books. Seems we have a bit of overlapping taste in good Buddhist reading.

In no particular order:

Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior
- Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

Start Where You Are - Pema Chodron

The Heart Sutra - Red Pine translation

Awakening the Buddha Within - Lama Surya Das

The Words of My Perfect Teacher - Patrul Rinpoche

Honorable Mention: A Path with Heart - Jack Kornfield -- The first Buddhist book I owned.

So, I tag:
The Buddha Diaries
peaceful turmoil

Speedlinking 12/27/07

Quote of the day:

"Saying what we think gives us a wider conversational range than saying what we know."
~ Cullen Hightower

Image of the day (Tad Bowman):

~ It Looked Good on Paper -- "Certain things look good on paper, but most don't pan out. For instance, Eric Cressey thinks wave loading is a bunch of hooey, as are weight gain powders and, believe it or not, the notion that external rotation movements are a cure all."
~ Exercise of the Week: Single DB Overhead Squats -- "Those guys who think planks and Bosu Ball triceps kickbacks are giving their core a good workout are poor, pathetic slobs. If you really want to work the core, you've got to raise the weight over your head."
~ StrongLifts 5×5 eBook Updated, 4 New Articles & a Tip for The Holidays -- "Reader DB – who wanted to stay anonymous – corrected all grammatical and spelling errors in StrongLifts 5×5 eBook. Click here to download the December 2007 version."
~ How To Choose The Right Foods To Successfully Transform! -- "The following article will explain in simple terms how to choose the rights foods for every situation that will make it easy for you to incorporate healthy eating into your daily life."
~ Measuring Body Fat 101 -- "How many times have you stepped on the scale and either thrown up your hands in celebration or alternatively in disappointment and frustration? Amazing how the same physical action can result in two completely different reactions. Even more amazing though is how some people put so much stock in what that tiny number says. It’s only a number. Really. Here’s why."
~ Should you go the extra mile? -- "Can you get too much cardio? Is there an ideal amount of exercise for losing weight? And are you ever too old to shape up? Smart Fitness answers your workout queries."
~ Which Diet Plan Is Best? Study’s Surprising Results -- "As the old year comes to a close and everyone begins to look forward to the beginning of a New Year, many people are also anticipating the beginning of their New Year’s resolutions. For numerous individuals, New Year’s resolutions will involve vows to cut back on their food intake, get on a diet and exercise regimen and drop at least a few pounds. The question that hangs in the air for those who are anticipating the start of a new diet lies in exactly which diet might happen to be right for them and which diet holds the key to helping them lose the most weight." The best diet is a lifestyle change that you can stick to.
~ Cannabinoids May Inhibit Cancer Cell Invasion -- "Cannabinoids may suppress tumor invasion in highly invasive cancers. Cannabinoids, the active components in marijuana, are used to reduce the side effects of cancer treatment, such as pain, weight loss, and vomiting, but there is increasing evidence that they may also inhibit tumor cell growth. However, the cellular mechanisms behind this are unknown."
~ Why Exertion Leads To Exhaustion -- "Researchers have discovered the dramatic changes that occur in our muscles when we push ourselves during exercise. We all have a sustainable level of exercise intensity, known as the "critical power." This level can increase as we get fitter, but will always involve us working at around 75-80 percent of our maximal capacity. This research shows why, when we go beyond this level, we have to slow down or stop altogether."

~ Foster Care Benefits Orphans' Cognitive Development -- "Children raised in orphanages experience worse cognitive development than children placed in foster care, according to an ongoing study appearing in the journal Science."
~ Why Do We Somtimes Perform Worse Under Pressure? -- "Why does pressure often hinder performance, causing our bodies to betray us when the stakes are highest? There are two major hypotheses: pressure breaks concentration, or pressure actually increases focus, but on actions that would be best left on autopilot."
~ Have You Planned Your New Year’s Resolutions? -- "The dawning of the New Years brings with it a thrilling and miraculous excitement to our lives. On New Year's Day, an exciting future awaits us. It's like a rebirth for many of us – a chance to wipe one's slate clean and start life anew. We eagerly anticipate the year unfolding before us."
~ How to Kick Your Motivation into High Gear -- "New Year's resolutions are right around the corner. The problem is not with setting goals, but with sticking with them until completion. For that you need a healthy helping of motivation. But where can you find this elusive ingredient? The resources are right under your nose. Here's how to get your motivation revving! They're not just for new year's resolutions, but for any goal or task you want or need to complete."
~ 10 Foolproof Tips for Better Sleep -- "There was a period in my life when I had a lot of problems with sleep. It took me very long to fall asleep, I was easily awaken, and I simply wasn't getting enough of rest at night. I didn't want to take medication and this led me to learn several tips and tricks that really helped me to overcome my insomnia. Some of these tips I try to follow regularly."
~ 14 Tips For Resolutions That Stick in the New Year -- "Statistics show that only about 15% of New Years Resolutions are kept. With an 85% failure rate, it’s no wonder that the amount of resolutions made is dropping. You wouldn’t buy a product that is defective 85% of the time, so why buy into the annual hype about resolutions? A strategy that fails over four fifths of the time is broken. The question is, how do you fix it?"
~ 20 Questions to Help You Reflect the Past Year -- "Now we are approaching the end of the year, and it’s the perfect time to reflect how we have done in the past year. We can then take some lessons for the new year. One good way to reflect, I believe, is using four facets of prosperity...."
~ Reversing Sleep Deprivation With A Whiff Of Orexin-A -- "This article might appeal to the beleaguered hospital intern or the college student during finals week, both of which must at times combat sleep deprivation. The loss of the hypothalamic neurons that produce orexin-A causes narcolepsy, and the administration of orexin-A produces arousal and increased attention. This week, Deadwyler et al. provide further evidence that orexin-A can counteract the effects of sleep deprivation."
~ Beliefs about intelligence affect mental performance -- "I've just found a fascinating five minute NPR radio report on work by psychologist Carol Dweck that has found that if a child thinks that intelligence is something that can change throughout life, they do better in school."

~ The BEAST - 50 Most Loathsome People in America, 2007 -- Definitely worth checking out -- and #9 is sadly accurate.
~ The Clinton Referendum -- "They might love Bill Clinton, but they loathe Clintonism. And it is this conflict that has, in recent weeks, become a subtle but important theme of the 2008 campaign, as Hillary Clinton’s rivals try to portray her as the Return of the Great Triangulator. Whatever else these Democratic primaries may be about — health-care plans, global warming, timetables for withdrawal from Iraq — they are, on some more philosophical and even emotional level, a judgment on the ’90s and all that those tumultuous years represent."
~ Why doesn't anyone read Dante's Paradiso? -- "The time is ripe to reconsider Paradiso's neglect, however, since three major new translations of the poem we know as the Divine Comedy are coming to completion. (Dante simply called it his Comedy; in what was perhaps the founding instance of publishing hype, divine was added by a Venetian printer in 1555.)"
~ Was Jesus a revolutionary? -- "In our age of vulgar atheistic polemics, Catholic-turned-Marxist Terry Eagleton brings a rare combination of intellectual depth and seriousness to his study of the gospels. But humanity will not find salvation in the ‘Good Book’."
Opening the Big Tent - Alain de Botton -- "Seven years ago now, I wrote a book (The Consolations of Philosophy) and broadcast a TV programme on Channel 4 which featured the work of Socrates, Epicurus, Seneca, Montaigne, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. The book sold hundreds of thousands of copies worldwide, the TV series has attracted millions of viewers. But the response from the holders of the philosophical flame was outraged and hysterical."
~ Sacha Baron Cohen: Killing off Borat -- "In a rare interview as himself, Sacha Baron Cohen tells John Hiscock about auditioning for Sondheim, the secret he kept from Tim Burton - and the pain of abandoning his comic creations."
~ What Darwin Could Tell Us About the "War on Drugs" -- "Although it may seem counterintuitive, the "law and order" response by our politicians only intensifies the problem."
~ Benazir Bhutto: 1953–2007 -- "The former Prime Minister is killed by an assassin."

~ Human-to-human bird flu case confirmed -- "The World Health Organization confirmed a single case of human-to-human transmission of the bird flu virus in a Pakistani family." And so it begins. . . .
~ Byron Williams: EPA's 'Uniformity' Standard Long on Absurdity, Short on Crediblity -- "As a liberal columnist, criticizing the antics of the Bush administration could understandably be viewed as an exercise in overkill. There has been so much to critique over the years; the challenge is to not make their actions the default position when deciding on a topic to write about. But the Environmental Protection Agency's recent decision to deny California and 16 other states the right to set their own standards for carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles is so outlandish and brazenly political that it warrants comment."
~ Warner Music Group Sells DRM-Free MP3s on -- "Another major label strips digital rights management restrictions from its songs to partner with the world's biggest e-tailer."
~ Crocodile Hunter Widow Turns Attention to Whale Research -- "Terri Irwin, the widow of TV "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, announces that a whale watching program she started in honor of her late husband will expand into scientific research in 2008. She hopes the non-lethal research of whales in Antarctic waters will show Japan's scientific whale kill is a sham."
~ Newly Discovered Properties Of Certain Crystals Could Impact The Miniaturization Of Electronic Devices -- "The dashing start of electrons in a crystal does not remain without consequences for their further fate. Researchers examined the ultrafast movement of electrons in a gallium arsenide crystal exposed for a short time to a very high electrical field. This conceptually new experiment shows for the first time a collective, oscillatory motion of the electrons with ultrahigh frequency, which arises additionally to the well-known drift motion of these particles. This newly discovered effect could play an important role in connection with the miniaturization of electronic devices."
~ Songbirds Offer Clues To Highly Practiced Motor Skills In Humans -- "The melodious sound of a songbird may appear effortless, but his elocutions are actually the result of rigorous training undergone in youth and maintained throughout adulthood. His tune has virtually "crystallized" by maturity. The same control is seen in the motor performance of top athletes and musicians. Yet, subtle variations in highly practiced skills persist in both songbirds and humans. Now, scientists think they know why."
~ Barcoding An Entire Ecosystem -- "In the middle of the South Pacific, about 12 miles west of Tahiti, is a tropical island that soon will emerge as a model ecosystem, thanks to the efforts of a U.S.-French research team led by University of California, Berkeley, biologists."
~ EPA, Dow Chemical Negotiate River Cleanups -- "U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 today extended a deadline with Dow Chemical to negotiate a settlement to conduct and finance an investigation, a study and interim cleanup actions for dioxin contamination in the Tittabawassee River system. In October the EPA called for negotiations under provisions of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, or Superfund." Just make them clean up their mess, for crying out loud.

~ The Renaissance of Love -- "Love or fear in any of it's forms, that's what choice really amounts to. Just these two. But for most of us, ensconced in our comfortable modern lives, we forget this. By default we choose the latter and then there appears to be a gazzillion other choices. As Sir Winston Churchill once said, "Most people, sometime in their lives, stumble across the truth. Most jump up, brush themselves off and hurry about their business as if nothing had happened." Isn't that sad?"
~ Exploring the Larger Sutra of Pure Land Buddhism -- "At a suggestion from my fellow Jodo Shinshu Buddhist, Kyoushin, I decided to try exploring the Pure Land text, the Larger Sutra of Immeasurable Life, from the perspective of the Prajñaparamita texts. Because of my interest in the Heart Sutra, the Diamond Sutra and such, I thought it would be an interesting exercise to see if their teachings resonate in the Pure Land texts."
~ The Perfection of Wisdom Sutra -- "I mentioned in yesterday’s post that according to one research article, the Heart Sutra, is actually a descendant of a larger, more obscure Buddhist sutra called the Pañcaviṃśatisāhasrikā- prajñāpāramitā sutra, or the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra.* This is part of the whole Prajñāpāramitā** series of sutras which include the Heart Sutra, the Diamond Sutra and the Flower Garland Sutra, among others."
~ Brain Functioning and Body Awareness -- "I’m currently reading The Mindful Brain by Daniel Siegel. Last night I was reading about the functions of the left and right hemispheres of the brain. I’ll share what I learned with you in case you’re curious and then below are some of my morning reflections."
~ A Touch of Greatness and Success: A Different Definition -- "The New Year draws rapidly closer; people are starting to set their goals and resolutions – they’re looking for something, and very often this involves what we call success. But the strange thing is: For many, the definition of success relies on the failure of other people."
~ Dream Tripping: Dream Drugs as Metaphor -- "If someone takes a psychoactive drug while physically awake, it changes her brain chemistry and so alters her state of consciousness. Taking a drug in a dream is a very different proposition, however - in that realm a drug would actually be a metaphor for an intention to change your consciousness in a particular way, and as such is an interesting and useful technique for those who utilize state changes as part of a spiritual path (or just as a means of exploring the possibilities of their own mind)."
~ Jesus, Quetzalcoatl, Dionysos - Archetypal Yearning -- "This is a brief summary of a talk I gave in 2006 as part of a yoga and mythology workshop series. It being the holidays and all I though I might share the main points. I hope it is interesting to some readers."