Friday, March 16, 2007

Do You Communicate Like a Man or a Woman?

You Communicate Like a Woman

You empathize, talk things out, and express your emotions freely.
You're a good listener, and you're non-judgmental with your advice.
Communication is how you connect with people.
You're always up for a long talk, no matter how difficult the subject matter is.

Almost right -- I don't like the long, hard talk thing, but if I have to do it I will. AND, I can be judgmental sometimes, though I have been working on getting better about that.

It Was Satire, People

Yesterday, I reposted a satire piece from Unconfirmed Sources about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his supposed confessions. Well, it seems that What Really Happened linked to it as an actual news item -- it seems that people don't know what the "satire" in the subject line means. Consequently, my blog has been hopping with hits, and people are linking to the story as though it were actual news -- and it wasn't even my story to begin with. I linked to Unconfirmed Sources in the post, but it didn't seem to matter.

Our educational system is really a mess if people don't know what satire is.

Daily Dharma: Transience

["Transience I" by Craig Chapman]

Today's Daily Dharma from Tricycle:

Find Enjoyment In Transience

We make every effort to keep things as they are, because human beings, alone, lament transience. Yet no matter how we grieve or protest, there is no way to impede the flow of anything. If we but see things as they are and flow with them, we may find enjoyment in transience. Because human life is transient, all manner of figures are woven into its fabric.

~ Shundo Aoyama, Zen Seeds from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book.

A Brief History of Disbelief

I found this 3-part BBC documentary at Video Sift. As many readers here know, I am not a fan of the current atheist movement (Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and so on) because they are too militant in their views -- they put the ism in atheism. Any time a belief (and atheism is a belief) becomes that militant, it can only -- at best -- be a partial view.

Still, having said all that, these videos are pretty interesting.

Part 1:

Via: VideoSift

Part 2:

Via: VideoSift

Part 3:

Via: VideoSift

Cheesy Rock Ballads Quiz

Do you know your 80's hair band ballads? You know -- Foreigner, Journey, REO Speedwagon, Bon Jovi?

You can test your knowledge on this silly quiz over Mental Floss. I got 9 out of 10 -- damn Journey songs all sound the same to me.

You know them from the dentist's office, high school dances, and possibly even the shower stall, but do you know who actually sings these heart-wrenching numbers? Match the saccharine sweet love song to the stars willing to put their hearts on the line. Oh, and if the quiz comes across a little easy, that's intentional. Love hurts, but that doesn't mean quizzes on love songs have to.

Have fun -- and if you do the test, please add your score to the comments.

Drugs and Sex and Susie Bright

Back in February, 10 Zen Monkeys posted part one of their interview with Susie Bright. Now they have posted the second part, and as always, Ms. Bright is a joy to read.

Susie Bright

It’s everybody’s favorite topic: Drugs, sex and chicks. As promised a few weeks ago, we now present part two of our interview with “sexpert” Susie Bright.

Read Part 1

To listen the full interview in MP3, click here.

RU SIRIUS: Tell us a bit about your psychedelic sex workshop.

SUSIE BRIGHT: OK. About a year ago. I got invited to this conference in San Jose called “Sacred Elixirs.”

I wouldn’t have paid any attention to that name because I’m an atheist. When people say sacred, I’m always snoozing… I don’t pay attention. But then, I found out that it was a reunion of the heaviest, coolest, smartest people in psychedelics. Oh! That sacred? I’m there! Oh my god, it was so fabulous. There were so many fantastic people there. And Sasha Shulgin delivered a chemistry lesson that made me realize that if I’d had him as a science teacher, everything could have turned out differently. For him, it’s like a musician talking about music. It’s a language.

RU: Plus he speaks in this rapid high pitch. It’s like getting a download of information from some kind of alien.

SB: I just couldn’t wait to go home and write about all the things people talked about. But while I was there, some of us women noticed that virtually every presenter was a guy; all the poetry was read by fellows — it was almost quaint. We didn’t, like, have a hissy fit about it, it was just sort of dumb. There were so many interesting women there. Every woman I met there, I wanted to spend hours talking to. Everyone was so interesting and intelligent. So some of us started brainstorming about what would be fun to talk about at a woman-oriented conference. And I said, “Well, so many things… I mean: sex. And not just the erotics of sex, the pleasures of sex, but sex in terms of one’s sexual life cycle. A lot of us here have our memories of what it was like when we discovered psychedelics as young people. But then, what happens when you become a mother? What happens as you age? How does your relationship to your sexual life cycle and your drug of choice change over time? I don’t know. No one talks about this! Wouldn’t it be great if we did?”

So we got a group of women together at this crazy sort of “Peacock retreat” in Sonoma run by a woman who’s really into Egyptology. She has a lot of gorgeous peacocks wandering around, which kind of added a little atmosphere. It was so much fun. It was like fifty people. You got to know everybody on a first-name basis.

The untold story — which I didn’t get until I was there — was the generation gap. We had a lot of good talks about it. There were these young people who were in MAPS and Erowid — they’re like these new groups that are trying to decriminalize drugs and raise drug consciousness in a very contemporary fashion.

RU: They’re very organized and intelligent and digital.

SB: Yeah. They’re very geeky.

STEVE ROBLES: Drug nerds.

SB: They’re drug nerds! Thank you. They aren’t drug hippies. And they said very politely – we don’t want to just sit around listening to how great your acid trip was in 1969. And they were right. They want to hear about stuff that’s happening now, and in their future. At one point this amazing young woman who everybody seemed to revere stood up. She looked like the all-American girl. She was like Gidget on acid.

RU: I think Gidget was on acid

Read the whole interview.

Eddie Izzard -- Dogs and Cats

More fun from Eddie Izzard . . . .

Via: VideoSift

Speedlinking 3/16/07

Quote of the day:

"An intellectual is a man who takes more words than necessary to tell more than he knows."
~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

Image of the day:

~ Muscles for Athletes, Part I: The Science of High-Threshold Motor Recruitment for Hypertrophy -- "This article will tell you how to put on muscle, regardless of whether you're a world-class athlete or your only athletic event is gazing at your bod in the mirror. If nothing else, you must at least read the 16 points at the end of the article!" From Christian Thibaudeau.
~ Deads VS Pulls: Are You Overlooking The "Best" Exercises Available? -- "The deadlift has an established performance record for making athletes bigger and stronger, but are there better alternatives for (most) athletes? I believe there are." From Charles Staley.
~ High blood sugar tied to increased cancer risk -- "Results of a study involving nearly 65,000 people point to an association between cancer and abnormally high blood sugar levels."
~ Grape juice best among all juices -- "Many people start their breakfast with a glass of orange juice. But a new study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry suggests that a glass of grape juice may be better than any other juice."
~ Are Common Chemicals Feeding Obesity Epidemic? (HealthDay) -- "Exposure to a class of chemicals commonly found in soap and plastics could be fueling the obesity epidemic by contributing to abdominal obesity and insulin resistance in men, a new study suggests."
~ Sexually Transmitted HPV Remains Mystery -- "Nearly every working day, Dr. Elizabeth Poynor encounters anxious young women who come to her New York City office with an HPV diagnosis. The human papillomavirus is the most prevalent sexually transmitted diseases - so common that researchers estimate most people will have some form of it in their lifetime."
~ Ginkgo may not aid memory in healthy older adults -- "The popular herbal supplement ginkgo biloba may not do much for healthy older adults' memory, at least in the short term, a new study suggests."
~ Sunshine Improves Athletic Performance -- "Straight from vitamin D expert Dr. John Cannell comes a new and interesting benefit from exposing your skin to the right amount of sunshine: Improving your peak athletic performance."

~ Genes plus parenting may promote shyness, anxiety -- "A mother whose child has a naturally fearful temperament may act less nurturing toward the child, triggering a vicious cycle of behavior that reinforces the child's fearfulness and shyness, researchers propose."
~ When couples are sexually out of sync -- "What's a guy to do when his partner has an insatiable appetite for sex — or wants to give it up for good? Any advice for a woman stuck in a passionless marriage? Sexploration answers your queries."
~ Taking oxytocin helps empathy -- "Brain Ethics has found an intriguing study which suggests that giving people the hormone oxytocin makes them better at reading emotion from other people's eyes."
~ What is Happiness and Can We Ever Achieve It? -- "Would you rather have a completely happy life, or a meaningful life? And are the two mutually exclusive? The topics, as well as recent neuroscience research, is addressed in a fascinating podcast over at Governomics. The podcast is here, with the transcript here."
~ Get What You Want -- "How to be persuasive with a gentle touch."
~ Hear Me Out -- "Get more out of your relationships."
~ Clearing Up Misconceptions about Boderline Personality Disorder -- "Borderline personality disorder, a DSM IV axis II diagnosis, is often misunderstood and incorrectly handled by members of the medical community. Those with the diagnosis can be challenging and frustrating, and therefore often have trouble finding a therapist who will work with them."
~ Dealing With Rejection -- "Resiliency is your "bounce back" factor. Being rejected is much easier if you're resilient! Learn a few things about surviving rejection and developing new confidence."
~ 'Manly men' bounce back better from injury -- "For years, experts have said that the strong, silent male is not one to ask for help when he's hurt, and therefore at a disadvantage when it comes to getting better. But new research says this might not be completely accurate. This masculine identity often associated with men in the armed forces and other high-risk occupations may actually encourage and quicken a man's recovery from serious injuries, says a new exploratory study from the University of Missouri-Columbia." This is why steroids speed recovery -- it's all about the testosterone.

~ Binge drinking, pill abuse intensify at colleges -- "Substance abuse on college campuses is nothing new, but it is taking a more extreme and dangerous form, with higher rates of frequent binge drinking and prescription drug abuse, and more negative consequences for students such as arrests and risky sexual behavior."
~ Sexual Victimization Experienced By Eighteen Percent Of Young Women -- "Sexual victimization can mean several things -- verbal coercion to have sex with an intimate partner, rape by a stranger, a woman fondled in a bar or forced intercourse when a woman is too intoxicated to consent or object."
~ Survey: Japanese too stressed for sex -- "The secret behind Japan's plunging birth rate? A record 39.7 percent of Japanese citizens ages 16-49 have not had sex for over a month —up 5 percentage points from two years ago —according to a survey published this week by the Japan Family Planning Association."
~ Promote love rather than fight hatred -- "Warm, exuberant feelings towards other categories of human being—national, religious, racial or social—are the sort of thing that Todd L. Pittinsky, a social psychologist at Harvard University, spends his time probing and testing. This is not just because he too likes to hang around people who accentuate the positive. Mr Pittinsky's hope is to turn the conventional wisdom of “conflict studies” and “race relations” upside down."
~ Israel Won't Deal With Palestinians -- "Israel won't deal with the new Palestinian government and will urge the international community not to work with the coalition, an Israeli official said."
~ Marketplace of Ideas -- "How a shady, right-wing p.r. firm is influencing opinion."
~ It's time to get rid of the dollar bill -- "This is the government's fourth attempt to move American spenders from dollar bills to dollar coins, after three flops that satisfied nobody but coin collectors. But these quite sensible efforts are destined to fail unless the Treasury finally does what it should have done long ago: Stop printing dollar bills."
~ A Way Out of Iran's Nuclear Impasse? -- "The country's U.N. ambassador is floating a promising idea, reports Walter Isaacson: to turn over ownership of Iran's enrichment plants to an international consortium."

~ When Organic Isn't Really Organic -- "Genetically modified crops are making their way into the organic food supply, but one farmer has a solution."
~ Frybrid: How to Run Your Car on Grease -- "What do you get when you cross hybrid transportation with local economic support and resource reuse? Frybrid. A small company in Seattle has developed a simple system for running any diesel automobile on vegetable oil discarded from the grease traps of restaurants."
~ Winter Warmest on Record Worldwide -- "This winter was the warmest on record worldwide, the government said Thursday in the latest worrisome report focusing on changing climate. The report comes just over a month after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said global warming is very likely caused by human actions and is so severe it will continue for centuries."
~ Coalition Calls for End of Incandescent Light Bulb -- "The incandescent light bulb should go the way of other outdated inventions, like the coal-burning locomotive, says a newly-formed energy coalition."
~ Scientists Study True Colors of Amazon Rainforests -- "Using NASA satellite data, Boston University scientist Ranga Myneni studied the amount and dynamics of green leaf area of Amazon rainforests. The study found a 25 percent increase in leaf area during the dry season when skies are relatively clear demonstrating that the forests are not evergreen and are more dependent on light than rain."
~ Species Evolve Faster in Cool Climates -- "A new study could overturn a long-held theory about biodiversity."
~ Photons Trapped for Record Time -- "A thought experiment conceived by Albert Einstein becomes reality."
~ AMD Talks Up 'Small-Form' Desktops -- "The world's second-largest chip maker is at the CeBIT show in Germany to drum up support for DTX, its open-standard specification for small-form-factor desktops. Advanced Micro Devices is working to shrink the size of the average desktop."
~ Chimps Cheer for Attention -- "Smart chimps use vocalizations to get attention from people."

~ The Integral Institute pod at Zaadz has become invitation only. That sucks.
~ What do people here mean when they say “integral”? -- From Alan Kazlev at Open Integral.
~ Relationship and Exalted Narcissism? From Gary at Integral in Seattle.
~ How to perform prostrations in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition -- A video posted by Tyson Williams.
~ A deeper sense of happiness -- "For Buddhists, the highest form of happiness lies in this inner freedom rather than the freedom to acquire and consume. Happiness is determined by one’s state of mind rather than by external events. It is not subject to time and decay, or dependent on the acquisition of things and people."
~ Gebser and the integral structure -- From Ed Berge at Open Integral.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Review: The "300" Workout

Yesterday, I posted on the workout the actors did to prepare for 300. I was going to just try a couple of the lifts in my next workout, which was supposed to be on Friday. But I ended up with a couple of hours to kill today at the gym, so I figured, "What the hell."

I did the workout, slightly modified. Please bear in mind that this was my fourth consecutive full-body workout this week, so I was already sore and a little tired.

That said, here was the workout as planned:

25x Pull Ups
50x Deadlifts (135 lbs)
50x Push Ups
50x Box Jumps
50x Hanging Knees to Elbows
25x each side Dumbbell Snatch (35 lb DB)
25 Pull Ups

300 total reps: 23:04 minutes to complete the circuit. The best time for one of the actors was 18 minutes.

As it turned out, I could only do 25 of the hanging knees to elbows crunches, so I did 25 Ab Waves (on a high incline, crunch up to the right, then back down like a pendulum up to the left -- that's one). I could have gotten all 50 of the planned crunches, but it would have taken forever.

The deadlifts were far too light -- I could easily do 185-225 for 50, but my hamstrings were sore today so this was just fine. The push ups were also too easy -- I did them in a set of 35 and then 15 more. I also should have done the DB snatches in sets of 50 for each side. The last set of pull ups was brutal, and I ended up getting them in sets of 5 or 6 after the first 12 or so. The box jumps were also too easy -- might want to add weight (a couple of 15 lb DBs).

All in all, not a great workout for me. I spent another 45 minutes doing other stuff (cable crossovers for chest [100 lbs each side for 10 reps x 3], unilateral shrugs on the smith machine [110 lbs each side for 10 reps x 3], one arm row on the smith [110 each side for 10 reps x 3], and smith bench press [90 for 25 reps, and 145 for 15 reps]).

The best part of the 300 workout is the intensity -- definitely a lot more cardio-based than most lifting programs. I was breathing hard, but my muscles (aside from abs and lats) didn't feel too taxed.

Still, I will adapt this for some of my clients. They aren't in the same shape I am, and this will rock them pretty hard even if I make it easier.

Daily Dharma -- Inter-Being

Today's Daily Dharma from Tricycle:

A Sheet of Paper

If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are. "Interbeing" is a word that is not in the dictionary yet, but if we combine the prefix "Inter-" with the verb "to be," we have a new verb, inter-be...

Looking even more deeply, we can see ourselves in this sheet of paper too. This is not difficult to see, because when we look at a sheet of paper, it is part of our perception. Your mind is in here and mine is also. So we can say that everything is in here with this sheet of paper. We cannot point out one thing that is not here--time, space, the earth, the rain, the minerals in the soil, the sunshine, the cloud, the river, the heat. Everything co-exists with this sheet of paper.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book.

Putting Prayers in Your Shopping Cart

The Washington Post ran an interesting story yesterday about religion online -- Linking Ancient and Modern, A Worldwide Web of Worship. The article focused on one particular example -- a Hindu website that allows Hindus around the world to purchase prayers in their favorite holy temple back in India.

This seems, to me, like an interesting use of LR quadrant technology (exterior collective) with LL quadrant culture (interior collective), which, for the person involved, has an impact on the UL quadrant psychology (interior individual).

OK, once more in English -- I like the way technology is being used in this example as a tool for assisting people with fervent cultural religious belief to satisfy their drive to have their prayers placed in the most auspicious temples. Clearly this is a very superstitious belief system, and one that some of us might see as pre-rational, but for those who hold the beliefs it can be very important to their sense of well-being to know that they have done their best to seek favor from the Gods.

I'm surprised there isn't something similar for Jews who want to have prayers placed at the Wailing Wall, or Catholics who want their prayers read in one of the great churches of Rome, or even the Vatican.

Anyway, here is a bit of the article:

The Internet has become a hub of religious worship for millions of people around the world. Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, Sikhs and people of other faiths turn regularly to Web sites to pray, meditate and gather in "virtual" houses of worship graphically designed to look like the real thing. Some sites offer rites from baptism to confession to conversion to Judaism.

For many cyber-worshipers, online religious life conducted at home or in an Internet cafe has replaced attendance at traditional churches, temples, mosques and synagogues. Some are coming to religion for the first time, in a setting they find as comfortable as their grandparents found a church pew, while millions of people reared on churchgoing are discovering new ways to worship.

"The first wave of religion online, in the 1990s, was mainly for nerds and young people and techies," said Morten Hojsgaard, a Danish author who has written extensively about online religion. "But now it really is a mirror of society at large. This is providing a new forum for religious seekers."

Hojsgaard said the number of Web pages dealing with God, religion and churches increased from 14 million in 1999 to 200 million in 2004. Religion now nearly rivals sex as a topic on the Internet: A search for "sex" on Google returns about 408 million hits, while a search for "God" yields 396 million.

The boom in online religion comes at a time when people, especially the young, are questioning traditional institutions, Hojsgaard said. Many are interested in religion, but they want the freedom to fashion a personalized style of worship. "Old mechanisms of religious authority are changing," Hojsgaard said. "There is more emphasis on individualism. We want to decide for ourselves."

India, with more than 1.1 billion people and a passion for technology, has become a leader in the practice of religion online, through a very large number of often very small Web sites, a pattern that reflects the decentralization of much of religious life here. Hindus sitting in the United States or Europe watch streaming live video of morning prayers from temples in their home towns. Sikhs listen to podcasts of prayers from Kashmir. Muslims download schedules of prayer times and recordings of sung verses from the Koran.

Members of India's fast-growing middle class have embraced the Internet in ways that startle their parents, many of whom were raised in villages that still barely have telephone service. At many Hindu temples, a priest's typical day includes pre-dawn prayers for a sacred cow or elephant, and time set aside to read e-mails asking for blessings.

The article goes on from there to look at one specific example of a Hindu woman living in Europe who buys prayers in a specific temple back in India, and how those prayers get to the temple she intended. Very interesting.

How Will You Die?

You'll die from a Drug or Alcohol accident.

Let's face it - when you get drunk/high you lose all control and do stupid stuff. Unfortunately in your case those propaganda anti-escapism commercials prove true.

'How will you die?' at

Alright, then, I'm going to die like a rock star.

Quotes for a Twisted Mind

I found these here. I've always been a fan of the witty observation.

Anything that happens, happens.
Anything that, in happening, causes something else to happen, causes something else to happen.
Anything that, in happening, causes itself to happen again, happens again It doesn't necessarily do it in chronological order, though.
~ Douglas Adams

Don't let your mind wander -- it's too little to be let out alone.
~ Tennessee Williams

Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws.
~ Douglas Adams

Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.
~ Redd Foxx

Whenever people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong.
~ Oscar Wilde

Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.
~ H. L. Mencken

Life sucks, but death doesn't put out at all....
~ Thomas J. Kopp

Sanity is the trademark of a weak mind.
~ Mark Harrold

There are many more at the site.

Satire: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Confesses, and Wants His Fingers Back

From Unconfirmed Sources:

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed confesses, and wants his fingers back

by Walid

Enjoys his time at Guantanamo Bay
Enjoys his time at Guantanamo Bay
WASHINGTON (UCS News) -- Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, admitted to those attacks and numerous others during a U.S. military hearing on Saturday. After his confession he requested that his interrogators return six missing fingers and remove the electrodes from is testicles.

In a statement from him, read by a U.S. military representative, he said, "I was responsible for the 9/11 operation, from A to Z." The transcript continues with the list of operations he was responsible for, including the Richard Reid shoe bomber attempt to blow up an airliner over the Atlantic Ocean, the Bali nightclub bombing in Indonesia, Rudolph Giuliani's second divorce, the US failure in Iraq, E.Coli poison outbreaks in Spinach and the shocking conditions found at Walter Reed army medical center.

The list of some 29 operations he was responsible for is followed by a shorter list of operations he was partially responsible for, including an assassination attempt against then-Pope John Paul II while he was visiting the Philippines.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed admitted that he timed the release of his confession to help bolster the sagging poll numbers of President George W. Bush. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed also stated that he has been tortured nearly every day since he arrived at the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp.

Photography: Christophe Gilbert

I found these photos at Weirdomatic, but you can also see more of them at Christophe Gilbert's website. Nearly all of these have some form of manipulation of the image or some unusual theme. Gilbert lives in Bruxelles, Belgium.

Here are a few of the images:

Speedlinking 3/15/07

Quote of the day:

"To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it."
~ CK Chesterton

Image of the day:

~ SE7EN: The Advanced Metabolic Agent for Hardcore Women -- Biotest products are among the best on the market, so if you want to use supplements they are the best choice. This is a new advanced version of an older supplement -- it is not hormone-based so it is safe for women.
~ The Figure Program -- A Chad Waterbury program for women who want to look like figure models -- a good program to use with Se7en.
~ The Fat Loss Troubleshooter: A New Bodybuilder's Algorithm -- Wisdom from Lonnie Lowery.
~ Get an A-List Body -- "Get the secrets behind your favorite stars' workouts."
~ Get Better Sleep -- "Get the National Sleep Foundation's recommendations for better zzzs."
~ Do Shopping Lists Promote Or Prevent Healthy Choices? -- "Comparing memory-based and stimulus-based decision making, researchers from Duke, UCLA, and the University of Florida found that trying to recall what options are available - such as when making a shopping list at home - uses mental resources that might otherwise be used to counter impulsive choices."
~ New Reason To Hit The Gym: Fighting Memory Loss -- "Research has shown that people who exercise do better on memory tests. Now a new Columbia University Medical Center study explains specifically what exercise does within the brain. Exercise, the researchers found, targets a region of the brain within the hippocampus, known as the dentate gyrus, which underlies normal age-related memory decline that begins around age 30 for most adults."
~ Green tea plus painkiller slows prostate cancer -- "A component of green tea combined with a low dose of a COX-2 inhibitor may act in concert to slow the spread of human prostate cancer."
~ Obesity, illness speed testosterone decline -- Another example of how the increase in estrogen associated with fat tissue impacts health.

~ Human Aggression Is Deep Rooted -- "Ape-like human ancestors known as australopiths maintained short legs for 2 million years because a squat physique and stance helped the males fight over access to females, a University of Utah study concludes."The old argument was that they retained short legs to help them climb trees that still were an important part of their habitat," says David Carrier, a professor of biology."
~ Sleepless nights may hinder moral judgment -- "Sleep deprivation may lead not only to bleary-eyed mornings, but clouded moral judgment as well, a study suggests."
~ Eating Disorders Not Confined to Women -- "The majority of individuals suffering from varied eating disorders are, undeniably, female, but the first national study of eating disorders in 3,000 adults indicates that men are much more susceptible than previously thought: 25 percent of confessed anorexics and 40 percent of binge eaters in the study were male."
~ Your Muscles Don't Always Listen To What Your Brain Says -- "Have your neurons been shouting at your muscles again? It happens, you know. As we grow older, neurons--the nerve cells that deliver commands from our brains--have to "speak" more loudly to get the attention of our muscles to move, according to University of Delaware researcher Christopher Knight, an assistant professor in UD's College of Health Sciences."
~ Why IQ matters - a graph -- Interesting.
~ Lopsided Love -- "The issues behind a non-reciprocating partner."
~ The Damaging Relationship -- "Why smart women make dumb mistakes about men."
~ Live Long with the Right Words -- "The right outlook and use of the right words can make all the difference in how long you live according to a Carnegie Mellon University study."

~ Court says U.S. can ban medical marijuana -- "A California woman with an inoperable brain tumor may not use marijuana to ease her pain even though California voters have approved medical marijuana, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Wednesday." Dumbasses.
~ Two top Democrats unveil child-health proposal -- "Two leading congressional Democrats on Wednesday unveiled legislation intended to ensure that the 9 million U.S. children who currently have no health insurance can get it through existing government programs."
~ Atheist Congressman Wins Praise -- "The American Humanist Association applauded Rep. Pete Stark for publicly acknowledging he does not believe in a supreme being."
~ 300 Sparks an Outcry in Iran -- "The hit film's depiction of the ancient Persians is being seen in Iran as another American insult."
~ Capturing Every Moment -- "Whether in the name of fun, fear, or scientific inquiry, people are digitally logging their every move with photos, GPS trackers, and digital recorders."
~ Is Gonzales a Diversion? -- "Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is taking fire -- but he may also be creating a diversion."
~ FBI Slips Demand Patriot Act Cuts -- "A probe finds the FBI abused its expanded powers to obtain Americans' private records. Time to put the G-men on a shorter leash. Commentary by Jennifer Granick."
~ Public Still Supports Path to Citizenship for Illegal Immigrants -- A Gallup poll.

~ You Call Yourself a Progressive -- But You Still Eat Meat? -- An environmental defense of rejecting meat in favor of plants. Personally, I eat meat and eggs and dairy products -- my cholesterol is 142, my bodayfat is 11%, and I have no moral issues with eating free range meat.
~ Thousands Of Rice Varieties Protected In New Agreement To Safeguard World Food Production -- "An unprecedented new agreement that will involve the annual dispersal in perpetuity of US$600,000 was unveiled in the Philippines to help fund the protection and management of the world's thousands of unique rice varieties."
~ Passive Smoking's Aggressive Side -- "Secondhand Smoke Exposure Leads to Continuing Heart Risks, New Study Finds."
~ Even Camels Aren't Safe From Global Warming -- "Australia's current drought, the worst in a century, is driving its feral camels mad with thirst. The country's 1 million wild camels, the largest population in the world, are stampeding through Western Australian towns looking for water."
~ Saturn's Icy Moon May Have Been Hot Enough for Life, Study Finds -- "Saturn's moon Enceladus may be one of the most likely places in the solar system to have life, and it may have gotten off to a hot, highly radioactive start, scientists say."
~ Reindeer Change Their Eyes for Summer and Winter, Study Finds -- "Reindeer alter the color and structure of their eyes with the seasons in response to strongly contrasting Arctic light conditions, new research shows." Nature is amazing.
~ Salamander Tongue Is World's Most Explosive Muscle -- "With a bow-and-arrow-like mouth mechanism, the giant palm salamander of Central America delivers the most powerful tongue strike ever measured." There's a joke to be made here, but I'll pass.
~ Terrorist Use of Google Earth Raises Security Fears -- "Satellite images from the free 3-D globe were found in Iraqi insurgents' homes, leading to controversial requests for the tool to censor sensitive locations." Saw that coming a mile away.

~ What’s Plunge Got to Do With It? from Buddhist Geeks.
~ kerfuffle time -- "Based in part on a kerfuffle on esangha about the different approaches to Buddhism as expounded by Genpo Roshi and Brad Warner, I have a serious question, a question I think deserves an up-close-and-personal response ... and not some smarmy, everything-is-Dharma or constipated, dig-my-discipline response: Who gives a sh*it?"
~ Showing Up from The Buddhist Diaries.
~ Emotional Intelligence & Relationship from Gary at Integral in Seattle.
~ Have You Seen the Universe? -- A cool site linked to by ~C4Chaos.
~ Religion not The Answer, says Andrew Sullivan -- Joe Perez at Until looks at Sullivan's comments.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

How Skeptical Are You?

You Are Very Skeptical

Your personal motto is: "Prove it."
While some ideas, like life after death, may seem nice...
You aren't going to believe them simply because it feels good.
You let science and facts be your guide... Even if it means you don't share the beliefs of those around you.

Eddie Izzard on Physics and Pavlov's Cat

In keeping with the science theme of the previous post, here is some classic Eddie Izzard. May not be safe for work, so just call in the boss to watch it, too.

Biocentrism: A New Theory of the Universe

In an article by Robert Lanza for The American Scholar -- A New Theory of the Universe -- it is argued that biology, above all the other sciences, should the focus for a unified theory of everything (biocentrism). Looking up biocentrism on Wikipedia will get you nowhere -- it's a stub and doesn't reflect what lanza is writing about.

The thesis seems to be that consciousness or perception are necessary for the existence of the universe as we know it. He contends that this is the only way to tie together all the other sciences and theories that attempt to explain the universe. I think the as we know it part is crucial. I doubt that Lanza would argue that universe would not exist at all without a consciousness to observe it and perceive it.

But, then again, I just went back and reread a crucial section and that is exactly what he is arguing.
You may question whether the brain can really create physical reality. However, remember that dreams and schizophrenia (consider the movie A Beautiful Mind) prove the capacity of the mind to construct a spatial-temporal reality as real as the one you are experiencing now. The visions and sounds schizophrenic patients see and hear are just as real to them as this page or the chair you’re sitting on.

We have all seen pictures of the primitive earth with its volcanoes overflowing with lava, or read about how the solar system itself condensed out of a giant swirling gas cloud. Science has sought to extend the physical world beyond the time of our own emergence. It has found our footsteps wandering backward until on some far shore they were transmuted into a trail of mud. The cosmologists picked up the story of the molten earth and carried its evolution backward in time to the insensate past: from minerals by degrees back through the lower forms of matter—of nuclei and quarks—and beyond them to the big bang. It seems only natural that life and the world of the inorganic must separate at some point.

We consider physics a kind of magic and do not seem at all fazed when we hear that the universe—indeed the laws of nature themselves—just appeared for no reason one day. From the dinosaurs to the big bang is an enormous distance. Perhaps we should remember the experiments of Francesco Redi, Lazzaro Spallanzani, and Louis Pasteur—basic biological experiments that put to rest the theory of spontaneous generation, the belief that life had arisen spontaneously from dead matter (as, for instance, maggots from rotting meat and mice from bundles of old clothes)—and not make the same mistake for the origin of the universe itself. We are wont to imagine time extending all the way back to the big bang, before life’s early beginning in the seas. But before matter can exist, it has to be observed by a consciousness.

Physical reality begins and ends with the animal observer. All other times and places, all other objects and events are products of the imagination, and serve only to unite knowledge into a logical whole. We are pleased with such books as Newton’s Principia, or Darwin’s Origin of Species. But they instill a complacency in the reader. Darwin spoke of the possibility that life emerged from inorganic matter in some “warm little pond.” Trying to trace life down through simpler stages is one thing, but assuming it arose spontaneously from nonliving matter wants for the rigor and attention of the quantum theorist.
Lanza makes a pretty good argument in what is a very interesting article, but I'm not buying it. Perhaps my little mind is too linear to believe that animal consciousness creates physical reality, or perhaps this theory is too close to solipsism (which seems to me to be highly narcissistic) for my taste.

Read the article for yourself
-- and please share your thoughts in the comments.

Wanna Look Like the Warriors in 300?

300 seems to be the movie of the season. Don't really know why, but hey, I like actual dialogue in my movies. Anyway, many gym rats are interested in how they got a bunch of normal looking actors to look like [our idealization of] Spartan warriors.

First, here is the extended trailer for the movie:

The guys look pretty good. Yes?

Josh Hillis has posted info on the workouts the actors did to get in shape for the film. I believe there is also an article in the current Muscle & Fitness and/or Men's Health, as well. Here is some of the article:

Not your average workout: Tire flipping, jumping, sprints with a jumpstretch band, runs with kettlebells, turkish get ups with kettlebells, medicine ball throwing, kipping pullups, bear crawls, tuck sits on gymnastics rings, barbell thrusters. Real, oldschool, brutal - full body movements.

You'll notice they aren't doing any curls or tricep extensions, no machines, no pussy bodybuilding "watch yourself in the mirror exercises" crap. It takes real world strength to flip tires and do pullups and squats and sprints. Essentially, the actors were training for performance - and the look came with it.

The average celebrity trainer would have trained the actors to look like Spartan Warriors - Mark Twight put the actors in 300 through workouts that would create the kind of strength and power they would need to be Spartan Warriors.

And here are details on the circuit they did -- the 300 reps routine:

The now legendary "300 Reps Workout", a.k.a. "Spartans, tonight we dine in hell!"

The workout was first reported as: 25 pull ups, 50 deadlifts - 50 push ups (sometimes on gymnastics rings), 50 jumps onto a 24-inch box, 50 tire drags (dragging a huge tire attached to your waist across the room and back), 50 single-arm clean-and-presses using a 36-pound kettlebell, and another 25 pull ups.

The latest version everyone is talking about: 25 pullups, 50 deadlifts with 135 pounds, 50 pushups, 50 jumps on a 24-inch box, 50 floor wipers (like a hanging leg raise on the floor), 50 single-arm clean-and-presses using a 36-pound kettlebell, and 25 more pullups.

Mark Twight probably put them through both of these versions. And several other versions. In fact, most of the workouts were probably randomzied. They very rarely, if ever, would they do the same workout twice.

The idea is to do this workout for time - and if you did go through the hell of repeating a workout, to try and beat your time from before. Like a race. Speed, power and intensity are the keys here. Ideally you'd complete the circuits in around 20 minutes.

Sounds pretty cool to me. That's my kind of workout. I have never trained for look, only for strength and power -- the look is a nice side effect. However, if you aren't at least in some kind of shape -- and if you have never done these full-body lifts -- start with 100 reps and see how that feels.

Here's a video diary on the workouts:

Those band sprints look intense. I actually do a variation on those with a couple of my clients, although I don't have the fancy equipment (I have a huge rubber band that goes around their waist. I hold the end of it and anchor them while they sprint as fast as they can. Ideally, I let them pull me across the room, but they have to work like hell to do it. Loads of fun.)

I f you'd like a little more info on how to tailor these workouts to your fitness level, check out Josh Hillis' follow up post, in which he talks about how he tailored these workouts for his clients.

Satire: Hillary Clinton Tries To Woo Voters By Rescinding Candidacy

From The Onion:

Hillary Clinton Tries To Woo Voters By Rescinding Candidacy

March 14, 2007 | Issue 43•11

DES MOINES, IA—Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton officially rescinded her bid for president at an Iowa campaign appearance Saturday.
Enlarge Image Hillary Clinton

Clinton bids farewell to a sea of new supporters.

"Just two months ago, I promised that I'd listen to every voice through my town hall meetings, web chats, and trips to communities across the country," said Clinton, whose opponents have accused her of being out of touch with average voters. "America, you spoke clearly and with conviction—and I listened. And so I say to you today: Let the conversation end."

Polls showed that immediately following her speech, Clinton's approval numbers skyrocketed all across the South, wide swaths of the Midwest, scattered pockets of the Northeast, and in California, Alaska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Hawaii, and Ohio.

Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's Hardball, described Clinton's decision as the "single most unifying move" the highly polarizing figure has made yet.

"Hillary's always had a hard time connecting to audiences, but these Joe Six-Pack Iowans absolutely lit up at her speech," Matthews said. "For the first time, she's really speaking to the whole nation."

Enlarge Image Supporters

Clinton supporters and detractors applaud the move.

Along with Clinton's announcement, her campaign website posted the results of a recent telephone poll showing that an overwhelming majority of both Republican and Democrat respondents answered "Yes" to the questions "Don't you wish Sen. Clinton was not even running?" and "Wouldn't everything be better in this country if Sen. Clinton just bowed out now?"

Fox News Channel's chief political correspondent, Carl Cameron, called the announcement classic Clintonian triangulation—finding an unorthodox issue that people can agree upon across socioeconomic and party lines.

"She's cold, she's calculating, she's blind with ambition, but I'll be doggoned if she doesn't have her finger on the country's pulse," Cameron said. "Hillary's not usually one for surprises, but this was a paradigm-shifting moment that's guaranteed to turn her campaign around."

Many Republican-leaning voters said that while they still didn't agree with Sen. Clinton on the issues, they were personally impressed with the boldness of her decision.

"This was an unexpected moment, and it took a lot of courage on her part," said Miami resident Brian Highland, a former supporter of Arizona Sen. John McCain. "I've been a staunch Republican all my life, but now that Hillary's dropped out of the race, she's definitely got my vote."

Campaign Withdrawal Spendin

In the political blogosphere, some describe the move as a brilliant political stratagem in tune with the national zeitgeist, while others insist it reveals Clinton's tendency to pander to public opinion.

"I knew Hillary was willing to change her positions based on surveys and focus groups, but I'd always assumed her presidential aspiration was her most deeply held belief," blogger Joe Sudbay of AMERICAblog wrote. "If she's going to pull out of the race just to please voters, maybe she doesn't deserve to be president."

Added Sudbay: "She said she was 'in it to win it'—was that just posturing, too?"

Clinton will unroll a $15 million ad buy tomorrow covering the major primary states to publicize her withdrawal, and kick off a 19-month bus tour next week through the expected battleground states.

"I want every potential voter in America to know my position on this important issue," said Clinton, referring to her candidacy. "When people go to the polls next year to vote for 'anybody but Hillary,' I want them to think of just one candidate: me."