Friday, May 04, 2007

Black Holes and Alternate Universes

New Scientist Space ran a story the other day called, Could black holes be portals to other universes?

Here is a taste:

The objects scientists think are black holes could instead be wormholes leading to other universes, a new study says. If so, it would help resolve a quantum conundrum known as the black hole information paradox, but critics say it would also raise new problems, such as how the wormholes would form in the first place.

A black hole is an object with such a powerful gravitational field that nothing, not even light, can escape it if it strays within a boundary known as the event horizon. Einstein's theory of general relativity says black holes should form whenever matter is squeezed into a small enough space.

Though black holes are not seen directly, astronomers have identified many objects that appear to be black holes based on observations of how matter swirls around them.

But physicists Thibault Damour of the Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques in Bures-sur-Yvette, France, and Sergey Solodukhin of International University Bremen in Germany now say that these objects could be structures called wormholes instead.

Wormholes are warps in the fabric of space-time that connect one place to another. If you imagine the universe as a two-dimensional sheet, you can picture a wormhole as a "throat" connecting our sheet to another one. In this scenario, the other sheet could be a universe of its own, with its own stars, galaxies and planets.

Damour and Solodukhin studied what such a wormhole might look like, and were surprised to discover that it would mimic a black hole so well that it would be virtually impossible to tell the difference.

Read more.

So, then, yesterday I cam across this BBC Horizon: Parallel Universes episode:
Everything you’re about to read here seems impossible and insane, beyond science fiction. Yet it’s all true. Scientists now believe there may really be a parallel universe - in fact, there may be an infinite number of parallel universes, and we just happen to live in one of them…

Both items seem to be mining the same basic idea. The idea of multiple universes boggles the mind . . . but in a good way, as far as I can see. Very cool stuff.

Speedlinking 5/4/07

Quote of the day:

"Cats are smarter than dogs. You can't get eight cats to pull a sled through snow."
~ Jeff Valdez

Image of the day (David Lorenz Winston):

~ Fructose is Not Better than Ordinary Sugar -- "Fructose is processed differently in the body than the far more common sugar, glucose. Glucose causes the pancreas to release insulin which drives sugar from the bloodstream into cells. Glucose causes fat cells to release leptin that makes you feel full so you eat less; it also prevents the stomach from releasing ghrelin that makes you hungry. On the other hand, fructose does not cause fat cells to release leptin and does not suppress ghrelin. This means that fructose increases hunger to make you eat more. Furthermore, the liver converts fructose far more readily to a fat called triglyceride, than it does with glucose."
~ Gene Switch That Tells Cells To Burn Fat Triggered By 'Exercise Pill' -- "By giving ordinary adult mice a drug - a synthetic designed to mimic fat - Salk Institute scientist Dr. Ronald M. Evans is now able to chemically switch on PPAR-d, the master regulator that controls the ability of cells to burn fat. Even when the mice are not active, turning on the chemical switch activates the same fat-burning process that occurs during exercise. The resulting shift in energy balance (calories in, calories burned) makes the mice resistant to weight gain on a high fat diet." If this works in humans, this guy is going to be richer than the mind can fathom.
~ BONUS ARTICLE: Top 3 Nutritional Mistakes (and how to fix them) -- "More often than not people's nutritional problems can be fixed by a couple of very simple changes and/or additions. Mike Roussell has outlined the top 3 mistakes people make (along with how to to go about fixing them)."
~ Fish, Seafood Better Than Olive Oil, Nuts Against Heart Disease -- "Researchers have found that a diet rich in fish, seafood, and grains -- also called polyunsaturated fats -- is better at preventing heart disease than a diet containing olive oil, nuts, and avocados -- called monounsaturated fats. Although both types of fats are healthy, people should probably include more of the first than the second in their diet to keep a healthy heart, the scientists say."
~ Steroid shot may ease carpal tunnel pain -- "A single corticosteroid injection in the wrist can bring temporary relief from the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome, a new research review suggests."
~ DNA mutation causes heart disease in whites -- "A treasure hunt for genes has found that up to three-quarters of people of European descent have DNA that raises their risk for heart disease -- and these genes are close to a stretch of DNA linked to diabetes."
~ If You Aren't Using This Type of Exercise You Are Missing Out Big Time -- "You may recall a series of articles written by Ryan Lee about the value and advantages of interval training, especially for time-starved folks like you and me. Conventional medicine is jumping on the bandwagon too, as so graphically described in a small Canadian study about the beneficial effect seven high-interval training sessions had on eight women in their early 20s, and after only two weeks."
~ Experts share sneaky little slim-down tricks -- "Losing weight is a major goal for many Americans. And now that obesity has grown into a public health issue, it's more important than ever. Health magazine went to the top weight-control experts for their No. 1 tips to get the weight off now. Take a look."

~ Gender Differences in Reading Nonverbal Behaviour -- "Some psychologists, in testing understanding of nonverbal behaviour, have found that women fare better than men. While this might be explained by some experiential, or even intrinsic, failing in men, new research suggests it might have more to do with interpersonal goals."
~ Psychoanalysis of Resident Evil and Silent Hill -- "Resident Evil and Silent Hill have been given a psychoanalytic interpretation by two academics wanting to undercover the underlying symbolism of these popular video games."
~ Deep Brain Stimulation Shows Promise In Treatment Of Memory Problems Associated With Severe Psychiatric Disorders -- "Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic will present results of a study today that shows deep brain stimulation (DBS) is associated with improvements on formal memory tests in patients with severe psychiatric illness. Since 2001, this team of investigators has been using DBS for treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)."
~ Scientists Identify New Strategy For Preventing Acute And Chronic Brain Disease -- "Scientists at the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease (GIND) have discovered that reducing levels of the protein tau can prevent seizures and neurological deficits related to Alzheimer's disease. The findings, reported in the journal Science, demonstrate that when tau is removed from mice genetically engineered to simulate Alzheimer's disease, their memory function is retained and they live a normal lifespan."
~ Schizophrenia And Depression Symptoms In Mice Caused By Gene Malfunctions -- "Researchers have demonstrated for the first time that malfunction of a gene that had been associated with schizophrenia and depression does indeed cause symptoms of those disorders. They said their findings in mice offer a possible animal model for developing treatments for schizophrenia and depression. Also, they said their findings support the theory that the two disorders share common genetic mechanisms."
~ 20 Sure-Fire Ways to Come Up With Great Ideas -- "One problem that many bloggers face is the daily challenge of coming up with a good, useful post. After blogging for awhile, new ideas may be hard to come by. But great ideas are everywhere, if you know where to look, keep your eyes open, and know how to make use of them once you find them."
~ My Turn: How I Thrive Despite Depression -- "Thanks to some new therapies and a hardy sense of humor, I've learned to live, and even thrive, with depression."
~ Study: Doing Good Makes You Feel Good -- "If you want to be happy, do something meaningful, a new study says."

~ Domestic Violence Should Be Treated As Public Health Issue, Opinion Piece Says -- "Domestic violence causes "devastating" psychological and physical damage to women and should be approached as a public health issue, Cesar Chelala -- an international public health consultant and author of the Pan American Health Organization publication "Violence in the Americas" -- writes in a Philadelphia Inquirer opinion piece."
~ India's rising middle class -- "India's consumption could leapfrog Germany's in two decades." See also" Feeling Like a Trillion Dollars.
~ James Comey's testimony hurts Gonzales -- "In his testimony before Congress today, former Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty was quiet, understated, and devastating to Alberto Gonzales."
~ The TIME 100 -- "Who are the people making a difference? TIME makes its annual picks of the 100 most influential men and women shaping our world."
~ D.C. Madam -- "I have little interest in who is and isn't on the D.C. Madam's list, though the rank hypocrisy of Randal Tobias paying for sexual massages after a hard day of requiring foreign governments to swear off prostitution before receiving foreign aid to fight AIDS is pretty rich. What's instructive about this mess is that it shows exactly what it takes to get booted from the Bush administration."
~ Giuliani Remains Most Popular Candidate Despite Slight Dip in Ratings -- "Rudy Giuliani continues to be viewed more positively by the American public than any of the other leading candidates for president. Recently, his favorable rating dipped below 60% for the first time. The slight decline in Giuliani's popularity has largely been confined to Democrats and independents and liberals and moderates; his ratings have been consistent among conservatives and Republicans."
~ No More Witch Burnings for PC Offenses -- "Despite the ironic mockery, political correctness still packs a punch. Say the wrong thing today and you can be gone tomorrow, your status as a top broadcaster, university president or politician obliterated. It happens in the small space of a sentence--defrocked, banished, gonzo. Outside a courtroom, I'm not aware of many other forces in American life that can do that." Comments on this one?
~ Robert Koehler | "The Christian Taliban Is Running the Department of Defense" -- "Robert Koehler writes, 'When George Bush, in the wake of 9/11, puffed himself into Richard the Lionheart and declared he would lead the country in a 'crusade' against terrorism - you know, crusade, as in slaughter of Muslim infidels - turns out ... oh, how awkward (if you're on White House spin duty) ... he may have been speaking literally.'"
~ Is This What the Army Thinks of Us? -- "It looks like it's official: the United States Army thinks that American reporters are a threat to national security."

~ Gore vs. Schwarzenegger—who's the better environmental spokesman? -- "Al Gore's title as the leading U.S. political figure on the topic of global warming may be in danger. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has been on a roll recently, pushing for tougher state environmental standards and speaking out on the issue. Our partners at decided to compare Gore and Schwarzenegger side-by-side by running clips of their recent environmental speeches for a group of 309 survey respondents. Click here to launch our video slide show of the results, which may surprise you."
~ Poor Nations Brake Greenhouse Gas Rise -- "Developing nations that are fast industrializing, such as China and India, have braked their rising greenhouse gas emissions by more than the total cuts demanded of rich nations by the UN's Kyoto Protocol."
~ Delegates Wrangle Over Climate Report -- "Delegates at the climate change conference met into the night Thursday struggling to reach consensus on how to cut greenhouse gas emissions as a way to deal with the threat of economic and environmental catastrophe from global warming."
~ Video: Killer Whales Blasted by U.S. Navy Sonar -- "Like the boom of a jet fighter taking off, sonar noise in Puget Sound was hitting orcas with enough intensity to cause the marine mammals to race to shore, a biologist reports."
~ Mercury's Core Secrets Exposed -- "Mercury has molten core, a finding that solves a 30-year old mystery about the tiny planet."
~ Grassroots good -- "Paul Hawken's new book Blessed Unrest is a much-needed analysis of the movement that's poised to change the world as we know it. It's a must read, (excerpted here in Orion magazine) even if you're not a self-described grassroots activist. In it, he states that "the movement to restore people and planet is now composed of over one million organizations" working toward ecological sustainability and social justice."
~ Harvesting Rainwater -- "If you could get 600 gallons of water at no cost, would you take it? It is possible to harvest that much water from rooftop runoff from only one inch of rainfall! Multiply that by the average number of inches that fall per year where you live and it can add up to a substantial amount of water."

~ Relevance of Buddhism In Changing Times -- "The 2,500-year-old Buddha Dharma has a special role to play because Buddhism uniquely propounds the concept of interdependence, which accords closely with the fundamental notions of modern science."
~ Ragged guests -- "Sometimes the guests that come through are pretty ragged… (Guests here meaning any content of experience, including emotions, reactivity, wounds, etc.) And if we try to push them away, ignore them, call the police, pretend they are not there, or end up wailing or running frantically around with them, they stay ragged." This is a great analogy to working with subpersonalities.
~ I've been attempting to discern in very concrete terms how shadow retrieval functions at post-conventional levels of consciousness -- "I think there is still a 3-2-1 process of shadow work accessible at transpersonal levels of development. There is still an "I" (World Soul), a "We" (the World Soul and the self), and an "It/Its" (the World Soul's shadow reincorporated into the self)."
~ intersubjective nondual -- "This is a theme I return to frequently. One reason why I think the intersubjective must be taken up is that we are at the end of the individual path."
~ *Special Event: Zaadz Symposium on Integrative Spirituality!* -- "The Symposium is called Integrative Spirituality: Grounded Contemporary Perspectives and will feature 7 blogposts over 7 days from 7 different posters on this fascinating and powerful subject!"

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Best Campaign Speech Ever!

It seems Japan allows all candidates to have public airtime for a campaign speech. Toyama Koichi, self-proclaimed Mussolini Style Fascist, and leader of the Kyushu Fascist Party, is running for Governor of Tokyo.

I'm not convinced this is serious -- it came across like very-well conceived performance art. If so, it was brilliant. If not, this dude is nuts.

Either way, can you imagine American television allowing a guy like this to make a public speech, even if he BOUGHT airtime? Advocating to overthrow the government is a crime in this country -- but apparently Japan has more lenient free speech laws.

Anyway . . . enjoy.

Daily Om: Feeling Depleted -- Resources

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This was the Daily Om from a couple of days ago. It's not groundbreaking information, but it's a good reminder that we are responsible for our own well-being.

Cause, Effect, And Transformation
Feeling Depleted

There are times in our lives when it seems our bodies are running on empty. We are not sick, nor are we necessarily pushing ourselves to the limit-rather, the energy we typical enjoy has mysteriously dissipated, leaving only fatigue. Many people grow accustomed to feeling this way because they do not know that it is possible to exist in any other state. The body's natural state, however, is one of energy, clarity, and balance. Cultivating these virtues in our own bodies so that we can combat feelings of depletion is a matter of developing a refined awareness of the self and then making changes based on our observations.

A few scant moments of focused self-examination in which you assess your recent schedule, diet, and general health may help you zero in on the factors causing your depletion. If you are struggling to cope with an overfull agenda, prioritization can provide you with more time to sleep and otherwise refresh yourself. Switching to a diet containing plenty of nutritious foods may serve to restore your vigor, especially when augmented by supplements like B vitamins or ginseng. Consider, too, that a visit to a healer or homeopath will likely provide you with wonderful insights into your tiredness. But identifying the source of your exhaustion will occasionally be more complicated than spotting a void in your lifestyle and filling it with some form of literal nourishment. Since your earthly and ethereal forms are so intimately entwined, matters of the mind and heart can take their toll on your physical self. Intense emotions such as anger, sadness, jealousy, and regret need fuel to manifest in your consciousness, and this fuel is more often than not corporeal energy. Conversely, a lack of mental and emotional stimulation may leave you feeling listless and lethargic.

Coping with and healing physical depletion will be easier when you accept that the underlying cause might be more complex than you at first imagined. A harried lifestyle or a diet low in vital nutrients can represent only one part of a larger issue affecting your mood, stamina, and energy levels. When you believe that you are ultimately in control of how you feel, you will be empowered to transform yourself and your day-to-day life so that lasting fatigue can no longer gain a foothold in your existence.

There are many ways to deal with depletion, and finding productivity skills is one of them -- the more efficient we are, the less time we have to spend working.
The Ririan Project offers a lot of useful information on productivity, creativity, working with emotions, and so on. It's a great resource for finding ways to avoid or overcome depletion.

Steve Pavlina also offers a wealth of information in this area -- some of it can be a bit too New Age for my taste, but some of it is also quite insightful.

Zen Habits is another site that offers information on achieving goals and increasing productivity. Some of it is Zen-based, as the blog name might suggest, and some of it is just nuts-and-bolts efficiency information.
There are probably a lot of other resources out there, but these are the ones that I read on a regular basis.

However, I think the bottom line for fighting physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual depletion is mindfulness. If we can be more mindful of what is going on inside of us, we can begin to see the warning signs of depletion before we end up sick, depressed, or worse. And we can begin to choose alternate ways of being.

Although mindfulness training comes out of Buddhism, it need not be a religious practice or something esoteric. It simply asks us to stop for a moment, take a few deep breaths, and tune in to what is going on inside of us.

We can tune into our bodies and be aware of stress or exhaustion. When we can be present to our physical selves, we can learn a lot about how we are functioning in our lives. Many of us treat our bodies like machines, but a machine that isn't properly attended breaks down. Our bodies offer warning lights, the same way our cars do, but we have to listen for them and slow down -- even for a moment -- to become aware that something is out of balance before we break down and need to go to the doctor. Stress contributes to a whole range of physical illnesses -- as does poor nutrition and a lack of exercise -- so, it's worth our effort to pay attention to our physical health.

The same thing holds true for emotions. Many of us -- especially men -- tune out emotions or otherwise try to avoid them. But if we aren't aware of our emotional states, we can act out inner frustrations in our daily lives, and it will be our friends, family, partners, and co-workers who suffer because we are unconscious. But we also suffer. If we are not happy in our life and work, but we refuse to look at those feelings, we can never change the situation. Becoming mindful of our emotions is the best way I know of to avoid acting out destructive emotions -- like anger or frustration -- on those around me. When I can stop, tune into my anger, and take a few deep breaths, I am far less likely to yell at someone, suffer road rage (a hard one for me), or blame other people for what I am feeling.

Of course, this applies to our spiritual lives as well. When we are out of tune with our deeper purpose -- whatever that may be (and many of us have never bothered to look seriously at what that may be) -- our souls will suffer. When we are miserable at such a deep and important level, everything else in our lives, no matter how happy we are in some ways, will lose its luster. I can have all the things I want -- nice possessions, the perfect partner, and a great job -- but if my soul isn't getting its needs met, I will be unhappy. The hard part is that this unhappiness is hard to see unless we really learn to tune in to ourselves in deeper ways -- and this is where meditation or contemplative prayer is so useful. Even ten minutes a day can make a difference if we do it on a regular basis.

Mindfulness need not be work -- it simply asks us to be more present to ourselves in our daily lives. Instead of being on auto-pilot as we go through all the responsibilities we have each day -- in our jobs, our friendships, our relationships, and so on -- we can tune into to ourselves. We can ask, gently, "How do I feel right now?" We can develop a mental check list for our body, our hearts, our minds, and our souls. Even if we only do this while we are in the shower in the morning, or as we go to bed in the evening, we will begin to become more aware of what is going on inside of us -- and this will help us avoid depletion of all kinds.

Please don't think I have mastered this -- I still struggle every day with being aware and being mindful. It's a lifelong practice. It's hard at first, and we may feel discouraged, but the more effort we give it -- and NOT as another responsibility we have to deal with , but gently and compassionately -- the more we can become aligned with who we really are as human beings.

Edge 209 -- New Issue

The new issue of Edge is up, and it has some great stuff.

Here is the table of contents:


A Talk with Elaine Pagels

by Gregory Paul & Phil Zuckerman


Gloria Origgi, Charles Leadbeater
on "Who Says We Know" By Larry Sanger


Are You There, God? It's Me, Hitchens
By Boris Kachka

Brains!: A special issue on neuroscience and neuroculture
Daniel Engber, Slate Science Editor
lison Gopnik, George Johnson, John Horgan, Steven Pinker, Daniel Gilbert, Joshua Gilbert, Marc Hauser, Jiseph LeDoux

The DNA of Religious Faith
By David P. Barash

In The beginning

The Discover Interview: Marc Hauser

Bill O'Reilly Interviews Richard Dawkins

Brian Eno


Piano Phase-Steve Reich

Some people find Steve Reich a bit annoying, but I've always been fascinated by his work.
The original 'Piano Phase' for two pianos was composed in 1967. Both pianists play the same repeating pattern but one of them gradually increases tempo so as to slowly move one-eighth note ahead or out of phase with the other. This process is repeated with three repeating patterns that get shorter in duration. The video portion of this piece was created by David Cossin in 2000 and utilizes a pre-recorded video of him playing the piece on midi percussion pads that then trigger piano samples of the notes of the piece. Against this pre-recorded video, projected on a screen in front of him, he then plays the moving part that gradually moves ahead, or out of phase with the recorded part. The audience can then see and hear the process unfolding.

Via: VideoSift

Bach's Concerto in D-Minor BWV 596, 'Allegro', Arranged for 4 Recorders

Nice . . . .
This is a recording session for the Amsterdam Loeki Stardust Quartet's "Fuge Around The Clock" CD.

Via: VideoSift

Speedlinking 5/3/07

Quote of the day:

"Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast
~ Lewis Carroll

Image of the day:

~ South Beach Diet review -- "The South Beach Diet is not a traditional low-carb plan. Instead, you'll be encouraged to choose the right carbs, such as whole grains and certain fruits and vegetables; the right fats, such as olive, and canola oil; and lean sources of protein." For those who want a well-known diet, this is the one I recommend.
~ Eat My Meat, The Sequel -- "Screw that Spiderman sequel! We've got the only sequel that matters: the next installment of Dave Tate's "Eat my Meat." Oh, and you'll want to get a bench shirt after looking at one of the pictures in this article, guaranteed."
~ Once-a-year shot can prevent osteoporosis: study -- "The Novartis osteoporosis drug Reclast, given once a year, reduces the risk of broken bones for three years but may spark an abnormal heart rhythm in some patients, researchers said on Wednesday." Or you could just train with weights.
~ Tamoxifen Protects Certain Women at High Risk for Breast Cancer (HealthDay) -- "Tamoxifen helps prevent breast cancer in women at high risk for the disease who have also had their ovaries removed as part of a hysterectomy, researchers report."
~ Hydrotherapy, Tai Chi can ease osteoarthritis -- "Both water-based exercise and the Chinese exercise system Tai Chi can help older people with severe arthritis move and feel better, researchers from Australia report."
~ Caffeinated Sunflower Seeds Offer Jolt -- "The seeds are marketed as chewable caffeine for those who need a boost." If they could figure out a way to combine whey protein, walnuts, and caffeine, I 'd be in heaven.
~ Shape Up Like Spider Man -- "[W]ith the superhero workout below, you can shape up like Spider-Man, too. But these three activities aren’t for the weak. If you’re a beginner, start slowly and work your way up to this challenge."

~ FDA urges new adult warnings on antidepressants -- "All antidepressants should carry new warnings about an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior in young adults ages 18 to 24 during initial treatment, U.S. health officials proposed on Wednesday."
~ Monthly therapy keeps depression at bay for some -- "Women who recover from depression with the help of psychotherapy alone can stay well for as long as two years with monthly "maintenance" therapy, a new study shows."
~ Older people are better losers -- "A bad night at the bingo may not be as painful for older people – over-65s are less upset by loss than twenty-somethings, brains scans reveal."
~ Protecting Your Memory: A Full-time job? [Neurontic] -- "The more well-adjusted among us might fault Jakobson Ramin for her hysteria over the prospect of slower recall, but in some ways it's a good thing. Trust me. If you want to know everything there is to know about memory, put a journalist convinced she's losing hers on the job."
~ This Wednesday: Six tips for feeling better about yourself -- "When you’re feeling lousy about yourself, what can you do to feel better? Here’s the secret."
~ A Slow Smile Attracts -- "As a correspondent about my emotion research (still time to take part) reminded me, psychology research is not good at capturing change. Measurements tend to be fairly static, either looking at one slice of time or asking participants to average over a period. Which is why this research on smiling is so unusual."
~ How To Fight--and How Not To -- "There's a right way and a wrong way to argue."
~ Let Your Unconscious Mind Go to Work for You -- "Science is saying, “Wait a minute.” Literally, the message is, “Wait a minute.” Your most creative ideas do not come to you after you squint and make a thinking sound, “mmmmm.” Research is pointing to a better way to get the best answers: It’s through your unconscious mind."

~ Are social networking sites doomed to failure? [Cognitive Daily] -- "Once users saw that they were being censored, rather than simply voted down by their peers, a full-scale rebellion occurred, and hundreds of Digg users began submitting the code in a variety of creative formats. At its worst, the entire front page of Digg was completely populated by these articles."
~ Brief history of unbelief on PBS [Evolving Thoughts] -- "OK, Americans, a couple of years after the British saw it, you are being treated to Jonathon Miller's A Brief History of Unbelief, a three-part series on how atheism came to be possible in western society, such that it is now one of the larger "religious" divisions in our culture."
~ Edwards Rejects the "War on Terror" -- "As the phrase is treated with increasing skepticism in both parties, Democratic Presidential hopeful John Edwards is gambling that voters will agree it is outmoded."
~ Senate Judiciary Committee Subpoenas Gonzales to Provide Rove Emails -- "Senators subpoenaed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales Wednesday, ordering him to provide all e-mails related to presidential adviser Karl Rove and the firings of eight federal prosecutors."
~ The Notion: The Media, Impeachment & Kucinich -- "Snarky beltway pundits are mocking Dennis Kucinich's call for impeachment. But what's wrong with holding the President accountable?"
~ A President Gone AWOL -- "John Nichols writes that as Bush claims moral high ground by vetoing legislation that seeks to end a bungled war, former Iraq commanders say he consistently ignored their advice."
~ Reaction to 'D.C. Madam' Story Moves to Anger and Frustration -- "Reaction inside the administration, on K Street, and in Congress to the evolving "D.C. Mmadam" scandal has turned from titillation to frustration and anger that the alleged clients lied to officials about their practices, didn't do enough to protect their anonymity, and have waited too long to step down even though they know they are on Deborah Jeane Palfrey's list."

~ 1.5 Million Species Going Extinct? -- "If you just heard the wake-up call regarding the many environmental problems harming our planet -- largely the result of humans unnecessarily tinkering with Mother Nature -- you haven't begun to see all the changes, according to this disturbing excerpt from the upcoming book, The Fragile Edge by Julia Whitty."
~ And the Green Design Awards Go To... -- "We're rolling out the green carpet and gawking at the winners of a recent spate of contests celebrating the best in sustainable design."
~ Study confirms the risk of exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke outdoors -- "Tens of thousands of Americans die each year from secondhand tobacco smoke, according to a 2006 report by the U.S. Surgeon General. While the health risks associated with indoor secondhand smoke are well documented, little research has been done on exposure to toxic tobacco fumes outdoors."
~ Honeybee Die-Off Threatens Food Supply -- "If honeybees disapper, so could America's food supply."
~ Beer Maker, Scientists to Create Energy -- "Scientists and Australian beer maker Foster's are teaming up to generate clean energy from brewery waste water - by using sugar-consuming bacteria."
~ Researchers shed light on diet of early human ancestors -- "Eight years ago, the field of anthropology was rocked by isotopic evidence that suggested one-third of the diet of early human ancestors consisted of grasses and sedges, or the tissue of animals that ate such plants. The news puzzled scientists, who were unable to reconcile the results with what they knew about the teeth of human ancestors who lived more than 2 million years ago."
~ BP CEO resigns -- "John Browne, who's been head of oil giant BP for 41 years, abruptly resigned yesterday. Browne grew the lackluster company into the second largest oil company in the world; he also was among the first oil executives to proactively acknowledge the danger of climate change and encourage action." He resigned after lying in court about a homosexual relationship he was trying to keep quiet -- that's sad.
~ Princeton physicists connect string theory with established physics -- "String theory, simultaneously one of the most promising and controversial ideas in modern physics, may be more capable of helping probe the inner workings of subatomic particles than was previously thought, according to a team of Princeton University scientists."

~ Exploring labeling-images -- "The job of the mind is to produce thoughts, and one category of thoughts are these labels that take the form of images."
~ Thank you for the ILP -- "This week on Integral Spiritual Center...."
~ David Byrne & Daniel Levitin -- "David Byrne, the well known lead singer and songwriter of the seminal band Talking Heads, has had an extensive solo career, won an Academy Award for his work on The Last Emperor soundtrack, exhibited his artwork internationally, and authored five books, including, most recently, Arboretum. For 10 years, Daniel Levitin worked as a session musician, sound and recording engineer, and record producer. He is now the James McGill professor of behavioral neuroscience and music at McGill University and the author of The New York Times bestseller This Is Your Brain on Music. Recently at STK, in New York's Meatpacking District, the two traded ideas about music, language, and memory."
~ The substance of spiritual practice -- "What is the substance of spiritual practice? In Buddhism people may refer to seated or walking meditation, chanting, bowing/prostrations, lighting candles or incense, and visualization techniques. Yes, things things can be helpful and have their place, and they can be an anchor/touchstone for spiritual awareness and depth, but do they constitute the sum or even the bulk of spiritual practice (and we can for other sacred traditions list similar activities)?"
~ Trust -- "I find myself clinging to beliefs when I don’t trust myself to do otherwise. I suppose I think that if I don’t come armed with a belief of some sort, I won’t know what to do. And the most widely held beliefs are the best because I feel shored up by the common assent of others and don’t have to go it alone."
~ Buddhism and Humanism -- "When we think about Buddhism, it might be common that we do not suppose any relations between Buddhism and Humanism. But recently I have begun to notice the existence of much relation between Buddhism and Humanism, and I think that the recent enthusiastic approach of Euro-American Civilization to Buddhism might be related with such a humanistic tendency of the world history in the 21st Century."
~ Sangha Start-Up -- "So, how can we create Sangha without forcing it unnaturally? Here are my thoughts and observations about what makes Sangha work."

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Meta-Free-Phor-All between Stephen Colbert and Sean Penn

The "Meta-Free-Phor-All" between Stephen Colbert and Sean Penn was moderated by poet Robert Pinsky. This stuff is great -- maybe a little esoteric for many Americans, but Colbert's audience tends to be pretty well-educated.

This has been around for a while, but I just found some code to embed it for your viewing pleasure.

The Top 6 Healthiest Nuts

I am always an advocate for eating healthy fats, and nuts contain some of the healthiest fats you can include in your diet -- as long as you practice moderation (nuts are high calorie).

If you also want to include some seeds in your diet, go for pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.

This is from

Many people were scared away from nuts during the low-fat craze of the last few decades, but now nuts are making a comeback. Nuts are excellent sources of protein, minerals, "good" monounsaturated fats and other nutrients, and they're good for the heart.

A study conducted by Loma Linda University in California that involved 31,000 Seventh Day Adventists found that eating nuts lowered the risk of heart disease and helped participants to keep their weight down. Other large-scale studies, including the Physician's Health Study, the Iowa Women's Heath Study and the Harvard Nurses Health Study, also found that eating nuts lowered heart disease risk. Other studies have shown that nuts help lower bad "LDL" cholesterol.

In fact, in July 2003, the FDA approved the following health claim for nut package labels:

"Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces per day of some nuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease."

It only takes a small handful of nuts to satisfy hunger (and help you stay full longer), and there are many varieties to choose from. Here are six of the healthiest.

Walnuts1. Walnuts

When it comes to nuts, the walnut is the king. It's a great source of the healthy omega-3 essential fatty acids, which have been found to protect the heart, promote better cognitive function, and provide anti-inflammatory benefits for asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, eczema and psoriasis.

Walnuts also contain the antioxidant compound ellagic acid, which is known to fight cancer and support the immune system. But that's not all--in a study in the August 2003 issue of Phytochemistry, researchers identified 16 polyphenols in walnuts, including three new tannins, with antioxidant activity so powerful they described it as "remarkable."

Walnuts are incredibly healthy for the heart. A study in the April 2004 issue of Circulation found that when walnuts were substituted for about one-third of the calories supplied by olives and other monounsaturated fats in the Mediterranean diet:

  • Total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol were reduced

  • The elasticity of the arteries increased by 64 percent

  • Levels of vascular cell adhesion molecules, which play a major role in the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), were reduced

Almonds2. Almonds

Just a quarter cup of almonds contains nearly 25 percent of your needed daily value of the important nutrient magnesium, plus is rich in potassium, manganese, copper, the antioxidants vitamin E and selenium, and calcium. In fact, a quarter cup of almonds has almost as much calcium as a quarter cup of milk.

They're also great for the colon. An animal study on the effects of almonds on colon cancer found that animals (which were exposed to a colon-cancer-causing agent) given whole almonds had fewer signs of colon cancer than animals given almond oil or no almonds. Researchers suspect the benefit may be due to almonds' high fiber content.

Plus, almonds are one of the best nuts for lowering cholesterol because 70 percent of the fat they contain is the healthy monounsaturated variety, which has been shown to help clear arteries.

Cashews3. Cashews

Cashews are lower in fat than most nuts, and 65 percent of this fat is unsaturated fatty acids. Of this, 90 percent is oleic acid, the heart-healthy fat found in olive oil.

Plus, cashews are rich in copper, magnesium, zinc, iron and biotin.

Pecans4. Pecans

Pecans are an excellent source of over 19 vitamins and minerals including vitamins E and A, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, several B vitamins and zinc.

Plus, according to Sue Taylor, R.D., director of nutrition communication for the National Pecan Shellers Association, "Recent clinical research studies evaluating the impact of pecans on serum cholesterol have found pecans can significantly help lower blood cholesterol when consumed as part of a heart-healthy diet."

In fact, a study from New Mexico State University found that eating 3/4 cup of pecans a day may significantly lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and help to clear the arteries.

Brazil Nuts5. Brazil Nuts

These nuts are extremely nutrient-rich and contain protein, copper, niacin, magnesium, fiber, vitamin E and selenium. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that works to neutralize dangerous free radicals. A study at the University of Illinois even found that the high amounts of selenium in Brazil nuts may help prevent breast cancer.

Macadamia Nuts6. Macadamia Nuts

These nuts are high in protein, fiber, healthy monounsaturated fats, potassium and magnesium. And, a study done at Hawaii University found that people who had added macadamia nuts to their diets for just one month had total cholesterol levels of 191, compared to 201 for those eating the typical American diet. The largest change was found in the LDL (bad) cholesterol.

A Little Goes a Long Way

The key with nuts is simply not to overeat them. They are highly concentrated in both their calories and their nutrients, so you only need a small handful at a time. Eating a variety of nuts appears to be the best way to get all the different benefits each nut has to offer.

100 Places to See Before You Die

In case you have run out of travel ideas, here are 100 Places to See Before You Die -- a pretty diverse list from essential architecture. I have no intention of seeing all of them (they are really focused on architecture, obviously), but some are definitely on my list.

Muchmor: Idle Thoughts From A Strange Mind

These remind me of Steven Wright jokes, and since I don't really know where these came from, they could be. Whatever. They're entertaining for my simple mind.

Idle Thoughts From A Strange Mind

I planted some bird seed. A bird came up. Now I don’t know what to feed it.

I had amnesia once — or twice.

I went to San Francisco. I found someone’s heart. Now what?

Protons have mass? I didn’t even know they were Catholic.

All I ask is a chance to prove that money can’t make me happy.

If the world was a logical place, men would be the ones who ride horses sidesaddle.

What is a “free” gift? Aren’t all gifts free?

They told me I was gullible… and I believed them.

Teach your children to be polite and courteous in the home and when they grow up, they’ll never be able to merge their car onto the freeway.

Experience is the thing you have left when everything else is gone.

One nice thing about egotists: they don’t talk about other people.

My weight is perfect for my height — which varies.

I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not sure.

The cost of living hasn’t affected its popularity.

How can there be self-help “groups”?

If swimming is so good for your figure, how do you explain whales?

Show me a man with both feet firmly on the ground, and I’ll show you a man who can’t get his pants off.

Is it my imagination, or do buffalo wings taste like chicken?

Speedlinking 5/2/07

Quote of the day:

"Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones."
~ Bertrand Russell

Image of the day (John Craig)
~ Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs Can Cause Muscle Pain -- "This review found that statin- induced muscle damage is more common in Asians, people who exercise, have had recent surgery, have kidney, liver or thyroid disease, or have high triglycerides. The incidence of muscle pain and damage from statins is extremely low in non-exercisers, three to ten percent in those who exercise, and very high in competitive athletes." Diet and exercise . . . diet and exercise.
~ Spring fitness tuneup -- "If you have been working out all Winter then great, you should be fine, but if you have not been working out keep these five tips in mind over the next few weeks as Spring becomes running, biking, exercising, and eating season." Pay special attention to thoughts on stretching.
~ Dr. Details: An Interview with Eric Serrano -- "He's influenced many, including our own Charles Poliquin and Alwyn Cosgrove, but some people in our biz think that Dr. Serrano's just a little "out there." Genius or mad scientist? You decide."
~ One Stage Regeneration System For Articular Cartilage Repair From Depuy Mitek Shows Promise In Pilot Study -- "DePuy Mitek, Inc. announced a critical milestone in its multi-center randomized pilot study evaluating the safety and performance of its Cartilage Autograft Implantation System (CAIS), with 29 patients enrolled in the study in the United States since March 2006. This investigational device and method is designed as a primary surgical treatment of damaged knee cartilage using the patient's own healthy cartilage in a single operation."
~ Exercising harder keeps weight off longer -- "Among a group of overweight men and women participating in an 18-month weight loss program, those who were still getting 75 minutes of exercise daily a year after the program ended had lost 26 pounds, compared with 1.8 pounds for people who were exercising less."
~ Yes, coffee really is good for you -- "Drinking coffee can help ward off type 2 diabetes and may even help prevent certain cancers, according to panelists discussing the benefits — and risks — of the beverage at a scientific meeting." Damn straight.
~ When determining who’s fat, is BMI bunk? -- "A surprising new study finds that some people with a body mass index that indicates they're overweight may actually have little body fat — and some folks whose BMI categorizes them as skinny actually are way too flabby." My BMI is 26 (overweight) but my bodyfat is slightly less than 9%. It took a study to figure out that I'm healthier than a skinny-fat-guy with a BMI of 23 and 18% bodyfat?!
~ Scientists Identify Key To Integrating Transplanted Nerve Cells Into Injured Tissue -- "Scientists at the Schepens Eye Research Institute, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, have identified a key mechanism for successfully transplanting tissue into the adult central nervous system. The study found that a molecule known as MMP-2 (which is induced by stem cells) has the ability to break down barriers on the outer surface of a damaged retina and allow healthy donor cells to integrate and wire themselves into remaining recipient tissue."

~ Prognosis worse with childhood bipolar disorder -- "When bipolar disorder arises in childhood, it may take far longer to diagnose and have a worse prognosis, a new study suggests." There's no consensus that children can even be diagnosed as bipolar.
~ An owner's manual for the brain -- "So when did Discover magazine get so good? They've got an excellent 'Mind and Brain' section with a long list of feature articles freely available online. Actually, what I wanted to feature was a one off magazine called 'Discover presents The Brain: An Owner's Manual', which I found on the shelves of my local newsagent."
~ "Obligatory" running and "bizarre" food preoccupations [Dr. Joan Bushwell's Chimpanzee Refuge] -- "I've reproduced my two-year-old post below, and have included the comments that originally appeared there. In re-reading this I was struck, not for the first time, by the general wishy-washiness of behavioral research. I can agree, for example, that a lot of runners have "bizarre preoccupation" with food and are "compulsively" athletic -- and see myself in a lot of what the authors describe, really -- but good luck finding useful clinical criteria for these."
~ STAR*D Depression Study Finds Cognitive Therapy Equivalent To Medication But Selected By Fewer Patients -- "In the federally funded Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) study, outcomes for cognitive therapy as a second-step treatment were not different from outcomes of medication therapy. However, random assignment in this STAR*D level was based on each patient's treatment preferences, and only 26 percent of the patients accepted cognitive therapy as an option."
~ Psychotherapy's Effectiveness In Depression Is Demonstrated By Two Studies Using High And Low Therapy "Doses" -- "Adding intensive psychotherapy to drug treatment for patients hospitalized with severe depression significantly increased the rate of response, compared to a group not receiving psychotherapy, according to a new study. The contribution added by the psychotherapy component was evident early on, with acute response rates of 70 percent in those receiving both medication and psychotherapy, compared with 51 percent for those not receiving psychotherapy."
~ Science of hypnosis -- "Hypnosis and Suggestion is a fantastic website created by Dr Matt Whalley, an academic hypnosis researcher who gives a level-headed and detailed account of what is known about the science of hypnotic states and suggestion."
~ Getting emotional about cognitive science -- "The Boston Globe has a well-researched article on how emotion has become increasingly important in scientific models of the mind."

~ Hate Makes a Comeback -- "Groups Like the Ku Klux Klan and Neo-Nazis Target Mexican Immigrants."
~ Hitchens Joins the Party [EvolutionBlog] -- "Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris have had things to themselves for too long. Now it's time for Christopher Hitchens to join the party. His new book God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything is now available."
~ Is the Wall Street Journal Worth It? -- "Rupert Murdoch makes a big bid for the newspaper's parent company. It's not a sign of improving fortunes for beleaguered dailies, but evidence of why the Journal is unique."
~ Supergirl Syndrome -- "She's smart, skinny, athletic, pretty and everybody loves her. Lakshmi Chaudhry writes that this market-driven model of perfection doesn't necessarily make a girl happy."
~ The Guantánamo Hunger Strike -- "Guantánamo is in the grips of a hunger strike--an age-old form of protest that marked such world events as the fight for women's suffrage and Indian and Irish independence. The U.S. military's response to the hunger strike is not surprising: punitive force-feeding, a dangerous and painful approach." Gotta keep them alive so we can kill them, eh?
~ "Jihad": idea and history | Patricia Crone -- "The notion of jihad is one of the most contested in the modern Islamic and political lexicon. In a four-part essay, Patricia Crone makes it comprehensible: by identifying its textual sources, examining how early Muslims translated it into practice, asking how they made sense of it ethically, and exploring its contemporary relevance."
~ SCOTT HORTON—Bill Moyers: “Buying the War” -- "I recently wrote that America needed a journalist who could do what David Halberstam did in The Best and the Brightest with respect to the decision to go to war in Iraq. Well, Moyers has done exactly that. The story is called “Buying the War.” His work is patient, fair and sympathetic—in all those points it takes a softer approach than Halberstam would have—but it doesn’t shirk from asking the essential questions. This is well done, and essential."
~ Will the Dems Let Florida Cut in Line? -- "The state that had the last word on the 2000 election now wants the first one on the 2008 Presidential race. It's the latest battle in the Primary War Between the States."

~ It's Not What Chimps Say, It's What They Gesture -- "A new study of chimpanzees and bonobos reveals that the meaning of vocalizations is fixed whereas the meaning of gestures depends on the context."
~ News seekers turning to online search engines, videos and blogs -- "US news-seekers are increasingly turning to Internet search engines, video clips and gossip-slingers to sate curiosity about current events, according to a study released Tuesday."
~ Computers Simulate 50 Percent of a Mouse Brain -- "Researchers simulated half of a mouse brain on a supercomputer."
~ Technique monitors thousands of molecules simultaneously -- "A chemist at Washington University in St. Louis is making molecules the new-fashioned way — selectively harnessing thousands of minuscule electrodes on a tiny computer chip that do chemical reactions and yield molecules that bind to receptor sites."
~ Death, Sex in Space Considered by NASA -- "As NASA plans long journeys to Mars, officials begin to consider ethical issues."
~ Be afraid. Be very very afraid [The Island of Doubt] -- "In a story that caught the attention of only the more astute climate science journalists a few weeks ago, one of the more experienced oceanographers of our time, Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University, reported that the Arctic ice cap is melting much faster than we thought. How much faster? So fast that the rate made the story seem too alarmist to take seriously."
~ Can Plankton Save the Planet? [commonground] -- "In an effort to ameliorate the effects of global warming, several groups are working on ventures to grow vast floating fields of plankton intended to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and carry it to the depths of the ocean. It is an idea, debated by experts for years, that still sounds like science fiction -- and some scholars think that is where it belongs."
~ Why Supercontinents Self-Destruct -- "Analysis shows why Pangea burst, leading to huge eruptions and rapid warming."

~ The Spiritual Problem of The New Age for Integral -- "I have deep roots in critical thinking, inquiry-based practice, and shadow-work, yet am living and practicing my profession in a community largely defined by a complete absence of these perspectives and a deep adherence to gullible New Age magical thinking, defensive metaphysical consolation and dissociative denial of reality. "
~ Don't taint my Buddhism with comparisons to Christianity -- "I recently commented on an article discussing Buddhism from a more traditional Christian perspective and subsequently received a reply from a Catholic priest in a small spark of interfaith dialog. Perhaps it would for some be better to call it establishment Christianity rather than traditional as some could rightly point out that many now heretical views on the life of Christ once flourished among the early Christians. This raises the question of how many Buddhists, especially Western Buddhists, see Christianity."
~ Plato, on artistry -- "Firstly, I ought add that Plato (here through the voice of Timaeus), never explicitly states that he refers to artists, or artistry. But on the premise that artists are creators, the logic that what is said about creators can bear transfer to artists (though maybe not inerrantly) for consideration by artists on how to conduct their creative affairs seems sound." This is good stuff -- check it out.
~ Meditation is Not to Soothe -- "Soothing activities aren’t meditation, and are often quite different from focusing on the breath, and calming the chatter. I notice more and more people saying that they meditate when they’re driving (oh-oh…look out!), or exercising. Do you see the distinction between focused concentration, relaxing or soothing yourself, and meditating? We should definitely keep talking about this."
~ Self and brain -- "The last time I did zazen it was really very deep - there was almost no sense of self, only constantly shifting processes of sensation, feeling and thought. At one point the thought appeared that this was an unborn, undying state, neither eternal nor nonexistent, but free from birth and death. I had just been reading a text, which had inspired me. But this wasn't a sutra or the writings of some mystic, it was a description of the issues surrounding consciousness and self from the perspective of neuroscience."
~ Gnosis and Outreach -- "Carrying on from the topic of the last post. First, a current working definition of "integral" that is able to include both Wilber and Aurobindo. By "integral" can be meant they share these qualities" See also: Spiritual attitude -- "I've been getting some very good comments from my original suggestion for a gnostic community."
~ B-SCAN with Steve Pavlina (Part 1) -- "During the past week, Steve was kind enough to take some time to grant me this interview. Initially, I sent him the usual set of questions I ask in this B-SCAN series. To my surprise, it was Steve who suggested that I ask the questions that matter to me and that I don't hold back. So I revised the questions and included those which are 'controversial.'"
~ Meditation and Intimacy -- "I have just started teaching another ten-week meditation course at the botanical gardens, and I’ve been thinking about what a strange and difficult thing meditation is to teach – not because it is in any way esoteric, but because it is, I think, incredibly subtle."