Saturday, July 07, 2007

Gratitude 7/7/07

On this supposed luckiest day of the century, these are some things I am grateful for:

1) Sports: Today Venus Williams, the lowest seed ever to win a women's title at Wimbledon, won her fourth title. An amazing accomplishment, considering that many people thought her best days had passed. And last night, the US mens' (rather, boys') U-20 team upset Brazil to win their bracket and move into the round of 16 at the U-20 World Cup. I love the underdog.

2) I did a lot of reading today, instead of working on an editing project, on the role of soul in psychology. My sense is that integral theory is too focused on spirit, to the point of neglecting soul. I'm sitting with a post on this topic that I hope to write soon.

3) I'm dragging my ass out of bed early tomorrow (4 am) to go hiking with my friend, Susan, at Catalina State Park, a place I have never been before. I'm looking forward to the conversation and the landscape.

What are you grateful for today?

Dreaming of Snakes

I don't generally remember my dreams (unless I'm trying to), so this may be the first time I have talked about a dream on this blog. And of course, I only remember a fragment of the dream.

I am with (faceless) other people and we are outside -- the atmosphere is dark, but it is not night. It feels as though we just suddenly appeared in this place, maybe from some other scene or element of the dream I do not remember. On the ground, in the trees -- everywhere -- there are snakes. Big snakes, small snakes, black snakes (a lot of big black snakes), rattlesnakes, colorful snakes -- snakes everywhere. The people with me panic and want to run, but I guide them out through the maze of snakes and no one is bitten.

The snakes seemed not to be interested in us. And I felt no fear of them.

This is all I remember of the dream, but it has been with me for several days now, and it keeps coming back to awareness.

I don't know what any of this means. However, I have been preoccupied with the awareness of ignorance of late, and snakes represent the opposite -- wisdom and knowledge. I have also been musing on the role of vocation in my life (and my ignorance of what that might be), and I think that there may be some connection here.

It was a snake that encouraged Eve to exercise free will and embrace knowledge over ignorance by eating the apple and sharing it with Adam. It is a snake that lies coiled at the base of the spine and can be raised through the chakras by means of meditation to become enlightened. Twin snakes coil around the staff of life to create the caduceus, the symbol of medicine.

Snakes are symbols of transformation, often associated with death because they live both above and below ground. But they also shed their skin, so they can also symbolize transformation and rebirth in the absence of literal death.

Other various symbolisms include pure energy (its wave-like movement), guardians of the springs or waters of spirit (a feminine energy), cycles of nature and time (the Ouroboros), and on and on. Snakes are one of the most widely found symbols among humans and cover a multiplicity of interpretations.

If I recall correctly, Jung felt that serpents in dreams represented some form of conflict between instincts and conscious attitudes or desires. Obviously, the snakes represent the instincts. But this doesn't feel correct to me -- its more than that.

If we look to James Hillman, he doesn't want to pin any specific meaning on the dream image, and in fact, in this quote, he addresses black snakes:

For instance, a black snake comes in a dream, a great big black snake, and you can spend a whole hour with this black snake talking about the devouring mother, talking about anxiety, talking about the repressed sexuality, talking about the natural mind, all those interpretive moves that people make, and what is left, what is vitally important, is what this snake is doing, this crawling huge black snake that’s walking into your life…and the moment you’ve defined the snake, you’ve interpreted it, you’ve lost the snake, you’ve stopped it…The task of analysis is to keep the snake there…

OK, then, so I have a LOT of big black snakes, among thousands of other snakes. We are outdoors, but not in nature, more like on a path or walkway. It's dark, but not night. And for some strange reason, I am the guide who gets everyone to safety.

I like Hillman's approach -- context is more important than content.

In the context of my dream, the snakes may represent instincts, fears, death, rebirth, wisdom, and/or transformation to those who are with me -- and they feel fear. I do not feel the same fear, so I am able to guide them through the situation to safety.

Now, the other people may represent other selves within me, or other people in my life, or some situation I have yet to encounter. The key is that I am (or some part of me is) a guide through the process of confronting these symbolic creatures. So, in this sense, I am viewing this as a dream of "calling," which is related to vocation.

This dream may have something to do with my decision to return to school to become a therapist-- maybe a confirmation that I am on the right path. That's how I am going to hold it for now.

Roshi Joan Halifax -- Dharma of Love

This is a preview of Roshi Joan Halifax's Valentine's Day dharma talk. The DVD will be available from Upaya Zen Center. For more information, please email or go to

About Face - Animation

This is pretty cool -- reminds me of a rougher style of the animation in Pick Floyd's The Wall.

This is the quote that accompanies the video at Video Sift:

"Animal and human facial transformations including caricatures of Henry VIII, Mick Jagger, Oscar Wilde, Lord Alfred Douglas, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Adolf Hitler, Idi Amin, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, The Marx Brothers, and the many faces of David Bowie. Written and drawn by Chris James. Music by Claude Jouven."

Via: VideoSift

Looking Into Ourselves and Inner Peace

Two nice quotes in my in-box this morning.

The first one is the Glimpse of the Day. This is a good reminder for me -- I tend to use busyness, even if it is just manufactured busyness, to avoid spending the needed time to look within. Someone I care about also does this -- but she really feels the terror element of looking within.

We are so addicted to looking outside ourselves that we have lost access to our inner being almost completely. We are terrified to look inward, because our culture has given us no idea of what we will find. We may even think that if we do, we will be in danger of madness. This is one of the last and most resourceful ploys of ego to prevent us from discovering our real nature.

So we make our lives so hectic that we eliminate the slightest risk of looking into ourselves. Even the idea of meditation can scare people. When they hear the words egoless or emptiness, they think that experiencing those states will be like being thrown out the door of a spaceship to float forever in a dark, chilling void. Nothing could be further from the truth. But in a world dedicated to distraction, silence and stillness terrify us; we protect ourselves from them with noise and frantic busyness. Looking into the nature of our mind is the last thing we would dare to do.

~ Sogyal Rinpoche

The second one is the Daily Dharma from Tricycle. It suggests that if we can look within, and not get distracted by the "monkey mind" of random thoughts and fears, we will discover that peace is our true nature.

Looking At Our Hands

Peace is a natural mind-state in every one of us. Peace has been there since the day we were born and it is going to be there until the day we die. It is our greatest gift; so why do we think we have no peace of mind?

Experiencing peace is like looking at our hands. Usually, we see only the fingers--not the spaces in between. In a similar manner, when we look at the mind, we are aware of the active states, such as our running thoughts and the one-thousand-and-one feelings that are associated with them, but we tend to overlook the intervals of peace between them. if one were to be unhappy or sad every minute of the twenty-four hour day, what would happen to us? I guess we would all be in the mad house!

~ Thynn Thynn, Living Meditation, Living Insight

Friday, July 06, 2007

Gratitude 7/6/07

Some things I am grateful for today:

1) Two coyotes crossed my path this morning. After ravens and crows, coyotes are my favorite critters -- I guess I have a thing for tricksters.

2) The first real monsoon rains came today. This is the wet season for the desert -- and we need the rain.

3) I finally saw The Fountain tonight. WOW! What a heart-breakingly beautiful film. Aronofsky is one of my favorite directors, and this is easily his best film. Highly recommended.

What are you grateful for?

Amy Winehouse -- Back to Black & You Know I'm No Good

I'm apparently the last person on Earth to discover Amy Winehouse -- better late then never. I dig her bluesy jazz swing groove.

Back to Black

You Know I'm No Good

Speedlinking 7/6/07

Quote of the day:

"The good life, as I conceive it, is a happy life. I do not mean that if you are good you will be happy - I mean that if you are happy you will be good."
~ Bertrand Russell

Image of the day:

~ Interval Training Techniques Can Be Used By Every Exerciser -- "Athletes train by "stressing and recovering". On one day, they take a hard workout which damages their muscles, on the next day, they feel sore and take easy workouts, and when the soreness goes away, take a hard workout again. They also break down individual workouts into intervals of stress and recovery."
~ Potential Cure For Stress Related Obesity -- "The Director of the Neuroscience Research Program at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Professor Herbert Herzog, together with scientists from the US and Slovakia, have shown that neuropeptide Y (NPY), a molecule the body releases when stressed, can 'unlock' Y2 receptors in the body's fat cells, stimulating the cells to grow in size and number. By blocking those receptors, it may be possible to prevent fat growth, or make fat cells die."
~ Magnesium Deficiency In Older Adults May Contribute To Insomnia, Osteoporosis, Diabetes And Heart Disease -- "According to a recent fact sheet from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), older adults are at increased risk of magnesium deficiency. Factors that contribute to this are decreased Intestinal absorption of magnesium in older people and a greater excretion of it via the kidneys. In addition, the NIH Health and Nutrition Surveys found that older adults have lower dietary intakes of magnesium."
~ Researchers Create Snack Foods With An Extra Dose Of Fiber -- "Trying to get more fiber in your diet? Munching on cookies or tortillas probably doesn't come to mind. But a Kansas State University researcher is experimenting with ways to add fiber to the foods we love without changing what we like about our favorite snacks.Sajid Alavi is an assistant professor of grain science and industry at K-State's College of Agriculture. His expertise is in extrusion processing, which is used to make products from cheese puffs to pet food."
~ Core Strength Help In Sports? Study Shows Weak Correlation -- "How important is core strength to athletic performance? According to an initial study at Indiana State University, not very. In the study, which is the first of its kind, Thomas Nesser, assistant professor of physical education at Indiana State, has found that while there is a correlation between muscle strength in the core of an athlete's body, and their demonstrated strength and power in sports performance, the link is moderate to poor, and inconsistent." I'm not buying this -- core strength has a made a huge difference for me.
~ Diet pill’s icky side effects keep users honest -- "Dieters have been flocking to drugstores to pick up Alli, the first over-the-counter weight-loss pill to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, despite the scary warning: Stray too far from your low-fat diet, you just might poop your pants." This stuff is evil.
~ Don't Get Burned by Heat Stroke -- "Staying cool on hot summer days isn't just comfortable, it could save your life, according to the Pennsylvania Medical Society."
~ Are You Getting Enough Color in Your Diet? -- "Vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fiber -- the good guys in the food we eat. They make our bodies strong to help us fight disease and slow the natural aging process. So how do you know if you are getting enough of these food superheroes? Think color!" I like red -- meat.
~ Research suggests fitness reduces inflammation -- "Although a number of studies have suggested that regular exercise reduces inflammation - a condition that is predictive of cardiovascular and other diseases, such as diabetes - it is still not clear whether there is a definitive link. And if such a link exists, the nature of the relationship is by no means fully understood."

~ Dirty talking for the tongue-tied -- "Want to learn how to talk dirty? Or maybe just deal with the shock of what comes out of a lover’s mouth? Sexploration answers your most intimate queries."
~ The Validity Of Cognitive Testing Scores Questioned -- "The validity of tests used to diagnose learning disability, progressive brain disease or impairment from head injury have been questioned by Timothy Salthouse, PhD, a noted cognitive psychologist at the University of Virginia. He has demonstrated that giving a test only once is not enough to get a clear picture of a person's mental functioning."
~ Brain's Rapid Response Means That We Learn From Our Mistakes -- "An 'early warning signal' in the brain that helps us to avoid repeating previous mistakes has been identified by Psychologists from the University of Exeter. Published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, their research identifies, for the first time, a mechanism in the brain that reacts in just 0.1 seconds to things that have resulted in us making errors in the past."
~ Stanford Team Finds Hippocampus to Play Important Role in Depression -- "According to a new study at The Stanford University School of Medicine, depression may be triggered by changes in the part of the brain known as the hippocampus."
~ The Ups and Downs of Friendship -- "Friends don't always share the same penchant for fun." And: The Hug Drug -- "Friends are as effective as antidepressants."
~ Does self-help breed helplessness? -- "In search of an answer, Niesslein did what many Americans do when their lives need a few tweaks or an all-out overhaul: She turned to self-help experts. A slew of them, in fact, including personal-finance guru Suze Orman; natural health advocate Dr. Andrew Weil; relationship advisors Drs. Phil McGraw and Laura Schlessinger; and the granddaddy of self-help himself, Dale Carnegie...."
~ Ten Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature -- "Human nature is one of those things that everybody talks about but no one can define precisely. Every time we fall in love, fight with our spouse, get upset about the influx of immigrants into our country, or go to church, we are, in part, behaving as a human animal with our own unique evolved nature—human nature."
~ Study: Meditators 'surprisingly' alert -- "Meditation produces changes in brain waves associated with being increasingly alert, say an Australian researcher."

~ Experts: Pills becoming the new pot on campus -- "The prescription drugs allegedly found in Al Gore III's possession Wednesday are favorites among young people, according to drug abuse experts, who say prescription drugs may soon overtake street drugs in popularity."
~ Alleged DC Madam Can Distribute Records -- "Judge Lifts Restraining Order on Alleged DC Madam's Right to Distribute Phone Records."
~ Appeals Court Reinstates Warrantless Wiretapping of Americans -- "Friday, a federal appeals court ordered the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging President Bush's domestic spying program, saying the plaintiffs had no standing to sue."
~ Will Durst: It's His Government -- "I got your checks and balances right here. Well, right there, under Dick Cheney's foot, holding hands with individual liberties, writhing in their death throes."
~ Bloomberg Could Tie Centrists in Knots -- "When New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg looks at himself in the mirror, what do you suppose he sees? A hard-nosed, no-nonsense businessman? A non-partisan political operator? Perhaps a nuts-and-bolts manager? Kingmaker, spoiler, billionaire? The next president of the United States?"
~ SCOTT HORTON—Impeachment -- "A clear majority favor the impeachment, trial and removal from office of Dick Cheney as Vice President. Americans are equally divided on whether George W. Bush should be impeached, tried and removed from office. It’s interesting. The Republicans made a major pass at Clinton and the media hyped it for a solid seven months with saturation broadcasts. The American public never bought into it, indeed it was dismissive of the idea. Now the media dismisses talk of impeachment of the president and vice president, but the media will have no talk of the matter."
~ Man-Crush vs. Pretty Boy: John Edwards, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson's Leathery Scent -- "The American Prospect has a terrific piece up by J. Goodrich called "The Man-Crush Primary," ruminating on the images of so-called strappingly presidential candidates like Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson versus the more effeminate pretty-boy characterization of John Edwards and, to a lesser extent, Barack Obama, by the media."

~ Critics attack Bush wildlife record -- "Critics of the Bush administration's policies on wildlife protection say the endangered species list is itself endangered."
~ Italian scientists build atomic laser -- "Italian scientists said they have discovered how to achieve an "atomic laser" envisioned by Albert Einstein in 1925."
~ Mount Everest Ravaged by Warming? -- "The sons of famous climbers say Everest would now be "unrecognizable" to their fathers."
~ Life elsewhere in Solar System could be different from life as we know it -- "The search for life elsewhere in the solar system and beyond should include efforts to detect what scientists sometimes refer to as "weird" life -- that is, life with an alternative biochemistry to that of life on Earth -- says a new report from the National Research Council."
~ Team builds viruses to combat harmful 'biofilms' -- "In one of the first potential applications of synthetic biology, an emerging field that aims to design and build useful biomolecular systems, researchers from MIT and Boston University are engineering viruses to attack and destroy the surface "biofilms" that harbor harmful bacteria in the body and on industrial and medical devices."
~ Study finds organic tomatoes contain more heart-healthy antioxidants -- "Could organic fruits and veggies be better for you? A study of samples collected over 10 years found that organic tomatoes contained far higher levels of flavonoids -- antioxidants that reduce high blood pressure and have also been linked with reduced rates of some cancers and dementia -- than conventional ... "
~ Mega-corporations sign U.N.-sponsored climate compact -- "More than 150 companies, including Ikea, Unilever, and Coca-Cola, have signed a U.N.-sponsored climate declaration that commits them to setting and reporting on emissions-reduction goals, while asking governments to enact a post-Kyoto, market-based plan. OK, it's a voluntary pact with a touchy-feely name -- "Caring for Climate: The Business Leadership ... "

~ Exempla Classica -- "It essentially means the close study and imitation of models as the conventional method of learning. Of course, this implies not just any model; rather, the best models for the most advanced learning. Literally, the term translates as “classic model” or “classic prototype”. I think artists who are interested in great artistry can save themselves significant time and resources by focusing their study on exempla classica alone." This is how I teach poetry writing -- it works.
~ Storing The Broom -- "I don’t care much for rules. I’ll follow them if need be, but I seldom make them up on my own. When I first went to train at a Zen monastery, I was instructed in a fair number of precise procedures, rituals, and behaviors that I was expected to comply with in detailed and exacting ways. The resident monks seemed quite earnest about these rules and were studious in insisting on their implementation."
~ O, Unhappy Philosopher! -- "I’m currently reading a little book by Daniel Nettle on Happiness, which is an illuminating and intriguing read. One thing particularly striking about the book is the way that he compares philosophical approaches to questions of happiness, in particular in the 19th and 20th centuries, with global studies into the levels of happiness that people actually experience, and comes to the conclusion that in general people tend to report that they are happy whilst those gloomy philosophers insist that au contraire, the world is a grim and miserable place."
~ The Coming Dark Age -- "I often say during my presentations that the peer to peer logic of distributed networks, is a way out of the present crisis, a re-integration to a higher level of complexity. The alternative, since infinite material growth systems are untenable, would be a regress to a lower form of complexity, i.e. a dis-organisation of society followed by a stabilisation at a lower level."
~ Roundup on July 6, 2007 -- Lots of good stuff to read from Blogmandu.

Daily Om: Just Being There

Today's Daily Om:

Just Being There
Acting As A Guardian

One of the greatest gifts we can give another human being is to act as their guardian. Whether this gift is related to a specific situation or is representative of an ongoing commitment, we each benefit from the association. To protect someone is to walk with them in challenging times and see them through safely to the other side. In doing this, we grow with them. And those under our guardianship derive confidence from our support and assistance, enabling them to persevere through almost any conditions.

There are many reasons we feel inspired to serve as guardians to those we care for. Sometimes just holding the space for somebody allows them to do what is necessary to grow or heal. We may simply want to see that our friend or loved one is taken care of and equipped to prevail over difficult circumstances. We may also sense that we are in possession of knowledge our loved ones are lacking yet need in their current stage of development. Our offer to serve as a guardian may also be both unsolicited and unrelated to any one situation. Instead of helping someone we care about cope with a specific challenge, we may find ourselves providing them with a more general form of emotional sustenance that prepares and strengthens them for challenges yet to come.

Our ability to empathize with those under our guardianship is our greatest asset because our comprehension of their needs allows us to determine how we can best serve them. Even when this comprehension is limited, however, the loving intentions with which we enter into our role as guardian ensure that our care and protection help others grow as individuals while living their lives with grace.

The caveat should be: As long as the other person is cool with it.

Truly Beautiful Universe

I found these photos, by Russell Croman, at You Say Too.





Keith Olbermann -- Special Comment: Bush & Cheney Resign Now

Keith Olbermann can be a little shrill sometimes, and this is no exception, but this "special comment" makes some valid points.

Satire: Bush Pardons DC Madam before Phone Records Released

From Unconfirmed Sources:

Bush Pardons DC Madam before Phone Records Released

by Dood Abides

"DC Madam" Deborah Palfrey hands over controversial phone records to President Bush
"DC Madam" Deborah Palfrey hands over controversial phone records to President Bush

Washington, DC (Rotters) - In what the White House is describing as a newfound sense of bipartisanship and mercy, President Bush late today issued a full and complete pardon to accused "DC Madame" Deborah Palfrey. After examining thoroughly Ms. Palfrey's responsibilities to her extended family and business, as well as her ongoing service to the community and the evidence she had presented upon her behalf, the president rendered his judgment that her potential punishment was far too severe for the crimes that she may have theoretically committed, and issued a pre-commutation from any future attempts at prosecution.

Under the terms of the pre-commutation deal, Ms. Palfrey handed over to the White House her controversial phone records which purportedly documented utilization of her "escort services" by very powerful and influential administration officials. The phone records were promptly sealed and classified as top secret "in the interests of national security".

"This should go a long way towards silencing critics who are falsely accusing the president of not providing equal justice under the law in regards to the Scooter Libby pardon... err... commutation," stated an aide to the third assistant to the secretary of White House Press Secretary Tony Snow. "The president and many members both inside and outside of the Cabinet deliberated long and hard on this one. While ultimately there was absolutely no evidence of any improprieties, it was felt that the country should be spared from the indignity of politically charged false accusations."

"I'm just pleased to see the administration finally step forward and do me right," stated Ms. Palfrey. "This is what is truly meant by the term executive privilege. There are certain confidentialities, not unlike that between a doctor and a patient, that are meant to be sacred. It's a matter of professionalism."

Critics immediately assailed the White House for what they described as yet another in a long list of abuses of power.

"If you'll examine your constitution, the president is clearly within his rights," argued newly reinstated staffer I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. "It all falls under the concept put forth by our founding fathers of the unitary legislato-judiciary-executive. In essence, everyone ultimately serves at the pleasure of the president."

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Gratitude 7/5/07

Today I am grateful that the first intimations of the monsoon have arrived -- dark skies, heavy winds, lightning and thunder, and teases of rain. The desert smells amazing when it rains. And the monsoon season almost makes summer in the Sonoran Desert bearable.

I'm also grateful for another light day in which I was able to sleep in a bit.

What are you grateful for?

George Bush is "Crazy"

Someone took Gnarls Barkley's Crazy and made an satire video of Bush. Pretty good.

Via: VideoSift

Speedlinking 7/5/07

Quote of the day:

"Someone's boring me. I think it's me."
~ Dylan Thomas

Image of the day (John Craig):


~ The 9 Keys to Productive Training -- "So you spend maybe 5 or 6 hours a week in the gym. How much of that time is spent snapping towels or playing the soap dish game in the locker room? If you plan just a little and cut out the wasted time, you might actually build a decent physique."
~ How to Stay Slim during Wedding Season -- "Learn how to make smart food choices on special occassions."
~ Green Tea, Fish Oil, and LL Cool J -- "An in-depth interview about bodybuilding nutrition with the guy who helped carve out LL Cool J's Platinum abs. Find out what he thinks is the next big thing in bodybuilding nutrition (you read T-Nation, so you probably already know)."
~ A Little Daily Dark Chocolate Reduces Blood Pressure, New Study -- "A new German study suggests that eating a small amount of dark chocolate every day could lower blood pressure without increasing weight or other health risks.The study is published in today's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)."
~ How to Stop Gaining Weight -- "There are ways to avoid the dreaded "weight creep." Simply by making a few gradual lifestyle changes, you can stop gaining weight and even drop some pounds."
~ It’s not jet lag, it’s ‘altitude sickness’ -- "Many of the effects of long-distance flight may be the result of altitude sickness rather than fatigue or jet lag, experiments carried out by Boeing doctors suggest."

~ The Happy-Well: Positive Psychology Tips for Living Well and Longer -- "According to Lyubomirsky, et al, while half of our happiness may be the result of a genetic setpoint and 10% probably comes from our life circumstances, 40% is likely the result of our choices. The point? Make good choices now that improve your well-being."
~ 20 Tricks to Nuke a Bad Habit -- "Are you letting bad habits rule your life? I started learning how to change habits a few years ago. Since then I’ve switched to a vegan diet, began exercising every day, started writing new articles every day, began waking up earlier and trying some wacky experiments to improve my life. Here are some ideas I’ve found useful...."
~ Staying Mentally Sharp Takes Brain Work -- "Research is increasingly showing that aging doesn't automatically result in a steady erosion of brain cells. Rather, older adults who work their brains can develop new connections between brain cells. A brain workout using the mind in a wide variety of new and challenging ways can activate cells throughout the brain."
~ Diagnosing Dostoyevsky's epilepsy -- "In Dostoyevsky, neurologists have a rich source of information about epilepsy. Some of this information is first-hand, in the form of the writer's own descriptions of his seizures and symptoms, as related in his various correspondences. There are also numerous second-hand descriptions of Dostoyevsky's condition, provided by his second wife, physicians who treated him, and friends. And, of course, there are the accounts of epileptic characters in his novels, which one can safely assume are based on his own experiences."
~ Dreaming of the dead -- "The New York Times has an eye-opening article on research that has looked at how contents of dreams can be linked to emotional concerns - particularly when they relate to lost loved ones or turbulent life events."
~ Best of the Brain -- "A book called Best of the Brain from Scientific American (ISBN 1932594221) turned up unannounced the other day, and so far, I'm very impressed with it." Links to some online articles.

~ New Mexico's Pot Connection -- "State to Become First to Set Up Medical Marijuana Distribution, Over Fed Objections."
~ Fed Up With War, Some Won't Pay Taxes -- "Some Activists Fed Up With Iraq War Refuse to Pay Taxes, Interest Is Growing."
~ Time for Another New Deal -- "Is America ready for a "new" New Deal? When you put together all the various strands coming out of Democratic politics and liberal think tanks these days, it's pretty clear that plenty of people on the left-of-center side of things sure think so."
~ The Hillary and Bill Show -- "The former First Couple hit the campaign trail together in Iowa to reformat the Clinton brand. And it isn't Bill and Hillary."
~ Blame It on Mr. Rogers: Why Young Adults Feel So Entitled -- "Fred Rogers, the late TV icon, told several generations of children that they were "special" just for being whoever they were. He meant well, and he was a sterling role model in many ways. But what often got lost in his self-esteem-building patter was the idea that being special comes from working hard and having high expectations for yourself."
~ Obama wows Iowa transcendental meditators -- "The Maharishi’s transcendental meditators, along with vacationing pilgrims from the East Coast, turned out in large numbers in the town’s traditional green square to hear the Illinois senator deliver his stump speech on the night of July 3 – more people, Fairfield’s sheriff said, than had come out to greet a sitting president."
~ On Literature and Politics, Part II -- "It’s tempting to see the New Criticism as a conservative reaction to the temptations of revolutionary political engagement among American writers early in the Twentieth Century, since this theory promotes a literature that turns its back on the struggles of the moment to engage with a timeless tradition. To make this claim is to argue that the New Criticism and its literary values aren’t simply a response to politics, but are themselves a specific political stance."

~ Oldest DNA Ever Recovered Suggests Earth Was Warmer -- "Ancient Greenland was green. New Danish research has shown that it was covered in conifer forest and, like southern Sweden today, had a relatively mild climate. Eske Willerslev, a professor at Copenhagen University, has analysed the world`s oldest DNA, preserved under the kilometre-thick icecap. The DNA is likely close to half a million years old, and the research is painting a picture which is overturning all previous assumptions about biological life and the climate in Greenland."
~ Birds take cues from their competitors -- "The idea that animals other than humans can learn from one another and pass on local traditions has long been a matter of debate. Now, a new study reveals that some birds learn not only from each other, but also from their competitors."
~ New light clock concept explains time dilation in special relativity -- "Joseph West, a physicist at Indiana State University, has recently proposed a method for intuitively visualizing and calculating the time dilation effects in special relativity—one of the stranger concepts in modern physics."
~ China Environment Chief Says Pollution Fuelling Unrest -- "Chinese anger with worsening pollution is fuelling increasing protests, the nation's top environmental official said, criticising local governments who he said protected factories turning rivers into "sticky glue"."
~ Wine: Kills Germs on Contact -- "Acids in wine effective at killing plaque, sore throat germs."
~ What's next for the Internet -- "If you think of the World Wide Web as a cloud of largely undifferentiated information, the mission of Radar Networks is to take that cloud and impose order on it via the semantic Web -- moving from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0. ... "

~ A "What is Enlightenment" Catastrophe -- "Andrew [Cohen] totally decimates any understanding that there are different approaches to enlightenment. Before you protest, he's basically saying that the only approach is the masculine, that a feminine approach doesn't work, and that women have to drop the feminine in order to become enlightened. He does not ask that men drop the masculine to do the same."
~ History and Dharma (4) -- "So it's states and structures, or structures and states. There are two basic models to take a look at: one was proposed in "Up from Eden" (KW, 1981) relating the average mode to the advanced mode of consciousness. The other is the Wilber-Combs lattice (pic here). First the average/advanced model."
~ The Cult of Digital Narcissism -- "Andrew Keen, author of The Cult of the Amateur - How Today's Internet is Killing Our Culture, is a staunch critic of Web 2.0 (aka democratization of media). In his notorius Web 2.0 essay, he said: "If you democratize media, then you end up democratizing talent. The unintended consequence of all this democratization, to misquote Web 2.0 apologist Thomas Friedman, is cultural 'flattening.' No more Hitchcocks, Bonos, or Sebalds. Just the flat noise of opinion--Socrates's nightmare."
~ Fear as kernel -- "I notice that any belief tends to fuel a range of emotions, and these emotions seem to have fear as their kernel."

Daily Dharma: Contentment Is Necessary

Today's Daily Dharma from Tricycle:

Contentment Is Necessary

We could become quite satisfied with ourselves because we are sitting in meditation and are endeavoring to practice the spiritual path. Such satisfaction with ourselves is not the same as contentment. Contentment is necessary, self-satisfaction is detrimental. to be content has to include knowing we are in the right place at the right time to facilitate our own growth. But to be self-satisfied means that we no longer realize the need for growth. All these aspects are important parts of our commitment and make us into one whole being with a one-pointed direction.

~ Ayya Khema, When the Iron Eagle Flies

sigur ros -- svefn-g-englar

I found this at Hokai's blogue -- very cool.

Male Intimacy

AlterNet has a great article on issues of male intimacy and gender roles: Don't Look Gay: Why American Men Are Afraid of Intimacy with Each Other, by John Ibson.

He makes many valid and interesting points. Here is a quote:

At Cal State Fullerton, I teach courses called The American Male and Sexual Orientations in American Culture. In some ways these classes occasionally overlap, as my students and I discuss the differences and the similarities between men who consider themselves gay or bisexual and those who think of themselves as straight. Though of course widely accepted today in the United States, the idea that one’s own identity is grounded in the sex of those whom one desires sexually, that the sex of the object of yearning identifies the yearner, rather than simply defining his desires, is a comparatively recent cultural notion.

But it isn’t a universal way of thinking about human sexuality. Scholars too rarely ask if what we know as “sexual orientation” is a fundamental distinction between human beings, or instead is less significant, perhaps much less significant, than gender distinctions.

My students and I often consider whether various kinds of fuss over sexual orientation actually are indirect ways of addressing more basic issues of gender, the ways that a particular society defines the appropriate behavior of males and of females. We examine the ways that negative stereotypes of gay men, for example, not only stigmatize those males considered gay, but also coerce all men to stay within the boundaries of culturally prescribed “male behavior,” lest they be thought queer. It’s common in our culture for a gay male to be thought “unmanly,” but it’s not inevitable that this equation be in force, or even that sexuality be viewed as a simple question of one or the other, gay or straight, with bisexuality in the middle ground.

Such, however, has been our society’s obsession with sexual orientation -- and with “appropriate” manliness -- that an association with gayness came to include certain occupations, words, gestures, and items of apparel, as well as one male’s willingness to express intimacy with another. The greater the scorn heaped upon gay males, the more that all males have been discouraged from displaying behavior associated with gayness -- with anything resembling intimacy heading the list of taboos.

I wrote about this a little bit, from a different angle (in response to David Deida) over at my Zaadz blog. We need to stop thinking of gay and straight as identities, but rather talk about modes of expression.

Anyway, check out the rest of the article -- it's good.

Schoolhouse Rock

I grew up on these cartoons that played in between Saturday morning shows. Here are 31 of them.

Sophie B. Hawkins - Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover

This is the original version of the video, which was apparently banned by MTv back in the day. The remake can be seen here.

Via: VideoSift

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Gratitude: Han -- 7/4/07

Earlier today, I watched an episode of The West Wing in which a North Korean pianist wishes to defect. He mentions "han" as his sense of feeling when told that to do so would compromise nuclear negotiations between North Korea and the US. This is one of the citations at

The Television show The West Wing also referenced the trait in Episode 5.4 (entitled "Han"). The episode concludes with the President of the United States realizing his own personal understanding of the esoteric concept: "There is no literal English translation. It's a state of mind. Of soul, really. A sadness. A sadness so deep no tears will come. And yet still there's hope." [emphasis added]

This has been my state of soul for the last two months. It's nice to have a word for it. In Korean, the word has much deeper cultural connotations about suffering and despair, but I like the way President Bartlett phrased it.

Anyway, I like learning new words -- and this one is so fitting to my life.

I'm grateful for the hope that lies hidden in sadness and despair. I still feel the sadness, and maybe I always will if things don't work out in my favor, but I have also rediscovered the hope. What better gift is there?

What are you grateful for?

Satire: Cheney Declares Himself National Monument

From Andy Borowitz.

Cheney Declares Himself National Monument

Latest Attempt to Dodge Subpoena

In a bold new strategy to avoid a congressional subpoena, Vice President Dick Cheney today declared himself a national monument.

Mr. Cheney took the unorthodox step only after failing in his attempt to invoke a little-known legal principle called the separation of Cheney and state.

Aides to Mr. Cheney confirmed that being a national monument gives the vice president not only immunity from subpoenas, but also a draft deferment in perpetuity.

President George W. Bush presided over a solemn White House ceremony this morning in which a plaque documenting Mr. Cheney’s status as a national monument was affixed to the vice president’s midsection.

Joining the ranks of the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, Mr. Cheney is believed to be the only landmark in the nation’s capital not made at least partially out of marble.

But even as his attempt to evade a subpoena appeared to have succeeded, the vice president’s new status as a national monument created unexpected problems, as Independence Day tourists lined up around the block to get a glimpse of Washington’s latest historic attraction.

Perhaps in an effort to control the crowds, Mr. Cheney announced today that the admission price for seeing him would be set at $75,000.

White House spokesman Tony Snow defended the $75,000 price tag, saying that it was an appropriate price to see a national monument of Dick Cheney’s stature.

“Seventy-five thousand dollars is what it costs to see Dick Cheney,” Mr. Snow said. “Just ask any lobbyist.”

Elsewhere, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said that everyone in the U.S. should go about their normal activities, “except you terrorists.”

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Rusted Root - Faith I Do Believe

Happy 4th of July.


Daily Dharma: You Are Completely Crazy

Today's Daily Dharma from Tricycle:

You Are Completely Crazy

Somewhere in this process, you will come face to face with the sudden and shocking realization that you are completely crazy. Your mind is a shrieking, gibbering madhouse on wheels barreling pell-mell down the hill, utterly out of control and hopeless. No problem. You are not crazier than you were yesterday. You also are no crazier than anybody else around you. The real difference is that you have confronted the situation; they have not. So they still feel relatively comfortable. This does not mean that they are better off. Ignorance may be bliss, but it does not lead to Liberation. So don't let this realization unsettle you. It is a milestone actually, a sign of real progress. The very fact that you have looked at the problem straight in the eye means that you are on your way up and out of it.

~ Henepola Guanaratana, Mindfulness in Plain English

Spiral Dynamics at the UN

This was posted yesterday at The Center for Human Emergence -- Middle East blog, by Elza Maalouf. Very cool.

United Nations Presentation Met With Great Success...

Dr Beck Designs A United Nations Global Action Plan for Human Emergence & Elza Maalouf presents a Model for Palestine 21

On June 21st, 2007, Dr. Beck and I spoke at the Values-Caucus at the United Nations to a standing room only conference hall. Representatives of various Arab, African and Western missions, NGOs and UN agencies employees, nodded their heads in agreement with the emphasis that we put on the deeper reasons for conflict and poverty, and the deeper value-systems codes that produce such “us” vs. “them” polarities. Rather than the surface manifestation of clash between religions, ethnicity, races and nationalities, we showed how the integral framework examines the deeper cultural forces and tracks dynamic perceptual processes that detect deep underlying mindsets and motives.

Dr. Beck revealed--for the first time--his integral design strategy to support the UN’s Global work, offering a Five Fold Strategy that can systematically further the UN’s role in the emergence of cultures and nations in the world. With more than 30 years of scientific research and field testing his framework on all five continents to deflate conflicts and support development, Dr. Beck uncovered, what he calls, the master code that has the complexity to manage in a polylateral environment. The UN being one of the major bodies in the world, now, that needs to further its involvement in culturally complex environments to become a strong catalyst for change. Dr. Beck explained in his presentation that “the Master code has to accommodate bands, clans, tribes, empires, nations-cultures, enterprises, geo-tribes, and a host of other value-systems and memetic priorities. Likewise, it simply must mesh in the new knowledge on change and transformation that is seriously lacking in all other developmental models.”

A brief outline of The Five Fold Strategy for the United Nations Global Emergence Plan:

Strategy 1- Uncover the models and processes for Global emergence through steps, stages, waves and sequence of development
Strategy 2-Create the measuring monitoring research technology to detect the global vMemetic contours and early warning signs of danger
Strategy 3- Construct scaffolding of solutions that address the needs, wants and aspirations of people in different vMemetic zones
Strategy 4- Onto this vast amount of data, overlay an understanding of the dynamics of change in its many dimensions
Strategy 5- Design a macro-strategy for introducing superordinate goals into leadership structures and decision-making domains around the planet

After Dr. Beck presented his comprehensive, large-scale design, we proceeded to show how we are practically applying this design to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. For the last 2 years we have been working with Palestinians especially, to construct a scaffolding of solutions that are tailored to the various value-systems in Palestinian culture. We are working with leaders from different sectors of Palestinian society, especially young men and women who have demonstrated a great ability to lead change. We are designing the vision for Fatah 21, or 21st century Fatah, with leaders from the Third Generation of Fatah. A vision that will not only unite Fatah around shared values and goals, but also unite the Palestinian people around the most important superordinate goal- a successful Palestinian State. From Fatah 21 to Palestine 21 ...

Frances Edwards, a board member of the Values-Caucus at the UN, who coordinated this presentation with United Nations personnel, is now following up with many ambassadors, missions and NGOs who showed interest in the approach, including the Syrian ambassador and the Netherlands, Kuwaiti and Peruvian missions. Frances' unwavering support and active involvement with our work is a testimony to the UN's openness to fresh approaches towards resolving world problems. The Values-Caucus at the UN, established in 1994 and under the leadership of Carl Murell, introduced to all bodies of the UN the distinctive need for stratified solutions based on value-systems in cultures, instead of the one-solution fits all models.

The next steps for our work with the United Nations will include major trainings on the Spiral Dynamics integral model and application as well as presentations to different boards, commissions, and councils on specific solution-design to enable confluence and emergence.

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