Saturday, September 08, 2007

New Poem: Dream


graceful crows return from the land
of the dead, full, flesh in their jaws

we struggle to understand death,
they feed on it, oblivious to our concern

from dust to dust, or rather, from
flesh to earth, always a transition

I dream myself a crow, feeding
on my own death, hungry for blood

in the instant of recognition, I am
neither bird nor man, I am transformed

the dream awakens me, for an instant
my wings brush the sheets, then silence

I have made the journey, and returned

How to Get the Body You Want

Few people actually have a plan when they make that pledge to lose weight, and fewer still set realistic goals. By the end of this article you will have much of the information you need to lose the fat you want to lose -- and get the body you have always wanted.

The first piece of information you will need is a new vocabulary. This is not about losing weight. What you want to lose is fat. If you are a woman and you start at 150 pounds with 35 percent body fat and 12 weeks later you weigh 140 pounds at 25 percent body fat, you will have made incredible progress. The scale might only show a ten-pound difference, but you will have lost 17.5 pounds of fat and gained 7.5 pounds of muscle. Those are impressive numbers for anyone. Ignore the temptation to get on the scale every day – what matters is how your clothes fit and how you look in the mirror.

Part of redefining the idea of fat loss entails redefining what constitutes a healthy body. One of the highest rated television events each year is the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Not a single one of those women has a healthy looking body. Our culture’s ideals of what is attractive are perverse at best, and crippling at worst. A 5’8” woman should not weigh 110 pounds. A woman of that height can carry as much 160 pounds and be healthy, as long as her body fat is around 25 percent or less. Look at Venus and Serena Williams, any of the women on the U.S. National Soccer Team, most of the women in the WNBA or just about any other sport. A fit, healthy body isn’t rail thin and devoid of muscle.

A pound of muscle and a pound of fat weigh exactly the same. The difference is density. A pound of muscle takes up much less space than a pound of fat. Muscle is sleek and sexy, while fat is spongy and lumpy. In the quest to lose fat, muscle is your friend. Each pound of muscle burns as many as 30 calories a day, even at rest. It takes almost no calories to maintain fat stores.

The way to lose fat and keep or increase muscle is weight training. It doesn’t require a lot of work. As little as thirty minutes twice a week, combined with a sensible aerobics plan, can help build muscle. Focus on the “big” exercises, the ones that recruit multiple muscles: squats, deadlifts, lunges, bench press, overhead presses, push ups, pull ups, and rows. Nearly all gym memberships come with at least one free training session – take advantage of that session to learn a few basic movements like the ones above. Tell the trainer what you want to know, rather than letting him/her waste that session trying to sell you other services. Using the compound exercises I’ve listed above will build more muscle and burn more fat than doing “isolation” movements, such as bicep curls, leg extensions, and so on, that focus on a single muscle.

As much as exercise is important in the equation, diet is where it all begins and ends. Before doing anything else, determine where you are. Keeping a detailed food log is the best thing you will ever do for your diet. Record what you eat and drink (calories, fat [including saturated fat], protein, carbohydrates [including sugars], and fiber), when you eat it, why you eat it, any emotional stuff that might have impacted your food choice, and any side effects of what you eat (sleepiness, energy, nausea, bloating, and so on). Do this strictly for a week.

After that week you will have a sense of how many calories you eat each day, how much protein you’re getting, how much sugar you’re consuming, and why you make some of your food choices. Continue to keep the log until eating healthy is a habit, and note any changes you make along the way and how well they worked. From there, you can implement the following suggestions.

Eliminate simple sugars as much as possible (except post-workout – after your weight workout you need some sugars and some whey protein to kick-start recovery). If you have a lot of weight to lose, only drink whey protein after your workouts until your body fat is lower. Sugar is the enemy because it raises insulin, which stores triglycerides in fat cells.

Eat more protein -- as much as a gram per pound of body weight or more per day. It takes twice as much energy to digest protein as it does fat or carbs. Protein is also more filling. Most importantly, you need adequate protein to build the muscle you are working toward with your weight training sessions.

Eat five to six times a day, in smaller meals, each containing at least 15-20 grams of protein. This will keep your metabolism revved up and burning calories, and it will prevent you from having insatiable cravings to eat everything in the kitchen.

Drink water -- all day, every day. It fills you up so you eat less, it keeps toxins from building up in the body, and it's just plain healthier than diet soda. Plus, it has no calories.

Eliminate alcohol until you reach your target weight. Alcohol has seven calories per gram, as opposed to protein and carbs that have only four per gram. More importantly, alcohol becomes sugar in the body and generally gets stored as fat.

Don’t starve yourself. Go to a Web site like, find out how many calories you burn on an average day, and reduce your intake by 500 from that number. (One pound a week of fat loss equals 3,500 fewer calories ingested.) If you go very long without food, your body (which doesn't know food is easier to get now than it was 50,000 years ago) will store any calories you take in as fat.

Set realistic goals. Don’t expect to lose more than a pound or two per week. Losing more than that will mean you are burning muscle, and that’s the last thing you want to do when trying to lose fat.

Eat your vegetables. Not only are vegetables filled with nutrients that can prevent cancer, strengthen your immune system, and maintain general health, but they are also full of fiber. Fiber is one nutrient definitely lacking in the diets of most Americans.

• In fact, eat as much fiber as you can. Fiber slows digestion which reduces the speed at which carbs become glucose in the body, it fills you up so you eat less, it lowers your cholesterol, and it may reduce the risk of certain cancers.

Eat breakfast. This is, as your mother taught you, the most important meal of the day. A healthy breakfast sets the tone for your whole day in terms of energy and avoiding sugar cravings in the evening.

Reduce saturated fats, and include flax oil and fish oils in your diet. Saturated fats raise cholesterol and tend to be stored more readily in fat cells -- you need some saturated fat to be healthy, but most people get way too much. Instead, add omega-3 fatty acids to make your body more sensitive to insulin, which means less fat storage and better glucose disposal. Omega-3 fats, which can also be found in walnuts and pumpkin seeds, can also improve the symptoms of depression, lower your cholesterol, and prevent age-related mental decline.

• This might seem rather obvious, but get up and exercise. Too many people try to change body composition without including exercise and then wonder why they failed. If a person is seriously obese, initial efforts should be focused on reducing calories and changing nutrient intake patterns to healthier ones. But even in this case, exercise is essential in attaining a healthy weight, even if it is only brief bouts of walking.

Psychological factors should also be considered in fat loss. From your food log, you should have gained a little perspective on emotional eating (and/or drinking). Nearly everyone eats emotionally at times. Many people use food as a reward, as comfort, as a way to fill emptiness, as a way to bury emotions, as a way to get high (on brain chemicals like serotonin), because we are bored; or we drink to escape, feel brave, and so on. Becoming aware of these patterns is the only way to change them. My guess is that emotional eating is the biggest reason most people fail at healthy eating.

As part of our changing vocabulary, let’s drop the word “diet” as a definition of how we eat. What we are going to do is not a diet in the usual sense of the word. Eating healthy is a way of life. You won’t stop eating healthy when you’ve lost the fat you intend to lose – you will simply adjust your calories to maintain the muscle you have built.

Here’s the last secret you need to know: you can still eat the foods you love. While losing the fat, limit your “cheat meals” to one per week as long as you’ve stayed on track for that week. Make your cheat meal a morning meal, when metabolism is high, to limit any possible negative consequences. When you’ve lost the fat, you can eat the things you like, in moderation, more often, but in controlled portions.

That should be more than enough to plan a sensible program of fat loss. Remember to visualize your goals. Seeing in your mind the body you want to have is a good way to stay motivated. Create a collage if that will help you, pictures of the kinds of healthy bodies to which you aspire. Don’t get discouraged if it isn’t easy, or if there are slips into old patterns. Just pick up where you left off and continue on your journey. It isn’t a race – it’s your life

Gotta Love College Football

Two of my friends are Michigan alumni, so I won't gloat. But suffice it to say that Michigan is not the team people thought they were before the season began. After a close but historic loss last week to Appalachian State, they were dismantled by my Oregon Ducks this week. To be honest, I thought Michigan's offense would overwhelm a questionable Ducks' defense, but they didn't look too questionable -- they bend, but they don't break.

No one thought much of the Ducks this year, picking them to place in the middle of a loaded Pac-10 conference, but they appear to be a powerful team, especially offensively. If the defense keeps playing well, they could make a run at the Pac-10 title. They should jump into the top-25 after this week's game.

Speaking of teams getting no respect, my other favorite college team is the Washington Huskies (can you tell I grew up and lived most of my life in the Pacific Northwest?), who were picked to finish among the bottom teams in the Pac-10. But today they came out against #22 Boise State, a team with the longest current winning streak in Division I-A football, and beat them.

Gotta love college football.

A Look at Famous Rejections

When I was a working poet many years ago, seeking publication, I was rejected by some of the best magazines and presses around. Rejection is a big part of being a writer, and learning how to handle it without getting discouraged is an even bigger part of the vocation. Even the best book and writers get rejected.

An article in the NYT Book Review today takes a look at the rejection files of Alfred A. Knopf Inc., one of the most prestigious presses in the country.

For almost a century, Knopf has been the gold standard in the book trade, publishing the works of 17 Nobel Prize-winning authors as well as 47 Pulitzer Prize-winning volumes of fiction, nonfiction, biography and history. Recently, however, scholars trolling through the Knopf archive have been struck by the number of reader’s reports that badly missed the mark, especially where new talent was concerned. The rejection files, which run from the 1940s through the 1970s, include dismissive verdicts on the likes of Jorge Luis Borges (“utterly untranslatable”), Isaac Bashevis Singer (“It’s Poland and the rich Jews again”), Ana├»s Nin (“There is no commercial advantage in acquiring her, and, in my opinion, no artistic”), Sylvia Plath (“There certainly isn’t enough genuine talent for us to take notice”) and Jack Kerouac (“His frenetic and scrambling prose perfectly express the feverish travels of the Beat Generation. But is that enough? I don’t think so”). In a two-year stretch beginning in 1955, Knopf turned down manuscripts by Jean-Paul Sartre, Mordecai Richler, and the historians A. J. P. Taylor and Barbara Tuchman, not to mention Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita” (too racy) and James Baldwin’s “Giovanni’s Room” (“hopelessly bad”).

Among the other rejections cited are The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank; Pearl Buck’s novel The Good Earth; and George Orwell’s Animal Farm. It's good to know that some of the best writers and books have been rejected by the best presses.

However, what the article is really looking at is the process by which books are read and evaluated. For anyone seeking publication, this is useful information.

Daily Dharma: Looking Deeply

Today's Daily Dharma is from Thich Nhat Hanh, a poetic look at impermanence.

Looking Deeply

Garbage can smell terrible, especially rotting organic matter. But it can also become rich compost for fertilizing the garden. The fragrant rose and the stinking garbage are two sides of the same existence. Without one, the other cannot be. Everything is in transformation. The rose that wilts after six days will become a part of the garbage. After six months the garbage is transformed into a rose. When we speak of impermanence, we understand that everything is in transformation. This becomes that, and that becomes this.

Looking deeply, we can contemplate one thing and see everything else in it. We are not disturbed by change when we see the interconnectedness and continuity of all things. It is not that the life of any individual is permanent, but that life itself continues.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh, in Present Moment, Wonderful Moment; From Everyday Mind, a Tricycle book edited by Jean Smith

Tom Petty: Don't Come Around Here No More

One of the few Tom Petty songs I like, but one of my favorite videos.


Satire: Town Hall Meeting Gives Townspeople Chance To Say Stupid Things In Public

From The Onion, of course.

Town Hall Meeting Gives Townspeople Chance To Say Stupid Things In Public
September 8, 2007 | Issue 43•36

NEW BEDFORD, MA—In a true display of democracy, a town hall meeting held at the New Bedford High School auditorium Monday gave the crowd of approximately 550 residents the opportunity to publicly voice every last one of the inane thoughts and concerns they would normally only have the chance to utter to themselves.

Enlarge Image Town Hall

New Bedford citizens again mistakenly thinking they can directly participate in City Council votes.

Though the meeting was ostensibly held to discuss a proposed $21,000 project to replace the high school's grass football field with synthetic turf, City Councilman Thomas Reed inadvertently opened the floodgates to a deluge of ill-informed, off-topic diatribes on inconsequential bullshit when he allowed those in attendance to demonstrate their God-given gift of language.

"I don't want to have some kid's torn ACL or ALS or whatever on my conscience," said 42-year-old contractor Tom Wareheim, who had apparently not heard the portion of Councilman Reed's opening remarks just moments before explaining that the risk of injury on grass and turf is virtually the same. "I also heard somewhere, I think from my cousin, that the fibers in that stuff can cause cancer."

Citizens quickly lined up at the podium to exercise their freedom of speech—for which countless Americans have died—to publicly drone on and on about everything from the root causes of the football team's poor performance last year to whether high school students should be playing sports at all.

"Now, I don't know much about this turf stuff, but you all know me and you know what kind of business I run," said hardware store owner Dan Schilling, 54, seizing the opportunity to hear his voice echo pointlessly off the auditorium walls. "I've been saying this to my wife for years, and she agrees with me: The garbage trucks in this town are way too loud and I came here tonight to see what's being done about it."

Schilling's grievance instilled an undeserved sense of confidence in the rest of the crowd, emboldening others to abandon the practice of forming cogent thoughts and instead allow streams of mind-numbing nonsense to spill ceaselessly from their lips.

"Who's going to fix the roads?" said 49-year-old Gordon Winters, a bona fide, class-A moron. "Do I have to fix the roads myself, or is somebody going to fix the roads? What's it gonna be? Fixed roads? Or not-fixed roads?"

After an awkward, 15-second period of silence, Winters thankfully moved away from the podium, only to be replaced by 32-year-old Laurel Hale, who seemed eager to prove to every citizen of New Bedford that she had the brainpower of an autistic dog.

"I'm just going to say one thing because I don't want to take up too much of anyone's time," said Hale as her 6-month-old daughter pawed at the microphone. Hale then somehow managed to link the synthetic-turf issue to the lack of places to sit in public areas, her inability to get the buttons at the crosswalk to work, and the apparent overabundance of cable television channels.

Added Hale: "Also, Councilman Reed, you need to get us out of Iraq. Now."

Over the course of the six-and-a-half-hour meeting, the only variation on the endless monotony of inconsequential concerns was the occasional tone of entitlement.

"This town used to be so different," said 67-year-old Doris Miller, as if she were starring in a film in which one person's impassioned speech is so powerful that it leaves the rest of the audience in stunned silence. "Kids are different. Adults are different. People. People are different. What happened? How do we get back to the way things were? How, Councilman Reed?"

"I fought in Korea, and by God I would do it again," said 76-year-old Ronald Schroyer, who immediately retook his seat.

With no conclusions reached about why the town has no zoo, which restaurant serves the best pizza, or what to do with the football field, Councilman Reed opted not to shoot himself and let his brains spray over the crowd, instead adjourning the meeting and thanking everyone who had taken the time to speak.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Gratitude 9/7/07 -- New Poem: Faith in the Desert

Faith in the Desert

Can you hear the cardinal sing?
Soon it will rain
and the desert will transform
beyond the visible,
something other, its voice
encoded in scent, sage brush,
arroweed, honey suckle.

The fragile voice of God,
not the figure of Sunday School,
but the living, breathing
God who inhabits
the world, breathes life
into matter, thunders
in September storm clouds.

So much unseen, a mystery
beneath the surface
of things, hidden
but not invisible, waiting
for the cardinal to sing,
the way clouds appear, suddenly,
as if from nowhere.

Why not believe
in a God-besotted world?
Why not inhale
the life-affirming scents
of a desert rain
and know the mystery
can penetrate skin?

Why not worship
at the foot of a saguaro
that has lived
more years than we will see,
has taken root in forsaken soil
and grown to touch sky,
has defied reason?

Why not praise
that which we do not comprehend,
the eternity of moving
water carving a canyon,
the raven's flight
as we walk among
river stones, our feet wet?

So little do we feel,
allow to seep
beneath our skin, the rational
mind a fine gate-keeper
but a failed visionary,
only the body knows
the rhythms of seasons.

Rain and sun, dark clouds
open to rainbows, and yes,
the brain can explain,
but the imagination can know,
be open to what is unseen,
allow the irrational proposition
that rain feeds the soul.

The cardinal sings, offers
its voice to the chorus
of swallows, doves, and thunder,
opens the flesh
to something other, some
deeper meaning,
a life beyond the mind.

The Failure of the Loud Atheists

Right after I posted my speedlinks for today, my buddy ~C4Chaos posted an excellent rant about the failure of integral, and Ken Wilber in particular, to confront the fundamentalism of Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris and their crew (the loud atheists). It's worth the read.

It got me thinking a bit about the agenda of the loud atheists. They certainly have many valid points, and just as many flaws.

Among the biggest flaws is their failure to distinguish between objective reality and subjective reality. Spiritual experiences (not religious beliefs, which are cultural -- subjective yes, but communally held, therefore not direct experience) are subjective and cannot be proven or disproven by scientific objectivism. As Wilber points out in The Marriage of Sense and Soul, spiritual experiences can be subjected to the scientific method -- select an injunction (for example: Zen meditation produces a specific effect), do the test, then see if your results conform to other similar tests of the same injunction. Simple, but no one does this with spiritual experience. The loud atheists reject ALL spiritual experience without testing the injunctions (although Sam Harris is doing meditation, so maybe he is the most open to the possibility that he may be partially wrong).

Another major failing, in my mind, is to lump all fundamentalisms into one fundamentalism. I think there is a big difference between Christian fundamentalists (the Blue meme in Spiral Dynamics) and Islamic fundamentalists (which I think falls into the Red-blue memetic transition -- more Red than Blue in many ways). Treating all fundamentalisms the same is a recipe for disaster.

When Hitchens, Harris, and Dawkins tell Christian fundamentalists that they are no different than Islamic fundamentalists (and I have made this mistake as well), the Christians will immediately tune out anything else these critics might have to say, no matter how much truth they might bring. This is a huge failure on their part to understand the subtle distinctions in worldviews.

And that brings me to the final big issue I have with the loud atheists -- they have no comprehension of developmental worldviews, which are not specific to integral theory. Jean Gebser was writing about these distinctions nearly 70 years ago, so this isn't new information. Until the loud atheists can grasp that cultures -- just like people -- go through developmental stages in how they relate to the world, their arguments will fail to do anything other create more polarization and anger.

Speedlinking 9/7/07

Quote of the day:

"The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority. The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority. The first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking."
~ A. A. Milne

Image of the day:

~ Mastering the pull up -- "Today’s “tip of the day” is how to properly do a pull up."
~ Get Tips on Getting Healthy in Fall -- "Dr. Madelyn Fernstrom gives you tips on how to stay healthy this fall."
~ Sugary Drinks, Not Fruit Juice, May Be Linked To Insulin Resistance -- "Steady increases in consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages over the last several decades, as well as rates of Type 2 diabetes mellitus, led nutritional epidemiologists at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts University and colleagues to explore the relationship between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and insulin resistance, a precursor to Type 2 diabetes."
~ Mediterranean diet may ease arthritis pain -- "Learning how to eat Mediterranean-style may help people with rheumatoid arthritis improve their symptoms, a study suggests."
~ Cutting down on sleep 'a recipe for heart disease' -- "People who deprive themselves of sleep may be more likely to die of heart disease, researchers have found. A new study has identified a link between lack of sleep, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease."
~ 7 secretly healthy foods -- "Some foods get a bad rap as artery-clogging diet busters. These 7 items are better for you than you think." Moderation is the key on this topic.
~ Understanding Amino Acids and their Importance in Diet -- "The importance of protein in a healthy diet is well known to nutritional scientists, and widely understood by the general population. Indeed, every bodily system is directly or indirectly supported by protein. For example, protein supports the structural development of cells, helps ensure the integrity of tissue, aids digestion, carries hormones, and strengthens the immune system."
~ Tricks and Recipes for Make-Ahead Meals -- "Make-ahead meals put you in control of your schedule. Do the preparation when you have time, and your reward is a quick, tasty meal later on." This is one of my keys to eating healthy -- have your meals already prepared. That way, you have dinner waiting at home so you are not tempted to stop for fast food.
~ 14 Everyday Food Habits for Better Health -- "One of the more difficult habits for people to change seems to be what they eat. It’s also seems to be one of the most popular ones to try to change."

~ Depression Eclipses Other Chronic Disease for Poor Health Status -- "No individual chronic disease -- not angina, not arthritis, not asthma, not diabetes -- is more disabling than depression, according to a World Health Organization study."
~ Nail nibbler? Treatment may prevent biting -- "Do you find your fingers drifting into your mouth when you’re nervous, anxious or just bored? Are your nails chewed to splinters or your cuticles gnawed to bleeding pulp? A Dutch business claims its treatment cures nail nibblers."
~ Work stress found to promote obesity -- "Stress experienced at work significantly increases a person's risk of obesity in general and central obesity in particular, according to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology."
~ Advice for Students: Taking Notes that Work -- "Note-taking is one of those skills that rarely gets taught. Teachers and professors assume either that taking good notes comes naturally or that someone else must have already taught students how to take notes. Then we sit around and complain that our students don’t know how to take notes."
~ 7 ways to use writing for healing -- "yesterday i talked about the book writing yourself home. as i mentioned, it uses excerpts from women’s writings – some well-known, some not – to illustrate how we can use writing and journaling as a way of healing and self-discovery."
~ Make a Gratitude Adjustment -- "Count your blessings for a mood boost."
~ Rat Race: Speed Freaks -- "Slow down, you move too fast."
~ Specific Brain Protein Required For Nerve Cell Connections To Form And Function -- "Neurons, or nerve cells, communicate with each other through contact points called synapses. When these connections are damaged, communication breaks down, causing the messages that would normally help our feet push our bike pedals or our mind locate our car keys to fall short. Now scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine have shown that a protein called neurexin is required for these nerve cell connections to form and function correctly."

~ Thompson on the Issues -- "A look at where Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson stands on a sampling of issues, drawn from his 2008 campaign and his record as a Tennessee senator from 1994 to 2003."
~ Edge 221 —September 4, 2007 -- Lots of good stuff on culture.
~ In U.S., science is distorted to promote political and corporate agendas -- "In the United States today, science is no longer a pure study. The science primarily publicized today is science that supports the interest of business. You see this in many areas, but most notably in medical and environmental science. Let's start with the environment, because the censorship of environmental science has been blatant and extreme."
~ Madeleine L’Engle, Children’s Writer, Is Dead -- "The author, best known for the children’s classic “A Wrinkle in Time,” died Thursday at 88."
~ Gay Marriage Approved In California, Again -- "Arnold Schwarzenegger has until mid-October to put his pen where his mouth is on gay issues. For the second time, the California legislature has passed a law that would make marriage in the state gender-neutral. The governor vetoed the first effort back during his more conservative phase."
~ Faludi on 9/11 and American Mythology -- "Journalist and author Susan Faludi is back with another book, “The Terror Dream: Fear and Fantasy in Post-9/11 America,” an ambitious look into the formative mythology, driving forces and fears of the U.S.’s national psyche."
~ The law according to Jack Bauer -- "Lt. General Walter Sharp, staff director for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, moonlights as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law School. This spring semester Sharp will teach a course titled "The Law of 24" (see catalogue page below). The two-credit class is based, yes, on the Fox Television hit 24."
~ Religion Cuts Both Ways With Electorate -- "For years Americans have said they prefer their presidents to come with strong religious beliefs, and this year isn't any different. In a recent Pew survey, Americans who viewed candidates as religious generally thought of them more positively. But being strongly religious isn't necessarily the deal maker or breaker in this wild-card election."


~ Exercisers Stuck in Unwalkable Settings -- "Nearly one in four people in the Atlanta area are exercise enthusiasts stuck in neighborhoods without sidewalks or other walking amenities, according to a study that illustrates a problem for many Americans."
~ Scientists probe 'deep' questions aboard EcoOcean's environmental research ship -- "Did the great flood of Noah`s generation really occur thousands of years ago? Was the Roman city of Caesarea destroyed by an ancient tsunami? Will pollution levels in our deep seas remain forever a mystery?"
~ Great Lakes cleanup may reap big benefits -- "A Brookings Institution study suggested that restoring the health of the U.S. Great Lakes could create $50 billion in economic benefit for the area."
~ Hubble's Only Hope Lies With Shuttle -- "Another mechanical failure has the clock ticking for NASA's flagship observatory."
~ New optical microcavity could lead to more efficient quantum computing -- "Right now, there is no shortage of proposed architectures for quantum computers. Scientists are constantly looking for, and developing viable candidates for quantum information processing. And with the production of an open and scalable microcavity, the group of Ed Hinds at the Centre for Cold Matter at Imperial College, London thinks it might have found at least one possibility."
~ Futuristic Boat Made for Multitasking -- "It may look like a giant bug, but Proteus is really a first-class research vessel."

~ It’s All Too Much! -- Andrew Cohen -- "Pushing the edge of soul development on retreat in Tuscany."
~ Performatism, or the end of postmodernism -- By Raoul Eshelman, Anthropoetics 6, no. 2 (Fall 2000 / Winter 2001) -- "For the subject, postmodernism presents a mighty, seemingly inescapable trap.(1) Any attempt it makes to find itself through a search for meaning is bound to go awry, for every sign promising some sort of originary knowledge is embedded in further contexts whose explication requires the setting of even more signs."
~ The Impatient Listener -- "There's a reason attention and appreciation are so highly valued -- give them to someone, genuinely, and they'll do almost anything for you -- It's a scarce resource."
~ ASE Call for Papers: Esotericism, Religion, and Nature -- "I’m posting this as a member of the Association for the Study of Esotericism. I attended the 2006 conference at the University of California, Davis, and had a very good time. This is the general area that my Master’s thesis is within so I may see about creating a paper for this if I can think of a good topic."

Throwing Muses - Firepile

A classic video from Throwing Muses -- damn they were young back then.

Poem: The School Of Metaphysics by Charles Simic

The School Of Metaphysics

Executioner happy to explain
How his wristwatch works
As he shadows me on the street.
I call him that because he is grim and officious
And wears black.

The clock on the church tower
Had stopped at five to eleven.
The morning newspapers had no date.
The gray building on the corner
Could've been a state pen,

And then he showed up with his watch,
Whose Gothic numerals
And the absence of hands
He wanted me to understand
Right then and there.

The Truth about Rudy Giuliani

Rudy Giuliani portrays himself as the hero of the 9-11 attacks on NYC. However, Chris Wallace (of Faux News, strangely enough) exposes the reality behind his handling of 9-11, and the fact that many hundreds of lives might have been saved if Giuliani had not ignored the experts and put the emergency response command center in the World Trade Center buildings (which had already been attacked once by terrorists in 1993).

Brought to you by Brave New Films and

Elliott Smith - Miss Misery

This was Elliott Smith's one big hit, from the film Good Will Hunting. This is the director's cut, without the movie clips.

Another great musician who died too young. I'm glad I was able to see him several times before he took his life.


Q & A with Deepak Chopra on "Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment"

Over at Voice of America's website, they have a Q&A with Deepak Chopra on his recent book, Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment.

Humor: Historic Pretzels-For-Little Debbie Swap Sparks Heavy Lunchtime Trading

From The Onion:

Historic Pretzels-For-Little Debbie Swap Sparks Heavy Lunchtime Trading

September 7, 2007 | Issue 43•36

BOULDER, CO—Lunchtime trading at the Franklin Elementary Snack Exchange was up 34 swaps at the closing recess bell Tuesday, an unprecedented frenzy of activity triggered by the trade of a Ziploc bag of Herr's Extra Thin Pretzels for a Little Debbie Fudge Brownie.

Historic Pretzel

Snack market analysts say the windfall is reminiscent of the famed 1998 Mott's Apple Juice juice box for Hostess Fruit Pie exchange, in which a previously undervalued snack outperformed virtually all expectations. However, unlike yesterday's trade, the '98 deal had little cumulative effect on the market.

Speaking from the wrapper- littered trading floor, longtime Herr's snackholder Brian Genschen, 9, said that his deal with trader Jeff Fraser, 8, came close to collapsing.

"At first I only wanted to give him a handful of pretzels, but when he said 'no way,' I knew I had to sweeten the deal," said Genschen, who subsequently agreed to increase his initial offering price to the entire bag of pretzels. "Then he was like 'okay.'"

Genschen has of yet indicated no interest in an initial public offering of the fudge brownie, and said he expects Fraser to honor the terms of the deal.

"No trade backs," Genschen said.

Known for his astute snack-trading judgment, Genschen based his trade on simple observation. Noting that Fraser's lunches had contained the individually wrapped brownies for over a week, Genschen surmised that he "was probably sick of them by now."

Critics of Genschen, who claim that he actually obtained insider knowledge when he snooped in the Frasers' pantry during a recent sleepover and found six boxes of snack cakes, pelted him with grapes.

"That's totally so not fair—now everyone will want me to trade away all of my Swiss Cake Rolls," Tracy Cabanne, 9, said. Like many with extensive snack-cake holdings, Cabanne hoped that the sudden demand was only a temporary trend. Nevertheless, the fourth-grader appeared to support a diversification strategy to compensate for any potential losses, telling her mother after class to buy the Frito-Lay variety pack next time she was at the store.

Genschen said he felt he made the best trade of his elementary school career, despite being plagued by subsequent hostile takeover attempts on his brownie, which he deposited in his K-Swiss backpack. And while he took a notable loss on the pretzels, Genschen maintains that he has sufficient liquid assets in his 16-ounce strawberry Nesquik.

"Anybody want to trade something for grapes?" Genschen said. "They're still pretty good. I'll trade them for some of those blue chips."

The impending bell created turmoil as anxious traders attempted to avoid rapid devaluations by dumping their snacks. While some were able to make substantial gains, the activity resulted in a flood of Sun-Maid raisin boxes and an estimated 56 feet of Fruit by the Foot. However, school lunch experts cautioned that no matter what happens with smaller commodities, pizza will always remain the gold standard.

"I'm pretty excited with the way things are going—maybe I can finally get rid of these celery sticks," Kevin Griebe, 8, said. "My mom never packs good lunches."

Many are blaming the current trading atmosphere for today's irrational playground exuberance, which resulted in the tossing of a whole-grain bagel onto the roof of the school building. Yet others are quick to point out that the volatility is symptomatic of an economy still recovering from a gummi bear market.

Nationwide, the NASNAQ closed at 2,261, up 54 points from the previous lunch period. With spikes in trading volume, the potato chip lost ground to the pretzel, mutual Funyuns rose, and Cheese Nips continued to have a bite-sized share of the market.

Despite the more adventurous mood, trades with the Indian kid remained steady at zero, as his lunchtime commodities are generally deemed a totally gross domestic product.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Gratitude 9/6/07

Some things I am grateful for today:

1) Last night's rain lasted into this morning, which gave us a cool day (89 degrees) before it gets back to nearly 100 by the weekend.

2) Football. The NFL season began tonight. Woo Hoo!

3) I registered today for the annual IFS conference next month in Chicago (Elgin, actually). Among the many cool workshops I will attend is one on Awakening to Self: Integrating IFS with Big Mind/Big Heart Practice, and another one on Orders of Self: Transformation and Spiritual Development, which includes the work of Ken Wilber and Rogert Kegan (very cool!) -- and that's just the first day. This is going to be a VERY inspiring weekend.

What are you grateful for today?

That Had to Hurt!

This is a good example of why you need GOOD spotters when doing Olympic lifts, or other power-lifting type lifts, with maximum weights.

Weightlifting Overload - Click here for this week’s top video clips

You could tell from the beginning that he wasn't going to get the jerk portion of that lift.

Speedlinking 9/6/07

Quote of the day:

"A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds."
~ Sir Francis Bacon

Image of the day (John Craig):

~ Compound versus isolation lifts -- "Generally all weight lifting exercises can be categorized into two major types of movements; compound and isolation. Both offer different types of benefits and drawbacks and the decision of which to include in your program is largely going to be based upon your individual goals."
~ Setting calorie guidelines -- "If you are serious about fitness, nutrition and your workouts, you likely already know the importance of eating a proper diet. The cornerstone of your diet is going to be the calorie level you are eating at. It is critical that you determine the proper amount of calories that you should be taking in as this is going to be the single most important factor that determines whether you gain, lose or maintain your weight." These are general guidelines, but useful.
~ The Strong and Ripped Program -- "What's the Goal of this Program? To kick your ass, but you'll probably shed some fat and get a little stronger, too. All you'll need are a stop watch, one die (stolen from a parcheesi game), and easy access to a puke bucket."
~ Exercise of the Week: The Lumberjack Squat -- "The "lumberjack squat" isn't what people in the logging industry head off to do behind a large poplar tree after having a hearty breakfast of bran flakes. Instead, it's a helluva' cool squatting movement that doesn't compress the spine."
~ Yoga Is More Than Just Showing Up, but That Does Help -- "Enlightenment by the numbers, as in the numbers 30 days for $30."
~ Exercise And Yoga Can Improve Quality Of Life And Physical Fitness In Women With Early-Stage Breast Cancer -- "Two studies report that exercise and yoga can help maintain and in some cases improve quality of life in women with early-stage breast cancer. The first study found that resistance and aerobic exercise improved physical fitness, self-esteem and body composition, and that resistance exercise improved chemotherapy completion rates. The second study demonstrated that yoga was particularly beneficial for women who were not receiving chemotherapy during the study period."
~ Popcorn May Cause Lung Disease -- "An ingredient in microwave popcorn may cause potentially deadly lung problems."
~ Alzheimers, Dementia and Fats -- "Our brains and our whole bodies demand essential fatty acids for repair and normal functioning. Alzheimer's and dementia are a concern for every aging American."
~ How To Enhance Muscle Function -- "Skeletal muscle is composed of two types of muscle fiber, slow and fast, which have different capabilities -- slow fibers do not tire easily and are high endurance, whereas fast fibers tire easily and are low endurance. The relative amount of each fiber type is determined by muscle usage -- exercise training causes fast fibers to become slow fibers, whereas inactivity that results in muscle atrophy (for example inactivity induced by spinal cord injury and unloading caused by space flight or tail suspension) causes slow fibers to become fast fibers."

~ CDC: Suicide Rate Among U.S. Girls Soars -- "The suicide rate among preteen and young teen girls spiked 76 percent, a disturbing sign that federal health officials say they can't fully explain...." This is disturbing.
~ New insights into OCD -- "Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common debilitating psychiatric disorder, yet the cause of OCD is unknown and few effective treatments are available. A recent study of mutant mice reveals a novel mechanism leading to OCD-like behaviors in mice and suggests potential new therapeutic strategies."
~ Higher social skills are uniquely human -- "A new study published today in Science reports that humans have distinctive social skills. Esther Herrmann, lead author of the study, answers Scitizen’s questions. Apes bite and try to break a tube to retrieve the food inside while children follow the experimenter’s example to get inside the tube to retrieve the prize...."
~ Faster Antidepressant Shows Promise -- "SSRIs work by preventing the brain from clearing away serotonin that has already been used, allowing excess neurotransmitters to build up and generate a signal multiple times. Dr. Guillaume Lucas has just tested a new drug that, while still focusing on serotonin, acts directly on receptors instead of slowly building up existing neurotransmitters."
~ Overcoming Jealousy -- "Overcoming jealousy has been one of my most requested topics for new articles, but in the past I’ve always declined such requests because I don’t have much personal experience in this area. I’m not prone to jealousy, so I can’t explain from personal experience how to overcome it. Nevertheless, due to the demand for such an article, I’ll risk sharing my thoughts on it anyway."
~ Design Your Life: What Would You Do If You Had Nothing To Do? -- "Let’s say you had a blank day staring at you. You didn’t have to work. You could do anything at all (although money is still a limiting factor). What would your perfect day be like?"
~ Urge Surfing to beat addictions and cravings -- "A technique known as "urge surfing" which harnesses mindfulness can be helpful for people who are experiencing cravings. Originally developed as a tool to help people struggling to battle alcohol and drug addiction, urge surfing is now being used to help people with overeating, gambling, compulsive shopping, smoking and other compulsive urges." This sounds similar to the 5-minute rule I use with compulsive eating clients -- wait five minutes when the urge hits and see if it recedes.

~ Bible Belter -- Richard Dawkins -- "If you are a religious apologist invited to debate with Christopher Hitchens, decline. His witty repartee, his ready-access store of historical quotations, his bookish eloquence, his effortless flow of well-formed words, beautifully spoken in that formidable Richard Burton voice (the whole performance not dulled by other equally formidable Richard Burton habits), would threaten your arguments even if you had good ones to deploy."
~ The 100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME -- From Time, their picks for the best TV ever.
~ Can the Oprah Effect Make Obama President? -- "A plug from Winfrey can turn a book into a best-seller and a movie into a blockbuster. But does the Oprah effect hold true for politics too? Can Winfrey's blessing turn a candidate into a president?"
~ Antigay 'Rally' Begets Ridiculous Rhetoric; Surprises No One -- "A two-person antigay protest at the University of Iowa turned bizarre after the two men reportedly blamed the September 11 attacks on homosexuals and said the tornado that struck Iowa City in spring 2006 were caused by abortion clinics in the town, according to the Daily Iowan." This would be funny if it weren't so sad.
~ GOP Debate Seemed Removed From Economic Reality -- "How could the Republican candidates not mention the housing crisis or the rising risk of recession?"
~ Starr: Can Anyone Beat the NFL's Big 3? -- "Though the league is defined by parity and Super Bowl surprises, all the smart guys are fixated on the same three teams. Me too."
~ Fineman: Notes on New Hampshire -- "The wooing of McCain continued. Giuliani impressed Romney’s people as well-prepared. And Huckabee won the Ron Paul lightning round. A rundown of the first fall GOP debate."

~ -- "We're well into the current era of the Web, commonly referred to as Web 2.0. Features of this phase of the Web include search, social networks, online media (music, video, etc), content aggregation and syndication (RSS), mashups (APIs), and much more. Currently the Web is still mostly accessed via a PC, but we're starting to see more Web excitement from mobile devices (e.g. iPhone) and television sets (e.g. XBox Live 360). What then can we expect from the next 10 or so years on the Web?"
~ Jungle Germs: Playgrounds Sicken Kids -- "Tests across the nation showed just how germy playgrounds really are."
~ Which is better, the iPhone or the BlackBerry? -- "On Wednesday, Apple cut the price of its top-of-the-line iPhone from a wallet-breaking $599 to a less-terrifying $399. This price reduction comes as reports have emerged that July sales of the iPhone outnumbered those of all other smartphones combined. With my battered, aging BlackBerry on its last legs, I went back to the Apple store to try to join the crowd and sell myself on trading brands. But after a few hours of side-by-side comparisons, I'm convinced more than ever that the iPhone isn't the device for me. I'll be replacing my BlackBerry with ... another BlackBerry."
~ Environmental Myths -- "Jerry Mander & John Cavanaugh | Don't believe the hype that "clean coal," "clean nuclear power" and biofuels will solve the environmental crisis."
~ Birch Trees To Edge Out Aspens In Warming World -- "Birches will likely drive out many aspens in northern forests as mounting levels of carbon dioxide force the trees to compete more fiercely for soil nutrients in the coming decades, according to a recent article. Carbon dioxide is emitted when fossil fuels are burned, and it's a heat-trapping gas blamed for global warming. But rising carbon dioxide levels also have a fertilizing effect on trees and other plants, making them grow faster than they normally would."
~ Physicists Establish 'Spooky' Quantum Communication -- "Physicists have coaxed two separate atoms to communicate with a sort of quantum intuition that Albert Einstein called "spooky." In doing so, the researchers have made an advance toward super-fast quantum computing. The research could also be a building block for a quantum internet."
~ Change from Arid to Wet Climate in Africa Altered Early Human Evolution -- "A drastic change in the climate of tropical Africa may have significantly driven early human evolution, an international team of scientists has found."
~ Possible Culprit Found in Bee Die-Off -- "The Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus may be behind the mysterious honey bee die-off."

~ Eighteen Ways to Invest in Life -- "Do you invest your money? Putting away a portion of your income into an investment plan creates more money later. With interest rates and financial pundits it is easy to see why financial investment makes sense. But what about investment in other areas? Do you invest in your time, brain, body or space? What about investments in the books you read and friends you meet? Although few areas of life have the precision of an investment account, applying investment principles to other situations can have incredible gains."
~ Mother Theresa Again Again: Promise Last Time -- "She saw Jesus everywhere, in everyone in the world but never inside herself. Just as Jesus on the Cross felt God everywhere but in his own suffering (My God, My God why have you abandoned ME....not them)."
~ The Nazi Occult Conspiracy -- "I've always been intrigued with the Nazi occult conspiracy. It's the stuff of legends and Hollywood movies. Remember Raiders of the Lost Ark? Cool movie."
~ Conference on After Postmodernism -- "The Conference posed a specific question: If we absorb postmodernism, if we recognize the variety and ungroundedness of grounds, but do not want to stop in arbitrariness, relativism, or aphoria, what comes after postmodernism?"
~ Buddhist Monks Release Hostages -- "A group of Buddhist monks ended a tense standoff with authorities Thursday in Myanmar by releasing 20 government officials they had taken hostage." Who says Buddhists are always peaceful?
~ Confucius Joins Jesus on Court Display -- "Napoleon, Confucius, Hammurabi and more than a dozen other historical figures have joined Jesus Christ on the wall at courthouse in a bid to reassure visitors that the court wanted nothing more than to showcase people who helped to create the laws of civilized nations." Cool.
~ Some music reviews.... -- From Cory deVos at the Holons blog.
~ How Old is the Suttapitaka? -- "A very interesting article making a scholarly case for the antiquity of the canon; How Old is the Suttapitaka by Alexander Wynn. He makes the argument that the Pali Canon was closed to new material at a very early date. One of his key arguments is that stories and doctrines that are found in other recensions are relegated to the Pali commentaries." Links to the original article.