Saturday, February 09, 2008

New Poem: Seeking


There is no here here;
the desert sky reeks
of expansive blue.

Sure, there are mountains
in the distance,
but the heart beats
within and without,
unbound, uncentered,
diffused by vastness.

Cactus wrens
screech and shriek,
build their nests
in cholla brambles
safe from threat.

I walk amid cactus
and brush better suited
to this land
than my body
will ever become, no
matter how long
these trails haunt
my flesh.

There is no here here,
no self to hold on to,
only the cool breeze
and the seeking
of Raven
amid the high cliffs.

What am I
in this place, who
is it who seeks
answers where only
the stones can reply?

Sitting beside the creek,
I once knew
everything I needed,
but then I left the canyon
and returned
to my life, lost
among all the others
seeking confirmation
in the mirror.

There is no here
only the wandering,
the quest for raven
in a world gone
from source, gone
so far from heart
that feeling is unsafe
and so alone.

Akira Kurosawa's - Dreams - Vincet Van Gogh Segment

I love this film, and this is one of my favorite sections.

Akira dreams of meeting Van Gogh in one of his paintings.

A brilliantly-colored vignette featuring director Martin Scorsese as Vincent Van Gogh. An art student (a character wearing Kurosawa's trademark hat who provides the POV for the rest of the film) finds himself inside the vibrant and sometimes chaotic world inside Van Gogh's artwork, where he meets the artist in a field and converses with him. The student loses track of the artist (who is missing an ear and nearing the end of his life) and travels through other works trying to find him. Van Gogh's painting Wheat Field with Crows is an important element in this dream. This Segment features Prelude No. 15 in D-flat major by Chopin.

Dreams — aka Akira Kurosawa's Dreams, Yume (夢), I Saw a Dream Like This, Konna yume wo mita, or Such Dreams I Have Dreamed — is a 1990 portmanteau film based on actual dreams of the film's director, Akira Kurosawa at different stages of his life. The film is based more on imagery than on dialogue.


Daily Dharma: Like the Sun Behind the Clouds

Today's Daily Dharma from Tricycle:

Like the Sun Behind the Clouds

[T]his enlightenment of the Buddha's was profound and brilliant, accurate and powerful, and also warm and compassionate. It was like the sun behind the clouds. Anyone who has taken off in an airplane on a grim and gloomy day knows that beyond the cloud cover the sun is always shining. Even at night the sun is shining, but then we can't see it because the earth is in the way, and probably our pillow also. The Buddha explained that behind the cloud cover of thoughts--including very heavy clouds of emotionally charged thoughts backed up by entrenched habitual patterns--there is continual warm, bright, loving intelligence constantly shining. And even though in the midst of thoughts, emotions, and habitual patterns, intelligence may become dulled and confused, it is still this intelligence in the midst of thoughts and emotions and habits that makes them so very captivating, so resourceful and various, so inexhaustible.

- Samuel Bercholz, Entering the Stream; from Everyday Mind, a Tricycle book edited by Jean Smith.

E=mc2 (2001)

A very cool animation explaining Einstein's famous theorem. Directed and animated by Alina Hiu-Fan Chau. This was Alina's thesis film at UCLA, which also received a Student Emmy Award in 2001.

K.D. Lang Sings Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah

K.D. Lang does an amazing cover of the Leonard Cohen classic -- one of the best songs ever written (and one that should have been on Stuart Davis' list of Top 20 Spiritual Pop Songs).

Christopher Hitchens -- Books and Ideas

This interview gets to the more thoughtful side of Hitchens, the part we don't often see when he is in his more public persona.


Satire: Hillary Sells Own Tears on eBay

Campaign 2008 coverage from Andy Borowitz.

Hillary Sells Own Tears on eBay

Posted February 8, 2008 | 12:09 PM (EST)

In a bold strategy to raise funds for her cash-strapped presidential campaign, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton today announced that she was selling her own tears on the popular auction site eBay.

After lending her campaign $5 million dollars of her own money prior to the Super Tuesday primaries, Mrs. Clinton's resources were reportedly tapped out, leading her to auction off vials of her own tears with a suggested opening bid of $10,000.

While the posted eBay description of her tears does not attribute any healing properties to them, it does claim that their historic value could be priceless.

Mrs. Clinton's decision to auction off her own tears, while admittedly an unorthodox strategy, was not nearly as unusual as some of the other fundraising ideas floated by her campaign in recent days, sources said.

According to sources close to the New York senator, Mrs. Clinton had toyed with a number of unusual strategies, including marrying former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

"From where we sat, it was a win-win situation," one campaign aide said. "Hillary would have access to $200 million, and Mitt would get one step closer to the White House."

Reportedly, the plan to marry Mr. Romney broke down when a representative for the former governor conveyed the message that Mr. Romney did not believe in polygamy.

"Hillary cried when she heard the news about Romney," the aide said. "But hopefully, those tears will find a buyer."

Elsewhere, a new study shows that spending hours on a cell phone may affect the quality of one's sperm, raising hopes that hedge fund managers may have trouble reproducing.

Satire: Local Girlfriend Always Wants To Do Stuff

An Onion report on relationships.

Local Girlfriend Always Wants To Do Stuff

February 9, 2008 | Issue 44•06

SALEM, OR—Local resident Steven Bertram is "fed up" with girlfriend Alicia Maas' incessant need to do stuff, a visibly frustrated Bertram reported Monday.

According to the 31-year-old maintenance technician, Maas, 29, regularly insists that the couple engage in an endless series of activities, things, and events, at various times of the day, despite the fact that Bertram would often prefer not to do such stuff.

Enlarge Image Local Girlfriend

Bertram and Maas in earlier times, perfectly content to be at home and not doing anything.

"Just yesterday she was going on and on about how much she wanted to see a movie," said Bertram, noting that he had, after repeated requests, taken the demanding Maas to a local cineplex only two months prior. "How many movies does a person need to see in a year? Sometimes I just want to relax."

Though he and Maas have dated for almost two years, Bertram reportedly did not recognize the severity of his girlfriend's near-chronic dependence on getting out of the house and doing stuff until six months ago, when she insisted the two attend a free outdoor concert in their neighborhood. Since that time, Maas has asked an estimated 11 times to be taken to dinner, 17 times to go grocery shopping, and, on 20 separate occasions, has expressed a desire to go on a meandering walk without a fixed destination, purpose, or time limit.

The precise number of incidents, Bertram said, is difficult to determine, as Maas has oftentimes enlisted him in activities without first asking, including initiating seemingly pointless conversations lacking any definitive context or subject matter, as well as making plans with coworkers, family members, friends, old roommates, the people upstairs, and acquaintances Bertram does not know.

In addition, an alarming majority of the activities Maas suggests involve standing up.

"I don't know if I can live like this," Bertram said. "On Saturday I was excited to sit back and watch some TV, and then she reminds me that [Bertram's best friend] Jeremy [Durst] is having his birthday party, and so next thing you know, I've got to get up, throw some pants on, and hang out with people all night."

"For once I'd like to do what I want to do," Bertram continued. "She always wants to go somewhere or look at something."

Bertram said that for several weeks he attempted to deflect Maas' demands or otherwise dissuade her from pursuing activities outside their one-bedroom apartment through a series of complex excuses—including a feigned lower-back injury—but met with little success. Recently, he has tried to compromise by purchasing an XBox 360 and several multiplayer games for the two to use together, as well as upgrading the couple's Netflix account to allow five DVDs at a time.

Maas' obsession, however, has shown no signs of abating, and on Sunday she volunteered herself and Bertram to walk their neighbors' dog when they go on vacation next week.

"That's three more nights ruined," said Bertram as he toggled between the popular website and a game of online poker. "I could literally be doing anything else, but instead, I'll be walking a dog. I don't need to always be doing stuff, and especially not stuff like that."

According to behavioral psychologist Dr. Michael Greer, though Maas' irrational compulsion for doing things is extreme, it is by no means uncommon.

"Alicia is exhibiting all the classic signs of what we call 'active behavior'—an impulse to engage in unnecessary and often prolonged outdoor movement that is most commonly found in females," Greer said. "Though we cannot be certain, these habits seem to stem from an innate desire to not be doing nothing."

Added Greer, "All available research indicates that this type of unstable behavior is most disturbing when it occurs early in the morning, after 10 p.m., on weekends and perfectly good vacation days, or before one has a chance to finish the third goddamned disc of the second season of Lost."

Despite repeated attempts, Maas could not be reached for comment, since she was out at the gym or having coffee with a friend or some shit.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Lojong Poems: Nine


Lojong Poems: Nine

Apply these proverbs in everything you do.

Sunset in the Sonoran Desert
is as quiet as a funeral.
Squawking birds, a coyote's howl,
quiet trickle of Sabino Creek
all offer a soliloquy of loss.

I am not myself in this chapel
of saguaros and chollas.
The man who left his car
in the parking lot
ceases to exist, has vanished.

Breathe in, breathe out.

My thoughts mingle, intertwine
with the voices of stones,
the wet language of succulents,
the soul of red rock cliffs
shrouded by a few clouds.

Beneath the surfaces of things,
at some depth where molecules
hold domain, the fragile self
and the desert are one,
deeply breathing, transcendent.

Coldplay - Trouble

A live version of one of my favorite Coldplay songs.


Tibetan Book of the Dead

A cool look at the Buddhist classic, Tibetan Book of the Dead:

The Bardo Thodol (Tibetan: bardo "liminality"; thodol as "liberation"[1]), Liberation through Hearing in the Intermediate State, is a funerary text that describes, and intends to guide one through, the experiences of the consciousness after death during the interval known as bardo between death and rebirth. It also includes chapters on the signs of death and rituals to undertake when death is closing in or has taken place.

It is the most internationally famous and widespread work of Tibetan Nyingma literature.[2]


Speedlinking 2/8/08

Quote of the day:

"When you think of the long and gloomy history of man, you will find more hideous crimes have been committed in the name of obedience than have ever been committed in the name of rebellion."
~ C.P. Snow

Image of the day (Benjamin Mercer):

~ 17 Fitness Truths To Get You In Great Shape -- "The ups-and-downs of my fitness efforts have highlighted some important points for me. Key among those points: don’t quit. If you mess up, and stop for awhile, that doesn’t mean you should quit altogether. Just keep going. You’ll get there eventually."
~ Childhood Obesity And Sleep Duration Linked -- "Less sleep can increase a child's risk of being overweight or obese, according to a study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Their analysis of epidemiological studies found that with each additional hour of sleep, the risk of a child being overweight or obese dropped by 9 percent. The results are published in the February 2008 edition Obesity, the journal of The Obesity Society." This tends to be true for adults as well.
~ Nobody likes doing squats -- "Here is the thing, squats are really hard. They are harder than most of the things people in the gym like to do. Especially squatting heavy."
~ Body fat determines need for diet -- "Measuring body fat, rather than body mass index, appears to more accurately identify people who need lifestyle interventions to lose weight, study findings suggest." It's about freaking time the media reports this -- my BMI is about 27, making me "overweight," but my bodyfat is under 10%, making me pretty fit.
~ Acupuncture might help with fertility -- "Acupuncture appears to be a useful fertility aid, according to a new report in the British Medical Journal that found pairing acupuncture with in-vitro fertilization can raise a couple's odds of getting pregnant by 65 percent."
~ 14 Simple Ways to Convert Your Sedentary Lifestyle -- "We all know we need to exercise more – our lifestyles are way too sedentary compared to that of the previous generations. It's not all our fault. The days of the 9 to 5 job are long over and despite huge advances in technology, our lives seem to be a lot busier compared than that of previous generations."
~ High Blood Pressure Pill Cuts Risk Of Parkinson's Disease -- "People taking a widely used group of drugs known as calcium channel blockers to treat high blood pressure also appear to be cutting their risk of Parkinson's disease, according to a new study. The study found people who were currently long-term users of calcium channel blockers to treat high blood pressure lowered their risk of Parkinson's disease by 23 percent compared to people who didn't take the drugs. There was no such effect among people taking ACE inhibitors, AT II antagonists and beta blockers."
~ Irregular Exercise Pattern May Add Pounds -- "The consequences of quitting exercise may be greater than previously thought, according to a new study that determined that the weight gained during an exercise hiatus can be tough to shed when exercise is resumed at a later date."

~ Sad, self-absorbed shoppers spend more -- "If you’re sad and shopping, watch your wallet: A new study shows people’s spending judgment goes out the window when they’re down, especially if they’re a bit self-absorbed."
~ The Importance of Active Leisure -- "My husband and I took my godmother’s new dog, a 10 month old schipperke, for a long walk across Duke East Campus, as far as the statue of Sower. What pleasure this wiggling, active, curious, explorative little creature is giving my godmother! It made me wonder what positive psychology can tell us about pets in our lives. Following this curiosity led me to an article about the importance of active non-work activities in handling work-related stress."
~ Secrets of Wellbeing Series — Part 2: Using Your Signature Strengths -- "Do you find life exhausting and frustrating? Or is it easy and exhilarating? The difference between the two experiences may hinge on something simple: whether or not your life is aligned to your signature strengths. Signature strengths are the things we like doing and are good at. For example, I love learning; it excites me!"
~ The Pursuit of (What Else?) Happiness -- "In case you haven’t seen it yet, my buddy Alex Shalman, from (Practical Personal Development), recently launched his “Happiness Project.” After hearing Tim Ferriss recommend Dan Gilbert’s book, “Stumbling On Happiness” (which I read, and whose TED video I’ve set up for you at the bottom of this post), I’m very, very curious about people’s findings about one of the most sought after prizes in life: good, old-fashioned happiness."
~ Suffocating in a Relationship? -- "How to get the space you need."
~ Lone Stars: Being Single -- "Welcome to the diversified world of today's singles."
~ Stop Talking and Start Communicating -- "Have you ever noticed how some people speak fluent English but at the same time, they don't really speak your language? They don't talk with you or to you, as much as they talk at you, over you and around you - in your general direction."
~ Multidisciplinary Treatment for Depression: Gold Standard? -- "Yet another study has been released about the benefits of a multi-disciplinary approach to depression. This study showed that such an approach is actually more cost-effective than other, hodge-podge methods of treatment. Previous studies on a multidisciplinary approach to depression has shown it to be more effective in treating depression as well."
~ Unparenting the Children, Parenting Yourself -- "Why do some parents become over-involved with their children's lives? And what can they do about it? Maybe the first step toward letting go of a vice-like emotional grip on children is to work out what your own needs are."

~ The Significance Of Peers During Adolescence -- "Girls in high school take as many math courses as boys, influenced by close friends and peers who are doing well in school. More than boys, girls look to their close friends when they make important decisions, such as whether to take math and what math classes to take, confirming how significant peers are during adolescence."
~ Poems of the Masters -- " For the past eight centuries Poems of the Masters has been China's most studied and memorized collection of verse. This edition contains, for the first time in English, the complete text prepared by renowned translator Red Pine."
~ Gary Hart: Obama Won't Fade -- "Obama’s pitch, Hart believes, is his ability to attract independents and Republicans to the ticket in the fall."
~ Net Loss: Why liberal bloggers don't love Obama -- "Obama is, in some respects, the ideal candidate of the Yearly Kos contingent--an insurgent who opposed the Iraq war, generated grassroots enthusiasm, and built a massive online fund-raising apparatus. But the bloggers who champion these things have not all rallied around Obama. In fact, many are strikingly ambivalent about his candidacy."
~ JUSTICE, GENDER, AND THE POLITICS OF MULTICULTURALISM -- "Song suggests that the cultural rights of minorities have to be accommodated precisely because of three reasons: past injustice, present discrimination and state establishment of culture. However, for Song, the case for accommodation depends on particular circumstances. More significantly, these accommodations need to be limited so that they could not come at the expense of rights of individual members within these minorities. Thus, developing and critically engaging with multicultural theorists such as Will Kymlicka, Monica Deveaux, Bhikhu Parekh and numerous others, Song’s formulation is the need for rights-respecting accommodationism." Yeah, sure, good luck with that.
~ In name only -- "The US government is keen to invoke Keynesian economics, but their efforts lack the philosopher's ideal of shared prosperity."
~ How McCain Can Convince the Right -- "John McCain is not the first Republican nominee to give conservatives fits. In 1952, Dwight Eisenhower promised Robert Taft's supporters that he was just as conservative as Mr. Republican, as Taft was known. By the time Ike finished his two terms, conservatives were so disappointed they vowed never again to support a moderate based on vague pledges of conservative fealty."
~ Safe sex, dangerous love -- "I am extremely sympathetic with Higgins’s overall thesis that we would all do far better to spend more time with Roman poetry and less with popular psychology; indeed the recent renaissance of Latin as an exciting – not dry and dusty – language to learn, exemplified by the runaway success of Harry Mount’s amusing Amo, Amas, Amat, is one of the most encouraging cultural trends to emerge for ages."
~ The Case for McCain -- "Some things in life are quite simple. Here's one of them: Sen. John McCain is going to be our next president. How do I know? For starters, McCain will have a unified Republican party -- conservatives and all -- working hard for him. He's also going to win over the Reagan Democrats, the Bush Democrats, and the Perot independents. These folks demand a strong military, want government off their backs, and are sick and tired of growing federal deficits and out-of-control spending. McCain's their man."
~ Clinton beats Obama but not McCain -- "A new poll from Time (PDF) shows that Democrats still like Hillary Clinton better than John McCain. But once the vote is opened up to both Democrats and Republicans, Barack Obama is the candidate who beats John McCain."

~ Roche, Clinton Foundation Partner To Deliver HIV Tests To Infants In Africa -- "Pharmaceutical company Roche and the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative have partnered in an effort to increase access to HIV testing among infants in 24 sub-Saharan African countries, Rwanda's New Times reports. According to the agreement, Roche will deliver diagnostic tests at reduced costs to children younger than 18 months in the region who have been exposed to HIV."
~ Urban Ecological Study Measures The Impact Of The Coming Megacity -- "If you are reading this, chances are that you live in a city - one, perhaps, on its way to becoming a megacity with a population that exceeds 10 million or more. If not, you and most of the world's population soon will be, according to global population demographics projections."
~ When It Comes to Wind Power, Who Teaches the Teachers? -- "When science teacher Michael Arquin started educating students about wind power, he had no idea his curriculum would come to influence thousands of teachers and students nationwide."
~ Birds, Bats And Insects Hold Secrets For Aerospace Engineers -- "Natural flyers like birds, bats and insects outperform man-made aircraft in aerobatics and efficiency. Engineers are studying these animals as a step toward designing flapping-wing planes with wingspans smaller than a deck of playing cards."
~ Freshwater Fish Invasions The Result Of Human Activity -- "Mapping worldwide freshwater fish invasions allowed the identification of major invasion hot spots and demonstrated that economic activity is the main determinant of freshwater fish invasions at the global scale."
~ Food for Thought: How Plastic We've Become -- "Uncle Sam has confirmed it: Our bodies carry residues of kitchen plastics."
~ What Is Relativity? -- "Albert Einstein was famous for many things, but his greatest brainchild is the theory of relativity. It forever changed our understanding of space and time."
~ Origin of Birds Debated -- "Scientists can't agree on when modern birds first appeared on Earth."
~ Botanists see winter fading away in U.K. -- "Climate change is leading some British botanists to conclude that winter is disappearing as a distinct season in the United Kingdom."

~ Awakening through "instinctive" training - A Programless Program -- "I thought I'd discuss how I train (currently) and maybe it will help others. First off, realize that I attempt to bring my experience of "awakening" (for lack of a better word) into everything I do. While I may not be enlightened (whatever the heck that exactly means) I have at least awakened from the dream of separation—as some Zen or Advaita masters might put it—and so I try to carry this ever-present awareness of What-Is into my training as much as I do the rest of my life."
~ Buddhism is Watering the Western Cultures like Rain Waters a Field of Flowers -- "In my eyes, Western Buddhism is no different than when Chinese Buddhism, or Korean, or Tibetan Buddhism was the newest tradition in the vast Buddhist community. Buddhism always blends and adapts to different cultures when introduced to that new society but I don't believe that makes it any less useful."
~ Resources for family-based classical learning -- "I’ve just come upon a great source for learning resources — They sell two lines of education products, and along with Memoria Press, provide a very good starting point for family-based learning (i.e. homeschooling) in terms of comprehensive curriculums."
~ Hidden Newton -- "Or, Newton the Alchemist. "Hidden" meaning "not known to general public", because there's a hidden Einstein, a hidden Schroedinger, a hidden Heisenberg, a hidden Planck... These hidden aspects of our great scientific geniuses are actually reflections of taboos long held by the modern scientific community at large since its inception and rise to power, taboos that were introduced to consolidate the "scientific outlook" and make it the rational way of seeing the universe and man's place in it."
~ Feeling of Pain, Feeling of Self -- "I've had some interesting responses to this whole matter of practicing self-enquiry. I got a very wonderful email from someone who practices self-enquiry, and describes the process as intensely frustrating, and even painful."
~ Integral Action in the World -- "More than 700 Palestinians gathered at the Shepard Hotel in Bethlehem to participate in a day long initiative to determine their own future. They are all members of Fatah and came from all age groups, professions, and towns in the West Bank to hear presentations on Spiral Dynamics by Palestinians and then met in groups of 8 to 10 to fill flip charts with their own ideas as to what we called Palestine-21st Century. There was no conversation about Israel, or the occupation, or other restrictions; they realized it was time for then to determine their own destiny." Don Beck walks the talk.

Daily Dharma: Trying to Get It

Great wisdom in today's Daily Dharma from Pema Chodron:

Trying to Get It

We try so hard to hang on to the teachings and "get it," but actually the truth sinks in like rain into very hard earth. The rain is very gentle, and we soften up slowly at our own speed. But when that happens, something has fundamentally changed in us. That hard earth has softened. It doesn't seem to happen by trying to get it or capture it. It happens by letting go; it happens by relaxing your mind, and it happens by the aspiration and the longing to want to communicate with yourself and others. Each of us finds our own way.

- Pema Chodron, Start Where You Are; from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book.

Respire, Mon Ami - Breathe My Friend

A very strange and strangely touching story.

Set in France, a lonely child finds companionship in a friend who tags along on a series of small adventures that take you though multiple settings before leading up to a climactic finish with a struggle between life and death.

Senior Thesis by Chris Nabholz from Ringling College of Art and Design. Siggraph Animation Theater 2007. Student Academy Awards 2007 Finalist.


TED: The Omnivore's Next Dilemma - Michael Pollan

In this great TED Talk, Michael Pollan wonders . . .

What if human consciousness isn't the end-all and be-all of Darwinism? What if we are all just pawns in corn's clever strategy game, the ultimate prize of which is world domination? Michael Pollan asks us to see things from a plant's-eye view -- to consider the possibility that nature isn't opposed to culture, that biochemistry rivals intellect as a survival tool. By merely shifting our perspective, he argues, we can heal the Earth. Who's the more sophisticated species now?


BBC- Newton: The Dark Heretic

Very cool look at Isaac Newton.

Isaac Newton, often thought of as embodying all that is rational and scientific, was actually obsessed with the mystical. "Newton was not the first of the age of reason, he was the last of the magicians."


Satire: GM Introduces New 2008 Line Of Layoffs

Auto industry news From The Onion:

GM Introduces New 2008 Line Of Layoffs

February 8, 2008 | Issue 44•06

DETROIT—Calling it the automotive company's "toughest and longest-lasting" line of cutbacks to date, General Motors proudly unveiled its new 2008 model layoffs on Monday, bringing months of rumor and speculation to an end.

According to industry insiders, the automaker's latest offering of layoffs is by far its largest, with hundreds of unemployed workers expected to hit the streets as early as next week, and thousands more scheduled to come off Michigan assembly lines by the end of spring.

"Introducing the all-new, all-American GM layoffs," announced General Motors chairman Rick Wagoner, gesturing toward a lineup of soon-to-be-released factory technicians outside the company's main Detroit plant. "Bigger, bolder, more daring—these 2008 redundancies are sure to create a stir."

Enlarge Image GM Layoffs

Two model employees from GM's new line of layoffs.

Urging consumers to forget everything they thought they knew about job security, Wagoner described the cutbacks as "a major breakthrough in downsizing," and claimed GM had set a new benchmark in letting people go.

"We've really outdone ourselves this time," Wagoner continued. "Nobody, and I mean nobody, expected General Motors to come out firing the way it has in 2008."

While many details have yet to be released, the new layoffs are said to boast a number of exciting features, including automatic suspension of health-care benefits and a no-money-down payment option on all severance and forced-retirement packages. In addition, the 2008 layoffs come equipped with a three-day notice of termination, rather than the standard two-week notice offered on earlier models.

"Our new line of layoffs will forever change the way hardworking men and women get by," General Motors vice chairman Robert A. Lutz said. "No other car company today—be it Toyota, Ford, or even Saturn—can compete with GM when it comes to canning their workforce."

More ambitious than last year's line, the new layoffs reportedly underwent a difficult development phase. According to Wagoner, many within the company questioned his vision for the bold cutbacks, calling them unorthodox, impossible, and even reckless. But the General Motors chairman pushed forward, confident that the groundbreaking series of firings could be achieved.

Though the layoffs were his idea, Wagoner said their realization would not have been possible without the help of several thousand dedicated GM employees.

Enlarge Image GM Logo

"We simply couldn't have done it without everyone's participation," said Wagoner, giving a special thank-you to his former human resources department. "Had our talented pool of engineers, technicians, and skilled laborers not come in day after day, there would have been nobody for us to ask to leave."

As excited as General Motors officials are about the layoffs, public reaction has been far less positive.

"I'm definitely unimpressed," said Charles Henderson, a Michigan construction worker. "They can dress things up as much as they'd like, but these are just the same old layoffs GM trotted out last year. And come to think of it, the year before that."

"I saw some of them parked outside the food bank on Warren Avenue yesterday, and they were pretty sorry looking," Henderson added. "What was GM thinking?"

Citing an apparent lack of thought and care behind the layoffs, many have accused the automotive company of only being interested in its bottom line.

While General Motors has strongly disputed that claim, the recent firing of its entire public relations department has made it difficult for the automaker to get a positive side of the story out.

"I don't know what people were expecting," Wagoner said. "We're General Motors. Firing great people is what we do."

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Speedlinking 2/7/08

Quote of the day:

"Too many have dispensed with generosity in order to practice charity."
~ Albert Camus

Image of the day (David Winston):

~ Have a Bad Pain in the Butt? Could Be Piriformis Syndrome -- "If it hurts to touch a point that’s in the middle of one side of your buttocks, you probably have piriformis syndrome. This chronic condition is very difficult to diagnose, because other injuries may produce exactly the same symptoms."
~ Male Pattern Baldness Triggered by Stress and Health -- "While genetics has a lot to do with male pattern baldness, often the cause is not family history, but rather lifestyle factors that control the extent of hair loss. If a man is physically and emotionally healthy, his hair will reflect his well-being because it will be radiant and shiny and the scalp will be moist, not dry and flaky."
~ Knock Out Your New Year’s Resolution -- "You made that New Year’s resolution to get back in shape - purchased a gym membership, started eating healthily and were set on getting in shape. You went to the gym day in and day out, burning calories, feeling the burn and ate baked chicken instead of KFC, enjoyed salads with light vinaigrette instead of coleslaw swamped with mayo. You were on a mission - and you were dedicated to it - until February."
~ Big Jim's Plateau-Busting Surge Routine -- "We love the workouts that make you ache, the ones that make you shake your fist at the heavens above. This one involves doing one-rep maxes with 60-second negatives, followed by some nice drop sets." Ouch!
~ Exercise of the Week: The Iso Push-up -- "It's probably the simplest training method imaginable, but it's oh-so effective in promoting shoulder stability and building power and strength. All it takes is a minute and thirty seconds, three times a week."
~ Low-Fat Diet Recommended By Federal Government May Have Unintended Consequences -- "It is common knowledge that obesity levels in America have been recorded at record levels, almost reaching the point of an epidemic." The low-fat, high carb diet the government pushes is the result of lobbyists, not research.
~ Drop Down and Give Me More Than She’s Doing -- "Some like to compete, but group training isn't for everyone."
~ Reduced "exercise capacity" an ominous sign -- "People who have trouble exercising on a treadmill are at increased risk of suffering a heart attack or other heart-related event and of dying, according to results of a study."
~ Low-Carb Diets Better Than Low-Fat Diets at Preventing Diabetes (HealthDay) -- "A diet low in carbohydrates but high in animal fat and protein doesn't seem to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes in women, a new study claims." Keen sense of the obvious.

~ Five Mistakes I Have Made With Personal Development Information -- "I have been reading, listening to and watching various personal development information for a few years now. I have noticed a few mistakes I have made. And so I have made a few adjustments to how I take in and use this information. These adjustments have helped me make more practical progress."
Closing the Circuit: Helen Mayberg's research could revolutionize depression treatment -- "Time to step back and ask ourselves questions such as, "What is going On", "What is Depression", "What Treatments Work, and What is the Latest Research". Fortunately, thanks to our collaboration with Greater Good Magazine, Jill Suttie offers a fascinating answers to those questions-and more. Enjoy."
~ Personal Questions in Therapy -- "The classic response to a client's question is to turn it back on the client, treating the question as revealing of a particular need. "I see it is really important to you to know..." This technique makes me flinch."
~ The Toll of Subtle Racism -- "Blatant, overt racism is easy to spot -- but what about subtle racism? And are there measurable cognitive effects that come as a result of witnessing not-so-obvious racism?"
~ The Science of Kissing [The Intersection] -- "Ah, February... that very special time of year for celebrating the one we love (or bemoaning the greeting card industry). While flipping through the month's Scientific American, I came upon this article about 'Why We Kiss' and immediately found myself intrigued."
~ Identification Of Brain Circuitry That Drives Drug-Seeking Compulsion -- "In experiments with rats, researchers have identified the change in brain circuitry that drives development of a compulsion to seek drugs, even when that compulsion is self-destructive. The researchers demonstrated the function of the circuitry by selectively switching off drug-seeking in the animals. They said their findings show the key role of the brain region, known as the striatum, which is a region activated by reward."
~ When Cognitive Dissonance Doesn't Matter -- "Psychologists have labelled the cause of this drive towards self-consistency 'cognitive dissonance'. In the classic experiment on cognitive dissonance conducted in the late 1950s experimenters discovered that people will work extraordinarily hard to present a consistent front to the world."
~ Stress During Pregnancy Associated With Schizophrenia Of Children -- "A recent article in the Archives of General Psychiatry reports that women who undergo an extremely stressful event during the first three months of pregnancy have an increased risk of having children who develop schizophrenia. Researcher Ali S. Khashan of the University of Machester, England and colleagues note that there is some consensus that a mother's psychological state influences her unborn baby."
~ The ABCs of Remaining Cool in a Crazy World -- "Emotional intelligence and mastery skills are not just a benefit these days; they’ve become a necessity. This post aims to address that need. It aims to provide psychologically tested methods, with a touch of Zen, to handle anything that happens in a mature and powerful manner."
~ The Myth of the Mozart Effect -- " Whenever stalled on an intractable problem, Einstein reportedly reached for his violin. He played to disentangle his brain and clarify the question at hand. Mozart especially did the trick. Einstein loved Mozart’s highly organized, intensely patterned sonatas. He felt, as many before him, that music and the reasoning intellect were linked."

~ The Cycle of Time: The Chinese New Year -- "This 7 February marks the start of the New Year in China. The start of a New Year is a return to the beginning while recognizing that there has been a passage of time. Every ritual repetition of a cosmic event is preceded by a symbolic retrogression to the original chaos. As Mircea Eliade pointed out in his Rites and Symbols of Initiation: The Mysteries of Birth and Rebirth, 'In order to be created anew, the old world must first be annihilated.'"
~ Quarter of U.S. women suffer domestic violence: CDC -- "About a quarter of U.S. women suffer domestic violence, U.S. health officials reported on Thursday, with ongoing health problems that one activist likened to the effects of living in a war zone."
~ A Question of Ideology -- "Where each of the Democratic candidates might leave the country ideologically could ultimately be the most lasting determinant of the success of the next presidency."
~ Why Personality Matters -- "On the eve of Super Tuesday, Berkeley Professor George Lakoff argues that the US Democrats need to take values as seriously as they do policy."
~ Is religion losing the millennial generation? -- "If you asked college students in an introductory religion course to create their own faith, what might you get? Dessertism, which insists that the stomach is the way to the soul, and Zen Boozism, which seeks self-discovery through alcohol — for starters. But you’d also see a growing problem for the ‘traditional’ faiths that treat the young as an afterthought."
~ Only One Candidate Can Achieve Universal Health Coverage -- "Hillary's plan would insure nearly twice as many people as Obama's."
~ How Obama Could Create a Long-Term Democratic Majority -- "More than a single presidency is at stake -- the future of the Democratic party is."
~ What Romney Could Have Done -- "As the former governor drops out of the presidential race, Mark Halperin charts 10 things his campaign could have changed."
~ Clinton, Obama: Why Not Both? -- "Some Democrats have visions of a dream ticket that marries Obama's energy with Clinton's expertise. But it's only a dream." Can't see either one wanting to be VP.

~ Life: A Gene-Centric View -- "It's not everyday you have Richard Dawkins and Craig Venter on a stage talking for an hour about "Life: A Gene-Centric View". That it occured in Germany, where the culture has been resistant to open discussion of genetics, and at DLD, the Digital, Life, Design conference organized by Hubert Burda Media in Munich, a high-level event for the digital elite — the movers and shakers of the Internet — was particularly interesting. This event was a continuation of the Edge "Life: What a Concept!" meeting in August, 2008." Includes video.
~ String theory: From Newton to Einstein and beyond -- "To understand the ideas and aims of string theory, it's useful to look back and see how physics has developed from Newton's time to the present day. One crucial idea that has driven physics since Newton's time is that of unification: the attempt to explain seemingly different phenomena by a single overarching concept."
~ As the End of Analog TV Approaches, Converter Boxes Are Scarce -- "The government began issuing $40 vouchers for DTV converters as a part of its Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupon Program on Jan. 1. The only problem is the converters are nowhere to be found."
~ Yang Struggles to Keep the Microsoft Wolf From Yahoo's Door -- "The CEO of the embattled internet company hopes to avoid a takeover, while trying to reassure his workers -- even though many stand to lose their jobs regardless of what happens."
~ Ecotopias Aren't Just for Hippies Anymore -- and They're Sprouting Up Worldwide -- "The race for the first carbon-neutral, zero-emissions community is on, from Costa Rica to Libya to an island in San Francisco Bay."
~ Mapping Active Faults In The Gibraltar Arc To Better Predict Earthquake-prone Regions -- "Researchers have characterized the physical and mechanical properties of the Earth's crust in the Gibraltar Arc, an area of intense seismic activity. The African and Eurasian plates get about 4 mm closer every year. The study related the temperature of the Earth's crust to its seismic activity, determining that the probability of earthquakes is significantly lower in areas of higher temperature."
~ Organic Solar Cells: Electricity From A Thin Film -- "Teams of researchers all over the world are working on the development of organic solar cells. Organic solar cells have good prospects for the future: They can be laid onto thin films, which makes them cheap to produce."
~ Lower-income neighborhoods associated with higher obesity rates -- "Obesity prevalence has increased significantly among adults and children in the U.S. over the last two decades. A new study appearing in the journal Nutrition Reviews reveals that characteristics of neighborhoods, including the area`s income level, the built environment, and access to healthy food, contribute to the continuing obesity epidemic." It's just plain cheaper to eat crap than it is healthy foods. Obesity levels won't change much among the low-income until we solve that issue.

~ Peer to Peer Relational and Participatory Spirituality Emerges, Part 2: Participatory Spirituality -- "Integrative Spirituality is posting parts 1 and 2 of the peer to peer (P2P) relational and participatory spirituality articles in part because o­ne of the goals of our organization is to support the process of making known what we believe to be an emerging "new" state or quality of God, Buddha or Consciousness that is focused exclusively the success of humanity as a whole in the form of our collective evolutionary progress. This group-focused state of God, Buddha or Consciousness may very well be the emergence of a unique and new evolutionary stage of spirituality as well as a completely new state of God, Buddha or Consciousness to the general awareness of spiritual individuals."
~ Anxiety and Depression: Breakdowns in the 7 Aspects of Wellness -- "There are 7 Aspects of Wellness that create a whole and complete life. These major life areas are Emotional, Intellectual, Physical, Social, Spiritual, Occupational, and Environmental. Striking a balance in each of these life areas is what total wellness is all about, and this means being aware of each aspect and what role it has in the way we feel." This is an old article, but it's useful.
~ “Ego” here now -- "As with archetypes, the conventional ways of looking at “ego” are all valid and useful. At the same time, when I explore it through the five sense fields, I find that “ego” is just a thought arising here now, taken as true."
~ 4 Powerful Social Psychology Techniques To Get What You Want -- "So there you have it – a small collection of social techniques, powerful and subtle if used well. Use them only if you have a conscience; if you don’t, use this knowledge as defense. Although I suspect this last paragraph might be a waste of words – if you don’t have a conscience, you’ll probably ignore this anyway."
~ Gendered Language... -- "So I'm reading a book by Rosalind Hursthouse for my class Confucian Virtue Ethics entitled, "On Virtue Ethics." The book is fairly new (1999), so it doesn't surprise me that Hursthouse doesn't just use masculine language. I was caught off guard, however, finding myself 170 pages into the book and realizing she never uses masculine language at all. Every thought experiment, every example she gives, and every person she refers to in the hypothetical are all "she" and "her." I have a mixed reaction to this."
~ Is Universal Health Care Totalitarian Coercion? -- "Previously, I speculated that Hillary Clinton would win most delegates on Super Tuesday and also pointed out that Clinton's health care plan is more universal than Obama's (as analyzed by Paul Krugman). And there goes Matthew Dallman in the comment section using the phrase "totalitarian State coercion". Here's exactly what he said...."
~ Reminders of Impermanence -- "One of the big themes in all branches of Buddhism, including Zen Punk, is impermanence. Everything eventually comes to an end. The President's Day sale at Target. The New England Patriot's winning streak. The Bush Administration (thank the Buddha)! And of course, life itself. Recent events in my life have brought this message home in an ever deeper way."
~ Integral and Holistic Nursing -- "Barbara M. Dossey PhD, RN. Outside of nursing, there continues to be minimal understanding and recognition related to the depth of nurses’ knowledge, expertise, and critical-thinking capacities and skills for assisting others in achieving and maintaining health and well-being."
~ The Proust Questionaire -- "My dear friend Albert answered the Proust Questionaiere (wonder why it’s called that) and inhis comment dared us all to do the same. So here I go."