Saturday, October 01, 2011

Documentary - Why Do We Dream?

Episode image for Why Do We Dream?

Another very cool documentary from Documentary Heaven. They find some excellent stuff. This is from a 2009 BBC Horizons episode.

Why Do We Dream?

Horizon uncovers the secret world of our dreams. In a series of cutting-edge experiments and personal stories, we go in search of the science behind this most enduring mystery and ask: where do dreams come from? Do they have meaning? And ultimately, why do we dream?

What the film reveals is that much of what we thought we knew no longer stands true. Dreams are not simply wild imaginings but play a significant part in all our lives as they have an impact on our memories, the ability to learn, and our mental health. Most surprisingly, we find nightmares, too, are beneficial and may even explain the survival of our species.

Featuring: Dierdre Barrett, Erica Harris, Stephen LaBerge, Steven MacIntosh, Patrick McNamara, Antti Revonsuo, John Shneerson, Mark Solms, Robert Stickgold, Antonio Zadra, and others

Dharma Quote: Death Need Not Be Approached Only as a Tragedy


edited by Karma Lekshe Tsomo

Dharma Quote of the Week

Buddhism was extremely helpful to me during the process of my sister's lingering death two years ago. She was forty-five years old and had very few spiritual aspirations. She was actually fearful and closed to any suggestions that she might find comfort in expanding her degree of awareness and understanding. At first I was extremely upset by her attitude, but then I realized it was not for me to decide what she should or should not do with the last few months of her life. I was with her for support and comfort and not to force her to view her life in a way which was foreign and threatening to her.

Enabling a person to accomplish a sense of having lived purposefully and with significance is a major goal of caregivers and loved ones. Being able to support someone during their dying trajectory, regardless of what they are thinking or feeling is probably one of the most valuable services one person can offer to another. But, it is difficult to stay close to someone who is dying. Not trying to evade an open encounter with the intense psychic pain that usually accompanies the recognition of impending death is one of the most valuable contributions that a nurse or any other caregiver or loved one can make to the patient who wishes to discuss his or her circumstances. Facing forthrightly the situation of dying, however, requires feeling comfortable with one's own feelings about death and the frailty of being human.

Buddhism has taught me that death need not be approached only as a tragedy; it is also an event from which a profound understanding can unfold. (p.44)

--from Buddhism through American Women's Eyes edited by Karma Lekshe Tsomo, published by Snow Lion Publications

Buddhism through American Women's Eyes • Now at 5O% off
(Good until October 7th).

John Forman - Ethical Fitness Through Moral Dilemmas

This post by John Forman at Integral Life is interesting - I think there is definite value in what he offers here. Below are a couple of brief excerpts.

In the article he quotes Ken Wilber's "Basic Moral Intuition: Protect and promote the greatest depth [levels of being] for the greatest span [variety of organization]” or its corollary, “Protect and promote the entire health of the spectrum of being, without privileging one level over another.

Seems this is a necessary perspective missing in some of the recent conversations around ethics in the leaders of the integral community.

Ethical Fitness Through Moral Dilemmas

Relativistic, postmodern thinking has taught us the partial truth that every human being has a unique perspective on what they consider to be good, right and fair. What we have lost in the process is access to teaching that exercises the moral muscle. We appear to have lost sight of the insights, principles and counsel of highly developed moral leaders, which would allow for growth and conversation about morals and ethics. The consequences are becoming deeply problematic.
* * * * * * *
* * * * * * *
An integral approach, of course, provides a quick but thorough scanning for noticing the facts and interpretations in oneself and potential interpretations in others, as well as a way to situate moral dilemmas. First, a leader must be able to notice the objective “facts” of a situation – the right quadrants. That means they must have the time and attention available and these are the two most overstressed resources in most organizations, whether political, business, non-profit, education or any other.

Second, they must be aware that they interpret what they see and have the time and awareness to stop and look for insights by asking themselves: “Would another reasonable person interpret these facts differently?” They must also be aware of potential influences from their personal shadow or what Bob Kegan and Lisa Lahey refer to as “competing commitments”1 on their decisions and actions. These are primarily “left quadrant” aspects.

Finally, they must exercise their “moral musculature” through the contemplation of moral dilemmas. Organizational leadership has two choices: either hire supervisors with the appropriate level of moral complexity (the simpler path) or encourage its development in those who have the capacity and desire to pursue their moral complexity.

The second path is far more difficult.
* * * * * * *
With our individual growth edges in mind, we can explore the set of generalizing principles that Kidder supplies for seeking resolution of actual moral dilemmas. He points to three main categories – exceptions to the rules notwithstanding – as follows:
  • Utilitarian principles – those measures that seek the greatest good for the greatest number. These principles are interested in the consequences of our actions. Because they cause us to anticipate outcomes, we can usefully refer to these as being “ends-based.”
  • Deontological principles (or versions of the “categorical imperative”) – guiding moral beacons that have value unto themselves. What is the highest “rule” that should be invoked here? Hence, these principles can be called “rules-based.”
  • Reciprocal principles – These include the Golden Rule, the Golden Mean and the Middle Path among others. Because these considerations ask us to take the place of the other person and imagine what they might desire or prefer, we can call these “care-based.”
One way to braid these all together is to consider the encompassing statement that philosopher Ken Wilber calls the Basic Moral Intuition: “Protect and promote the greatest depth [levels of being] for the greatest span [variety of organization]” or its corollary, “Protect and promote the entire health of the spectrum of being, without privileging one level over another.”

Wilber’s Basic Moral Intuition stands as a useful and practical guiding rule that if everyone adopted it – as Kant suggested with his categorical imperative – the results would be quite welcome and life affirming.
Go read the whole article - his arguments are more complex than these passages can suggest.

Friday, September 30, 2011

BBC - Police Respond to The Onion's Capitol Hostage Spoof

The Onion often creates the most edgy humor, especially political humor, on the web. Some of their work is so close to reality, but more twisted, that it makes people uncomfortable. And now it has made Capital Police uncomfortable enough to investigate their latest spoof in which Congress, led by John Boehner, takes America's children hostage and demands $12 trillion in ransom.

I'm sure you see the message in that scenario. Well, the Capital Police do not have a good sense of humor it seems, since they are investigating the two stories and series of live Tweets posted by The Onion yesterday.

Even the BBC is reporting on this nonsense story.

Police respond to Onion's Capitol hostage spoof

The Onion's fake story follows a standoff in Congress over a spending bill to avert government shutdown

US police are investigating tweets by a satirical news website about a fake security alert at Washington DC's Capitol building.

The Onion said on its Twitter account that "screams and gunfire" had been heard inside the Capitol. It later said schoolchildren had been taken hostage.

Capitol Police said there was "no credibility to these stories", and that the security situation was "normal".

The Onion told the BBC that its Twitter account had not been hacked.

The website posted a tweet on Thursday morning which said: "BREAKING: Witnesses reporting screams and gunfire heard inside Capitol building."

It later posted another tweet promoting a spoof news article, headlinedCongress Takes Group Of Schoolchildren Hostage.

In one of a series of tweets that followed, it said Congress was demanding a $12tn (£7.7tn) ransom "or all the kids die".
Read the whole article.

Here are the two main stories posted by The Onion (although I think the Twitter posts is what really got them into trouble).

Congress Takes Group Of Schoolchildren Hostage

'We Need $12 Trillion Or All These Kids Die'

SEPTEMBER 29, 2011 | ISSUE 47•39
WASHINGTON—Brandishing shotguns and semiautomatic pistols, members of the 112th U.S. Congress took a class of visiting schoolchildren hostage today, barricading themselves inside the Capitol rotunda and demanding $12 trillion dollars in cash.
Enlarge ImageIf the money is not delivered by this evening, members of Congress say they will shoot a new child every hour on the hour.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who has emerged as spokesman for the bipartisan group, informed FBI negotiators this morning that the ransom was to be placed in stainless-steel suitcases and left on the Capitol steps by 4 p.m. sharp. If their demands are not met in full, the 11-term representative announced, "all the kids will die."
"Bring us the money and we let the children go, simple as that," said Boehner, appearing in the East Portico with a serrated switchblade held to one of the fourth-grader's throats. "If you want to play games and stall for extra time, we're going to shoot one kid an hour, starting with little Dillon here."
"Tick tock," he added, vanishing back into the building with the terrified child in tow.
Shaken witnesses reported that the ordeal broke out around 10 a.m. this morning, when in the midst of a Capitol building tour, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) suddenly burst into the National Statuary Hall with a pair of black panty hose over his head and began firing a Beretta 9 mm handgun into the air, shouting, "Everybody down! Everybody get the fuck down!"
The schoolchildren were then led at gunpoint into the nearby Great Rotunda, where an agitated, profusely sweating Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) bound their hands and feet and duct-taped them to various sculptures, including a monument to women's suffrage and a marble figure of former president James Garfield. Although cell phones were confiscated immediately, one student managed to tweet a short video showing what appeared to be Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) pistol-whipping a chaperone who attempted to yell for help.
"It's a very tense situation at the moment, and these things take time—more time than we've got," Special Agent Douglas Burkett of the FBI Crisis Negotiation Unit said. "We have snipers on the Supreme Court building, the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial, and the National Museum of the American Indian, but so far none of them has been able to get a clear shot at any senators or representatives."
"While there's an assault team on the way, they won't be able to breach the door if members of Congress have rigged the place with explosives," Burkett added. "And that's quite possible. From the looks of things, I'd say they've been planning this for a while."
As the dramatic standoff continues to unfold, the bipartisan gang of lawmakers has laid out additional terms for releasing the children. Among the demands are guaranteed re-election in 2012, reduction of the veto-override threshold from two-thirds to one half of the Senate, new desks, and safe transport to Reagan National Airport with a fueled-up private jet waiting on the runway.
According to sources close to the 535-member legislative branch, Congress has recently fallen on hard times. Neighbors reported overhearing heated arguments going on late into the night about dangerously stretched budgets, a failing health care system, and the potential for an all-out government shutdown.
With the ransom deadline nearing and no apparent resolution in sight, President Barack Obama was summoned in a last-ditch effort to diffuse the situation. Despite an emotional bullhorn appeal to return to "honest talks aimed at reducing the national debt and getting millions of unemployed Americans back to work," the chief executive was met with silence.
"There's just no way of getting through to these people," said Obama, holding his head in his hands. "I know Speaker Boehner personally, and I know that he and his colleagues will not hesitate for a second to kill these poor children if they don't get their way."
"Trust me, this Congress will do it," the president added.
And they posted this update later in the day:

Hostage Negotiation Talks Stall In Congress

SEPTEMBER 29, 2011 | ISSUE 47•39

WASHINGTON— A congressional spokesperson informed the FBI that talks have stalled on the Senate floor and lawmakers will need more time to debate the proposed deal to release the group of schoolchildren they took hostage earlier today. "Obviously, the most important thing here is to reach a deal that works for both sides," read a statement from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on the disputed $12 trillion agreement that would free the young children currently being held at gunpoint by the country’s legislative branch. "But many important questions still remain: How will the ransom money be allocated? How can we cut needless expenditures such as individual ski masks for every congressman? Should there be a stipulation to take one of the children with us to ensure a clean getaway? Unfortunately, it may be quite some time before we can reach an adequate consensus on these and other issues." At press time, FBI officials said Congress had moved to extend the money drop-off deadline until early December.
 Is that really something police would take seriously? Or did a few members of Congress just get pissed off and demand The Onion be harassed?

A History of Violence - Edge Master Class 2011 with Steven Pinker

Very cool - Steven Pinker's new book is The Better Angels Of Our Nature: How Violence Has Declined (forthcoming, October 6th). This is Pinker's contribution to this year's Edge Master Class 2011: The Science of Human Nature.

A History of Violence
Edge Master Class 2011

You can read the transcript of his talk at the Edge site.

Magic Mushrooms Can Bring About Lasting Personality Changes

I can attest to this research finding personally. For several years between the ages of 16 and 26, I consumed various entheogens in greater and lesser quantities. One of the first things that I noticed, while still in high school, was that my verbal skills surpassed my math skills for the first time in my life (after using primarily mushrooms).

Later, I noticed (use around this time was varied - large and small doses of LSD, some mushrooms, very occasional peyote, and very occasional MDMA) that I was becoming intuitive and experienced kundalini awakening - something also quite new. Not only that, but because my latter use was mostly sacramental, I also began to process and release a lot of pain from my life. This was aided by consolidating insights through psychotherapy and meditation, as well as other personal growth techniques.

All of which is to say that I have no doubt that Magic Mushrooms Can Bring About Lasting Personality Changes, as claimed in the following research summary from Medical New Today.

Christian Nordqvist. (2011, September 29). "Magic Mushrooms Can Bring About Lasting Personality Changes." Medical News Today. Retrieved from

Katherine A MacLean, Matthew W Johnson, and Roland R Griffiths. (2011, Sep 28). "Mystical Experiences Occasioned by the Hallucinogen Psilocybin Lead to Increases in the Personality Domain of Openness." J Psychopharmacol. doi: 10.1177/0269881111420188
The full article is behind a pay wall - too bad, this is important research that should be publicly available.

Magic Mushrooms Can Bring About Lasting Personality Changes

Taking magic mushrooms (psilocybin) can have a lasting change on the individual's personality, making them more open about their feelings and the way they perceive things, researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA, wrote in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. The authors explained that those who had mystic experiences while on psilocybin were more likely to subsequently exhibit certain personality changes, making them more forthcoming about their feelings, becoming more focused on being creative, curious, and appreciative about artistic things.

Psilocybin is a psychedelic drug - a substance whose main action is to alter perception and cognition. Its molecular formula is C12H17N2O4P. Its mind-altering effects are similar to those of mescaline and LSD. It effects may include, an altered sense of time, spiritual experiences, perceptual distortions, and thinking processes. Psilocybin can also cause nausea and panic attacks. This psychedelic drug can be found in over 200 types of mushrooms, the most powerful coming from the genus Psilocybe, including P. cubensisP. semilanceata, and P. cyanescens.

Psilocybe Cubensis
Psilocybe Cubensis - a powerful sourse of psilocybin

Magic mushrooms are usually eaten. However, they can also be made into a tea beverage, or smoked.

In this latest study, headed by Roland Griffiths, personality changes that occurred in those who took magic mushrooms were still there twelve months later. The authors believe that the psilocybin may well have a long-term effect.

Professor Griffiths said:

"The remarkable piece is that psilocybin can facilitate experiences that change how people perceive themselves and their environment. That's unprecedented."

Magic mushrooms used to be used by Timothy Leary, a former Harvard professor of psychology. Leary founded the Harvard Psilocybin Project.

Openness is one of five main personality traits that span all cultures worldwide, the other four are extroversion, neuroticism, agreeableness and conscientiousness. Degrees of openness are fairly constant throughout an individual's lifetime. The researchers found that the other four personality factors were largely unchanged after people consumed magic mushrooms.

The authors say their study is the first finding of a short-term intervention with long-lasting personality changes.

The study involved 51 individuals who underwent two to five eight-hour psilocybin sessions, with a three-week interval between each session. During a session they lay down on a couch, wore an eye mask and listened to music through headphones while concentrating on an inner experience. Their personalities were screened at the beginning of the studies, and then during a two-month and 12-month follow-up.

Thirty of the volunteers had a mystical experience, according to the researchers' criteria gathered from a set of psychological scales. Their openness scores increased, indicating more focus on aesthetics, inner feeling, values, imagination and ideas. The rest of the participants, those with no mystical experiences, underwent no apparent personality change.

The authors concluded:

"The findings suggest a specific role for psilocybin and mystical-type experiences in adult personality change."

Psychoactive mushrooms used by humans for thousands of years

Archeologists have gathered evidence of the presence of psychoactive mushrooms used in religious rituals for thousands of years.

Ancient paintings in Villar del Humo, Spain, show evidence of Psilocybe hispanica usage in religious ceremonies about 4,000 BC.

Murals in southeast Algeria, in the Sahara desert, dated 7000 to 9000 BC suggest psilocybin mushroom use.

In the Aztec language Nahatl, psychoactive mushrooms were called "teonanacatl" (God flesh). Mayan archives have data pointing to common usage of psilocybin mushrooms in ceremonies and rituals.

Daily Om - Conscious Decisions: Going Against What Is Popular

Some good advice from yesterday's Daily Om. I've been going against the crowd a lot lately - and it feels in line with my integrity, no matter the small handful of people who are intent on smearing me for taking a stand.

Like most people, I don't much enjoy when people don't like me, especially those I once called friends. And contrary to some opinions, doing the right thing does not make anyone heroic, it simply makes them people who do the right thing.

I can be, and have been defensive when attacked for my stance on some issues. That's my weakness. But I do not regret my position. I only regret not having presented it with more compassion. Life is full of hard lessons.

Conscious Decisions: Going Against What Is Popular

Because an idea or way of doing things is popular doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone.

Just because an idea or way of doing things is popular doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. However, part of the way that something becomes popular is that many of us don’t take the time to determine what’s right for us; we simply do what most of the people we know are doing. In this way, our decisions about life are made by default, which means they aren’t what we call conscious decisions. There may be many other options available, but we don’t always take the time to explore them. This may be the result of feeling overwhelmed or pressured by family, peers, and humanity at large, to do things their way, the way things have always been done. Regardless of the cause, it is important that, as often as we can, we decide for ourselves what to do with our lives rather than just drift along on the current of popular opinion.

It is not always easy to make decisions that go against the grain. Many people feel threatened when those close to them make choices divergent from the ones they are making. Parents and grandparents may be confused and defensive when we choose to raise our children differently from the way they raised us. Friends may feel abandoned if we decide to change our habits or behavior. Meanwhile, on our side of the fence, it’s easy to feel frustrated and defensive when we feel unsupported and misunderstood simply because we are thinking for ourselves. It can be exhausting to have to explain and re-explain our points of view and our reasons.

This is where gentleness, openness, and tolerance come into play. It helps if we are calmly persistent, consistent, and clear as we communicate to those around us why we are making the choices we are making. At the same time, we have the right to say that we are tired of talking about it and simply need our choices to be respected. Our lives belong to us and so do our decisions. Those who truly love us will stand by us and support our choices, never mind what’s popular.

What do you think? Discuss this article and share your opinion.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Robert Reich: Why Inequality Is the Real Cause of Our Ongoing Terrible Economy

I shared this Robert Reich article (found at Guernica: A Magazine of Art and Politics) on Facebook a day or two ago. Reich's most recent book is Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life.

This article seems very relevant to a couple of other things posted here today, so I wanted to offer a few quotes, in relation to these posts:

Open Culture - Meltdown: The Secret History of the Global Financial Collapse

Reich's article is one of the best things I have read on the current financial situation in this country.  The political right may ridicule Obama and claim he is waging "class warfare" by asking the very wealthy to pay a slightly higher tax rate, but this really is an issue of inequality between the elite wealthy class and the rest of us. It's amazing how in-sync the GOP is on this phrase and this theme of class warfare - they are very well organized.

And they are wrong. This is from a recent post on Reich's blog:
Republicans accuse the President of instigating “class warfare.” But it’s not warfare to demand the rich pay their fair share of taxes to bring down America’s long-term debt.

After all, the richest 1 percent of Americans now takes home more than 20 percent of total income. That’s the highest share going to the top 1 percent in almost 90 years.

And they now pay at the lowest tax rates in half a century — half the rate they paid on ordinary income prior to 1981.
In the Guernica article, Reich further argues:
Reviving the middle class requires that we reverse the nation’s decades-long trend toward widening inequality. This is possible notwithstanding the political power of the executive class. So many people are now being hit by job losses, sagging incomes, and declining home values that Americans could be mobilized.

Moreover, an economy is not a zero-sum game. Even the executive class has an enlightened self-interest in reversing the trend; just as a rising tide lifts all boats, the ebbing tide is now threatening to beach many of the yachts. The question is whether, and when, we will summon the political will. We have summoned it before in even bleaker times.
Americans are being mobilized - this article was written before the #occupywallstreet campaign (created by Adbusters) got underway. But he makes some seriously important points about the financial inequality in this country that are exactly why this campaign is happening and exactly why people are turning out every day for nearly two weeks now.

He points out in the article that when the very wealthy took home a smaller percentage of the total income, the middle class thrived and the economy grew at a record pace. But in the years when they took home a higher percentage, the economy slowed and median wages stagnated.
It’s no mere coincidence that over the last century the top earners’ share of the nation’s total income peaked in 1928 and 2007—the two years just preceding the biggest downturns.
Excellent point. Here is the beginning of the article.

Robert Reich: Why Inequality Is the Real Cause of Our Ongoing Terrible Economy

September 6, 2011

Historian James Truslow Adams coined the American Dream as “a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone;” however, unless you're one of the 5 percent of Americans with the highest incomes, this land is still merely a dream.
By Robert Reich
By arrangement with RobertReich.Org.
Robert Reich.JPGThe 5 percent of Americans with the highest incomes now account for 37 percent of all consumer purchases, according to the latest research from Moody’s Analytics. That should come as no surprise. Our society has become more and more unequal.
When so much income goes to the top, the middle class doesn’t have enough purchasing power to keep the economy going without sinking ever more deeply into debt—which, as we’ve seen, ends badly. An economy so dependent on the spending of a few is also prone to great booms and busts. The rich splurge and speculate when their savings are doing well. But when the values of their assets tumble, they pull back. That can lead to wild gyrations. Sound familiar?
The economy won’t really bounce back until America’s surge toward inequality is reversed. Even if by some miracle President Obama gets support for a second big stimulus while Ben S. Bernanke’s Fed keeps interest rates near zero, neither will do the trick without a middle class capable of spending. Pump-priming works only when a well contains enough water.
Go read the whole post.

Finally, here is Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren explaining why the wealthy should pay a little more taxes (and this applies to corporations, as well, in my opinion). She really gets rolling at about :55 into the video.

Open Culture - Meltdown: The Secret History of the Global Financial Collapse

Cool documentary share from Open Culture. This series explains WHY people are protesting on Wall Street in the #occupywallstreet movement, our own little experiment in citizen rebellion.
Doc Zone, a documentary series produced by CBC Television, is now airing, Meltdown, a four part investigation into the great financial debacle of 2008. Along the way, the CBC’s Terence McKenna takes viewers “behind the headlines and into the backrooms at the highest levels of world governments and banking institutions, revealing the astonishing level of backstabbing and tension behind the scenes as the world came dangerously close to another Great Depression.”

Below, we have posted the first episode called “The Men Who Crashed the World.” The remaining programs can be watched by clicking here and scrolling down the page. Or by heading to Al Jazeera’s English site, which also hosts the four-part series. H/T to William for sending this along…

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and we’ll keep pointing you to free cultural goodies daily…

Raymond Tallis and Matthew Taylor - Neuromania? reposted this video from the RSA - Philosopher and professor Raymond Tallis speaks with RSA founder/mastermind Matthew Taylor about the sometimes dubious claims made for neuroscience's ability to explain human behaviour, culture, and society.
Raymond Tallis was trained at the University of Oxford and St Thomas's Hospital, qualifying in 1970. He was a Professor of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Manchester and a consultant physician in Health Care of the Elderly in Salford (1987-2006).

He had responsibility for acute and rehabilitation patients and took part in the on call rota for acute medical emergencies. He also ran a unique specialist epilepsy service for older people. In 2000 he was elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences; in 2002 he was awarded the Dhole Eddlestone Prize for his contribution to the medical literature on elderly people; in 2006 received the Founders Medal of the British Geriatrics Society; and in 2007 the Lord Cohen Gold Medal for Research into Ageing. His national roles have included: Consultant Advisor in Health Care of the Elderly to the Chief Medical Officer; a key part in developing National Service Framework for Older People, in particular the standard on stroke; membership of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence Appraisal Committee; and Chairmanship of the Royal College of Physicians Committee on Ethics in Medicine. Outside his medical career, he has been awarded two honorary degrees: DLitt (Hon Causa) from the University of Hull in 1997; and LittD (Hon Causa) from the University of Manchester in 2002. In 2004 he was identified in Prospect magazine as one of the top 100 public intellectuals in the United Kingdom. In the first half of 2008, he has books coming out on Parmenides (Continuum), the head (Atlantic) and hunger (Acumen). His numerous medical publications include two major textbooks, while most of his research publications are in the field of neurology of old age and neurological rehabilitation. He has also published fiction, three volumes of poetry, and over a dozen books and 150 articles on the philosophy of the mind, philosophical anthropology, literary theory, the nature of art and cultural criticism.

Matthew Taylor became Chief Executive of the RSA in November 2006. Prior to this appointment, he was Chief Adviser on Political Strategy to the Prime Minister.

Taylor was appointed to the Labour Party in 1994 to establish Labour's rebuttal operation. His activities before the Labour Party included being a county councilor, a parliamentary candidate, a university research fellow and the director of a unit monitoring policy in the health service. Until December 1998, Taylor was Assistant General Secretary for the Labour Party. During the 1997 General Election he was Labour's Director of Policy and a member of the Party's central election strategy team. He was the Director of the Institute for Public Policy Research between 1999 and 2003, Britain's leading center left think tank.

Taylor is a frequent media commentator on policy and political issues, and has written for publications including The Guardian, The Observer, New Statesmanand Prospect.

#OCCUPYWALLSTREET - America's Real Tea Party

This loosely organized protest has grown day by day to become a serious grassroots rebellion against the financial elite - proof that Americans are not as apathetic as I, for one, have tended to believe.

Here is some of the coverage that is finally making it into the mainstream media. But first, I want to give credit to Adbusters Magazine - this was their idea and their project, and it started back in July.



A shift in revolutionary tactics.

Alright you 90,000 redeemers, rebels and radicals out there, A worldwide shift in revolutionary tactics is underway right now that bodes well for the future. The spirit of this fresh tactic, a fusion of Tahrir with the acampadas of Spain, is captured in this quote:
"The antiglobalization movement was the first step on the road. Back then our model was to attack the system like a pack of wolves. There was an alpha male, a wolf who led the pack, and those who followed behind. Now the model has evolved. Today we are one big swarm of people."
— Raimundo Viejo, Pompeu Fabra University
Barcelona, Spain
The beauty of this new formula, and what makes this novel tactic exciting, is its pragmatic simplicity: we talk to each other in various physical gatherings and virtual people's assemblies … we zero in on what our one demand will be, a demand that awakens the imagination and, if achieved, would propel us toward the radical democracy of the future … and then we go out and seize a square of singular symbolic significance and put our asses on the line to make it happen.
The time has come to deploy this emerging stratagem against the greatest corrupter of our democracy: Wall Street, the financial Gomorrah of America.
On September 17, we want to see 20,000 people flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months. Once there, we shall incessantly repeat one simple demand in a plurality of voices.
Tahrir succeeded in large part because the people of Egypt made a straightforward ultimatum – that Mubarak must go – over and over again until they won. Following this model, what is our equally uncomplicated demand?
The most exciting candidate that we've heard so far is one that gets at the core of why the American political establishment is currently unworthy of being called a democracy: we demand that Barack Obama ordain a Presidential Commission tasked with ending the influence money has over our representatives in Washington. It's time for DEMOCRACY NOT CORPORATOCRACY, we're doomed without it.
Read the whole post.

Get Involved

Here is their update site:
#OCCUPYWALLSTREET is a people powered movement for democracy that began in America on September 17 with an encampment in the financial district of New York City. Inspired by the Egyptian Tahrir Square uprising and the Spanish acampadas, we vow to end the monied corruption of our democracy … join us! We're now in DAY 13.
You can catch come videos of the protests here.

Here is Matt Taibbi's recent article from Rolling Stone.

'Occupy Wall Street': Drawing the Battle Lines

by Matt Taibbi

occupy wall street new york city police
I was speaking at a conference in Boston yesterday when one of the attendees asked me, "How come the media isn't covering the protests on Wall Street?"
I was about to give a pithy answer about how the press doesn't cover marches unless someone sets a car on fire or someone throws a rock through the window of a Starbucks, when I realized that I myself hadn't even written anything about it.
I don't know a whole lot about Occupy Wall Street, although I'm going to check it out when I return to New York. There are times when one wonders how effective marches are – one of the lessons that the other side learned from the Vietnam era is that you can often ignore even really big protests without consequence – but in this case demonstrations could be very important just in terms of educating people about the fact that there is, in fact, a well-defined conflict out there with two sides to it.
Here is a video from the scene with Scott Spinucci:

In this video clip, MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell equates the violent attacks on protesters by a small number of NYPD with the Rodney King protests - his arguments are a little specious to me, but the footage of the police becoming violent with nonviolent citizens exercising their rights to assemble in a public space is disturbing at best - and illegal in essence.
To Watch The Wall Street Protesters- Live Streaming Video and Chat Go To: 

To contact MSNBC reporter Lawrence O'Donnell and give him feedback for this spot on report --please email at

If you feel the NYPD deserves FEEDBACK on this behaviour you can call them at (718) 520 9311