Wednesday, September 30, 2009

More clues




Volunteers who were asked to recall a pleasant event from the previous day were given an immediate 15 per cent boost in happiness

Other techniques that helped to increase happiness included expressing gratitude, smiling and carrying out an act of kidness.

The research found that 65 per cent of those recalling something happiness had a boost in happiness, compared to only half of those who just thought about the day's events.

An act of kindness led to a nine per cent boost in happiness, while being grateful for an aspect of life led to an eight per cent rise and making an effort to smile and hold it made people six per cent happier.

Professor Richard Wiseman, from the University of Hertfordshire, conducted a mass-participation experiment online, with more than 26,000 people joining to try recognised mood-boosting techniques.

The "happiness experiment" was set up in an attempt to send cheerfulness across Britain.

Together with a nationwide publicity campaign which saw Prof Wiseman give 30 radio interviews, it was hoped the experiment might make Britain a happier place.

To find out, a ''before and after'' survey was conducted among a representative 2,000 people from across Britain.

It showed a 7 per cent increase in overall cheerfulness after the experiment.
The figure is statistically significant, said Prof Wiseman. I thought with a representative sample you wouldn't see a change, but we got a 7 per cent rise.

There was no big improvement in the weather or anything in the news that could have accounted for it, and we looked for that.

Who knows, but I like to think we might have cheered up the nation

Participants were asked to carry out the tasks every day for a week and report any changes in their happiness, as well as that of people around them.

All of the techniques, including the control, resulted in a reported rise in happiness

However, thinking about one positive thing that had happened the day before appears to have been by far the most effective technique.

Compared to those in the control group, this quick and simple procedure provided an additional 15 per cent boost in happiness
.
Telegraph

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Walking



Although it may seem obvious why people swing each of their arms in opposition to their legs, scientists have puzzled over the practice for many decades because it seemed to serve no mechanical function given that the arms do not touch the ground.

One extreme theory even proposed that arm swinging while walking was hard-wired into the human nervous system and served no modern purpose because it was a vestigial relic left over from when our animal ancestors walked on all fours.

However, a study based on the movements of 10 volunteers who were asked to perform a series of unnatural walks under experimental conditions has shown that swinging the arms in opposition to the legs significantly increases the efficiency of walking.

Steven Collins, a biomechanical engineer at Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands, said normal arm swinging while walking requires little effort and makes it easier than keeping the arms still.

This puts to rest the theory that arm swinging is a vestigial relic from our quadrupedal ancestors

In order to answer the question of why humans swing their arms while walking, Dr Collins and his colleagues set up an experiment where people were studied as they walked in a variety of poses – normally with the arms swinging in opposition to each leg, with their arms at their sides either tied or held there voluntarily, or with each arm unnaturally forced to move in synchrony with each leg.

First, the scientists found that arm swinging – either normally or abnormally – actually required very little effort from the shoulder muscles because the movements tended to arise naturally from the twisting movement of the body as it walked.

Further, our results showed that normal arm swinging made walking much easier.

Holding the arms at one's sides increased the effort of walking – measured by metabolic rate – by 12 per cent, which is quite a lot of walking, about the same as walking 20 per cent faster or carrying a 10 kg backpack, Dr Collins said.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, also found that the natural swinging motion of the arms tended to counteract the twisting motion or "torque" of the body, created by the movement of the two legs along a straight path

Interesting

As is the observation that older people tend to stop swinging their arms

They tend to let their arms hang loosely at their sides

To our knowledge no research has been done on this

It is our observation that people who stop swinging their arms are ageing faster

True or false?

Notice for yourself how people swing their arms when walking

Monday, September 28, 2009

Thought provokers - 3


Of all forms of mental activity, the most difficult to induce even in the minds of the young, who may be presumed not to have lost their flexibility, is the art of handling the same bundle of data as before, but placing them in a new system of relations with one another by giving them a different framework, all of which virtually means putting on a different kind of thinking-cap for the moment.
It is easy to teach anybody a new fact...but it needs light from heaven above to enable a teacher to break the old framework in which the student is accustomed to seeing
Arthur Koestler

Life at any time can become difficult; life at any time can become easy.
It all depends upon how one adjusts oneself to life
Morarji Desai

There are two ways of meeting difficulties: you alter the difficulties, or you alter yourself to meet them
Phyllis Bottome

When one door is shut, another one opens
Miguel de Cervantes

They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom
Confucius

It's never too late—in fiction or in life—to revise
Nancy Thayer

We know that uncertainty creates anxiety and sometimes desperate attempts to find something to believe in.
Uncertainty engenders real opportunity as well as misleading choices, great leaders as well as false messiahs, and new ways of understanding the world alongside hollow maxims and deceptive promises.
Understandably, we seek guides and guideposts to ease the anxiety of the journey.
But we also need to depend on our own insights and imagination to cultivate, from our own experience, a way to move forward
Alan Briskin

Change cannot be avoided.
Change provides the opportunity for innovation.
It gives you the chance to demonstrate your creativity
Keshavan Nair, author and professor

My opinion is a view I hold until . . . well, until I find something that changes it
Luigi Pirandello

It is not necessary to change.
Survival is not mandatory
W. Edwards Deming

The art of life lies in constant readjustment to our surroundings
Okakura Kakuzo

It is well for people who think to change their minds occasionally in order to keep them clean
Luther Burbank

Stubbornness does have its helpful features.
You always know what you are going to be thinking tomorrow
Glen Beaman

Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are
Bertold Brecht

If you don't like something change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it
Mary Engelbreit

You had better be ready to change your mind when needed
Henry B. Wilson

If you're in a bad situation, don't worry; it'll change.
If you're in a good situation, don't worry; it'll change."

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Did you know - 1



A sealed envelope
Put in the freezer for a few hours, then slide a knife under the flap.
The envelope can then be resealed.
(hmmmmmm...)
.
Use empty toilet paper rolls to store appliance cords.
It keeps them neat and you can write on the roll what appliance it belongs to.
.
For icy door steps in freezing temperatures get warm water and put dawn dish washing liquid in it.
Pour it all over the steps.
They won't refreeze.
.
To remove old wax from a glass candle holder, put it in the freezer for a few hours.
Then take the candle holder out and turn it upside down.
The wax will fall out.
.
Crayon marks on walls?
This worked wonderfully!
A damp rag, dipped In baking soda.
Comes off with little effort (elbow grease that is!).
.
Permanent marker on appliances/counter tops
(like store receipt BLUE!) use rubbing alcohol on a paper towel.
.
Whenever you purchase a box of S.O.S or wire wool pads,
Immediately take a pair of scissors and cut each pad into halves.
After years of having to throw away rusted and unused and smelly pads
Now a box of S.O.S pads lasts much longer
In fact, you might notice that the scissors get 'sharpened'' this way!
.
Blood stains on Clothes?
Just pour a little hydrogen peroxide on a cloth and proceed to wipe off every drop of blood..
Works every time!
.
Use vertical strokes when washing windows outside and horizontal strokes for inside windows.
This way you can tell which side has the streaks.
Straight vinegar will get outside windows really clean.
.
Don't wash windows On a sunny day.
They will dry too quickly and will probably streak
.
Spray a bit of perfume on the light bulb in any room to create a lovely
light scent in each room when the light is turned on.
.
Place fabric softener sheets in dresser drawers and your clothes will smell freshly washed for weeks to come.
You can also do this with towels and linen.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

What comes next



More disturbances of that we can be sure

Increasing climate change is seeing to that

Whatever the decisions of our leaders nature is flexing her muscles

Every part of the world is experiencing extremes of weather change

El Nino is coming back for how long and how hard we do not know

All around are signs of change

Change costs money, lots of money

Money to prepare to resist or defend

Money to rebuild

Money to remove or relocate

This money can only come from you and me

Unfortunately our money is already taken in a million ways by current taxation's

So where will this money come from?

Governments are thinking the unthinkable from cuts in services to shelving projects

Cuts must come

And this is where sanity might intrude

Discussion and arguments about how to save and spend

And if this is still not enough?

First the poor countries must suffer

Then the poor in wealthier countries

This is talk about economic well being

It misses that other discussion about how we experience our lives

Our lives are increasingly controlled in every aspect

Life should entail risk

Life should not be about unduly eliminating risk

Pretending that this is possible is a crime

A crime that governments embrace to advance their own agendas

An endless proliferation of controls

Thank you enough is enough

Nature is showing her muscles

Governments everywhere are going to have to think the unthinkable

Further reduce spending

Further cuts in programs

All of us should be thankful because governments would never do this voluntarily
.
Will never cede power
.
Long may nature force sanity on the endless proliferation of government and it's controls on our lives

Friday, September 25, 2009

The story of words - 6



As activists for the truth, we are midwives to this process.

It is not quite true that no one heeds the boy's cry that the emperor is naked.

Those who are ready to hear will hear, and they are made ready when their world crumbles.

The exposing of all that is wrong serves an important purpose in guiding people from the old world to the threshold of a new - but only to the threshold, not across it.

To enter into the new world requires that we recover the tools of world-creation: first and foremost, the power of word.

A nicer term for a "ubiquitous matrix of lies" would be a "ubiquitous matrix of stories."

I am not suggesting that we abdicate the creative power of language.

Language is an essential means to coordinate human activity, for beauty as well as for destruction.

The stories we tell with words unite masses of people toward a common goal, and assign the meanings and roles necessary to attain it.

To be sure, images, music, and art, both representational and non-representational, contribute to the weaving of a story, especially evoking the emotional energy that powers it, but information is indispensable as well.

In a new world we will not cease to tell the story of what is and what shall be, but we will become conscious of our storytelling.

We may prepare to tell the story of a more beautiful world, and to speak that world into existence as presidents and kings have spoken wars into existence for thousands of years.

As these old stories fall apart, the time ripens for new ones.

And the old stories are indeed falling apart, of which our increasing immunity to political and commercial speech is a symptom.

No more or less significant a symptom is the crumbling of our great social institutions - education, politics, medicine, money - that are themselves built of a matrix of stories.

When stories fall apart, the world falls apart.

As the crises of our age converge and infiltrate the fortresses we have erected to preserve the virtual world of euphemism and pretense, the world is falling apart for more and more people at once.

The stories that have defined us and bound us are dying.

We sense, as counterpart to the existential anxiety that comes as the old world and our identity within it disintegrates, an invigorating newness close at hand.

So let us cease to be afraid as we stand at the threshold.

It is time to learn the technologies, linguistic and otherwise, of world-creation.

End - Charles Eisenstein

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A story of words - 5



However we play with the statistics to cover up the converging crises of our time, the crises continue to intensify.

We can euphemize the autism crisis away, the obesity epidemic, the soil crisis, the water crisis, the energy crisis.

We can dumb down standardized exams to cover up the accelerating implosion of the educational system.

We can redefine people in and out of poverty and manipulate economic statistics.

We can declare - simply declare - that the forests are not in precipitous decline.

For a while we can hide the gathering collapse of environment and polity, economy and ecology, but eventually reality will break through.

As we rebuild from the wreckage that follows, let us remember the lesson we have learned.

The power of the word, like all magical powers, will turn against us or wither and die if not renewed by frequent reconnection to its source.

Abstracted too many levels from its source, language maroons us in a factitious fantasy world, an unconscious story that turns us into its victims.

Those of us dedicated to creating a more beautiful world must not lose ourselves in abstraction.

Let us not imagine that we are more intelligent than the Neo-cons in their think tanks or the liberal professors in their universities.

They are just as clever as anyone else at manipulating logic.

All they say follows logically from their premises.

It is the premises that are at fault, and these cannot be reasoned out.

Remember that the Neo-cons too believe they are creating a better world.

Only arrogance would say that we, being smarter than they are, can do better.

Indeed, it is arrogance that defines them, and the opposite of arrogance is humility, and to be humble is to constantly open to new truth from the outside, from the real world and not one's interpretation of it.

That is the only thing that can keep us honest.

Horror results when we get lost in a world of axioms and ideals.

Many before us on left and right have reasoned atrocity out to a nicety.

We stay honest by grounding ourselves again and again in the reality outside representation.

When environmentalists focus on cost-benefit analyses and study data rather than real, physical places, trees, ponds, and animals, they end up making all the sickening compromises of the Beltway.

Liberal economists with the best of intentions cheer when a poor country raises its GDP; invisible to their statistics is the unraveling of culture and community that fuels the money economy.

Visit a real "mountaintop removal" operation and you know that there is no compromise that is not betrayal.

Visit a real third-world community and the vacuity of free-trade logic is obvious.

See the devastation of a bullet wound or a bomb strike, lives strewn across the street, and the logic of national interest seems monstrous.

Increasingly isolated in a virtual world, the people fear authenticity even as they crave it.

Except in the young, the fear usually prevails over the craving until something happens to make life fall apart.

Following the pattern experienced by Cindy Sheehan, the fundamental corruption of first one, then all of our civilization's major institutions becomes transparent.

I have seen this many times in various areas of activism.

Someone discovers that the pharmaceutical industry, or the music industry, or the oil industry, or organized religion, or Big Science, or the food industry is shockingly corrupt, but still believes in the basic soundness of the system as a whole.

Eventually, in a natural process of radicalization, they discover that the rot is endemic to all of these and more.

Each institution supports, affirms, and draws its own legitimacy from the others.

So we discover eventually that the wrongness permeates every institution, and we desire to find and uproot its source

CE

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A story of words - 4



It is as if, as in The Emperor's New Clothes, the boy has cried, "The emperor is completely naked" and everyone hears him but no one cares.

The parade marches on, an increasingly contrived and ruinous spectacle that no one, not even its leaders, truly believes in.

What, then, are we as writers, as speakers, as humans, to do?

Shall we stop writing?

No

But let us not labor under any illusions.

The truth has been exposed again and again, but to what effect?

What have forty years of correct analysis of the environmental and political state of the world brought us?

The reason that the entire staff of Counterpunch, The Nation, and Truthout is not in a concentration camp is that it is not necessary.

Words themselves have been robbed of their power.

Thoreau said, "It takes two to speak the truth: one to speak and another to hear."

Who hears now but the already-converted?


A picture is worth a thousand words - perhaps the image can rescue us from the crisis of language.

Unfortunately, it cannot.

The same air of unreality has come to infect the realm of images as has debilitated the power of words.

In an age of virtual reality, immersive video games, on-line interactive worlds like Second Life, computer 3D animation, and routine graphic depictions of violence on screen, images of real atrocities are losing their power to shock.

For the viewer, there is little observable difference between images of real violence and its on-screen simulation - both are just a set of pixels and neither impacts the viewer's off-screen reality in any tangible way.

It's all happening in TV-land.

Perhaps this explains the absence of any national sense of shame or soul-searching in the wake of Abu Ghraib.

For many, it was just another bunch of images, just as 600,000 Iraqis dead is another string of digits.

Like words, images have become divorced from the objects they are supposed to represent, until the very word "image" itself has taken on connotations of inauthenticity: a corporate image, a politician's image.

In a world of lies and images, nothing is real.

Immersed in such a world, is the political apathy of the American public so difficult to understand?

The danger when we operate wholly in a world of representations and images is that we begin to mistake that world for reality, and to believe that by manipulating symbols we can automatically change the reality they represent.

We lose touch with the reality behind the symbols.

Grisly death becomes collateral damage.

Torture becomes enhanced interrogation.

A bill to gut pollution controls becomes the Clear Skies Act.

Defeat in Iraq becomes victory.

War becomes peace.

Hate becomes love.

Slavery becomes freedom.

The Orwellian ambition to render language incapable of even expressing the concept "freedom" has nearly been fulfilled.

Not by eliminating the word, but by converting it into a mere image, an empty shell, a brand.

How can the voices of protest be effective when everyone discounts all speech as image, spin, and hype?

Whatever you say, it is in the end just words.


Take heart: the evisceration of the language that makes our tyranny impregnable also ensures its eventual demise.

The words, numbers, and images over which it exercises complete control are less and less congruent to reality.

Such is the folly of the infamous "Brand America" campaign, designed to burnish America's "image" abroad.

The image has become more important than the reality.

Bombs blow up innocent civilians to send a "message" to the "terrorists."

No matter that this message exists only in the fantasies of our leaders.

They are, like those they rule, immersed in an increasingly impotent world of symbol and cannot understand why the world does not conform to their manipulation of its representation, the pieces on their global chessboard

CE

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A story of words - 3


It is not only that the powers that be so completely dominate the narratives of our time that any dissent seems irrational or illegitimate.

The words of the dominant powers are losing their potency as well!

The primary method by which governments increase their control is by creating fear.

In this atmosphere, it is easy to declare new wars, impose new restrictions on freedom, make people accept new sacrifices, etc.

With this in mind, I was gratified to see the utter failure of the "terrorism threat level" color-coding system to instill panic.

You may have heard the message in airports: "the Department of Homeland Security has raised the terror alert threat level to orange..." Does anyone say, "Oh my God, it is orange!

That's just one step short of a red alert!"?

No

The words impact us as the buzzing of a fly.

Another example is the recent failure of government scaremongering about the swine flu, a fine opportunity to implement mandatory vaccination programs, build mass quarantine facilities, etc.

Perhaps the most significant failure of the language of the rulers is the futility of their rosy economic pronouncements to reverse the progressive unwinding of the global financial system. (For money, too, is a story, a system of meanings and symbols that assigns roles, focuses collective intentions, and coordinates human activity.)

When governments fail, such as in the breakup of the Soviet Union, a terminal symptom is the failure of the credibility of their leaders' words.

When reality conflicts more and more obviously with the pronouncements of leaders, then when they say, "This shall be," no one believes that either.

Laws, authority, currencies, and so on are all systems of symbols.

When they break down, what remains is as Chairman Mao described: "Power comes from the barrel of a gun."

That is why I think the finale of the de-potentiation of public speech will be an interlude of rule by naked force.

I note as an aside that it is not only public language that is losing its power and suffering a crisis of meaning.

The same is happening to all symbolic communication.

To quote from The Ascent of Humanity, "Another symptom of the breakdown of semantic meaning is the routine use of words like 'awesome,' 'amazing,' and 'incredible' to describe what is actually trivial, boring, and mundane.

We are running out of words, or words are running out of meaning, forcing us into increasingly exaggerated elocutions to communicate at all."

We might say that the crisis of our civilization comes down to a crisis of language, in which words have seemingly lost their ability to create.

We have all the technology and all the knowledge we need to live in beautiful harmony with each other and the planet.

What we need is different collective choices.

Choices arise from perceptions, perceptions arise from interpretations or stories, and stories are built of words, of symbols.

Today, words have lost their power and our society's stories have seemingly taken on a life of their own, propelling us toward an end that no sane person would choose and that we seem helpless to resist.

And helpless we are, when all we have are impotent words

Charles Eisenstein

Monday, September 21, 2009

A story of words - 2



It is certainly not to be found in the person of Barack Obama.

Just as there is little difference between Coors and Miller, so also is there little difference in the policies of Bush and Obama.

I realize that this statement will provoke outrage from many of my readers.

Sure, there are some differences between them - enough to establish Obama as a new brand - but the basic course of empire, of finance, the military, medicine, law, education, of all the defining institutions of our society remains unchanged.

Significantly, during the campaign most of the media commentary on his speeches was about the image they created, their emotional effect, and not their content.

Today, the content barely matters except for what image it creates.

Words become merely emotive signs, not semantic ones.

Therefore, even though I don't think Obama tells deliberate lies as did his predecessors, the change in the way we use and receive language makes it impossible for him to tell the truth either.

Everything is heard through a filter of meta-interpretations; we hear not words but code-words, not semantic meaning but signals and "messages."

Words don't mean what they mean.

Speaking into such a listening, it becomes impossible to really tell the truth.

Even if a politician speaks plainly, we hear an attempt to create an image of plainspokenness.

Thus it is that people detect a certain indefinable insincerity underneath Obama's words - insincerity is now built in to the language of politics. (It is also inherent in the contradictions of our civilization's deep ideology, but that is a different matter.)

Playing by the rules of the political game, as Obama most definitely does, he can do naught but lie.

His "hope" and "change" will be exposed as the brands they are.

People will see that there is little cause to hope, and that not much has changed.

The despair, cynicism, and sense of betrayal that will result will foment a dangerous crisis and, in the end, a profound renewal of public discourse that demands truth and has no patience with inauthenticity.

Above I asked, "Where is the indignation, the outrage, at the lies in which we are immersed?"

Clearly, the answer lies deeper than the machinations of one or another faction of the power elite.

It lies deeper than the subversion and control of the media.

Part of our society's apathy arises from a subtle and profound disempowerment: the de-potentiation of language itself, along with all other forms of symbolic culture.

Words are losing their power to create and to transform.

The result is a tyranny that can never be overthrown, but will only proceed toward totality until it collapses under the weight of the multiple crises it inevitably generates.

As we acclimate ourselves to a ubiquitous matrix of lies, words mean less and less to us, and we don't believe anything any more.

As well we shouldn't!

We are facing a crisis of language that underlies and mirrors all the other converging crises of the modern age.

Just as a growing profusion of material and social technology has failed to bring about the promised Utopia of leisure, health, and justice, so has the profusion of words and media failed to bring about better communication. Instead, the opposite has happened


We are faced with a paradox.

On the one hand, in a technological society, words are themselves actions.

The entire modern world is built on language, on symbol.

Any endeavor requiring the coordination of human activity beyond a very small scale requires language.

You cannot build a microchip, run an airport or a government, wage a war, organize a peace movement, or build a wind turbine without a vast apparatus of codified instruction books, technical manuals, educational curricula, time schedules, planning documents, memos, instructions, measurements, and data.

If the President decides to bomb Iran, do you know how he will do it?

With words.

He literally has the power to speak a war into being.

Like the Old Testament Jehovah, we create the world with our words.

Neither the President nor Congress really ever does anything but talk (and write).

Unless you work with your hands as a carpenter or garbage collector, you are probably the same.


What are we to do, then, when words, our primary creative tool in the modern world, have become impotent?

Surely political activists must ask this of themselves, as they shout the truth from the rooftops, loud and clear, to so little effect (yes there are some small victories, but the inferno rages on).

We feel the urge to stop talking and get out there and DO something.

But to do is to speak.

An exception might be the activists who, impatient with all the talk, go out there and sabotage tractors and spike trees.

Ironically, the main impact of such operations usually comes from their symbolic power, which has quickly diminished (in the public consciousness) to the status of gimmicks and stunts.

Something similar might be said of mass protests, which began to lose their power after the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 1960s.

Originally, marches and demonstrations were intended not only to attract media attention, but carried the threat of actual physical action.

Their essence was, "We're sick of sitting around talking, we're going to do something about this!"

But as protests turned into media events, whose success was defined by the amount and kind of coverage, they became just another form of talking: they "raise awareness" and "send a message."

Not since Seattle in 1998 has the physicality of street action had much of an effect. (In other parts of the world it is a different story.

In China, for instance, protesters in rural villages are wont to [literally] tar and feather corrupt local officials.

In Europe, mass demonstrations paralyze commerce and government.)

It is not that the symbolic aspect of such actions is unimportant, but when they become wholly symbolic, the symbol loses its connection to - and impact on - reality

CE

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A story of words - 1



Let's begin with beer.

Near my home I drive past a billboard advertisement for Coors Light.

The slogan is, "Coors rocks Harrisburg."

Now, does anybody actually believe that Coors does in fact "rock Harrisburg?"

No

Does the Coors corporation itself believe it?

No

Does anyone believe that Coors believes it?

No

It is a lie, everyone knows it is a lie, and no one cares.

Everyone automatically writes it off as an ad slogan, an image campaign.

The next sign advertises Miller Beer with the phrase, "Fresh beer tastes better."

Does anyone actually think Miller is fresher than Budweiser, Coors, or Pabst?

No

Does anyone at Miller Brewing think that?

No

It is another obvious and unremarkable lie, beneath the threshold of most people's awareness.

But it contributes to a feeling of living in a phony world where words don't matter and nothing is real

Here is another beer slogan, for Carlsburg: "Probably the best beer in the world."

Obviously, the word "probably" has been chosen to suggest that someone devoted great consideration to this question, sampled all the world's great beers, and finally issued an impartial judgment.

Of course, nothing of the sort happened

No one thinks it did.

Everyone knows that actually what happened is a bunch of advertising pros thought up a slogan in an effort to create an "image."

Isn't it remarkable that lies are still effective even when no one believes them?

Unfortunately, when it hardly matters whether words are truth or lies, then words lose their power to convey the truth.

Increasingly, words don't mean anything.

In politics, campaigning candidates make statements that flatly contradict their actions and policies, and no one seems to object or even care.

It is not the routine dissembling of political figures that is striking, but rather our near-complete indifference to it.

We are as well almost completely inured to the vacuity of advertising copy, the words of which increasingly mean nothing at all to the reader.

Does anyone really believe that GE "brings good things to life?"

Or that a housing development I passed today - "Walnut Crossing" - actually has any walnut trees or crossings?

From brand names to PR slogans to political code-words, the language of the media that inundates modern life consists almost wholly of subtle lies, misdirection, and manipulation.

We live in a ubiquitous matrix of lies, a sea of mendacity so pervasive that it is nearly invisible.

Because we are lied to all the time, in ways so subtle they are beneath conscious notice, even the most direct lies are losing their power to shock us.

The most shocking thing about the lies of the Bush administration was that those lies were not actually shocking to most people.

Why do we as a society seemingly accept our leaders' gross dishonesty as a matter of course?

Why does the repeated exposure of their lies seem to arouse barely a ripple of indignation among the general public?

Where is the protest, the outrage, the sense of betrayal?

Charles Eisenstein

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Maths myths




Grumble, grumble we can't do maths so I shared these myths with them

It did not remove all the grumbles, but it made them think a bit

The genius myth - This myth involves the belief that people who are successful in math are smarter (and maybe "better") than the rest of us.
.
Somehow mathematical ability is viewed as higher or more enlightened than other abilities. .

For example, musicians may be embarrassed to be low in math skills, but mathematicians may not be embarrassed if they have low music ability.
.
It is important to place math ability on the same level as other abilities.
.
There is no proof that one type of skill is better than another.
.
The it should be easy myth - Some people believe that those who do well in math find it easy and that if it is difficult, one simply doesn’t have a "math mind."
.
The fact of the matter is that difficult math solutions do not come quickly or easily. .

Having difficulty in solving problems is not unusual

The only problems mathematicians do quickly are those they have done before.

Speed is not a measure of ability. It is the result of experience and practice

The good memory myth - This myth implies that a phenomenal ability to recall formulas is necessary for the mastery of math.

Learning math, however, does not require an exceptional memory.

Instead, knowing math means that concepts make sense to you, and rules and formulas are understood

The using tools is cheating myth - This myth indicates that we’re not supposed to use our fingers or calculators or computers to do math.

Since when is using tools to make a task simpler cheating?

Without these tools, math really could become drudgery.

And there is nothing wrong with counting on fingers as an aid to doing arithmetic.

This process actually indicates an understanding of arithmetic — more understanding than if everything were memorized.

The gender myth - The Gender Myth is based on the faulty belief that men are better in math than women.

Research has failed to show any difference between men and women in mathematical ability.

There are, however, cultural pressures on women "to be less interested" in mathematical careers.

There are also subtle pressures on women not to be smarter than men in math.

As a result of this social conditioning, men are often reluctant to admit they have problems; so, they express difficulty with math by saying "I could do it if I tried."

Women are often too ready to admit inadequacy and say, "I just can’t do math."

The who needs it anyway myth - Finding math difficult, some people rationalize that only a few fields — like engineering — require math skills.

Certainly, this myth is not true if we think about all the everyday math skills we use.

And, of course, many career fields — from Agriculture to Zoology — use quite a lot of math.

Additionally, in studying math, we learn a way of thinking that is a valuable transferable skill.

The magic key myth - This myth maintains that there is a magic key or general insight into understanding all math problems.

There is, however, no formula, rule, or general guideline which will suddenly unlock the mysteries of math.

If there is a key to doing math, it is in overcoming anxiety about the subject, dispelling restrictive myths, and applying the same effort and skills you use to do everything else.

Friday, September 18, 2009

They lie, their power wanes



They lie about the dangers of high voltage power lines and mobile phones

They lie about the effects of genetically modified seeds and foods

They lie about the dangers of multiple vaccinations

They lie about the economy

They lie about global warming

About climate change

And so the list goes on and yet something is changing

What is changing is that there are so many lies on so many subjects that people are no longer listening

The liars are ever more strident

Swine flu is a pandemic and will kill millions

Maybe in will but so far has been less dangerous than a typical seasonal influenza

Has anyone apologised?

Has anyone said we might be wrong?

And now we are hearing that there might be dangers with the Government recommended vaccinations
.
From all of these endless stories of doom and despair we see that life goes on
.
Indeed many are fed up with this endless stream of doom

Finally coming home to more and more is that we do not need to listen

And that is what has been happening fewer and fewer people are listening

Less people watch the news

Less people pay attention

When you cannot alter

When you cannot change

When it is the same lie after lie with endless contradictions

We turn off

We go elsewhere

We no longer feel the same way

We do not need to live in fear
.
Lift your head enjoy beauty turn to the light
.
Find pleasure in life
.
Find pleasure in everything you do
.
Let the liars rant on
.
Let them talk to themselves
.
And if they ask you then tell them they are full of sh*t
.
The change is happening we do not need to buy into their lies
.
Life is amazing
.
Live it as such

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Blinking


A study of eighteen volunteers found they synchronized their blinks while watching video clips taken from the comedy TV show Mr Bean.

But the same phenomenon did not occur when they viewed a background video or listened to an audio recording of a Harry Potter book.

Dr Tamami Nakano, of Tokyo University, said: We seem to be unconsciously searching for a good timing for a blink to minimize the chance of losing critical information during the blink

A blink lasts for between 100 and 150 milliseconds., with automatically blinks 10 to 15 times a minute to moisten and oxygenate the cornea.

During a blink, there is no visual input and no light, but people do not consciously recognise everything has momentarily gone dark.

Dr Nakano, whose findings are published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, said: Spontaneous eyeblinks were synchronized both within and across subjects when they viewed the same video stories

This blink synchronization was not observed when they viewed background videos that did not contain any story or when they listened to a narrated story.

Thus, the synchronization required a story, but the need to follow a storyline per se was not the cause of synchronization.

The blink synchrony occurred only when subjects had to follow a storyline by extracting information from a stream of visual events

The participants were aged between 22 and 31 with nine men and nine women.

They each sat through three experiments in which a video story taken from Mr Bean, a background video and a narration of a story taken from Harry Potter were presented.

Dr Nakano said Rowan Atkinson's character was selected because the stories, which showed him driving a car in the street or in a parking garage, were easy to understand without sound.

The background videos featured schools of tropical fish and landscapes surrounding the Aegean Sea and the audio stories were taken from narrations of an actor reading the novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in Japanese

Telegraph

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Growing teeth



The bioengineered tooth, which was grown in place of a lost molar, has the same properties of the old tooth and is strong enough to allow the mouse to chew food normally.

To create the new tooth, the researchers — led by Tokyo University of Science professor Takashi Tsuji — took epithelial cells and mesenchymal cells (about 50,000 each) from a mouse embryo and cultivated them together in a collagen-based medium to create a tiny tooth bud — a mass of tissue that has the potential to develop into a tooth.

They then implanted the 0.5-mm tooth bud into the jawbone of an adult mouse in place of a lost tooth.

After 37 days, a new tooth sprouted, and after 50 days, it had grown to the same height as the adjacent teeth.

The bioengineered tooth has the same hardness as ordinary teeth and it contains blood vessels and nerves, making it sensitive to external stimuli and pain, according to the researchers.

This research is expected to advance the development of “tooth regenerative therapy,” which may one day allow doctors to replace diseased or damaged teeth with bioengineered teeth grown from stem cells such as induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells.

This type of treatment could ultimately eliminate the need for dentures and false teeth.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Russian emancipation of 1861



The peasant emancipation of 1861 was accompanied by a series of reforms of a number of important aspects of Russian life.

In addition to the proprietary serfs, state peasants, crown peasants assigned peasants and household serfs were also emancipated.

The terms of emancipation were particularly hard on household serfs, who got their liberty and nothing else, and often on assigned serfs, those who had formerly worked in mines and factories

Proprietary serfs and assigned serfs had under serfdom been governed by their owners.

Now, however, they became citizens and fell under the jurisdiction of the state.

The sudden creation of millions of new citizens required a whole new means to govern the country.

In the next few years the government created new institutions of rural self-government, a new and progressive judicial system, an education reform, a new governing structure for cities and a reformed armed forces.

Taken altogether these reforms rightly earned the name of the Great Reforms.

The Great Reforms over the next fifty years fundamentally altered Russian political and social life and changed the attitude of many Russians towards politics

And today where is there emancipation?

And now for another scare



Ever tried asking a mobile phone salesman how his phones damage your brain?

You might as well try buying condoms in the Vatican

But in fact what you want to know should be the most important thing about the phone you will press to your ear.

Evidence is increasing that radiation from handsets presents a cancer hazard, particularly to children and to those who use their phones for more than a decade.

Later in September, a long-awaited 13-nation study should be published.

The official European Environment Agency (EEA) is sounding a discreet alarm.

And the French government is so concerned that it is developing measures to ban the devices from primary schools, stop their promotion to children under 12, and prevent them being sold without a headset to heavily reduce radiation exposure.

Early studies found no sign of cancer – causing blanket reassurances from ministers and the industry.

But they were largely irrelevant, because few, if any, of the people they examined had been using the phones for as much as a decade, and cancers normally take at least 10 years to develop.

More recent studies – especially in Sweden, where mobile phones took off early – have included such “long-term” users.

They have found, on average, that they are about twice as likely to get malignant gliomas – an incurable brain cancer – on the side of the head where they held the handset.

As the latency period for cancers is usually 20 to 30 years, this may indicate a much bigger toll to come.

Worse, more Swedish research – limited, but believed to be the only work on the effects on children and teenagers – found that people who started using the phones before the age of 20 were five times more likely to contract the cancers, and eight times more prone to get them on the appropriate side of the head.

If these studies are right, we could be in a lot of trouble.

There are more than two billion mobile phones in use worldwide.

In Britain – where there are now nearly two per person – at least 90 per cent of 16-year-olds have their own handsets, as do more than 40 per cent of primary pupils.

Prof David Carpenter, dean of the school of Public Health at the State University of New York, predicts an “epidemic of brain cancers” among today’s children as they grow up.

Ministers, however, have done little to implement measures to reduce exposures recommended nine years ago by an official inquiry headed by Sir William Stewart, a former government chief scientist.

Like others, they have been waiting for the results of a massive $30 million, 13-nation study being carried out by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Largely financed by the industry, the study has been hotly criticised for features that would seem to underestimate the risk, such as including few long-term users and excluding children and young adults.

Even so, some of the research has found increased cancer, and publication of the study has been held up for years while the scientists have argued about how it should be interpreted.

Now, after pressure from the EEA and others, a version is finally to see the light of day.

Mobile phones have brought huge benefits, not least in improving safety by keeping parents and children in touch and alerting emergency and security services to accidents.

It would make no sense to ban them, even if it were possible.

But radiation levels can be brought down fairly easily: they already vary about eightfold between handsets.

Another simple measure – proposed by Stewart, and now being seriously examined in San Francisco – would be to display the radiation level of each phone prominently.

Then people could chose whether to buy a low radiation one or not

Again industry pressure has delayed these findings, which could affect hundreds of millions of our children

Sad thing is or is it criminal?

Once this becomes an issue the industry will find ways to lower if not remove the danger
.
What a world

Monday, September 14, 2009

More on CO2


CO2 properties

It is a sign of the prevailing climate of ignorance that the public has been led to believe that carbon dioxide is a ‘pollutant’

There are certainly plenty of harmful pollutants in the atmosphere (e.g. particulates, and nitrogen and sulphur oxides), and local and regional measures are needed to combat such emissions.

But while carbon particles (soot) are a pollutant, CO2 is not – it is a benign, nontoxic gas that is food for plants, a vital ingredient of photosynthesis and therefore of the food chain, and essential to life on earth.

It has been called the ‘molecule of life’.

As a greenhouse gas, CO2 traps heat by absorbing and reemitting infrared radiation emitted from or reflected by the earth’s surface.

Other greenhouse gases include methane and nitrous oxides, but by far the most important one is water vapour.

The pre-industrial concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is said to have been about 280 parts per million by volume (ppmv), whereas the current concentration is 385 ppm – i.e. just under four hundredths of 1% of the atmosphere.

By contrast, the concentration of water vapour in the air ranges from 0 to 5% by volume, with an average value of about 1%.

Water vapour and clouds are responsible for about 90% of the greenhouse effect.

This is not just due to water vapour’s higher concentration, but also because it is far more efficient than CO2 at absorbing infrared (IR) radiation, as the following diagram shows.






Fig. 7.1 The top panel shows the incoming solar radiation in red, and outgoing radiation in blue, the rest being absorbed or scattered. The lower panels show the wavelengths of the radiation absorbed by the main greenhouse gases. CO2 absorbs infrared radiation in only three narrow bands of frequencies, and only the one corresponding to a wavelength of 15 micrometres (┬Ám) has much significance. Even if the atmosphere consisted of nothing but CO2, it would still only be able to absorb no more than 8%, and perhaps as little as 4%, of the heat radiating from the earth.
Where the grey shading extends to the top of a panel, it indicates that the energy at that wavelength is fully absorbed. This means that adding more of the gas in question will not absorb any more energy as that wavelength is fully saturated. Parts of the CO2 spectrum are already fully saturated, and adding more CO2 will result in ever diminishing effects as more of the available wavelengths become saturated. (
http://www.globalwarmingart.com/)

As atmospheric CO2 increases, plants grow faster, and are also able to grow under drier conditions since leaves transpire less, i.e. lose less water.

Commercial growers deliberately increase CO2 levels in agricultural greenhouses to between 700 and 1000 ppm to raise productivity and improve the water efficiency of food crops.

The increase in atmospheric CO2 since the beginning of industrialization is said to have increased the average plant growth rate by about 15%.

Experiments indicate that if the present atmospheric CO2 concentration were to increase by about 300 ppm, the productivity of earth’s herbaceous plants would rise by around 30% while the productivity of its woody plants would rise by around 50% (Idso & Idso, 2007).

Increases in both water temperature and atmospheric CO2 enhance marine biological productivity, leading to increased production of dimethylsulfide and various iodocarbons.

These are known to be instrumental in creating more, brighter, and longer-lasting clouds, which reflect more incoming solar radiation back to space (Idso & Idso, 2007).

This negative (mitigating) feedback is one of the factors contributing to the self-regulation of the earth’s climate and biosphere.

CO2 and temperature

CO2’s current atmospheric concentration is close to the lowest level during the past half a billion years.

Back in the Eocene, when many of our plant families evolved, the concentration was five times higher than today.

About 450 million years ago CO2 concentrations were more than 10 times present levels, yet the earth was in the throes of a severe ice age.

David Pratt

So when you read or see Hanson, Mann and others talking about this subject at Copenhagen in a few weeks time wonder why they are manipulating the evidence in the way they are

What we do understand clearly though is that their stories fly in the face of scientific evidence

So how can so few bullshit so many?

Apathy

Laziness

The need to sustain fear

The need to sustain anxiety levels

Vested interests

.........................And the little boy cried the Emperor is naked

Are we all really so gullible today that we cannot think for ourselves?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

More light




I am not fanatical about bees however they are indicative of some really unpleasant behaviour by industry lobbies intent on selling their products at all costs

Question how do these men and women who have children of their own look in the mirror when they support, no actually push, products they know to be dangerous to the life we all depend on?

How do scientists agree to work for organisations which clearly have no moral or ethical values?

Could the answer to both questions be greed?

Selfishness maybe?

Lack of understanding about what they are doing to destroy the world their own children must live in?

Humanity is not apart from nature we are a part of it

We depend on it for our very survival

I mention here two clear situations one the hype and nonsense of global warming the other bee problems

The climate has always changed and will continue to do so

The ongoing hysteria about global emissions of carbon dioxide are a minor issue compared to others we need to face

The science supporting it is dubious at best and simply criminal in it's half truths

And yet global warming receives unthinking support from most of the media, resulting in unthinking governments agreeing to spend billions of taxpayers money unwisely

Watch the upcoming conference at Copenhagen in a few weeks time for a gala performance

Climate change is a function of the sun and it's sunspots, and yet we still know relatively little about how this affects our weather and climate change

Is this receiving billions?

No

So let's look at something simple like bees and an article written by Simon Barnes

Little money or media interest is being spent on bees who pollinate the very foods we survive on and a lot more besides

Take the attack of the bee killers — a real-life disaster

Just take the UK

Pesticides are threatening bees, and therefore, us

.
The UK is notorious for taking the most relaxed approach to pesticide safety in the the EU,” says Peter Melchett, of the Soil Association.

This is in response to a meticulous piece of research from the invertebrate charity Buglife, which names a pesticide as a contributory factor — perhaps the key one — in the collapse of the population of bees.

It is true that there is something faintly comic about all this.

But the fact is that bees have a direct effect on our lives, because they pollinate plants, and without the plants pollinated by bees, humans will starve.

So it does rather matter.

There’s even a figure to represent the value of the bees’ services: £12.4 billion a year in the UK alone.

The name of the villain is neonicotinoid pesticide.

These are pesticides based on nicotine.

You don’t spray them; you can dress seeds with them, or treat the soil with them.

They work; the seeds don’t get eaten.

But they affect other things as they go about their business.

They make their way through a plant, and reach the bees when they come to do their work

The bees’ problem is called colony collapse disorder: the ending of bee civilisation as they know it.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Bees ready for the winter



Bees - beekeeping diary


The two kilos of sugar in the form of sticky syrup that I fed to the bees last week has disappeared and I'll be filling the trough again in a few moments.

Right now, though, I am having a last look through the frames to make sure everything is in order as this will probably be my last visit to the hive this autumn.

The plants have moved on from flowers to berries and the honey flow has all but dried up, even in the warm southern gardens of leafy Hampstead.

There are a few bees flying, gathering what they can from late-flowering exotica, but the allotment path is freer of buzzing and arm-waving than it has been since June when I moved the first colony in.

Everything is in order, with a huge number of bees placidly pacing from frame to frame.

It's dusk now so details are difficult to see, but there is movement and the frames are heavy with winter stores so I am optimistic about the colony's chances of surviving the cold months to come.

I bought myself a Dartington Long Deep hive on the internet, a beautiful thing designed by Robin Dartington, columnist at Kitchen Garden magazine, with lone hobbyist beekeepers in mind, and installed it at the edge of some allotments in Hampstead along with a spare colony from Buzzworks, a community bee garden in Hitchin that teaches schoolchildren about beekeeping, honey and the honeybee's place in ecology.

The allotment holders have been very happy to share their space with a box or two of bees in exchange for pollination duties and the bees, in turn, have had plenty to do.

The idyllic setting didn't stop the first colony from producing as many queens as they could and swarming away at the first opportunity, unfortunately, so I'm now left with a colony I bought later on from Thornes, the beekeeping supplies mail-order service.

They've been busy, calm, industrious and reasonably productive, but as they were put in place so late I can't blame them for failing to produce a surplus of honey.

The frames in the hive are full of white-capped honey cells, ready to sustain the bees through the winter. As the temperature cools they will form into a ball with the queen at the centre tensing and relaxing their wing muscles, shivering to generate heat.

To keep the queen alive and the honey liquid the centre of the ball will be maintained at a steady temperature in the low thirties in Celsius, 92 degrees Fahrenheit, whether it's sunny or snowing outside.

As the months go on all of their 15 kilos of honey stores will be converted into this shivering motion and heat generation.

The bees at the outside of the ball will slowly die off and the cluster will get smaller and smaller.

As long as they make it to spring and the queen can go on her mating flight with a few workers on hand and some drones nearby to mate with, the whole cycle will begin again and I can call myself a beekeeper next summer too.

Ian Douglas