Saturday, October 31, 2009

Antarctic Ice Melt at Lowest Levels in Satellite Era

Antarctic Ice Melt at Lowest Levels in Satellite Era

Posted using ShareThis

Only one way

To grow

And incidentally find more peace of mind for yourself

And that is by helping others

Being as or more concerned with their well being and problems than your own

.......................and thereby you help yourself

So often have we heard this advice

Gets tiring

So what other way is there?

No other way because only by helping others do we move beyond thinking solely about ourselves
Our own lives

Mentally thinking about yourself and your own private problems breeds separation

Helping others breeds cooperation

Helps us into the habit of taking our minds off ourselves

And it is our minds that get us into trouble over and over again

Minds that boss us around

Minds that forever ask us "what if"

Minds that stop us relaxing

This is why we say get involved with others and their problems

It takes away your minds power to stir you up

While you are thinking or helping others

You are less likely to be worrying about yourself

Your mind is contained

Your mind begins to learn some restraint

Minds that are allowed to interrupt


Control you

Will in the end destroy your health and well being

This is why we say get involved with others

It has several advantages

It stops your mind from dominating your thoughts

It helps you start the long journey of learning how to control your mind

And helping others teaches us cooperation

Teaches us compromise

Only one way really

Friday, October 30, 2009

As requested a list


1. Medieval Russia: A Source Book, 850-1700

Basil Dmytryshyn
Holt, Rhinehart and Winston, 1991

2. A History of Russia

Basil Dmytryshyn
Prentice-Hall, 1977

3. Land of the Firebird

Suzanne Massey
Prentice-Hall, 1977?

N6981 M42

4. An Illustrated History of Russia

Suzanne Massey
Prentice-Hall, 1977?

N6981 M42

5. Russia's Women

Clements, Engel and Worobec
Prentice-Hall, 1977?

N6981 M42

6. Catherine the Great

John T. Alexander
Prentice-Hall, 1977?

N6981 M42

7. Russia Under the Old Regime

Richard Pipes
Prentice-Hall, 1977?

N6981 M42

8. The Russian Empire

Chloe Obolensky
Random House, 1979

DK 189 024

9.From Supplication to Revolution: A Documentary Social History of Imperial Russia.

Gregory L.Freeze
Oxford University Press, 1988

10.Readings in Russian Civilization: Vol II Imperial Russia, 1700-1917

Thomas Riha, ed.
Univ of Chicago Press, 1964

Modern system cables

It was with a phenomenally heavy heart that I handed over 10 quid in a high street store late on Saturday afternoon for a ridiculously over-packaged cable to connect an iPod to a stereo.

What can I say – it was an emergency (of sorts).

I have no interest in Teflon-encased copper strands, gold-plated connectors or cable so thick and rubbery you could flay yourself with it for kicks, but this kind of thing is increasingly unavoidable if you're shopping in town.

For example, I hate to criticise Richer Sounds – an admirable company in many ways – but they earnestly advise spending "about 10 per cent of your system price on cables".

Which, aside from being excessive, is ridiculous; a £1,000 system doesn't need cabling twice as expensive as a £500 system.

It just doesn't.

And anyone who tells you otherwise is selling snake oil – or, more likely, a load of massively-overpriced cables.

On one hand, we're listening to compressed audio files bought online and watching compressed video files that we've either downloaded or are watching on iPlayer or 4OD, and we seem quite happy with that.

On the other, we're urged never to compromise our audio visual experience by using flimsy cabling.

Of course, if you try to hook up a couple of bits of equipment with a rusty length of fraying wire you're going to run into trouble, but paying over the odds for cables is no different to sticking neon to the underside of your Fiat Punto.

It's cosmetic.

For years now, sceptic and magician James Randi has offered $1m to anyone who can discern between a normal cable and an expensive cable in a double-blind listening test – an ability which he describes as a "paranormal event".

The $1m, of course, remains unclaimed.

We move even further into the realm of absurdity with digital cables.

These carry streams of zeroes and ones; they either work, or they don't.

There are no gradations of performance, and yet we're told that spending £200 rather than £20 on an HDMI cable is somehow a worthwhile investment.

There are even people credulous enough to spend $2,000 on a power cable with "68-strand Alpha OCC twisted around conductor strands with a special-grade PE insulation or dielectric, surrounded by an inner sheath of RoHS-compliant PVC".

It's a power cable.

Seriously, get yourself a few cheap cables online, and with the money you save, just treat yourself to something you're actually able to enjoy.

Like, say, the DVD of "In The Loop".

That's pretty good


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Good news for chocoholics

In a study that will provide comfort to chocoholics everywhere, researchers in Sweden have found evidence that people who eat chocolate have increased survival rates after a heart attack — and it may be that the more they eat, the better.

The scientists followed 1,169 nondiabetic men and women who had been hospitalized for a first heart attack.

Each filled out a standardized health questionnaire that included a question about chocolate consumption over the past 12 months.

Chocolate contains flavonoid antioxidants that are widely believed to have beneficial cardiovascular effects.

The patients had a health examination three months after their discharge from the hospital, and researchers followed them for the next eight years using Swedish national registries of hospitalizations and deaths.

After controlling for age, sex, obesity physical inactivity, smoking, education and other factors, they found that the more chocolate people consumed, the more likely they were to survive.

The results are reported in the September issue of The Journal of Internal Medicine.

But before concluding that a box of Godiva truffles is health food, chocolate lovers may want to consider some of the study’s weaknesses.

It is an observational study, not a randomized trial, so cause and effect cannot be definitively established.

Even though the researchers controlled for many variables, chocolate consumption could be associated with factors they did not account for — mental health, for example — that might reduce the risk for death.

The scientists did not ask what kind of chocolate the patients ate, and milk chocolate has less available flavonoid than dark chocolate.

Finally, chocolate consumption did not reduce the risk for any nonfatal cardiac event.

Still, Dr. David L. Katz, an associate professor of public health at Yale who was not involved in the work, said the study added “an interesting element, following a group of adults who’ve had a heart attack and noting an impressive reduction in cardiac deaths.”

While the study is observational, he said, “the broader context is reassuring.”

While the chocolate eaters in the study had a statistically insignificant reduction in the risk of death from any cause over the eight-year span, the reduced risk for dying of heart disease was highly significant.

And it was dose-dependent — that is, the more chocolate consumed, the lower the risk for death.

Compared with people who ate none, those who had chocolate less than once a month had a 27 percent reduction in their risk for cardiac death, those who ate it up to once a week had a 44 percent reduction and those who indulged twice or more a week had a 66 percent reduced risk of dying from a subsequent heart event.

The beneficial effect remained after controlling for intake of other kinds of sweets.

A co-author of the paper, Dr. Kenneth J. Mukamal, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard, said that there was considerable data from other studies suggesting that chocolate lowered blood pressure and that this might be a cause of the lower cardiac mortality found in the study.

Dr. Katz, of Yale, agreed that “there are many reasonable biological mechanisms” for a protective effect from chocolate.

“I like the study,” he said. “It adds to the general fund of knowledge we already have.”

Dr. Mukamal sounded a note of caution about the findings.

“Although this is interesting and provocative, chocolate does not come without costs,” he said. “For people looking for a small snack to finish a meal, this is a great choice.

But it should be supplementing healthy eating and replacing less healthy snacks.”


Wednesday, October 28, 2009


DNA has been found to have a bizarre ability to put itself together, even at a distance, when according to known science it shouldn't be able to.

Explanation: None, at least not yet.

Scientists are reporting evidence that contrary to our current beliefs about what is possible, intact double-stranded DNA has the "amazing" ability to recognize similarities in other DNA strands from a distance.

Somehow they are able to identify one another, and the tiny bits of genetic material tend to congregate with similar DNA.

The recognition of similar sequences in DNA's chemical subunits, occurs in a way unrecognized by science.

There is no known reason why the DNA is able to combine the way it does, and from a current theoretical standpoint this feat should be chemically impossible.

Even so, the research published in ACS' Journal of Physical Chemistry B, shows very clearly that homology recognition between sequences of several hundred nucleotides occurs without physical contact or presence of proteins.

Double helixes of DNA can recognize matching molecules from a distance and then gather together, all seemingly without help from any other molecules or chemical signals.

In the study, scientists observed the behavior of fluorescently tagged DNA strands placed in water that contained no proteins or other material that could interfere with the experiment.

Strands with identical nucleotide sequences were about twice as likely to gather together as DNA strands with different sequences.

No one knows how individual DNA strands could possibly be communicating in this way, yet somehow they do.

The "telepathic" effect is a source of wonder and amazement for scientists.

"Amazingly, the forces responsible for the sequence recognition can reach across more than one nanometer of water separating the surfaces of the nearest neighbor DNA," said the authors Geoff S. Baldwin, Sergey Leikin, John M. Seddon, and Alexei A. Kornyshev and colleagues.

This recognition effect may help increase the accuracy and efficiency of the homologous recombination of genes, which is a process responsible for DNA repair, evolution, and genetic diversity.

The new findings may also shed light on ways to avoid recombination errors, which are factors in cancer, aging, and other health issues.

Posted by Rebecca Sato.

I think this is an advancement in the realm of understanding HSP phenomenon.

Like I said in my review of the page, "Like speaks to like."

To me, this means we seek each other out - gravitate toward each other and can pick up on each other with ease.

We *are* - and this discovery may be a first step - on the same *wavelength.*

As frustrating as it is for me to seem to have to wait for science to catch up with these netherworldy principles, I am excited when they begin to make progress.

However, for the the HSP, I think often *feeling* the truth is okay for us.

Not so okay for people who neither understand nor have tangible or quantifiable "proof" of the existence.

I particularly loved this sentence: There is no known reason why the DNA is able to combine the way it does, and from a current theoretical standpoint this feat should be chemically impossible.

Please. I operate on the impossible. "The impossible just takes a little longer."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

So true

Of all living creatures, human beings alone know they will someday die

They do not know however, when that dread moment will occur, whether the next instant, the next day, the next year, or decades hence

Furthermore they do not know, what, if anything, happens beyond the door of death

Nobody knows the answers to these mysteries

Many people say

So it is a waste of time to engage in foolish conjectures

Ignorance gives rise to fear, and when the unknown is deemed unknowable

Fear stalks the human mind

Even when people are convinced they will survive death, they are neverthless afraid, owing to doubts and uncertainties as to where they will go after death

Will they be in a blissful place called ehaven?

Or a horrible place called hell?

Furthermore, the pictures they have conjured up in their minds about heaven are not particularly inviting

Thus few true believers long to go there

And so, when old age approaches, they tenaciously cling to life on earth

Despite it's miseries and sorrows

S. Cranston - C. Williams

That was part of the preface to their book "Reincarnation - A new horizon in Science, Religion, and Society"

We leave you there to find out what they have to say, as their book is one of the more definitive on the subject of reincarnation and well worth the read

Monday, October 26, 2009

Transition of Russian noble women

The position of upper class women began to change rapidly during the reign of Peter the Great.

Peter was determined to make Russia a thoroughly European nation.

An important aspect of westernization in his mind was the creation of a social life in which women had a public and visible role as in the west.

He, therefore, abolished the seclusion of upper class women and ordered them to take part in social life at dinners and balls.

He also required that couples should consent to marriage rather than be coerced into unwelcome unions.

So that couples could get to know each other before the wedding he ordered a minimal betrothal period of six weeks.

Peter also reenforced the older law that allowed women the right to retain property that they brought into the marriage.

Although these laws applied to all women in Russia, enforcement of them was easier among the upper classes than among the lower.

Even upper class women, however, had little protection against a brutal husband.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Russian women

Ancient Greek writers recorded the existence in what is now southern Russia of a group of women who lived apart from men, spoke a language which men could not learn and were required to kill a male before they mated.

These were the Amazons of legend.

At least one sexually segregated society did exist in the Caucasus, but the myth of the Amazons probably goes back to an earlier matriarchal form of society of which only a memory remained.

There is some archeaolgical evidence to support the claim of Byzantine writers that Slavic women sometimes dressed like men and fought beside them in battle, but it is far from conclusive.

What these stories do confirm, however, is the power of the female image in the culture and perhaps the anxiety of men about that power
Or maybe a deeply buried aspiration on the part of women for agency

And of Russian women today?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mobile phone etiquette

Americans believe there are unspoken rules about mobile phone etiquette
Europeans and Asians have differing ideas, and etiquette is evolving across the globe
For most though checking emails, sending text messages and making telephone calls while in the company of others are definite breeches of mobile manners.
Texting during a date is also strictly forbidden.
But most people questioned said they would not be offended if they received an electronic thank you, instead of a written note.
Seventy five percent had no objections to anyone using laptops, netbooks and cell phones in the bathroom.
A majority of people questioned today agreed that cell phones, laptops, netbooks and other electronic devices are part of daily life.
Many also thought the demands of business mean people must stay connected, even if it involves taking a laptop on a holiday or answering a cell phone during a meal.
But despite the need to be constantly connected and the general acceptance of the technology, people were more sensitive about technology abuses during holiday and religious activities.
Nearly 90 percent of Americans think cell phone use is unacceptable during a religious service and 30 percent admitted they would be offended if they received an online gift wish.
But more than half revealed that they intended to send an electronic greeting card, instead of a traditional one.
And around the globe opinions are shaping and forming about the etiquette of using devices that are literally changing the way we relate to each other
Devices which have in short space of time changed forever the way in which we communicate with each other but how we interact with each other
Etiquette is a little used word today however it has a place in our lives and says a lot about us to each other
How is your mobile phone etiquette/

Friday, October 23, 2009

A must read

It is not often that I say this so please believe when I say you must read this

Once you have read it then decide what you will do to help diseminate it as far and as widely as possible

I will say no more please take the time

What a world!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Russian Church

From the time the Russian princes officially accepted Christianity as the state religion of Kievan Rus in the tenth century, the Church had gained a powerful spiritual and economic place in the life of the country.

During the Mongol conquest the Church and people who worked with the Church were exempted from taxation in return for prayers for the long lives of the khans.

The exemption enabled the Church to become the wealthiest institution in the land and to acquire large landed properties.

It was during this period that some of Russia's greatest monasteries were formed.

For the first centuries of its existence, the Church's highest official was the Metropolitan

Several of the Metropolitans assisted the princes of Moscow in their struggle to secure the throne of Vladimir and hence to gain the secular authority in all Russia
And today where is the Russian Church going?
Perhaps the church is trying to repeat itself?
And who is paying for it's current program of active expansion?
And why?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Confucius, whose name literally means "Master Kong", lived 551-479 BCE.
He was a Chinese thinker and philosopher, whose teachings have deeply influenced not only Asian thought and life
He presented himself as a "transmitter who invented nothing" and he really pointed out the importance of learning, which is one reason he is seen by Chinese people as "The Greatest Master".
One of the best known sources of Confucius are The Analects, a collection of his teachings, which was compiled many years after his death.

A fountain of extremely mindful quotes springs from these ancient descriptions.
Many of them are universal and timeless and they are as valid today as on the day they left Confucius’ mouth.

Here are a few quotes by Confucius that you might not know.

Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself
It’s the "Golden Rule" and the essence of real compassion .
Not compassion as in looking down on someone and have pity for another, this is no real compassion.
Compassion means seeing another person as equal to yourself (in value, not in specialities on the surface which ultimately do not matter).
In fact it is seeing yourself in every other person.

And therefore you cannot harm anyone without also harming yourself.

It doesn’t mean to lose individuality or self-worth, on the contrary – but the other person earns the same gift

Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance

Ignorance is a willful neglect or refusal to acquire knowledge.

The ultimate truth therefore is where there is absolutely no ignorance, meaning where the perspective or consciousness has become one with all that there is.

In Buddhism ignorance (Avidyā) is seen as the primary cause of suffering.

Liberation is Enlightenment
I hear and I forget and I remember I do and I understand

We have to experience something ourselves in order to really understand it.
If we are hearing something it might be interesting.
If we are seeing something it might be beautiful.
But only if we feel it happening to ourselves we can really know how it is

Everything has beauty but not everyone sees it
This calls for our dropping the perceptions through which we constantly see and evaluate the world,

Perceptions distorted by our wants and belief-systems.

Better try to emulate a newborn child and how it would look at things.
The superior man is aware of righteousness, the inferior man is aware of advantage

The .object of the superior man is truth."
It is the value of integrity

To be truthful to ourselves

Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart

Whatever you do and whatever you commit to, do it fully, give your all

Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in getting up every time we do
There is no failure, there are only valuable learning experiences.
A man who has committed a mistake and doesn’t correct it, is committing another mistake

He who learns but does not think, is lost . He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger
Study without reflection is a waste of time; reflection without study is dangerous is a similar quote by Confucius

He that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pregnancy and sport

Scientists doing what scientists do found there is a 60 per cent increase in blood volume in pregnant women and that this could improve the body’s ability to carry oxygen to the muscles by up to 30 per cent.

This could improve aerobic capacity, enabling a woman to run, cycle or swim at a certain pace for longer, says Greg Whyte, professor of applied sport and exercise science at Liverpool John Moores University.
But there are other adaptations in the first trimester that could also make a difference:
A surge in hormones — predominantly progesterone and oestrogen, but also the male hormones including testosterone — could increase muscle strength
Increases in other hormones like relaxin, which loosens the hip joints to prepare a woman for birth, could also improve joint mobility to a beneficial degree.
But results of studies that have been published suggest childbirth is beneficial to sportswomen.
A 1991 analysis of recreational runners revealed that the efficiency with which the body uses and processes oxygen increased by 7 per cent in the eight months after childbirth.
And researchers reporting in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports in 1997 revealed that 11 per cent of elite endurance performers, such as cross-country skiers and runners, performed significantly better after having a baby while 61 per cent returned to compete at the same level at which they had performed before pregnancy.
Dr Jorma Penttinen of the department of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University Hospital of Kuopi in Finland, concluded that each woman’s body responds differently to pregnancy but that it is unlikely to have a negative impact on their athletic comeback.
It is also accepted that carefully planned training can be continued throughout pregnancy whereas it used to be considered risky to mother and unborn child, Dr David James says.
That can make a difference to a woman’s fitness levels when she returns to competition.
Indeed, while the advice to pregnant women 30 years ago was to do no more than a gentle stroll and cover a maximum of a mile a day, researchers have now shown that exercise throughout pregnancy benefits mother and child.
German researchers reported that running while pregnant can enhance development of the foetus and other studies have shown that babies born to active women tend to be more alert and are less inclined to be overweight toddlers.
But perhaps the greatest benefits to athletic mothers are the psychological changes that come from experiencing labour itself.
Ingrid Kristiansen, the former marathon runner from Norway, confirms the hunch of many sports scientists in her belief that childbirth aided her sporting success by raising her pain threshold.
Whyte says: Women re-evaluate where they can anchor pain and many psychologists believe that woman’s pain threshold is effectively reset so that when she resumes or takes up training again, nothing ever seems as uncomfortable

Monday, October 19, 2009

And this one

Bias due to race, culture, or status, is not logical for a species that wishes to rise above animal instinct.

Fear or mistrust of the unfamiliar serves to protect animals from danger; but man is an intelligent creature, and can determine the level of risk through reasoning.

There is no compelling reason to assume that a member of a different group would pose more of a danger than any other individual; but man is a victim, of not only instinct, but the sum of millions of years of conditioning.

The attitudes held by society shape each and every individual within it.

Most information a person acquires is filtered through others; everything taught in school is not necessarily the truth, but is what society perceives as the truth.

Centuries ago, science held that the universe revolved around the Earth; this was truth because all knowledge at the time established this to be so.

Human knowledge evolves slowly, with the influences of each member affecting the flow of change; each person altering society to varying degrees, for better or worse.

An apparent sudden alteration of human culture by an individual is not as it seems; for the actions of that person are the culmination of two million years of genetic and behavioral events, all leading to that one point in time.

Humanity, as a whole, is the result of the actions of every person that has ever lived; and is in a state of constant, gradual transition: but transition that is confined by limits set by instinct.

The animal drives are a major reason why new knowledge does not necessarily lead to widespread change.

The realization that followers of Animistic religions did not have magical powers may have stopped witch burning, but religious persecution continues.

Science has shown that the differences between races are superficial, but racism continues.
Man is a creature of habit; enlightenment will take time.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

And this one

Leaders of nations frequently provoke warfare for purely economic or political reasons.

A war between countries requires that a significant number of citizens are easily brainwashed

From the soldiers who must be willing to kill strangers, and be killed themselves, for something they do not understand

To the general public, which must support the ideal of murdering others for gain.
In reality, all the standard excuses countries use to defend acts of aggression do not justify slaughtering people who have done you no wrong.

War against another nation is perceived as a war against that state, as an entity unto itself

But a state is composed of the individuals inhabiting that area



The elderly

The poor

The handicapped
People you would normally treat with compassion

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Also obvious

Fundamentally, there are no significant differences between forms of government.
It doesn't matter whether a system is Capitalist, Communist, Monarchist, or any other type
All have a ruling class which manages the masses.
It is advantageous for aggressive nations to cultivate a fear in the general population of governments that are dissimilar
For this enables the elite to manipulate the people into supporting actions, detrimental to those other nations
That they would otherwise perceive as immoral.
In theory, politicians are supposed to act in response to the wishes of the citizens
But in reality, the leaders act in their own interests, and then create a favourable response from the people through media manipulation.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Insect 'death stench' acts as repellent

The stench of dying bugs is an effective — and ancient — insect repellent, biologists at McMaster University have found.

David Rollo, a professor of biology at McMaster in Hamilton, found that the corpses of insects and certain other animals emit the same blend of stinky fatty acids, and act as a strong repellent for those same animals.

As an added bonus, while the smell sends the critters running, people can barely detect the scent.

Rollo was studying social behaviour in cockroaches and looking for smells that attract them when he made the discovery.

Cockroaches emit pheromone signals when they find a good place to live, to attract other cockroaches.

Rollo was extracting chemicals from the bodies of dead cockroaches to isolate the pheromone involved, when he found a group of fatty acids with the opposite effect.

It was amazing to find that the cockroaches avoided places treated with these extracts like the plague

Naturally, we wanted to identify what chemical was making them all go away

Rollo's team found the specific fatty acids that the dead roaches gave off, and then found the same chemicals in ants and caterpillars.

Furthermore, the same stink signals death in woodlice and pill bugs, which are actually crustaceans, like lobsters and crabs.

This suggests that the smell is an ancient signal, because insects and crustaceans diverged from a common ancestor more than 400 million years ago.

The signal probably evolved in the water, since very few crustaceans live on land.

The scientists believe that these signals would warn others that diseased corpses or predators were nearby.

Recognizing and avoiding the dead could reduce the chances of catching the disease, or allow you to get away with just enough exposure to activate your immunity.

The researchers found that a log treated with the chemicals kept wood beetles away for a month.

The study, published in the journal Evolutionary Biology, suggests that fatty acids could be used for repelling pests from homes or food storage areas, because the effect is so strong and applies to so many different species.

The chemicals are also non-toxic and nearly odourless to humans

CBS News

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Obvious really

The people who are in control: politicians, the rich and powerful; are primarily motivated by animal drives.

The quest for material gain, power, and prestige, is simply the way human males subconsciously manifest sexual competition: to demonstrate that they are the dominant, and therefore most suitable, of mates.

It is no different from primitive man dragging home the largest animal carcass.

This behavioral trait applies to all men, and is deemed competitive spirit.

The emergence of women, in the normally male dominated arena, is a socioeconomic phenomenon, and is not instinctive

Females compete in nature, but not to this extreme

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The First Nation

For the people of the First Nation, spirituality was inclusive of all levels of life, including the governing of the interests of the “People”.
The council fires were believed to be a part of the grand design that Creator was unfolding on behalf of the nations in their coming together to establish rules and agreements.
One senses this pervasiveness, by innuendo, in a statement by Dave Chief, Grandfather of Red Dog.
He observed; "Respect means listening until everyone has been heard and understood.
Only then is there a possibility of "Balance and Harmony"... the goal of Indian spirituality."
The aforementioned “spirituality” incorporated every stratum of tribal life.
Many American Indian tribes made use of the talking stick or, alternately, the talking feather (an eagle feather), the Pwagen (the pipe), a wampum belt, the sacred shell or other instrument, as a means of just and impartial dialogue.
This device was commonly used in council circles to designate who had the right to speak, especially when matters of great concern came before the convention.
The leading elder would hold the talking stick and begin the discussion... and as he finished speaking, he would hold out the totem, allowing whoever wished to speak after him to take it.
An act of decorum and civility, the stick was passed from one individual to another until all who wished to speak had done so.
The stick was then passed back to the leading elder for safekeeping.
Even today within the Nations this icon is a symbol of respect for free-speech, assuring the speaker he has the freedom and power to say what is in his heart without fear of reprisal or humiliation.
Whoever holds the talking stick has within his hand the sacred power of words, the centerpiece of oral-tradition societies.
The speaker is conscious that one should not forget he carries within himself a sacred spark of the Great Mystery, with the subsequent understanding that he, himself, is also sacred.
Should he feel he cannot honor the talking stick with his words, he will refrain from speaking so as not dishonor himself.
When he reclaims control of his words, the stick will be returned to him.
It naturally follows that the American Indian is alert to meter and rhyme, context and innuendo, in the speaking of words.
He embraces silence until something worthy of sharing comes into his mind naturally, like the filling of an empty cup.
Within the ever-present void, he maintains in his awareness the flow of life and whatever is in his surroundings.
His breathing is a metronome, the very pulse of Universal life that he places his attention on while considering and forming his homily.
It is words, and the placement of words in forming patterns, that Indians identify as “Powers”.


Just a wow picture

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Back to nature please

The British Science Festival heard recently that, for most people, vitamin pills are a waste of money – and in some cases may be harmful.

Professor Brian Ratcliff, of Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, says that because of the way our bodies process them, most vitamin supplements end up being literally flushed down the lavatory.

A vitamin C pill may be theoretically equivalent to 20 oranges, but your vigilant kidneys will immediately remove 75 per cent of this alien influx from your bloodstream.

You might as well have simply eaten an orange, thereby getting the pleasure as well as the benefit.

This, indeed, is Professor Ratcliff's point: except in specific cases, such as taking folic acid when pregnant, there is nothing vitamin pills can do that a balanced diet couldn't do better.

Sound advice – although one does rather balk at hearing it from a nutritionist

For Professor Ratcliff's profession, together with the wily marketeers of the food and pharmaceutical industries, is largely responsible for rendering the Western world incapable of eating sensibly

It is nutritionists who have spent the past half-century breaking food down into its constituent parts and then serving the parts back up to an awed and uncomprehending public.

The point of eating is no longer food itself, but the mysterious, life-giving "nutrients" within: the vitamins, the flavonoids, the fatty acids and antioxidants.

Once a super-nutrient has been identified, it seems a shame just to leave it languishing inside a head of broccoli or a fish's liver.

There are billions of pounds to be made from extracting, condensing, repackaging and selling it in an entirely new form.

It doesn't have to be a pill: you can buy vitamin-enriched biscuits, calcium-enriched water, breakfast cereals "fortified" with iron, or eggs, milk and bread pumped full of Omega-3 fatty acids.

The reverse is also true.

Over the years, nutritionists have identified (often wrongly) a range of dietary bogeymen, which food manufacturers have promptly turned to their advantage.

Butter was deadly – so we were sold margarine, a cheaply produced chemical concoction so far removed from any natural foodstuff that, until it was coloured yellow, the public refused to go near it.

Next, nutritionists waged war on fat, and the manufacturers cooked up a cornucopia of low-fat products which sounded (and were) too good to be true.

Stuffed full of calorific sugar and starch to give it the missing gloopiness, a low-fat yoghurt is a swizz – a confidence trick on a consumer by now too bamboozled by science to recognise real food.

Granted, there have always been a few far-sighted nutritionists pleading for sanity.

They point out that we really don't understand how nutrients work out of context: that, for example, the beta-carotene might be useless without everything else that's in a carrot.

The only sensible way to eat, they say, is the way your grandparents did: fresh, unprocessed, home-made and seasonal.

But the very existence of nutritionists undermines our instinctive relationship with food.

It sends a message: this stuff is too scientific and complicated for you peasants to understand.

And perhaps it is – but only because the experts have made it so.

Jemina Lewis

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sharing beds

Sharing a bed with someone could temporarily reduce your brain power - at least if you are a man - Austrian scientists suggest.
When men spend the night with a bed mate their sleep is disturbed, whether they make love or not, and this impairs their mental ability the next day.
The lack of sleep also increases a man's stress hormone levels.
According to the New Scientist study, women who share a bed fare better because they sleep more deeply.
Professor Gerhard Kloesch and colleagues at the University of Vienna studied eight unmarried, childless couples in their 20s.
Each couple was asked to spend 10 nights sleeping together and 10 apart while the scientists assessed their rest patterns with questionnaires and wrist activity monitors.
The next day the couples were asked to perform simple cognitive tests and had their stress hormone levels checked.
Although the men reported they had slept better with a partner, they fared worse in the tests, with their results suggesting they actually had more disturbed sleep.
Both sexes had a more disturbed night's sleep when they shared their bed, Professor Kloesch told a meeting of the Forum of European Neuroscience.
But women apparently managed to sleep more deeply when they did eventually drop off, since they claimed to be more refreshed than their sleep time suggested.
Their stress hormone levels and mental scores did not suffer to the same extent as the men.
But the women still reported that they had the best sleep when they were alone in bed.
Bed sharing also affected dream recall. Women remembered more after sleeping alone and men recalled best after sex.
Dr Neil Stanley, a sleep expert at the University of Surrey, said: It's not surprising that people are disturbed by sleeping together.
Historically, we have never been meant to sleep in the same bed as each other.
It is a bizarre thing to do.
Sleep is the most selfish thing you can do and it's vital for good physical and mental health.
Sharing the bed space with someone who is making noises and who you have to fight with for the duvet is not sensible.
If you are happy sleeping together that's great, but if not there is no shame in separate beds.
He said there was a suggestion that women are pre-programmed to cope better with broken sleep.
A lot of life events that women have disturb sleep - bringing up children, the menopause and even the menstrual cycle, he explained.
But Dr Stanley added people did get used to sharing a bed.
If they have shared their bed with their partner for a long time they miss them and that will disturb sleep."


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Child Poverty

Poverty is not the only thing poor children suffer from
The poverty of aspiration which blights so many young people's lives is Dickensian in its extent, says Lesley Ward.
A scene from Oliver Twist
Poverty has changed since the days of Oliver Twist, but it has not gone away

Today, despite the Government's best efforts, going on for four million children in the UK – no fewer than three out of every 10 – are living in poverty

Read that again

In 1979, it was one in 10. It is, as I said in a speech on Wednesday night, almost Dickensian in its extent.

I have taught in Yorkshire since 1975, in an area like many others in the country.

These are places where more than half the children receive free school meals, where one in 10 of pupils are on the at-risk register, and a similar proportion have some form of special need.

And despite the stereotyping about welfare scroungers, approximately 60 per cent of poor children live in households where someone works.

It might seem shocking that a family member can go out to work, or have two or even three part-time jobs, and that family can still be living below the poverty line.

But what is even more depressing is the way that shared poverty leads to shared attitudes – a poverty of aspiration.

Once, I sent a girl home with her first book, to share with her mother.

She was bursting with pride, but the mother told me: "It's not my job to listen to her read – it's yours."

A 14-year-old was a top achiever until she realised it wasn't the done thing for someone from her community, so she started to play truant.

Others meet the attitude: "Why should you stay on at school? I didn't, and I manage."

This weight of deprivation can be next to impossible to counteract.

Healthy children enter school not toilet-trained, unable to dress themselves, only knowing how to eat with a spoon or with their fingers, never having sat around a table to enjoy a home-cooked family meal.

I have been told about a seven-year-old who came to school with a massive burn on her arm: she had been ironing her siblings' clothes to dry them so they could wear them to school.

It is not uncommon for children to be so hungry they are unable to concentrate in class.

A friend taught a six-year-old who had to get up and feed his baby brother in the night.

He didn't have a coat for the winter, and seldom got any breakfast, so my friend fed him.

Two brothers had three days off school because they didn't have any shoes to wear.

Another pupil watched from the classroom window as his house door was kicked in and his dad led out in handcuffs.

It was during SATs week: unsurprisingly, he didn't perform as well as he should have.

In this country, poverty is related to poor educational achievement more strongly than virtually anywhere else.

A report this month from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found that the UK was worse than average for child well being.

We have the highest rates of under-age drinking, high rates of teenage pregnancy, and a high proportion of young people not in education, employment or training.

We might spend huge sums on children's welfare and education, but the OECD says that this is not reflected in academic results.

Moreover, social mobility has stalled, with children finding it hard to escape a disadvantaged background and earn more than their parents.

I have taught so many children who, aged six or seven, told me they wanted to be a teacher, a vet or a doctor.

They had the ability, but not many succeeded: those that did had to work much harder than their middle-class peers.

Low expectations and this poverty of aspiration are stopping many children from poorer communities achieving their full potential.

But what really makes me mad is the idea that teachers are complacent or resigned about this. I, and thousands of others, spend our professional lives trying to help pupils overcome these difficulties.

As a teacher there is nothing better than seeing your kids succeed: to see that inner light come on when a child in reception reads his first book; or a secondary pupil receives her desired A-level results.

The best way to improve achievement for all children is to get rid of poverty of all kinds – financial, aspirational and emotional.

Lesley Ward is president of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers

Saturday, October 10, 2009

No end

Just endless beginnings

Or so said someone a long time ago

So how do you see your life?

Endless days merging one into another?

Or do you see it as an experience in different clear phases

Like now we are in Summer

Next we are in Autumn

Then I have my holidays

I am going away this weekend

I am going to call my mother

We all have routines even when we do not see them this way

Routines without end

And this is how we behave until in one split second our lives are altered

A piece of glass goes into our eye and suddenly our world is changed

Nothing else matters, we are overtaken by pain

Our world has gone in one second from routines and familiarity to a state of unknown

We kick into emergency mode, however that is for us, and accept that our future is other people's hands

We have no control over what happens

If we are lucky we regain our sight and life can revert to routines

If not then we have to adjust to our new world

Finding ways to cope

Over time developing other routines

So sure in our normal routine times and yet so insecure in truth

Today though we can say without much fear of contradiction that our lives will know uncertainties

These times will see to that

Most certainly logically everything has a beginning, middle, and end
Doesn't it?
In our "routine" days though we behave as if things will last forever
Let's get married and live for ever and ever we say when we are young
I will love you fore ever and ever is another
Maybe this is because we know life has an end
Maybe we don't' want to be reminded of the end of things
Fair enough
If you buy into the idea that these times are more stressful than before then anything you can do to remove stress is positive and helpful
Seeing human experience differently from our popular avoidance of the end subject can help
Ever thought of life as links in a chain?
Our chain of lives one after another
Actually that's how it is
Just because part of the chain is behind the screen of what we call death does not mean that our experience ends
We have said many times karma and reincarnation are a reality
So how it really works is not bad at all
Not theoretically complex nor is it in reality and it goes like this
How we are now creates what we will become in the future as what we did in the past determines what happens to us now or put another way what we are now
We go from today until death experiencing what we have created and creating what we will experience in the future
Created with our thoughts and actions that is
Meaning that there is a very powerful reason to be the best we can
Because this is what shapes our future
And these thoughts and actions create our karma in the future and our coming life
So really there is no end, just endless beginnings as the man said
We are just links in a chain, our own chain, the one we create ourselves

Friday, October 09, 2009

Taller = happier

Taller men and women were more likely to report enjoyment and happiness, and less likely to report pain and sadness.

Taller that is not the very tallest

Taller men, although not taller women, also worry less.

But sadness and anger were more likely to be experienced.

The authors say their findings cannot be attributed to different demographics or ethnicity, but are almost entirely explained by the positive association between height and both income and education, both of which are positively linked to better lives.

Chartered psychologist Dr Colin Gill said: "There's no direct correlation between income and happiness - surveys going back years show that.

But there does appear to be a correlation between height and happiness and height and income.

If you look at this study, the people who are happiest are not the very tallest.

There is a threshold of height tolerance - at about 6ft 5in (195.6cm) to 6ft 6in (198.1cm).

It is about as tall as people think is normal, beyond that you are odd and life becomes very difficult.

Height does matter, it's always mattered for a very obvious reason - when you are born you are shorter than the people who look after you and have authority over you.

And that power relationship never reverses


When you read about some of these surveys you begin to wonder who has the time and money to research such subjects?

Taller men worry less but experience pain and anger?

Please explain that sentence, what do pain and anger come from if not worry and fear?

Nice idea however sometimes we need to reserve our wholehearted belief in such studies

In fact come to think of it we ought to be very careful about most things we read or look at nowadays!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Maori legend

A Maori legend of a man-eating bird is true

A Maori legend about a giant, man-eating bird has been confirmed by scientists

Te Hokioi was a huge black-and-white predator with a red crest and yellow-green tinged wingtips, in an account given to Sir George Gray, an early governor of New Zealand.

It was said to be named after its cry and to have "raced the hawk to the heavens".

Scientists now think the stories handed down by word of mouth and depicted in rock drawings refer to Haast's eagle, a raptor that became extinct just 500 years ago, shows their study in The Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Haast's eagle (Harpagornis moorei) was discovered in swamp deposits by Sir Julius von Haast in the 1870s.

But it was at first thought to be a scavenger because its bill was similar to a vulture's with hoods over its nostrils to stop flesh blocking its air passages as it rooted around inside carcasses.

But a re-examination of skeletons using modern technology, including CAT scans, by researchers at Canterbury Museum in Christchurch and the University of New South Wales in Australia showed it had a strong enough pelvis to support a killing blow as it dived at speeds of up to 80kph

With a wingspan of up to three metres and weighing 18kg, the female was twice as big as the largest living eagle, the Steller's sea eagle.

And the bird's talons were as big as a tiger's claws.

It was certainly capable of swooping down and taking a child or small human, said Paul Scofield, the curator of vertebrate zoology at the Canterbury Museum.

They had the ability to not only strike with their talons but to close the talons and put them through quite solid objects such as a pelvis.

It was designed as a killing machine.

Its main prey would have been moa, flightless birds which grew to as much as 250kg and 2.5 metres tall.

In some fossil sites, moa bones have been found with signs of eagle predation

New Zealand has no native land mammals because it became isolated from other continents in the Cretaceous, more than 65 million years ago.

As a result, birds filled niches usually populated by large mammals such as deer and cattle.

Haast's eagle wasn't just the equivalent of a giant predatory bird, said Dr Scofield.

It was the equivalent of a lion.

The eagle is thought to have died out after the arrival, 1,000 years ago, of humans, who exterminated the giant moa.

The latest study shows it was a recent immigrant to the islands, related to the little eagle (Aquila morphnoides) an Australian bird weighing less than 1kg.

Remains of Haast's eagles are rare because there never were many.

They lived only on New Zealand's South Island, with probably not more than 1,000 breeding pairs at any one time.

Paul Rogers