Monday, June 29, 2009

More Wisdom from Louise Hay

I really like and admire Louise Hay. She's a true gift to all of us. Here's a nine-minute clip providing insight into her outlook on:
  • Power of Your Thoughts
  • Creating Your Life
  • Doing Affirmations
  • Good Will Happen
Any of you who know her background are aware that she speaks from experience, not just empty platitudes. So ... listen, enjoy, and learn.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Forget the Moon, Go To Mars Instead

Satellite photo of Mars.

Buzz Aldrin, the second human to walk on the moon, is openly questioning NASA’s priorities.
“As I approach my 80th birthday, I’m in no mood to keep my mouth shut any longer when I see NASA heading down the wrong path,” he recently told Popular Mechanics magazine. “And that’s exactly what I see today. The agency’s current Vision for Space Exploration will waste decades and hundreds of billions of dollars trying to reach the moon by 2020 ~ a glorified rehash of what we did 40 years ago. Instead of a steppingstone to Mars, NASA’s current lunar plan is a detour.”
He admits the moon is interesting scientifically, but believes Mars holds much more potential for a human colony.
“It’s much more terrestrial,” he tells the New York Times. “ It has a thin atmosphere and a day/night cycle that is very similar to ours. It has seasons. Russia perhaps is still entertaining the possibility that the moons of Mars might have access to ice or water.”
His comments come just as the Obama administration is reviewing NASA’s human spaceflight program. Aldrin hopes the review committee will heed him and other NASA critics and scrap the Ares rockets currently under development. He recommends NASA adapt existing satellite-launching rockets to carry a crew capsule so that NASA could spend its time, money, and energy establishing a Martian outpost.

Click here for the Discover magazine article.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Did Machu Picchu Symbolize Mythic Journey?

Was Peru’s famed Machu Picchu actually a destination for Incan pilgrimages, offering a scaled-down version of the mythological realm encountered by Incan ancestors?

That’s the contention of a new study that disputes the conventional view that Machu Picchu was a royal estate of the Inca ruler Pachacuti, who built it around A.D. 1460. According to National Geographic:
"I believe that much of the sacred space of the Incas has still to be recognized as such," says study author Giulio Magli, an astrophysicist at the Polytechnic Institute in Milan, Italy.

Perched on a mountain ridge some 8,000 feet above sea level, Machu Picchu was for years lost to history after the Spanish conquest. The site gained notoriety following a 1911 visit by U.S. explorer Hiram Bingham, whose Machu Picchu excavation was funded in part by the National Geographic Society.

According to Magli, Machu Picchu was conceived and built specifically as a pilgrimage site where worshippers could symbolically relive an important journey purportedly taken by their ancestors.

In Inca mythology, the first Inca were created on Bolivia's Island of the Sun on Lake Titicaca. From there, they undertook a harrowing journey beneath the Earth and emerged at a place called Tampu-tocco, close to the future site of the Inca capital Cusco.
Magli argues that certain structures at Machu Picchu symbolize important landmarks of this journey. For instance, a disorderly pile of stones represents the underground "void" that the first Inca traveled through.

"Pacha-Mama, or Mother Earth, was associated with disorder," Magli said. Similarly, a plaza at Machu Picchu represents Tampu-tocco, and a stone pyramid at the site doubles for the Huanacauri hill.

Click here for the complete National Geographic article.
This post originally appeared on my "Ancient Tides" blog.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

More Money, Less Pain

According to new research, if you have ample money, you are more immune to physical pain and social slights than an impoverished person.

As reported in the June issue of the journal Psychological Science, psychologists recently explored the psychological meaning of money in the laboratory. They ran a series of experiments to examine the effects of earning or losing money, social acceptance or rejection and physical pain.

According to Newsweek:
The psychologists used a ruse to prime volunteers' thoughts about money. The testgivers told subjects that they were taking part in a dexterity test, in which half of them counted pieces of paper and the other half counted a stack of $100 bills, a lab task well known to activate the idea of earning and having money.

Then they ran two experiments. In one, the volunteers all took part in a pain-tolerance test, which involved dipping the volunteers' fingers in very hot water. In another, they participated in a computerized ball-tossing game, which had been set up to shun certain players ~ much like kids are ostracized on the playground.The idea was to see if being flush with cash would lead to less painful feelings of rejection ~ and if it would salve actual physical suffering as well.

It did both, unmistakably. Those who had counted real C-notes reported less pain ~ both social and physical ~ than did those who had just counted paper.
So, why would this be the case?
The psychologists' theory is that social pain is merely a modern version of more basic physical pain. Our ancient brain evolved a pain detector to warn us away from peril, and as we became social animals, the emotional pain detector was piggy-backed on top. The modern brain mixes them up.

They further speculate that money is a social resource, interchangeable with popularity. Having money increases people's confidence in their ability to negotiate their social world. So having money bolsters self-esteem and defuses the pain of ostracism ~ and in the process diminishes actual pain.

Click here for the Newsweek article.

Monday, June 22, 2009

[One of my favorite astrology blogs is AstroTableTalk by a fellow calling himself Dharmaruci, out of Glastonbury, UK. Here’s part of a fascinating post from last week entitled simply "Iran." Here he examines the birth charts for Obama and Ahmadinejad. This is only the opening part of the post ~ click on the link if you want to read the rest.]

Ahmadinosaur was born 10/28/56, time unknown. He has Sun conjunct Neptune in Scorpio. At its best, this combination has passion, insight, loyalty, imagination and compassion. Maybe in private Ahmajihad does. Maybe, like Hitler, he is in private a vegetarian who likes children. But in public we see this combination at its worst, the snake (Scorpio) who can sway the crowds (Neptune). You cannot trust anything he says. He also has Moon in Leo/Virgo, conjunct Pluto. I think his Moon is more likely to be a grandiose, self-serving Leo, and the conjunction to Pluto ties in with his Sun in Pluto’s sign of Scorpio: he has a hunger for power, and knows how to get it and keep it.

It is interesting that Barack Obama, now his principal foreign opponent, has Sun square Neptune and Moon square Pluto. Their Moons square – possibly a bit widely – and their Suns square, again a bit widely. Their Mars’ oppose (7 degrees).

As with Bush and bin Laden/Saddam Hussein, the stage is set, astrologically at least, for a personal enmity. Obama and Ahmadinejad have a kind of similarity to their charts that clashes. With Obama’s own Sun-Neptune and Moon-Pluto challenges, Ahmadinejad is a reminder to him of his own shadow side. It is hard not to demonize Ahmadinejad, precisely because he is so demonic. When you demonize someone, you write them off as evil, and no longer see their individuality. It will be interesting to see how, over time, Obama deals with Ahmadinejad, now that he has been ‘re-elected’.

Click here for Dharmaruci's entire post.
Click here for his AstroTableTalk astrology blog.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

(Providing Nourishment)

The corners of the mouth.
Perseverance brings good fortune.
Pay heed to the providing of nourishment
And to what a man seeks
To fill his own mouth with.

In bestowing care and nourishment, it is important that the right people should be taken care of and that we should attend to our own nourishment in the right way. If we wish to know what anyone is like, we have only to observe on whom he bestows his care and what sides of his own nature he cultivates and nourishes. Nature nourishes all creatures. The great man fosters and takes care of superior men, in order to take care of all men through them. Mencius says about this:
"If we wish to know whether anyone is superior or not, we need only observe what part of his being he regards as especially important. The body has superior and inferior, important and unimportant parts. We must not injure important parts for the sake of the unimportant, nor must we injure the superior parts for the sake of the inferior. He who cultivates the inferior parts of his nature is an inferior man. He who cultivates the superior part of his nature is a superior man."
(Chinese philosopher Mencuis, or Meng-tzu, lived from 389 to 305 BC)

Friday, June 19, 2009

And Now For Something Completely Different ....

I don't even know what to think of this video, but it makes me happy. I would love to have been in this store at the time.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

'Explosive Disorder' Fuels Road Rage

Scientists are finally putting a clinical name on road rage. They say much of the irrational fury shown on today’s highways is a symptom of “intermittent explosive disorder.”

According to researchers at the University of Chicago, people have stronger reactions to being slighted than to being treated with generosity, which is why traffic troubles can cause some people to detonate in anger.
"For instance in driving, if you are kind and let someone go in front of you, that driver may be considerate in response. But if you cut someone off, that person may react very aggressively, and this could escalate to road rage," said University of Chicago psychology professor Boaz Keysar. "Small slights could escalate to unbelievable, irrational feuds."

Intermittent explosive disorder is "characterized by recurrent episodes of angry and potentially violent outbursts ~ seen in cases of road rage or spousal abuse," wrote Ronald Kessler of Harvard Medical School and his colleagues.
Intermittent explosive disorder "has been found to be much more common than previously thought," they wrote in the Archives of General Psychiatry.
Attacks resulting from the disorder "are out of proportion to the social stressors triggering them" and aren't related to other mental disorders, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

"People with this disorder overreact to situations with uncontrollable rage, feel a sense of relief during the angry outburst, and then feel remorseful about their actions," Kessler and colleagues wrote.

Click here for the LiveScience article.

Monday, June 15, 2009

You Can't Escape 2012 (the movie, that is)

A page from Sony's "2012" website about the IHC.

The commercialization of The End of the World is starting to heat up. Beginning this fall, I’m certain our television viewing will be peppered with graphic representations of tsunamis, earthquakes, colliding planets and all sort of apocalyptic scenarios ~ all courtesy of Sony Pictures.

There’ll simply be no excuse for not being aware that we all have only three more years to live.

Sony’s big movie “2012” ~ ostensibly about a researcher leading people in a battle against such events, directed by Roland Emmerich and starring John Cusack ~ is due out November 13.

Taking a lead from the ABC hit series “Lost,” Sony’s “2012” website features a fictitious scholarly organization called the Institute for Human Continuity (IHC), complete with mission statement, press releases, and made-up history.
“The Institute for Human Continuity is dedicated to scientific research and public preparedness. After more than two decades of rigorous research from the world’s top astronomers, mathematicians, geologists, physicists, anthropologists, engineers, futurists … we know in 2012 a series of cataclysmic forces will wreak havoc on our planet. The IHC has developed a number of initiatives to prepare the world for this inevitability.”
These “initiatives” include a lottery to win a place in an apocalypse-proof bunker or something of that sort.

As an offshoot of the movie's promotion, Woody Harrelson, one of the actors in “2012,” is starring in a series of of YouTube videos as Charlie Frost, commenting on the end of the world. According to the Great Ads blog: “The promo video was released on YouTube and had over a million views in just the first day ~ now that’s how you create a buzz, friends.”

Here’s one of my favorite Charlie Frost videos so far …

Search for Alien Life is Expanding

The search for life on other planets is ramping up, with the SETI Institute ~ the world's best-known organization dedicated to searching for alien life ~ now unveiling plans to scan a million stars over 10 billion communication channels.

And the big question is: If we do find another civilization, what do we say?

"Most conversations about this subject until now have been among academics," Douglas Vakoch, heading up the new effort at SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) told the Los Angeles Times. "We want to really expand the discussion."

So far, SETI has no plans to actually send the messages into space. Vakoch said that before anything like that is undertaken, it should be subject to international discussion.

According to the LA Times:
Over the last few years, a Russian group has sent greetings in Russian and English to targeted stars in our galactic neighborhood, generating a major dust-up in the small but passionate SETI community. Critics say the Russians are acting out of turn, without asking permission to open what would amount to diplomatic relations with another civilization. The problem is that nobody has the authority to grant permission.

Some observers say there is no need for us to broadcast a message. We're already doing that in the form of leakage into space of our radio and television signals. Those signals, however, are much too weak to travel far. A coordinated communications effort would require a powerful transmitter, a highly focused beam and a receiver pointed in the right direction.
The first serious effort to contact intelligent life outside Earth was made in 1974, using the big radio telescope at Arecibo, Puerto Rico. The three-minute transmission by a group at Cornell University attempted to describe Earth and its inhabitants in binary code.

Click here for the complete Los Angeles Times article.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Daydreaming Promotes Problem-Solving

New research indicates that when the brain wanders ~ as in daydreaming ~ it is working even harder to solve problems.

Scientists scanning the brains of people inside MRI machines found that a "default network" deep inside a human brain becomes more active during daydreaming. The scans also revealed intense activity in the executive network, the outlying region of the brain associated with complex problem-solving, said neuroscientist Kalina Christoff.

According to Cosmos Magazine:
"People assume that when the mind wanders away it just gets turned off ~ but we show the opposite, that when it wanders, it turns on," said Christoff, head of a neuroscience laboratory at the University of British Columbia.

The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest daydreaming might be a better way to solve problems than intense focusing.

"People who let themselves daydream might not think in the same focused way as when performing a goal-oriented task, but they bring in more mental and brain resources," said Christoff.

She argued that now people might change their attitudes towards daydreamers. "Within ourselves, we have absorbed that attitude that mind wandering is a bad thing. We're harsh on ourselves, if we catch ourselves mind wandering," she said. "A more playful attitude might allow you to call in more resources."
Some research indicates people typically spend a third of their waking time daydreaming. "It's a big part of our lives, but it's been largely ignored by science," Christoff said.

Click here for the complete Cosmos Magazine article.
Painting is "The Daydream" by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1880.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Does Our DNA Pass Down Environmental Traits?

The discovery of epigenetics ~ hidden influences upon the genes ~ presents huge implications for what and how we inherit traits, including those passed down from ancestors.

At the heart of this new field is the idea that genes have a 'memory'. This means the lives of your grandparents ~ the air they breathed, the food they ate, even the things they saw ~ can directly affect you despite your never experiencing these things yourself. And that what you do in your lifetime could affect your grandchildren.

Scientists believe DNA carries all our heritable information and that nothing people do in their lifetimes will be biologically passed to their children. To many scientists, epigenetics amounts to a heresy, calling into question the accepted view of the DNA sequence.

But epigenetics adds a whole new layer to genes beyond the DNA. It proposes a control system of 'switches' that turn genes on or off. It suggests that things people experience, like nutrition and stress, can control these switches and cause heritable effects in humans.

In a remote town in northern Sweden there is evidence for this radical idea. Lying in Överkalix's parish registries of births and deaths and its detailed harvest records is a secret that confounds traditional scientific thinking.

Marcus Pembrey, a Professor of Clinical Genetics at the Institute of Child Health in London, in collaboration with Swedish researcher Lars Olov Bygren, has found evidence in these records of an environmental effect being passed down the generations. They have shown that a famine at critical times in the lives of the grandparents can affect the life expectancy of the grandchildren.

This is the first evidence that an environmental effect can be inherited in humans.

In other independent groups around the world, the first hints that there is more to inheritance than just the genes are coming to light.

Click here for the complete BBC article.