I just don’t know what to think when I hear of mega-fat people, those who grew while they were bed-ridden. This type of spectacle simply has to be enabled by others, because there’s no way these people can get to food on their own. These are stories of intense co-dependence. They have to be. The murder allegations here almost seem like a distraction to the main story.
I very much enjoyed Brene Brown’s TED talk on living whole-heartedly. She combines a humorous presentation with a deep and serious topic. At the outset, she recognized that “connection” is what life is all about, but shame (the fear that “I’m not X enough”) destroys this sense of connection. To allow connection, we need to take chances; we need to allow ourselves to be SEEN.
With this as the context, Brown set out to understand more about shame. It boils down to whether someone BELIEVES that they are worthy of love and belonging. The one thing that destroys a sense of love and connection is a fear that one is not worthy of love and belonging.
People with a sense of worthiness, the “whole-hearted,” have the courage to be imperfect. They have the compassion to be kind to themselves first, and then to others (because you can’t do the latter without doing the former), They also develop their sense of connection as a result of being authentic. They believe that what makes them vulnerable is what makes them beautiful–these are people who are willing to do something where there are no guarantees. Vulnerability is the core of our sense of shame and fear, but it is also the “birthplace” of joy, of creativity, belonging and love.”
Brown’s research showed that many of us “numb” vulnerability through our many addictions and obsessions. We can’t selectively numb the bad emotions without also numbing the good emotions. Because we numb all of our emotions, we then instinctively feed our cravings through our destructive addictions. We compensate by trying to make uncertain things certain. We also compensate by blaming. We try to perfect ourselves and our children. We also pretend that what we do does not have an impact on other people. We don’t know how to say that we’re sorry and that we’ll make things right.
Brown’s advice: Don’t be afraid to be seen for the vulnerable people we are. We must learn to love with our whole hearts, even when there is no guarantee. We need to practice gratitude and “lean into joy.” Most important, we need to learn to recognize that “we are enough,” because we then stop screaming and start listening. “Only then can we be kinder and gentler to ourselves and the people around us.”
And then again, according to this article in Discover, they might not. Check the comments to see the counter-research, as well as ever-more skirmishes in the ongoing American culture-wars.
To the extent that graphic warnings don’t discourage smokers, I’ll rack this up as one of the many many many counter-intuitive things scientists have discovered about human beings.
I just watched an hour of the Academy Awards tonight, and I was impressed with the snippets of movies that were shown (though I haven’t seen any of the featured movies yet). I love movies. I’ve seen hundreds of movies in my life, I’d bet I’ve watched two or three movies per month over my 54 years of life. Many of them have inspired me. I’m glad we have the opportunity to watch well-crafted movies. I should add that I watch almost no live television.
I’m increasingly disturbed about the great number of Americans who know far more about the movies and television they watch than they know about the real world. They know more because they watch dozens of movies every month. They can talk for endless hours about movies, movie stars and even the gossip regarding movie stars. Most people I know have a far greater grasp about movies than they do about any of the big issues facing this country. Movies are as real to them as the world they actually live in.
The following statistics are from the Kaiser Foundation:
Today, 8-18 year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes (7:38) to using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week). And because they spend so much of that time ‘media multitasking’ (using more than one medium at a time), they actually manage to pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes (10:45) worth of media content into those 7½ hours.
The Academy promotes movies as opportunities to escape, and movies function too well in that regard.
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I recently stumbled upon a book called The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People: What Scientists Have Learned and How You Can Use It, by David Niven, PhD (2000). The book offers quite a bit of solid commonsense advice. For instance:
- Cultivate friendships,
- Turn off the TV (“TV reduces personal contentment “by about 5% for every hour a day we watch”),
- Get a good nights sleep, and
- Money does not buy happiness.
Fair enough. Interspersed with the good advice, however, is quite a bit of advice with which I am not impressed. For instance,
Chapter 8: Accept yourself-unconditionally.
Chapter 12: Have realistic expectations.
Chapter 16: Believe in yourself.
Chapter 23: Belong to a religion.
Chapter 26: Root for a home team (a sports team).
Chapter 34 It’s not what happened; it’s how you think about what happened.
[More . . . ]
We lost our Roku internet connection this evening. Also the laptop connection, and the main computer. Basically, my internet was down.
So I went through all the usual things to find the problem. Computer was talking to the router that was in turn talking to the modem. So far so good. I managed to tell the router to tell the modem to change my IP address. Everything was working.
But I could not reach any web sites, email, or ftp servers. I finally figured out that the DNS must be down. Domain Name Service is the internet utility that converts name addresses (like DangerousIntersection.org) to numerical route addresses (like 22.214.171.124) so your packets (requests, pages, images, etc) can find their way through the web.
So I called AT&T and answered a series of questions, like “Can you get online?” (No) and “Did you try rebooting and turning the modem off and back on?” (Yes). Finally, I landed in the service hold queue.
What to my wondering ear did appear in the cannot-get-online and did-reboot queue? An annoying loop of messages telling me all the wonderful support I can get online! This, plus the repeated suggestion that I try rebooting.
I sat on hold for 35 minutes before I decided to vent on this forum. Well, at least to write about it. I have to wait till either they fix the problem, or I get through and can ask for a numerical address for the address server to bypass the broken automatic one.
After 73 minutes (1:13) of this, I reached an actual person. I started with asking if she knew how long the DNS would be down, largely to jump past all the AnyKey suggestions. No, but similar problems typically are resolved in 4 hours. Then I asked if she had a bypass DNS address that I could use until theirs was working. No she didn’t have this information. I suggested that she pass upstream my frustration with the “just go online” message piped in to people who were calling because they cannot get online. She had no mechanism for this. Oh, well. I stayed polite. Tech support folks are in a miserable position when they have no way to fix anything, and the problem is real.
Sting has written a Huffpo article declaring the “war on drugs” to be a failure:
Everyone knows the War on Drugs has failed. It’s time to step out of our comfort zones, acknowledge the truth — and challenge our leaders … and ourselves … to change.
Consider the consequences of drug prohibition today: 500,000 people incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails for nonviolent drug-law violations; 1.8 million drug arrests last year; tens of billions of taxpayer dollars expended annually to fund a drug war that 76% of Americans say has failed; millions now marked for life as former drug felons; many thousands dying each year from drug overdoses that have more to do with prohibitionist policies than the drugs themselves, and tens of thousands more needlessly infected with AIDS and Hepatitis C because those same policies undermine and block responsible public-health policies.
Here’s a video sketch of Thich Nhat Hanh from 2003 that I enjoyed and decided to share. A sample quote:
THICH NHAT HANH: Using violence to suppress violence is not the correct way. America has to wake up to that reality.
[Interviewer]: That’s not a sentiment you hear everyday at the Capitol. Nor is Nhat Hanh’s recommendation to this bitterly divided Congress that its members practice what he calls deep listening (to each other) and gentle speech.
Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos – the trees, the clouds, everything.
People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.
The practice of peace and reconciliation is one of the most vital and artistic of human actions.
People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air,but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.
Many of us are not capable of releasing the past, of releasing the suffering of the past. We want to cling to our own suffering. But the Buddha said very clearly, do not cling to the past, the past is already gone. Do not wait for future, the future is not yet there. The wise people establish themselves in the present moment and they practice living deeply in the present moment. That is our practice. By living deeply in the present moment we can understand the past better and we can prepare for a better future.