Recent Articles

The misconduct of Columbus is Bible based.

| October 13, 2014 | Reply

From Bible Funmentionables, we learn that Columbus was acting on the authority of the Bible when government officials fail to mention when they are celebrating Columbus Day. Michael G. Morris of Bible Funmentionables explains:

Hate to ruin your Columbus Day festivities, but what better time to explore one of the worst first impressions in human history and how it was all seemingly condoned by the Good Book. Columbus’ own stated purpose for his voyage (to India) was to find people who belonged to

“the sect of Mahoma [Islam] and to all idolatries and heresies, with a view that they might be converted to our holy faith.”

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Tone Poem – “Catharsis

| October 12, 2014 | Reply

Last week, I composed a short tune I call “Catharsis.” It’s based on a sound I’ve always enjoyed–essentially a cycle of major chords, each of which is stacked with a major chord one whole step higher. I played the tune on an amazingly affordable ($600) Yamaha P-105 keyboard with good quality weighted keys–It has become one of my favorite instruments recently. Mixdown of the Fender jazz bass and a bit of percussion was done on Logic Pro X.

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Lee Camp: The corporate media manufactures public consent for war.

| October 12, 2014 | Reply

Lee Camp nails this issue:The corporate media is manufacturing public consent for war.

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Poem: The Joyride of Becoming

| October 7, 2014 | 2 Replies

I rarely write poetry, but I’m finding myself in new territory these days (divorce, new home and several other related changes), feeling some angst when it would seem that I mostly have cause to celebrate new perspectives and opportunities.  I’ve often joked that I experience this sort of distressed happiness because of my gypsy roots.  Friends tell me that this is the plight of control freaks and that I need to loosen up. This is my response to them.

I’ve long been fascinated with the writings of the Greek philosopher Heraclitus. I made his theory of the flux the focus of my poem.

The Joyride of Becoming
Erich Vieth (2014)

Heraclitus wasn’t fooled when people talked about
“permanent” things.
All is flux, he proclaimed.
“You cannot step into the same river twice.”

Now that Life has hurled me out of my self-conjured comfort,
Every moment whispers that Heraclitus is correct;
the world is permeated with universal acid.
This is not a philosopher’s word game.
I feel it in my ever-morphing bones.

Everything.
Every thing is
a nonstop dance of destruction and creation.
Every cloud, creature and canyon a ghostly multiverse,
a sprawling swirling that runs through our feeble stop signs,
ignoring these empty-shell words we try to use as hooks
to stabilize our vivid imaginings.
Even my steadfast dog threatens to become an ontological metaphor.

The SuperFlux gives rise to joys that will inevitably threaten
and dangers that will someday delight–
A roiling process that moves in and on in a thousand ways
On both sides of our skins and skulls,
whether we are ready or not.
Failure to heed this fact that all nouns are verbs
tempts us to walk
with undue swagger
and blurt out false promises.

Yes, some things change less noticeably, mostly
things that don’t cry,
though all things eventually crack, crumble
and re-assimilate.

It is our friends, lovers
and central truths that are
the fastest fire and water:
Even though they look the same from day to day, they are
self-extinguishing works in progress
that we struggle to know
only through sparks and splatters.
Trying to possess them is to try to embrace
dancing flames and swift whirlpools.

Act, we must. Judge, we must,
or we would quickly die.
We are told that to live well
we must know well,
though we are irretrievably smeared
across all that is.
Even that magic three-pound organ in our head
cannot wrap itself around the impossibility of this daily task.
Taking this plight seriously risks
sanity.
If only I could better convince myself
to go with the flow.

As we pause to drink water molecules previously drunk
by Jesus, Cleopatra and Heraclitus, we become
Fatigued.
We summon up courage as a substitute for knowledge
and we have faith that all Motion is Progress,
whistling while rearranging our decaying deck chairs,
convincing ourselves
over and over
that it is the Blobs in this lava lamp that are stably
meaningful,
rather than the process.

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Guided meditation Video

| October 7, 2014 | Reply

I’ve soured on Sam Harris over the years, but I still find him to be highly articular and engaging.

In recent weeks, some friends have indicated that I look absorbed and even anxious, even though my life is filled with joys and possibilities. I have been told that I have tied myself in knots, and I have heard, “You need to get out of your own way.” For the umpteenth time, it has been suggested that I consider meditation in order to clear my mind.

You can learn about meditation in many places. I’ve read articles and even a book on meditation. Today, I stumbled across this video by Sam Harris, who has long been an advocate of meditation. The fact that he is also well versed in cognitive science caused me to be interested in his approach to meditation. This is a 26 minute guided meditation. I found myself surprisingly able to hang onto the process and to escape some of the things that have been distracting me as I viewed this video. I’m going to come back to this several more times, while I continue to explore personal meditation.

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John Oliver comments on U.S. drone terror

| October 2, 2014 | Reply

What do you know about American predator drones? You’ll learn mostly jingoistic propaganda from the commercial media. John Oliver is here to help:

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The vision and plans of Bernie Sanders

| September 30, 2014 | Reply

Very few politicians speak for ordinary people any more. Mostly, they speak to those with money in order to get some of that money for themselves. A shining example is Bernie Sanders. Recently, he was interviewed at length at Salon:

What I’ll tell you is what I do say in public, which is that, at a time when the middle class is collapsing; when we have more people living in poverty than ever before and we have huge income and wealth inequality; when we are the only major nation on earth that does not have a national healthcare system; when we have millions of young people leaving college deeply in debt; when we have the planetary crisis of climate change; when we, because of Citizens United, have a billionaire class now controlling our political process, we need candidates who are prepared to stand up without apology representing the working families of America and are prepared to take on the billionaire class which controls so much of America. I think that’s absolutely imperative that that takes place.

What I have said is that I am giving thought to running for president. I haven’t made that decision. It’s a very, very difficult decision. I have gone to Iowa on a couple of vacations. I’ll be back there. I’ve gone to New Hampshire. I’ll be there this Saturday. And I’ve gone to other places in the country including the south—North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi—to get a sense of how people are feeling.

But yes, I am giving thought and I will make the decision at the appropriate time.

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More on Ayn Rand, from John Oliver

| September 30, 2014 | Reply

This sharped edged humor piece aimed at Ayn Rand gets it right. How is it possible that she can be seen as heroic or inspirational to anyone at all?

Answer: Intense cherry picking and the confirmation bias.

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Gluten Sensitivity as a Nocebo

| September 25, 2014 | 2 Replies

There’s an awfully large amount of money being spent on special gluten free products.  How many of the people who buy these products really need them?   According to this article on Buzzfeed, not many.    The most memorable passages from this article:

17 million people may unnecessarily believe that they are gluten-sensitive. (Source: A Mayo Clinic survey in 2012, cited in a NY Times article.)

[We] spent $10.5 billion last year on gluten-free products. (Source: Mintel, a market research company, cited in the NY Times article.)

It is especially important because a psychological disease can spread as fast as any virus but be more enduring.

A 2012 Mayo Clinic survey concluded that only 1.8 million Americans have Celiac disease. Only 1.8 million people should be on a non-gluten diet. Compare this to the 18 million people who consider themselves “gluten sensitive”

According to this article many of the people who spend lots of money on gluten-free products, gluten serves as a “nocebo,” defined below by Wikipedia:

nocebo (Latin for “I shall harm”) is a harmless substance that creates harmful effects in a patient who takes it. The nocebo effect is the negative reaction experienced by a patient who receives a nocebo. Conversely, a placebo is an inert substance that creates either a positive response or no response in a patient who takes it. The phenomenon in which a placebo creates a positive response in the patient to which it is administered is called the placebo effect. The nocebo effect is less well-studied and well-known, by both scientists and the public, than the placebo effect.

What’s the evidence that gluten is not detrimental to most people who are committed to gluten free products?

This disease is largely self-diagnosed, and studies are starting to show that it may be real in a great number of cases. Professor and scientist Peter Gibson is no stranger when it comes to studying gluten. He did a study in 2011 that gave a lot of credit to the belief in (non-Celiac) gluten sensitivity. Seeing that NCGS had become a worldwide phenomenon, he revisited the topic in 2013 with a critical look at the original assumptions. These are the measures he took to validate his results:
Subjects were given every single meal for the duration of the study.Any other potential causes of bad stomach symptoms were removed from the diet. (Think lactose from milk.) Just in case you do not think he was serious, Peter collected nine days worth of urine and fecal matter. (Now that’s a topic of conversation.) The results were pretty shocking. They concluded that gluten in no way could have caused any of the negative symptoms that the subjects were suffering from.

 

Most claims of the need to be gluten free are starting to remind me of the phenomenon of facilitated communication regarding autistics.

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