Saturday, March 31, 2007

"Still finding my way"

Kahli--who posted at BFA as franster--has a post up at Booman Tribune entitled Chosen, redeemed, or other? It's a thoughtful post that has evoked a number of thoughtful comments. And one of those comments reminded me of a song "Still finding my way" from Greg Tamblyn's album The Grand Design. I shared the song's lyrics in the comments of that diary, and thought maybe they'd be appreciated here as well.

Sometimes I forget I need to dance
Spin around the floor like I've got crazy pants
Letting myself go
Getting in the flow
Don't be cool
Play the fool

Move into another state of mind
Going there not knowing where, or what I'll find
Look in someone's eyes, dropping my disguise
Oh my, I realize I'm still finding my way

Still finding my way
Little further every day
Like that river in the song, rolling along
To the place where I belong

Still learning to love
Teaching this old heart to open up
Letting go what I don't need, setting it free
'Cause I know I'm where I need to be
Still finding my way

Sometimes I forget to just slow down
Walk outside and take a lazy look around
Listen to the wind, sunshine on my skin
Touch the earth...feel my worth
Turning back to you, the one I love
Looking back and laughing at the crazy stuff
We made our mistakes, fell right on our face
Goodness sakes, it's no disgrace
Still finding our way

Still finding our way
Little further every day
Like that river in the song, rolling along
To the place where we belong
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Because this picture makes me smile

I just went over to Firedoglake and saw this picture at the top of the front page. It accompanies a post by Phoenix Woman entitled 2001: A Timeline of What Could Have Been. I haven't actually read the post yet, but dang, I like that picture.

Update: D'oh! How did I forget this? Today is Al Gore's birthday! If you'd like to send him a belated birthday greeting (it wouldn't *have* to be belated if the man had an e-mail address) you can send it here.

2100 West End Avenue
Suite 620
Nashville, TN 37203

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Friday, March 30, 2007

Dr. Philip Zimbardo on The Daily Show

From last night's Daily Show, in which Jon Stewart interviewed Dr. Philip Zimbardo, who recently wrote a book entitled the Lucifer Effect. *I* recognize him from those Discovering Psychology videos, which I have been showing to my psych classes for years. (Demetrius still maintains that he looks uncannily like The Master from Doctor Who.)

Philip Zimbardo: It's great to be here--nothing I've done in my whole career is going to earn me more "pizazz units" than being on your program. As my students say, "It's totally awesome, man!"

Jon Stewart: Students at *Stanford* talk that way?

Philip Zimbardo: Students everywhere talk that way.

Jon Stewart: I'm going to start talking that way! Your book, it's called the Lucifer Effect. Now, I was a psychology major--

Zimbardo: What did you get in Introductory Psych?

Stewart: Introductory Psych 101, I got "Yes, your essay was long enough." (Laughter.) But the two famous experiments are the Stanford Prison Experiment and the Milgram shocking experiment, that we're all taught that people are much more evil than they would appear to be on the outside. Tell us about the Stanford experiment.

Zimbardo: No, people are *not* more evil than they would appear to be on the outside. The Stanford Prison Experiment that I detail at great length in the Lucifer Effect really describes the gradual transformation of a group of good boys, 24 college students who volunteered to be in the experiment. Only the normal, healthy ones, randomly assigned by a flip of the coin to be guards or prisoners. What we see is how quickly the good boys--and that's important, they start off good--become brutal guards, and the normal kids become pathological prisoners--

Stewart: Now when you say "the slow descent from good to evil, it took a week, did it not?

Zimbardo: No, it actually took 36 hours. (Laughter) We were counting in minutes. (More laughter.) No, at 36 hours, the first prisoner had an emotional breakdown, and each day after that, another one followed suit. So the study was supposed to go two weeks; I had to end it in 6 days because it was out of control. These good guards were totally into the role of being sadistic, controlling, and dominant. The prisoners rebelled and they got their asses kicked, and the guards just dominated them, and we ended the study because it was out of control.

Stewart: Are those people now running the country? (Laughter and applause.)

Zimbardo: Some of them got jobs at Enron. (Laughter.)

Stewart: It boils down to this--I get the sense that we're in the trouble we're in because of this idea that there is good and there is evil.

Zimbardo: Right.

Stewart: And it doesn't mix, and we are locked in some sort of Hobbit-like battle between the two, but what you're suggesting is, it's pretty much of a flux.

Zimbardo: Oh, absolutely. Essentially what The Lucifer Effect is, is a celebration of the human mind. The human mind is this exquisite organ, which has the infinite capacity for any of us to be kind or cruel, selfish or destructive, villians or heros, and because of that capacity, it really is the situation that moves us in a path to be perpetrators of evil--most of us do not, but are innocent bystanders. And the good thing that comes out of my research is, some of us get moved to be heros. And so the question is, why do good people turn evil, and how can we get ordinary people to be more heroic?

Stewart: Well, here's an interesting thing. We had a kid on the show named Ishmael Beah, from Sierra Leone. As a teenager, they gave him a mixture of gunpowder and cocaine, gave him a gun and told him, "These people killed your family" and turned him into a killer. And then he, himself, worked out of that and has become somewhat heroic. So each person has that same capacity. But, in the so called "death cult", is that how they get people to be this way. Is there a certain kind of technique to turn people into that?

Zimbardo: Yes, but that's extreme. In Rwanda, it was enough to have the local government announce on the radio that starting today, the Tutsi are our enemy. And they went around giving each Hutu family a macheti and a club, and they say "We want to destroy the enemies, because they are a threat to our *national security*"--you've heard that song before. And in three months, Hutus killed 800,000 of their neighbors. And the "weapon of mass destruction" was what? It was a machete and a club.

Stewart: Is there an innoculation?

Zimbardo: Yeah, of course. None of these things happen--in the Stanford Prison study, I draw the parallels of Abu Ghraib, which are identical. I mean, the things that happened in our study all happened at night shift. The worst things that happened at Abu Ghraib were on night shift where there was no supervision and no oversight. You want to eliminate evil in institutions, you have to have strong oversight. You have to have leadership that says, "This is what we will do, this is what you can't do. We will do no harm, and if you do harm, here's what's going to happen. You're going to get in trouble, you're going to lose your job.

Usually in situations like that, the leadership backs off--they let you do whatever you want. In Abu Ghraib, those abuses went on for three months--who was watching the store?

Stewart: So you're saying they should have stopped Abu Ghraib after 36 hours.

Zimbardo: And the same thing with the war we're in--maybe 48 hours.

Stewart: Absolutely. It's unbelievably fascinating, even for someone who did very poorly in psychology. The Lucifer Effect, it's on the bookshelves now--Philip Zimbardo. (Applause)

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Two Wolves

Some of you may have seen me write about my "bad wolf" in the past, but I can't remember the last time I actually shared the parable or teaching tale of the two wolves.

Home again after school a grandson tells of his anger at a schoolmate who has taken his lunch from him. His grandfather replies, "Sit down, my boy. I, too, have felt a great hate for those who have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do. But, hate wears you down and does not hurt your enemy. I have struggled with these feelings many times.

"It is as if there are two wolves inside me: one is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.

"But the other wolf is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights with everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great.

"It is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit."

The boy looked intently into his grandfather's eyes and asked, "Which one wins, Grandfather?"

The grandfather solemnly replied, "The one I feed."

Click here to read how the story of the two wolves relates to some of the recent goings-on in the Democratic blogosphere.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Run, Al, run!

You really want to read this post at Firedoglake.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Open Thread

(Demetrius just added the Easter design seen above to our Cafe Press shop.)

Talk amongst yourselves.

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"Radical welcome"

Last night I started to write up some of what Tanya Erzen said at the presentation she gave at my church the other night, which was about the two years she spent studying the "ex-gay" movement and how it fits into the agenda of the "Christian right". But, man, was some of that stuff depressing and anger-inducing. So I decided to share some other things first, which fit in with the notion of churches (and individuals) practicing "radical welcome".

Radical welcome kicks welcome to the next level. It asks, Who would never even come to the door, because they are so sure we will not receive them, and because, historically, we have not?
I've written more about that here. It includes the story I shared last night, about Louis and Ernest (pictured here).

Click here to read Now *that's what I call "good news"!

(And I'm running late again this morning, so I need someone else to call "new thread", pretty please.)

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Monday, March 26, 2007

"Some say..."

From last night's episode of 60 Minutes, in which Katie Couric interviewed John and Elizabeth Edwards:

Katie Couric:
Your decision to stay in this race has been analyzed, and quite frankly judged by a lot of people. And some say, what you're doing is courageous, others say it's callous. Some say, "Isn't it wonderful they care for something greater than themselves?" And others say, "It's a case of insatiable ambition."
Some say the use of blind quotes has no place in responsible, professional journalism. Some even say it is a major contributor to the decline in level of the discourse in this country. Because using the seemingly innocuous words "some say" is a way of not admitting it's actually Rush Limbaugh (or someone similar) who says this. It's also a way of asking questions of your own that you'd rather not admit you are asking. And some further say this permits the introduction of some really lame, biased questions into interviews such as the one Katie Couric conducted last night.

Aw heck--you know that "some" saying all those things in the paragraph above? Yeah, it really is me saying that stuff.

Huh. That wasn't really so hard to admit...

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Look! A bunny!

Okay, ya got me! It's not a *real* bunny--just Daughter in Ohio's cat being humiliated once again for my amusement. This happens every time I feel like I need to get a new design up at Cafe Press, but can't seem to get inspired. But I can't spend hours trying and have *nothing* to show for it, so--I know!--let's "dress up" (Photoshop) the cat again.

Anyway, I feel like doing a lighthearted thread at the end of this weekend, so share fun links if you've got 'em.

Top 15 Unintentionally Funny Comic Book Panels

Top 11 Signs You're at a Geek Wedding

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My Power Battery Dharshanitron... um... Bliss-O-Matic ...Heart Tuner arrived on Friday evening (batteries not included) and I have sent away for the authorization codes which should arrive Monday Morning. The wrist and head bands which the manufacturer forgot to include will be here in a few days.

So this is the first update of my new journey. Having gone through the instruction manuals, I've concluded, and the inventor seems to concur, that Heaven on Earth is going to simply be a change in perspective from mind based thought, to heart based coherent emotion. It sounds really simple when all that needs to be done is to teach the children (and adults) how to find their inner "EUREKA!" (and learn to sustain it)

Imagine if you will, an EKG machine in your doctor's office that is so sensitive that it can not only tell when you smile, (by reading the harmonic frequency) but how deep the feeling was that caused the smile in the first place (by reading the amplitude of the frequency).

On Monday, when I get to open the programs for the first time while hooked up to the pre-amp, I'm going to try this simple experiment:

I'm starting by listening to two distinct pieces of my favorite music through headphones. One piece is very romantic and usually brings me close to tears whenever I listen to it. The second will be selections from a concert by The Who on "The King Biscuit Flower Hour" from 1973. I get a distinct rush whenever I hear Keith Moon on the drums that is quite different from the compassion rush I get listening to love songs.

I have no doubt that the gizmo will record the differences in harmonic frequencies between the two feelings. My experiment will be repeating the process to see if I can conciously increase the peaks of the rushes, like a surfer trying to catch just the right curl of an incoming wave.

Beyond this initial experiment, just learning to use the software will be interesting. I have to learn all of the readings of the main screen for my clinical studies. Then there's the Heart Music Synthesizer, six cardio-feedback games and something that teaches a breathing method that helps the heart re-learn to sing at it's full harmonic range. Not to mention music that replaces missing harmonics in the heart, lost to depression or despair...

Once upon a time I was an ocean
But now I'm a mountain range
Something unstop-able
Set into motion
Nothing is different
But everything is changed.
-Paul Simon-


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