7 January 2007

Calming the mind with meditation is the beginning.  Gaining control over the focus of our thoughts is the second step.  With the third stage, we begin to direct our thoughts, and consciously to determine their content.

In taking control of our thoughts, we can affect our health, our confidence, and the way others perceive us.  From this platform, is there anything we can’t do?

– Josh Mitteldorf

6 January 2007

Today I will let the old boat stand
Where the sweep of the harbor tide comes in
To the pulse of a far, deep-steady sway.
And I will rest and dream and sit on the deck
Watching the world go by
And take my pay for many hard days gone I remember.

I will choose what clouds I like
In the great white fleets that wander the blue
As I lie on my back or loaf at the rail.
And I will listen as the veering winds kiss me and fold me
And put on my brow the touch of the world's great will.

Daybreak will hear the heart of the boat beat,
Engine throb and piston play
In the quiver and leap at call of life.
To-morrow we move in the gaps and heights
On changing floors of unlevel seas
And no man shall stop us and no man follow
For ours is the quest of an unknown shore
And we are husky and lusty and shouting-gay.

~ Carl Sandburg, born this day in 1878

Nearly all the best things that came to me in life have been unexpected, unplanned by me.”

5 January 2007

The world asks of us only the strength we have and we give it.
Then it asks more, and we give it.

~ from The Weighing, by Jane Hirshfield

4 January 2007

Sweden Vows to Go Oil-free in 15 years

Sweden has announced plans to be the first oil-free country in the world by 2020. Plans call for renewables—including biofuels, wind, and wave power—to replace fossil fuels. The country already committed itself to phasing out nuclear energy.

“A Sweden free of fossil fuels would give us enormous advantages, not least by reducing the impact from fluctuations in oil prices,” says development minister Monika Sahlin.

Sweden already gets 26 percent of its energy from renewable sources, while the European Union average is just 6 percent. “We want to be both mentally and technically prepared for a world without oil,”

The Guardian quoted a government official as saying. “The plan is a response to climate change, rising petroleum prices, and warnings by some experts that the world may soon be running out of oil.”

article from Yes magazine

3 January 2007

Paradoxically, one of the biggest reasons for being optimistic is that there are systemic flaws in the reported world view. Certain types of news — for example dramatic disasters and terrorist actions — are massively over-reported, others — such as scientific progress and meaningful statistical surveys of the state of the world — massively under-reported...

The publication last year of a carefully researched Human Security Report received little attention. Despite the fact that it had concluded that the numbers of armed conflicts in the world had fallen 40% in little over a decade. And that the number of fatalities per conflict had also fallen. Think about that. The entire news agenda for a decade, received as endless tales of wars, massacres and bombings, actually missed the key point. Things are getting better. If you believe Robert Wright and his NonZero hypothesis, this is part of a very long-term and admittedly volatile trend in which cooperation eventually trumps conflict. Percentage of males estimated to have died in violence in hunter gatherer societies? Approximately 30%. Percentage of males who died in violence in the 20th century complete with two world wars and a couple of nukes? Approximately 1%. Trends for violent deaths so far in the 21st century? Falling. Sharply.

Chris Anderson, from an Edge World Question forum

2 January 2007

A gene variation that helps people live into their 90s and beyond also protects their memories and ability to think and learn new information, according to a study published in the December 26, 2006, issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The gene variant alters the cholesterol particles in the blood, making them bigger than normal. Researchers believe that smaller particles can more easily lodge themselves in blood vessel linings, leading to the fatty buildup that can cause heart attacks and strokes.

Work is being done to develop drugs that can mimic the effect of this gene variation.

News release from American Academy of Neurology.
Nil Barzilai, Director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

1 January 2007

If I had my life to live over

I’d dare to make more mistakes next time.
  I’d relax, I would limber up.
I would be sillier than I have been this trip.
  I would take fewer things seriously.
  I would take more chances.

I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers.
  I would eat more ice cream and less beans.
  I would perhaps have more actual troubles, 
    but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.

You see, I’m one of those people who live 
  sensibly and sanely hour after hour, 
    day after day.

Oh, I’ve had my moments,
  And if I had it to do over again, 
    I'd have more of them.
  In fact, I’d try to have nothing else.
    Just moments, one after another,
  instead of living so many years ahead of each day.

I’ve been one of those people who never goes anywhere 
  without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat
    and a parachute.
If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.

If I had my life to live over,
  I would start barefoot earlier in the spring
      and stay that way later in the fall.
  I would go to more dances.
  I would ride more merry-go-rounds.
  I would pick more daisies.

~ Nadine Stair,
   (not Don Herold
    or Jorge Luis Borges)