“let’s just tax the rich at Eisenhower levels, start Single Payer health care for all, stop the wars, close the international military bases, stop subsidizing the oil companies, and penalize companies that send jobs overseas. Speaking of education, let’s train the FBI in economics as well as anti-terrorism so they can actually find the evidence to put some of the Wall Street crooks in jail. Oh, and unionize all workers, public and private. Our children and our grandchildren will thank us, and then we can all die in peace.”
divided sky – phish
In the Science Times today John Tierney wrote an enlightening article on Richard Gott’s use of the Copernican Principle and the imperative need for space colonization. Definitely worth the read if you have time. The end of the article was my favorite as Tierney justified why colonizing space is a good idea.
“When Extinction is the norm, you may as well try to be special.”
via Zen Habits
One of my favorite methods of finding happiness and preventing stress is living in the moment — also known as mindfulness. It’s one of the foundations of Zen Buddhism, of course, (actually all Buddhism, I believe), but it’s not necessarily meditation, per se — it’s more being aware of your actions and thoughts, and what your senses bring in, in your every day routine.
No one actually lives in the moment all the time — I don’t think it’s possible. Some, with practice, can learn to live in the moment for longer than most of us, but there will always be times when you’re worried about the future or thinking about the past, and forget to be in the moment.
It’s actually pretty hard, if you give it a try. Test it out right now: close your eyes (after reading these instructions first), and concentrate on your breathing — the sensation of the air as it enters your nose or mouth and fills your lungs, and as it goes out again. If other thoughts come up, be aware of them, acknowledge them, let them go (but don’t try to force them away) and then return your focus to your breathing.
It’s hard, isn’t it? Being in the moment isn’t as easy as it sounds.
It takes practice. But it can be achieved at times. To help inspire you to live in the moment, here are 5 great examples:
- Children. There’s no one better at being present than a child. I love to watch my three-year-old son, Seth, as he plays. He’s not thinking about what happened to him yesterday, or what he’s going to do later today. He’s Spiderman, and he’s fighting the bad guys, and nothing else in the world exists. If he gets mad about something, he overreacts, and nothing else in the world matters but what has upset him. But he’ll cry about it, and then soon return to normal, happy again, the offending situation forgotten without a grudge. He has no cares about tomorrow, and for that, I love to watch him. We need to use children as inspiration, and try to be like them sometimes. Jesus instructed us, “Be as a child,” and those were wise words.
- Cats. I also like watching my cat, Riddle. He thinks he’s a lion. He’ll stealthily stalk an insect or lizard, as if he’s hidden in tall grass on the savanna, and then he pounces and attacks. You know he’s not thinking about what he had for breakfast or what furniture needs to be clawed to shreds later in the day. Cats (and other animals) are all about the Now. Be like a cat.
- My wife and dessert. My wife Eva really knows how to eat dessert. Actually, of all the people I know, she may be the best at being in the moment, completely. She can really enjoy something, with all of her being. I’ve learned how to eat dessert by watching her — while I tend to gobble something quickly, Eva closes her eyes, and slowly puts a spoon of ice cream in her mouth. She savors the flavor, the texture, the coolness, the sweetness, the chocolateness of it. Eva enjoys things more than most human beings, and she inspires me. The next time you eat something, try not to think about anything else, not to read, not to talk to someone — just experience the food.
- Zen sweeper. It’s been said that the only two jobs of a Zen monk are sitting zazen (meditation) and sweeping. Cleaning is one of the daily rituals of a Zen monk, one of their most important daily practices. They sweep or rake, and they try to do nothing else. They aren’t thinking about being in a Zen state — the Zen state is the sweeping. The next time you’re doing housework (or anything, really), try concentrating on the housework, on the dust, on the motion, on the sensation. See this interesting article for more on this.
- Yourself, lost in something. You’ve been in the moment plenty of times. Can you remember a time when you lost yourself in a task? Not lost in thought, but lost in the doing of the task itself — you were concentrating fully, you thought of nothing else. The world disappeared. It might have been work — you might have achieved that state of mind known as “flow” — or it could have been a hobby, playing sports, yardwork, fixing something, anything. Try to remember a time like that, and replicate it.
Dear Mr. Prime,
We have received your accident-claim reports for the month of June—they total 27. I regret to inform you that GEICO will not be able to reimburse you for any of those repairs. I feel that I have sent the same letter to you once a month for the last six months, and I am now sending it again.
Since becoming a GEICO customer in January of this year, you have reported 131 accidents, requesting reimbursement for repairs necessitated by each one. You have claimed not to be responsible in any of them, usually listing the cause of the accident as either “Sneak attack by Decepticons” or “Unavoidable damage caused by protecting freedom for all sentient beings.”
The only repairs for which you were reimbursed were the replacement of a cracked fender and a headlight, required after a Mr. I. Ron Hide backed his van into your truck; these cost $1,286.63. Our own investigation concluded that you were not at fault and that Mr. Hide had been drinking prior to the accident. Though police were unable to test his blood-alcohol level—Mr. Hide claimed that it would be impossible for police to examine his blood-alcohol content with a Breathalyzer, because he “doesn’t breathe”—under Washington-state law, refusal to take a Breathalyzer test is equivalent to returning a result above the legal level.
But, I repeat, those were the only repairs for which you have been reimbursed, and it was a very minor accident in comparison to your other claims. I mention a few to illustrate the larger trend:
- $379,431.34 requested reimbursement for repairs to your truck cabin. You claimed the damage was caused by attacking fighter jets.
- $665,789.11 requested reimbursement for repairs to your trailer. You claimed the damage was caused by a giant mechanical scorpion, which I can only assume is some amusement-park ride, although I question the wisdom of bringing your mobile home so close to such dangerous equipment.
- $6,564,239.44 requested reimbursement for repairs to a truck part called the “Autobot Matrix of Leadership.” You stated this occurred in “an ultimate confrontation between good and evil,” with a Ms. Meg Atron and a Mr. U. Nicron causing the damage in question. Mr. Prime, I have checked every known car- and truck-part catalog published in the United States and have found nothing even resembling that part, never mind any part so expensive. Whatever disagreements you had with Ms. Atron and Mr. Nicron, I suggest that next time you either settle things peaceably or leave your Autobot Matrix of Leadership at home so it doesn’t break. GEICO does not cover Autobot Matrix of Leaderships.
And the list goes on. Mr. Prime, I am going to remind you again: Your policy with GEICO only reimburses you for accidents that occur while you are engaged in the reasonable use of your truck and trailer. As I told you when you originally purchased the policy, GEICO does not offer Megatron coverage, Starscream coverage, Soundwave coverage, Decepticon coverage, or Energon-blast coverage. Those are just not the types of damages we would expect from reasonable use.
To sum up, GEICO has been unable to reimburse you for any repairs, but due to the high number of accidents you have been a party to this month, combined with the many accidents you have had in the preceding five months, your premium has increased to $235,567.50 per month. While that may seem like a lot, I remind you that it is a savings of $137 over Progressive and $98 over State Farm. Please have your check into our main office by the end of July.
- Experience things fully, vividly, selflessly. Throw yourself into the experiencing of something: concentrate on it fully, let it totally absorb you.
- Life is an ongoing process of choosing between safety (out of fear and need for defense) and risk (for the sake of progress and growth): Make the growth choice a dozen times a day.
- Let the self emerge. Try to shut out the external clues as to what you should think, feel, say, and so on, and let your experience enable you to say what you truly feel.
- When in doubt, be honest. If you look into yourself and are honest, you will also take responsibility. Taking responsibility is self-actualizing.
- Listen to your own tastes. Be prepared to be unpopular.
- Use your intelligence, work to do well the things you want to do, no matter how insignificant they seem to be.
- Make peak experiencing more likely: get rid of illusions and false notions. Learn what you are good at and what your potentialities are not.
- Find out who you are, what you are, what you like and don’t like, what is good and what is bad for you, where you are going, what your mission is. Opening yourself up to yourself in this way means identifying defenses–and then finding the courage to give them up.
It seems as though every day I find something completely worthy of devouring my time on the web. Today I have re-discovered twitter, something I saw when it first came out and almost immediately discarded it as stupid. Now I must admit that I was wrong, and twitter is awesome. I can’t yet explain what it is coherently, mainly because it is so many things at once. Here is a screen shot of one of my first experiments.
As you can see, that is me, and i’m also the 6th post down on twitters front page. Exciting indeed. One can only expect to stay on the front page for about 10 seconds before more updates push you off into the archives. My page is twitter.com/destroyer.
So back into focus: Why I Love The Web; because it is the communications tool. Twitter is an example of how any idea is capable of being produced. All that is needed is an imagination. Since I wrote off twitter as stupid prematurely I decided to go back and visit clipmarks as well. This was something which I thought was cool, and intriguing, but nonetheless I deleted the firefox extension because I thought I would never use it. Well I just reinstalled it, and i’m going to be using it alot I think. Also, I think it’s time to buy my own space on the web. I have too many ideas waiting to be published to not have a space to publish them. This is definitely in the works. All I have to do now is figure out how to install everything!
- You must first have a lot of patience to learn to have patience.
Stanislaw J. Lec (1909 – 1966), “Unkempt Thoughts”
I went to see 300 last night at midnight and it was most definitely worth it. After leaving the movie theater at 2:30 in the morning I was more pumped up to kill persians than perhaps i’ve ever been. Basically the most badass movie since The Last Samurai, and it’s probably one of the gorriest movies ever made. It took about 30 minutes before the battling began, but once it started it didn’t stop. I’d give it a 5/5, go see it in Imax if you can.