Saturday, September 29, 2007

Gracie Jiu-Jitsu

So this job means that I travel a lot. This means that I spend lots of time by myself in strange places probably looking like I don't know where I am going. This makes me nervous. So I was driving home from MA to Philly and having one of my "what are you doing with your life?" conversations with myself and I realized how deeply uncomfortable/afraid I am with even the thought of physical confrontation.

Those of you know me, I'm not a real hugger. I mean if I have known you for years, I can hug it out with the best of them, but that whole social "hi" hug thing that people are wont to do? Hell no. Back up bitches. There are all sorts of reasons for this, some benign, but some reasons are true malignancies. Thus, given that my life goal is to live fully present, mindful and unafraid as consistently as possible, it became clear to me that this fear would need to be addressed. Enter Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.

Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is essentially learning how to street fight in a safe environment and I stress safe. I've only had three classes, but given that we are practicing choke holds and submission poses and I haven't freaked out, the level of safe this place achieves is amazing to me. That said, today we did choke holds and it was uncomfortable. It is disconcerting to be thinking in terms of protecting your throat and keeping your hands up in front of your face etc. It is more than disconcerting really. I knew I was afraid of physical confrontation. I can't even watch realistic scenes of violence on television or in movies. Even knowing that did not prepare me for the overwhelming sensation of "I don't want to know this" that happens when someone is lightly choking me. Seriously, it must be some sort of significant human defect to essentially feel more comfortable with the idea of getting attacked and getting knocked out or killed, than deal personally with the violent aggression necessary to defend oneself. And anyone who has seen me drive knows I do not lack aggression!

So I suck at it, but I'm going to keep going and I am going to hope that is the right thing and what I learn really does help me achieve my goal.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

AlterNet: Sex and Relationships: Pornography and the End of Masculinity

AlterNet: Sex and Relationships: Pornography and the End of Masculinity: "But I've changed my mind. No, I'm not a prude, or anti-sex. Nor do I think there should be a national campaign to snuff out all porn. In fact, I sometimes watch certain kinds of porn. But what has become clear to me is that, under the guise of the First Amendment, a huge and powerful porn industrial complex has grown out of control. And a big part of its growth is fueled, not just by the internet, but by continually upping the ante, increasing the extremes of degradation for the women in tens of thousands of films made every year. I am convinced, although it is, of course, difficult to document, that the huge audiences for porn and the pervasiveness of the themes and behaviors of degradation are having a negative impact on the way men behave and the way society treats women."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

good to know

: "Performance Doesn't Determine Character Beyond acknowledging the value of mistakes, there's a deeper reality that will help you free yourself from a debilitating fear of failure. That fear is often the result of an unacknowledged belief that the results of your efforts and your quality as a person are inexorably linked.

In truth, there's no connection between the results you achieve at work (or in sports) and your quality as a human being. This simple but profound insight can free you to be a more natural and mentally tough performer in all aspects of your life. The reason is that if you link mistakes to who you are as a person, you'll exaggerate the emotional responses of your actions.

Either consciously or subconsciously, your emotions lead you to think that if you perform poorly you did something wrong -- or worse, that you're a bad person. But just because things don't work out doesn't mean you've erred. You may have made the absolutely right decision and failed in the execution. Or maybe you selected the right course of action and did everything you were supposed to do, but your competitor got lucky.

It's equally important to know that just because something worked out well doesn't mean you did something right or were thinking correctly. You may have made the wrong decisions and just got a lucky break. If it worked this time, don't count on it happening again, especially when the stakes are high.

Monday, September 17, 2007

How this 12inch miracle tube could halve heating bills | the Mail on Sunday

How this 12inch miracle tube could halve heating bills | the Mail on Sunday: "It sounds too good to be true - not to mention the fact that it violates almost every known law of physics. But British scientists claim they have invented a revolutionary device that seems to 'create' energy from virtually nothing. Their so-called thermal energy cell could soon be fitted into ordinary homes, halving domestic heating bills and making a major contribution towards cutting carbon emissions."

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Are you artistic or logic - Maybe both... : All My Faves | Blog

Are you artistic or logic - Maybe both... : All My Faves | Blog:
"Look at the dancer below. What do you see? Is she turning clockwise or counter-clockwise? You just can’t help but love these optical illusions."

Joseph Tainter - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Joseph Tainter - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
"For example, as Roman agricultural output slowly declined and population increased, per-capita energy availability dropped. The Romans 'solved' this problem by conquering their neighbours to appropriate their energy surpluses (metals, grain, slaves, etc). However, as the Empire grew, the cost of maintaining communications, garrisons, civil government, etc. grew with it. Eventually, this cost grew so great that any new challenges such as invasions and crop failures could not be solved by the acquisition of more territory. At that point, the empire fragmented into smaller units.

We often assume that the collapse of the Roman Empire was a catastrophe for everyone involved. Tainter points out that it can be seen as a very rational preference of individuals at the time, many of whom were actually better off (all but the elite, presumably). Archeological evidence from human bones indicates that average nutrition actually improved after the collapse in many parts of the former Roman Empire. Average individuals may have benefited because they no longer had to invest in the burdensome complexity of empire."

please tell me this is a joke?

Marry Our Daughter - Home:
"Rachel says she doesn’t have to choose between marriage and a career like other girls because being married is the only career she’s interested in. She’s ready to stand by her man and support him in every way possible. She has two dogs and two cats so her husband can’t be allergic."

Friday, September 14, 2007

Broadsheet: Women's Articles, Women's Stories, Women's Blog -

Broadsheet: Women's Articles, Women's Stories, Women's Blog -
"Apparently, the Inuit -- the 150,000 or so indigenous peoples that populate the northern regions of Russia, Canada and Greenland -- are giving birth to many more girls than boys. According to scientists from the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme, some Inuit villages are producing twice as many girls as boys and, in one village studied, only girls have been born in recent years.

It's tempting to imagine global solutions to the sex imbalance such as arranged marriages between Indian boys (from girl-starved regions) and Inuit women, but the implications of this news are too harrowing for absurdist digressions. The baby-girl boom is being blamed on the high levels of estrogen-mimicking, man-made chemicals in Inuit mothers' blood. Scientists found that the higher the amount of chemicals such as PCBs, flame retardants and DDT in an Inuit woman's blood, the fewer boys she gave birth to, suggesting that hormone-mimicking chemicals are triggering sex changes during the first three weeks of pregnancy. It was also discovered that boys who are born in Russian Arctic villages suffer from being underweight and premature."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Greenspan concedes mortgage dilemma - Yahoo! News

Greenspan concedes mortgage dilemma - Yahoo! News:
"Some blamed Greenspan's interest rate policies for feeding the housing frenzy. Sales had hit record highs and house prices galloped from 2001 to 2005. Then the market fell into a deep slump. The Greenspan Fed from early 2001 to the summer of 2003 had slashed interest rates to their lowest level in decades.

It was done to rescue the economy from the blows of the bursting of the stock market bubble, the 2001 recession, the terror attacks and a wave of accounting scandals that shook Wall Street. Critics say the Fed kept rates too low level for too long, encouraging a Wild West mentality in housing.

Greenspan, however, defended the institution's actions. 'They are mistaken,' he said of the critics. 'It was our job to unfreeze the American banking system if we wanted the economy to function. This required that we keep rates modestly low,' he said."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Daily Kos: Confirmed: Ocean circulation patterns changing.

Daily Kos: Confirmed: Ocean circulation patterns changing.:
"The Greenland ice cap is melting so quickly that it is triggering earthquakes as pieces of ice several cubic kilometres in size break off. ... Robert Correll, chairman of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, said in Ilulissat today: 'We have seen a massive acceleration of the speed with which these glaciers are moving into the sea. The ice is moving at two metres an hour on a front 5km [3 miles] long and 1,500 metres deep.

That means that this one glacier puts enough fresh water into the sea in one year to provide drinking water for a city the size of London for a year.' ... He had flown over the Ilulissat glacier and 'seen gigantic holes in it through which swirling masses of melt water were falling. I first looked at this glacier in the 1960s and there were no holes. These so-called moulins, 10 to 15 metres across, have opened up all over the place. There are hundreds of them.'"

Monday, September 10, 2007


Chip implants linked to animal tumors - Yahoo! News: "When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved implanting microchips in humans, the manufacturer said it would save lives, letting doctors scan the tiny transponders to access patients' medical records almost instantly.

The FDA found 'reasonable assurance' the device was safe, and a sub-agency even called it one of 2005's top 'innovative technologies.' But neither the company nor the regulators publicly mentioned this: A series of veterinary and toxicology studies, dating to the mid-1990s, stated that chip implants had 'induced' malignant tumors in some lab mice and rats."

The FDA is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services, which, at the time of VeriChip's approval, was headed by Tommy Thompson. Two weeks after the device's approval took effect on Jan. 10, 2005, Thompson left his Cabinet post, and within five months was a board member of VeriChip Corp. and Applied Digital Solutions. He was compensated in cash and stock options.

Brain type may dictate politics | Science | The Guardian

Brain type may dictate politics | Science | The Guardian: "Political differences might be explained by a fundamental variation in how our brains are 'wired' to process information, according to a study published today. Scientists have found that the brains of people calling themselves liberals are more able to handle conflicting and unexpected information than the brains of their conservative counterparts. The study points to a likely neurological basis for complex personality and behavioural traits. David Amodio, of New York University, writing in the journal Nature Neuroscience, says conservatives were found to be 'more structured and persistent in their judgments'; in tests they had 'higher average scores' on measures of the personal need for 'order, structure and closure'. Liberals showed 'higher tolerance of ambiguity and complexity'."

Some Food Additives Raise Hyperactivity, Study Finds - New York Times

Some Food Additives Raise Hyperactivity, Study Finds - New York Times:
"The Lancet study focused on a variety of food colorings and on sodium benzoate, a common preservative. The researchers note that removing this preservative from food could cause problems in itself by increasing spoilage.

In the six-week trial, researchers gave a randomly selected group of several hundred 3-year-olds and of 8- and 9-year-olds drinks with additives — colors and sodium benzoate — that mimicked the mix in children’s drinks that are commercially available. The dose of additives consumed was equivalent to that in one or two servings of candy a day, the researchers said. Their diet was otherwise controlled to avoid other sources of the additives. A control group was given an additive-free placebo drink that looked and tasted the same.

All of the children were evaluated for inattention and hyperactivity by parents, teachers (for school-age children) and through a computer test. Neither the researchers nor the subject knew which drink any of the children had consumed. The researchers discovered that children in both age groups were significantly more hyperactive and that they had shorter attention spans if they had consumed the drink containing the additives. The study did not try to link specific consumption with specific behaviors. The study’s authors noted that other research suggested that the hyperactivity could increase in as little as an hour after artificial additives were consumed.

The Lancet study could not determine which of the additives caused the poor performances because all the children received a mix. “This was a very complicated study, and it will take an even more complicated study to figure out which components caused the effect,” Professor Stevenson said.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Things a Man Should Know About Women - Esquire

Things a Man Should Know About Women - Esquire:
Never let her arrive at an event alone.

Sometimes women want it when you don't, and for you not to give in on such occasions sets a terrible precedent.

Her job is just as important as yours.

If she works out, compliment her muscles."

Friday, September 07, 2007

7 U.S. troops killed in 2 Iraq attacks - Yahoo! News

7 U.S. troops killed in 2 Iraq attacks - Yahoo! News: "BAGHDAD - Four U.S. Marines were killed in fighting in Anbar province, and three soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in northern Iraq, the military said Friday.

Britain's Defense Ministry announced Friday the death of British soldier killed two days earlier. It gave no details on where or how the soldier died."

No End in Sight

NO END IN SIGHT examines the manner in which the principal errors of U.S. policy – the use of insufficient troop levels, allowing the looting of Baghdad, the purging of professionals from the Iraqi government, and the disbanding of the Iraqi military – largely created the insurgency and chaos that engulf Iraq today. How did a group of men with little or no military experience, knowledge of the Arab world or personal experience in Iraq come to make such flagrantly debilitating decisions? NO END IN SIGHT dissects the people, issues and facts behind the Bush Administration’s decisions and their consequences on the ground to provide a powerful look into how arrogance and ignorance turned a military victory into a seemingly endless and deepening nightmare of a war.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Daily Kos: Reality check: "The Arctic ice cap has collapsed"

Daily Kos: Reality check: "The Arctic ice cap has collapsed": "Loss of Arctic ice leaves experts stunned David Adam, environment correspondent Guardian Unlimited Tuesday September 4 2007 The Arctic ice cap has collapsed at an unprecedented rate this summer and levels of sea ice in the region now stand at record lows, scientists have announced. Experts say they are 'stunned' by the loss of ice, with an area almost twice as big as the UK disappearing in the last week alone."

CEO pay and benefits on the rise: report - Yahoo! News

CEO pay and benefits on the rise: report - Yahoo! News: "WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Top executives at major businesses last year made as much money in one day of work on the job as the average worker made over the entire year, according to a report released on Wednesday.

Chief executive officers from the nation's biggest businesses averaged nearly $11 million in total compensation, according to the 14th annual CEO compensation survey released jointly by the Institute for Policy Studies based in Washington and United for a Fair Economy, a national organization based in Boston. At the same time, workers at the bottom rung of the U.S. economy received the first federal minimum wage increase in a decade.

But the new wage of $5.85 an hour, after being adjusted for inflation, stands 7 percent below where the minimum wage stood a decade ago.

"CEO pay, over that same decade, has increased by roughly 45 percent," the study found.

On average, CEOs at major American corporations saw $1.3 million in pension gains last year. By contrast, 58.5 percent of American households led by a 45- to 54-year old even had a retirement account in 2004, the most recent year these figures were available.

According to the report, between 2001 and 2004, retirement accounts of these average households gained only $3,775 in value a year.

The top 386 CEOs in the study took in perks, such as housing allowances and travel benefits, worth on average $438,342 in 2006. It would take a minimum wage worker 36 years to earn the equivalent of what CEOs averaged in just perks alone.

The 20 highest-paid individuals at publicly traded corporations last year took home, on average, $36.4 million. That's 38 times more than the 20 highest-paid leaders in the non-profit sector and 204 times more than the 20 highest-paid generals in the U.S. military.

American executives significantly out-earn their European counterparts, the study found. In 2006, the 20 highest-paid European managers made an average of $12.5 million, a third as much as the 20 highest-paid U.S. executives took home last year.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

College Guys More Romantic Than Gals - Yahoo! News

College Guys More Romantic Than Gals - Yahoo! News: "The romantic guy might be found right on our college campuses. A recent study finds male undergraduate students were more likely than women to choose intimate relationships over their careers and education.

While the results seem to contradict stereotypical notions of gender roles (women choose family and men choose high-powered jobs), perhaps it's a case of how 'romance' is defined. Do guys equate a romantic relationship with a chance to get lucky?"

Overall, 61 percent of the guys chose a romantic relationship rather than achievement goals, while 51 percent of gals chose romance. The boys and men were particularly more likely to swap a career, education and traveling for "charming companions."

More specifically, just 20 percent of female students chose romantic relationships over careers, specifically, while about 35 percent of the males picked romance. About 15 percent of females said they would ditch education for romance compared with nearly 30 percent of male respondents.

"I think that those are the issues in which people find tension often in real life, between having a career and making time for relationships," Mosher told LiveScience.

Guys will be guys

Rather than revealing guys' romantic sides, the results could support the view that guys think with their…

"Maybe for the men they're thinking close romantic relationship, but that doesn't necessarily mean long-term commitment of getting married and having children," Kruger said.

Kruger also pointed out that evolutionarily, guys tried to achieve high-status positions to ensure better mating opportunities. "So in a way it's kind of like saying, you're doing all this stuff to strive for something, but if you can get that 'thing' without additional striving, wouldn’t you?" Kruger explained.

The study researchers, however, suggest female students in the study may have been so strongly committed to success along career paths they were hesitant to drop these goals for romantic relationships.

As to why romance ruled for male students, the study researchers noted that unlike women, men seem to derive more emotional support from their opposite-sex relationships than from same-sex pals.

China denies its military hacked into Pentagon network - Yahoo! News

China denies its military hacked into Pentagon network - Yahoo! News: "BEIJING — China denied charges Tuesday that its military had hacked into a Pentagon computer network, the second time in a week that the nation has fended off accusations of cyber-attacks from within its borders.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said the latest charges 'reflect a Cold War mentality.' Britain's Financial Times reported in its U.S. edition Tuesday that Chinese hackers had broken into a Pentagon computer network in June, leading to a shutdown of a system that serves the office of Defense Secretary Robert Gates .

The newspaper quoted an unnamed senior U.S. official as saying that the source of the attack had been traced to the People's Liberation Army. Other unnamed officials said they also were fairly certain that the attacks came from within China's military."