Monthly Archives: May 2008

Attention

“We create ourselves by how we invest the energy of our attention” — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi , Finding Flow

“Tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are” — Jose Ortega y Gasset

“The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention” — Julia Cameron

“If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been due more to patient attention, than to any other talent” — Isaac Newton

“Somewhere around the place I’ve got an unfinished short story about Schrodinger’s Dog; it was mostly moaning about all the attention the cat was getting” — Terry Pratchett

“The poet produces the beautiful by fixing his attention on something real” — Simone Weil

“The moment one gives close attention to any thing, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.” — Henry Miller

“The simple act of paying positive attention to people has a great deal to do with productivity” — Tom Peters

“If one cannot command attention by one’s admirable qualities one can at least be a nuisance” — Margery Allingham

“When people bother you in any way, it is because their souls are trying to get your divine attention and your blessing” — Catherine Ponder

“I envy paranoids; they actually feel people are paying attention to them” — Susan Sontag

“One day our descendants will think it incredible that we paid so much attention to things like the amount of melanin in our skin or the shape of our eyes or our gender instead of the unique identities of each of us as complex human beings.” — Franklin Thomas

The new fashion police

Daily Kos: Indiana Malkin and the Slightly Scary Neckware of Doom

So this is what we’ve (well, I say “we”, but I mean a small subset of American patriots who, having absolutely no intention of doing anything meaningful for their country that involves getting out of their chairs, spend their days looking for secret terrorist messages in television commercials) been reduced to. We’re examining the fashion statements of donut ads and parsing them for hints of surreptitious Islamic culture. We’re locked into a mortal combat against those that casually accessorize without remembering that we are at war; we’re mere weeks away from probing the hidden alliances of the doilies on our grandmothers’ coffee tables.

We are a nation that sees images of Jesus on toast. Admit it; there was absolutely no possibility that we would not eventually devolve to this point.

The most fearsome message of The Fashion Menace is that it has shown, once again, just how absurdly simple it would be for Osama bin Laden to bring America to its knees. It would be trivial; it requires only a rudimentary knowledge of American culture and social weaknesses.

To bring America to its knees, all Bin Laden must do is make his next video while drinking from a can of Coca Cola. The nation would erupt in chaos; Coca Cola sales would vanish into nothingness. In his next video, he could casually munch potato chips; the entire snack industry would collapse. One after another, he could film himself driving an American car; he could insert himself into a Girls Gone Wild video; he could appear next to a caveman, or a gecko, or Captain Crunch; he could enroll in DeVry University. On the day he refinanced his home at new historically low rates, the United States housing market would collapse irretrievably. One by one, he could decimate the entire economic fabric of America merely by association. Not one person in fifty would be willing to buck social trends and still buy Coca Cola if Bin Laden was seen drinking it; our consumer-based economy would be destroyed.

There are people who are more deeply weird than I am

Photograph of my Microwaved Mutant Gameboy Advance on Flickr – Photo Sharing!

Yes, and it still works! The perfect travel companion for any occasion. 33% Beast, 42% Alien, 11% Radio active and 56% game machine making it 100% complete for endless hours of eyetone game play. This handy pure playable microwaved state of the fart device only needs a regular washing twice a day to avoid handheld appliance odor and a bad attitude.

Strangely enough, I enjoy such people, too.

Women have more choices?

Having looked at this issue a lot myself, I think this study does get a bit closer to the heart of the matter. When I was getting into computer science, it ws a really interesting field because it did involve not only math and science but also a significant amount of social interaction as well. You simply couldn’t solve big problems by yourself — the computing power wasn’t really there and you had to interact with a lot of other people to solve problems. Now it’s a lot easier to simply build models or just use online resources and there doesn’t need to be as much social interaction.

I can see young women today who want that interaction going into other fields where there still is that social interplay. I often say if I were starting now, I would go into bio-engineering. Part of it for me would be doing the hottest latest thing, but a lot of it would be because it’s a field with lots of complex unsolved problems that require a lot of social interaction. I think women do want that along with the opportunity to use their math and science skills.

The freedom to say ‘no’ – The Boston Globe

Starting more than 30 years ago, the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth began following nearly 2,000 mathematically gifted adolescents, boys and girls, tracking their education and careers in ensuing decades. (It has since been expanded to 5,000 participants, many from more recent graduating classes.) Both men and women in the study achieved advanced credentials in about the same numbers. But when it came to their career paths, there was a striking divergence.

Math-precocious men were much more likely to go into engineering or physical sciences than women. Math-precocious women, by contrast, were more likely to go into careers in medicine, biological sciences, humanities, and social sciences. Both sexes scored high on the math SAT, and the data showed the women weren’t discouraged from certain career paths.

The survey data showed a notable disparity on one point: That men, relative to women, prefer to work with inorganic materials; women, in general, prefer to work with organic or living things. This gender disparity was apparent very early in life, and it continued to hold steady over the course of the participants’ careers.

Benbow and Lubinski also found something else intriguing: Women who are mathematically gifted are more likely than men to have strong verbal abilities as well; men who excel in math, by contrast, don’t do nearly as well in verbal skills. As a result, the career choices for math-precocious women are wider than for their male counterparts. They can become scientists, but can succeed just as well as lawyers or teachers. With this range of choice, their data show, highly qualified women may opt out of certain technical or scientific jobs simply because they can.

These studies looked at different slices of the working world, but agree that in a world in which men and women both have freedom of choice, they tend to choose differently.

Sadness….

I was only five when JFK was assassinated, but I remember my mom’s tears that day, and those television memories are among my earliest recollection of any political awareness. I didn’t know what it meant, but I knew it meant something. It created an awareness for me of the world of adults and how different it was from my world as a kid. When RFK was assassinated, I was ten so more aware, and I followed the news pretty closely then. But it still seemed like something the adults had to take care of, not me. It really wasn’t until I was a teenager that I increased my awareness, had a POW bracelet, and dreaded thinking my brother might have to go fight some stupid war we shouldn’t be in. I was really glad we weren’t more personally affected by it all. Watergate came along and just disgusted me, and turned me against party politics so much that when I did cast my first vote it was for John Anderson. I’ve been pretty disgusted with politics ever since, and registered Independent or Libertarian ever since, voting for whoever was making the most sense to me at the time. That’s varied all over the map, from Reagan to Clinton, as my own awareness has changed and as America has changed. But until Dubya was elected, I guess I still really felt like whatever I did as an individual, it didn’t really matter so much. I suppose most people feel that way. Since then I’ve been more politically active, often in ways I would never have expected, even becoming a poll worker for the elections.

It took me a long time to learn as an adult that we are all the adults, and what we do makes a difference, no matter how good or bad, how large or small. What we do as individuals is important for all of us. Edward Kennedy had to learn that lesson early in life, as did all the Kennedys, and their political dynasty has written itself deeply into the history of this country.

The Kennedy family has always been large in my lifetime. But indeed, they are only human, and whatever you might feel for Edward Kennedy, this is a sad day for their family, and will lead in a short time to the end of an era in American politics.

I can only hope some of the other political family dynasties will note that they, too, are after all only mortal. Whatever they might want for their own families, they need to consider what the rest of us want for our families too. Endless war will not provide us with those things we all want. Dependence on foreign oil will not provide those things, no matter how much it might enrich their political families and friends. Idealism about how great America is and how everyone ought to fear us and our military might does not provide those things.

What we need is stability, jobs, strong economic growth that benefits everyone, not just a few, and a future course we can all believe in and rely on together. Whatever else one might say about Edward Kennedy, and believe me if you want to say those things, they better be positive in my space right now so take your negativity elsewhere if you come across this post and are just wanting to get snarky here, he believes in the American people and has worked hard to make this country a far better place than it would otherwise be. I wish him and his family all the best. I hope his remaining time with us will be productive for him and for us all.

Sen. Edward Kennedy has malignant brain tumor – Yahoo! News

A cancerous brain tumor caused the seizure Sen. Edward M. Kennedy suffered over the weekend, doctors said Tuesday in a grim diagnosis for one of American politics’ most enduring figures.

Doctors for the Massachusetts Democrat say tests conducted after Kennedy suffered a seizure this weekend show a tumor in his left parietal lobe. Preliminary results from a biopsy of the brain identified the cause of the seizure as a malignant glioma.

His treatment will be decided after more tests but the usual course includes combinations of radiation and chemotherapy.

“I’m really sad,” former Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., said when told in a Senate hallway about Kennedy’s condition. “He’s the one politician who brings tears to my eyes when he speaks.”

The 76-year-old senator has been hospitalized in Boston since Saturday, when he was airlifted from Cape Cod after a seizure at his home.

“He has had no further seizures, remains in good overall condition, and is up and walking around the hospital,” said a joint statement issued by Dr. Lee Schwamm, vice chairman of the Department of Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Dr. Larry Ronan, Kennedy’s primary care physician.

The doctors said Kennedy will remain in the hospital “for the next couple of days according to routine protocol.”

“He remains in good spirits and full of energy,” they said.

Kennedy’s wife and children have been with him each day but have made no public statements.

Malignant gliomas are a type of brain cancer diagnosed in about 9,000 Americans a year — and the most common type among adults. It’s a starting diagnosis: How well patients fare depends on what specific tumor type is determined by further testing.

Average survival can range from less than a year for very advanced and aggressive types — such as glioblastomas — or to about five years for different types that are slower growing.

Everybody's Got a Happy Place!

This made me happy yesterday. If you don’t recognize it, it’s a closed Small World Ride.

But really, it was this lovely group of ladies who made it a happy day at Disneyland. Many thanks to Rachel for our rooms, the lovely birthday girl Jamie for providing transportation and ride pass karma, “Charley” and Alex for reminding me how to be young and making it such a fun day, and Kate the for sunny disposition. You’re a great bunch of friends, and believe me I know how lucky I was to be included, which I very much appreciate. TTFN!

Small World

Off to Disneyland with some girl friends for a road trip. Back sometime late tomorrow….

No, I will not go on that ride. Hate it.

My faves are the coasters, which I will happily ride any number of times. My favorite Disneyland trip, we took the boys the Wednesday after Thanksgiving, supposedly one of the least crowded days of the year, and rode Space Mountain six times straight through before there was a line. Awesome day….

Speaking of Nazi appeasers….

I don’t think Dubya is in any position to compare anyone to Nazi appeasers.

How Bush’s grandfather helped Hitler’s rise to power | World news | The Guardian

George Bush’s grandfather, the late US senator Prescott Bush, was a director and shareholder of companies that profited from their involvement with the financial backers of Nazi Germany.

The Guardian has obtained confirmation from newly discovered files in the US National Archives that a firm of which Prescott Bush was a director was involved with the financial architects of Nazism.

His business dealings, which continued until his company’s assets were seized in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act, has led more than 60 years later to a civil action for damages being brought in Germany against the Bush family by two former slave labourers at Auschwitz and to a hum of pre-election controversy.

The evidence has also prompted one former US Nazi war crimes prosecutor to argue that the late senator’s action should have been grounds for prosecution for giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

Everything is Waiting for You

Everything is Waiting for You
by David Whyte

(After Derek Mahon)

Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice. You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.