liveonearth: (Default)
“Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.”
― William Martin
liveonearth: (old books)
It's been decades since I read Siddhartha but it had a strong effect on me.  In my youth I was a philosophy major and a seeker, trying on different religious and spiritual approaches.  Eventually I arrived at myself, at the now, at the goals of non-attachment, awareness, compassion, adaptability.  I adopted bits and pieces of many philosophies, most notably Buddhism and Hinduism, without becoming a believer in reincarnation, heaven and hell, or any of the other dogmas.  New age religion in the US is very much a groovified hand-me-down from the culture behind these religions, and reincarnation is the most common belief system I encounter among people who pretend that they are enlightened.  More appealing to me is the stark realism of the German philosophers.  "To exist is to be in the way".

In Demian Herman Hesse suggests that the truth is not any of these religious structures, the truth is something far simpler, but harder to live.  It is not easy to go through this world stripped of comforting beliefs.  Hesse says we create gods and then we fight with them.  Many of his ideas are reminiscent of Nieztsche, for whom I've always had a soft spot.  He is the German philosopher who said "God is dead" and pissed off generations of religious people.

The protagonist of Demian is a young man named Sinclair, and his story begins when he is only 10 years old.  He is early at becoming aware.  Demian is a character who helps him, initially simply to avoid a predatorial character, and later to begin to think critically and to trust in himself.  When they are schoolmates Demian suggests alternate interpretations of Bible stories, especially the one about Cain and Able, and the mark of Cain.  By the end of the book I was thinking that I too must bear that mark, because I have never been a joiner, never been willing or able to submit to authority or dogma.

This book would make excellent reading for a teen who is beginning to sort out a path through all the competing authorities.  It does not provide a blueprint, but it does say that you must find your own path, and that it won't be easy or comfortable.  When Hesse first released this small book in 1919 it was in pieces in a magazine, and anonymously.  Why didn't he want his name attached?  Why didn't someone recognize his voice and thoughts, when they are so distinctly his?  Perhaps it is because Demian is also a commentary on the sadness of war, on the fruitlessness of giving lives for some shared ideal which might be bunk.  Some of the things he writes harken to the Jungian concept of collective consciousness, for example the shared premonitions of the onset of world war one.  Do we really share a consciousness, or do we simply share some of the same inputs, and arrive at some of the same intuitive conclusions?  Jung and Hesse did.

The most fruitful thing a person can do is to become themselves, I agree with Hesse on this point.  To be with people who are also themselves, this is a very satisfying thing.
liveonearth: (House religion psychosis)
There was a pretty good turnout at the usual CFI venue, a beer and pizza retreat called the Lucky Lab.  David is younger than I expected, pretty much right out of school having gotten a master's in Religious Studies.  He points out the difference between Religious Studies and Theology right up front: his education is more about comparative religion and history than about the dogma of any one ism.

He has written several books, including Disproving Christianity, which he wrote right out of undergrad school I believe. The Belief Book and the Book of God are intended for the education of children by parents who want to satisfy their natural curiousity with actual information instead of indoctrination.  And he announced last night for the first time in public that he has signed a contract for his next book, No Sacred Cows, which will be a manual for teaching critical thinking to children and adults.

I am very excited that this young man has taken to writing, and based on his public speaking, I suspect he is a clear and concise writer.  I look forward to reading some of his books, and I may start giving them as gifts too.  =-]

His main point in this talk is that the reason that there is so much dogmatic religion in the US is the lack of religious studies education.  People who do not know what religion is and what it has done in history are more likely to be religious, and more likely to be fundamentalist.  He says that to protect your children from falling prey to fundamentalism, teach them about all relgions, and satisfy their curiousity with real information.  Without this education there is in his words a "snowball effect" that leads to a widespread lack of critical thinking---which is exactly what we are seeing in today's political sphere.  If there were a strong component of religious studies integrated into primary school history and philosophy classes, there would be more critical thinking nationwide.

He mentioned an organization called the OASIS network, which is jokingly called "atheist church" but really it "an alternative to faith based community" that provides among other things programs for kids.  For freethinkers surrounded by religiousity, the name is really appropriate

Here's his blogpost on how to respond to door to door religion sellers:

**Created tag: freethinker
liveonearth: (life is a killer (smoking))
This hypothesis may not be as well supported as evolution but there has been a lot of research since the 1970's that supports it.

DONOHUE-LEVITT HYPOTHESIS = The theory that legal abortion reduces crime by reducing the number of unwanted births, neglected and abused youth. As the theory goes, those troubled children grow up to be the next generation of criminals. Research shows that children of women denied an abortion require more public assistance including psychiatric services and foster homes, and engage in more criminal and antisocial behavior than their wanted counterparts.

Most crimes are committed by males aged 18-24. Roe versus Wade (legalizing abortion) was passed by SCOTUS in 1973, and 18 years later the country experienced a significant decrease in crime. One of the justices had offered the rationale that a family unready to support a child should not be required to have one. States that had already legalized abortion had earlier reductions in crime, and higher abortion rates correlated with greater reductions in crime. Australian and Canadian studies have detected a correlation between legalized abortion and reduced crime overall. Of course all of these interpretations have been challenged, and more research is needed. Among other possible contributors to decreasing crime is the removal of lead from gasoline in the same year as Roe vs Wade. Lead ingestion lowers intelligence and increases impulsivity and aggressive behavior.
liveonearth: (moon)

To Doctors: If you detect signs of abuse or exploitation, you as a doctor are legally bound to report it. There are more cults and troubled families out there than people realize.

In some communities or “groups”, sexual abuse especially of girls, and the use of children especially teens for hard labor is common. These children are not likely to come to you as a doctor, but you may run across them in other parts of your life. You are duty bound to protect children at every age from everyone, including potentially their family.
liveonearth: (neuroactive substances)
If you live and Portland and haven't picked up a copy of this month's Willamette Week (free news weekly, online here:, this issue is likely to get snapped up. They've named it the 420 Issue and it is all about the businesses and culture incurred by the recent legalization of cannabis in Washington and soon Oregon. What struck me initially is the amount of wordplay around the subject, and the generation of witty new phrases, words and hashtags that accompanies the surge in businesses and products containing cannabinoids. There is great excitement about the new availability and openness that comes with legalization.

I for one am OK with recreational and medical use. I think that the risks to society of adults using cannabinoids are fairly minimal. It certainly doesn't make people drive dangerously the way alcohol does. It does have a whole set of risks that aren't covered in this issue, and that really need to be kept high in our awareness as this drug becomes widely acceptable.

One risk that is coming into focus these days is of extreme overdoses. Back when folks just inhaled smoke, coughing stopped them from partaking too much. Vaporizers now make inhalation gentler and it is easy to overdose when consuming edibles. With either method you can't tell how much intoxicant is in there. With humans ingeniously extracting and concentrating the active principles, it could be very strong, or contaminated with solvents. With edibles the effect takes time to kick in. It is terribly easy to overdose for folks who are experimenting for the first time, and who have no tolerance at all.

The conventional media take on overdose--blaming it for many deaths and claiming that it is deadly--is probably overblown. It takes a massive amount of pot to kill, perhaps more than anybody is likely to actually reach because unlike opioids it is so unpleasant getting there. It is however a relative unknown: having been illegal for so long, we don't have scientific studies about overdose. We hardly have science to justify all the medical uses that have already been approved. We are going to find out now.

Another risk is incurred by the fact that edibles make the drug palatable to people who would never smoke it. It is tempting to children as candy. There is the danger that children, teens and early 20-somethings will enjoy sugary yummies containing cannabinoids and permanently alter their brain development. Later on in life there is still a brain changing effect, but in early life when the brain is still forming, the effect can be severe.

On top of these new risks due to the availability of edibles, there is the old risk of respiratory injuries resulting in sinusitis and bronchitis, and risk of more dangerous conditions like pneumonia and COPD. There is also the fact that marijuana increases heart rate significantly in most individuals. Folks who already have hypertension or heart palpitations might give themselves a heart attack.

I suppose my main message in the light of all this 420 excitement is BE CAUTIOUS and PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN because there is a lot we don't know. I believe in freedom and individual discretion as most Americans do, and I also know that people can be terribly foolish and injure themselves and others, especially when intoxicants are involved. I cannot protect the whole world from poor choices, but I do hope that this warning is heard widely. Please take care of each other and if you are going to play with the newly legalized products, start very small.
liveonearth: (hotspring geology rainbow)
They're predicting that in most parts of the world the new "average" will be warmer than the previous "hot" (exceeds bounds of historical variability), beginning between 2033 and 2061 (global average 2047 if we keep going the way we are). Local variations are expected. Tropical regions should get uncomfortable before elsewhere. Even a serious effort to stabilize spiraling greenhouse gas emissions will only stave off these changes until around 2069. The study was published in Nature and included 39 different models from 21 teams in 12 countries, which surprisingly all pretty much agreed.

'Uncomfortable' climates to devastate cities within a decade, study says, John Roach NBC News

Study Abstract
Ecological and societal disruptions by modern climate change are critically determined by the time frame over which climates shift beyond historical analogues. Here we present a new index of the year when the projected mean climate of a given location moves to a state continuously outside the bounds of historical variability under alternative greenhouse gas emissions scenarios. Using 1860 to 2005 as the historical period, this index has a global mean of 2069 (±18 years s.d.) for near-surface air temperature under an emissions stabilization scenario and 2047 (±14 years s.d.) under a ‘business-as-usual’ scenario. Unprecedented climates will occur earliest in the tropics and among low-income countries, highlighting the vulnerability of global biodiversity and the limited governmental capacity to respond to the impacts of climate change. Our findings shed light on the urgency of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions if climates potentially harmful to biodiversity and society are to be prevented.
liveonearth: (microbes)
The Russians have known about phages and used them to treat severe infections since the 1930's. New research shows that lots of phages live in mucus. Wherever there is mucus there is likely to be a large population of phages--including mucus produced by other species such as sea coral, plants, etc.

Phages are viruses that use bacterial cells to replicate in. They can also insert new DNA into bacteria, and they are able to evolve quickly enough to keep up with changing resistance patterns. Big Pharma is not putting any money toward phage research because phage therapy would compete with antibiotic sales, and as we know, for them, the bottom line IS the bottom line. They want us to think that phages are dangerous. But according to Dr Mercola a normal human produces approximately a quart of mucus (snot) daily in the upper respiratory tract, most of which we swallow. So we are phage central already.
notes from Mercola's new article on phages )
liveonearth: (bipolar_express)
Bruises fade and skin heals, but the mind remembers. Physical punishment is still prevalent among US families. This study found the prevalence of physical punishment without "more severe child maltreatment" was 5.9%. Boys get physically punished more than girls, 59.4% to 40.6%. Blacks get beat more than whites. Asians and Pacific Islanders (including native Hawaiians) were the least likely to get whupped by their own parents.

The harsher the physical (or emotional) punishment was, the higher the odds of an axis I or II diagnosis. Axis I diagnoses include major depression, dysthymia, mania, mood disorders, phobias, anxiety disorders, and drug and alcohol abuse or dependence. Axis II diagnoses include several individual personality disorders and cluster A and B disorder diagnoses. The researchers concluded that 2-7% of all mental disease is attributable to childhood abuse.

the stats )
liveonearth: (moon)
It's scheduled to come out in May 2013, and this doc (Allen Frances, MD) asks the question: is the APA going to release it because it is needed and helpful and founded for psychiatric treatment? Or because they want the income from the release of a new book?? He has a good grasp on where the system fails and what needs to happen next. He'd like to see changes based in science, and is keenly aware of the degree to which psych diagnosis is inexact and the pathophysiology of these diseases uncertain.

You have to create a login to read here:

Here are his concerns that the current DSM-IV does not deal with:
20x autism rates (is everybody really autistic??)
20x childhood bipolar rates
3x ADHD rates
2x adult bipolar rates
"Misuse of the label "paraphilia NOS" to sanction the questionably constitutional involuntary commitment of rapists as a veiled form of preventive detention"

And here are the things he is worried will be stuffed prematurely into the DSM-V:
Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder
Minor neurocognitive disorder
Removing the bereavement exclusion for major depressive disorder (sadness not allowed!)
Lowered ADHD threshold (by raising the allowed age of onset to 12) (how does this work??)
Lowered threshold and poor reliability for generalized anxiety disorder
Combining substance abuse w substance dependence under "addictive disorders" (low reliability and unnecessary stigma)
A category for "behavioral addictions" that will promote "Internet addiction" as a NOS diagnosis. (Next: "addictions" to sex, shopping, work, golf, boating)
Pedophilia criteria wording that tries to sneak in hebephilia (preference for early pubescent teens) and invites forensic abuse
Making binge-eating a mental disorder
An unusable personality section that the APA Assembly voted unanimously to oppose
liveonearth: (Default)
I'm not sure how they figured that I'm "pro-family". Probably because I support Ron Paul. Contrary to their assumption, I am capable of appreciating his positions without being a social conservative. The message behind the cut is stimulated by the Student Nondiscrimination Act which is before congress. They claim that this will be the last straw causing our descent into the vice of promiscuous sex, by way of indoctrinating our youth in "pro-homosexual" values from kindergarten on. I don't know about this being a significant law in the great scope of our cultural slide, but the writer is correct in his panic that all will be lost. What he does not see is that the new thing which arises from the ashes may well be an improvement. My personal position on homosexuality is as follows: May all people love who they love, no matter. Now, on to the ridiculous slant of this email:

Dear pro-family American,

The Radical Homosexuals infiltrating the United States Congress have a plan:
behind the cut is the text of today's anti-homo spam email )
liveonearth: (Where the wild things are)
Welcome to the Age of Overparenting
How I learned to let my kids be kids.
By Katherine Ozment
text )
liveonearth: (looks like house to me)
A new study has been published in the November issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry (Br J Psych. 2011;199:386-390). This is the first longitudinal study showing brain effects of marijuana; it reduces the volume of the thalamus in folks age 16-25 who are well but have a family history of schizophrenia. The reduction is greater on the right side.
more notes )
liveonearth: (Default)
This morning I awakened to a story on the radio about the "Personhood" initiative. Some well-meaning folks are seeking to have states pass laws saying that "life begins at conception" and to ban all abortion and all uses of human cells. I appreciate their purism and their willingness to take this value to its logical end. At least these "lifers" are not hypocrites! But unfortunately for them, their initiatives are falling like flies under a flyswatter. Why? People are unwilling to force women to have babies they don't want. It is problematic. If you MUST give birth to any conceptus that sticks, do you still then have to mother it? Or can you ignore and abuse it? Well it turns out, you CAN ignore and abuse it. If the government notices how bad you treat your kids, it takes them away and they get treated even worse. These people who wish that every conceptus become a child are neglecting to consider the logical outcome of their actions. MORE unwanted children helps create a desperately sick society that doesn't respect life at any age.

But back to the question of when life begins. Life "began" when a bunch of chemical components somehow found themselves able to do something that they couldn't do separately. And somehow they became able to spread, expand, and later to reproduce. Since then life has been continuous. We are an extension of the life that began in the slime. Tentacles of life reach out all the time, in every direction. We are host to more living cells that are NOT us than to cells that ARE us. Life is a network, a collage, a confusing interconnected amazing self-promoting thing. Cells die but life goes on. Skin cells. Stomach cells. Sperm cells. Egg cells. The idea that a sperm cell + an egg cell is somehow sacred because it is more alive than any other cells is exaggerated. The web of life goes on. The boundaries of death remain.
liveonearth: (endless_knot)
and including Persistent Organic Pollutants and Plastics
Kids with exposure to nature have less ADHD
notes )


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