Saturday, January 29, 2011

GUNS


What are we going to do? Keep on doing nothing? Mayor Bloomburg of New York City says no, NO, NO!!

I want to believe Bloomburg. At the end of the clip, MLK's son, Martin Luther King III, hammers home the point.

I hope that Mayor Bloomburg and King are right -- that we will do something, and begin to WIN THE WAR with the NRA.


Friday, January 28, 2011

THE FACE

I am not using the name, so that Google's tentacles that find information, and translate it into Google Alerts, won't grab what I'm saying, and the search engine that The Face has built, won't seize what I've writing and deem it treason.

I will use metaphors, beat around the bush, and avoid references.

It is tricky, complicated to figure out how to do this or that in The Face's domain. There are imponderable cross references and batches of potential answers to similar questions, but rarely a simple sequential "do this, then do that."

The rules are hidden. They seem to be traditions, but no one I've met seems to know, specifically, what they are. Nevertheless, you are punished, told to stop what you are doing, with a warning that appears with no preliminaries. You can be permanently stopped if you don't respond to the message that suggests you need to do something, but it isn't clear what.

You are NOT required to reveal more about yourself than you want to, but messages appear here and there, that remind you, that you are not revealing significant aspects of your background -- age, phone number, nitty-gritty details of your education, hobbies, and favorite things.

The inner environment of The Face's domain feels like a high, hard-surfaced curved wall, sort of like a silo, with no hooks, handles, or indents, nothing to grasp, no easy way to climb up and out.

All this has been created by a seemingly bland, un-threatening, innocent countenance of a young boy-girl child man. There's no contactable anything, no feeling in that countenance -- just cold blue-lake eyes that are wide-open focused, and a not generous expressionless mouth.

I don't know why I don't like that face. It is probably imitating it's parents in their supervisory mode, telling the boy-girl man child, "Oh yes, dear, you can have fun and freedom" which they did not have, and maybe that's why I feel that fun and freedom is denied, restricted by The Face.

The Face is getting more popular, famous, rich, recognizable, and more -- much more important, much more powerful -- and has no need to be concerned with me as an individual, or any other individual with whom it comes in contact.

What will happen to The Face? I fear it will go too far in its need to control me, limit and box in my thinking, stop me from anything I do that's out of the boundaries that The Face has created.

It permits words, words, triviality, inconsequentiality of words, words, words, that become an amusing, curiously inventive "reason for being unto themselves" -- the path to travel, the goal, the place where you end up, full of sound and fury that signifies almost nothing except bla-bla.

Yep. I'm afraid that The Face is leading me to a great big horizon-less, infinite nowhere, and if I don't find a way out, I'm going to disappear.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

BITTY BLURB

We've got a PALER PALIN.

Goody. Her confident comments about cross hairs and blood libel have put Palin in the cross-hairs.

Paler Palin means MORE room for other awful '"MAKE ME PRESIDENT" gals.

The more the merrier.

Less Palin -- less half truths -- fewer fudged facts from the twittering lady -- the louder, happier is Em's GOODY GOODY.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

BRAIN POWER


Want to be sharper, faster, more articulate, a better whatever you are -- painter, writer, shopkeeper, teacher, parent, philosopher? Want to be a winner, and excel in every undertaking -- be more skillful, efficient, creative in everything you're trying to do?

I know I'm smarter now than I was ten years ago, but I don't know why.

Do foods help? Vitamins B6, B12, and E; beta carotene; folic acid; antioxidants don't help, nor do omega-3's, (the fatty acids in fish). And statins (cholesterol lowering drugs) don’t help, and neither do estrogen or NSAIDs (aspirin, ibuprofen).

I used to eat a lot of cottage cheese -- now I eat whatever I feel like -- does that have something to do with why I'm smarter now?

Probably not, though quite a few doctors say the Mediterranean diet helps you think clearer. But is it the olive oil, fish, vegetables, and wine that you eat, or the fact that you don't eat red meat, refined sugars, dairy fat?

The current thought is -- what you eat does not enhance your brain.

At a recent symposium on the subject (the 2010 meeting of the Society for Neuroscience), they discussed neuroplasticity. It's the science of getting the brain to create more neurons and synapses -- because neurons and synapses are what boosts learning memory, reasoning and creativity.

The Society concluded -- take up something very new, like ballroom dancing, or learning a new, foreign language.

They also said that nicotine helps, but the side effects are disastrous. Drugs -- Adderall, Ritalin and caffeine help -- they raise the brain levels of dopamine, (the "juice" that gets you feeling motivated). The drugs enhance the recall of memorized words as well as working memory, but many people get the dopamine benefits by simply believing that they're doing well with whatever it is that they're doing.

Motivation -- that's the key. You learn Italian because you'll want to visit Rome. I feel my brain power doubled from learning how to make films on a Mac computer -- I had to learn -- I wanted videos for my blog.

The Society for Neuroscience says "tricks" work -- learn Face Book, conquer Tweeting, or get interested in your ancestry. The European Journal of Social Psychology advises concentrating on how Grandpa survived the Depression, how Great-Grandma opened a restaurant -- it strengthens your neurons and synapses and gives you self confidence.

Confidence is Adderall without the prescription. Even watching pandas on YouTube helps -- it enhances creative problem-solving by reducing stress. Stress coats neurons with a sheath that impairs signal transmission.

So what's the best thing to do? JUST DO STUFF.

# 1. Do aerobic exercise -- walking 45 minutes a day three times a week, improves episodic memory and executive-control functions by about 20 percent. One of the Society's leading scientists said that a year of exercise can give a 70-year-old the connectivity of a 30-year-old, improving memory, planning, dealing with ambiguity, and multitasking.

# 2. Meditate -- think about a subject, concentrate on it for 5 minutes, three times a day. I meditate when I'm gathering the news about what's happening in the world, and examine how I feel about this or that.

# 3. Video Games -- another learned specialist in the Society tested video games, and concluded that the older adults he taught to play a complex action game called "Space Fortress," increased their neurons and synapses by learning to shoot missiles and destroy the fortress while protecting their spaceship against missiles and mines.

I don't like video games. They make me nervous (therefore stressed, and dumber).

So what are you going to do -- play video games, meditate, or exercise?

You don't need much brain power to know what I'm doing to get smarter. I'm exercising, just by writing this blog.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

SHIRLEY SHERROD REVISITED

Do you remember the name? Shirley Sherrod made headlines this past summer, forced to resign from her job in Georgia's Department of Rural Development, after blogger Andrew Breitbart posted on his Website, excerpts of an address Sherrod made at an NAACP meeting.

His video excerpt made her sound as if she were a bigoted black seeking revenge on whites for their racism.

The Department of Agriculture and a representative from the White House immediately, without checking the actual video, asked her for her resignation.

The original, unedited video revealed an educated, articulate woman trying to help a poor white couple -- bending over backwards not to discriminate against them, though her father had been murdered by a white man whom a white jury acquitted.

What Sherrod said and did -- that she had in her heart the need to help and be friends with an elderly white couple, and prevent them from becoming homeless was more than kind -- it was deeply touching.

Obama called her and apologized; the Dept of Agriculture offered Sherrod another job -- a position that she was apparently mulling over as the Sherrod news faded into other news.

Two weeks ago, Newsweek published a short article called the "The 16th Minute," a phone interview with Sherrod. An interviewer went over the events in her fifteen minutes of fame, and ended the interview, asking, "How has your life changed?"

Shirley Sherrod said, "Well, I’m not employed anymore."

I was shocked. She's 63, in her prime. This woman is a trained sociologist, as well as a high-level, experienced executive.

So what's she doing? How is she filling her days? Relaxing? Teaching at Albany State University in Albany, Georgia?" Maybe she's fund-raising for her husband? He's a preacher-teacher -- the Reverend Charles Sherrod has his own church in Albany.

I did a lecture-demonstration at Albany University. It's a tiny town; with a main street, the usual row of stores, supermarkets, and a residential section with fancy large homes, and the other side of the tracks section of town -- ramshackle houses for the blacks.

Obviously, Sherrod turned down the Department of Agriculture job.

Perhaps, Shirley Sherrod was insulted -- probably she was never thanked or respected for the work she'd been doing. Perhaps she's angry. and the only way she can express it is by not accepting the job.

Maybe she's quite content with being semi-retired, and a heroine, whom the nation admired -- at least some of us did, for a short while.

I don't want to forget her. I don't want other people to forget her reaction -- her helping the elderly white couple gives me hope that we will someday recover from the ugliness, the antagonism, between whites and blacks -- that what Shirley Sherrod did was the beginning -- the real beginning and basis -- for mending the fences -- removing the fences someday.

Monday, January 24, 2011

URGE TO SPLURGE

We are urged to buy food, drugs, cosmetics, vitamins, pain pills, erection pills, clothes, appliances, cleaning stuff, laundry stuff, exercise machines, phones, cars, Internet providers, health insurance, life insurance, glasses, toys, education aids, legal service, vacations, and more -- umpteen times a day.

Bargains are thrown at us: $19 or $14.95 -- "Buy now and you get two for the price of one, plus shipping and handling." (Which adds $7.95 or $8.95 to the cost, which costs the shipper $5. or less to ship.)

Yes, we are offered friendly-jolly giveaways -- "Folks, we're celebrating our millionth customer. Give us a call, let us send it to you. No charge, just shipping," which covers the cost of the tiny sample and gives the friendly-jolly manufacturer your name, address, and other data on the questionnaire you'll be asked to fill out, data that they'll use or sell.

And we are sold, re-sold, revved up with pictures of the fun -- the bargains, the spectacular savings on BLACK FRIDAY.

"Black Friday" got it's name from "Black Tuesday" -- the big stock market crash of 1929, when bankers jumped out of windows. There are also Black Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays -- great savings, terrific bargains, a chance to buy all sorts of things you can't really afford.

(Don't forget -- "Black" is also the color of bad dreams, pitch dark night, mourning, and death.)

And remember, in addition to being crushed, shoved, trampled, waiting in lines, the "super savings" are mark-downs, lower prices on over-priced items. The store is still making money on the bargain that you so happily bought.

Hooray for them -- they're selling more! Yay for you -- you're buying more.

And then, there's the amazing, important, fortuitous "INTEREST FREE" deal -- that quite often means.you are buying a car, and will still be paying it off when it's time to trade the one you bought that's now an "old" car, for a new one.

"What fools we mortals be."

Are we fools? Yep.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

COMMERCIALS (video)

Emily wants her husband, John Cullum, to explain why he goes to commercial auditions, but never gets chosen.

Is it his Southern Accent?

JC demonstrates. In a Southern Accent he pretends to sell a Ford car; then, sells the Ford ala John Gielgud; then, tries again, selling the car in a Richard Burton style and tone.

They discuss the fact that some advertisers have asked him to present their product in the style and tone of "Holling the Bartender" -- the role John Cullum played in the TV Series, "Northern Exposure."

Emily suggests that JC doesn't get ever get the job because he really doesn't want to do commercials..