Thoughts

Whaz Up!?! The World Kindness Day, edition


Howdy y’all!

It has been a long strange week. It has been an unusually difficult and tiring school year. This week was one of the most tiring yet. It must have something to do with the end of the term and all of the extra reporting that we had to do. Luckily that is behind us, now. And, I have a couple of significant things I’d like to report here in this space:

  • We rescued a sparrow. On the walk home from school, I noticed a sparrow hopping out of our way on the sidewalk obviously unable to fly despite being big enough to do so. I picked it up and carried it home. We set up a box with food, water, and nesting material. It seemed happy enough in there, and we started to think of keeping it as a pet since it was pretty clear that it would never fly again. Unfortunately, it died on Friday. La Petite Fille is particularly upset by it because (a) she loves birds beyond anything else and (b) she feels hyper-responsible for most of the bad things that happen in her life or around her. I’ve told her and myself that we should take comfort from having provided her with a safe comfortable place to live out her last few days as she struggled to overcome her injuries.
  • World Kindness Day. I finally have put the calendar to good use. Realizing that World Kindness Day was coming up, I organized our sixth grade classes into writing positive encouraging uplifting messages to one another. I wasn’t sure that the students would embrace the idea, but I figured it was worth a shot. You know how I feel about positivity whether it is genuine or not, right? It went really well. There were some very sweet notes written even for, maybe even especially for, the kids who struggle to a constructive member of our community, and, even better, some very frank conversations about our attitudes towards each other. They really did seem to get that everyone has positive traits and that we can focus on those. I was impressed that it came off as well as it did.

From the Blog Roll!

I’ve finally had a little free time later in the week to read some of my favorite blogs and find some new favorites.

From Neuroscience News

NeuroscienceNews.com has long been a reliable source of interesting digestible news of recent psychological findings and well worth an investment of time into it. This week, it did not fail us, but don’t take my word for it, have a look at some of my most astounding finds:

  • ‘Orgasmic Meditation’ Alters Brain Function What will those damn yogis think of next?!? I don’t know, it sounds pretty scammy. A woman enters into a meditative state and someone stimulates her clitoris. Are you sure this isn’t just some scam? The fMRI’ed not only the female meditators but also the male, um, stimulators, and found some remarkable results. First, frontal lobe activity associated with intense focus and sensations of release or flow were observed. Second, parietal lobe activity associated with spatial representations of the self and spiritual sensations of connectedness and oneness were recorded. And temporal lobe and limbic activity associated with emotional, meditative, and sexual reactions were evident. There were distinct changes in the male and female brain, but also some overlap indicating benefits for both. People have long been aware of the connection between sexuality and spirituality and the scammy exploitation that can go along with it, so while we have some scientific support for it all, be careful of who you let stimulate your clitoris while meditating.
  • First Ever Body Maps of Hallucinations Created Most of us cannot understand what it is like to be in a hallucinatory or psychotic fugue state. This research can really help us understand it better. It reminds me of the phantom text or phone sensations that I get when I carried my phone in my pants pocket. Every now and again, I’d get the sensation of my phone vibrating against my leg only there wouldn’t be a phone in my pocket. It was a complete hallucination. Imagine experiencing that but with a much wider variety of sensations and no associated causes over multiple body parts. It really must be very confusing and distressing.
  • Exploring Psychosomatic Inflammation: How Perception and Memory Can Influence Illness While this is a basic study using mice, it is fascinating. In a nutshell, they induced inflammation of the bowel and used a technique to “capture” the neurons involved in the insular cortex (the brain region involved with monitoring bodily sensations). After the bowel inflammation resolved, they stimulated these same cells, and the bowel inflammation returned! More importantly, they were able to reverse the process. By “calming” the neurons in the insular cortex, the induced bowel inflammation resolved. Pretty phenomenal and strongly suggests that similar processes may be involved in higher order mammals like homosapiens.

Other Blogs

There are, of course, numerous other blogs rolling through my WordPress Reader. Here’s a brief sampling:

Friends of Ye Olde Blogge

  • Over on Cabbages and Kings, Robert re-blogs a remarkable poem that resonates with Ye Olde Blogge on so many levels but primarily on our excessive anxiety and advancing age. Well worth your time, and let us know if it resonates with you in the comments.
  • At Mock Paper Scissors, Tengrain continues his series on Zuckerberg and Metaberg with his usual aplomb and sarcasm. Oops,’ Said Faceberg (Part Infinity) makes the news that Republicans weaponized Facebook and now that Facebook is going all concealed carry, they’re pissed at the “censorship” but blame Facebook for being assholes, not themselves a little more palatable. I said a little.
  • A recent post on Homeless on the High Desert, TenBears gives us another analogy to add to bread and circuses, beer and football that have describe the reasons empires past have fallen or the populace failed to notice as the empire plummeted past them, Crotch-shots on Fox.
  • On Infidel753, Infidel leaves us with the uplifting message that civilization wins out over the forces of brutality, inhumanity, and darkness… eventually. Just look at Galileo’s fight with Pope whatzhisname over heliocentrism. Right? We all know Galileo and that the earth revolves around the sun, so what’s to worry about now? I feel better… sort of… don’t you? Let us know in the comments, especially if you read his post!
  • Over at Fair and Unbalanced, Burr celebrates Veterans Day by reblogging one of his own about a Viet Nam War hero he met in the local library of all places. It is quite the story. Let me know if you agree… in the comments.
  • Scottie’s Toy Box’s Scottie gives us one of those ICYMI stories detailing how Maddog Greene believes the gov’t is ready to be toppled if the GQP is ready to push hard enough to the shagrin of Steve Bannon who is one of the few on that side with enough sense to keep the quite parts quite at least in the obviously public sphere.

That’s about all we have words for — I try to keep these to around a 1,000 to 1,200 words, honest — so we’ll dispense with the review of the two posts we made this week, the anticipation of the posts to be made next week (I don’t know what they’ll be, anyway), and my constant moaning about the underpopulated calendar of events (the Cambodian Water Festival and Joe Biden’s Birthday).

Huzzah!
Jack
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Image Attribution

It’s the picture of the poor sparrow in its wool nest the morning it expired. It’s yours to use as you feel fit. Honest.

30 replies »

  1. Thanks for the shout out (Candice is amazing. I’ve elected her as my poetic muse.)

    I’ll have to share the posts from Neuroscience news with a couple of FB groups and see how the experience of hallucinators matches up with that map.

    I haven’t watched Fox “News” enough (like, at all) to assess why the female presenters dress, but I would guess that trying to see up their skirts would be a major draw for some of their viewers.

    I’m not sure that civilization always wins in the long run, but there is something to be said for the idea even if is not comforting in the immediate gratification sense. And, unfortunately, the thugs never stop trying.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Howdy Bob!

      Fox News has gotten better about not setting their female presenters on tall stools with short tight skirts but only just.

      I don’t know about the civilization thing, either. I think it is just regression to the mean more than anything else. The average person has to be reasonably empathetic and kind in order for the species to survive. Eventually, whatever oppressive forces burn themselves out and the average is back in place.

      I know it is not much fun and not as comforting as the thought that the moral arc of the universe bends towards justice, but, then again, I believe that love is just your body’s way of tricking you into producing a pregnancy. I write that on every Valentine’s Day card that I send out.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Liked by 1 person

      • There’s that “alligator brain” again. It has two jobs, survival of the individual and survival of the species. I guess that’s were the Greek god Eros lives, he whose parents are the gods of Love and War.

        The moral arc of the universe bending toward justice thing is a warm and fuzzy thought, but I really don’t think the universe gives a dam. It is the moral arc of human societies that matters, and it does seem to follow (hopefully) an ascending spiral path, circling between oppression and justice (among other values).

        BTW: I’ve got a post in the works on the “He grabbed my gun.” defense.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Howdy Bob!

          I’ll keep an eye out for the post. Of course I thought immediately of the grabbed something else line that Trump popularized so long ago.

          One thing that I think is pertinent in the moral arc of civilizations bending towards justice is the steady decline in the number of traumatized people in the society. Another line of interesting thought that van der Kolk brought up was the reaction of Western societies to the tremendous changes wrought by the two world wars. WWI occurred in the middle of a global pandemic, and we reacted to it with the Roaring 20’s of heavy drinking and partying. WWII, we created the welfare state. We seem to be reacting to the #COVID19 pandemic with a turn toward authoritarianism. We’ll see.

          Huzzah!
          Jack

          Liked by 1 person

            • Howdy Bob!

              When was the last time we actually fought a war in which Congress actually declared war?

              The scary thing about Afghanistan and Iraq was that the casualties and direct costs were so low that no one really cared that they continued on for twenty years. Once we get full drone fighting capacity so that no American soldier actually dies in a conflict that we are fighting, we really won’t care. We spent trillions on those wars and nobody cared. Nobody noticed. We seem to be no worse for the wear and tear for it.

              Can we actually feel shame over “losing” a conflict that no one cared about or was very aware of in the first place?

              Hochschild makes the point that rural conservative white voters feel shame at not having achieved the American dream, and that the way out of the shame is to oppress People of Color so that they have someone worse off than they are and someone to blame for their failure. The Republican Party has continued to deliver on the promise of being as racist as you wanna be as long as you’re willing to live in Cancer Alley, literally. Apparently, that is an acceptable deal.

              Humiliation is the most damaging of our emotional experiences. Poor whites are humiliated by seeing Black people be more successful than they are. That is traumatizing and makes them vulnerable to those propaganda techniques that create mass psychosis and willing to trade away whatever they can to lock their superiority in place.

              Huzzah!
              Jack

              Liked by 1 person

              • Well, with an actual declaration of way by Congress? That was on December 8, 1941. We did win that one, and came to call the ones who did it The Greatest Generation (It’s damned hard to do better than your Dad when he was one of The Greatest Generation, isn’t it.)

                In Korea we fought to a draw with no peace treaty. Officially, that one isn’t even over, just a long cease fire.

                With Desert Storm, George H W took Colin Powell’s wise advice not to go to Baghdad to do regime change. So, it wasn’t so much a war as a police raid with tanks. No real glory there.

                There’s a reason the Joint Chiefs were worried about Trump impulsively taking us to a war somewhere, and part of that was that they didn’t see any clearly winnable targets of any importance. China? Even 60 years ago, there wouldn’t be a North Korea but for the Chinese intervention.

                There is something about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (+Syria) that we seem unwilling to talk about, the reasons they leave so many who have fought there suicidal. The drones don’t spare us those casualties.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Howdy Bob!

                  Drone pilots seem to have it worst of all. There have been several reports about the lives drone pilots live. They work out of air bases in the West, although they could be located anywhere, and are often lower ranking non-coms. They sit at their consoles viewing the video and other data from the drone flying half a world away, drop their munitions and whatever they do, and then they walk out of this intense deadly environment to their home with their family and friends. It is a major mind fuck. They go from a shift where they kill people to reading bedtime stories to their toddlers and mopping the floors. They can’t keep drone pilots because the dichotomy is just too jarring.

                  Luckily, Trump is the classic bully and doesn’t engage in real risk taking. He’s too afraid of failure. The biggest military risk he took was killing of Soleimani. Rightly or wrongly, I lost my fear and concern that he would take us into a war. He just didn’t have the huevos it takes to go to war. Crack down on his own people and allow a disease to kill them, but not an actual shooting war with a real opponent who will shoot back.

                  I suspect the suicidality of our veterans and troops is based in the lack of importance we attach to their experience and the lack of awareness we have of it. If Korea was the forgotten war, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria are the unimportant wars. We preferred playing WarCraft and MineCraft to actually paying attention to the fight that they were engaged in.

                  Huzzah!
                  Jack

                  Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      That’s just it, the government, whether it is Dem or Republican, doesn’t want people to have skin or kin in our future wars. The military actually does because they recognize the limit it puts on political excesses, but the politicians don’t.

                      Looking back on it, Nixon was a watershed moment in our history. The Republicans figured out how to defy Congressional investigations, co-opt protesters, and evade the war powers clause. The lessons Republicans learned — Murdoch and the Kochs — was that they needed to neuter democracy.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • As long as we’re all dancing as fast as we can, no one can question the reason we went into the swamp in the first place. It is a page straight out of Trump’s playbook: sow chaos and no one will be able to stop you from the smash and grab you commit.

                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • The curious thing is that you can see it if you get just a bit of distance from it. The question is why aren’t more white independent voters getting that distance and seeing it?

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Everything in our present media environment works against getting distance or the view from 30,000 feet. Even when such analysis is presented, it is with “balance” that amounts to confusing the view with “point-counterpoint” commentary that only confuses the viewer.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • There is something not quite right in the media picture. I’ve heard respected reporters arguing that it is not a conspiracy just a group of people with similar backgrounds, goals, and tools all arriving at the same conclusion. They don’t put it that way, but it is essentially what it is. There isn’t any editorial order that has come down, it is just that all the white reporters going to all the white journalism schools using all the white corporation’s money to do their white stories.

                      I know you weren’t talking about race, but it amounts to the same thing whether it is race, politics, or climate.

                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • The fears are irrational in large part, and the mythology that served denial of fear is more so. But there is a sort of reality base to part of it. We know, but strenuously avoid admitting it, that we stole this land, and so we fear somebody will steal it from us, or worse, punish us for the theft. The same applies to slavery.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • White people can’t imagine that anyone would react to the theft of their land or enslavement any differently than we would. It amazes me that the Black and Native American communities act with as much grace as they do. I don’t know where they get their resilience.

                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • It is as if on some level the Black and Native people view white misbehavior as a kind of natural disaster, like a hurricane or earthquake that one can only work to survive. As for the white people, I think it is exactly that grace and resilience that most frightens them.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      Whenever we see behavior that is incomprehensible, meaning behavior that we wouldn’t do in the same circumstances that we can’t see a cause of or benefit to, we reject the people who are doing it. Most white people cannot imagine reacting with grace and resilience largely because they have never had to. We’ve been able to bully and intimidate and murder our way to white supremacy. I guess that means never having to say you’re sorry or something.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

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