Archive for September, 2009

Some possible turbulence ahead

After yet another outage at my web host today I looked around for other hosting and found a much cheaper solution that gets great reviews for stability. Unfortunately it takes a while to make the requisite changes, and there may be a period when this site’s unavailable. I’ll try to keep the disruption to a minimum — not that it’s likely to ruin many lives if I don’t.

In other news, I’m making good progress with the Consciousness Element chapter of my book on the Six Elements.

Posted at 11pm on Sep 29, 2009 | no comments
Filed Under: Apropos of nothing

Some random (but good) music

It’s been way too long since I posted a song list using 8tracks, but then I discovered that I can just drag an iTunes playlist to the 8tracks uploader icon and they’ll be uploaded automatically. And iTunes’ Genius playlists automate the selection of the music. This one was based on a Lucinda Williams track called “Knowing.”

Posted at 8pm on Sep 27, 2009 | 1 comment
Filed Under: Apropos of nothing
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The physical roots of intelligence

There’s an interesting little snippet in the Boston Globe today:

Perhaps heartfelt decisions are smarter than we think. A team of psychologists in Germany [Werner, N. et al., ”Enhanced Cardiac Perception Is Associated with Benefits in Decision-Making,” Psychophysiology] asked people to count their own heartbeats (without taking a pulse) and then asked them to play a computer gambling game, which required choosing repeatedly among four card decks that yielded different returns. People who were more accurate at counting their own heartbeats picked more cards from the decks with better returns. It seems that people who are in touch with feedback from their own body have an easier time learning from positive and negative experiences.

I was talking about something similar in a podcast interview with Tami Simon of Sounds True (I’ll let you know when the podcast goes online). She asked me about writing as a spiritual practice and I explained …

Posted at 9am on Sep 27, 2009 | 18 comments
Filed Under: Apropos of nothing
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Marjory Tragham

Today, in 1998 my grandmother, Marjory Tragham, née Duncan, passed away at the age of 87. She was born 1911, in Scoonie, Fife, Scotland. Died Sep 26, 1998, Dundee, Scotland. She was married twice, first to Alex Ritchie, who left her a widow with a young child, my Aunt Margaret. She then remarried my grandad, Thomas Tragham (né Tragheim). They were married for over 60 years, until she predeceased him.

My grandmother (always known as “Nana”) was an extraordinarily lovely woman. I never knew her to be anything but kind. She was canny with money as well. When she died, it transpired she salted away something in the order of $60,000 in a shoebox in a cupboard!

This photograph of my Nana and Grandad was taken in the 1930′s, I believe.

Posted at 7pm on Sep 26, 2009 | no comments
Filed Under: Adoption/Family
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The wisdom of surrender

A while back I received a request to answer some questions for a book on “surrender.” Here’s the first draft of my response:

> 1. How would you define surrender? Who or what is one surrendering to, in
> your opinion? God, Universe, Self, Soul, What Is, present moment…?

Surrender is an important part of all spiritual practice. Ultimately it’s what we’re aiming to accomplish in practice.

What we’re surrendering to is the reality of impermanence and non-separateness. In reality, everything changes and nothing (including ourselves) is separate or self-contained. But we have deep-rooted assumptions that we exist separately from the rest of the world, that there is something in us (and others) that is permanent and static, and that happiness can be found outside of ourselves. We believe that happiness is to be found in external conditions, rather than in changing our relation to the external conditions in which we live — …

Posted at 12pm on Sep 25, 2009 | no comments
Filed Under: Apropos of nothing
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See how Obama is destroying the US

Job losses, 2008 & 2009

Someone just posted a poll on FaceBook evaluating the Obama presidency. The question and answer choices were as follows:

Is Obama destroying our country?
- Yes
- No
- Only a little

The graph above compares Bush’s “economic miracle” — the miracle of destroying jobs at a rate unprecedented in modern times– with Obama’s performance. Note what happened in the months since Obama took office. Job losses have declined to a point where they’re not much worse than they were before the recession got fully under way. If current trends continue it’ll only be a couple of months before we see positive gains in the number of jobs.

Then we’ll be back to the start of what may be another long nightmare of prosperity, although the nightmare of peace is something we won’t see for some time, given that the Bush administration started two wars …

Posted at 10pm on Sep 14, 2009 | 28 comments
Filed Under: Politics

The beauty and genius of a Bach Canon

This little YouTube video does a great job of showing how a musical canon works. The simplest kind of canon is something like Row, Row, Row Your Boat, where the melody can be repeated after a few bars so that the melody provides its own accompaniment. Bach of course went much further than this and, for example, combined the original melody with its own inversion or with the melody reversed. The video managed to depict visually what’s happening, since most people wouldn’t be able to tell what’s going on just by listening. Enjoy!

Posted at 11pm on Sep 12, 2009 | 1 comment
Filed Under: Music