Sunday, September 28, 2008

Quote to ponder...

"It's easier to act your way into right thinking than to think your way into right acting."


America Needs A New New Deal

Friday, September 26, 2008

Official 2008 Presidential Debate Drinking Game Rules

I found a cool link to help you get through the debate tonight. I don't know about you, but I am really looking forward to this. I have been wanting to write something, to make some comment about what's been going on this week, but I've been much too stunned to know what to say. I hope you've been reading the news and watching clips of Sarah Palin interviews. She's absolutely amazing, isn't she? I am speechless.

Monday, September 22, 2008

CA Prop 2

A Farm Boy Reflects

There's an important proposition on the ballot in California this Fall -- something I think is tremendously important -- something that when I think about the fact that this isn't law now makes me want to cry. Proposition 2 simply prohibits the confinement of certain farm animals in a manner that does not allow them to tum around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs. How does anyone consider it humane to confine a sentient being in such a way that it can't turn around freely, lie down, stand up, or fully extend it's limbs? The thought of animals confined without these basic humane requirements makes me so angry I don't even know how to express it to you. I really hope this passes and then we have a lot more work to do beyond that.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

What Our Country Desperately Needs is a Leader Who Loves Us

Americans have been treated with contempt for so long that we have become inured to our own society's suffering
by Alice Walker

Stumbling On Happiness

I finished reading the book Stumbling On Happiness by Daniel Gilbert last week. It was pretty good. I enjoyed the beginning especially, because he has a humorous way of telling stories and the subject matter is quite interesting. However, as I continued to read, I noticed that there were A LOT of similarities between this book and the last book I read, The Paradox of Choice. Well, it seemed that way anyway. I was going to go through both books and try to figure out just how many of the same studies were cited, but that turned out to be a really tedious task. Plus, both books are made up almost entirely of statistics and studies, so even if 5 or 6 of the studies cited were the same, that's not really a huge percentage of similarity. It was really noticeable to me, but I guess that's just because I read them in tandem, so it probably wouldn't be a big deal -- or any deal at all -- to most readers. What is a big deal, however, is that once I got to Gilbert's main conclusion, I found it amazingly disappointing and lame. The gist of the book is that our brains are not capable of predicting what will make us happy in the future because we have a tendency to remember selectively in a way that is not at all accurate and therefore doesn't aid us really in any way when we are trying to make decisions. And, our ability to imagine the future is equally flawed. Most of the book is made up of amusing and interesting examples to prove this. However, all goes sour when towards the end of the book he presents his solution to this problem. He oh-so-thoughtfully concludes that since we can't reliably use our imaginations to predict what would make us happy in the future, we should find someone else who is doing the thing we think we want to do and see how happy they are, which will help us to determine how happy we might be. When I got to this point, I was like, "What?! That's what all of this has been leading up to?!" He makes a concerted effort following this to explain that we humans are much more alike than we are different, so if you think you couldn't judge how happy you would be based on how happy someone else is, you are wrong. Honestly, I thought this was a really dumb conclusion to come to. To be fair, much of the book was quite thought-provoking. The ending was what I found rather unimpressive. Interestingly, the TED Talk by Daniel Gilbert about happiness is good and in it he manages to totally avoid the conclusions from the book I found so inane, so you might want to just skip the book and check that out instead.


As a side note, one of the findings discussed in both books that I found fascinating concludes that people are much happier with what they choose when they believe the decision is irreversible. So, the option to change your mind about something after you've made a decision (according to many studies) is a factor that will most likely cause you to be much less satisfied with what you have.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Pirate Kitty says "mrrrrrarrrrrrrrw"

Vote to put my picture on the I Can Has Cheezburger website by clicking HERE on the fifth cheeseburger to the right above the picture!

Talk Like a Pirate Day

Happy Friday, ye fine scalliwags! It's Talk Like a Pirate Day! Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!


I just read a quote I thought was worth sharing:

"Individuals who regularly experience and express gratitude are physically healthier, more optimistic about the future, and feel better about their lives than those who do not. Individuals who experience gratitude are more alert, enthusiastic, and energetic than those who do not, and they are more likely to achieve personal goals."

-- Barry Schwartz, Professor of Social Theory and Social Action at Swarthmore College

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Question to Ponder...

If you could change one, and only one, thing about the current system of electing the U.S. president, what would it be?

(submitted by Suze)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Paradox of Choice

I read about 3/4 of a book called The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz and then discovered that the author did a very interesting TED talk about it and since I watched that, I haven't had the desire to finish the book. It's definitely worth watching, so check out the link.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bare of baggage

I have always enjoyed staying in hotels and in other people's homes partly because I like the fact that so little of my "stuff" is there. I just recently cleaned up my apartment in such a way that it is extremely bare. I am finding that I LOVE it. I like to be in a place that is so uncluttered -- where I don't have much "baggage". It's strange to say, but it makes me feel more free to be myself somehow. I think maybe there is something to living simple.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Amy Goodman's arrest at the RNC

On Labor Day, Amy Goodman and two of her colleagues from Democrazy Now! were arrested outside the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. Here is Amy's account of this travesty of justice:

Why We Were Falsely Arrested by Amy Goodman

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Sarah Palin

Both Steph and Celeste have written interesting blog posts about McCain's infamous running mate.

I think Steph summed it up best when she said,

"I think the right has proven itself to be thoroughly enamored of female politicians who make careers out of oppressing other women."

Question to Ponder...

"With the exponential explosion of online tools and services, at what point do we say that it's all worthless junk? At what point does it stop adding value to society and start detracting? For example - the proliferation of partisan, polarized blogs and even cable news channels is having a profound impact on our ability to function as a responsible democracy. What about Facebook, Twitter, you name it? Discuss."

(submitted by Jake C.)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Monday, September 01, 2008

Better Off

I've just finished reading a fascinating book called Better Off by Eric Brende. It's the story of a couple who live for a year and a half without electricity or any modern conveniences in an Amish-esque community as an experiment to see if modern technology has actually made their lives (or society's as a whole) any easier or better. [Brende, who did his Master's degree at MIT, wrote his thesis about the experience.] You can tell from the title that the author concludes that we are better off the grid. He makes a very convincing argument, but, of course, I wasn't too hard to convince. If I hadn't already been interested in the subject, I probably wouldn't have read the book. I've actually been meaning to read it for several years.

There is a lot to share from the book, but for now I'll stick with this one little story, which he calls "the tale of the southern fisherman". The story serves to illustrate the absurdity of modern living, in the way we use technology to avoid work in one area of life and then end up having to replace it in another way (like driving to the gym, for example). In his rural experience, he learns that working together with other members of a community can serve multiple functions -- it becomes a way to socialize, exercise, and earn a living. Most of all, he learns that a slower and simpler way of life allows for more enjoyment, more appreciation of nature, of other people, of life.

Anyway, here is the story:

"The rich man from the North came by one day and saw the southern fisherman sitting, just sitting by the water. This horrified him. 'What are you doing?' he asked. 'I'm sitting,' replied the fisherman. 'Why aren't you out there fishing?' 'I have caught enough fish for one day,' he said. 'Don't you know,' returned the rich man, 'that if you continued, you could earn more money, and with that, buy another boat? With two boats you could earn more money still and buy better nets. Then you could catch even more fish and pretty soon you'd have a whole fleet of boats. Then you'd be rich like me.' 'What would I do then?' asked the fisherman. 'Then you could really enjoy life.' Replied the fisherman, 'What do you think I'm doing right now?'"

A far cry from the message of The dip, eh?