October Update

Bought a standard poodle puppy.  Bringing him home October 5, so October will be full of housebreaking, and FUN.




Reality Is...?

In my last post (Sept. 25) I spoke of how my brain, sealed inside my skull, learning by remote control, nevertheless seems to be in immediate contact with the outside world. 

     But the reason it seems that way is because that's what my brain tells me.  In other words, if I am, essentially, my brain, my brain is constructing my reality.

     An example is color: There is nothing inherently red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet about the wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation in the visible spectrum.  Those wonderful colors are constructed by the brain out of electric impulses it receives from my retinas. 

     So I have to wonder what the world is "really" like.  I wouldn't be surprised to find out it's a lot the way we think it is.  If it weren't, it would be hard to be successful at living.  Yet it might be enough different to surprise us, if only there were a way to find out!


At Home in the World, Thanks to My Brain

There’s so much exciting press about brain research recently, it makes me “think.” 

         My brain is up there in my skull:  In the dark.  In silence.  No touch, no taste, no smell.  It receives information about the outside world via neurons, in the form of electrical signals, from my eyes, ears, skin, tongue, and nose.  It uses these electrical signals to build pictures of my world, both immediate and long-term. 

         This makes my brain seem to be a remote pilot, somewhat like a space explorer, sending probes here and there in the universe.

         But that’s not how I feel.  I feel entirely immersed in my environment.  I see, hear, feel, taste, smell an immediate, integrated world.  So somehow, along with all its other miraculous capabilities, my brain makes me feel right at home amidst all my sensations. 


Spiritual Screw-Up: What's Going On?

Rep Todd Akin of Missouri messed up badly this week speaking of "legitimate rape" and saying, totally incorrectly, that women don't get pregnant from rape.  There are plenty of reasons this was a very bad thing for him to do. But I'm especially interested in the spiritual aspect of his error.

     It's an election year, not only for Akin, but for the entire Republican Party.  Not only are all seats in the House of Representatives up for election, and a third of those in the Senate, but this year we have a presidential election too.  If ever a candidate should want to connect spiritually with voters, this is the time. 

     Yet Akin chose this very time to make this particular mistake.  Now possibly he will lose his Senate election bid, even have to drop out of the race.  Possibly one more Democrat will arrive in the Senate.  Possibly more women will flee to the Democratic Party and vote for Barack Obama.

     What's going on?

     This brings to mind Jonah Lehrer's recent, sad untruths.  I was broken hearted when I learned that Lehrer had finally, after 3 weeks of skeptical questions directed to him, admitted to making up quotes from none other than Bob Dylan for Jonah's new book, Imagine.

     Jonah, what could you have been thinking?  Just when you were really becoming a well-respected science writer, just when you moved to the New Yorker.  Exactly when all eyes were upon you and upon your book.  Exactly when you needed to connect spiritually with the reading public.

     What's going on?


Better News on the PTSD Front

Last week I posted about an article in the New York Times Sunday Magazine concerning the US Army and soldiers' brain injuries. The news was discouraging regarding both concussions and PTSD: denial, delays in treatment, callousness.

But I heard this from writer Tena Russ about a treatment program that is just the opposite, attentive, caring, serious:

          "I volunteer with my therapy dog at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Facility in North Chicago.  My dog Cami and I visit active duty soldiers and veterans who are in the the locked wards at the mental hospital.  Many of them have PTSD and are being treated for it.  In addition, on the campus there is a residential program for soldiers who have been in battle and have PTSD.  From what I gather, this particular VA (at least) is doing the right thing by the wounded warriors.  They are not denying that PTSD exists."

Thanks, Tena, this is wonderful news!  I'd be happy to hear more from anyone out there who has had similar experiences.


Life Is Short

Climate is a long-term phenomenon.  And relative to climate, human life is short.

     In 1976, I lived in Santa Barbara from January through March, just when southern California was being deluged with torrential daily rains.  The TV news showed film of these downpours while "It never rains in southern California..." played in the background. 

     But an article in a Los Angeles newspaper at the time revealed that actually the last couple of centuries had been equally soaked.  In fact, the driest period on record had stretched from the 1930's until the 1970's, exactly when the most recent migration to California had occurred.  All those unsuspecting sun-seekers had put down roots in California just when the rains were holding off for forty years.

     Now the West and Midwest are in the midst of a severe, record-setting drought, and those of us who live here or farm here, are looking forward to live-giving, wetter years ahead.  But in fact, recent climate research shows that for the past 100 and even the past 2000 years, the country has been drying out more and more severely.

     Our problem is that we live such a short time compared to climate trends, it's easy to make the mistake of judging climate by a few decades of experience.  Instead, we need to do more climate research.  And we need our elected officials to start believing that research as if their, and our, lives depend on it.