Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei says he is sending a message 'to the Guardian and to the world'
The Egyptian dissident Mohamed ElBaradei warned President Hosni Mubarak today that his regime is on its last legs, as tens of thousands of people prepared to take to the streets for a fourth day of anti-government protests.
The Nobel peace prize winner's comments to the Guardian represented his strongest intervention against the country's authoritarian government since he announced his intention to return to Egypt to join the protests. "I'm sending a message to the Guardian and to the world that Egypt is being isolated by a regime on its last legs," he said.
His words marked an escalation of the language he used on arrival in Cairo last night, when he merely urged the Mubarak government to "listen to the people" and not to use violence. .....
In an apparent bid to scupper the protests, the Egyptian authorities have cut off almost all access to the internet from inside and outside the country. ElBaradei said the move was proof the government was in "a state of panic".
"Egypt today is in a pre-information age," he said. "The Egyptians are in solitary confinement – that's how unstable and uncomfortable the regime is. Being able to communicate is the first of our human rights and it's being taken away from us. I haven't seen this in any other country before."
"Us against them" seems a staple of human psychology as unsinkable as "That's mine!" for a 3-year-old or "I wish they'd quiet down" for a senior citizen surrounded by teenagers.
.....Looking through a recent New York Times, you couldn't help thinking that the notion merits a separate daily section to organize stories efficiently: North Korean vs. South Korean, North Ivorian vs. South Ivorian (those hard geographical divisions help), e-book reader vs. traditional book lover, New York Giant vs. Dallas Cowboy, boomer vs. Gen X'er, man vs. woman.
Are we just boringly binary? And why, as both Rodney King and distinguished science writer David Berreby asked, for different reasons, can't we all get along?
Back in 2005, Berreby tried to open our eyes on the subject with his noncontentiously titled Us and Them: Understanding Your Tribal Mind (Little, Brown and Co.). We can't help being tribal thinkers, Berreby explained, because organizing other humans into kinds is "an absolute requirement for being human." It is, he wrote, "the mind's guide for understanding anyone we do not know personally, for seeing our place in the human world, and for judging our actions." There is "apparently no people known to history or anthropology that lacks a distinction between 'us' and 'others,' " and particularly others who don't rise to our level.
.....Rethinking the Other in Antiquity, by Erich S. Gruen, out this month from Princeton University Press, like all excellent scholarship massages the mind in useful new directions. Gruen, a Berkeley professor emeritus of history and classics, wields his command of ancient sources to shake a widely shared historical belief—that ancient Greeks and Romans exuded condescension and hostility toward what European intellectuals call the "Other." For those Greeks and Romans, that largely meant peoples such as the Persians, Egyptians, and Jews. Even if Gruen doesn't wholly convince on every ground that Greeks and Romans operated like Obamas in togas, regularly reaching out to potential enemies, his careful readings of Aeschylus, Herodotus, Tacitus, and others introduce us to a kinder, gentler ancient world. His analysis confirms how even back then, tossing people into a category and then hating them en masse was a choice, not an evolutionary necessity. ....."
Several days ago I posted about 'mindfulness meditation'. This a more thorough examination of the process, which may help to dispel the common occidental notion that meditation is little more than navel gazing.
Scientist and author Jon Kabat-Zinn has changed medicine through his work on meditation and stress. We can explore what he has learned, through science and experience, about mindfulness as a way of life; about slowing down time, as he says, and "opening to our lives." This is wisdom with immediate relevance to the ordinary and extreme stresses of our time — from economic peril, to parenting, to life in a digital age.
In 1971, Dr. Kabat-Zinn received his Ph.D. in molecular biology from MIT.
"I'm listening with new ears this week to Jon Kabat-Zinn's practical approach for calming ourselves, and also being a nourishing presence in the world. Before this interview, I had read and heard of Jon Kabat-Zinn for years. But I hadn't really grasped that he is first a scientist — a molecular biologist — and second one of the world's leading experts on meditation. And it was when I listened to talks he'd given at Google and MIT that I really wanted to have this conversation with him. He is the real thing — a teacher — with a personal combination of erudition, warmth, wit, and wisdom. As we began to speak, he told me that the seeds were planted in his earliest life with his microbiologist father and painter mother to pursue the nature of the human condition in its fullest sense.
In more than three decades of work at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Jon Kabat-Zinn has contributed mightily to demystifying meditation — taking it out of a box that says it is only for Buddhists or special practitioners, then studying its effects clinically and bringing the fruits of his research into life-changing work with the ill and dying, with leaders, and with Olympic athletes. ...."
"The FT tracks down Mark Augustus Landis: The bogus benefactor-cum-Jesuit priest who has been conning art galleries for 30 years.
. . . . . When Gray saw the priest, she was taken aback by his appearance—he was short and thin with sparse hair and jug ears, and looked frail and sickly. She and Mark Tullos, the museum's director, took him to Tullos's office, where they had trouble grasping his train of thought. "He had attention deficit disorder worse than anyone I'd ever met," says Gray. "He was constantly distracted in the middle of sentences by shiny objects or jewellery."
This was not enough to arouse their suspicions. Like many U.S. art museums, the Hilliard relies on rich, often elderly, donors to bolster its collection and is accustomed to eccentrics.
"In my experience with Jesuit priests and upper-crust wealthy donors, it's not unusual to run into someone quirky," Tullos says." ..........
"Participating in an 8-week mindfulness meditation program appears to make measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress. In a study that will appear in the January 30 issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, a team led by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers report the results of their study, the first to document meditation-produced changes over time in the brain's grey matter.
"Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day," says Sara Lazar, PhD, of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program, the study's senior author. "This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing."
Previous studies from Lazar's group and others found structural differences between the brains of experienced mediation practitioners and individuals with no history of meditation, observing thickening of the cerebral cortex in areas associated with attention and emotional integration. But those investigations could not document that those differences were actually produced by meditation. . . . . . . "
One of psychology’s most respected journals has agreed to publish a paper presenting what its author describes as strong evidence for extrasensory perception, the ability to sense future events.
The decision may delight believers in so-called paranormal events, but it is already mortifying scientists. Advance copies of the paper, to be published this year in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, have circulated widely among psychological researchers in recent weeks and have generated a mixture of amusement and scorn.
The paper describes nine unusual lab experiments performed over the past decade by its author, Daryl J. Bem, an emeritus professor at Cornell . . . .
"Prompted by a personal experience she interpreted as evidence for extrasensory perception, the late author embarked on an exploration into research on the subject. Mayer, who was a psychoanalyst by profession, in this work recounts her journey, which involved collecting ESP anecdotes, interesting her professional peers in the subject, and sifting through formal research into psychic phenomena. The latter process extends back over a century, to investigations supported by philosopher William James, as chronicled in Deborah Blum's Ghost Hunters (2006). Mayer summarizes the work of James' Society for Psychical Research, delves into one researcher's projects in the 1930s, describes the CIA's interest in "remote viewing" in the 1960s, and paraphrases research papers of more recent vintage. She never crossed the scientific Rubicon to announce QED on ESP but was bravely enamored of the possibility of its existence. How else to explain the recovery of her daughter's stolen harp, whose location Mayer said was pinpointed by a psychic dowser? Mayer's catalog of personal experience and seemingly rigorous research into "anomalous cognitive events" should inveigle those similarly intrigued."
So obvious that this 'Fox News' twit doesn't seem to be aware that the U.S. was not formed as a theocracy. I seem to have missed this clip when it was first posted in May of last year, but well worth revisiting . . .
In January of last year I posted about 'The Making of Amadeus' and added: "I was first introduced to the music of Mozart at the tender age of four by my father. Hence it has been an integral part of my life for more than seventy years."
I just discovered the BBC's 'The Genius of Mozart' posted on YouTube [in 18 parts] and watched it in its entirety. I won't attempt to compare the two filmed versions of Mozart's life, they are both excellent in quite different ways. But 'The Genius of Mozart' is sure to please anyone who truly loves his music. Charles Hazelwood, the British musicologist, in both word and with his piano, makes the music of Mozart come alive and vibrant.
"The Genius of Mozart" constitutes a powerful retelling of Mozart's life, beginning with his childhood as a travelling musical prodigy and ending with his tragic death at the tender age of 35. Every aspect of the film has been given thorough thought, so as to ensure an accurate historical reconstruction. Inspirational performances from the main actors and actresses foster captivation, while regular narrative interjections from the popular composer and conductor Charles Hazlewood brings an insightful, educational dimension.