Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Let's go for a walk and do some thinking

Walking on a Country Road, Valerie Jeanne Frischmann
I  often read through the material I will use to write something for a client and then go for my walk. It's a two-mile trek down a quiet side road, beside which there is a stream for a bit.

I know my work is better for having walked, although I don't charge my clients for the time.

Here are some things we know about walking and thinking:
What is it about walking, in particular, that makes it so amenable to thinking and writing? The answer begins with changes to our chemistry. When we go for a walk, the heart pumps faster, circulating more blood and oxygen not just to the muscles but to all the organs—including the brain. Many experiments have shown that after or during exercise, even very mild exertion, people perform better on tests of memory and attention. Walking on a regular basis also promotes new connections between brain cells, staves off the usual withering of brain tissue that comes with age, increases the volume of the hippocampus (a brain region crucial for memory), and elevates levels of molecules that both stimulate the growth of new neurons and transmit messages between them.
Moreover, walking in the country is best.
A small but growing collection of studies suggests that spending time in green spaces—gardens, parks, forests—can rejuvenate the mental resources that man-made environments deplete. Psychologists have learned that attention is a limited resource that continually drains throughout the day. A crowded intersection—rife with pedestrians, cars, and billboards—bats our attention around. In contrast, walking past a pond in a park allows our mind to drift casually from one sensory experience to another, from wrinkling water to rustling reeds.
It's said that William Wordsworth—whose poetry is filled with tramps up mountains, through forests, and along public roads—walked as many as a hundred and eighty thousand miles in his lifetime, which comes to an average of six and a half miles a day starting from age five.

Wonder if he charged.

Morning Rush: Chocolate, gas prices, and more

Here and there on the Web this Wednesday, October 29, 2014:

Eat but don't copy.
The Hershey Bar gets a patent

The Post Office is spying on us

Why gas prices are falling

Black tea vs ovarian cancer

North Korea plays with nukes

How to think like a genius

Oh, that election fraud

Even the Red Cross is incompetent

Obama blows up a friendship

Connect your fridge to the Internet?

John Kerry, call your office

Harry Reid, call your office

Keep your kids out of public schools

Today's Word: haughty

Hahaha: 79% of world's attics remain unexplored

Drooling mental illness run amok:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

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(Thanks, J)

George Orwell, call your office

Orwell in the background.
George Orwell, the English novelist, essayist, journalist and critic, coined some terms still widely used: cold war, Big Brother, thought police, doublethink, and thoughtcrime.

The reason they're widely used, and that his novel 1984 is still being read and quoted, is that what he foresaw is coming true.


Truthy. The federal government is spending nearly $1 million to create an online database that will track “misinformation” and hate speech on Twitter. The National Science Foundation is financing the creation of a web service that will monitor “suspicious memes” and what it considers “false and misleading ideas,” with a major focus on political activity online.

Turns out it was quite interested in tracking conservative thinkers. Twitter accounts listed included the Drudge Report, Ann Coulter, Byron York, and Fox and Friends. The top user listed was Pat Dollard, a conservative filmmaker. Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai published an editorial warning that the project could be misused. “The concept seems to have come straight out of a George Orwell novel,” he wrote.

The Press. This from the Washington Post: At some point, a compendium of condemnations against the Obama administration’s record of media transparency (actually, opacity) must be assembled. Notable quotations in this vein come from former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson, who said, “It is the most secretive White House that I have ever been involved in covering”; New York Times reporter James Rosen, who said, “I think Obama hates the press”; and CBS News’s Bob Schieffer, who said, “This administration exercises more control than George W. Bush’s did, and his father before that.”

USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page has added a sharper edge to this set of knives. Speaking Saturday at a White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) seminar, Page called the current White House not only “more restrictive” but also “more dangerous” to the press than any other in history, a clear reference to the Obama administration’s leak investigations and its naming of Fox News’s James Rosen as a possible “co-conspirator” in a violation of the Espionage Act.

The Internet. Democrats snuck in a last minute proposal that the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) be allowed to heavily regulate political content on internet sites such as Youtube, blogs, and the Drudge Report. Obama FEC Vice Chairperson Ann M. Ravel announced that the FEC was preparing new regulations to give itself control over videos, Internet-based political campaigns, and other content on the web. FEC Chairman Lee E. Goodman, a Republican, said if regulation extends that far, then anybody who writes a political blog, runs a politically active news site, or even a chat room could be regulated.

Reporters. Former CBS News reporter Attkisson says a source, who’s “connected to government three-letter agencies,” told her that  her computer was hacked into by “a sophisticated entity that used commercial, non-attributable spyware that’s proprietary to a government agency: either the CIA, FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency or the National Security Agency.” The spyware included programs that Attkisson says monitored her every keystroke and gave the snoops access to all her e-mails and the passwords to her financial accounts.

Morning Rush: Windowless planes, oysters, and more

Here and there on the Web this Tuesday, October 28, 2014:

Hey don't look!
Care to ride in a windowless plane?

Eat oysters, live forever

Have them with butterrnut squash

Keeping black pastors in line

Will you have a heart attack?

Thank him for Ebola vaccines

Oh, that election fraud

The press catches on -- too late

Are you board?
How we use a tree

Maybe they're watching this 

Here comes artificial intelligence

Using scorpions to fight cancer

A quarantine doesn't have to be perfect

How to check up on your mutual funds

88 things younger than Hillary Clinton

App Farm: 13 top utilities

Today's Word: bizarre, outrageously unusual

Ex-Pentagon janitor writes tell-all about Leon Panetta

Inside New York City's tallest apartment building:

Sir Winston Churchill: eagles

"When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber."

Monday, October 27, 2014

Meet the Staff: Chicken Man

Our continuing series on the people behind the scenes at The Gumbo Blog ...

He was the Chicken Man.
And the Chicken Man was good at one thing.
And that one thing was dry wall.

Liven up your vocabulary

Sprinkle these into your conversation this week to impress people. That's why we talk, right?

excessive in behavior

The problem with this word is that temperate is often associated with things you don't do—like drink, or engage in excessive behavior of any kind. So with the negative in- at the front, the word means to engage in that kind of excess. 
unpleasantly and excessively suave or ingratiating in manner or speech

Although it may sound cheerful, like it means "having a full belly" or "overflowing," the connotations of fulsome are not very positive. As used in the phrase "fulsome praise," however, the word has been misunderstood to mean "abundant."
marked by blithe unconcern

It's sometimes hard to tell if this word is positive or negative, because unhappy people who are weighed down with cares often use it to criticize the happy, care-free members of society.
Use them all in one sentence, submit proof by midnight, and you'll receive The Gumbo Pretension Award by return mail.

More here.

Jobs come from the tooth fairy

Hillary Clinton made an astonishing statement on the campaign trail the other day, but on examination it's not remarkable for her.

Here's what she said:
“Don’t let anybody tell you it’s corporations and businesses create jobs.”
Grammar aside, it's shocking that she would say this in public. Corporations are where I've found work all my life, but I guess I didn't know where I was. Yikes!

If you believe Hillary, I've got one for you: Hershey doesn't create chocolate. Bees don't create honey. IBM doesn't create computers. Biden doesn't create gaffes. This is all done by the government agencies.

Hillary is lost in Obamaland, in which "you didn't build that." Long ago, when she was playing president while her husband was playing with interns, Hillary created a new health care system for us, in the course of which she said:
"We can't afford to have that money go to the private sector. The money has to go to the federal government because the federal government will spend that money better than the private sector will spend it."
Hillary has always had her head twisted on sideways. Her correspondence with Saul Alinsky was just the beginning. And there was this warning: "We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good." I'm just surprised that she would reveal herself so openly. Obama has been more clever.

The federal government, of course, creates millions of jobs for its employees, who get better pay and benefits than we do. And you might say that it creates jobs for welfare and food stamp recipients, whose work consists of cashing the checks.

Whether you like Hillary or not, I suggest you figure out where you're working -- if you're lucky enough to be working.

Morning Rush: A good cop, living longer, and more

Here and there on the Web this Monday, October 27, 2014:

One of the good guys.
One heckuva good cop

We're living longer and longer

How to thrive in uncertainty

So The O was always a goof off

And she's completely lost her mind

So has this New York TV guy

What he found in his basement

What if age is just a state of mind?

Miracles: cancer-killing stem cells

And: growing a blood vessel in a week

Why the sun is good for you

Have men become wussies?

Our government wasn't prepared

Don't forget to eat your chocolate

Don't forget to eat your walnuts

The five worst airlines

The unbridled power of the IRS

Today's Word: a person who fantasizes or lies

Hahaha: Americans aren't fit enough for jihad

How they harvest marble:

Vince Lombardi: acceptance

"The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have."

Sunday, October 26, 2014

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If you will patronize our sponsors, we will patronize you.

Vespers; Agnus Dei

This is a Brazilian singer named Jotta Agnus Dei performing in Brazil Got Talent 2011. "Agnus Dei" ("Lamb of God") was written by Michael W. Smith.

The enduring reality in human life

"Most western leaders don’t really believe in evil as an enduring reality in human life. If their feverish rhetoric means anything, it is that evil can be vanquished. In believing this, those who govern us at the present time reject a central insight of western religion, which is found also in Greek tragic drama and the work of the Roman historians: destructive human conflict is rooted in flaws within human beings themselves. In this old-fashioned understanding, evil is a propensity to destructive and self-destructive behaviour that is humanly universal. The restraints of morality exist to curb this innate human frailty; but morality is a fragile artifice that regularly breaks down. Dealing with evil requires an acceptance that it never goes away. No view of things could be more alien at the present time."

Edward Everett Hale: troubles

"Never bear more than one trouble at a time. Some people bear three kinds - all they have had, all they have now, and all they expect to have."

Friday, October 24, 2014

Casual Friday: Proud Mary

Just two working days til Monday!

"I was walking down the street wearing glasses when the prescription ran out." ~ Steven Wright

If your mind is right, so is your heart

If you are typically aware of what you are thinking and feeling in the moment, you're doing your heart a favor.

This kind of mindfulness is at the heart of meditation. Researchers have now linked it with better cardiovascular health.

They call it dispositional mindfulness. I couldn't find a definition for that term, but dispositional means "the predominant or prevailing tendency of one's spirits; natural mental and emotional outlook or mood; characteristic attitude."

If you are focusing on your breath, you can't be worrying about Ebola. That sounds dumb, but that's basically the idea.
“Mindfulness is changeable, and standardized mindfulness interventions are available,” Eric Loucks, assistant professor of epidemiology in the Brown University School of Public Health, says. “Mostly they’ve been looked at for mental health and pain management, but increasingly they are being looked at for cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity, smoking, and blood pressure.”

The connection may come about because people who are attuned to their present feelings may be better at minding and managing the various cravings—for salty or sugary foods, cigarettes, or even some time on the couch—that undermine health, Loucks says. Mindfulness interventions, for example, have already shown efficacy in helping people to quit smoking.
You don't have to move to a temple in the Himalayas and sit with monks all day to experience mindfulness. You can make this kind of thinking part of your everyday life. Here are some suggestions

Morning Rush: Gas receipts, Putin, and more

Here and there on the Web this Friday, October 24, 2014:

Is this your future?
Try to ride one of these trends

Be aware of how you feel 

Always save your gas receipts

Putin is playing cold war again

And he's ahead in nukes

How to find your purpose

Don't look down.
These people were living high

They're after your gasoline

Guess we don't know how to eat

It already got worse

Are these things watching you?

Why coffee tastes and smells so good

You should learn to pick locks

Financial planners for millennials

A potential blood marker for lung cancer

A new Washington overlord

What is Obama doing with our Internet?

A hero grandpa saves granddaughter 

Tragedy: global warming is shrinking goats

Today's Word: one who take part in conversation 

Hahaha: Hall of Fame acquires Manning's arm

Butter vs Margarine:

Louis Nizer: craftsman

"A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; but a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist."

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Does your plant know it's being eaten?

Lots of weird things happened in the Sixties. One was a book written by a guy named Baxter. It was revealing.
Backster and his collaborators went on to hook up polygraph machines to dozens of plants, including lettuces, onions, oranges, and bananas. He claimed that plants reacted to the thoughts (good or ill) of humans in close proximity and, in the case of humans familiar to them, over a great distance. In one experiment designed to test plant memory, Backster found that a plant that had witnessed the murder (by stomping) of another plant could pick out the killer from a lineup of six suspects, registering a surge of electrical activity when the murderer was brought before it. Backster’s plants also displayed a strong aversion to interspecies violence. Some had a stressful response when an egg was cracked in their presence, or when live shrimp were dropped into boiling water, an experiment that Backster wrote up for the International Journal of Parapsychology, in 1968.
I guess you had to be there. It's so hard to explain the Sixties.

Jump forward however many years it's been, and I'm reading online a magazine named Modern Farmer, in which it is revealed that,
Plants can tell when they’re being eaten, and they don’t like it.
Well, if ever there was an argument against eating okra, that would be it.
Turns out, the thale cress actually produces some mustard oils and sends them through the leaves to deter predators (the oils are mildly toxic when ingested). And the study showed that when the plants felt or heard the caterpillar-munching vibrations, they sent out extra mustard oils into the leaves. When they felt or heard other vibrations? Nothing. It’s a far more dynamic defense than scientists had realized: the plant is more aware of its surroundings and able to respond than expected.
In the olden days, scientists discovered things like gravity. Seems today they've pretty much done all the good stuff.

Well, it's just a quaint old document anyway

First it was the illegal children, who were often adults, and who were carefully spread around the country. Then it was the 100,000 Haitians.

Now we have these headlines: 
What words do you use to describe this abuse of the Constitution in a naked attempt to create a huge new voting block? Astonishing? Brazen? Blatant? Audacious? Most of it awaits the election, because the American people are opposed. That just adds to the audacity of it.

Judge Andrew P. Napolitano noted a few years ago that most presidents and all congresses of both political persuasions have violated the constitution in one way or another. For example:
When Franklin Delano Roosevelt first proposed legislation that authorized the secretary of agriculture to engage in Soviet-style central planning -- a program so rigid that it regulated how much wheat a homeowner could grow for his own family's consumption -- he rejected arguments of unconstitutionality. He proclaimed that the Constitution was "quaint" and written in the "horse and buggy era," and predicted the public and the courts would agree with him.
You can peruse his many examples. It's interesting perspective. But it strikes me that most of those attempts were thwarted and, at any rate, weren't nearly as permanent and unreversible as what this president has in mind.

One must add to this abolition of borders the administration's never-ending efforts to make it easy for just anyone, citizen or not, to vote.

There is no doubt that this is underway. I just wonder if it could be stopped. I'm not sure anyone knows or has the will to find out.

Well-tested, well-proven principles

"Recent affirmances of same-gender marriage seem to suffer from a peculiar inability to recall the principles embodied in existing marriage law. Traditional marriage is “exclusively [an] opposite-sex institution . . . inextricably linked to procreation and biological kinship.” Traditional marriage is the fundamental unit of the political order. And ultimately the very survival of the political order depends upon the procreative potential embodied in traditional marriage.

"Those are the well-tested, well-proven principles on which we have relied for centuries. The question now is whether judicial “wisdom” may contrive methods by which those solid principles can be circumvented or even discarded."

Morning Rush: Saving, walking, and more

Here and there on the Web this Thursday, October 23, 2014:

Be the first on your block to see it!
Partial eclipse today!

Small ways to save big 

Oh, that vote fraud

Walk like a happy person! 

Make the most of your IRA

The money changes hands secretly

Idiot of the Day: Charlie Crist

Lunatic of the Day: Ingrid Newkirk 

Know your nuts

The workplace violence epidemic

Multitasking damages your brain

The networks ignore the election

Get people to follow your bidding

The truth about cats: they're good

The truth about cats: they're bad

The curable disease that killed 1.5 million 

Learn your body's natural sleep cycle 

How To: find cheaper airfares

Today's Word: very dark or gloomy

Hahaha: Halloween extended for slow obese kids

Rise and walk:

Socrates: wisdom

“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”