Friday, August 24, 2007

Thursday, August 23, 2007


When my brain doesn't look like this,


I like to keep it active. You know- critical thinking, reading, etc.

The LA Times just completed a wonderful 4-part series on how learning and memory work. The NYT re-emphasized the importance of physical exercise for neurogenesis (the creation of new neurons). To put this news in better perspective, let's review some good lifestyle options we can follow to maintain, and improve, our vibrant brains.

1. Learn what is the "It" in "Use It or Lose It". A basic understanding will serve you well to appreciate your brain's beauty as a living and constantly-developing dense forest with billions of neurons and synapses.

2.Practice positive, future-oriented thoughts until they become your default mindset and you look forward to every new day in a constructive way. Stress and anxiety, no matter whether induced by external events or by your own thoughts, actually kills neurons and prevent the creation of new ones. You can think of chronic stress as the opposite of exercise: it prevents the creation of new neurons.

3. Thrive on Learning and Mental Challenges. The point of having a brain is precisely to learn and to adapt to challenging new environments. Once new neurons appear in your brain, where they stay in your brain and how long they survive depends on how you use them. "Use It or Lose It" does not mean "do crossword puzzle number 1,234,567". It means, "challenge your brain often with fundamentally new activities".
We are (as far as we know) the only self-directed organisms in this planet. Aim high. Once you graduate from college, keep learning. The brain keeps developing, no matter your age, and it reflects what you do with it.

4.Explore, travel. Adapting to new locations forces you to pay more attention to your environment. Make new decisions, use your brain.

5.Don't Outsource Your Brain. Not to media personalities, not to politicians, not to your smart neighbour... Make your own decisions, and mistakes. And learn from them. That way, you are training your brain, not your neighbour's.

6.Develop and maintain stimulating friendships. We are "social animals", and need social interaction. Which, by the way, is why 'Baby Einstein' has been shown not to be the panacea for children development.

7.Laugh. Often. Especially to cognitively complex humor, full of twists and surprises. Better, try to become the next Jon Stewart

8. Don't expect advice to come in tens. Ok?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Monday, August 20, 2007

Someday, even YOU ....

Direct quote from the just published REAGAN DIARIES.

The entry is dated May 17, 1986.

'A moment I've been dreading. George brought his ne're-do-well son around this morning and asked me to find the kid a job. Not the political one who lives in Florida. The one who hangs around here all the time looking shiftless. This so-called kid is already almost 40 and has never had a real job. Maybe I'll call Kinsley over at The New Republic and see if they'll hire him as a contributing editor or something. That looks like easy work.'

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Comic-Con 2007!

At last i got the three pictures i took uploaded. Unlike last year, this year i went for quality over quantity.

After Jabba's experience with his slave, Ted the Hutt kept out of shape fanboys as his servants.

Marian! Don't look directly at the camera!

After taking pot-shots at Kevin Smith during a Q&A, this Tusken Raider and i celebrated.

Woooaah Wooah Wooah Wah wah!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Mervyn Edward "Merv" Griffin, Jr. (July 6, 1925 – August 12, 2007)

It is a rare moment when someone passes, it makes the news, and I can say i had opportunity to work with them.

He was as "Old School" Hollywood as it gets. Benevolent, charming, and into horse racing. A class act.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Friday Hotness!

Something i found disturbingly attractive....

For Red and Johnny's entire collection of oddly artistic and vaguely sensual Stormtrooper photographs, click HERE

Disbelief: Explaining Morality in Atheism to The Religious

Now I've done it.

I was posting a chat on facebook (Yeah, that's what i get), lamenting the loss of my hometown's innocence to the right wing evangelical groups that hijacked it. I got some varied banter agreeing or disagreeing but one kid was very keen on exposing me as a "Trendy Atheist". He replied a few times to different comments i made arguing that facts are different things to different people, and then tying his logic into very silly knots. Eventually however, he asked a question I hear from a lot of people of faith:

"If I am here solely because my ancestors evolved and crawled out of the water, why does it matter if I go walk up to some homeless dude and kick him in the nuts? I'm not accountable to a set moral or virtuous code because who is to say what is really good? "

This comment astounds me, and I figured I might address it, and perhaps give a little insight to my own total fall from religion.

The rejection of my Catholicism is somewhat recent, and it was prompted by a Homily given during mass. The priest was explaining some paintings he saw while in Rome that depicted Christ ascendant with bones at his feet. The priest recounts that he as he researched further, he realized the bones were representation of Adam and Eve who Christ rescued from hell and brought to heaven thereby redeeming original sin.

All was well.

That is, until Spiderman went after the ring of power in the land of Oz and had to defeat a Sith Lord named Pikachu.

After hearing that, i asked myself," Do I really believe that? In my heart, even as a child i've felt they were all stories. Now as an adult, do I have a place for this? Do I need to continue pretending?" Looking into my heart, i knew the answer was "no". I understand world religions and the need for answers well enough to know that the answers to life's questions do not rest in a single source of divine knowledge.

So how could i, as immediately as I rejected my faith and ultimately all faiths, possibly defend the question of my own moral compass? The answer, interestingly enough, has always been there for me.

Here is what I replied to the kid's question:

"The notion that we don't kick people in the nuts only because of a religion or an established set of morals is a fiction that belies the fact that we have human experience and the finest qualities of mankind to look to. In fact it is easy argualble that more immoral and in fact, violent acts are committed by beleivers than non-believers.

For me, and i feel for most non believers, we tend to negate the Absolutism of religion and bring it to its most primal level, In short , it is basic humanitarian grounding that is the basis for religious rationale. The true moral center rests with the recognition of the other, not in the belief of a higher authority. In laymen's terms I see the face of "God" in myself or and "The other".

A respect for mankind and its achievements (Humanism), allows you to work for the betterment of yourself and the world, because of its inherent benefits, not for fear of a vengeful deity or some sort of prize at the end of life. It forces you to deal with things now and enjoy and respect and truly appreciate the value of human life and the journey we all share.

Positing an agnostic or atheisitc universe, even the creation of the Christ story itself shows the redemptive force inherent in mankind. A force that is more elegant or beautiful than any ficticious parables about virgin births, or resurrections."

I think that covers it.

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