eXTReMe Tracker WARNING: The opinions expressed and linked to in this blog are not necessarily mine (anymore).

My ideas are constantly changing as I learn. Sometimes they even change midway through writing a post.

Thursday, January 24

War declared on Scientology

I'm curious to see how this plays out. I'd like to see this sort of energy put into legal and legitimate ways of opposing and undermining cults (and some religions as well).

Hello, Scientology. We are Anonymous.

Over the years, we have been watching you. Your campaigns of misinformation; suppression of dissent; your litigious nature, all of these things have caught our eye. With the leakage of your latest propaganda video into mainstream circulation, the extent of your malign influence over those who trust you, who call you leader, has been made clear to us. Anonymous has therefore decided that your organization should be destroyed.

I did a little more reading about Scientology after seeing a bit in Slashdot about how the Church threatened a lawsuit over a comment copyrighted by Scientology. Apparently, the church has done some pretty nasty stuff - including stealing government documents and harassing and even attempting to frame people who commented negatively about the Church. They were investigated and in some cases convicted of these crimes. I can see why they might be considered dangerous.

I could also see the "War" being something set up by Scientologists. I don't know to what purpose, but then I don't always get the purpose of a particular cult. Some folks think the purpose of this one is money.

I'd been ignoring the video about Tom Cruise. Seeing a cult member going on about their cult isn't new or terribly interesting to me. I mean, just last week, someone came up to me telling me about *insert deity from other modern religion*. However, the attempts by the Church of Scientology to remove it caught my interest enough that I endured watching it... More weird stuff.

Another weird thing I happened upon was an account of a woman who was admitted to a hospital, half-starved, dehydrated, sleep-deprived an psychotic. Scientologists showed up at the hospital saying she didn't believe in psychiatrics and took her to a hotel to rest. She died shortly after. After an 8 year battle, her family finally settled out of court after trying to sue for wrongful death.

And here I thought they were just some wackos who tried to get you to take IQ tests across the street from the University.

Monday, January 21

A Tiny Star

I have never watched American Idol, but I've been hearing bits about it on the radio lately and decided to take a peek on YouTube and see if I could find some clips. While browsing around, I happened upon a YouTube video of this little girl singing.

I really wasn't expecting much, but I was curious, so I gave it a listen and was impressed. It's not just that her voice is beautiful. I think there's something else... something Simon (from American Idol) comments on. It's the silence that surrounds her singing that really brings something special to the song. The first one video I watched was of her singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and making it on to the finals. It's a great one to watch. She sings it beautifully in the final as well.

The other recording I recommend listening to is "I Will Always Love You". Her singing so impressed folks that she was given a record deal, so this song is more polished. It seems like a song well suited to her... with plenty of silence. Listen and I think you'll hear what I mean.

I don't recall ever hearing anything quite so beautiful.

Tuesday, January 8

Scientific American: Psychedelic Drugs

"...between 1967 and 1972 studies in terminal cancer patients by psychiatrist Stanislav Grof and his colleagues at Spring Grove State Hospital in Baltimore showed that LSD combined with psychotherapy could alleviate symptoms of depression, tension, anxiety, sleep disturbances, psychological withdrawal and even severe physical pain. Other investigators during this era found that LSD may have some interesting potential as a means to facilitate creative problem solving."

Thursday, January 3

Boredom and the Meaning of Life

Staving off tedium is no mundane matter. People who are predisposed to boredom are more likely to suffer from ills such as depression and drug addiction; they also tend to be socially awkward and poor performers at school or work. Getting at the origins of boredom may lead to ways to prevent and treat such pathologies and detrimental behaviors.

This article caught my eye because boredom is something I struggle with quite a lot and which seems to be getting worse as I get older. When I was young, learning something new was always interesting and fun. Now, even learning something new seems ... old. Maybe that's because I don't usually get past the boring bits that come a little after the beginning of learning something new.

The one thing I have learned to do fairly well in my life was to play the flute - had just become difficult again when I quit. I quit because small improvements, at that stage, required hours and hours of practice. For a long time, a small amount of practice could yield great results in performance. If I really wanted to make improvement, it would have to be in technique and overall music knowledge. I was an Engineering major, and I didn't see how I could manage my major along with 20+ hours/week of practice.

After struggling with the pre-engineering courses - Physics, Chemistry, Calculus, I took a programming course at the community college. It was so easy! And fun! I switched my major to Computer Science.

Then I had a baby. It didn't sink in right away, that a baby would take far more than 20+ hours a week, but eventually I quit school. I couldn't quite pull off a toddler + college. Actually, that's not quite true. I think it was the TV that was the problem more than the toddler. The programming got boring and frustrating.

Anyway, when everything gets boring as soon as you know a little about it, then how do you know what you'll be interested in on the other side of the boredom? What if you study something for years and it never gets interesting again?

I guess that happens to lots of people.

What I didn't know, is that studies were being done on the issue of boredom. I'll be curious to see what scientists learn in the long run about it. Wouldn't it be funny if it came to be treated as a 'disease' that was 'treatable'... similar to the way depression has come to be treated?

Tuesday, January 1

2008 Resolution

This year, I am going to do things a bit differently with the resolutions(s). I'm just going to have one, and it's fairly simple (although not necessarily easy):
Develop a habit of self-discipline.
It may seem a bit abstract and difficult to evaluate, but I'll know whether I've accomplished it or made satisfactory progress on it. I've occasionally set these sorts of resolutions before and felt very pleased with the results. This is a tougher one, but since it's the only one, I'll be able to focus on it.

I also have some more specific goals in mind for the short term and long term... and some shorter term goals for working on my one resolution. I'll try to expand on those soon. But for now, good night, and Happy New Year!