Tuesday, July 21, 2009No Such Thing As Multitasking
At last, an article that articulates my thoughts on this matter. It's all about attention.
In Brain Rules, Medina points out that the brain cannot multitask:
"Multitasking, when it comes to paying attention, is a myth. The brain naturally focuses on concepts sequentially, one at a time. At first that might sound confusing; at one level the brain does multitask. You can walk and talk at the same time. Your brain controls your heartbeat while you read a book. A pianist can play a piece with left hand and right hand simultaneously. Surely this is multitasking. But I am talking about the brain’s ability to pay attention… To put it bluntly, research shows that we can’t multitask. We are biologically incapable of processing attention-rich inputs simultaneously."
If you’ve ever put on a CD to listen to while working, and then noticed with surprise that the music has finished and you can’t remember hearing any of it, you’ll know what Medina is talking about. Because we can only concentrate on one thing at a time, when we try to do multiple tasks that require attention, we end up switching between tasks, not doing them simultaneously.
Business coach Dave Crenshaw, author of the book The Myth of Multitasking, makes the same point:
"When I speak of multitasking as most people understand it, I am not referring to doing something completely mindless and mundane in the background such as exercising while listening to this CD, eating dinner and watching a show, or having the copy machine operate in the background while you answer emails. For clarity’s sake, I call this ‘background tasking’.
When most people refer to multitasking they mean simultaneously performing two or more things that require mental effort and attention. Examples would include saying we’re spending time with family while were researching stocks online, attempting to listen to a CD and answering email at the same time, or pretending to listen to an employee while we are crunching the numbers."
So there’s no such thing as multitasking. Just task switching - or at best, background tasking, in which one activity consumes our attention while we’re mindlessly performing another.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009Echolocation
I had heard of dolphins using echolocation but I was truly blown away when I first heard of echolocation being used by blind people to negotiate their way through life. This fascinating article explains the process. Truly a miracle--one of life's wonders.
I am 6 years old and it's my first day at school. The bell rings for recess and all my classmates run gleefully away. But unlike them I cannot see. At least, not with my eyes. Instead, I click my tongue, listening for echoes from the wall to my left. I walk with my hands slightly outstretched to keep me from running into chairs that may have been left askew. I hear kids laughing and shouting through the open door, and by clicking I also hear the presence of the sides of the doorway in front of me. I go through it to the playground for the first time.
Echoes can be used to perceive three characteristics of objects: where they are, their general size and shape and, to some extent, what they are like - solid versus sparse, sound-reflective versus sound-absorbent. This allows the brain to create an image of the environment.
For example, I perceive a parked car as a large object that starts out low at one end, rises in the middle and drops off again. The difference in the height and slope pitch at either end helps me identify the front from the back end; typically, the front will be lower, with a more gradual slope up to the roof.
Distinguishing between types of vehicles is also possible. A pickup truck, for instance, is usually taller, with a hollow sound reflecting from its bed. An SUV is usually taller and sounds blockier.
A tree has narrow and solid characteristics at the bottom - the trunk - broadening and becoming more sparse towards the top. More specific characteristics, such as the size, leafiness or height of the branches, can also be determined.
Passive sonar that relies on incidental noises such as footsteps produces relatively vague images. Active sonar, in which a noise such as a tongue click is produced specifically to generate echoes, is much more precise. My colleagues and I use the term FlashSonar for active sonar, because for us each click is similar to the brief glimpse of the surroundings sighted people get when a camera flash goes off in the dark.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009Focus
While doing spiritual exercises, a lot of people struggle with the idea that they can't steady or focus the mind. Very few people can hold the mind steady, however. So while you are chanting, you may start thinking of other things. But you can think of other things and still be chanting. You can do that. It's a mechanical thing. Don't stop the chanting, and don't try to control the mind. Just let the mind do what it wants, and you continue chanting. The mind is slowly trapping itself.
(From: Walking With the Lord by John-Roger, DSS)
Fascinating article on attention in today's New York Times. Excerpt:
Researchers have already observed higher levels of synchrony in the brains of people who regularly meditate.
Ms. Gallagher advocates meditation to increase your focus, but she says there are also simpler ways to put the lessons of attention researchers to use. Once she learned how hard it was for the brain to avoid paying attention to sounds, particularly other people’s voices, she began carrying ear plugs with her. When you’re trapped in a noisy subway car or a taxi with a TV that won’t turn off, she says you have to build your own “stimulus shelter.”
She recommends starting your work day concentrating on your most important task for 90 minutes. At that point your prefrontal cortex probably needs a rest, and you can answer e-mail, return phone calls and sip caffeine (which does help attention) before focusing again. But until that first break, don’t get distracted by anything else, because it can take the brain 20 minutes to do the equivalent of rebooting after an interruption.
“Multitasking is a myth,” Ms. Gallagher said. “You cannot do two things at once. The mechanism of attention is selection: it’s either this or it’s that.” She points to calculations that the typical person’s brain can process 173 billion bits of information over the course of a lifetime.
“People don’t understand that attention is a finite resource, like money,” she said. “Do you want to invest your cognitive cash on endless Twittering or Net surfing or couch potatoing? You’re constantly making choices, and your choices determine your experience, just as William James said.”
Financial Quote of the Day from Paul Kedrosky:
An interesting comment from Nassim Taleb at today's New Yorker Summit. He argues that even 1980s level of economy-wide debt are intolerable today, in part because of the Internet:
“We have to be a lot more careful going forward, because we have globalization, the internet, and operational efficiency — which cannot accommodate debt.”
We live in a world with less slack than ever, whether you're thinking in epidemiological or financial terms (and they are analogous), and that has immense consequences for runs, of whatever variety.
Friday, May 1, 2009More of Enough
As an interesting follow-up to yesterday's post, Superhero blog by Andrea Sher had this to say (excerpt):
If you are reading this you are probably overwhelmed. Right? (If you aren't overwhelmed I would love to know your secret!) But for the rest of us, we live in a world where we are juggling so many things. Whether it's juggling kids and work, a day job with your creative life, or all the other commitments and responsibilities we take on, it's hard not to feel overwhelmed a lot of the time. But something got clear for me today.
Really, truly. In the world of overwhelm there is never enough. There is not enough time, money, resources, to keep you going. Your heart is racing, you are always behind, you are not doing enough. It is a rough way to live. I know this from personal experience.
What I considered today was this: What if I decided what was enough? What if I decided that posting three essays a week was really, really enough? Or maybe two essays is enough. When I think about simplifying my life, I need to consider the question: How much is enough for me to feel satisfied? How much will get the job done? It occurred to me that it's possible that I already average about 2 or 3 posts a week, but I never feel the satisfaction of a job well done, or a sense of completion because I never declared what I was committed to. I never decided what was enough.
I can also see that I suffer from the same problem in the realm of finances. I don't create sales goals or budgets, I don't know for sure how much money I make or how much money I need to earn to keep my finances healthy and abundant. I simply bust my butt to make as much as I can, spend as little as possible, treat myself to cute clothes occasionally and pray that everything works out. This does not make me a bad person, and so far it has worked out okay, but I also rob myself of the satisfaction of knowing I am earning what I set out to. My default is to assume that I'm not earning enough, or not doing enough to earn that money, but a lot of the time I actually am.
Where in our lives have we not distinguished what enough looks like? Without this, we are constantly disappointed in ourselves, constantly afraid and thoroughly overwhelmed. And if we are creating realistic goals and still feeling overwhelmed, perhaps it's time to simplify again. Saying no is powerful.
And if you are a perfectionist like me, and wonder if good enough is well, good enough, I am here to say that it is. Good enough is really effin good.
36,000 people die a year of seasonal influenza and its complications in the U.S., so why the present manic outcry over Swine Flu?
From the Financial Times today:
The future is, of course, unpredictable. Flu is a notoriously fast-changing virus, and it may mutate into a much more dangerous form. Or it may turn out to be less lethal than normal seasonal flu, which kills 500,000 in a bad year.
Well, that was helpful.
I found these Public Service Announcements (1 1/2 minutes) from 1976 interesting--I ain't saying, I'm just thinking.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009Pot Pourri
People who struggle in this lifetime are playing the fool. It is not a struggle; it's a game.
J-R's quote above triggered a memory of this snippet from an interview with Krishnamurti by Bernard Levin. It has had an enormous influence on me.
BL: But can we live in the real world that we do live in where we have to catch trains and go to offices and buy bread in the shop…?
K: Yes, I’ve done all those.
BL: How can we combine all the pressures of the mundane world around us?
K: I wouldn’t do anything under pressure.
BL: You wouldn’t—I wish I didn’t!
K: No, I refuse to be under pressure, either intellectually or psychologically. I don’t mind starving, I don’t mind having no job, but I refuse to be put in that position.
Wow! It still gets to me.
Ólafur Arnalds was a very busy man last week: The 21-year-old composer, who lives in Reykjavik, wrote and recorded a new piece every day and posted it online for anyone to download. Each of the compositions is free, and all of them are lovely.
They really are exquisite. My favorites are Day 1, 3, and 7. Listen to them here.
This may gross you out but I really laughed out loud when I saw this PSA from the Australian Government on Influenza (unfortunately I was on the phone with someone at the time). This was before the Swine Flu epidemic. Now if I could just find that quote where J-R equates sneezing to orgasms!?! Enough said. Here's hoping I don't lose too many readers. (Scroll down past tags on right hand side)
Sneezing In Ultra Slow Motion - Watch more Funny Videos
Friday, April 24, 2009Miracles
We live and die at the cell level.
It's a divine form and we call it “a cell” scientifically.
I have become absolutely ga-ga over the miracle of life. Take this quote from a review in the Financial Times of Lewis Wolpert's new book How We Live and Why We Die: The Secret Lives of cells:
You are a society of cells: a collective enterprise of some 10 trillion individual living beings. Each on is ming-boggingly complex, with highly evolved systems for eating, excreting, and reproducing.
The numbers alone are awesome: a piece of brain the size of a grain of sand contains millions of nerve cells. Each one of these is in turn filled with millions of proteins, all busily performing some specialized and crucial task.
Take a minute and watch this other "miracle" unfold before your eyes ( I left space below because I wanted you to see it full size, so scroll down past the tags on the right hand side):
Tuesday, April 7, 2009Health and Gratitude
I am taking off to facilitate the sixth week of the PTS Health Class. This is a great quote from John-Roger that we use in the class:
Health is not so much about the food, or the nutrition in the food, it’s more about how the cell level is energized, through clean blood and good oxygen--that’s what brings life and vitality. When that’s not happening we get sluggish, lethargic, and we start dying. Literally, we start dying. We live and die at the cell level.
So do breath deeply and get those cells oxygenated. Exhaling is one of the great and most important detoxifying systems of the body.
And, talking of health, practicing gratitude is very, very good for it. Make sure you read my latest email post that just went out.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009Relax
It's the Health Class again. I cannot understand how the weeks fly by. The last one seems like yesterday. Last week was about the Stress Response and tonight I give my layman's lecture on the Sugar Effect.
This is one of my favorite quotes. Forgive me I have shared it with you before, but frankly I cannot read it too many times.
So what can we do? Be patient and relax. If we honest to God could understand that concept of being patient and letting the body relax, illness would vacate.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009"Cells don't die."
Cells don’t die. They change their frequency and move to essence. It is a duplicate of the cosmos. You have access to cosmic awareness within you.
This extraordinary quote from the early eighties came to mind while I watched this extraordinary 8 minute piece.
Thursday, March 12, 2009Feeling Good--and Responsible
My brother sent me an interview with Terry McBride, CEO of Nettwork Music Group. I thought this comment from Terry was worth quoting here:
To me all emotions are simply choices. You can choose to be angry, upset, or wound up in stress, or you can choose to be happy, easy-going, and of a quiet mind. Once you understand the power of choice, you will be much happier even in tough times.
It complemented today’s Loving Each Day:
You are the one in charge and responsible for your life, and even if you've empowered something or someone else through blame or playing the victim, you are still in charge and responsible for your life. You can't get away from it.
(From The Rest of Your Life by John-Roger, DSS with Paul Kaye)
Here is a feel good five minutes. (Hat tip to my Kaui’i buddy Brian Carson). The piece gets better and better as it goes along.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009Health Class Week Two, Today
One of the tenets of the PTS Health Class is that the basic self is one of the best resources we have, yet is very under-utilized. So we focus on accessing it and working with it in the class. The same can be said of working with the basic self as we put into practice the principles of abundance and prosperity. So you may find this quote from John-Roger useful. It's from the Dynamics of the Lower Self, a book that is currently out of print.
You must work with your basic self in cooperation and love if you want its support. If you start berating your basic self, you can produce arthritis, rheumatism, cancer, tuberculosis, or a lot of other diseases. It is so much nicer to say to your basic self, "You did a pretty good job today, and tomorrow we'll do even better.”
Sunday, March 8, 2009Ranting and Raving
Last week I took an acquaintance out for coffee at the new Urth Caffe in Downtown Los Angeles. By the way, keep a visit to Urth in mind when you are next in L.A. It's really worth a visit to see the new freshly emerging downtown.
Anyway, I took the opportunity to show this person around and in the process rant and rave about the economy, the corruption, the dishonesty, etc.--you know, what I have been ranting and raving about here on this blog.
The person's response was that I was not being very loving. And the next day they told me that they didn't find me neutral on some of the other subjects I covered.
I thought I was having an animated, engaging conversation with a new friend, and instead I am being responded to from the spiritual high ground. Needless to say that was my last rant with this person.
I think we all need a safe place to express ourselves, without paying a therapist for the privilege. And if the other person can do the same then we have a bonding and human interchange. I think it is good to speak our minds for a number of reasons:
1) It is healthy. It just feels better to get things off our mind/chest, instead of letting them fester inside of us.
2) Sometimes unless we voice something we don't realize how stupid it is. Inside of us we hold things that make perfect sense, until we speak them out and articulate them. Sometimes we realize it is nonsense and can let them go. Very freeing.
3) Just openly communicating creates bonds and relationships which have been found to be essential to good health and longevity.
So this this article on Being and Mindfulness by Judith Warner certainly resonated with me, as you will see if you read it.
And the Loving Each Day for Saturday, the day the above article came out, added to the irony:
No matter what is going on in your life, you can always take a moment to focus on your breathing. When you find yourself in a tense situation, for example, you may notice that you are holding your breath. Putting your attention on your breathing can help you relax and immediately be in the here and now. This practice, found in many spiritual traditions, is often referred to as mindfulness, being present, or living in the now.
You may ask, since we're breathing all the time, why do we need to practice it? What we're practicing is conscious awareness of the breath. Then breathing becomes a concentration exercise that not only focuses the mind but brings many healing benefits as well.
- John-Roger with Paul Kaye
(From: Momentum, Letting Love Lead - Simple Practices for Spiritual Living, p. 61)
And this Tom Friedman article is definitely worth a read. He is spot on.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009Health Class Begins
PTS's first ever class focused on health began tonight. It was facilitated by Mark Holmes, an oriental medical doctor, and myself. We also had Philip Barr an internist and heart and integrative medicine specialist with us, overseeing things.
Mark and I had designed the class 3 years ago so it was a great pleasure to see it finally approved by J-R and come to fruition. We had 80 people in the room. It is an 8 week class and I will try to get it online by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, enjoy this blockbuster quote from the class:
When the conscious self asserts its will it is really quite powerful. But in a showdown of willpower with the basic self, nine times out of ten, the basic will win. But when it comes to using the imagination, nine times out of ten, the conscious self will win, because the basic can only accept what the consciousness places in it. So if you maintain a positive image of completion, the basic self will accept it and work with it. If you place an image forward, the basic sees it and goes to work to make it come about; it asserts energy into those levels to bring it about.
(From Dynamics of the Lower Self by John-Roger, DSS)
Monday, February 9, 2009True Manifestation
Manifestation is successful only if it results in a change of consciousness. That’s a little different from how most people see it. Manifestation has usually been defined as the ability to make something appear physically. But if you only take into account the materialization of a physical form, you have missed the essence of creation. When manifestation results in a change of consciousness, you no longer need to see the form in the outer world, but you move to the very essence of its fulfillment inside of you and then you truly have it. Truly having something does not mean you possess it as a form, but that it is present for you in its essence.
(From The Rest of Your Life by John-Roger, DSS with Paul Kaye)
I mentioned over the weekend the emerging trend of peer-to-peer lending. Another emerging trend in these times is Community Supported Agriculture. In both cases the meta-trend is distrust and lack of confidence in the regular supply chain. Richard Russell of Dow Theory Letters commented on this today:
We get all of our fresh vegetables through a CSA program, CSA is an abbreviation for community supported agriculture. Essentially a group of consumers pay up-front at the beginning of a growing season for a small (usually family) farm's start up costs. Its like a share, the dividends arrive every Wednesday in the form of a box brimming with seasonal produce--all organic vegetables and fruits at a very reasonable price. There are even meat CSAs now. Check out the CSAs in your area. Faye and I are members of Bee Wise and they usually give us so much food we have a problem finishing all of it.
I found this interesting from Strategic Forecasting:
Ultimately, the issues dividing the world are not, in our view, subject to personalities, nor does goodwill (or bad will, for that matter) address the fundamental questions. Iran has strategic and ideological reasons for behaving the way it does. So does Russia. So does Germany, and so on. The tensions that exist between those countries and the United States might be mildly exacerbated by personalities, but nations are driven by interest, not personality.
Biden’s position did not materially shift the Obama administration away from Bush’s foreign policy, because Bush was the prisoner of that policy, not its creator. The Iranians will not make concessions on nuclear weapons prior to holding talks, and they do not regard their support for Hamas or Hezbollah as aiding terrorism. Being willing to talk to the Iranians provided they abandon these things is the same as being unwilling to talk to them.
PK: My point in posting the above excerpt is to show that some things are changing rapidly and some things barely at all. Do not look to the Government for help because it is still basically the same people with the same agendas playing them out in the same way. It is really a time for taking personal responsibility. There will be change, we just don't know what. So stay healthy and flexible.
Of the reading I have recommended over the last few days, this one quote stands out:
I don't care how hard this period is. You have to have the combination of believing that you will prevail, that you will get out of this, but also not be the Pollyanna who ignores the brutal facts. You have to say that we will be in this for a long time and we will turn this into a defining event, a big catalyst to make ourselves a much stronger enterprise. Our characters are being forged in a burning, searing crucible.
Friday, January 23, 2009Health Is Wealth
As my mother says, "Health is wealth." So here is a quote from John-Roger from his Living Love book. (Thanks to Marjorie for this.) I'll be using it in the PTS health class coming up in March.
This physical body is truly the temple of the Spirit, for the Spirit resides in each one of us. And you can build your body so that it doesn't become a heavy body, but a light body so Spirit can work more closely with you.
When you reach a harmony within you, you can take cells that have been out of balance and place a ring of Love around them and hold them in balance for five, ten, fifteen years.
Love and joy and happiness can change the frequency of the cell structure from the doom and gloom of a cell disintegrating to a lilting, joyful quality of a cell lifting into balance and harmony.
Good post by The Simple Dollar on financial success and sacrifice. Excerpt:
What I discovered is that giving up all of those things wasn’t a sacrifice - it was a trade. I gave up all of those bad spending habits, but in return I was able to knock down that scary pile of debt, start saving for my children’s college education, build up a big emergency fund, and buy a house.
In truth, the trade I actually made was swapping short-term gratification for long-term benefits and security. Buying books and video games and DVDs brought me a lot of short-term joy, but really didn’t contribute much at all to the quality of my life over the long term. On the other hand, not buying these things and instead paying down the bills is incredibly boring in the short term, but provides a lot of long-term happiness - I now live in a nice house and know that things are fairly secure financially.
Thursday, January 22, 2009Move From Relaxation
“Let go and let God" is not a cliché.
It is a practical direction.
Is there any hurry to go anywhere?
Where are you going that you are not already there?
How can you be impatient
when the important things are always present?
If you want the spiritual flow to work unconditionally,
then you must let it flow unconditionally.
Just keep it open.
You receive as openly as you give.
If you start qualifying,
If you move from a state of tension,
you will be blocked.
If you always move
from your center of relaxation,
you will be free.
(From: The Tao of Spirit by John-Roger, DSS)
Marjorie criticized me for not mentioning the Inauguration. Well to make up for it take a lot at this.
I am not impressed with Treasury Secretary nominee Tim Geithner. It seems like politics as usual, to me.
Jim Fallows' take:
So by the standard of what the country needs right now, I would probably vote for Geithner's confirmation as Treasury Secretary, if I were in a position to do so.
But I do not believe, and will never believe, that his failure to pay his own self-employment tax while at the IMF was an "oversight" or a "mistake." I have many many friends who have worked for this and similar organizations. I have myself over the years juggled the complexities of what is self-employment income and what is W-2 income and how to handle income from non-US sources -- and I have a lot less financial acumen than any Treasury Secretary aspirant should and must have. (Though I also use Turbo Tax!) Not a single person I have known from the IMF or similar bodies, not a one, believes that Geithner could have "overlooked" his need to pay US self-employment tax. When I have received similar income from international sources, the need was obvious even to me -- and I wasn't receiving and signing all the forms to the same effect Geithner would have gotten from the IMF. I could go on with details but I'll just say: if this were a situation more average Americans had experienced personally, he would not dare make his "mistake" excuse because everyone would say, "Are you kidding me???"
And this from The New Yorker's James Surowiecki:
In his written responses to questions from the Senate Finance Committee, the Treasury nominee Tim Geithner explained the decision to let Lehman Brothers fail as the result of … well, actually he didn’t really explain why the government let Lehman Brothers fail. Geithner offered up an explanation for why the Federal Reserve didn’t step in—it didn’t have the legal authority to do so, and didn’t ask for the authority because it was important to maintain “the line between the responsibilities and authorities of the fiscal authority, and those of the monetary authority.” (More important than averting a massive dislocation in the financial markets?) But he doesn’t explain why Treasury didn’t step in, or why it didn’t ask for the authority to do so beforehand, given that Lehman’s demise was not exactly unanticipated. And I don’t understand why, if in fact the Fed and Treasury couldn’t save Lehman because of legal restraints, they were able to step in and save A.I.G., which was also a nonbank, just two days later.
Geithner’s answers on this question were as unsatisfying as just about everything else we’ve heard on it. I suspect the honest answer is the one the Fed chair Ben Bernanke first proffered when he testifed before Congress, on September 24th: “The Federal Reserve and the Treasury declined to commit public funds to support the institution.” That is, they could have committed public funds, but decided not to. The problem is that since it’s clear now that letting Lehman fail was a complete disaster, no one wants to own up to the decision.
To regain confidence and trust we have to do better than this.
Monday, January 19, 2009The Joy of Assumption
I don't have much to say today. I have been busy working on J-R and my new book, Serving and Giving: Gateways to Higher Consciousness. I need to complete it by the end of the month. I can't say I like deadlines, they make me nervous, but they do have a way of getting things done. And as Bob Engel, my Tai Chi Chuan teacher often reminds me:
"There is a simple next step to everything, and that simple step can always be taken in a relaxed way."
He is actually quoting me, which at times is either a tremendous compliment or extremely irritating. Nevertheless, it is helpful for me to keep it in mind. It is a great antidote for overwhelm.
I also tell myself that time is malleable. I actually don't know whether it is or not. But it seems to work to say that it is.
Anyway, I thought this John-Roger quote from What's It Like Being You was worthy of your contemplation today:
But before we dismiss assumption altogether, we should look at its positive side, its spiritual counterpart. When your consciousness is crystal clear, you can assume things and know that they are so. This is an entirely different process from ordinary assumption. In the spiritual realm, first you know something, then you assume; you claim your knowing.
Use the Law of Assumption for your upliftment and spiritual growth. Assume that you are healthy, assume that you are awake, assume that you are divine, assume that you have abundance. God didn’t put us on Earth and say, “Beg.” He said, “All I’ve got is yours.”
When you live by the Law of Assumption, you cannot second-guess or doubt yourself. There must be crystal clarity inside you, a deep, certain knowing, not merely belief.
Friday, January 16, 2009Smile, It'll Help You Relax
One of the biggest keys to seeding is making the claim. Get ready we will seed on Sunday.
You state what you want very clearly. Then you claim it as already being here, which is conditioning the consciousness. To receive, you need to act as though you have it; this is the faith statement that it is already present.
(From God Is Your Partner by John-Roger, DSS)
Good article on the consequences of U.S. citizens now turning towards the novel activity of saving. Excerpt:
At a 3-per-cent savings rate, the United States will see $3.8-trillion showing up next year in the banking system just from domestic savers. At 7 per cent, almost $9-trillion will come rushing in as part of the savings tsunami. It is a fire hose of money pointed at the banks, and it's just beginning.
These are ear-popping figures. Three per cent, for example, produces almost five times as much in one-year U.S. capital inflows as the entirety of China's current Treasury holdings. It is four times as much as the proposed Obama stimulus plan. In short, at even relatively small changes, at least in percentage terms, the United States will rapidly transform its banking system and its capital markets.
It's often pointed out to me that I look too serious, some would say troubled. I am basically a happy and contented fellow but the feedback has been consistent I thought that perhaps my facial features should match my inner demeanor. This, I found this recent article in Time Magazine. Excerpt:
My personal trainer sometimes gives me an odd piece of advice during workouts: "Relax your face." For a long time, I found this advice confusing. Isn't physical exertion supposed to be expressed in grimaces? I thought of the face as a pressure-relief valve that helps emit the pain the body is experiencing. But the trainer suggested I think about it the other way around — that controlling the face can help control the mind.
In a follow-on story Time shows Second Place: The Faces of Defeat.
It's always fascinated me how coming second is considered a defeat, no matter how far up the chain you go, for example, Olympic Final.
Sunday, January 11, 2009Four Signs of the Times
I went to the Apple Store at the Grove in Los Angeles yesterday. I was looking at the new Mac Pros. My Mac is 5 1/2 years-old and I am at the point where it is prudent to get a new one. When enquiring about he anti-glare option for the 17” laptop and remarking that I didn’t like the glossy screens, the assistant said, “Why don’t you guys trust us?”
I like Macs, a lot. But the idea of trusting ANY corporation suddenly seemed so absurd to me that I was speechless. I have covered trust before in these posts (go to tag on right). My reaction made me realize the cultural shift that has taken place in the last six months.
So the first sign of the times is this bit from Laura Rowley on Culture Shift: Top Trends for 2009. Her number 5 is the death of trust.
The Death of Trust
Finally, as Warren Buffett once said, "Trust is like the air we breathe. When it's present, nobody really notices. But when it's absent, everybody notices." That giant sucking sound you hear is the American investor, gasping for breath.
The lessons of the subprime mortgage debacle and the Madoff scandal are clear: Understand where and how your money is invested. Know the policies and fees of your bank, insurer, credit card company, and 401(k) service provider, because there will always be an inherent conflict between your goal -- building wealth -- and the goals of companies and advisors that earn money on your wealth.
In a recent op-ed, 'The Wall Street Journal' suggested that "capitalism runs on trust." But the truth is, capitalism runs on self-interest.
No broker will present you an investment or mortgage product without thinking of his or her commission. No rating agency will value the truth about an investment over the firm's profitability. No government agency chief or member of Congress will protect the individual investor from the abuses of financial services companies without pondering the impact on his or her future employment or campaign contributions.
And no Treasury bailout czar will demand accountability for hundreds of billions of your tax dollars being showered upon the drunken captains of industry who ran the ship aground to begin with. As a Government Accountability Office report noted in December: "The standard agreement between Treasury and the participating institutions does not require that these institutions track or report how they plan to use, or do use, their capital investments."
If there is an object lesson that will shape this generation of savers and investors, it's one of betrayal. Capitalism runs on self-interest. Guard yours carefully.
The next three signs of the times are from The Wallet.
1) Frugal Fitness
“I’m working again in New York with a monster commute, so I count the two miles of walking I do every day to and from work as part of my fitness routine. I walk very fast and run up stairs.”
Why pay money to join a gym when you can climb stairs instead?
Is this cheap approach to fitness enough to keep me healthy?
The answer appears to be yes. People get the most health benefits from between 150 and 300 minutes per week of activity, says David Fein, medical director of the Princeton Longevity Center in New Jersey. But that workout can be done in little bits and pieces through the day. And it doesn’t have to be structured exercise at a gym.
Dr. Fein, who’s 50 years old, also follows a regime of walking and sprinting. Sprinting, a form of interval training, boosts cardiovascular fitness for reasons doctors don’t completely understand, he says. (Men over 35 and women over 45 should get a stress test before doing it.)
The Cooper Clinic in Dallas, founded by Kenneth Cooper, the doctor who coined the term “aerobics,” has a similar message. “What we’ve done is systematically remove physical activity throughout the day from our daily existence,” says Tedd Mitchell, the clinic’s president. “People mistakenly think to become fit we have to become rats on the wheel at the gym.”
Dr. Mitchell, 46, and his wife jog 2.5 miles every morning at a slow 10-minute-per-mile pace with their dogs. And Dr. Mitchell, a former competitive swimmer, swims most afternoons. But he says most people are more likely to get fit by moving throughout the day.
He advises people to get a pedometer, which measures how many steps you take. The average person does about 3,000 a day. Dr. Mitchell tries to get them to double that and builds from there. The lion’s share of benefits are achieved with fewer than 10,000 steps.
2) Bear Market in Gadgets
The Consumer Electronic Show used to exemplify consumer spending at its most decadent. Now there are vacant hotel rooms, preemptive yawning, less floor space taken up by fewer presenters. Even the employed are having a hard time getting jazzed about throwing thousands of money into depreciating gadgets.
3) Money Managers Exposed
Want more proof that 2008 was an abysmal year? Morningstar’s “fund manager of the year” only lost a fifth of his clients’ money.
The Chicago-based fund research company gave the nod to Charlie Dreifus, manager of Royce Special Equity, in the domestic equity fund category. He’s down 19.6%, compared to 37% for the market. In this meltdown, that’s an excellent result. (Tom Forester, the only American mutual fund manager to post a gain this year, was up only 0.4%.)
True, these Oscar-style awards don’t mean a lot. Last year’s winner, Will Danoff at Fidelity Contrafund, got smoked in 2008 along with the market. He lost 38%.
Morningstar’s international stock fund managers of the year are David Samra and Daniel O’Keefe at Artisan International Value. These chaps lost a mere 30% while the average small and mid-cap foreign fund lost 46%. They are also conservative investors, and the fund is also concentrated: They place their bets on about 50 higher-conviction stocks, says Morningstar.
Last year’s international stock manager of the year, Harbor International, fell 43%.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009Must Have
God is intention. When you tithe you make God your abundant focus. God’s intention is in that focus, so God will know right where to find you.
From God Is Your Partner by John-Roger, DSS
When looking at what you want to manifest in your life and seed for, an exercise developed by MSIA staff member Betsy Alexander has proved itself to be very effective. We use it when we are looking for a staff member or volunteer. Many have used it successfully when looking for a house or apartment. And it has even worked for finding a relationship.
In involves writing three lists on three separate pieces of paper. The first list is entitled MUST HAVE. In it you put all things that you must have in what you are wanting to manifest.
The second list is entitled WOULD LIKE. Unlike the first list, these are not deal breakers but things you might have a strong preference for.
The third list is entitled GRACIOUS TOUCHES. This is where you list the things that you could definitely do without but would be really nice to have.
So there you have it. It is a great way to get clear on what you wish to manifest. It really is giving God a clear blueprint. And of course always keep in mind the highest good of all concerned.
Thanks to Grace Allison for this. This type of game is something I have been looking out for for quite some time, ever since I read about Mind Ball a few years ago, a game in which the person with the most relaxed mind gets to move the ball into the other person's goal. I think the games below will be lots of fun and very healthy for the mind, too.
Toy trains 'Star Wars' fans to use The Force
By Mike Snider, USA TODAY
Could The Force be with you? A toy due in stores this fall will let you test and hone your Jedi-like abilities.
The Force Trainer (expected to be priced at $90 to $100) comes with a headset that uses brain waves to allow players to manipulate a sphere within a clear 10-inch-tall training tower, analogous to Yoda and Luke Skywalker's abilities in the Star Wars films.
No, you're not tapping into some "all-powerful force controlling everything," as Han Solo said in the movies. But you are reaching out with mind power via one of the first mass-market brain-to-computer products. "It's been a fantasy everyone has had, using The Force," says Howard Roffman, president of Lucas Licensing.
Mind-control games may be the coming thing: Mattel plans to demonstrate a Mind Flex game (also due this fall), which uses brain-wave activity to move a ball through a tabletop obstacle course, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Thursday.
In the Force Trainer, a wireless headset reads your brain activity, in a simplified version of EEG medical tests, and the circuitry translates it to physical action. If you focus well enough, the training sphere, which looks like a ping-pong ball, will rise in the tower.
A state of deep concentration is needed to achieve a Force-full effect. "When you concentrate, it activates the training remote," says Frank Adler of toymaker Uncle Milton Industries, which is creating the Trainer. "There is a flow of air that will move the (ball). You can actually feel like you are in a zone."
Star Wars sound effects and audio clips emitted from the base unit "cue you in to progress to the next level (from Padawan to Jedi) or when to move the sphere up or down to keep challenging yourself," Adler says.
"Until today, EEG technology has been designed for rigorous medical and clinical applications with little regard to price (and) ease of use," says Greg Hyver of NeuroSky, which developed the brain-wave technology for both games. "We are putting this exciting technology into everyone's living room."
Wednesday, December 24, 2008Bringing Out the Best in Us
Just back from the webcast in Santa Monica. Lots of hugs and beautiful people.
We're actually celebrating our own birth. We're celebrating our own resurrection. We're celebrating triumphantly our own movement back into our true self or Christ Consciousness.
In fact, many of us are just rushing into it, arms and hearts wide open, full of love, and knowing that not one thing is coming our way that we can't handle.
The Christ Within & The Disciples of Christ by John-Roger, DSS
A nod to Lisa. Love that last line.
I liked this quote from a reader of Fuller Money Daily Comment.
As the boomers begin to sell off assets to use for retirement this will put most assets on offer...while, the next generation (that's me) is ill prepared to purchase them. We have been thru stock market bubbles, housing bubbles, and now a credit bubble. There is clearly no pent up demand for speculation in this generation. They have played and lost. Repeatedly. I envision some downsizing and saving which should put a lid on most longer term rallies.
No More Lies?
Had enough of lying and deceit by those in positions of power? Read this. New Year’s resolution anyone? Who among us is going to throw the first stone?
I wish Tom Friedman was right but I really think the system has to fall before it can be rebuilt on a new solid foundation. Excerpts:
For all these reasons, our present crisis is not just a financial meltdown crying out for a cash injection. We are in much deeper trouble. In fact, we as a country have become General Motors — as a result of our national drift. Look in the mirror: G.M. is us.
That’s why we don’t just need a bailout. We need a reboot. We need a build out. We need a buildup. We need a national makeover. That is why the next few months are among the most important in U.S. history. Because of the financial crisis, Barack Obama has the bipartisan support to spend $1 trillion in stimulus. But we must make certain that every bailout dollar, which we’re borrowing from our kids’ future, is spent wisely.
It has to go into training teachers, educating scientists and engineers, paying for research and building the most productivity-enhancing infrastructure — without building white elephants.
Generally, I’d like to see fewer government dollars shoveled out and more creative tax incentives to stimulate the private sector to catalyze new industries and new markets. If we allow this money to be spent on pork, it will be the end of us.
PK: The money will mostly go to the people who got us into this mess in the first place. Fraud is endemic in the system. I was going to begin the sentence with “sadly.” But why should I say sadly when from a spiritual perspective it is all perfect. Last night driving home, I recalled what J-R had said at the booksigning in San Francisco when asked about these times. As I remember it he said that sometimes things have to be at heir worst for us to be at our best. Maybe that is this blog’s new mantra.
An Amazon reader's review on Michael Pollan’s book In Defense of Food.
In all this, Pollan insists that you have to save yourself. And he makes a good case why. Our government, he says, is so overwhelmed by the lobbying and marketing power of our processed food industry that the American diet is now 50% sugar in one form or another --- calories that provide "virtually nothing but energy." Our representatives are almost uniformly terrified to take on the food industry. And as for the medical profession, the key moment, Pollan writes, is when "doctors kick the fast-food franchises out of the hospital" --- don't hold your breath.
Seems like saving ourselves is going to be a theme for the next few years.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008Relax! I Mean, Relax.
If you move from a state of tension, you will be blocked.
If you always move from your center of relaxation, you will be free.
(From The Tao of Spirit by John-Roger, DSS)
One of the great things that happens when we embrace and practice the spiritual principles of abundance and prosperity is that we can relax. After all, we are getting to know God in a deeper way, we are placing God first in our lives, while also putting ourselves in God’s hands. Plus, after doing this for a while it is no longer a matter of faith we see it is working for us.
In my case, however, it has been a matter of constant vigilance to relax. It doesn’t come easy and it has therefore been a major focus of my life, even writing books about it in order to understand it better.
And it has been a very worthwhile study. It is one of the few practices that relates both spiritually and physically on so many levels. We let go and let God. J-R tells us that the letting go part is relaxing. Relaxing is also good for our bodies, and thus our health, and it is wonderful to relax our emotions, and also relax our mind.
This article from the New York Times really interested me. It shows how important relaxation is at the highest levels of athletic achievement. Excerpts:
Relaxation. It is a trait that is often underappreciated, coaches and athletic trainers say. Yet it can make the difference between doing your best and not doing well, between feeling dragged down or soaring. Coaches search for better ways to teach it. And many athletes, including some of the world’s best, work on it constantly.
“It’s the paradox of athletics,” said Rick DeMont, associate head coach for men’s swimming at the University of Arizona and a former Olympian. “Tension is slow, tension is inefficient. You need to be relaxed.” And relaxation can be taught.
Yet relaxation also is a mysterious state and hard to describe. It’s one of those situations in which you know it when you achieve it.
Athletes who get there “always feel wonderful,” Mr. DeMont said. But, he adds, “you don’t get there by trying really hard to get there.”
In a sense, relaxation goes against most athletes’ instincts.
Sunday, November 30, 2008Health is Wealth
"Health is wealth," is something my mother constantly tells me to this day. She should know as my mother has enough health problems to fill a medical textbook. Still, I believe her. If you have reasonably good health, it is cause of daily gratitude and celebration.
Today at the LA Ministers Meeting I announced a new PTS health class I will be facilitating in March 2009 with Mark Holmes, an oriental medical doctor.
Since health is wealth I do intend to include more posts on health in this blog.
Today's LA Times has several articles on stress.
1) This one starts out on the problems with stress.
Chronic unresolved stress weakens the immune system, increasing our susceptibility to infections such as common colds and other viruses. And when stress increases, so does inflammation, contributing to stroke, arthritis, Type 2 diabetes, periodontal disease and frailty. Additionally, studies have shown, the cumulative effects of unresolved psychological stress contribute to heart disease and high blood pressure.
2) This article talks about ways to reduce stress.
High levels of inflammation are markers for an aging immune system. People who are chronically stressed and don't get enough sleep have a greater mortality risk and experience accelerated aging.
3) And this one is on what doesn't work. Excerpt:
A little social drinking can be relaxing, but consuming much more than one alcoholic drink a day depresses the cellular arm of the immune system, triggers inflammation and contributes to poor sleep. Drinking also causes many people to become hostile or detached in relationships, which leads to feelings of social isolation.
So plenty of good practical information here. I have long been a proponent of a lot of sleep. The Greeks would put the sickly in temples where all they would do was sleep to get well. Hence the term, "to sleep it off." So get a good night's sleep tonight.
Saturday, November 29, 2008To Your Health
“Loving is the most important quality you can nurture in yourself. Your love needs to extend unconditionally to all things. You love everything present, no exceptions. Love it all, own it all, and then you will be free.”
(From Timeless Wisdoms by John-Roger, DSS)
I’ve been thinking about yesterday’s somewhat humorous post on the positive side of self-deception, self-delusion, and blame, and the above J-R quote and an earlier Loving Each Day quote from J-R:
Misery is separation and the feeling of being separated. Joy is the oneness of all. To reach the oneness, you accept and own all aspects of living: the mistakes, the glory, the deceit, and the integrity. When you accept and own it all, there is nothing you are not, and you become one with God, which is all.
For myself, I always prefer to choose the healthiest route. I find that the highest good and good health, seem to be closely related. Relaxation, prayer, meditation, forgiveness, gratitude—recent studies have found them all to be good for health.
So choose the healthy way out of any situation.