Monday, March 21, 2011

Millennium Consumption Goals

A Sri Lankan scientist is calling for the drafting of Millennium Consumption Goals (MCG's) to [help] rich countries to curb their climate damaging consumption habits, in the same way the poor have Millennium Development Goals to get them out of poverty. The more familiar Millennium Development Goals are a set of 8 goals for underdeveloped societies to halve poverty, lack of access to clean water, illiteracy and other key indicators by 2015. As the scientist, Mohan Munasinghe, noted, consumption is at the heart of overdeveloped countries’ environmental burden; so what targets can these MCG's set forth?

Halve obesity and overweight rates by 2020. This will reduce mortality, morbidity and economic costs; as well as reduce ecological pressures driven by over consumption of food.

Halve the work week from the current 40+ hours. This will better distribute jobs, wealth, promote healthier living, and reduce economic activity, which is essential in our ecologically taxed world.

Better distribute wealth by raising taxes on the wealthiest members of society. The days of extreme wealth spent on luxurious living must draw to a close. The Earth can’t handle it any longer.

Double the rate of use of non-motorized transport. Increasing these forms of transport will improve health, reduce fossil fuel and material use and make for safer cities.

Guarantee access to health care for all. A minefield in the USA perhaps, but standard procedure in most industrial countries; so an easy goal to achieve.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


NASA's new Solar Dynamics Laboratory reveals an erupting plasma plume - aka a solar prominence - looping into the atmosphere along a magnetic field line. Ten Earths could be stacked inside the twisting ring.

If I Should Have A Daughter

Sarah Kay tells the story of her metamorphosis - from a wide-eyed teenager soaking in verse at New York's Bowery Poetry Club to a teacher connecting kids with the power of self-expression through Project V.O.I.C.E. - and gives two breathtaking performances of "B" and "Hiroshima."

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Mind Over Matter

American psychologist and philosopher William James remarked that: "Everyone knows that arrests of brain development occasion imbecility, that blows on the head abolish memory or consciousness, and that brain-stimulants and poisons change the quality of our ideas." However, psychology and physiology still has not been able to produce an intelligible model; of how biochemical processes could possibly be transformed into conscious experience.

James explored the various possibilities for the exact type of functional dependence between the brain and consciousness. This dependance is normally thought of as productive, in the sense that steam is produced as a function of the kettle. But this is not the only form of function that we find in nature: we also have at least two other forms of functional dependence: the permissive function, as found in the trigger of a crossbow; and the transmissive function, as of a lens or a prism. The lens or prism do not produce the light but merely transmit it in a different form.

But, a scientist never observes states of the brain producing states of consciousness. Indeed, it is not even clear what we could possibly mean by observing such production. It has been pointed out many times that there is no logical requirement that only "like can cause like" - or in other words, that only things of a similar nature can affect each other. But this consideration has not removed the mystery from the mind-body relationship. The production of consciousness by the brain, if it does in fact occur, may be as great a miracle as thought that is spontaneously generated.

Similarly, the dependence of consciousness on the brain for the manner of its manifestation in the material world; does not imply that consciousness depends upon the brain for its existence. Therefore, the brain is not an organ that generates consciousness, but rather an instrument evolved to transmit and limit the processes of consciousness and of conscious attention; so as to restrict them to those aspects of the material world which at any moment are crucial for the earthly success of the individual.

Recommended Reads

1. Be Here Now - Ram Das
2. The Field - Lynne McTaggart
3. Vasistha's Yoga - Swami Venkatesananda
4. True Love - Thich Nhat Hahn
5. Anastasia - Vladimir Megre
6. Half Asleep in Frog Pyjamas - Tom Robbins
7. Ishmael - Daniel Quinn
8. Autobiography of a Yogi - Paramahansa Yogananda
9. Way of the Shaman - Michael Harner
10. Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior - Dan Millman