“… The Essential Phone ships September 1, starting at $699. You can buy it subsidized from Sprint, or unlocked from Amazon and elsewhere. (You should buy it unlocked.) It is the first in a line of products that Essential believes will bring innovation back to the smartphone market and give people a brand to love in the same way millions love Apple.
In some ways, the Essential Phone appears genuinely exciting and new. In most, it just feels like a really good smartphone. And in a few frustrating ways, it’s not yet good enough…..”
“… Technology is going faster and faster and ethical and moral debates aren’t occurring at the same rhythm. We need to be ready for a speed of innovation that we can’t control. I’m concerned, and you should be too. Should we, as a social being, force ourselves to slow down? Is that even possible?….
Brilliant and Exciting but Scary Technologies
BEST, for short (I’ve always wanted to invent an acronym). What could be so brilliant and exciting that also makes it pretty freaking scary? There are several technologies that many people can’t stop speaking about saying they are “the next big thing”:
Brain Computer Interface
They do sound pretty cool, but in case you’re not convinced, let me tell you what’s going on with each one of them and where they’re heading…..”
Last week, the household experienced a traumatic event, albeit a natural one. A blue heron found our koi pond. The greater regional area is dappled with small ponds, streams, swampland and, naturally, it all becomes a habitat for them.
The local koi supply and pond industry says such events cannot be avoided, only minimized; they suggest the use of decoys, and nets.
We didn’t have the net in place, but one friend had given us a decoy statuette of a pelican.
After the blue heron was spotted for the first time, my wife ran out and bought an expensive heron decoy. The blue heron returned, flew in to stand next to the decoy, and tapped it with its beak.
“Yes, I thought you were rather immobile; these people must think I’m stupid.”
People and dogs shooed the heron away but the game was on; it circled the neighborhood and sampled from several koi ponds in the area. The surving koi hid under the rocks in deep water and did not come out for days; even now they are reticent, but they do get hungry once a week.
The neighbor with the other koi pond brought out his BB rifle (useless), his pellet pistol (somewhat effective at letting the bird know there was a predator nearby), and his paintball gun.
When last seen, the heron had matching bright orange spots on his wings.
46 Books have been completely re-annotated
26 Books have not been annotated
3 Books need to be read and annotated
6 Books have not been read and may not be of value
The timeline has yet to be developed, and it needs to be integrated with that of my life.
The remaining 26 books will be easily and quickly annotated, and then the real deep fun begins: building the timeline, developing the order and outline, and writing.
And then editing.
For the past several weeks, the household has been engaged in nurturing a new furry “son”; a young neutered male of six months was rescued from a local shelter who had received it from a designer hybrid puppy mill in a state that does not require neutering.
He’s a Labrador retriever/American foxhound who will be a big boy and with whom we are deeply-engaged in obedience school.
We named him Remy, after the Red Sox broadcaster (RemDawg) currently on medical leave for his fifth battle with lung cancer. It’s essentially my wife’s dog, and my wife is a huge Red Sox fan and won two bouts with cancer herself.
MLB is currently tinkering with the game of baseball to make it more attractive, a disastrous interference in my opinion, and perhaps Jerry’s; he’s has already been verbally spanked for his comment about banning translators from mound visits; he’s the author of an outstanding book on how to watch the game.
We’ve been watching the game on TV and live (both of our kids were stars on the diamond) for decades.
Now we are learning to translate dog barks. And the four-legged RemDawg is now showing his hound sounds too. He chews through his harnesses and leashs, our bone and biscuit budget is waaay up, and he has an annoying habit of nipping at the hands and legs of Mrs. Blogger. The “coins in the can” trick and running the vaccum cleaner stops the incessant barking. We’re learning too…
“… People have been trying to parse how dogs and people communicate with each other for a long time. Obviously they do—but hypothetically the form and content go way beyond sit and stay—and say something broader about language and animal cognition…..”
William James (in How To Be, Do or Have Anything, by Laurence Boldt) reminds us that it is easier to act our way into a new kind of thinking than it is to think ourselves into a new way of acting.
Terry Orlick is one of the great performance enhancement consultants in sport, and he tells us that one of the biggest obstacles we face is not in deciding where we want to end up, but in specifying what we are going to do today to get there.
He breaks this down into three areas: skills, or learning, or perhaps simply key tasks for survival in daily life; our approach, or attitude, or the personal qualities we will bring to the day; and improving our mental capabilities (or winning our internal mental battles).
However basic these may be for people struggling at the elemental level, perhaps there is a tripartite approach that can people on track and moving in the right direction, however slowly and wobbily their progress.
“The last of the human freedoms, in any given set of circumstances, is to choose one’s attitude.”
Chopra says that the thought and the reaction come packaged together, the thought and the molecule that transmits it across the synapses.
He says that we are “the question”, “the answer” and the silent observer of the whole process at the same time.
Expressed another way: Whatever thought or goal we accept in our conscious mind will be accepted by our subconscious mind as a command or instruction. Therefore, any thought, plan, idea or goal held continuously in our conscious mind must be brought into reality by our superconscious mind.
This is where the processes of journaling and working in the arts and affirmations and posters, etc etc come in. We talk about seeds, but we have to learn to hoe and till our own fields with powerful pictures in the mind….
The intimate connections between the imagination, mental pictures, volition and bodily function have been recognized and described for millennia. Candace Pert found “the lock in the key” mechanism that opened the door to our modern sciences of psychoneuroimmunology.
If we really change our skeletal bone structure every three months, then why does our arthritis persist? Chopra says that 90% of the thoughts that we had today are the same ones we had yesterday.
Every time we perform an action or have an experience, it creates a memory, and memory becomes the potentiality for desire. Every thought is either a memory or a desire. Action generates memory. Experience generates memory. Memory becomes the potentiality for desire. And desire generates action or experience once again.
I was watching the celebration parade of duck boats carrying the New England Patriots through the mid-mrning snowstorm in downtown Boston when one of the commentators said that Brady and his bunch had proven that virtually anything could be accomplished, like their miracle comeback of 21 unanswered points in the Super Bowl, and that it stood as an example, a lesson, that someone could write up to teach our children how they could achieve similar things in their lives. I was raising my hand and waving it, unseen in my living room, because I’d already assembled that curriculum.
Once you recognize that “winning” is something that is self-defined by virtue of feeling good about one’s approach/effort/progress, i.e., that it is not externally defined by someone else or some form of measurement, then you come to the enlightened awareness that you can accomplish winning at anything.
[CAF Note: We originally published this article in January 2013. I wrote it over the Christmas holidays in 2012 because it was obvious that, despite enormous noise throughout the media, most people had not looked at the deeper issues in the US budget that presented obstacles to change. We are now living through another period of high noise. The Presidential election represented a debate between those who wanted to keep the unipolar empire going and those who thought it was necessary to pull back to North America.
If you listened to the President’s inauguration speech, Trump talked about withdrawing from the business of telling other countries what to do and putting our own house in order. What we all need to recognize is that the financial picture requires that we change – this is not just the current leadership. So, in the hopes it will help you cut through the noise and understand the challenges that the Administration and Congress face, I am republishing “Coming Clean Beyond the Fiscal Cliff.” The reality is that the swamp is not just in DC – it extends from sea to shining sea. Overcoming the obstacles to real change requires all of us taking responsibility.]
by Catherine Austin Fitts
Ultimately, the fiscal cliff is the tip of the iceberg of our economic and cultural woes. Our problems are deeper. The more of us who are prepared to look honestly at our situation and take responsibility for it, the sooner authentic solutions will become possible and emerge.
As we look over the fiscal cliff into our financial abyss, now is a good time to “Come Clean” about the real state of our lives, our communities, and our economy, starting with the U.S. federal finances that flow deeply and intimately throughout every aspect of our lives.
This Solari Special Report includes (22) challenges we must address to put our federal fiscal house in order.
We are what we are attracted to, and become what we yearn toward.
Follow your attraction through the spectrum of curiosity, interest, admiration, concern, connection, resonance and change.
The Everyday Work of Art: How Artistic Experience Can Transform Your Life, Eric Booth, Sourcebooks, Napierville, Illinois 1997.
Stop pretending that you don’t want whatever it is that you want, and take action. In every case, the remedy is to take action. Get clear about exactly what it is that you need to learn and exactly which you need to do to learn it. Getting clear kills fear.
Zen and The Art of Making a Living: A Practical Guide to Creative Career Design, Laurence G. Boldt, Arkana/Penguin Books, 1993
My sons, aged 9 and 6, get 30 minutes of video (that I’ve approved) per day and then 1.5 hours of gaming on Saturdays and Sundays, assuming all homeschool lessons are completed.
As little screen time as this is, I’ve found that they have become obsessed with the stuff they encounter in the small windows of time they’re allowed screen access. We’re hearing about diamond swords and Endermen outside of screen time, for example.
Becky was against giving them any screen time at all, but I was worried that they would eventually grow up, encounter screens and become consumed with the whole mess. I met a guy who wasn’t allowed to watch any TV as a child who became really addicted to it as an adult. Also, they know about video games in the first place because they’ve seen my Crysis, Bioshock, Starcraft, etc. boxes on my bookshelf! If you’re a gamer and you don’t want your kids to be gamers: Definitely throw out the boxes and don’t let them know that you do it!
Misha Pemble-Belkin, from Restrepo, is probably the main reason I chose to dose my boys with small amounts of screen time. Raised by “hippy” pacifists, Belkin wasn’t allowed to play with toy guns or watch violent movies as a kid. He grew up, joined the U.S. Army and was happy to be killing people with a MK-19 automatic grenade launcher in Afghanistan. For parents who implement a lot of bans, I think there’s a lesson to be learned from Belkin.
I decided to try giving my boys modest amounts of screen time (as indicated above), but I wonder if it was the right thing to do. My wife still thinks that zero screen time is the way to go. It might be that there’s no good answer and that some options are just less bad than others. I do get a feeling, however, that outright banning would backfire badly.
There’s a reason that the most tech-cautious parents are tech designers and engineers. Steve Jobs was a notoriously low-tech parent. Silicon Valley tech executives and engineers enroll their kids in no-tech Waldorf Schools. Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page went to no-tech Montessori Schools, as did Amazon creator Jeff Bezos and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
Many parents intuitively understand that ubiquitous glowing screens are having a negative effect on kids. We see the aggressive temper tantrums when the devices are taken away and the wandering attention spans when children are not perpetually stimulated by their hyper-arousing devices. Worse, we see children who become bored, apathetic, uninteresting and uninterested when not plugged in.
Presence-Based Coaching offers coaches a hands-on resource for developing the capacities and skills needed to be reliably present in all situations, and shows how to let go of habitual –and often ineffective–ways of responding. As author and leadership expert Doug Silsbee explains, once a coach has mastered the inner moves of directing their own attention, they can work to develop the same capability in their clients. The ability of a coach to facilitate lasting, sustainable development in leaders rests on the presence a coach offers to the coach-client relationship.
Cultivating Self-Generative Leaders Through Mind, Body and Heart
I am presently reading Michael Crichton’s novel Timeline; my wife suggested it because we’d previously watched an indie movie about time travel. I’ll have lots more riffs off of this novel in the future, but one thing that stayed snagged in my mind was the scene of the preparation for the momentous flight from a modern-day high-tech company in the New Mexico desert back to a spot on the Dordogne River in medieval France.
The support staff, operating like a squad prepping astronauts, squirted an organic polymer into the ears of the time traveler so that, after the biodegradable stuff hardened, some other technican could drill it out to implant some electronics.
In Crichton’s tale, at the landing site in 1357, they speak only some strange variants of Old English, Occcitan and Middle French. But the ear piece, aside from having a built-in microphone, translated those old lost languages for the people that fell back 750 years ….
Today, of course, we have all manner of technical goodies that you can put into your ear, clip onto your ear, slip onto your wrist, or slide into your back pocket. You can dial up someone at any location on the earth from right where you sit (or stand, or walk, or sit). Smart phones are getting mighty sophisticated; I’m sure they can translate for you at some level, though not as well as in Crichton’s fertile imagination. The age of the super-empowered individual is upon us. I don’t know what Thiel, Cook et al have in store (pardon the pun) for the near future, but I’m sure it’s exciting.
Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end,… We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate.
Soit is with a concern about and a focus on our ability to communicate clearly with one another that I thought the mythical or prototypical electronics in Crichton’s fictional polymer earpiece might be tweaked or upgraded to translate for us when we found ourselves suddenly dropped into conversations at work, at home, when we’re out socially, when our conversational exchanges seemed to be between two people from different centuries, planets, cultures or simply experiences and mindsets.
You know the times.
They occur when people are being passive-aggressive, when they are being sarcastic but forgot to give you the emoji hand-signal, when they became obtuse and started to run on endlessly, when they took a left turn and simply lost you, when they used some local dialogue like “Valley Girl”, or when — quite simply, and without having to be harsh or demeaning of anyone else — the two of you can’t seem to be in the same chapter, let alone on the same page.
But relax… I’m sure if the high-tech world has already begin to work on robotic sex devices that look like celebrities, all those people at Trump’s recent summit will soon have software for your earpiece that, in addition to translation, will function as conversational coaches.
They’re removeable and biodegradable, so if you have someone you simply don’t want to communicate with at all, you can just take them out and throw them away.
Celebrity sex robots could thrust human intercourse aside, experts predict
“… “It could be that we are so busy with our lives, we are so embedded in our technological narrative that the idea of engaging in long-distance sex and robot sex is actually a natural process in our evolutionary cycle,” Dr. Trudy Barber from Portsmouth University said at the International Congress of Love and Sex with Robotics on Monday.
The scientist, who is a leading figure in the study of technology’s impact on our sexuality, believes that machines will help us cherish “the real thing” and make our “real-time relationships more valuable and exciting.”
Robots will become an “extra human race” and help humans explore “our sexual pallet,” she added…..”
[Ed.: You may want to do it on a pallet with a robot, but be careful of the splinters. As for palate, you can buy reverse-engineered human pheromones or fruity lubricants in the back of “respectable” magazines. Or maybe you should just invite your potential mate to a smorgasbord.
About Kim Kardashian, Ryan Gosling and Scarlett Johansson…, no thanks.]
In the age of the internet and smartphones, there is no denying that technology continuously shapes our everyday lives. Ours is an ever-connected society, and social media in particular has transformed human interactions well beyond the confines of our immediate circles. We can now communicate with friends, family, and likeminded communities regardless of physical location, and sharing even the most intimate aspects of our private lives has become the norm.
Whilst global connectivity is no doubt extremely positive, a closer look at social media highlights a more destructive reality for the individual. In a world where everything is seemingly on show, it is crucial to question just how real social media is and to consider its impact on our mental well-being.
Social Media: What’s The Appeal?
To truly understand the relationship between social media and self-image, we need to recognize what draws us to online networks in the first place. Keeping in touch with far-flung friends and relatives may be an obvious advantage to sites like Facebook, but our fascination with social media runs deeper than that: it taps into our desire to be heard. Indeed, the internet has given us all a voice, with affordable packages such as this one making it easier than ever before to create a website or blog using common WordPress themes. Practically anyone can become a published writer or photographer within the online sphere, and the abundance of user-generated media stands testament to our inherent need to share. Social media presents not only another platform through which to express ourselves, but by apparently focusing on the banalities of everyday life, it enables us to construct an identity over which we have total control.
Through status updates, location check-ins, and photo uploads, we appear to give our online friends all-access insight into our lives, but in reality, the majority of us are presenting an edited version. Whilst this is necessary for maintaining some degree of privacy, the danger arises when we become more fixated on portraying the perfect existence than actually living it. Posting only the most flattering selfies or fun-filled weekend snaps may seem completely harmless – and is indeed a natural reflex for many online socialites – but our obsession with airbrushing every aspect of our digital lives can actually have some rather alarming psychological implications.
The Actual Self Vs. The Online Self
The notion of keeping up appearances is not unique to social media; from job interviews to meeting new people for the first time, it’s only natural that we put our best selves forward.
According to Edward Tory Higgins’ self-discrepancy theory (1987), we all identify with three different types of self: the actual self – the person we perceive ourselves to actually be; the ought self based on who we believe we should be; and the ideal self shaped by hopes, wishes, and aspirations – the person we want to be. Higgins believed that the larger the perceived discrepancy between, say, the actual and the ideal self, the more prone the individual is to negative emotions, such as low self-esteem, anxiety, and even self-contempt.
Of course, it is not only our own profiles that affect our mental wellbeing. Several studies have identified a correlation between Facebook usage in general and dissatisfaction with one’s own life, with envy cited as the most common emotion induced by the site. Bombarded with constant reminders of other people’s “perfect” lives, it can indeed be incredibly difficult to see through the illusion that everyone else is flying higher, having more fun, and going to better places. Our failure to fully realize our own goals is once again highlighted, and we feel inadequate – and miserable – by comparison.
External Validation or True Self-Worth?
According to Statista, 73% of the US population had a social media profile in 2015, a figure that grows significantly year on year. The question remains, then: if social media makes us feel so bad, why do we continue to subscribe and take part? Fear of missing out no doubt plays a major role, as online networks have become so integral to the way we interact with our peers. Another key factor is our inherent need to be regarded positively by others, as explained by psychologist Carl Rogers’ theory of personality. There is no denying that posting a picture online and receiving likes and comments is one of the most instant – and measurable – forms of external validation, and gives us quite the buzz. In that respect, social media has made it all too easy to choose the path of instant, short-term gratification, with the ideal or online self often taking precedence over the actual self. Whilst social media provides a quick-fix, the ever widening gap between the actual and ideal selves can leave us feeling empty and unfulfilled in the long term.
Loving Yourself In The Age of Social Media
The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination.
Carl Rogers, On Becoming a Person (1961)
A significant part of Rogers’ theory is the concept of self-actualization through reaching one’s full potential, ultimately aligning the actual self with the ideal self. Although this is an ongoing journey rather than a fixed destination, the more congruent we perceive the two selves to be, the greater our sense of fulfilment. However, in a world where social media paints a glossy picture of perfect lives, there is a growing tendency to abandon the pursuit of self-actualization and to live vicariously instead through the online self.
Someone who knows only too well just how toxic this can be is teenage model Essena O’Neill. Having previously made a living through her social media posts, she dramatically quit Instagram last year, exposing a deeply flawed reality behind the perfect scenes. No longer able to cope with the discrepancy between her real life and the life she was portraying online, she has shunned social media in order to focus on “real-life projects.” In an emotional video that clearly captures just how miserable it made her feel to be “defined by numbers,” O’Neill strongly urges others to follow suit.
Achieving and maintaining a positive self-image in the social media age is not necessarily about quitting Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Rather, it is about readjusting your perception of the online world and finding a balance between digital and real life. Firstly, learning to see through the smoke and mirrors of other social media profiles will break the habit of comparing yourself unfavorably, so that time spent online is more about connecting with friends than highlighting your own shortcomings.
Secondly, it’s crucial to focus wholly on aligning your actual self with your ideal self, rather than simply projecting these aspirations onto your online profile. Be 100% present in every moment – do things that actually fulfill and satisfy you, regardless of whether it makes an impressive social media post. Nurturing face-to-face connections and placing more value on your real-life state puts a much-needed perspective on social media, ultimately boosting the way we perceive ourselves and paving the way to genuine, long-term happiness.
Consciousness wants to create new consciousness, and it can. Imagination is how it does it. If there were some ultimate state of consciousness, imagination would always be able to play another card and take it further.
In any arena of life, and especially when it comes to the mind, perception, power, empathy, and so on, there is always a status quo. It’s merely the place where a person says, “Well, that’s enough. I’ll settle for what I have. I’ll stop here.”
Sooner or later, this leads to boredom, frustration, problems, and conflict. It leads to a decline.
Imagination, which knows no bounds, is the source for the most adventurous explorations. It can have great impact on the material world, of course, but one mustn’t therefore conclude it is composed of matter or energy. Imagination is non-material. To think otherwise winds you up in using some version of physics to depict imagination—and then you are imposing limits on it. This is an error. Imagination doesn’t obey any laws of physics.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, we’ve flattered reality enough. It doesn’t need any more. Imagination creates new realities.
You can create the same thing over and over, and eventually you’ll be about as alive as a table. Inject imagination into the mix, and everything suddenly changes. You can steer that boat anywhere you want to.
The lowest common denominator of consensus signals an absence of imagination: everyone agrees; everyone is bored; everyone is obedient. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are massive floods of unique individual creation, and then that sought-after thing called abundance is as natural as the sun rising in the morning.
Sitting around in a cosmic bus station waiting for reality is what reality is. Everything else is imagination.
There are those who believe life is a museum. You walk through the rooms, find one painting, stroll into it and take up permanent residence. But the museum is endless. If you were a painter, you’d never decide to live inside one of your canvases forever. You’d keep on painting.
The relentless and obsessive search for all those things on which we can agree is a confession of bankruptcy.
When we re-learn to live through and by imagination, we enter and invent new space and time.
With imagination, one can solve a problem. More importantly, one can skip ahead of the problem and render it null and void.
Imagination isn’t a system. It might invent systems, but it is non-material. It’s a capacity. It feels no compulsion to imitate reality. It makes realities. Its scope is limited only by a person’s imagining of how far imagination can go.
The human race is obsessed by the question: what exists? It appears to be a far easier question than: what do you want to create? This comparison explains why civilizations decline.
Imagination is a path. Walking on that path long enough, you find answers to all the questions you’ve ever asked, as an incidental side effect of the journey. You also find power that most people only dream of.
[Ed.: This book arrived last week; I am pleased to have received it for free since I was one of the “kickstarters”. I gave it to my daughter, an elementary school teacher, and just ordered one of the last “leftovers” to read to my grandkids.]