The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Show Me the Women -- In Hollywood

Hollywood is no more racist or sexist than other aspects of human society. Ageist? Perhaps--it is in the business of image. Reflecting American society? Sure. But is there a country where women's films dominate? I doubt it. You might be dealing with the fact that film thrives on the unique image, and that usually means something splashy and new, rather than the internal world of emotions--which is what most people mean when they say "chick flick." Hollywood will make any movie they believe will make money, and track records are everything. Saying "it's Hollywood" or "it's men" or "it's white people" or "it's America" avoids the hardest thing of all--looking at ourselves in the mirror and asking why tribalism causes the pain it does. When women studio heads make male-oriented movies, they're just doing the thing they believe will make money. Blaming men, or America, or white people for all of this is as blind as the pattern of blaming older men for being with younger women--and not blaming the younger women, as well.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Only Spirituality Can Solve The Problems Of The World

Religion is as apt to be co-opted by evil as any other institution. But no more, either. The search for meaning, for a way to deal with existential angst or fear of death leads in many directions. "Faith" is vital to many of us because there is a limit beyond which the conscious mind cannot grasp and hold reality. We sense that there is more...but cannot quantify it precisely. Those who we believe have grasped more of this pattern often teach "spirituality" and inspire their followers...but as soon as they die, those followers cut down the living tree of their teaching and build a church with it. Most of the people in those churches, mosques or whatever are good and decent people just trying to raise a family and live with dignity. But the heart can be led as easily as the head, and those seeking to steal land and resources find religion an excellent excuse to do so. We have the responsibility to live our lives with dignity, grace and love. And uncounted human beings have found religions to be a source of comfort and strength. I will not denigrate them, any more than condemn "politics" or "science", both of which have been used to kill millions. We, humanity, are the problem. Our institutions are no better than we are.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

SNL Takes On David Paterson Scandal (VIDEO)

SNL has a miserable record with black comedians. Eddie Murphy won't talk about his tenure on that show to this day. Can't remember a single skit Chris Rock did while he was on. And they SO love putting their non-white comedians in dresses...and hiring them fat. Yes, Dave Chappel did white face, but he didn't have cast members doing it: it was the "Chappel show." This isn't the "Armison show." In Living Color hired Jim Carey, and really gave him chances to shine. A high percentage of successful comedians and comic actors are black--you'd never know it from the non-whites cast on SNL. Keenan is really the best they could do? And before that Tracy Morgan? I couldn't imagine safer, less-threatening black males. The fact is that, obviously, they don't care, and America doesn't much care.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Be Breathed

Great news! I found a Youtube video of the critical "Be Breathed" technique from CST. This is the core of the "Five Minute Miracle" idea--learn to breathe like this, and you have an incredible stress-busting technique, practiced "Grease the Groove" style (five sixty-second Power Breathing breaks during the day). Some of these are very advanced moves, but take the simplest one and find ways to make it easier--it's learning the breathing that's important, not joining cirque du soleil.

Health Care Summit: Breaking Updates, Latest News

It doesn't have to start out costing a damned thing. Let anyone who wants to buy into Medicare at Cost Plus Ten percent. That would put money INTO the system, and automatically put pressure on insurance companies to watch their premiums. The extra profit could be used to extend services to the poor. A simple, simple proposal, and never on the table--for my money, that tells you the magnitude of the resistance this administration faces.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Movement As Medicine: Spinning And The Self-Care Movement

Here's a very simple, powerful exercise that can be done in 10-15 minutes, is totally free, and requires no equipment. It handles most of the body's basic exercise needs:
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

PBS' 'This Emotional Life': Why Soldiers Drink

If we are all connected, then the act of taking a human life has to be one of the most traumatic experiences possible. Even if we are not, the daily risking of life has to strip away illusions most of us aren't even aware of, which buffer many of us from existential despair. Our warriors stand between us and chaos, and the price they pay can be staggering. But they are really outliers--we all deal with fear, and fatigue, and loss. We commonly anesthetize ourselves with drugs, alcohol, food, or meaningless activities. It is damned hard to face the realities of existence, let alone do it with joy and commitment to the future. But we must, or our children will suffer. So...either we will numb ourselves to sleep, or awaken to clarity and love. The choice is ours.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Can Art Help Us Save The World?

If art is expression of the deep, true self, then ONLY art can save the world. That is: doctors who practice medicine as an art, expressing their commitment to life and health. Parents who embrace parenting as an art, teaching their children to become self-sufficient, loving human beings. Politicians who embrace the arts of compromise, leadership and vision, creating a better world for our grandchildren. And mature human beings who embrace their very lives as an art form, a tapestry of actions in alignment with values and beliefs. We are all artists, and the ultimate canvass is the world itself. Every thought, every action, molds us, our communities, and our world. Join the dance.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Friday, February 26, 2010

Drop Dead, Fred

I was speaking to one of my coaching clients yesterday. He'd been studying non-violent conflict resolution, with an eye toward improving communication with his family. Jesse (we'll call him) has two male children who fought constantly and intensely. So Jesse sat them down and explained that they were all a family, that they had to get along, and that these behaviors were going to interrupt the flow of everything they want to accomplish. Jesse suggested that their arguing had a life of its own...and that they name it. The kids named their arguing "Fred." The result was that when they found themselves about to argue, one or the other would say "Fred's here," or "go away, Fred" and they could both laugh...and started getting along better. Immediately.

Now, at this point we don't know how long this will last, but I have to admit that I love it. This feels like an aspect of the "Parts Party" approach, where you personify different aspects of your personality and imagine you are having a meeting wherein these aspects can interact. Really powerful stuff. I'll be fascinated to see where this goes.


Do any of you have favorite means of improving communication, or resolving conflict?

Girlfriends' Guide: FAT Is The New 'N' Word

Shame (pain) works to change behavior if there is a clear and open path toward the positive behavior (pleasure). But for the obese, we don't have that kind of clear, intelligent support. There is a fantastic amount of misinformation or outright lies about the war going on in our bodies. The evolutionary answer--that we simply didn't evolve to live in a world with a McDonald's on every corner--is probably closest to the truth. Unless there was real consensus on:

1) How best to eat (how much, how often, what kind?)

2) How best to exercise (how much, how often?)

3) How to deal with the negative emotions "locked" in the fat. Losing weight, for many people, equals fear, discomfort, a sense of exposure and loneliness. This isn't a joke, and it isn't an hallucination.


Part of the problem is that many of those creating the weight loss programs have their own emotional issues--which simply manifest in different ways. This is like alcoholics designing anti-drug campaigns. We don't get honest discussion, we get finger pointing, as if any of us were perfect. That is not useful.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mapping General Intelligence
Fascinating topic. A group of scientists feel they have mapped the sections of the brain responsible for general intelligence. Rather than this function being isolate in a single section, it seems to have more to do with the coordination of several aspects. Not too surprising. But pursuing the Ghost in the Machine is certainly heady stuff.

How Your Laptop Can Reduce Your Muffin Top: Downloadable Workouts Anytime Anywhere

The idea of short, healthy workouts is important for multiple reasons. First, they are efficient, and can be implemented easily in a condensed time frame--ten or fifteen minutes a day. Second, if you had the commitment to exercising thirty minutes a day, you will benefit more by exercising in three ten-minute breaks than doing the whole thing at once because of a principle called synaptic facilitation--you are "greasing the groove" of the body-mind connection. Third, if you concentrate on the breathing, then the exact same exercise you're doing for your butt can also help bust stress, simply by noticing the difference between the "power breathing" required during an exercise, and the unresourceful chest-breathing we use when we panic or are depressed. And fourth--if there is emotional reason to keep the weight, we will lie about our time and resources to prevent ourselves from having to deal with the pain, loneliness, or fear. If you reduce the minimum time for exercise to ten minutes, it gets harder to lie. Dealing with the truth of our toxic emotions can encourage us to seek allies and new resources. Embrace healing and self-love. Everyone has ten minutes. If you say you don' the hell do you have time to be reading this?
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Why Do Smart People Make Dumb Decisions?

Smart people make stupid decisions when they are in denial that their decisions are filtered through their emotions. They stay in the realm of pure data, which can be clear and predictable as an equation, without working through the emotional swamp of our child and animal natures. It is like building a palace atop a cesspool. To understand that we act from our animal survival/sexual/power instincts, or from our emotions, gives us the responsibility to heal, and the power to change ourselves and the world. Everyone is just exactly smart enough to construct a trap from which the mind cannot escape. Everyone feels alone and afraid. The only question is: what do you do with your loneliness and fear?
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How To Achieve Natural Highs

"Flow" state is the most sought-after athletic experience, and probably the highest common state of consciousness before we tiptoe into genuinely esoteric realms. Any physical activity sufficiently intense to require real attention, but graduated enough to continue for fifteen minutes can teach you how to enter this state: walking, swimming, rowing, yoga, jogging, whatever. Here's how you can do it:

Rate pain on a scale of 1-10, ten being the worst pain you've ever experienced.

Rate technique on a scale of 1-10, ten being absolutely perfect form.

Rate exertion on a scale of 1-10, ten being the most extreme exertion you have ever known.

Now: NEVER let your pain go above a 3. And work to keep your technique above an 8. IF you can keep pain below a three, and technique above an "eight" then and only then take your exertion above a 6. Hover the exertion around a 5-6. So long as your breathing is smooth and even, you are probably all right. Stay with the breath. If you do this, you will enter "Flow" state somewhere around the 13-17 minute mark. No commonly experienced "natural high" is its equal.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Good Hair (2010)

I was watching Chris Rock's "Good Hair" yesterday, and made a posting about it on Face Book. It is an hysterical journey through the sub-culture of hair straightening, presented largely through interviews, with Chris mugging and cracking jokes along the way. What came up on Facebook was a huge amount of anger about the semi-documentary, mostly from black women who wished that he'd talked more about the social pressures that force black women to do these things. White culture, black men, etc.--these are the "causes" that force black women to slather their hair with caustic chemicals, or buy multi-thousand dollar "weaves" to pretend that their hair is naturally straight, or "good."

First, it isn't Chris Rock's job to do that. He's a comedian, not a philosopher. Secondly, it isn't his job to adhere to someone else's political agenda. Women say that men make them do it. Men complain that their women make them pay for it. None of this sounds very adult to me. First, you're dealing with protective coloration, and fitting into the herd. After WW2, during the Allied occupation of Japan, Japanese women had breast enlargement surgery and rounded their eyes to fit in, and attract the dominant males. They chose to do this, to make advantage for themselves. The men who pay for their women's straight hair CHOSE those women...and probably in part for the very hair they complain about. When men, or women, chose to make themselves more attractive in order to elicit responses from the opposite sex, or people of whatever group choose to modify behaviors, dress, or body composition in order to "fit into" the herd, these are things animals have done since herd behavior first began.

It is fascinating to watch supposed adults complaining about this stuff, rather than taking the more mature position of "I choose to play this game" or "I choose not to." Instead, you get victimology: "they" made you earn more money, buy that car, wear high heels, lose weight, wear makeup, act aggressive, straighten hair, lighten skin, get a tan, etc. etc. etc.

And here's the joke: when you do that, you make yourself fit for a relationship ONLY with someone else who plays the same games. And trust me, they won't play it in exactly the arena where you play it. Which means that if you remain unconscious to your own immature reaction, you will chafe at those of your partner, never grasping that he or she is merely a mirror.

It is not fair or unfair, it just is. It is not fair that rabbits have to watch out for hawks, but they can either spend their time moping about it, or get on with their lives and watch out for fast-moving shadows. It pains me to watch people giving their power away. Probably because it is so painful when I catch myself doing it. Where do you give your power away, blaming the world instead of taking responsibility for your reactions?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Can Overweight Women Trust Their Doctors?

It doesn't take fifty minutes a day, six times a week, to lose weight. Metabolic reset is best achieved with Tabata-style sprint work: 20 seconds of intensity (whole-body bodyweight exercise, walking, swimming), followed by 10 seconds of rest. Ten-fifteen minutes of this three times a week works wonders. Add 10-15 minutes of stretching or yoga on the alternate days and you have a wonderful basic prescription for weight loss. Weight loss demands both dietary control AND exercise. Each approach, by itself, is partial. But this needs to be combined with meditation, journaling, or counseling to deal with the emotional issues. Self-love and acceptance of our human imperfection can help quite a bit too. Health isn't a place, it's a process, and one we have to address every day.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

What Story Are You Telling Yourself?

Another question is "is it useful?" Truth, in an ultimate sense, is often outside our ability to error-check. And some mighty smart people have chased their tails into a knot trying to determine, finally, what is truth in arenas where our perceptions are inextricably intertwined with our actions, and our subjective reality. But it is far easier to determine what is useful, and what is useful is often true. Look at all three major arenas of your life. Does this thing you believe help you to navigate your life in all three arenas? Does it make you more loving or more fearful? Does it help you deal with the world of commerce, which is a matter of understanding the needs of your fellow man, and channeling your disciplined energy to create goods and services that allow you to meet some of those needs in an ethical fashion, while preserving enough self-respect to demand the payment you deserve? Does it help you separate your needs from your wants in the arena of your body, to develop a physicality that has abundant energy, so that you can work hard during the week, and enjoy your weekend without just collapsing on the sofa? Anything you believe that has a positive impact on ALL THREE arenas: love, health, and success has a darned good chance of being accurate. And if it isn't? What a delightful delusion it must be.


Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Friday, February 19, 2010

How To Thrive In The Face Of Adversity, Setbacks And Losses

The best self-defense instructor I've ever known, a brilliant and accomplished lady named Dawn Callan, has the ability to empower men and women in a single intense weekend. She has helped countless abuse and rape victims, and confided that the most difficult thing to do with rape victims is get them out of victim mode. To take responsibility for their lives. And responsibility means "response-ability" literally, the ability to respond. Not guilt, blame, or shame, the capacity to draw a line in the sand and swear by all that is holy that you will never be used or hurt like that again. Predators seek easy prey. Dawn has helped thousands of women by putting their fates into their own hands, but first she has to peel them out of their dream of helplessness. Waking up can be difficult. But accepting that you did the very best you could at every moment of your past...but have the capacity to be a different human being in the a difficult one. So much learned or induced helplessness in our society. We are more than that. We must be, or our children are not safe.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Dinner with a Bud

Had dinner last night with Harlan Ellison and some of his merry friends. What an incredible evening, filled with stories and jokes and general bonhomie. When I think back over my life, I realize that there are a handful of relationships I treasure almost absurdly much. And one is definitely this man, the most honored living fantasist. When I first heard about Harlan, I was reading strange little stories by him, loving them, but not really paying attention to the name on the byline. Then I read a series of articles in the Free Press, stuff about television called "The Glass Teat." Brilliant column written by a man who seemed totally fearless, would express controversial ideas so clearly that I had to just shake my head, and make jokes so incredibly un-PC (I remember a joke about "interracial faggotry" that had me on the floor) that I just HAD to meet him. And then there was this guy on the radio, interviewed by somebody on KABC, and I thought he had the fastest mind I'd ever heard outside certain comedians in programmed, controlled contexts. This guy worked without a net.

Then I discovered that these three men were the same guy. I started going to lectures at college campuses, sitting in the front row, over about eighteen months. Always polite, asking good questions, not buying into the "insult Harlan and get him going" mood often present at these things. And over time I could see him start to wonder who in the hell I was. Finally, I out-bid everyone else and got dinner with him at an awards dinner. I was going to try to find an opportunity to catch his attention, make him really notice me. Just one opening...

At the dinner, Sammy Davis Jr was given an award for the TV movie "Poor Devil." I leaned over to Harlan and said: "they only gave it to him because he's Jewish."

Harlan looked at me scornfully and said, in an instant, "shut up and eat your watermelon."

Sigh. Memories are made of this. It was so wonderful to see him again, really.


I hear "The Wolfman" is really, really terrible. Is that right? And why does it seem so hard for big-budget horror movies to work worth a damn? I have to suspect that the best horror comes from one artist's nightmares. Corporate horror will be a collection of "this scared 'em last time" moments. Hmmm. Is the same thing true about sex? Can I think of a really sexy moment in big movie? There must have been a few, but nothing is coming to mind at the moment. I think the intimacy of sex and death make it hard to create by committee. Now, I'm looking forward to "Shutter Island," which is big studio, but Scorsese has the juice to pull it off. Hope he does.


Am I really duping the Hero's Journey course next week? Good Lord! I can't believe it. And can't believe how good it feels to get this all down, all out of myself. I have to mail out the copies. I feel emptied out, husked. Like I had to get all of the things I've ever been taught out of my head, to make room for...what? I don't know. What I do know is that I would hate to die without sharing everything I've been given. Perhaps none of us ever get to do that completely. But the effort is worthwhile. I ask myself if I'm just doing it for money. That voice is in my head, some kind of nasty little bug that is probably left over from my childhood, some kind of negative associations with making a profit. All I can say is that if Bill Gates gave me a billion dollars, I wouldn't just give "Hero's Journey" away for free. I'd pay people to listen to it. That's as close as I can come to shutting that little voice in my head up.


Tiger Woods is giving a press conference as I write this. Tananarive asked me if I thought he should have made this conference. I asked: "as a person, or as a corporation?" As a person, he owes nothing to anyone but his family, and his own heart. As a corporation, he sure as hell needs to--there are millions of people who identified with him deeply. This is nothing new in human culture: we have always had heros, royalty, and so forth. I'm sure that the village's best hunters got applauded by the village, and that is appropriate. People act as if there is something unique to the 20th or 21st Century about such behavior. At least we don't act as if royalty is divine. So the Tiger Woods' of the world are given the awards we used to reserve for people whose ancestors slaughtered thousands to take the throne...hmm. I can deal with that. And he went haywire, living out a fantasy of endless sexual conquest. To my knowledge, no one has written a book on how to deal with massive fame and success. Even the small, isolated versions of this I've experienced can be disorienting. It would seem that he made the traditional promises of fidelity to his wife, and violated them big time. If I were her, I would divorce him, take the money, and do whatever I wanted with it. Create educational foundations for my family, perhaps. Then I'd see if he would court me. If so, I might be able to forgive him. But that money would be in MY account, not a joint account. Yep, I think I would.


It would be difficult to imagine a culture in which those who perform at extreme levels of competence were not revered. People who complain that teachers aren't given that kind of acclaim or money miss the fact that as a group they earn far more than athletes. And as individuals they assiduously AVOID the kind of hierarchical rankings that would ever create celebrity. If we clearly knew who the best teachers in the world were, trust me, those individuals would be celebrated, as Plato and Aristotle have been celebrated for centuries for being the greatest teachers of their time. You can't have it both ways. The higher the safety net, the lower the ceiling. The people who get fantastic rewards are always in professions where the least successful get NOTHING. Always. We can disagree on which behaviors and skills should be most prized, but I suspect that they will remain things that can be visually identified, and that engage large numbers of people simultaneously. Tony Robbins is just a teacher--there is much he is doing that is also done at Learning Tree, Community colleges, and even advisers at junior high schools. The difference is marketing. THAT is actually his genius. Any time you can cut someone from the pack and hold them up as "the best in the world!" it can be promoted. We care about that, no matter what "best" it is. And that will probably never change.

Should it?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Public Option Support Surging In Senate

I've always thought allowing anyone to buy into Medicare at cost+10% would be fabulous--allowing savings over health insurance companies and putting some money into Medicare at the same time. Haven't heard a single decent argument against it.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Changing Our Disease Care System To A Health Care System

There is a legend that a Chinese emperor wanted to know how to live 100 years, and sent his advisers out to interview the oldest people in the kingdom. A year later they no consensus. Some of the oldsters were farmers, some martial artists, some laborers, some householders. Some took herbs, others fished or hunted, with no conscious attention to their health. The advisers squabbled about the results until the emperor's six year old son, who had been listening, said: "every one of these people sweats every day, father." And they were speechless. It was true. The single connecting factor between all of these people who had lived long, healthy lives was, no matter how they did it: exercise, herbs, saunas, sex (!), or simply living hard simple lives...they all sweated every single day. The moral? Any day you eat, you should move your butt. Your ancestors certainly had to. Objects in motion remain in motion.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What Does It Mean To Be A Good Man?

I wonder if you are actually addressing the question: "what is it to be a good person?" Because otherwise you are straying into a very interesting cultural battle. I think that being a good person is a bit different from being a "good man" or a "good woman" if we judge by cultural reactions to men and women. Separate from political rhetoric, there has always been a difference between what women and men expect from men...and what women and men expect from women. The things each group is attracted to, and respects. Most men have had the experience of acting the way women say they want men to behave...and being treated like buddies rather than romantic partners. And many women have had the analogous experience. Whatever being a "man" or "woman" is, if it includes being respected by your own gender and being considered good genetic material by the other, there are definitely different rules. While there is obviously great overlap, it is fascinating to look at the areas where there are real differences.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Are People Good At Heart?

Human beings as a group aren't either good or evil. They commit acts that are perceived as good or evil, and sometimes do this consistently, and take pleasure in it. But there is no objective "weight" to any of this. Does one act of child abuse outweigh a hundred acts of parental kindness? Does one act of violence or murder outweigh a thousand days of loving sacrifice? Our perceptual filters will determine our answers. What CAN be said is that all human beings feel fear and loneliness. The only question is: what do we do with our loneliness and our fear? Do we lie about it? Run from it? Personally, I used my loneliness to motivate me to become a person who could find and hold a healthy relationship. And my fear motivated me to investigate the nature of fear, leading to black belts in multiple martial arts, and an understanding that fear is just part of the human experience, and means little in and of itself. Our society, our world, can never be better than we are as individuals. Be the change you wish to see in the world. We owe it to our ancestors, and to our children unborn.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Opinions on Nuclear Power Waste?

Personally, I'd guess that about 20% of Americans are descended from slave owners/holders. Since the first slaves arrived in 1610, we have almost twenty generations of interbreeding. A far higher percentage of blacks probably have such blood than whites--representing rape, or at least sexual harrassment in the extreme. I don't have the math to work this out, but a snapshot of 1860 (1.4%) of Americans would hardly tell the story. I would love to see a well-thought out study here.

That said, I have no sense that someone descended from slaves should feel guilty about it. In fact, I don't hold slavery against the slave owners themselves. I don't blame people for being in synche with their social zeitgeist. I do, however, have great respect for the people who could rise above it. Jefferson wasn't a toad because he didn't free his slaves. He was just a typical landowner. Given that you "own" human beings, my scorn would be reserved for acts of unusual cruelty: torture, murder, forcible rape, etc. Anyone who has read "Lion's Blood" knows that I consider the capacity for self-delusion and cruelty to be as hard-wired as the capacity for kindness and clarity. And that, given the ability to exert power over other human beings, most men and women would find it difficult to go against the cultural fail to oppose slavery, even if they themselves did not own one. guilt. Humans are just critters, after all. The only thing that irritates me is when people do the "it happened so long ago. What difference does it make?" Which strikes me as ignorant and/or hypocritical in the extreme. So I do tend to point out that the playing field is far from level, but I don't expect white folks to do anything new about it. Similarly, I have no tolerance for blacks who claim it is impossible to get ahead, etc. There are simply too many role models of people who have done just that. Hard to think of an arena in which there is not now a wonderful role model of possibility. My own life would have been very different if, for instance, I'd been able to read Steven Barnes novels growing up. I'm not sure what more we can do as human beings except try not to fall into the traps that snared our parents, and try to make the world a little better for our children.


But I could NOT think less of whites without thinking less of humanity as a whole. And that I have neither the inclination or the temperament to do. We all feel alone and afraid, and the ways that cope with this are often rather ugly...but sometimes absolutely wonderful.


Who out there knows enough about nuclear power to comment from a technical point of view? It has always seemed that the more scientifically educated people in my circle tended toward belief that we could handle it effectively. That sways me. On the other hand, there do seem to be serious issues about dealing with waste. That single concern strikes me as the most valid criticism. Pleading ignorance, I would request that those who have informed opinions about this issue, pro and con, place their arguments before us.


Performed the first 4 days of TacFit as of yesterday, and back on Recovery today. It is FIERCE stuff. This is fitness at the level of warrior-readiness, something very different from even professional athletics. Olympic or professional athletes operate in the arena of the known, with rules and expectations about the type of fitness that will be required, and a manageable maximum penalty for failure. SWAT, firemen, police, military and especially SpecOps, must deal with chaos in the rawest form, and the requirements not only for "fitness" but intelligent spontaneous adaptation to hazardous environments is about survival, not championship rings. Even "functional fitness" (like, for instance, most Kettlebell programs) does not address this in the same way. By sequencing his programs to become increasingly complex rather than just doing more, harder, longer, we are dealing with the body-mind connection in an extremely powerful way. Improving proprioception increases data intake from the environment. Learning to re-orient after unexpected collision or other multipliers literally exercises the mind, not "merely" the body. What we have here, and what I have seen from the beginning of my relationship with Scott, was the same thing I was aiming at with the "rubber band" exercises in my novels of Aubry Knight, or the "Self-Directed Human Evolution" concept I've been working on for twenty-five years--approached through the physical doorway. Because TacFit is based in part on the Six Degrees of Freedom model, which in turn comes out of Shadow Yoga...combined with the idea from Hawaiian Huna that the body acts like a "black bag" for unprocessed, the possibility just screams at me that when you return your body to its "original manufacturer specifications"--in other words, the movement options you had as a child--you must release the fear, rage, and grief we bond into our bodies. This in turn would effect perceptual filters. We approach the ideal of the energy, aliveness and 360 degree input of a child--with the wisdom of an elder (or at least adult.) This, in many ways, is as good as human existence can get. And because the machine language of the human nervous system is "survive. Move away from pain" and you can test this with the simple expedient of trying to hold your breath until you die. Can't do it, no matter how depressed you are. The hind brain will render you unconscious and go right on breathing. That implies to me that you can stand squarely on your right to live and breathe and reduce the pain in your existence.

The "Be Breathed" exercise is the simplest way I've ever seen. I've been in meditation and spiritual circles where it took them YEARS to teach techniques no more effective. If you expose yourself to all three streams of basic life stress (finding a mate, providing food and shelter, maintaining life and health) and you use breathing as a way of preventing stress from becoming strain...

Wow. Let me make it clear: in no way am I saying that this is the only path, or even the best. But it is astoundingly clear to me. The path is more solid than anything I've seen in a lifetime of searching. After all, if you strive along this path and I'm 100% wrong, the worst case scenario is that you end up happy, healthy, and loved. Not so bad. Seeing the rocks under the surface of the water doesn't mean there aren't bridges down the way. But after forty years of seeking, I have lost count of the bodies of the broken along the spiritual path. People who lost families, health, and fortune and ended up with nothing. Or people who sought intellectual knowledge and ended up alone and broken, never understanding that general knowledge has little to do with success or happiness. Or people who thought that if they just won that championship, or earned that black belt, they would finally be content with life. So sad.

One of the things I love about Connirae Andreas' "Core Transformation" work is that it shows clearly that if you BEGIN with the emotions you think you will get at the END, you experience life as transformative and ineffably beautiful and mysterious. You can get this starting with the heart space--feeling love for all people. You can get there from survival--learning to deal with death, sex, power, and fear. But you cannot do it working from your head down. It just doesn't work. Never seen it, not even once. Known lots of people who thought they could, but every single one of them broke at some point. The lucky ones were able to re-constitute their lives. The unlucky ones...jeeze, it is just too sad. My obsession with balance should tell you something about what I've seen in this sense, but I just can't go into it. Knowing good, decent, sweet, intelligent people who are alone, sick, and on the edge of absolute poverty just because they thought life could be negotiated with the mind "alone." Life is simply too complex to "figure out," but it can be experienced authentically, and honestly, with eyes open. The vast majority of what people talk about when they say "enlightenment" is no more than this.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Why Do We Lie To Make Our Friends Feel Good?

Our friends desperately need someone to reflect truth to them...with compassion. We lie to our friends because, deep inside, we want them to lie to us. When we are ready for the truth, we will insist on it, and that creates the room for our friends and partners to receive truth at all. We need accurate maps of reality, and accurate reflections of where we ourselves are in life's journey. If someone asked you "is this the way to Disneyland?" when they are headed into the Mojave, are you doing them a favor to lie? We can be kind, and considerate, and compassionate...and honest. We will NOT be alone if we take the high road. This is another lie we tell ourselves. Get out of "poor little me, I'll have no friends." What an incredibly negative view of humanity this is. Have faith. If you are ready for truth, so are millions of others. How will they find you if you don't stand up for what you believe in? And if you aren't ready for will find others who are similarly asleep, and will offer each other comforting fairy tales instead of clarity.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

"The Spy Next Door" (2010)

I understand Tarantino wants to direct a western next...and possibly set it during slave times. I have no clear memory of the last movie set in this era. Talk about a subject America is...hmmm, call it "reluctant to address." So much guilt, blame, and shame around the is fascinating that, apparently, 95% of white Americans are descended from immigrants who arrived after 1860, or never saw a slave. Wow. Apparently, slave owners just didn't reproduce. Some of those voodoo curses must have worked after all.


Saw "The Spy Next Door" over the weekend with Jason. Sad seeing Jackie Chan walk down the "Kindergarten Cop," "Pacifier" "Tooth Fairy" (and what was the one with Hulk Hogan?) route. Sadder still to realize that Chan is still making decent films in China, while Hollywood has basically never figured out what to do with him. Well, I kinda liked "Shanhai Knights" and "Forbidden Kingdom." And "Drunken Master II" will always exist...but "The Spy Next Door" was a C-. Sorry, Jackie, better luck with "Karate Kid." If, of course, you can explain that title...


One of the students over on the 101 purchased and is using Scott Sonnon's "TacFit" program. And skipped directly to Day 3. Excuse me: what part of "follow the instructions" do we need to say again? This is intense material fit for Spec Ops and SWAT units. Do you really think someone can just waltz into that level of physical preparedness? PLEASE be careful, and my suggestion is to do much less than you think you can do for the first ten days. Unless you are intensely physical already, you probably have no slightest idea what high-level tactical fitness is. This is arguably the most sophisticated system I've ever seen, but boy oh boy, do you need to approach it with respect.


I read a recent article about how we shouldn't make a list of the things we want in a partner, because needless specificity can...I'm not sure. Confuse and/or disappoint us? I can buy that. But if there are qualities it is vital for you to have in a partner (honesty? Passion? Emotional availability? Kindness? Intelligence?) I fail to see how it can hurt to raise these to conscious awareness. I clearly remember a lady who had had a string of short-term, intense relationships who complained that making lists "didn't work" because she still hadn't found a partner. I observed that her list didn't include one critical thing: the ability to sustain a bond. Amazing how we cheat ourselves of what we want the most.


Finally finished the basic recording for the new "Hero's Journey" course. Wow. Now THAT was intense. Had to structure and create seven trance tapes to integrate the material on an unconscious level. Been a while sense I've done something like that, but it's amazing how fast it comes back. Like riding a bicycle, I guess.


Jason actually attended his first Judo Class last Friday, and spent all weekend asking when the next one is. Jeeze, this kid is physical. Far more than I was as a kid, and I have to remember that, and be certain I have allies who can help me channel the energy. Never seen his so active for such a long, focused time. The people are so nice. This is one instance where it feels like a plan is coming together. I'd always said that if I could start my martial arts career over again, I would have started in Judo. At maybe the age of eight. So Jason is six, and doing it. Another thing I wanted was for him to study at a Japanese community center. And that's what I found. Sigh. Life is good. Sure hope that it works for him. Right now, I can threaten to withhold it as a means of punishment, and that's cool. But he cannot play "Judo" with kids at school. Cannot even touch them in a "Judo" way. I guess he can show them tumbling, and that would be alright.


Had a really laid-back weekend. Look forward to jumping back into my life...might take me a day to ramp back up, though. You guys have a good weekend?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cancer, John Mayer and "Please Don't Call Me Racist" : Diffusing the R-Bomb

Look: Let's use a less inflamatory word for a moment. Call it tribalism. The natural tendency of an individual to want to sped time with, and favor, one's "own," however you define that, is almost universal. Race, gender, religion, political party, home team--we do this in a thousand ways. As individuals, whites aren't any more "tribal" than anyone else, on average. It is the fact that their culture has been so successful at controlling territory and memes that gives that natural tendency "unfair" advantage. Every group would like to think itself better, smarter, sexier, and closer to God than everyone else. While of course it would be nice if whites woke up to their privilege...but they aren't any more "awake" than any other group, and I've never been around a group of whites, blacks, gays, straights, men, women, liberals, or conservatives who didn't start organizing the world to make their position the "right" one, and try to manipulate or force the other groups into doing things "their way." Octavia Butler said that two things worried her about humanity: the tendency of people to create hierarchies of human value, and our tendency to place ourselves higher on that hierarchy than we place others. We can't expect groups to be more conscious that we are as individuals. Love and fear compete for the same space in our hearts.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Can We Learn From Our Past Relationships?

Relationships are not mistakes. They are data: reflections of our self-image and current energetic state.

1) Start with self-love. Fill your heart with love and it will spill over to affect others.

2) Take responsibility for your emotions and actions. Not guilt, blame, or shame--responsibility. Literally the "ability to respond." From THIS position, you are prepared to seek a non-dependent, healthy relationship with another adult human being.

3) Look at your relationship history as a series of mirrors. What do they tell you about yourself? What would you need to change to attract a healthier partner? What barriers do you need to establish, what illusions do you need to eliminate?

4) Remember that you don't NEED a partner, you wish one, desire one. You have a natural hunger for a human being with whom to share passion and dreams. You MUST have confidence that you yourself are attractive, so that you have something to offer, and can demand respect and honesty in return.

5) Self-love does not mean thinking you are better than others. It means acknowledging that you are made of the same divine stuff as the stars. So are we all. From that position, one develops true compassion for people wallowing in delusion, and the capacity to support another human being in being the very best they can be--because you are not afraid of being the best you can be.

Then, and only then, are you ready to find your Soulmate.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Childhood Obesity: A Matter of Life and Death

Whatever in utero effects may exist...whatever glandular or metabolic problems may be truly problematic...whatever emotional issues create control weight you MUST control both intake and output. Start with the physics--that if caloric output exceeds input, the mass must decrease. Everything else adds complication and difficulty (sometimes terrible difficulty) but if you do not control both, weight loss will probably not occur. It's easy to see why obesity is such a problem: we didn't evolve to live in a world of processed, easily available food for which we need barely move. That is a recipe for disaster, and we're seeing it. Parents who move and eat healthily have far less trouble with obesity in their children. Be the change you want to see in your children. It takes only about an hour a week to provide basic fitness. "Diets" don't work, but lifestyles can. One basic change in eating that can make a vast difference: every other day, eat only fresh fruits and vegetables. No counting calories, no sacrifice of favorite foods, no hunger...just an incredibly health benefit that has to be experienced to be understood.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Director Kevin Smith 'Too Fat' To Fly Southwest

I think it is ignorance to blame obesity on "laziness." I don't believe in lazy people. I believe in people who don't see a clear path to happiness and health, or don't believe they can or should pursue such a path. Any worm or ant moves toward pleasure and away from pain--so it isn't a matter of intelligence, either. The issue is that many of us store our painful emotions in our bodies. To lose the weight requires greater clarity, support, and sheer faith than many can muster. Also, there is such confusion about what is necessary: which diets, which exercises? So many frauds. And so many judgmental individuals masking their own inadequacy by pointing the finger at others. No one is perfect. The obese can be much like alcoholics...only you can't go "cold turkey" from cold turkey if you know what I mean. And you can't hide the effects with a minty mouthwash. So fleeing the pain can lead to more pain, in a descending spiral of depression, lost energy and loneliness. We can and must help people deal with these things...but the best thing we can do is be healthy ourselves...healthy enough to admit our own fear and loneliness, and extend compassion to others. We're all in this alone, together.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Friday, February 12, 2010

I do not now, nor have I ever...

I get this "A Word A Day" email, and the one this morning was "obnubilate," which means to darken over or cloud. Good Lord. There's one I've never heard before...


It cracks me up that I can say, honestly, that as a person of partially African heritage I have a vested interest in seeing Obama succeed. I can be that honest about myself. And when I say that, whites have no problem buying that blacks might cut him extra slack on those grounds. They have a far harder time agreeing that it would also stand to reason that whites might do exactly the opposite. To think otherwise is to take the position that one's own group is relatively free of tribalism, doesn't it? Which will, without many steps, lead to the rather awkward logical construction of "we're better because we don't think we're better." Human beings crack me up.


BTW--I am not, and have not ever, made the claim that there are not logical and proper reasons to oppose Obama's policies. It is equally amusing how often people leap to that conclusion, regardless of how many times I specifically state that position. I suspect it's kinda like talking about black sex in movies: no matter how clearly I state that the problem is black men not having even PG love scenes with ANYONE, someone always assumes I mean that they aren't having it with white women. Which suggests to me that that is the actual fear on the part of white males.


I want to enjoy "The Wolfman," I really do. But I've yet to see a CGI monster who frightened me. Even in Jurassic Park, where there WERE frightening sequences, looking back all of the most terrifying ones were actually Stan Winston's practical effects. I don't know for sure...but suspect that our hindbrains simply know when something isn't really there. That the actors know too...and that it is far easier to project fear when there is a physical object resembling the actual creature than when there is nothing...or a head on a stick...or a guy with ping-pong balls glued to his leotards for reference. We'll see, though.


Watched "Zombieland" again, and still believe that it works about as well as "Shawn of the Dead," but with an American style of humor. I certainly found the end as touching, and the star cameo (if you don't know, I'm not gonna spoil it) was one of the funniest sequences of the year.


It amuses me that people expect me to never take sides on something. There is no human being who doesn't take sides. Who doesn't make judgements. Who does not engage in dualistic thinking. The best we can do is understand that all such thinking locks us into the system, and grasp that we can never be totally free of grant that we may be wrong, and have a sense of humor about it. The trick (or at least one trick) is to remember that our thoughts are not reality. Over on Ain't It Cool News, the talk-backs are filled with kids who make this mistake. If they don't like a movie, it is BAD. If they do like it, it is GOOD. The idea that this is just their opinion, and not some cosmic truth, rarely occurs to them. And political partisans make this mistake quite often. There are certain things that seem painfully obvious to me...but I always remember that I might be wrong. People much smarter than I have been wrong about things they were even more certain about.


A classic example of this is philosophers trying to logically "prove" the existence of God. Excuse me, but I thought "faith" was all about grasping that there were things beyond logical thought. Watching some of the smartest human beings who ever lived tying themselves into horrid knots makes me think that they are trying to justify, with their adult minds, things they were given to believe in childhood and literally CANNOT reexamine without risking their lives, social positions, or unleashing a mountain of existential terror. The ego, after all, knows it is the camel that cannot pass through the eye of the needle. It is Moses, which cannot enter the Promised Land. What is true about us needs have no fear of eternity. What is transitory screams most loudly, anguished at the prospect of extinction. I sympathize, and am glad that there are comforting words and rituals.

And hey--it might be right. Right? The ego just might survive that final obnubilation after all.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Why Do Men Die Younger Than Women?

Let's be serious. From a genetic point of view, individual human lives aren't important--reproduction is, and raising those children until they themselves can reproduce. Sociobiologically, societies will form rules that reinforce whatever "works" in terms of promoting this. This includes both conscious and unconscious rules. Some of these deny women their rights as individuals. But they often...nearly always...include considering men's lives less important. Again, genetically, this is true--it takes only a few men to impregnate an entire village. But the utterly common practice of men taking the most dangerous jobs, risking their lives to seem "powerful" to gain mates, fighting wars whether those wars are ordered by Kings OR Queens...serves an evolutionary purpose, but is horrible in terms of the mental programming necessary to turn sweet little baby boys into killing machines. Yep, we have testosterone, but we didn't ask to be born with it. And the people who claim "men run the world" never ever factor in men's death rates, which exceed women's almost everywhere. We can watch thousands of men die in movies with barely a blink, but a single woman (of child-bearing age) placed in peril will give us fits. We can play the "men versus women" game, but it is missing the point--we are programmed, and must wake up to this fact and stop blaming each other if we want to change this game. And for the sake of children unborn, it must be changed.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Having a Strong Opinion

BC Monkey suggested that my partisanship toward Obama has changed my attitude that people are arguing in good faith. While that may be true, I disagree. I haven't accused anyone of being paid shills for the Corporations, or having sinister motivations. If I accept, say racism as a human trait (did I say racists were bad? No. I say that the condition exists, it has unfortunate consequences for the dominated group, and I feel it is my right to point out where I see it tilting the playing field.) But the assumptions behind racism--differential levels of ability in different groups, may be true.

When I suggest that "sexism" may be behind some attitudes toward educating women, first, no one on this blog had ever suggested we shouldn't--so who was I attacking? Second, assumptions that men and women have differential roles and capacities is agreed upon by almost everyone, male and female. The only real argument is about the degree, and which characteristics vary, and what it means.

When I say that belief against global warming seemed to be correlated with Christianity, I wasn't saying anything negative about Christianity, just that it seemed strange to me that these things tended to cluster together. I was inviting non-Christians and atheists to express themselves, and several came forward to say that they, as atheists, also disagree. Score!

I AM worried about the possibility that corporations have grown complex enough to be considered "intelligent." And that they have sufficient money to influence the thoughts, philosophies, and political movements of the human beings on this planet. Look at this as a science-fictional speculation with some disturbing implications. I am delighted that population increase in developed countries is diminishing, but because I see no advantages to population increase that are anything close to the potential disasters, I explore that position. But those who promote the idea of "endless" growth not arguing "in good faith"? That would mean that they want the human race to die out, and are concealing their motivations.

In no way have I accused anyone of lying or perfidy. I am suggesting that all of our motivations and observations are filtered by underlying beliefs, and that some of those beliefs might belong to a different era, and are no longer as effective. We'll still have 'em, though.

If I think that we're about to move into another cycle of more "Yin" activity and awareness, including increased status for women, collective action and decreased demonization of "the others" that would naturally be accompanied by a push-back from the more "Yang" energy that has driven the last cycle of civilization: belief that the Earth is ours to exploit, male hierarchical organizations dominant, and strong differentiation between "us" and "other." I don't think those things are "wrong," just that they are out of balance.

Just as, if the more female energies have their way for a while, THEY will get out of balance, and we'll have to swing back the other way. Just as there are genuine Communists/Socialists who hide behind a more reasonable mask of "let's share a little bit more," and would be willing to drop national barriers and "go back to nature", there are racists, sexists, and Corporate drones who believe private industry can solve everything (just as some think government can solve "everything") and hide behind genuine concerns that America becomes something unrecognizable, and inferior, if we move too far.

And politics makes strange bedfellows. To make a "tent" large enough to win elections, each side welcomes elements which, in naked isolation, would be pretty horrible. And pretends not to notice the pandering, lies, and distortions. To me, it is inarguable that either side can get out of balance. I am of the opinion (and aware that it is an opinion, based on my own perceptual filters and emotions) that the rest of the world is not "wrong" about an issue like Nationalized health care, and that the argument against it is driven by fear and corporate profit.

It is my OPINION, and never presented as "truth." I really like the simplicity of the stats that support my position. I have never suggested that the intelligent folks who present opposing opinions are shills. They speak in "good faith." And I think that they are wrong about this one. If If I look at the first months of Obama's presidency, and how difficult it seemed to be for the Right to criticize him without reference to race or ethnicity, I think it reasonable to suggest that there is racism in there. Remember people claiming that they couldn't criticize him? From my position, that was because the automatic, unconscious stuff that floated up was pretty vile.

That's not true any more. Things have settled down, and both Right and Left have figured out how to mock and criticize the Prez without dipping into that material. But it was the first thing that came up, for far too many people. And yes, I'm going to be sensitive to that, and I won't pretend not to be.

But until anyone can show me where I say people are lying, or that those who hold a particular political position are intrinsically "wrong" across the board, or stop phrasing things as "it seems" and "am I missing something"--It is perfectly reasonable for me to take the position that some things just seem true to me, and open the door for discussion.