Happier = Smarter July 20, 2007Posted by Philip Ryan in Random Notes.
A pretty interesting article on JewBus in the Jewish Journal. Two illustrative quotes:
“Liberal Judaism is the child of German rationalism,” wrote Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, author and scholar in-residence at the Congregation Emanu-El of San Francisco. “Our liberal predecessors dismissed East European Jewish mysticism as unenlightened, irrational, and superstitious.”
“Buddhism is part of a greater trend,” [Rabbi Miles] Krassen explained. “The bigger picture: evolving American spirituality that’s going to be a smorgasbord of all these religious dishes.” Krassen’s goal: “to ensure that the delicacies of Judaism will be served at the table.”
Krassen is a former professor at Naropa. I was in Boulder last week for the first time ever and stupidly didn’t stop by. I was always interested in the Jack Kerouac School of Disemodied Poetics. That would look cool on a resume.
Some info on the sort-of-really-scary bee colony collapse (according to celsias.com even Hillary Clinton found the time to be interested in this.) All over the world honeybees are dying and no one knows why. Some theories blame pesticides, climate change, even cell phone towers. Well, now a scientist in Spain says an Asian parasite is to blame and he’s got the data to prove it. The remedy is supposed to be cheap and easy, but first people have to be won over that it’s the right thing to do. My advice for getting the word out? YouTube.
Recently I was a bemused observer to an argument between a vehement vegan (“maple syrup is ok, honey is not” — See one vegan honey alternative here) and an obstreperous omnivore — O.O. was citing the New York Times chart you can see on the bee colony collapse link above. O. O.: “Since 100% of almonds are fertilized by bees, doesn’t that mean they’re not ok for vegans to eat?” I had to stick up for the vegan because even though I generally sympathize with the rippers-down of the world, it sometimes feels good to take up a cause, put on your synthetic coonskin cap, and man the barricades against the rippers-down, even if it’s only for the hell of it, for five minutes.
News to Me: Some guys back in 1981 decided to test people’s memory and creativity / problem-solving while the test subjects were deemed to be happy and sad — the so-called Affective State Dependence Effect. Scientists (or whoever they were) induced a happy or sad state by praising the to-be happy subjects and criticizing the to-be sad ones, then tested the groups on word lists, reading comprehension, creative problem-solving, etc. From what I can make out, the happy people did better and the sad ones, worse. The results
“indicate that creativity, an important skill that is often thought of as a stable characteristic of persons, can be facilitated by a transient pleasant affective state. Moreover, the affective state sufficient to do this can be induced subtly, by small everyday events.” (Isen, Daubman & Nowicki)
Geez, is that depressing or what?
Check out the sweet computer that the Irreverent Buddhist made / modified. You’ve heard of desktop computers, of course. Well, this is a deskdrawer computer. Of course, the age of computers being ten- or fifteen-pound boxes full of wires is probably coming to an end very soon. Why have 200 GB sitting on your desk when you can store data remotely with Google? It’s so much easier for the government to read that way, and that will save time and money for your trial when they finally come for you. Still, I love this thing. Maybe someone could make money fitting computers into household items. The cabinet guy comes over, builds a custom cabinet, then right afterward the computer guy comes over and fits a computer into it. How smart would I have sounded if I said that in 1981?
– Philip Ryan, Webmaster