An Independent Diplomat

September 17, 2010 § 1 Comment

As anyone who reads this blog regularly knows I don’t generally post about politics.  When I really think about it this post isn’t about politics either. It is about “The Big Picture” and all of us being connected.

Carne Ross is the founder of Independent Diplomat, a nonprofit that offers freelance diplomatic representation to small, developing and yet-unrecognized nations in the complex world of international negotiations. His TED Talk from October 2009 reminds all of us not only how interconnected we are, but falling off a cliff can be a good thing.

We are living in a more complicated and fragmented world. If governments are less able to affect the problems that affect us in the world, then that means, who is left to deal with them, who has to take greater responsibility to deal with them? Us. If they can’t do it, who’s left to deal with it? We have no choice but to embrace that reality. What this means is it’s no longer good enough to say that international relations, or global affairs, or chaos in Somalia, or what’s going on in Burma is none of your business, and that you can leave it to governments to get on with. I can connect any one of you by six degrees of separation to the Al-Shabaab militia in Somalia. Ask me how later, but if you eat fish, interestingly enough, but that connection is there. We are all intimately connected.

Check these out also:

Independent Diplomat: The Diplomatic Advisory Group

Carne Ross Blog at Huffington Post

?Whatif! The Innovation Company

Carne Ross The Independent Diplomat by Christine Flanagan

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Internet overload

August 13, 2010 § 1 Comment

I have been spending far too much time on the internet the past few months. Between twitter, RSS and my blog, I spend almost no time with my husband anymore. I miss him. He is my favorite person in the world and frankly, my reason for living.

Worst of all I realized this morning that I have spiraled into a deep depression.  Depression is nothing new for me. I am Bi-polar. However, for the last few years, I have been in a “place in my life” where my depressions were simply a chemical imbalance in my brain. I felt the all the symptoms of depression, but because I was otherwise happy with my life, they were just like any other symptoms I have to deal with on a day-to-day basis.

This morning however I realized I wasn’t happy anymore.  Nothing fundamental has changed in my life. All that has changed is my “online” life. Like most people I follow people with similar interests to my own. I wanted to learn, share ideas, understand what was going on in my head.

I followed scientists, and skeptics which let to atheists. Eventually my circle grew to include “spoonies”. In the beginning I was very careful to only follow people who were positive, or at the very least not outright negative. That did not last long.

I am now spending hours(yes hours, partially blind) every day reading through hundreds posts and articles of people bitching and moaning about how terrible the world is, just to find a few good tidbits of information. And looking back at my own posts, I have started doing it too. I don’t want to be that person. Please don’t take that the wrong way. I am not saying people’s problems are not important. They are very real issues and they should be discussed. The internet is the right forum to discus them.  The problem is mine. I should not be reading them.  Fuck, I was yelling at the news on TV last night. I need to make some serious changes to my internet habits starting today.

I suppose this post is for the few people who actually follow me on a regular basis. I am not leaving the internet. I am not giving up my blog or twitter. I will simply be scaling things back.

May peace and joy be with you.

PJ

Are you a Skeptic or a Cynic?

August 1, 2010 § 4 Comments

The next time you are about to call something a load of crap, ask yourself this question. Are you being a skeptic or just a cynic? There is a difference. Yes, there is an overlap many times with a lot of people. Just because something doesn’t fit your preconceived notion of how the world works, doesn’t make it wrong. And, just because a person believes something different from you, does not mean that there is nothing you have in common.  Let’s look at some definitions:

skepticism

Function: noun
Date: 1646
1 : an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object
2 a : the doctrine that true knowledge or knowledge in a particular area is uncertain b : the method of suspended judgment, systematic doubt, or criticism characteristic of skeptics
3 : doubt concerning basic religious principles (as immortality, providence, and revelation)
synonyms see uncertainty

“skepticism.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2010.

cynical
Function: adjective
Date: 1542

1 : captious, peevish
2 : having or showing the attitude or temper of a cynic: as a : contemptuously distrustful of human nature and motives b : based on or reflecting a belief that human conduct is motivated primarily by self-interest

cynically

adverb
synonyms cynical, misanthropic, pessimistic mean deeply distrustful. cynical implies having a sneering disbelief in sincerity or integrity . misanthropic suggests a rooted distrust and dislike of human beings and their society misanthropic artist>. pessimistic implies having a gloomy, distrustful view of life .

“cynical.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2010.

I was a cynic most of my life. It was just the way I was raised. My Parents, my older brother, the media even many of my teachers warned me that everyone was out to take advantage of me.  At a young age it was drilled into me. My name PJ got transformed into Pigeon whenever my brother thought I was being gullible. When I had a few bad experiences with friends betraying my trust, that sealed the deal. I assumed that my family was right and everyone was out for themselves and I became a cynic.

It is a horrible lonely way to live your life. It is completely fear based and has absolutely no merit. My transformation from a cynic to a skeptic has opened my eyes to a whole world of possibilities. A world with less anger fear and greed.

“The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one. Only the moment you reject all help are you freed.” Siddhartha

“In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves.”-Siddhartha

“Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealously. The shadow of greed, that is.”-Yoda (sense of humor check)

After spending a few hours on the internet or watching the news, I know it is hard not to become a little jaded I am just saying don’t let it change who you are. Remember, the people screaming the loudest are the crazy ones.

Is it time for the Phone Call to die?

July 31, 2010 § Leave a comment

Having spent most my working life at the mercy of the telephone, I now have learned to ignore its melodic cries for attention. The only people who call on the telephone anymore are telemarketers, charities and pollsters. Family and friends will call out of the blue once in a while. But, most of the time we know what calls to expect when. The rest go to voice mail.

“This generation doesn’t make phone calls, because everyone is in constant, lightweight contact in so many other ways: texting, chatting, and social-network messaging. And we don’t just have more options than we used to. We have better ones: These new forms of communication have exposed the fact that the voice call is badly designed. It deserves to die.” Read full story

Death of the Phone

via Clive Thompson on the Death of the Phone Call | Magazine.

Science-based Hippies? « She Thought

July 25, 2010 § 1 Comment

What? Oh, OK now I get it. I must admit I only clicked on this story by Deb Hodgkin because of the interesting title. I have in the past been accused of being a “Hippy” by people who did not know me. Of course once they got to know me they changed their opinion. I am not sure whether they changed their opinion about me or about hippies though. When I saw it was a post about breast-feeding, my first instinct was to move along. After all, my husband and  I have no children and never will. Why do I care how long women breast feed. Then I realized that wasn’t really what the story was about. It is more about how we ‘skeptics’ deal with people we think are wrong, in online discussions. I think it builds nicely on Phil Plait‘s ‘Don’t be a Dick’ campaign. Has that become a campaign yet? I should work on a campaign poster. Damn AADD, Where was I? Oh yes. Please Read Deb’s Article.

“I’ve noticed an interesting pattern in discussions – it is almost always skeptics asking crunchies to prove their point of view. And why not, you may think, skepticism is about using evidence. But where is the evidence that shows kidneys are better than dialysis? What paper shows walking is better than wheelchairs? In other words, surely the natural option should be the starting point, and formula, cots, prams etc represent the intervention that has to prove itself. I’m not into living naturally – I’m very fond of my mattress and will happily believe anecdotes that electricity is a good thing – so I’m not assuming natural is best. But for true skepticism we need to look at the biases of the evidence, and they can be hard to detect if they match your own baggage. Don’t we need to step back and examine our own position, and question whether it is evidence or culture guiding us?  For me, skepticism is about questioning, and the basis of that must be questioning my own position and beliefs. My skepticism must come from a place of humility.” Read full article on She Thought.

via Science-based Hippies? « She Thought.

A public immunity to freeloaders « The Tribal Scientist

July 25, 2010 § 1 Comment

So many articles have been written about the Anti-Vaxers lately that they start to blend together. This one by Mike McRae really stands out. He approaches the subject in a reasoned and rational way. Not that I don’t appreciate the sarcasm and humor of other recent posts that have taken on Jenny Mccarthy and the AVN. Please take the time to read this one as well.

“I’m happy to shoulder that burden on behalf of any individual whose constitution puts them at a significantly greater risk of illness should they be vaccinated, just as I’m happy for the taxes I pay to help benefit those who are impeded from working. Yet for those who simply don’t like the idea that the demonstrably miniscule odds are too much for their child to risk, I feel no such obligation.” Read the full story

via A public immunity to freeloaders « The Tribal Scientist.

A Ridiculous Essay on Rational Outreach (via The Tribal Scientist)

July 19, 2010 § 5 Comments

Fantastic insights. Humor has always reached me better than any other form of communication. Someone is always going to be offended. It is the up to the person that was offended to look at themselves and ask why? Obviously there is some truth in what was said that frightens you and you are not willing to laugh at yourself.

“I don’t think we should go out of our way to insult Islam because it doesn’t do any good to get your head cut off. But we should always say that I may refrain from publishing a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed, but it’s because I fear you. Don’t for one moment think it’s because I respect you.” -Richard Dawkins, 2010 Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne. Fear can be quite an effective motivator when it comes to silencing your critics. Make peop … Read More

via The Tribal Scientist

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