Thursday, February 28

Hello in Chinese

The literal translation of nǐ hǎo (nee how) - 你好 is "you good". Nǐ - 你 means "you" and hǎo - 好 means "good".

Nǐ - 你 is the informal form of "you" and is used for greeting friends and associates. The formal form of "hello" is ►nín hǎo (neen how) - 您好. Notice that the formal "you" is nín - 您.

Use nín hǎo - 您好 when speaking to:
People in authority

Use nǐ hǎo - 你好 when speaking to:

China & Taiwan
The use of nín hǎo - 您好 is more common in Mainland China than in Taiwan. The informal nǐ hǎo - 你好 is the most common greeting in Taiwan, no matter what the rank of the person you are addressing.

Quotes from Andrew Newberg

Our brains are instinctually prone to reject information that does not conform to our prior experience and knowledge. Simply put, old beliefs, like habits, die hard.

I would argue that much of human communication is primarily concerned with getting other people to think, believe, and behave as we do and vice versa.

Anger interrupts the functioning of your frontal lobes. Not only do you lose the ability to be rational, you lose the awareness that you''re acting in an irrational way. When your frontal lobes shut down, it''s impossible to listen to the other person, let alone feel empathy or compassion. Instead, you are likely to feel self-justified and self-righteous, and when that happens the communication process falls apart. Anger also releases a cascade of neurochemicals that actually destroy those parts of the brain that control emotional reactivity.

When you intensely and consistently focus on your spiritual values and goals, you increase the blood flow to your frontal lobes and anterior cingulate, which causes the activity in emotional centers of the brain to decrease. Conscious intention is the key, and the more you focus on your inner values, the more you can take charge of your life.

When you intensely meditate on a specific goal over an extended period of time, your brain begins to relate to your idea as if it were an actual object in the world by increasing activity in the thalamus, part of the reality-making process of the brain. The concept begins to feel more obtainable and real, and this is the first step in motivating other parts of the brain to take deliberate action in the world.

The brain is a collection of physical structures that gather and process sensory, cognitive, and emotional data; the mind is the phenomenon of thoughts, memories, and emotions that arise from the perceptual processes of the brain.

Saturday, February 23

Today's Thoroughbred Picks

Santa Anita RACE 6 - SUN'S OUT #2 (2-1)

Santa Anita RACE 7 - GRUMPY SMALL MOUTH #1 (5/2)

Turf Paradise RACE 9 - INFLATABLE DREAMS #10 (7/2)

Golden Gate RACE 7 - CEE'S THE BET #6 (5-1)

Friday, February 22

Bowing in Zen Practice

"Here we come to the most ancient part of our practice, what I believe to be the heart of the discipline. When we bow we allow ourselves to stand in the second place, if only for a moment. Now women sometimes see this as one more continuation of an oppressive system, as also sometimes do people of color. Certainly, that is worth sitting with, and reflecting on. No one needs more oppression in this life.

But also, at some point, to find who we truly are; I suggest that all of us must learn to bow. Bowing is not about oppression. It is about liberation. Without at some moment in our lives taking that second place, without throwing everything we know away, without coming to that don’t know, to that beginner’s mind, we won’t find what is offered in the Zen way.

Gassho is the most distilled form of the bow. Our hands placed palm to palm, the tips of our fingers at eye level, our elbows slightly elevated; here we are offering a bow: Thank you. Hello. Goodbye. Dogen Zenji once said that as long as there is bowing there will be true dharma. Here we find the essential and the relative brought together. Here we find the way revealed."


Thursday, February 21

How Language Shapes Thought

"Lastly, how do we think about causality and responsibility? All events that happen around us are quite complicated and require us to construe them. Often when you see something, like an apple falls off a table, it seems, "well, that's a really simple physical event. I should just have a simple way of thinking about it." But actually, we bring a huge amount of knowledge to be able to understand the event, and languages give us lots of tools for interpreting what went on.

When Dick Cheney went hunting with Harry Whittington and had an accident, and accidentally shot Whittington in the face, that was an event that took a split second. It was a really simple physical event, but there are many, many different ways that we could describe it. When the European Herald had to write about it, they wrote "Cheney Bangs Lawyer." Whittington was a lawyer, and so that gives the sense of "Oh, Cheney went out hunting for lawyers, and he got one." Of course, more prosaically we could just say, "Cheney shot Whittington." Or, take Cheney out of it a little bit, so we could say, "Whittington got shot by Cheney." We could take Cheney out of it altogether, and just say "Whittington got shot." We could say something similar to what Texas newspapers said at the time, which was, "Whittington got peppered pretty good."

Listen to what Cheney actually said. He was giving an interview in which he took full responsibility for the event, and he said, "Ultimately I'm the guy who pulled the trigger that fired the round that hit Harry." Think about how many events there are in that statement. "I'm the guy that pulled the trigger that fired the round that hit Harry." This is a split second event but he's just broken it up into all these different steps. That makes him so far removed from the eventual outcome. Bush actually did one better. Bush said, "He heard a bird flush, and he turned and pulled the trigger, and saw his friend get wounded." Now "saw his friend," that's one sentence in which Cheney transforms from agent to mere witness by the end of the sentence. It is a masterful exculpation.

These examples give you a sense of how many different ways we can frame and construe events in language. What's important is that different languages encourage different ways of framing and construing these events. In English, in fact, the kind of language that Cheney used and Bush used, we find it suspicious, this kind of linguistic wiggling. It sounds like you're trying to get out of something. It sounds evasive. It's the kind of thing that kids say and politicians say when they're trying to get out of something. In English we prefer direct causative statements. Like "He broke the vase."

But in other languages, when something is an accident, when something wasn't intentional, you wouldn't use a phrase like "He broke the vase" or "He lost the book." You would say something more like, "the vase broke" or "the book lost itself to him." Something more indirect. Something where the person involved isn't an agent. English is quite strange in that it doesn't distinguish very strongly between intentional events and accidental events. We're supposed to talk about both of them in the same way, to take responsibility for even accidental events. In some languages you can't say things like "I broke my arm" unless you're crazy and you went out trying to actually break your arm, and so you broke it."


Brain Differences in Political Beliefs

"A recent study of young adults suggests that liberals and conservatives have significantly different brain structure, with liberals showing increased gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex, and conservatives showing increased gray matter volume in the in the amygdala."

Research Results Here

Vedanta philosophy

Vedanta is derived from two words Veda - Knowledge, and Anta - End. Vedanta means the end of knowledge. This ancient philosophy presents the eternal principles of life and living.

Life is a mystery characterized by constant change. There are painful realities such as pain, suffering, illness, old age, and death. Happiness depends upon peace of mind, self control, and awareness of the self.

Vedanta teaches there is an ultimate reality. Self knowledge is the goal of all goals. There are four human values: righteous conduct, acquisition of wealth, fulfillment of desires, and freedom of the soul. Freedom of the soul is attained through self knowledge and this gives meaning and purpose to the other three values.

Vedanta is the teaching of major Hindu scriptures and obtains its authority from four Vedas: Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda, and Atharvaveda.

Ultimate reality is pure consciousness. It is not real but apparent. It appears as a world of matter and souls and is endowed with the activity of creation, preservation, and dissolution. Why do we see multiplicity if all is pervasive consciousness? It is due to ignorance (Avidya), absence of light to the self. In terms of religion Avidya is sin; in terms of ethics, it is immorality; in terms of aesthetics, it is ugliness; in terms of logic, it is fallacy.

The world in an ocean: the near shore which we know, and the far shore remains a mystery. Life is a journey, an attempt to cross the ocean and reach the other shore, which is immortality. No one can take us across the ocean. We must build our own rafts.

Wednesday, February 20

Federal Prison Population

In the US, minorities make up over 70 percent of the federal prison population.

Demographically, African-Americans - who represent 12 percent of the US population - make up 37 percent of federal prisoners.

And Latinos - who are 16 percent of the population - make up 35 percent of prisoners.

Tuesday, February 19

Predicting the Oscars

The Academy Awards Show is scheduled for this Sunday. To avoid being biased, I deliberately did not see any of the nominated films or actors. So these are unbiased predictions. My picks and $1.75 will get you an endless cup of coffee at Paul's Restaurant in Elgin, Illinois.

Best Picture
"Lincoln" Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers
A friend of mine who sees a lot of movies said this was the most boring picture that she had ever seen.

"Lincoln" Steven Spielberg
The best picture winner must have a director.

Actor in a Leading Role
Daniel Day-Lewis in "Lincoln"
I remember this guy from "Last of the Mohicans".

Actress in a Leading Role
Jennifer Lawrence in "Silver Linings Playbook"
Rolling Stone magazine called her "the most promising young actress in America."

Actor in a Supporting Role
Tommy Lee Jones in "Lincoln"
I like his name.

Actress in a Supporting Role
Anne Hathaway in "Les Miserables"
Big costume drama.

Sunday, February 17

Coming Soon to a Billboard Near You

Shades of Burma Shave!

"'America has turned from God and has forgotten right from wrong, says WND founder Joseph Farah, who is announcing the launch a dramatic new national billboard campaign featuring the Ten Commandments to help awaken believers and non-believers alike to 'the wickedness and evil that abound in our country.'

The campaign kicks off this week with 11 major billboards – all in the heart of what some call ‘sin city', Las Vegas.”

Read More Here

Friday, February 15

Senate Perks

"Since 1997, U.S. senators and their staff members have been lining up at The Senate Hair Care barbershop in the basement of the Russell Office Building where they receive $20 haircuts and various other salon services, all on the taxpayer’s dime.

The shop has consistently run annual deficits of $340,000 or more, and in 2012 the deficit rose to more than $400,000. All told, taxpayers have spent almost $5.2 million dollars paying for haircuts, shaves, hairstyles, and haircare products so our senators and their staff members can look their very best while they tighten the noose on their constituents."

Info Wars

What Happened to the 12 Apostles?

Seeing the death of Jesus and then seeing him alive again...

"Tradition holds that 11 of the Twelve Apostles were martyred. Peter, Andrew, and Philip were crucified; James the Greater and Thaddaeus fell to the sword; James the Lesser was beaten to death while praying for his attackers; Bartholomew was flayed alive and then crucified; Thomas and Matthew were speared; Matthias was stoned to death; and Simon was either crucified or sawed in half. John—the last survivor of the Twelve—likely died peaceably, possibly in Ephesus, around the year 100."

National Geographic March 2012 Issue

Thursday, February 14

Who Cares?

Brad Pitt and Angela Jolie, who have owned an 1,000-acre estate with vineyards in southwestern France since 2008, will be releasing wine in the United States beginning March 15 bearing the estate's name, Miraval.

St. Valentine's Day Massacre

In 1929, the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre took place in a Chicago garage as seven rivals of Al Capone’s gang were gunned down.

Obama on Vacation Again

While unemployment stands at nearly eight percent, Obama is taking his second vacation of 2013. The year is only six weeks old.

Obama initially traveled to Hawaii in late December. He returned after a several days to work on a fiscal cliff deal, and then went back for several more days in early January after signing a bill. So this will also be the third time in less than two months that taxpayers have footed the bill for a round-trip Obama vacation.

Wednesday, February 13

No Mention of Benghazi

In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama failed to mention the late Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the three other Americans who died on Sep. 11, 2012 in the terror attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. I wonder why.

Monday, February 11

Electing a Pope

After Benedict's resignation on Feb. 28, a conclave, the meeting of the cardinals to choose the next pope, could occur as early as mid-March, according to the Guardian. Customarily, a pope's reign ends with his death, and a mourning period ensues.

Aside from the mourning period, all the same rules for succession selection are in place.

The conclave must begin between 15 and 20 days after Benedict's resignation, according to the Associated Press. Eligible cardinals under the age of 80 will place their votes in secret at the Sistine Chapel. Two votes are held each morning and two each afternoon until a new pope is chosen. The ballots are burned after each round. Black smoke means no new pope has been selected, and white smoke means someone has been selected.

Preventing Heart Attacks

Heart disease, the "silent killer", is the leading cause of death, and kills more than all cancers comined. Risk factors include high cholesterol and high blood pressure. There are two primary causes of heart attacks: sugar and fat. Too much fat in the bloodstream leads to plaque buildup in the arteries. This process involves inflamation and blistering in the arterial wall and the development of a scab which eventually bursts and causes a blockage. The location of the burst will determine whether it is a heart attack or stroke. The key is to reduce inflammation and the taking of a daily aspirin is helpful. These are other helpful things to do to prevent heart attacks: quit smoking, regular exercise, release for stress (physical, spiritual, social activities), and cut out all sugars from your diet.

Saturday, February 9

Moving Patterns in the U.S.

Here's the top five states that people are leaving:

No. 1: New Jersey
No. 2: Illinois
No. 3: West Virginia
No. 4: New York
No. 5: New Mexico

The States People are Fleeing in 2013

Friday, February 8

Murder Suspect Chris Dorner's Online Manifesto About Slayings

Click here

On Benghazi

"I can can tell you that immediately upon finding out that our folks were in danger that my orders to my national security team were do whatever we need to do to make sure they’re safe. And that’s the same order that I would give anytime that I see Americans are in danger, whether they’re civilian or military, because that’s our number one priority."- President Barack Obama at his press conference Nov. 14, 2012

"Throughout history it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph. - Haile Selassie

Thursday, February 7

Ghost Farm House Photos

The above photos were taken in rapid succession. Note there are no orbs present in the last photo.

Year of the Snake

Chinese New Year is the biggest celebration in the Chinese calendar. It is a time for family gatherings, good wishes and giving gifts, a bit like the Christmas festivities in the West. The Chinese lunar year begins with the second new moon after the winter solstice, which can fall anytime from late January until mid-February. This coming Chinese new year in 2013 Snake year, the second new moon falls on February 10th 2013.

Monday, February 4

Americans with College Degrees

Currently about 39 percent of American adults have a college degree.

Washington Post article here