Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Betrayed on FAA Medical Reform

It appears I won't be able to get back in the air, now. Senator Inhoff introduced an amendment to the FAA medical changes that requires passing the medical at least once. This change apparently satisfies some of the most vocal, and powerful, opponents who have blocked the change even though all the accident evidence clearly shows that the medical exam has no bearing on the safety of private pilots. (That is, very few accidents are caused by an in-air medical problem and those that are were not, or would not have been, caught by a medical exam. The exam is meaningless with regards to aviation safety, contrary to "common sense".)

Since, due to the FAA's archaic rules, I can't pass the exam, I'm stuck in Sport Pilot. Not being able to afford one of the expensive Light Sport planes, whose prices have gone through the roof due to the number of pilots with the same problem, I'm stuck on the ground. I spent over $10K to learn how to fly, now wasted.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Emotional Avoidance

Mindfulness and Avoidance
An issue closely related to control is that of avoidance. There is now strong evidence that a lot of unhappiness and mental health difficulties are linked to what is called emotional avoidance: avoiding or suppressing feelings, fantasies, or memories because when they come into our field of awareness, they trigger bodily feelings that can be overwhelming. Indeed, for all kinds of reasons, our present-moment experience can be so painful and conflicted that we don't want to be there. We feel that if we stay there too long, collapse, implosion, or emotional eruption might occur. This might not be the case in the beginning. When we start meditation practice and have our first experience of stepping back from the repetitive story lines that continually run through our minds to just watch them float by, there can be a feeling of joy and release as we see firsthand how we do not always have to be carried away by our thoughts.
But this can be a honeymoon period. In Choden's experience of mindfulness training, it is when we start running into the deeper levels of emotional resistance that mindfulness practice risks sliding into a process of thought management in which we subtly promote certain ways of thinking and feeling and reject others. It is like having a nice, tidy desk with everything in its rightful place, and constantly rearranging it so you have a sense of maintaining control. Very quickly meditation can be hijacked by this process— certain things are allowed in but others are not. You can tell this when people say, "I've been practicing mindfulness for eight weeks now, but I still can't stop feeling anxious or getting irritable," indicating that right from the outset, mindfulness was understood as a way of getting rid of painful emotions rather than being more fully present with them and learning how to hold them with compassion and thus to tolerate and accept them. Behavior therapy works in exactly the same way. For example, you would take an agoraphobic out into the streets so that they can experience anxiety more fully, learn to tolerate and work with it, and so be less frightened of it. In the case of the agoraphobic, avoidance is obvious, but for the mindfulness practitioner, it can be far more subtle.
According to Rob Nairn, one of Choden's mindfulness teachers, this process of avoidance and suppression happens subliminally, and before we are even consciously aware of it, we may find that we have already bought into attitudes of identification and avoidance— almost as if some shadowy doorkeeper to our subliminal world says that "this" is permitted entry but "that" is not. And then an even more subtle voice of authority follows quickly behind and says, "This is the way it must be."
Gilbert, Paul; Choden (2014). Mindful Compassion: How the Science of Compassion Can Help You Understand Your Emotions, Live in the Present, and Connect Deeply with Others (p. 147-148). New Harbinger Publications.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Love: neuroscience perspective: only lasts seconds, but "forever renewable"

"From the point of view of contemporary psychology, an emotion is an often intense mental state that lasts only a few instants but that is apt to reoccur many times…"

As for Barbara Fredrickson, she defines love as a positive resonance that manifests when three events occur simultaneously: the sharing of one or several positive emotions, a synchrony between the behavior and physiological reactions of two people, and the intention to contribute to the other's well-being, an intention that engenders mutual care. 4 This resonance of positive emotions can last for a certain amount of time, or be amplified like the reverberation of an echo, until, inevitably, as is the fate of all emotions, it vanishes.

According to this definition, love is both vaster and more open, and its duration shorter than we generally think: "Love is not lasting. It's actually far more fleeting than most of us would care to acknowledge. On the upside, though, love is forever renewable." The research of Fredrickson and her colleagues has in fact shown that although love is very sensitive to circumstances and requires certain preliminary conditions, once these conditions have been identified, one can reproduce this feeling of love an incalculable number of times each day."

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Why is the Web hard?

What makes the Web difficult? The fact that it's separate from the documents that people create in daily life, i.e. HTML and links...only databases have a linking concept. Word processing, spreadsheets, photos, videos...all standalone files. Modern browsers will do something useful with most any document type, though. Gone are the days when everything had to be HTML. What's more, HTML can be easily written in word processors. Notably, Open/Libre Office does a good job. The real issue is expectations...people expect the kind of visual experience that only magazines, historically, have provided. That's a high bar to shoot for in casual documents. That kind of creativity can't be programmed. Graphically sophisticated templates have formed a middle ground. The creative part gets done once, then text is inserted in predetermined spots, with font properties defined in CSS for consistency. Even so, high quality articles with context specific graphics stand out, which is what severely limits the number of people who can do it well.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

How many lives?

How many more lives will we spend in Afganistan? A war that was started to catch one man. A man who was caught and killed by a handful of people under the auspices of the CIA. Thus, a war that was unnecessary and has cost nearly as many lives as were lost in the World Trade Center. What was and is the point? History shows that no outside power has ever conquered the country or changed its feudalistic culture.

Who gains? Oil interests? Democracy evangelists? Arms manufacturers and dealers? Are there geopolitical forces at work that we don't hear or know about?