Tuesday, February 23, 2010

quote of the day

It is very wrong for people to feel deeply sad when they lose some money, yet when they waste the precious moments of their lives, they do not have the slightest feeling of repentance.

--The Dalai Lama

Monday, February 22, 2010

speaking of asking questioins

The new credit card law went into effect today. The law's intention was to protect credit card holders from excessive interest rates, fees, and other tricks credit card issuers use to drive up their profits. Here's my question. If the law which was passed last May was meant to help the American consumer why did it not go into effect until today? In the last nine months the banks have wasted no time raising interest rates, creating fees and rules that will cost the consumer a bundle. Hey, congressmen! Yeah, that's right, I'm talking to you. Who are you working for, the people who voted for you, or the banks?

what i'm reading now

Since the 2008 election I've been thinking about the way the political parties and pundits attempt to manipulate our thinking with their slogans and sound bites. It's difficult to separate the truth from the manure. I picked up this copy of M. Neil Browne and Stuart Keeley's book, Asking the Right Questions - a guide to critical thinking and it is helping me sort through not only the claims made by politicians, but all the nonsense that assaults my reasoning via TV, the Internet, and other media. We are living in an age where the collective mindset of huge sections of the population can be captured by a few words on a bumper sticker. It's urgent that we wake up and start asking the right questions.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

quote of the day

"Serendipity is looking in a haystack for a needle and discovering a farmer's daughter."

Julius Comroe

absurdities of american life

There was a time when drug companies would try to hawk their wares directly to physicians. Now, they appeal to patients with TV commercials. The idea, I suppose, is that a person watching the commercial and then recognizing the symptoms would persuade his doctor to prescribe it for them. I've been paying particular attention the the "fine print" that is shown at the bottom of the TV screen while the commercial is playing. They go something like this: "results shown are not typical," or "do not expect to achieve these results," and "40 percent of those taking this medicine showed improvement." So while the commercial is describing the wonderful things I can expect from the product the disclaimer tells me not to expect those results. And then while the actors are declaring the benefits of the product there's a quiet voice over warning of symptoms such as depression, suicidal thoughts, anti-social behavior, weight gain, incontinence, an uncontrollable desire to pick up trash and listen to this: excessive flatulence with an oily discharge.

Then there are the law firm commercials that ask: Have you taken _______________and as a result experienced depression, suicidal thoughts, anti-social behavior, weight gain, incontinence, an uncontrollable desire to pick up trash, and excessive flatulence with an oily discharge? If so you may qualify to join a class action law suit and be compensated for your suffering.

Isn't this absurd?

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

quote of the day

We believe in a personal, unique, and separate identity -- but if we dare to examine it, we find that this identity depends entirely on an endless collection of things to prop it up: our name, our "biography," our partners, family, home , job, friends, credit cards...It is on their fragile and transient support that we rely for our security. So when they are all taken away, will we have any idea of who we really are?

Without our familiar props, we are faced with just ourselves, a person we do not know, an unnerving stranger with whom we have been living all the time but we never really wanted to meet. Isn't that why we have tried to fill every moment of time with noise and activity, however boring or trivial, to ensure that we are never left in silence with this stranger on our own?

--Sogyal Rinpoche