Sunday, January 24, 2010

Fear and Meditation


Our worst fears begin and end in our mind. Every fear I’ve felt began in my imagination. With the safety and security our lifestyle allows, we have only once come close to a life threatening emergency.

Reality has never come close to the frequency, duration, intensity and physical reaction of the fear I’ve created in my own mind. My imagination is my greatest strength and my greatest weakness. Everything I’ve accomplished in life has happened twice: first in my mind and then in real life.

Date: January 24, 2010 originally published Jan. 20, 1963


I can’t stop my mind from imagining things and don’t want to when I can benefit from that ability. I’ve developed a way to train my mind to interrupt my mind when it wanders off into imagined fears. I practice meditation almost every day and when I don’t, I feel the consequences. In the worst cases, I use the mantra “I can leave my body out of it” to stop the physical reactions triggered by my mind.

My meditation practice involves controlled breathing while sitting. You can sit in a chair or on the floor as long as your back is not supported by anything. First, I push my stomach out to inhale by expanding my diaphragm instead of feeling constricted when I try to expand my chest to inhale. Second, I use the basic mantra “o-m” by exhaling through my mouth with a short “o” sound, then closing my mouth and continuing to slowly exhale through my nose with a humming sound. The longer I practice the humming sound the longer I can exhale. By slowing down my breathing, making long exhales and full inhales with stomach/diaphragm I can begin to relax.

The practice also involves my mind. I close my eyes and do what I call “looking at the backs of my eyelids.” The result is to have my mind see darkness, which means I’m not imagining anything visual. My mind sees nothing. As I continue my controlled breathing and focus my eyes on the backs of my eyelids, I notice my mind begins to bring up thoughts. Sometimes they are things I want to remember or need to take action on something, so I stop and write them down. So part of my preparation is to have a pencil and paper handy.

Sometimes a thought isn’t one that I want to write down. Any thought that has some emotion attached that makes me feel anxious, afraid, guilty, sad, mad, angry or any of a million unwanted feelings, I work to push it away. I imagine shrinking the thought then it moves away from me into the darkness beyond the backs of my eyelids.

As I continue to practice this meditation, I notice that fewer and fewer thoughts present themselves. I’m not stopping to write anything down. I’m not interrupted by emotional thoughts that I have to throw away. I can take deeper and longer breaths. I’m able to enter into a more relaxed state of mind. Studies have shown that a person’s blood pressure goes down and their pulse slows.

When I'm relaxed and my mind is calm, I'm breathing slow and steady, then I practice connecting my feelings with a memory of when I've felt well, alive and really good about things. This is when I begin reinforcing positive thoughts. Sometimes one of those bad thoughts will interrupt me. I work it like I did the others. Then I work my way back to my state of positive thinking.

I find that the longer I can sustain my meditation the more benefit I get from it. I haven’t mediated from more than about 20 or 30 minutes yet. For me the most benefit is meditating on a steady daily basis especially before an hour or so before bedtime.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Another example of the power of social networking and new technology.  Jan. 19, 2010
A campaign using text messages to raise money for the Red Cross has tallied more than $21 million for relief efforts in Haiti. The electronic fundraiser, boosted in its early days by widespread posting on social-networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, has outstripped the organization's expectations and is showing no signs of letting up, an official said Monday.

The power of the Millennial generation to influence society has drawn millions of people into using social networking sites and twitter.  You can donate $10 using twitter.
New mobile tech is changing how the world works.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Teacher Effectiveness -- Symptom of System Ineffectiveness

Here is another example of symptoms and non-systems thinking.
Recent posting by Chalkboard Project in Oregon from email.

Report by the National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality entitled, "America's Opportunity: Teacher Effectiveness and Equity in K-12 Classrooms."

Chapter 4 of "America's Opportunity: Teacher Effectiveness and Equity in K-12 Classrooms" includes a section called, "Defining Teacher Effectiveness." The chapter makes the case that "without a working definition of teacher effectiveness, there will be no way to measure outcomes and thus no way to determine if efforts are successful."

The chapter presents a five-point definition of an effective teacher from Goe, Bell and Little (2008):


All of the items listed for the definition of teacher effectiveness are symptoms of the effectiveness of the school/district as an organizational system. A teacher’s behavior, or any employee in any organization, is determined by the structure of the system they work within.

Why? The teacher is not the worker in the organization. The teacher is the leader and supervisor. The students are the worker. The students produce learning. When students are not effective learners the teachers get blamed as not being effective. The organization as a system needs to improve.


Monday, January 4, 2010

The Coming Chaos: War in the 2020s

The success of terrorists to wage warfare did not peak with the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center nor with the insurgents in Iraq prior to 2008. In 2008 and 2009, many more people lost their lives in thousands of terrorist attacks in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, at Mumbai, India and other places around the world. Each month US soldiers are killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In October 2009, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have been the largest killer of American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and are also showing up in Thailand, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Colombia, Somalia and parts of North Africa.

Strategically, extremists hope to wear us down over time. However the greatest threat to civilization might be the vast number of destabilizing events reaching a tipping point causing a catastrophic shift in the balance of power in the world. The international community might not be able to maintain order and the rule of law in the 2020s due to non-state insurgents and nation states like Iran and North Korea initiating destabilizing events.

A shift in behavior has created a new area of military action between the point where conventional diplomacy fails and a declared conventional war begins. This is why the past decade and the next decade of chaos will lead to world wide war in the 2020s. In under developed countries millions of people will migrate attempting to avoid the chaos of warfare. In developed countries millions of young adults will volunteer to join the military and civilian industry supporting the war effort.

The economic mobilization for war is not tied to the actual outbreak of hostilities. The increasingly hostile international environment and the long lead-times necessary to produce the sophisticated tools of war have created what many call the military-industrial complex. Today they provide armed, unmanned aircraft that can be controlled from anywhere in the world using satellite communications and used to destroy the command structure of a decentralized enemy.

The US political climate, the lack of UN power and the inability to use conventional diplomacy with insurgents will lead to increasing violence to destabilize states and destroy the public’s support of military efforts to stop the violence. Full-scale mobilization will remain politically impossible until we have passed the tipping-point (a Pearl Harbor type event).

The current protective mobilization to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq at least gives the US military a starting point in preparing for a world wide defense mission. Few people understand that a mobilization for 2020 is, in fact, already under way. Mobilization for 2020 will be an evolving situation with the US not formally at war and reacting to the spread of conflict by moving from one set of expansion goals to another.

The US government will need to encourage industrial expansion before increasing the armed forces manpower otherwise the war might be lost before it ever begins. This includes stopping production of cold war weapons and building capacity for 21st Century weapons to fight a much different war.

This expansion will probably be justified to provide support for vulnerable countries and nuclear states like Pakistan. In 20090, President Obama is cutting cold war style fighting weapons from the budget and at the same time providing weapons and support to Pakistan. The continued creativity and innovation by the US military to fight insurgents over the next ten years will greatly improve our chances of successful mobilization for future warfare.

One of the overlooked factors will be the construction of housing to support training and organizing the millions volunteering for military duty. Any delay in housing might delay enlistments. Since 2001, US experience with mobilizing the National Guard and Reserve greatly improves the chances we will be prepared by 2020 however we will still be overwhelmed by the millions volunteering.

Creation of a political consensus in support of war will no longer be an issue after a defining event that is unknown to us in 2009. Whoever is President, they will need to manage the mobilization for war without political consensus before 2020. Then the US will need to quickly develop the type of civilian and military organization to merge and manage the industrial and manpower mobilization.

At the end of World War II there were over 8 million soldiers in the US Army. In 2009, there are a total of 1,473,900 active duty personnel from all services and 1,458,500 reserve personnel. (Only China has more active duty personnel.) In 2008, the US had almost 120 million men and women fit for service between the ages of 18 and 49. Mobilizing that many people for wartime civilian and military service will be a significant challenge. Millions of people will be migrating across the US and the world.

Looking back, we will see that the first step in mobilizing for 2020 began with the authorization in 2007 to expand the Army and Marine Corps by 2012. As of 2008 there were over 200,000 (13.5%) female military personnel. The percentage of female personnel will be significantly higher by 2020.

My opinion is not a forecast or prediction, not a wish or prophecy, not a fantasy or intuition. I’m not predicting success or failure. I don’t know exactly when or how it will start. We know this will be a global war.

The driving forces behind the chaos leading up to the catastrophic 2020s will be demographics. The millions of unemployed, unmarried, cause-driven, heroic young men in Asia and the Middle East are going to threaten the stability of every government and nation-state. India, Pakistan, Iran and other countries are going to lead the way toward instability.


1. Morris, Chris. "Information Warfare in the Age of Chaos: Preparing for 2020." Airpower Journal (Spring 1995). Print.
2. "WWII: Mobilization." U.S. Army Center Of Military History. Web. 28 Oct. 2009. .
3. "United States armed forces -." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Web. 28 Oct. 2009. .

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Anxiety by Limbaugh

Jan. 1, 2010 News

Rush Limbaugh felt like he was having a heart attack but he actually had an anxiety attack due to low serotonin in his brain. Given no other medical explanation, as verified by the doctors, the only medical diagnosis is low Serotonin.  He needs cognitive behavioral therapy and maybe an SSRI for a year.