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As you know, from time to time I write about Tangra and the Bulgars in various blogs.

So I decided to make a post dedicated to that extremely interesting subject. The information is from wikipedia, because it was easier to get it in english. There is much information that you cannot find there and that I will gradually probably translate in english. But for the main part, this should be enough to sparkle you interest.

On the left-Khan Tengri, on mountain Tian Shan representing the connection between chinese Tian, bulgars Tengri and the holy mountain Tian Shan. And extremely holy place anyway.

Also, a missing part of the puzzle in Wikipedia is that they consider there was no symbol of Tangra, while for Bulgarians, such symbol is the symbol on the right. For me, it remarkably resembles the Chinese symbols 人 Ren -human and 天 tian-sky. Even more, some people consider Tengri to have the same etimology as Tian, which is well supported by those symbols. True, it upside down, but still, it's very similar. And it reminds me of the pentacle-if the tip is up-it represents human and mostly man, if the tip is down, it represents women and more precisely the womb. Maybe there is something similar in the Tangra sign?

In brief, I would like to tell you what I think, so that when you read the wikipedia texts, you'll know what you should be looking.

Tangra was a monotheist deity for the Bulgars, Turks and many more people. It was the ultimate God-pure and endless. It's obviously connected with Chinese Tao/Dao (some people claim that ancestors of the Bulgars lived in China for a while and had something to do with
Tao Te Ching by Lao-Tse. I'm not making any claims here, I just think it's an interesting relation) as Tian-the sky again pure and endless.
Also we have Tian Shan-the mountain of the gods, where there is a peak Khan Tengri and which is in a very interesting region between many countries and cultures. Also, we have Bulgars who had a great knowledge in ruling and building cities-knowledge which cannot come from a nomad region and history. It was obtained somewhere and by someone and that's the part I want to discover. Also, I liked a lot a description in one Arab source of an event at Bulgaria at Volga, when an emissary saw lights and voices in the sky and the local people told him it's normal, it happens every night. I think there is definitely an alien-deity involved, but it's very interesting it never interfered unlike other deities in history.

Notice-people still don't know precisely the history of the Bulgars-where they came from, when, what they were like. Yes, there are some stories, but they are all very uncertain, more based on ideology and nationalism than on pure science. I don't want to make any speculations, I'm interested only in the truth. And it is that we know very little of people that were extremely interesting and that had knowledge that is out of the historical context in every sense of the word.

What I'm trying to say here is that people generally miss or simply don't know that part of history that is unrelated to semits. And there is much to know about it. What's even more interesting is that it is so similar to some other religions. So, this post is for you, if you're interested to start looking and for me, to remind me to never stop searching :)

P.S. If you find the text on Tian somewhat elaborate, just scroll down to Tian Shan and Tengri. It gets more and more interesting.

Tian

Tian (Chinese: ; pinyin: tiān; Wade-Giles: t'ien; literally "heaven, heavens; god, gods") is one of the oldest Chinese terms for the cosmos and a key concept in Chinese mythology, philosophy, and religion. During the Shang Dynasty (17th–11th centuries BCE) the Chinese called god Shangdi (上帝 "lord on high") or Di ("lord"), and during the Zhou Dynasty (11th–3rd centuries BCE) Tian "heaven; god" became synonymous with Shangdi.

In the Chinese philosophical systems of Taoism and Confucianism, Tian is often translated as "Heaven" and is mentioned in relationship to its complementary aspect of Di (地), which is most often translated as "Earth". These two aspects of Daoist cosmology are representative of the dualistic nature of Daoism. They are thought to maintain the two poles of the Three Realms of reality, with the middle realm occupied by Humanity (人 Ren).

Tian's modern Chinese character 天 combines da "great; large" and yi "one", but some of the original characters in Shang oracle bone script and Zhou bronzeware script anthropomorphically portray a large head on a great person (see the Richard Sears hyperlink below). The oracle and bronze ideograms for da 大 depict a stick figure person with arms stretched out denoting "great; large". The oracle and bronze characters for tian 天 emphasize the cranium of this "great (person)", either with a square head (oracle), round or disk-shaped head (bronze), or head marked with one or two lines (oracle and bronze). Schuessler (2007:495) notes the bronze graphs for tian showing a person with a round head resemble those for ding "4th Celestial stem", and suggests "The anthropomorphic graph may or may not indicate that the original meaning was 'deity', rather than 'sky'."

Besides the usual 天, tian "heaven" has several graphic variants like 兲 (written with 王 "king" and 八 "8") and the Daoist coinage 靝 (with 青 "blue" and 氣 "qi", i.e., "blue sky").

Origins

The sinologist Herrlee Creel, who wrote a comprehensive study on "The Origin of the Deity T'ien" (1970:493-506), gives this overview.

For three thousand years it has been believed that from time immemorial all Chinese revered T'ien 天, "Heaven," as the highest deity, and that this same deity was also known as Ti 帝 or Shang Ti 上帝. But the new materials that have become available in the present century, and especially the Shang inscriptions, make it evident that this was not the case. It appears rather that T'ien is not named at all in the Shang inscriptions, which instead refer with great frequency to Ti or Shang Ti. T'ien appears only with the Chou, and was apparently a Chou deity. After the conquest the Chou considered T'ien to be identical with the Shang deity Ti (or Shang Ti), much as the Romans identified the Greek Zeus with their Jupiter. (1970:493)

Creel refers to the historical shift in ancient Chinese names for "god"; from Shang oracles that frequently used di and shangdi and rarely used tian to Zhou bronzes and texts that used tian more frequently than its synonym shangdi.

First, Creel analyzes all the tian and di occurrences meaning "god; gods" in Western Zhou era Chinese classic texts and bronze inscriptions. The Yi Jing "Classic of Changes" has 2 tian and 1 di; the Shi Jing "Classic of Poetry" has 140 tian and 43 di or shangdi; and the authentic portions of the Shu Jing "Classic of Documents" have 116 tian and 25 di or shangdi. His corpus of authenticated Western Zhou bronzes (1970:464–75) mention tian 91 times and di or shangdi only 4 times. ... 4 cases of oracles recording sacrifices yu tian 于天 "to/at Tian" (which could mean "to Heaven/God" or "at a place called Tian".

Having established that Tian was not a deity of the Shang people, Creel (1970:501-6) proposes a hypothesis for how it originated. Both the Shang and Zhou peoples pictographically represented da 大 as "a large or great man". The Zhou subsequently added a head on him to denote tian 天 meaning "king, kings" (cf. wang "king; ruler", which had oracle graphs picturing a line under a "great person" and bronze graphs that added the top line). From "kings", tian was semantically extended to mean "dead kings; ancestral kings", who controlled "fate; providence", and ultimately a single omnipotent deity Tian "Heaven". In addition, tian named both "the heavens" (where ancestral kings and gods supposedly lived) and the visible "sky".

Meanings

The semantics of tian developed diachronically. The Hanyu dazidian, an historical dictionary of Chinese characters, lists 17 meanings of tian 天, translated below.

  1. Human forehead; head, cranium.
  2. Anciently, to tattoo/brand the forehead as a kind of punishment.
  3. The heavens, the sky, the firmament. 天空.
  4. Celestial bodies; celestial phenomena, meteorological phenomena. 天體; 天象.
  5. Nature, natural. A general reference to objective inevitability beyond human will.
  6. Natural, innate; instinctive, inborn.
  7. Natural character/quality of a person or thing; natural instinct, inborn nature, disposition.
  8. A reference to a particular sky/space.
  9. Season; seasons. Like: winter; the three hot 10-day periods [following the summer solstice].
  10. Weather; climate.
  11. Day, time of one day and night, or especially the time from sunrise to sunset. Like: today; yesterday; busy all day; go fishing for three days and dry the nets for two [a xiehouyu simile for "unable to finish anything"].
  12. God, heaven, celestial spirit, of the natural world. 天神, 上帝, 自然界的主宰者.
  13. Heaven, heavenly, a superstitious person's reference to the gods, Buddhas, or immortals; or to the worlds where they live. Like: go to heaven ["die"]; heavenly troops and heavenly generals ["invincible army"]; heavenly goddesses scatter blossoms [a Vimalakirti Sutra reference to "Buddha's arrival"].
  14. Anciently, the king, monarch, sovereign; also referring to elders in human relationships.
  15. Object upon which one depends or relies.

The Chinese philosopher Feng Youlan differentiates five different meanings of tian in early Chinese writings:

(1) A material or physical T'ien or sky, that is, the T'ien often spoken of in apposition to earth, as in the common phrase which refers to the physical universe as 'Heaven and Earth' (T'ien Ti 天地).
(2) A ruling or presiding T'ien, that is, one such as is meant in the phrase, 'Imperial Heaven Supreme Emperor' (Huang T'ien Shang Ti), in which anthropomorphic T'ien and Ti are signified.
(3) A fatalistic T'ien, equivalent to the concept of Fate (ming 命), a term applied to all those events in human life over which man himself has no control. This is the T'ien Mencius refers to when he says: "As to the accomplishment of a great deed, that is with T'ien" ([Mencius], Ib, 14).
(4) A naturalistic T'ien, that is, one equivalent to the English word Nature. This is the sort of T'ien described in the 'Discussion on T'ien' in the [Hsün Tzǔ] (ch. 17).
(5) An ethical T'ien, that is, one having a moral principle and which is the highest primordial principle of the universe. This is the sort of T'ien which the [Chung Yung] (Doctrine of the Mean) refers to in its opening sentence when it says: "What T'ien confers (on man) is called his nature." (1952:31)

The modern Standard Mandarin pronunciation of 天 "sky, heaven; heavenly deity, god" is tiān in level first tone.

Etymologies

For the etymology of tian, Schuessler (2007:495) says, "Because the deity Tiān came into prominence with the Zhou dynasty (a western state), a Central Asian origin has been suggested." He cites the Mongolian word tengri "sky, heaven, heavenly deity" or the Tibeto-Burman words Adi taleŋ and Lepcha tǎ-lyaŋ "sky". Schuessler (2007:211) also suggests a likely connection between Chinese tiān 天, diān 巔 "summit, mountaintop", and diān 顛 "summit, top of the head, forehead", which have cognates such as Naga tiŋ "sky".

Tian is the component in hundreds of Chinese compounds. Some significant ones include:

  • tianming (天命 "Mandate of Heaven") "divine mandate, God's will; fate, destiny; one's lifespan"
  • tianzi (天子 "Son of Heaven"), an honorific designation for the "Emperor; Chinese sovereign" (Tianzi accounts for 28 of the 140 tian occurrences in the Shi Jing above.)
  • tianxia (天下, lit. "all under heaven") "the world, earth; China"
  • tiandi (天地, lit "heaven and earth") "the world; the universe" source:Wikipedia
Tian Shan

The Tian Shan (Chinese: 天山; Pinyin: Tiān Shān; "celestial mountains"), also commonly spelled Tien Shan, is a mountain range located in Central Asia.

The Chinese name for Tian Shan or Tien Shan, may in turn go back to a Xiongnu name, qilian reported by the Shiji as the last place where they met and had their baby as in of the Yuezhi, which has been argued to refer to the Tian Shan rather than to the range 1,500 km further the east now known by this name. A nearby mountain range, the Tannu-Ola Mountains (Tuvan: Таңды-Уула Tangdy-Uula), also bears a synonymous name ("heaven/celestial mountains" or "god/spirit mountains").

Geography

The range lies to the north and west of the Taklamakan Desert in the border region of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of western China. In the south it links up with the Pamir Mountains. It also extends into the Chinese province of Xinjiang and into the northern areas of Pakistan, where it joins the Hindu Kush.

The Tian Shan are a part of the Himalayan orogenic belt which was formed by the collision of the Indian and Eurasian plates in the Cenozoic era. They are one of the longest mountain ranges in Central Asia, stretching some 2,800 km eastward from Tashkent in Uzbekistan.

The highest peak in the Tian Shan is Jengish Chokusu which, at 7,439 metres (24,406 ft), is also the highest point in Kyrgyzstan and is on the border with China. The Tian Shan's second highest peak, Khan Tengri (Lord of the Spirits), at 7,010 m, straddles the Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan border.

The forested Alatau ranges, which are at a lower altitude in the northern part of the Tian Shan, are inhabited by pastoral tribes speaking Turkic languages. The major rivers rising in the Tian Shan are the Syr Darya, the Ili river and the Tarim River.

One of the first Europeans to visit and the first to describe the Tian Shan in detail was the Russian explorer Peter Semenov in the 1850s.

The Tian Shan holds important forests of Schrenk's Spruce (Picea schrenkiana) at altitudes of over 2,000 m; the lower slopes have unique natural forests of wild Walnuts and Apples.

Chinese religion

In Daoism the Goddess of the West is believed to guard the peach trees of immortality in the Tian Shan. source:Wikipedia

Tangra or Tengri

Tengri is the supreme god of the old Xiongnu, Xianbei, Turkic, Bulgar, Mongolian, Hunnic and Altaic religion named Tengriism.

There are no official symbols of Tengriism, however the symbol of the World Tree and the four directions symbol are common. It is often confused with a sun-worshipping religion, but the sun is merely a symbol of Tengri. A dramatic pyramidal mountain peak, long believed to be the highest point on the border between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, is called "Khan Tengri".

First appeared in Chinese records as Cheng Li

Mongol version

The core beings in Tengriism are Sky-Father (Tengri/Tenger Etseg) and Mother Earth (Eje/Gazar Eej). In history, Genghis Khan, the unifier of the Mongolian nation, based his power on a mandate from Tengri himself, and began all his declarations with the words "by the will of Eternal Blue Heaven." Father Heaven is worshipped for what he is, the timeless and infinite blue sky. He is not visualized as a person, although he is said to have at least two sons.

Geser is a great hero of Tengriism and he is a reincarnation of a sky spirit sent to earth to help serve people as a shaman. His story is recounted in a very long epic text, meant to be performed over the course of several days with a horse head fiddle (moriin huur).

Turkic version

The word tengri in Orkhon script.
The word tengri in Orkhon script.

Tengri or the god of blue sky was the main god of the Turkic pantheon, controlling the heavenly universe.[3] In the ancient Turkic mythology, Tengri is a pure, white goose that flies constantly over an endless expanse of water, which represents time. Beneath this water, Ak Ana ("White Mother") calls out to him saying "Create". To overcome his loneliness, Tengri creates Er Kishi, who is not as pure or as white as Tengri and together they set up the world. Er Kishi becomes a demonic character and strives to mislead people and draw them into its darkness. Tengri assumes the name Tengri Ülgen and withdraws into Heaven from which he tries to provide people with guidance through sacred animals that he sends among them. The Ak Tengris occupy the fifth level of Heaven. Shaman priests who want to reach Tengri Ülgen never get further than this level, where they convey their wishes to the divine guides. Returns to earth or to the human level take place in a goose-shaped vessel.[4]

In former Turkic states before the Middle Ages, among them the Göktürks, the khans based their power on a mandate from Tengri themselves. These rulers were generally accepted as the sons of Tengri who represented him on Earth. They wore titles such as tengrikut, kutluġ or kutalmysh, based on the belief that they attained the kut, the mighty spirit granted to these rulers by Tengri.[5]

Traditionally Turks' ancestors were animists and nature worshippers. Through their shamanistic beliefs, they revered celestial gods and the natural forces on earth that were important to them. In the ancient Turkish world as it is now, the word for god is "Tengri". In their religious beliefs, the sky is identified with Tengri. Tengri is considered to be the chief god who created all things. In addition to this celestial god, they also had minor divinities that served the purposes of Tengri.[6]

According to Mahmud Kashgari, Tengri was known to make plants grow and the lightning flash. Turks used the adjective tengri which means "heavenly, divine", to label everything that seemed grandiose, such as a tree or a mountain, and they stooped to such entities.[7]

"Tengri" is the oldest known Turkic word, believed to have originated in the 6th century B.C.[8]

Tengriism, a monotheistic religion, replaced an earlier polytheistic Turkic religion; it was also the religion of the Huns, Eurasian Avars, and early Hungarians.

Similarity with Chinese Tian "Sky"

Main article: Tian

Tengri is analogous with Tian. The German sinologist Axel Schüssler suggests tengri as an etymology for tian 天 "sky; heaven; god":

"Because the deity Tiān came into prominence with the Zhou dynasty (a western state), a Central Asian origin has been suggested, note Mongolian tengri 'sky, heaven, heavenly deity'" (Shaughnessy Sino-Platonic Papers, July 1989, and others, like Shirakawa Shizuka before him). (2007:495)

While some linguists argue that actually the word tian is the etymology for tengri some other linguistic studies accentuate a Turkic etymology.[9]

Honour

Tangra Mountains on Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica is named after the deity, Tangra being the Bulgar version of the name. source:wikipedia

Fuuun! Yeah. I wrote it in MyEuropeanDream- I find the crisis very enjoying. It shows that sooner or later, everyone pays for what s/he has done. Finally.
Now, I obviously am not very troubled by the issue. Yeah, it's bad for the credits, but there are many things that are bad for the credits. So what? Let's enjoy the collapse. How many times have you seen everything to go down? On global scale? True, it sucks for the individuals, but it sucks even more for the people that founded that corrupted system. Let's hope the new system will be better than the old one. That is unless some idiot don't decide to start a war. In which case I think everyone will loose. But then, I don't decide.
Whatever, my point is that I think they should let the system to collapse. Probably it won't be up to them anyway. But it's important to see the bottom of this, to learn all the moral, so that we don't repeat it again. As for the money-they are just numbers. As long as people have what to eat and where to sleep and medical care, they will be ok. We will survive. But this crisis is important. What is even more important is that computer specialists warned the creators of the stupid regulation that simulations predict a catastrophe. How come nobody listened? Why nobody is taking charge? Almost like home. Oh,well.
P.S. I know the articles are kind of old, to be precise, the post is from 21 days ago and the articles, well, they have a date :) But since the story is going and going and the sh*ts are getting deeper and deeper, let's enjoy the perspective the oldies give us. And I probably should put some articles on Europe too, to be fair, since here, it's even more fun :)

Vast Bailout by U.S. Proposed in Bid to Stem Financial Crisis

Published: September 18, 2008

WASHINGTON — The head of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve began discussions on Thursday with Congressional leaders on what could become the biggest bailout in United States history.

While details remain to be worked out, the plan is likely to authorize the government to buy distressed mortgages at deep discounts from banks and other institutions. The proposal could result in the most direct commitment of taxpayer funds so far in the financial crisis that Fed and Treasury officials say is the worst they have ever seen.

Senior aides and lawmakers said the goal was to complete the legislation by the end of next week, when Congress is scheduled to adjourn. The legislation would grant new authority to the administration and require what several officials said would be a substantial appropriation of federal dollars, though no figures were disclosed in the meeting.

Democrats, having their own desire for a second round of economic aid for struggling Americans, see the administration’s request as a way to win White House approval of new spending to help stimulate the economy in exchange for support for the Treasury request. Democrats also say they will push for relief for homeowners faced with foreclosure in return for supporting any broad bailout of struggling financial institutions.

One model for the proposal could be the Resolution Trust Corporation, which bought up and eventually sold hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of real estate in the 1990s from failed savings-and-loan companies. In this case, however, the government is expected to take over only distressed assets, not entire institutions. And it is not clear that a new agency would be created to manage and dispose of the assets, or whether the Federal Reserve or Treasury Department would do so.

The bailout discussions came on a day when the Federal Reserve poured almost $300 billion into global credit markets and barely put a dent in the level of alarm.

Hoping to shore up confidence with a show of financial shock and awe, the Federal Reserve stunned investors before dawn on Thursday by announcing a plan to provide $180 billion to financial markets through lending programs operated by the European Central Bank and the central banks of Canada, Japan, Britain and Switzerland.

But after an initial sense of relief swept markets in Asia and Europe, the fear quickly returned. Tensions remained so high that the Federal Reserve had to inject an extra $100 billion, in two waves of $50 billion each, just to keep the benchmark federal funds rate at the Fed’s target of 2 percent.

None of those actions, however, brought much catharsis or relief, with banks around the world remaining too frightened to lend to each other, much less to their customers. This forced Mr. Paulson and Ben S. Bernanke, the Fed chairman, to think the unthinkable: committing taxpayer money to buy hundreds of billions of dollars in distressed assets from struggling institutions.

The scale and complexity of the project are almost certain to create huge philosophical differences among the parties, which could make negotiations difficult to say the least. Still, lawmakers said the goal was to work through the coming weekend and to have both the House and Senate vote on a measure by the end of next week.

President Bush and his top advisers have adamantly opposed bailouts, but the mortgage crisis has already forced the Treasury and the Fed to bail out four of the country’s most prominent financial institutions — Bear Stearns in March; Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac earlier this month; and American International Group, the insurance conglomerate, just this week.

Created in 1989, the Resolution Trust Corporation disposed of bad assets held by hundreds of crippled savings institutions. The agency closed or reorganized 747 institutions holding assets of nearly $400 billion. It did so by seizing the assets of troubled savings and loans, then reselling them to bargain-seeking investors.

By 1995, the S.& L. crisis had abated and the agency was folded into the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which Congress created during the Great Depression to regulate banks and protect the accounts of customers when they fail.

Over the previous 10 days, they had allowed one Wall Street firm, Lehman Brothers, to collapse; and an even bigger Wall Street firm, Merrill Lynch, to be sold to Bank of America. Then, on Tuesday, the Federal Reserve abruptly took over the nation’s biggest insurance conglomerate, the American International Group, and began bailing it out with an $85 billion loan.

The meeting in the Capitol, which began around 7 p.m., came after Congressional leaders had initially appeared unclear about what role they would play in the rapid-fire decisions being made. Leaders of both parties had complained about a lack of hard information flowing from the administration.

Ms. Pelosi, suggesting the public was probably not of a mind to wait until 2009 for a Congressional fix, said lawmakers first had to explore the causes of the problems and potential solutions in hearings.

The Fed has already stretched itself very thin by introducing new emergency lending programs for banks, Wall Street firms and, this week, a giant insurance company.

With the Fed running short of unencumbered reserves, the Treasury Department had begun raising fresh cash for the central bank by selling new Treasury bills at an unprecedented pace — $200 billion this week alone — and parking it at the Fed for whatever use it wanted.source

A Bid to Curb Profit Gambit as Banks Fall

Published: September 18, 2008

Traders who have sought to profit from the financial crisis by betting against bank stocks were attacked on two continents on Thursday.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is considering a temporary ban on short sales of some or all shares and an announcement could be made as early as Friday morning. Earlier Thursday, the S.E.C. scrambled to put together an emergency rule to force major investors to disclose their short sales daily.

In Britain, regulators announced new rules to bar short selling.

Short selling — a bet that a stock price will decline — is the practice of selling stock without owning it, hoping to buy it later at a lower price, and thus make a profit. It has often been blamed for forcing prices down in times of market stress, but the level of anger has intensified as the American government has been forced to bail out major financial institutions and the leaders of some investment banks have asked for action to protect their shares.

Both the S.E.C. and the New York State attorney general promised to intensify investigations into short selling abuses. “They are like looters after a hurricane,” said Andrew M. Cuomo, the attorney general. “If you pass a rumor in a normal marketplace, people are calm, they check it out, they do their due diligence. When you get the market in this frenzied state and they are on pins and needles, any false information is much more impactful.”

Short sellers say that the criticism directed at them, and any restrictions on their activity, are wrong-headed, because they were among the first to raise the alarm about the risky mortgage lending practices that led to the current financial crisis.

In recent weeks, Mr. Cox has also stepped up his criticism of short sellers, particularly those who engage in “naked” short selling. While short sellers are supposed to borrow shares before selling them, naked shorts do not borrow. That saves the cost of borrowing, though the trader is still vulnerable to losses if the share price rises.

Opponents of short selling believe that it can force share prices down and destroy confidence in a company that might otherwise survive. Regulators have long thought that the practice was crucial for efficient markets to function, but earlier this year the S.E.C. imposed temporary limits on short selling of some financial stocks. Financial share prices rallied when those limits were announced but fell during the period in which the rule was in effect.

The latest moves against short sellers began Wednesday. In the morning, Mr. Cox announced new rules to prevent brokerage firms from selling a stock short if they previously had sold the stock short without having borrowed it. That night, he said that he would propose more rules, to force large short sellers to disclose their positions.

The rules were needed, he said, “to ensure that hidden manipulation, illegal naked short selling or illegitimate trading tactics do not drive market behavior and undermine confidence.”

Details of the possible new disclosure rule were not released, and it is not clear how much authority the S.E.C. has over hedge funds, which have successfully sued to prevent the commission from forcing them to even register with it. Institutional investors, including some hedge funds, provide details of stocks they own every three months but do not disclose short positions. Mr. Cox said he wanted daily disclosure of short positions, which he said would be made public, though he did not say how quickly.

By late Thursday, the S.E.C. was considering a temporary ban of some or all short selling. Mr. Cox told reporters in Washington late Thursday that he had discussed the ban with other senior administration officials but no decision had been made yet.

Richard Baker, the president of the Managed Funds Association, a hedge fund trade group, said the funds would comply with any rules but said that disclosure of their trading positions should not be made so quickly that it would harm them in the market.

Mr. Cox also said the S.E.C. would intensify its investigations of short selling by hedge funds and would demand their records on trading in certain securities.

To obtain shares to sell short, traders often borrow them from institutional investors, who receive small fees for the loans. But public pension funds in New York and California said Thursday that they would stop lending shares of some financial companies.

New York State’s comptroller said the state’s Common Retirement Fund would temporarily stop lending the shares of 19 banks and brokerage firms to short sellers.

The suspension removes 105 million shares from the fund’s securities lending program. It will last until market conditions stabilize, a spokesman said. source

Pressure Builds on House After Senate Backs Bailout


Published: October 1, 2008

WASHINGTON — The Senate strongly endorsed the $700 billion economic bailout plan on Wednesday, leaving backers optimistic that the easy approval, coupled with an array of popular additions, would lead to House acceptance by Friday and end the legislative uncertainty that has rocked the markets.

In stark contrast to the House rejection of the plan on Monday, a bipartisan coalition of senators — including both presidential candidates — showed no hesitation in backing a proposal that had drawn public scorn, though the outpouring eased somewhat after a market plunge followed the House defeat. The Senate margin was 74 to 25 in favor of the White House initiative to buy troubled securities in an effort to avoid an economic catastrophe.

Only Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who is being treated for brain cancer, did not vote.

The two Senate leaders, Senators Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada and the majority leader, and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, strongly urged their colleagues to approve the plan despite the political risk given public resentment.

“Supporting this legislation is the only way to make the best of a crisis and return our country to a path of economic stability, prosperity and growth,” said Mr. Reid, who asked that senators vote formally from their desks. The presence in the Senate of both presidential candidates in the final weeks of the campaign also gave weight to the moment. The political tension was clear as Senator Barack Obama walked to the Republican side of the aisle to greet Senator John McCain, who offered a chilly look and a brief return handshake.

Mr. McCain did not make remarks on the legislation. Mr. Obama, in his speech, said the bailout plan was regrettable but necessary and he referred to the stock market drop after the House vote.

President Bush issued a statement applauding the Senate for its vote in favor of a bill he called “essential to the financial security of every American.” He urged the House to follow suit.

In the House, officials of both parties said they were increasingly confident that politically enticing provisions bootstrapped to the original bill — including $150 billion in tax breaks for individuals and businesses — would win over at least the dozen or so votes needed to reverse Monday’s outcome and send the measure to President Bush.

The stock market reflected nervous jitters over a vote that was to occur after it closed but that could affect the future of many Wall Street workers.

Besides the tax breaks, senators also made a change that had drawn widespread support in recent days — a temporary increase in the amount of bank deposits covered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, to $250,000 from $100,000. And the entire package was attached to legislation requiring insurers to treat mental health conditions more like general health problems, a long-sought goal of many lawmakers who demanded such parity.

While popular, the tax breaks, which had been the center of a bitter dispute between House and Senate Democrats, caused problems as well.

A coalition of centrist Democrats led by Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader, had refused to back the tax benefits unless they were deficit neutral — offset by tax increases or spending cuts elsewhere. The bill now includes the Senate version of the tax plan, which adds most of the cost to the deficit over the next decade.

But the Senate leaders decided to present the House with a take-it-or-leave-it choice, and it is possible some Democrats could desert the bill over the tactic.

In the end, Senate leaders decided to overcome some of the ideological and political resistance that doomed the measure in the House with the tried-and-true Congressional approach of stuffing the bill with provisions that would make it hard for many lawmakers to resist.

The multiple tax breaks, called extenders in the Capitol because they renew or extend expiring tax benefits, appeal to many lawmakers and could provide a political argument for backing a bill that has otherwise been very unpopular.

Instead of siding with a $700 billion bailout, lawmakers could now say they voted for increased protection for deposits at the neighborhood bank, income tax relief for middle-class taxpayers and aid for schools in rural areas where the federal government owns much of the land.

The approximately $150 billion in new tax breaks, which offer incentives for the use of renewable energy and relieve 24 million households from an estimated $65 billion alternative-minimum tax scheduled to take effect this year, would be offset by only about $40 billion in spending cuts or tax increases elsewhere.

Moreover, the increase in federal deposit insurance will not be financed over the short term, as the insurance program now is, by assessing premiums on banks that benefit. Instead, banks will get an open-ended line of credit directly to the Treasury Department. But the Congressional Budget Office noted that federal law requires the banks to eventually make up any shortfall and any loans to be repaid, though not until at least 2010.

The changes in the bill were measurable by volume. The initial proposal from the Treasury Department ran just three pages; the latest version exceeds 450.

Under pressure to tighten the plan even more, Congressional and administration negotiators decided to parcel out the $700 billion in installments, starting with a first tranche of $350 billion. And during a weekend of negotiations, they added as a final backstop a requirement that in five years the president must present Congress with a plan to make up any losses of tax funds by looking to the financial community to make up the difference.source

When I read first for Mr. Brin's gene mutation, I thought, so what. Like million of other people probably. And then, I read the sequence.
NY Times speculated on why he published that data since he's not ill yet, he may never get ill and well, it's personal and can lead to only negative consequences.
The answer of Sergei Brin was:“I figure if I put it out there, people would look at it and I’d learn something I need to know sooner than if I hadn’t put it out there”.

Now, that's what I call to live by what you sell . Or whatever the expression was, I'm kind of with flue right now, can't think very clearly (what a lovely state of the mind to blog). I mean, he's completely right, of course, if you make your condition a public problem, it's likely that you'll recieve endless comments, opinions, suggestions and whatever. I'm not saying they will be useless, quite on the contrary, some of them will be very useful. Telling the difference will be the tough part.
What impressed me is that he, as a co-founder of Google, is so in love with his product, or is so trusting his product, that he's using it as a health-advisor. That's great. I applaud his passion. Although I think he did it not so much on purpose, as much out of confusion. And maybe compassion. Because those test are not a game, they really give you viable information about your future. True, you may never get the disease but you thise certainly give you a bigger chance on something you don't really want to happen. That's why people should be prepared to hear things they won't like. And they should have a way to handle that information, to cool it down and to accept it. And mr. Brin discovered it-share it with Google. Make it as public as possible, to the point, you feel no longer threatened by it. Make it a rumor, a discussion, something that's not real.

My opinion-I think we all found the same way to deal with hard situations long time ago. That's why I love so much internet. You're never alone here. There's always someone to help you, to be compassionate with you, to encourage you. How real this someone is? Well, not really. If you ask me, s/he is precisely as real as someone I created in my mind. The result of both is the same-words and only words. No one will come to help you. No one will come to hug you or save you, no matter how much you should at you blog. Or if s/he comes, it can get even scarier. Or not, but that's another question.
My point-Internet is the best shrink you can get. And it's much cheaper than a doctor.

Google Co-Founder Has Genetic Code Linked to Parkinson’s


Published: September 18, 2008

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Sergey Brin, a Google co-founder, said Thursday that he has a gene mutation that increases his likelihood of contracting Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that can impair speech, movement and other functions.

Mr. Brin, who made the announcement on a blog, says he does not have the disease and that the exact implications of the discovery are not clear. Studies show that his likelihood of contracting Parkinson’s disease in his lifetime may be 20 percent to 80 percent, Mr. Brin said.

Mr. Brin, whose personal fortune was recently pegged at $15.9 billion by Forbes, ranking him as the 13th richest American, said that he may help provide more money for research into the disease.

Through a Google spokesman, Mr. Brin declined to be interviewed for this article.

Mr. Brin said he learned that he carries a mutation of the LRRK2 gene, known as G2019S. His mother, Eugenia Brin, also carries the gene mutation and has Parkinson’s.

Medical experts said that those who carry that gene mutation are more likely than not to live disease-free.

Analysts said they did not believe that the news about Mr. Brin would have a negative impact on Google’s shares. source


Why Sergey Brin May Have Disclosed His Risk for Parkinson’s

The Google co-founder Sergey Brin on Thursday disclosed that he carried a mutation of a gene known as LRRK2 that gave him a higher-than-average risk of contracting Parkinson’s disease.

When I called medical experts and financial analysts for comment, the first question I got was: “Why would he disclose that?” They pointed out that since Mr. Brin was disease-free, might never get the disease, and even if he did get it, could probably function at a high level for many years, there was no need to inform shareholders or anyone else.

Mr. Brin declined to be interviewed. But my colleague Allen Salkin had some insights into one of Mr. Brin’s possible motives. Allen chatted with Mr. Brin at a New York party on Sept. 9 to promote 23andMe, the DNA-testing company of which Mr. Brin’s wife, Anne Wojcicki, is a co-founder. During their conversation, Mr. Brin said it could be useful to have one’s DNA code open to the public, where it could follow a sort of open-source model. If his data was public, he said, doctors — or anyone who was interested — could look at his results and make suggestions about how he should handle them, offering treatment suggestions if it showed he might be susceptible to a disease.

“I figure if I put it out there, people would look at it and I’d learn something I need to know sooner than if I hadn’t put it out there,” Mr. Brin told Allen. He also said he would soon start to blog about his DNA.

As of now, if Mr. Brin has received any advice, it is not widely known. The comments section of his blog remains empty. source

Ok, just check out what I found!
It's so fun...And melodramatic. I even cried when I read them, because you know how touched I am by the situation of women in Arab countries. I don't mind religion or whatever, I just mind the abuse. I think that in order to progress, one society must be balanced and both sexes to be able to express themselves equally. That's why I take it so deeply when I see a sign for change there. So, well, cry with me :) And with Oprah :)

As for the second, I'm seriously considering the opportunities of/in Dubai, though as for now, I simply gather information. In any case, I like how the guy identifies himself not with his religion but with his nationality. That's a good sign. A sign of a change. Because the religion should be internal, it's a spiritual thing. And every religion I think passes trough that stage, from mass-thing, to internal thing. It's a sign of a progress. Hopefully. And notice how the guy fell in love with a Russian prostitute. I mean, seriously, why do you have to love foreign sluts, when you can simply free your own women and enjoy someone like you?

Saudi Women Find an Unlikely Role Model: Oprah


Published: September 18, 2008

DAMMAM, Saudi Arabia—Once a month, Nayla says, she writes a letter to Oprah Winfrey.

A young Saudi homemaker who covers her face in public might not seem to have much in common with an American talk show host whose image is known to millions. Like many women in this conservative desert kingdom, Nayla does not usually socialize with people outside her extended family, and she never leaves her house unless chaperoned by her husband.

“I feel that Oprah truly understands me,” said Nayla, who, like many of the women interviewed, would not let her full name be used. “She gives me energy and hope for my life. Sometimes I think that she is the only person in the world who knows how I feel.”

Nayla is not the only Saudi woman to feel a special connection to the American media mogul. When “The Oprah Winfrey Show” was first broadcast in Saudi Arabia in November 2004 on a Dubai-based satellite channel, it became an immediate sensation among young Saudi women. Within months, it had become the highest-rated English-language program among women 25 and younger, an age group that makes up about a third of Saudi Arabia’s population.

In a country where the sexes are rigorously separated, where topics like sex and race are rarely discussed openly and where a strict code of public morality is enforced by religious police called hai’a, Ms. Winfrey provides many young Saudi women with new ways of thinking about the way local taboos affect their lives — as well as about a variety of issues including childhood sexual abuse and coping with marital strife — without striking them, or Saudi Arabia’s ruling authorities, as subversive.

Some women here say Ms. Winfrey’s assurances to her viewers — that no matter how restricted or even abusive their circumstances may be, they can take control in small ways and create lives of value — help them find meaning in their cramped, veiled existence.

“Oprah dresses conservatively,” explained Princess Reema bint Bandar al-Saud, a co-owner of a women’s spa in Riyadh called Yibreen and a daughter of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the former Saudi ambassador to the United States. “She struggles with her weight. She overcame depression. She rose from poverty and from abuse. On all these levels she appeals to a Saudi woman. People really idolize her here.”

Today, “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” with Arabic subtitles, is broadcast twice each weekday on MBC4, a three-year-old channel developed by the MBC Group with the Arab woman in mind. The show’s guests, self-improvement tips, and advice on family relationships — as well as Ms. Winfrey’s clothes and changing hairstyles — are eagerly analyzed by Saudi women from a wide range of social backgrounds and income levels.

Maha al-Faleh, 23, of Riyadh, said, “Oprah talks about issues that haven’t really been spoken about here openly before.

“She talks about racism, for example,” she said. “This is something that Saudis are very concerned about, because many of us feel that we’re judged for the way we veil or for our skin color. I have a friend whose driver touched her in an inappropriate way. She was very young at the time, but she felt very guilty about it — and Oprah helped her to speak about this abuse with her mother.”

MBC edits some “Oprah” episodes to remove content banned by censors in the region, officials at the channel say. It does not broadcast segments on homosexuality, for example. But the officials say they make most episodes available to their regional viewers uncensored, including some about relations between Arabs and Westerners and about living with the threat of Islamic terrorism.

In a country where women are forbidden to vote, or to travel without the permission of a male guardian, a sense of powerlessness can lead women to look for unlikely sources of rescue, Ms. Muhammad explained. “If women here have problems with their fathers or their brothers, what can they do but look to Oprah?” she asked. “The idea that she will come and help them is a dream for them.”

Nayla, the homemaker in Dammam, a Persian Gulf port city, says Ms. Winfrey helps her cope with a society that does not encourage her to have interests. “The life of a woman here in Saudi — it makes you tired and it makes you boring,” she said, sighing.

Like many Saudi women, Nayla struggles with obesity, a major issue in the kingdom because many women are largely confined to their homes and local custom often prevents them from participating in sports or even walking around their neighborhoods.

She says that Ms. Winfrey has inspired her to lose weight and to pursue her education through an online degree course, a method acceptable to her husband since she will not have to leave home.

“Oprah is the magic word for women here who want to scream out loud, who want to be heard,” Ms. Muhammad said. “Look at what happened to the girl from Qatif,” she said, referring to the infamous case of a young woman who was gang-raped, then sentenced to flogging because she had been in a car with an unrelated man.

The young woman from Qatif received a royal pardon last year after her case became an international media cause célèbre.

“The Qatif girl was heard outside the country, and she was helped,” Ms. Muhammad said. “But we need to have Saudi women who help women here. We need to have women social workers, women judges.”

“We have a very male-dominated society, and it’s very hard sometimes,” Ms. Muhammad said. “But for now I have my coffee, and sit, and I watch Oprah.

It’s my favorite time of day.”source

Young and Arab in Land of Mosques and Bars

Published: September 21, 2008

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — In his old life in Cairo, Rami Galal knew his place and his fate: to become a maintenance man in a hotel, just like his father. But here, in glittering, manic Dubai, he is confronting the unsettling freedom to make his own choices.

Here Mr. Galal, 24, drinks beer almost every night and considers a young Russian prostitute his girlfriend. But he also makes it to work every morning, not something he could say when he lived back in Egypt. Everything is up to him, everything: what meals he eats, whether he goes to the mosque or a bar, who his friends are.

“I was more religious in Egypt,” Mr. Galal said, taking a drag from yet another of his ever-burning Marlboros. “It is moving too fast here. In Egypt there is more time, they have more control over you. It’s hard here. I hope to stop drinking beer; I know it’s wrong. In Egypt, people keep you in check. Here, no one keeps you in check.”

In Egypt, and across much of the Arab world, there is an Islamic revival being driven by young people, where faith and ritual are increasingly the cornerstone of identity. But that is not true amid the ethnic mix that is Dubai, where 80 percent of the people are expatriates, with 200 nationalities.

This economically vital, socially freewheeling yet unmistakably Muslim state has had a transforming effect on young men. Religion has become more of a personal choice and Islam less of a common bond than national identity.

Dubai is, in some ways, a vision of what the rest of the Arab world could become — if it offered comparable economic opportunity, insistence on following the law and tolerance for cultural diversity. In this environment, religion is not something young men turn to because it fills a void or because they are bowing to a collective demand. That, in turn, creates an atmosphere that is open not only to those inclined to a less observant way of life, but also to those who are more religious. In Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Algeria, a man with a long beard is often treated as an Islamist — and sometimes denied work. Not here in Dubai.

No one can say for sure why Dubai has been spared the kind of religion-fueled extremism that has plagued other countries in the region. There are not even metal detectors at hotel and mall entrances, standard fare from Morocco to Saudi Arabia. Some speculate that Dubai is like Vienna during the cold war, a playground for all sides. There is a robust state security system. But there is also a feeling that diversity, tolerance and opportunity help breed moderation.

Dubai dazzles, but it also confuses. It appears to offer a straight deal — work hard and make money. It is filled with inequities and exploitation. It is a land of rules: no smoking, no littering, no speeding, no drinking and driving. But it also dares everyone to defy limitations. There is the Burj Dubai, a glass tower that will be the tallest in the world. There is the Dubai Mall, which will be the biggest in the world. There are artificial islands shaped into a palm tree design (they said it couldn’t be done) and an indoor ski slope. There is talk of a new hotel, the biggest yet in Dubai, that will cool the hot sand for its guests. There is credit, and there are credit cards, for anyone with a job. There are no taxes.

“They should give you an introduction when you arrive,” said Hamza Abu Zanad, 28, who moved to Dubai from Jordan about 18 months ago and now works in real estate. “It is very disorienting. I felt lost. There are fancy cars, but don’t speed. You can have prostitutes, but don’t get caught with a woman. I was driving along the beach and there were flashes — I thought someone was taking my picture.”

The flashes turned out to be surveillance cameras. He was speeding. The next day the police called and told him to pay his fines, he said, still laughing at his initial innocence.

He had lived for years in Canada and graduated from college there. He spoke English, drank beer, dated women, lifted weights, lived a Western-style life, but felt culturally out of sync. “At Christmas I was lonely,” said Mr. Abu Zanad.

In this way, Dubai offers another prescription for promoting moderation. It offers a chance to lead a modern life in an Arab Islamic country. Mr. Abu Zanad raised his beer high, almost in a toast, and said he liked being able to walk through a mall and still hear the call to prayer.

“We like that it’s free and it still has Arab heritage,” he said “It’s not religion, it’s the culture, the Middle Eastern culture.”

“The Arabs have a future here,” said his best friend, Bilal Hamdan. “Where are we going to go back to? Egypt? Jordan? This is the future.”

...

In fact, the mix of nationalities has made Mr. Galal redefine himself — not predominantly as Muslim but as Egyptian. Asked if he feels more comfortable with a Pakistani who is Muslim or an Egyptian who is Christian, he replied automatically: “The Egyptian.”

Dubai has been built along roadways, 6, 12, 14 lanes wide. There was no central urban planning and the result is a city of oases, each divided from the other by lanes of traffic. The physical distance between people is matched by the distance between nationalities. Dubai has everything money can buy, but it does not have a unifying culture or identity. The only common thread is ambition.

As Mr. Galal and Mr. Ibrahim headed to town, the traffic was ferocious, another downside of Dubai’s full-throttle development. It took two hours to get to Diera, the old part of the city. But the friends did not seem to mind inching along. Popular Egyptian love songs played from the stereo as the car crawled past the Marina, another exclamation point in a city full of them, with skyscrapers, a Buddha Bar and a marina, a real marina, for boats.source

Rules for quality life

For some time I've been thinking. Life cannot be that complicated. It is a game, obviously, you can play it well, or play it badly. But as any game, it should have rules. Yes, those rules are probably dynamical, but there should be some principles. Successful people are not just lucky-you can be lucky once or twice or twenty times, but all your life? I doubt it. So, there are principles.
But what are they?
If you think carefully, you already know some of them-what to eat and what not to eat in order to feel good, how much sleep you need, how to behave in different environments. They are not in the form of a stone tablet, but more like something that gets engraved in your brain. You do something, see the result and you either repeat it or avoid it.
So, there are rules. Now, I'm trying to find them out. If they are around and some people know them, while most of us-don't. I realise that they are not constant for everyone-what makes you healthy may kills me. But there is physics behind it so to say-and precisely that physics I want to find.
Here are 2 articles I found on the issue. Remember, people can say/write/claim anything, it's you that tests and decides- good or bad. No one else can do it for you, because we have different metabolism, mind-set, brain experience and whatever. You just have to try, to be alert and to find the difference. The first is more connected to the rules of a good life while the second is about successful studying.

14 Scientifically-Proven Ways to Boost Brain Power


Source: eMedExpert.com

Until just a few years ago, doctors believed that the brain stopped making new neural connections - meaning that the memory began to get irreversibly worse - when the body stopped developing, usually in the early 20s. And doctors knew that, like any other part of the body, neurons weaken as people age. Loss of brain function due to neural breakdown was assumed to be a normal, unavoidable part of aging. It turns out they were wrong.

In the past few years, it has become clear that you can, in fact, make new neurons starting in your 20s and continuing well into old age. You can literally rewire the brain with new parts as the older parts wear out. How?

There are lots of things you can do right now to preserve, protect and enhance your gray matter.

1. Physical exercise

A healthy body really does mean a healthy mind. In the last decade it became clear that regular exercise beneficially affects brain function. Exercise boosts brain power by stimulating formation of new brain cells (neurons), the process known as neurogenesis. Also, exercise strengthens connections between those cells. Researchers have found the areas of the brain that are stimulated through exercise are associated with memory and learning.

2. Lifelong learning - your brain is a learning machine

For most of us, after we graduate from high school or college, our pursuit of new knowledge bottoms out over time. We may be masters at what we do, but we aren't learning new things. There is clear evidence that education and learning produce favourable changes in the brain. Researchers believe that intellectual activity play a neuroprotective role against dementia. Some studies suggest that having a low level of formal education and poor linguistic skills is a risk factor for cognitive decline in later life.

But if you continue to learn and challenge yourself, your brain continues to grow, literally. Recent research have demonstrated that learning over time enhances memory and the survival of new brain cells. An active brain produces new connections between nerve cells that allow cells to communicate with one another. This helps your brain store and retrieve information more easily, no matter what your age.

How can you challenge yourself? Scientists agree that anything that is new and expands your knowledge will be effective:

  • Learning to play a musical instrument
  • Switching careers or starting a new one
  • Starting a new hobby, such as crafts, painting, biking or bird-watching
  • Learning a foreign language. According to the latest study speaking more than one language may slow the aging process in the mind.
  • Staying informed about what's going on in the world
  • Learning to cook new dish

If you let your brain be idle, it's not going to be in the best health.

3. Mental stimulation

Stimulate your brain. Make sure you're actively problem-solving and having to use your memory. Just as physical activity keeps your body strong, mental activity keeps your mind sharp and agile. The more we think, the better our brains function - regardless of age. Without something to keep us mentally charged, our brains, like unused muscles, can atrophy, leading to a decline in cognitive abilities.

Some good ways to stimulate your mind:

  • Travel
  • Going to museums
  • Reading books, newspapers, or magazines
  • Play 'thinking' games like cards, checkers, chess, crosswords, sudoku puzzles
  • Scrabble or doing crossword puzzles
  • Playing musical instruments
  • Dancing
  • Crafts such as drawing, painting, and ceramics
  • Ditch the calculator once in while and forcing yourself to do the calculation
  • Volunteering

4. Social interaction - People are good medicine

"Social interaction" can be measured by how often people talk on the phone with friends, neighbors and relatives, how often they get together with them, how many people they can share their most private feelings and concerns with.

Socializing may have a protective effect on the brain because it's a form of mental exercise. Not only does interacting with people stimulate the brain, but it can also keep you sharp, because dealing with people can be pretty challenging. Strong social ties have been associated with lower blood pressure and longer life expectancies.

And having no social ties is believed to be an independent risk factor for cognitive decline in older persons.

A U.S. team found that talking to another person for 10 minutes a day improves memory and test scores. They found that socializing was just as effective as more traditional kinds of mental exercise in boosting memory and intellectual performance. They also found that the higher the level of social interaction, the better the cognitive functioning. Social interaction included getting together or having phone chats with relatives, friends and neighbors.

5. Sleep & Nap

Sleep plays a crucial role in brain development and growth.

One of the explanations the science has come up with for the healing power of sleep is that sleep may contribute to neurogenesis, the formation of new nerve cells in the brain. New research in animals provides a clue about how the sleep deprivation harm the brains - reduces the number of new brain cells. Without sufficient sleep, neurons may not have time to repair all the damage, and so could malfunction during the day.

Sleep is necessary for the brain to process and consolidate knowledge and for memories to form. Neuroscientists say that during sleep the hippocampus (where memory is stored) becomes highly active and moves knowledge from short-term memory to long-term memory.

The memories laid down by the sleeping brain are of two kinds. Declarative memory is memory for information - facts, dates, and names. Procedural memory is what allows us to do things like play a musical instrument, ride a bicycle, or add up a bill. Scientists think these two types of memory are influenced by different parts of the sleep cycle. Slow wave sleep benefit mainly the consolidation of declarative memories. In contrast, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep seems to benefit procedural memory20.

6. Stress management

The brain uses 20 percent of our body's oxygen and 20 percent of its blood.

Scientists believe people exposed to chronic stress tend to have elevated levels of cortisol - a hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to acute and chronic stress. High cortisol levels are dangerous to the brain.

Severe stress lasting weeks or months can impair cell communication in the brain's learning and memory region. Increased stress hormones lead to memory impairment in the elderly and learning difficulties in young adults.

Researcher from the University of California have found short-term stress lasting as little as a few hours can impair brain-cell communication in areas associated with learning and memory. They found that rather than involving the widely known stress hormone cortisol, which circulates throughout the body, acute stress activated selective molecules called corticotropin releasing hormones, which disrupted the process by which the brain collects and stores memories.

Stress is a constant in our lives and cannot be avoided. So, stress management is the key, not stress elimination. Several ways to help you manage stress in your daily life:

  • See problems as opportunities
  • Get away from the noise
  • Exercise
  • Learn relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation
  • Cut down on unnecessary responsibilities and avoid over-scheduling
  • Make time for leisure activities
  • Get a massage

7. Laugh & Humor

Laughter is the best medicine! We've heard the expression time and again. Medical world has begun to take more serious notice of the healing power of humor and the positive emotions associated with it. By having fun and laughing, your stress levels decrease significantly. Humor stimulates the parts of our brain that use the "feel good" chemical messenger dopamine. Also, researchers found that humor improves memory.

8. Healthy breakfast

It might be the last thing on your morning to-do list, or it might not be on your list at all. However, many studies have shown that having breakfast improves the ability of concentration, reaction time, learning ability, mood and memory, whereas skipping breakfast reduces people's performance at school and at work.

9. Omega-3 fatty acids

High intake of omega-6 rich oils (such as sunflower or grape seed oil) may boost the risk of developing memory problems, say French researchers.

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain health - they provide the physical building blocks necessary for the development and maintenance of the structural and functional integrity of the brain. In fact, one of the omega-3 fatty acids, commonly known as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), makes up a large portion of the gray matter in the brain and is vital for brain cells function. Adding more DHA to your brain directly influences cell-to-cell communication, affects nerve conduction and neurotransmitter release, and other things that allow brain cells to send messages to each other.

Coldwater fish, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, and herring are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids (just be careful to eat this in moderation due to potential contamination with mercury). Dutch studies revealed that high fish consumption may reduce the risk of dementia and cognitive decline. Also, good sources are canola, flaxseed and walnut oils.

10. Blueberries

Blueberries are a major source of flavonoids, in particular anthocyanins and flavanols. Although the precise mechanisms by which these plant-derived molecules affect the brain are unknown, they have been shown to cross the blood brain barrier after dietary intake. It is believed that they exert their effects on learning and memory by enhancing existing neuronal connections, improving cellular communications and stimulating neuronal regeneration.

11. Vegetables

Researchers found that eating vegetables appears to help keep the brain young and may slow the mental decline sometimes associated with growing old. Cruciferous and green leafy vegetables including cauliflower, spinach, kale, broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprout and collards appear to be the most beneficial. Researchers say that may be because they contain healthy amounts of vitamin E, an antioxidant that is believed to help fight chemicals produced by the body that can damage cells.

Three B vitamins, folic acid, B6, and B12, can help lower your homocysteine levels. Fortified cereal, other grains, and leafy green vegetables are good sources of B vitamins.

12. Want to drink? Choose red wine!.

Researchers found, intake of up to three daily servings of wine, unlike other alcohol beverages (liquor, beer), was associated with a lower risk of dementia. This may be due to the ability of red wine polyphenols to protect brain cells against alcohol-induced damage. There is well-documented evidence that resveratrol, a polyphenol found in red wine and red grape skin and seeds, has a significant antioxidant properties and produces neuroprotective effects.

13. Keep health problems under control

Many medical conditions, particularly those identified as risk factors for cardiovascular disease, are also risk factors for cognitive decline and dementia. Also keep in line diabetes, high blood pressure and the bad cholesterol.

14. Neurobics

Neurobics can be done anywhere, anytime, in offbeat, fun and easy ways. These exercises can activate underused nerve pathways and connections, helping you achieve a fit and flexible mind:

  • Drive to work a different route
  • Get dressed with your eyes closed
  • Brush your teeth with the other hand
  • Unlock the door with your eyes closed
  • Use your opposite hand to dial the phone or operate the TV remote
  • Listen to music and smell flowers at the same time
  • Shop at new grocery store

Research has suggested that using your left hand if you're left handed or your right if you're left handed more often, can help stimulate parts of the brain that you don't normally use. source

77 Brain Hacks to Learn Faster, Deeper, and Better

Source: Online Education Database

Here are 77 tips related to knowledge and learning. A few are specifically for students in traditional learning institutions; the rest for self-starters, or those learning on their own. Happy learning.

Health

1. Shake a leg. Lack of blood flow is a common reason for lack of concentration. If you've been sitting in one place for awhile, bounce one of your legs for a minute or two. It gets your blood flowing and sharpens both concentration and recall.

2. Food for thought: Eat breakfast. A lot of people skip breakfast, but creativity is often optimal in the early morning and it helps to have some protein in you to feed your brain. A lack of protein can actually cause headaches.

3. Food for thought, part 2: Eat a light lunch.
Heavy lunches have a tendency to make people drowsy. While you could turn this to your advantage by taking a "thinking nap" (see #23), most people haven't learned how.

4. Cognitive enhancers: Ginkgo biloba. Ginkgo biloba is a natural supplement that has been used in China and other countries for centuries and has been reputed to reverse memory loss in rats. It's also suggested by some health practitioners as a nootrope and thus a memory enhancer.

5. Reduce stress + depresssion. Stress and depression may reduce the ability to recall information and thus inhibit learning. Sometimes, all you need to reduce depression is more white light and fewer refined foods.

Balance

6. Sleep on it. Dr. Maxwell Maltz wrote about in his book Psycho-Cybernetics about a man who was was paid good money to come up with ideas. He would lock his office door, close the blinds, turn off the lights. He'd focus on the problem at hand, then take a short nap on a couch. When he awoke, he usually had the problem solved.

7. Take a break. Change phyical or mental perspective to lighten the invisible stress that can sometimes occur when you sit in one place too long, focused on learning. Taking a 5-15 minute break every hour during study sessions is more beneficial than non-stop study. It gives your mind time to relax and absorb information.

8. Take a hike. Changing your perspective often relieves tension, thus freeing your creative mind. Taking a short walk around the neighborhood may help.

Perspective and Focus

9. Change your focus. Sometimes there simply isn't enough time to take a long break. If so, change subject focus. Alternate between technical and non-technical subjects.

10. Change your focus, part 2. There are three primary ways to learn: visual, kinesthetic, and auditory. If one isn't working for you, try another.

11. Do walking meditation. If you're taking a hike (#25), go one step further and learn walking meditation as a way to tap into your inner resources and your strengthen your ability to focus. Just make sure you're not walking inadvertently into traffic.

12. Focus and immerse yourself. Focus on whatever you're studying. Don't try to watch TV at the same time or worry yourself about other things. Anxiety does not make for absorption of information and ideas.

13. Turn out the lights. This is a way to focus, if you are not into meditating. Sit in the dark, block out extraneous influences. This is ideal for learning kinesthetically, such as guitar chord changes.

14. Take a bath or shower. Both activities loosen you up, making your mind more receptive to recognizing brilliant ideas.

Recall Techniques

15. Listen to music. Researchers have long shown that certain types of music are a great "key" for recalling memories. Information learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled simply by "playing" the songs mentally.

16. Speedread. Some people believe that speedreading causes you to miss vital information. The fact remains that efficient speedreading results in filtering out irrelevant information. If necessary, you can always read and re-read at slower speeds. Slow reading actually hinders the ability to absorb general ideas. (Although technical subjects often requirer slower reading.)

17. Use acronyms and other mnemonic devices. Mnemonics are essentially tricks for remembering information. Some tricks are so effective that proper application will let you recall loads of mundane information years later.

Visual Aids

18. Every picture tells a story. Draw or sketch whatever it is you are trying to achieve. Having a concrete goal in mind helps you progress towards that goal.

19. Brainmap it. Need to plan something? Brain maps, or mind maps, offer a compact way to get both an overview of a project as well as easily add details. With mind maps, you can see the relationships between disparate ideas and they can also act as a receptacle for a brainstorming session.

20. Learn symbolism and semiotics. Semiotics is the study of signs and symbols. Having an understanding of the symbols of a particular discipline aids in learning, and also allows you to record information more efficiently.

21. Use information design. When you record information that has an inherent structure, applying information design helps convey that information more clearly. A great resource is Information Aesthetics, which gives examples of information design and links to their sources.

22. Use visual learning techniques. Try gliffy for structured diagrams. Also see Inspiration.com for an explanation of webs, idea maps, concept maps, and plots.

23. Map your task flow.
Learning often requires gaining knowledge in a specific sequence. Organizing your thoughts on what needs to be done is a powerful way to prepare yourself to complete tasks or learn new topics.

Verbal and Auditory Techniques

24. Stimulate ideas. Play rhyming games, utter nonsense words. These loosen you up, making you more receptive to learning.

25. Brainstorm. This is a time-honored technique that combines verbal activity, writing, and collaboration. (One person can brainstorm, but it's more effective in a group.) It's fruitful if you remember some simple rules: Firstly, don't shut anyone's idea out. Secondly, don't "edit" in progress; just record all ideas first, then dissect them later. Participating in brainstorming helps assess what you already know about something, and what you didn't know.

26. Learn by osmosis. Got an iPod? Record a few of your own podcasts, upload them to your iPod and sleep on it. Literally. Put it under your pillow and playback language lessons or whatever.

27. Cognitive enhancers: binaural beats. Binaural beats involve playing two close frequencies simultaneously to produce alpha, beta, delta, and theta waves, all of which produce either sleeping, restfulness, relaxation, meditativeness, alertness, or concentration.

28. Laugh. Laughing relaxes the body. A relaxed body is more receptive to new ideas.

Kinesthetic Techniques

29. Write, don't type. While typing your notes into the computer is great for posterity, writing by hand stimulates ideas. The simple act of holding and using a pen or pencil massages acupuncture points in the hand, which in turn stimulates ideas.

30. Carry a quality notebook at all times. If you've been doing "walking meditation" or any kind of meditation or productive napping, ideas may suddenly come to you. Record them immediately.

31. Keep a journal. This isn't exactly the same as a notebook. Journaling has to do with tracking experiences over time. If you add in visual details, charts, brainmaps, etc., you have a much more creative way to keep tabs on what you are learning.

32. Organize. Use sticky colored tabs to divide up a notebook or journal. They are a great way to partition ideas for easy referral.

33. Use post-it notes. Post-it notes provide a helpful way to record your thoughts about passages in books without defacing them with ink or pencil marks.

Self-Motivation Techniques

34. Give yourself credit. Ideas are actually a dime a dozen. If you learn to focus your mind on what results you want to achieve, you'll recognize the good ideas. Your mind will become a filter for them, which will motivate you to learn more.

35. Motivate yourself. Why do you want to learn something? What do want to achieve through learning? If you don't know why you want to learn, then distractions will be far more enticing.

36. Set a goal. W. Clement Stone once said "Whatever the mind of man can conceive, it can achieve." It's an amazing phenomenon in goal achievement. Prepare yourself by whatever means necessary, and hurdles will seem surmountable. Anyone who has experienced this phenomenon understands its validity. [Related Article: How to Write Your Goals]

37. Think positive. There's no point in setting learning goals for yourself if you don't have any faith in your ability to learn.

38. Organize, part 2. Learning is only one facet of the average adult's daily life. You need to organize your time and tasks else you might find it difficult to fit time in for learning. Try Neptune for a browser-based application for "getting things done."

39. Every skill is learned. With the exception of bodily functions, every skill in life is learned. Generally speaking, if one person can learn something, so can you. It may take you more effort, but if you've set a believable goal, it's likely an achievable goal.

40. Prepare yourself for learning. Thinking positive isn't sufficient for successfully achieving goals. This is especially important if you are an adult, as you'll probably have many distractions surrounding your daily life. Implement ways to reduce distractions, at least for a few hours at a time, else learning will become a frustrating experience.

41. Prepare yourself, part 2. Human nature is such that not everyone in your life will be a well-wisher in your self-improvement and learning plans. They may intentionally or subconsciously distract you from your goal. If you have classes to attend after work, make sure that work colleagues know this, that you are unable to work late.

42. Constrain yourself. Most people need structure in their lives. Freedom is sometimes a scary thing. It's like chaos. But even chaos has order within. By constraining yourself — say giving yourself deadlines, limiting your time on an idea in some manner, or limiting the tools you are working with — you can often accomplish more in less time.

Supplemental Techniques

43. Read as much as you can. How much more obvious can it get? Use Spreeder (#33) if you have to. Get a breadth of topics as well as depth.

44. Cross-pollinate your interests. Neurons that connect to existing neurons give you new perspectives and abilities to use additional knowledge in new ways.

45. Learn another language. New perspectives give you the ability to cross-pollinate cultural concepts and come up with new ideas. As well, sometimes reading a book in its original language will provide you with insights lost in translation.

46. Learn how to learn. Management Help has a resource page, as does SIAST (Virtual Campus), which links to articles about learning methods. They are geared towards online learning, but no doubt you gain something from them for any type of learning.

47. Learn what you know and what you don't. Many people might say, "I'm dumb," or "I don't know anything about that." The fact is, many people are wholly unaware of what they already know about a topic. If you want to learn about a topic, you need to determine what you already know, figure out what you don't know, and then learn the latter.

48. Multi-task through background processes. Effective multi-tasking allows you to bootstrap limited time to accomplish several tasks. Learning can be bootstrapped through multi-tasking, too. By effective multitasking, I don't mean doing two or more things at exactly the same time. It's not possible. However, you can achieve the semblance of effective multitasking with the right approach, and by prepping your mind for it. For example, a successful freelance writer learns to manage several articles at the same time. Research the first essay, and then let the background processes of your mind takeover. Move on consciously to the second essay. While researching the second essay, the first one will often "write itself." Be prepared to record it when it "appears" to you.

49. Think holistically. Holistic thinking might be the single most "advanced" learning technique that would help students. But it's a mindset rather than a single technique.

50. Use the right type of repetition. Complex concepts often require revisting in order to be fully absorbed. Sometimes, for some people, it may actually take months or years. Repetition of concepts and theory with various concrete examples improves absorption and speeds up learning.

51. Apply the Quantum Learning (QL) model. The Quantum Learning model is being applied in some US schools and goes beyond typical education methods to engage students.

52. Get necessary tools. There are obviously all kinds of tools for learning. If you are learning online like a growing number of people these days, then consider your online tools. One of the best tools for online research is the Firefox web browser, which has loads of extensions (add-ons) with all manner of useful features. One is Googlepedia, which simultaneously displays Google search engine listings, when you search for a term, with related entries from Wikipedia.

53. Get necessary tools, part 2. This is a very niche tip, but if you want to learn fast-track methods for building software, read Getting Real from 37 Signals. The Web page version is free. The techniques in the book have been used to create Basecamp, Campfire, and Backpack web applications in a short time frame. Each of these applications support collaboration and organization.

54. Learn critical thinking. As Keegan-Michael Key's character on MadTV might say, critical thinking takes analysis to "a whole notha level". Read Wikipedia's discourse on critical thinking as a starting point. It involves good analytical skills to aid the ability to learn selectively.

55. Learn complex problem solving. For most people, life is a series of problems to be solved. Learning is part of the process. If you have a complex problem, you need to learn the art of complex problem solving.

For Teachers, Tutors, and Parents

56. Be engaging. Lectures are one-sided and often counter-productive. Information merely heard or witnessed (from a chalkboard for instance) is often forgotten. Teaching is not simply talking. Talking isn't enough. Ask students questions, present scenarios, engage them.

57. Use information pyramids. Learning happens in layers. Build base knowledge upon which you can add advanced concepts.

58. Use video games.
Video games get a bad rap because of certain violent games. But video games in general can often be an effective aid to learning.

59. Role play. Younger people often learn better by being part of a learning experience. For example, history is easier to absorb through reenactments.

60. Apply the 80/20 rule. This rule is often interpreted in dfferent ways. In this case, the 80/20 rule means that some concepts, say about 20% of a curriculum, require more effort and time, say about 80%, than others. So be prepared to expand on complex topics.

61. Tell stories. Venus Flytrap, a character from the sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati, once taught a student gang member about atoms, electrons, and protons by saying that an atom was one big neighborhood, and the protons and neutrons had their own smaller neighborhoods and never mixed. Just like rival gangs. The story worked, and understanding sparked in the students eyes.

62. Go beyond the public school curriculum. The public school system is woefully lacking in teaching advanced learning and brainstorming methods. It's not that the methods cannot be taught; they just aren't. To learn more, you have to pay a premium in additional time and effort, and sometimes money for commercially available learning tools.

63. Use applied learning. If a high school student were having trouble in math, say with fractions, one example of applied learning might be photography, lenses, f-stops, etc. Another example is cooking and measurement of ingredients. Tailor the applied learning to the interest of the student.

For Students and Self-Studiers

64. Be engaged. Surprise. Sometimes students are bored because they know more than is being taught, maybe even more than a teacher. Students should discuss with a teacher if they feel that the material being covered is not challenging. Also consider asking for additional materials.

65. Teach yourself. Teachers cannot always change their curricula. If you're not being challenged, challenge yourself. Some countries still apply country-wide exams for all students. If your lecturer didn't cover a topic, you should learn it on your own. Don't wait for someone to teach you. Lectures are most effective when you've pre-introduced yourself to concepts.

66. Collaborate. If studying by yourself isn't working, maybe a study group will help.

67. Do unto others: teach something. The best way to learn something better is to teach it to someone else. It forces you to learn, if you are motivated enough to share your knowledge.

68. Write about it. An effective way to "teach" something is to create an FAQ or a wiki containing everything you know about a topic. Or blog about the topic. Doing so helps you to realize what you know and more importantly what you don't. You don't even have to spend money if you grab a freebie account with Typepad, Wordpress, or Blogger.

69. Learn by experience. Pretty obvious, right? It means put in the necessary time. An expert is often defined as someone who has put in 10,000 hours into some experience or endeavor. That's approximately 5 years of 40 hours per week, every week. Are you an expert without realizing it? If you're not, do you have the dedication to be an expert?

70. Quiz yourself. Testing what you've learned will reinforce the information. Flash cards are one of the best ways, and are not just for kids.

71. Learn the right things first.
Learn the basics. Case in point: a frustrating way to learn a new language is to learn grammar and spelling and sentence constructs first. This is not the way a baby learns a language, and there's no reason why an adult or young adult has to start differently, despite "expert" opinion. Try for yourself and see the difference.

72. Plan your learning. If you have a long-term plan to learn something, then to quote Led Zeppelin, "There are two paths you can go by." You can take a haphazard approach to learning, or you can put in a bit of planning and find an optimum path. Plan your time and balance your learning and living.

Parting Advice

73. Persist. Don't give up learning in the face of intimdating tasks. Anything one human being can learn, most others can as well. Wasn't it Einstein that said, "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration"? Thomas Edison said it, too.

74. Defy the experts. Dyslexia, in a nutshell, is the affliction of mentally jumbling letters and digits, causing difficulties in reading, writing and thus learning. Sometimes spoken words or numbers get mixed up as well. In the past, "experts" declared dyslexic children stupid. Later, they said they were incapable of learning. This author has interacted with and taught dyslexic teens. It's possible. Helen Keller had no experience of sight, sound, or speech, and yet she learned. Conclusion: There is more than one way to learn; never believe you cannot.

75. Challenge yourself. People are often more intelligent than they realize. In a world that compartmentalizes and categorizes everything, not everyone is sure where they fit in. And genius can be found in many walks of life. If you honestly suspect that there's more to you than has been "allowed" to be let out, try an IQ test such as the one offered by MENSA. It's unlike the standardized IQ tests given in many schools.

76. Party before an exam. Well, don't go that far. The key is to relax. The worse thing to do is cram the night before an exam. If you don't already know a subject by then, cramming isn't going to help. If you have studied, simply review the topic, then go do something pleasant (no more studying). Doing so tells your brain that you are prepared and that you will be able to recall anything that you have already learned.

77. Don't worry; learn happy. Have a real passion for learning and want to share that? Join a group such as the Joyful Jubilant Learning community [via LifeHack]. source

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