Europe against GMO crops! Please, sign the Avaaz petition!
I already did. It's us who decide, not Monsanto!!!

Long live the banks. Because it seems that they are the kings of our Planet. Long live the money, because they obviously are the only value we recognize.

So, a bank guilty of capital crime, which laundered  trillions dirty dollars, gets away by paying a fine, just because it's "too big to fail". (A separate question is that a big part of the severity of the fine is due to the fact the bank officials dared to say "Who are the americans to tell us how to run our business" - obviously another capital crime in USA)

Another group of banks, manipulated the LIBOR and thus the inter-banking loaning rates and ultimately the banks sanity with all the consequences we observe currently, and what happens to those nice people? You would think that after such a major investigation, CEOs and major investors would be arrested?Not at all. Some random scape goats were arrested and the banks would pay what? A FINE! Why not, they are too big to fail, right?

In the third article, the author tries to convince us how nice and caring entities are the hedge funds. Yes, they led to the housing crash which devastated the lives of thousands and they tried so hard to lead the euro zone to a default, betting against the euro and creating a political and financial climate to ensure the euro would fall (with all the devastation to millions of people which it would bring), now they are trying desperately to rob Argentina and default the whole country. But they do it only because they want to clean up the excess and let the force of the market do its work. Of course, they do it for the money too, but also, they have good intentions. WAAAAAAAAAAIT! WHAAAAAAAAAAAT?! I can't believe anyone would dare to write something so stupid, so obviously wrong, so EVIL! Those funds, they see a weakness, a fracture in a structure carefully built for decades, then they bet against the structure, put some explosive in the fracture and watch the whole thing fall down in flame. Making billions in the process. They feed on destruction and death. They are not benevolent! They are speculators which not only "bet", they use any legal and illegal means available, to make sure their bet will earn them money. So please, shove that article, whatever you like and stop wasting our time with nonsense!

Another craziness: the holly European patent Grail finally got its Yes from the EP and now, it can happily contribute to the World Injustice. Why I'm so negative? Because I don't believe it's fair, that the European patents should be granted only in English, French or German. If it was English and one arbitrary European language - yes. But not like that. This way is simply humiliating for other European nations.

And last but not least, the US Supreme Court announced it will consider whether a gene can be patented. Because see, an isolated gene is not found in nature, it is a product of human ingenuity! Right. Single quarks are also not found in Nature, let's patent them and then sue anyone who wish to make a research on quarks. Can this be normal? Once again, money before everything. The interests of one company are put before the interests of a whole country. Because someone somewhere decided that you can patent a gen. Not one which you have artificially created, by being smart and investing millions. But one, which you just isolated. The next step is to sue every cancer patient having the same genes to pay you a fee for infringing your patent. CRAZY! Absolutely crazy!
So, enjoy!

HSBC to Pay $1.92 Billion to Settle Charges of Money Laundering

State and federal authorities decided against indicting HSBC in a money-laundering case over concerns that criminal charges could jeopardize one of the world’s largest banks and ultimately destabilize the global financial system.

Instead, HSBC announced on Tuesday that it had agreed to a record $1.92 billion settlement with authorities. The bank, which is based in Britain, faces accusations that it transferred billions of dollars for nations like Iran and enabled Mexican drug cartels to move money illegally through its American subsidiaries.

While the settlement with HSBC is a major victory for the government, the case raises questions about whether certain financial institutions, having grown so large and interconnected, are too big to indict.  source

Libor Manipulation Scandal: Britain's Serious Fraud Office Arrests 3 In Interest Rate Probe

Prosecutors and regulators across Europe, the United States, Canada and Japan have been investigating how traders attempted to rig key benchmark lending rates such as Libor (the London interbank offered rate) after the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission initiated an industry-wide probe in October 2008.

Dozens of people have been fired by banks and are under investigation in the probe into benchmarks like Libor, which underpins around $550 trillion of loans and financial contracts.

In the first settlement with UK and U.S. regulators, Barclays agreed in June to pay $450 million in fines and penalties to settle allegations by regulators and prosecutors that some of its employees tried to manipulate key interest rates from 2005 through 2009. source

List of the banks subpoenaed in the Libor fraud:
Bank of America, Credit Suisse, Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi, Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Canada, Rabobank, Societe Generale, Norinchukin Bank, and West LB, JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, and HSBC, in addition to Barclays, Citigroup and UBS source1 source2

Hedge Funds Stride the Stage of World Affairs

Argentina’s president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, was re-elected with a huge margin last year, leaving her political opponents fractured and demoralized. But in recent months, she has found herself locked in battle with a determined adversary who may outmaneuver her.

Her opponent is not a participant in Argentina’s domestic political scene. Rather, he is Paul Singer, a soft-spoken New York hedge fund manager. Through one of his funds, Mr. Singer is fighting in United States courts to press Argentina to pay up on some defaulted bonds. Mrs. Kirchner has refused.

In other words, a hedge fund has become an important political player in a democracy of 41 million people.

The ability of hedge funds to act as decisive change agents dates to one momentous trade: George Soros’s bet against the British pound in 1992. Mr. Soros’s fund wagered that the government would ultimately have to let the pound fall in value, prompting the fund to sell billions of pounds and buy other European currencies. The selling pressure was too much for the British government, and the pound left the currency arrangement. The day it dropped out was known as Black Wednesday.

Hedge funds also played an early role in the housing bust, which affected millions of people and led to deep societal changes.  While house prices would have collapsed without hedge funds, the funds helped lead to the crash.  As early as 2005, Mr. Burry pestered investment banks for ways of betting against housing (..). Eventually, the banks provided the financial instruments that allowed Mr. Burry to place the bearish trades. Soon, firms like Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs were betting heavily against housing in a similar way.

Now, hedge funds can also be outgunned by government entities aiming to shore up markets. Since the financial crisis in 2008, the world’s central banks have shown a willingness to print trillions of dollars to support financial assets. This makes it much harder for some bearish bets to work. Hedge funds betting on the collapse of the euro have had a hard time since the European Central Bank stepped up its support in September, agreeing to buy government bonds of stressed countries.

Europe Reaches Agreement on System for Patents

December 11, 2012
On Tuesday, the European Parliament adopted a uniform patent system for Europe. If the plan goes into effect as expected by early 2014, it would try to remedy the country-by-country approach whose time and costs have long been an impediment to innovation across the European Union.

Meeting in Strasbourg on Tuesday, the European Parliament voted 484 to 164 to pass the key plank of the new patent system. Nation-by-nation vetting of the new system will formally start in February, when governments are expected to sign a treaty creating special patent courts.

The cost of patent protection should initially drop to around 6,500 euros, or $8,400, from about 36,000 euros, or $46,500, the commission said. That change is largely because the new so-called unitary patents granted by the European Patent Office in Munich would no longer need to be validated in all of the countries where protection is sought. Nor would they need to be translated into all local languages. Instead, English, German or French would suffice. source

Supreme Court to Look at a Gene Issue

-  The Supreme Court announced on Friday that it would decide whether human genes may be patented.
he case the court added to its docket concerns patents held by Myriad Genetics, a Utah company, on genes that correlate with increased risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.

The patents were challenged by scientists and doctors who said that their research and ability to help patients had been frustrated. “Myriad and other gene patent holders have gained the right to exclude the rest of the scientific community from examining the naturally occurring genes of every person in the United States,” the plaintiffs told the Supreme Court in their petition seeking review. They added that the patents “prevent patients from examining their own genetic information” and “made it impossible to obtain second opinions.”

The legal question for the justices is whether isolated genes are “products of nature” that may not be patented or “human-made inventions” eligible for patent protection.

“The isolated DNA molecules before us are not found in nature,” wrote Judge Alan D. Lourie, who was in the majority. “They are obtained in the laboratory and are man-made, the product of human ingenuity.” source

In the mean time: U.S.-Approved Arms for Libya Rebels Fell Into Jihadis’ Hands
 "The Obama administration secretly gave its blessing to arms shipments to Libyan rebels from Qatar last year, but American officials later grew alarmed as evidence grew that Qatar was turning some of the weapons over to Islamic militants, according to United States officials and foreign diplomats."

Edit, 15.12.2012: GUILTY PLEA EXPECTED FOR UBS UNIT IN RATE-RIGGING CASE ""UBS is in final negotiations with American, British and Swiss authorities to settle accusations that its employees reported false rates, a deal in which the bank's Japanese unit is expected to plead guilty to a criminal charge," DealBook reports. In addition, "UBS could face about $1 billion in fines and regulatory sanctions," according to people briefed on the matter who spoke of private discussions on the condition of anonymity."I just don't get it why exactly the Japanese unit...

Today I read this amazing radio interview transcript: Blurring The Line Between Life And Death and I was stunned. First, I need to say, I'm totally for organ-donation, so don't have doubts on that. After all, we all want a part of us to continue living even after we're gone and for most of us, having children is the way to do it. But an organ is also a part of us and if it lives, so do we (at least part of us). And since our death is something beyond our control, giving a piece of us to save someone, this is really a something. The ultimate good deed one could do during his lifetime.
So for me, there is no question whether organs should be donated or whether the organs should be kept alive by putting the body on artificial ventilation or so on. Yes, they should!
What struck me was the repeated questions - but if the heart is beating and you're still breathing, how could you be declared death? And that prompted me to share my thoughts here, even though I haven't done so for quite a while now.
All those question, they lead to only one place - and it is the question "what is life?". Let me put it this way. People find the idea of their bodies kept "alive" while they are gone disturbing. Well, did you know that even after the death, some cells still grow, multiply, essentially live?! For example hair or nails. Just that someone turned off the light doesn't necessarily mean for the cells to stop their existence. They will continue to do what they always do until they deplete their supplies of oxygen and nutrients. Which will happen eventually, if the blood is not circulating and if it is not being enriched with oxygen. But if it is, the cells just won't know there is no reason for them to live anymore. So they will continue living.
But that wouldn't make the person alive. Because we're much more than just bodies. And the fact that some cells continue living or that some organs are kept alive just don't mean that we are alive.
People don't like thinking about that but especially people who were sedated under general anesthesia would know it on some level. I mean, they put you some drugs and you're gone. And after you wake up, you know that they did something to you, that they opened you, just like any machine, that they tried to repair your parts and if they were successful, your life gets better. What's most important, your personality will also change because of what they did to you, because of the way it would affect your life. But on some level, you know so very well you're not your parts, you're something different, something BIG.
So there are two parts of this article which people have problems understanding.
First, without your brain, you are not alive, you do not exist. Because what defines our existence is our ability to perceive the reality and to react to it. And that happens in our brain. So if the brain is badly injured, then it's over. Because in your brain resides all your personality, all your memories, all your emotions, everything. So unless you've found a way to download them and load them in different place, once the brain stops functioning, the human being disappears. And it doesn't matter if the organs get ventilated and the blood circulates, whatever happens, that human being cannot be brought back to life! This is how doctors know when to pronounce someone death. Because they know what it takes to be alive!
Second, our body is just a machine. Just as our personality is merely an avatar. That one is hard to grasp, but it's true. I mean, think of all the stupid things you've done. Would you repeat them again? Some of them yes, others - no. And this is because our personality changes with time. It changes with our body, with our life, with our experience. Every little thing that happens to us affects our personality, it affects our idea of who we are. So our personality is not something constant. People with brain-tumors or with amnesia can behave differently than their previous selves. So our personality is not who we are, it's just the frame trough which we experience reality. Our body is also not who we are. People lose limbs, change organs, but apart from some personality changes, they are still the same. They have to do things differently, to adapt, but in their hearts, they are who they are.
So our body is nothing but a machine. A machine which has to carry us around, to help us experience the world, to give us a feeling of the world.
But it's just a machine. And when some of the parts stop functioning, our real selves, our soul might prefer to leave. Because its vessel can no longer serve its purpose.
So what's death? Death is just the soul leaving the body behind. Can we define it in strict medical sense? Hardly. Nobody knows when or why the soul will depart. There are patients with really bad injuries who eventually recuperate, there are patients with not so grave injuries who just decide they must go and they do it. Death is something beyond our understanding for the moment, because it's not our personality who decides it, but our soul. What doctors can do is prescribe certain tests to show whether the body can do its most primitive tasks or not. If it cannot breath on its own and there's no brain activity or no signs of higher brain activity required for a functioning mind...then the body is as good as dead. And anything you do to it after that point, it doesn't matter. Because the soul is gone and what is left is just a bunch of organic matter.
Why I bothered to write all this?
Because we learn more and more about the building blocks of our bodies. We know about genes and we can manipulate them, we can move organs from our body to the next, sooner or later, we'll be able to attach artificial organs to ourselves, artificial limbs, artificial memory storages...According to this article (Scientists rewrite rules of human reproduction), we could soon banish the menopause!  Just think of how women would be changed by this! How our society will change because of this! Eventually, we would learn how to transform ourselves. And we must know what is it that defines us human. It's not our body, as lovely as it is. It's not our personality, which evolves constantly. It's our soul. Everything in the material world is only a vessel for the soul to enjoy physical reality. And as long as our souls are pure and still learning and still enjoying being alive, we're human, we're here. 

Some wonderful news.
This post was waiting to happen for quite long now, but I think its time finally has come. I think I have attached some very exiting articles on the healthy life, so I urge you to read them (I shortened them a great deal).
Anyway, what impressed me today was the first article in the list - that scientists have detected that the mindfulness meditation provokes changes in the brain's white tissues and myelin, along with improved moods changin in the participants. And the best part is that it happened after only a month of 22 minutes/a day meditation. Just imagine what you could achieve by meditating longer or by varying the type of meditation. What a better reason to start meditating today than this?!
The reason why this is such a great news is that for more people, meditation sounds almost like magic - something mystical, almost mythological, that has nothing to do with science. Well, this IS science. And if science can measure the effect of the meditation in the brain, then clearly, it is a real thing.
Of course, people already meditate (or want to) won't need any convincing, while skeptics would remain skeptic no matter what. But for those of you, who are open for something cool and new, try this meditation for a month. Even if it might be unsuccessful on Day One, or even on Day 15, as long as you honestly try it, everyday, for 15 minutes, by the end of the month, you'll already see the difference it makes. I kind of see it as a hygiene issue. You can meditate for different reasons like spiritual development or relaxation or looking for an escape from the daily routine and stress - it doesn't matter. In the end, the meditation feels like a shower for the mind. You sit patiently, do (or "undo") the thing and when you're done, your mind is fresh and clean and ready for action. So for me, this is just one of the basic skills that everyone must learn. The best part of it is that it requires no religion, no belief, no education. It just requires persistence and action. Everything else just happens.

Anyway, you can read the article below. As for the other news, here's a digest.

  1. Turmeric has been observed to extend lifespan in healthy nematode worms by more than 50 percent and slow the disease process in worms bred to mimic aspects of Alzheimer's.
  2. Tomatoes (half a liter of tomato juice taken daily, or 50 grams of tomato paste) have been associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, including hardened arteries, heart attacks and strokes. Also lowering the blood pressure are both garlic and dark chocolate.
  3. Plants of the mustard family, such as cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts were proved to help defend against bacteria
  4. The traditional Chinese medicinal plant commonly known as thunder god vine, or lei gong teng seems to really block the growth of 60 cancer cell lines.
  5. Triclosan found in soaps and even toothpastes may alter hormone regulation in laboratory animals or cause antibiotic resistance. 
The moral - turmeric, tomatoes, chocolate, garlic, cabbage, broccoli and lei gong teng are good for our health. Triclosan is not. Try to avoid it.

I hope I have been useful with this post. With time, I grow convinced that Nature indeed has provided so many resources for our happy and healthy existence. We just don't know our planet enough to use it. And maybe, we have lost our ability to know it, to discover its miracles without technology. Medicine is something great, we have achieved so much with it. But there is so much more to know, to master, to develop. And we really should not only study the Nature, but also learn from it using the scientific approach. And as we see, remarkable discoveries happen every now and then. Let's hope that sooner rather than later, the aging and age-related diseases (along with many others like cancer and so on and so on) will be conquered and we would finally be able to start thinking BIG.
Have a wonderful day!

Chinese mindfulness meditation prompts double positive punch in brain white matter

June 11, 2012
Scientists studying the Chinese mindfulness meditation known as integrative body-mind training (IBMT) say they've confirmed and expanded their findings on changes in structural efficiency of white matter in the brain that can be related to positive behavioral changes in subjects practicing the technique regularly for a month.
In a paper appearing this week in the online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists Yi-Yuan Tang and Michael Posner report improved mood changes coincided with increased axonal density -- more brain-signaling connections -- and an expansion of myelin, the protective fatty tissue that surrounds the axons, in the brain's anterior cingulate region.
Deficits in activation of the anterior cingulate cortex have been associated with attention deficit disorder, dementia, depression, schizophrenia and many other disorders.
IBMT was adapted from traditional Chinese medicine in the 1990s in China, where it is practiced by thousands of people. It differs from other forms of meditation because it depends heavily on the inducement of a high degree of awareness and balance of the body, mind and environment. The meditative state is facilitated through training and trainer-group dynamics, harmony and resonance. source

Nature study shows common lab dye is a wonder drug -- for worms

March 30, 2011 
Basic Yellow 1, a dye used in neuroscience laboratories around the world to detect damaged protein in Alzheimer's disease, is a wonder drug for nematode worms. In a study appearing in the March 30, online edition of Nature, the dye, also known as Thioflavin T, (ThT) extended lifespan in healthy nematode worms by more than 50 percent and slowed the disease process in worms bred to mimic aspects of Alzheimer's. The research, conducted at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, could open new ways to intervene in aging and age-related disease.
Alavez said curcumin, the active ingredient in the popular Indian spice turmeric, also had a significant positive impact on both healthy worms and those bred to express a gene associated with Alzheimer's. Curcumin is currently being tested in several human clinical trials for conditions ranging from colon cancer to rheumatoid arthritis to depression.source

Tomatoes may help ward off heart disease

May 18, 2011 
Medical Xpress) -- A University of Adelaide study has shown that tomatoes may be an effective alternative to medication in lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, thus preventing cardiovascular disease.
A paper published by Dr. Karin Ried in the international journal Maturitas reveals that a bright red pigment called lycopene found in and to a lesser extent in watermelon, guava, papaya, pink grapefruit and rosehip has antioxidant properties that are vital to good health.
"Our study suggests that if more than 25 milligrams of lycopene is taken daily, it can reduce LDL-cholesterol by up to 10%," Dr. Ried says.
Tomatoes in particular have high levels of lycopene, with half a liter of tomato juice taken daily, or 50 grams of tomato paste, providing protection against heart disease.
Dr. Ried says lycopene is better absorbed in processed and cooked tomatoes or tomato paste rather than fresh tomatoes. As a supplement, lypocene is available in soft gelatine capsules or tablets.
"Research shows that high lycopene consumption has been associated with a decreased , including hardened arteries, heart attacks and strokes."
The study was funded by the Australian Department of Health and Ageing.
Dr. Ried and her colleagues have received international recognition for other clinical studies which show the benefits of both garlic and dark chocolate in helping to lower blood pressure. source

What is good for you is bad for infectious bacteria

March 3, 2011 
Plants are able to protect themselves from most bacteria, but some bacteria are able to breach their defences. In research to be published in Science on Friday, scientists have identified the genes used by some strains of the bacterium Pseudomonas to overwhelm defensive natural products produced by plants of the mustard family, or crucifers.
The scientists have confirmed that the chemicals used by cruciferous plants to defend against bacteria are isothiocyanates, nitrogen and sulphur-containing produced by plants of the mustard family, such as cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. These potent molecules have antioxidant, anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties in humans.
Isothiocyanates are released by the plant when it is challenged or eaten. They had previously been shown to be active against bacteria but this is the first time their essential role has been successfully tested using real plants. Isothiocyanates also provide a chemical barrier to harmful fungi and a toxic defence warning to insects and other herbivores. source

Solving a traditional Chinese medicine mystery

March 3, 2011 
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine have discovered that a natural product isolated from a traditional Chinese medicinal plant commonly known as thunder god vine, or lei gong teng, and used for hundreds of years to treat many conditions including rheumatoid arthritis works by blocking gene control machinery in the cell. The report, published as a cover story of the March issue of Nature Chemical Biology, suggests that the natural product could be a starting point for developing new anticancer drugs.
Triptolide, the purified from the plant Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F, has been shown in animal models to be effective against cancer, arthritis and skin graft rejection. In fact, says Liu, triptolide has been shown to block the growth of all 60 U.S. National Cancer Institute cell lines at very low doses, and even causes some of those cell lines to die. Other experiments have suggested that triptolide interferes with proteins known to activate genes, which gives Liu and colleagues an entry point into their research. source

Scientists identify protein that improves DNA repair under stress

June 16, 2011 
Cells in the human body are constantly being exposed to stress from environmental chemicals or errors in routine cellular processes. While stress can cause damage, it can also provide the stimulus for undoing the damage. New research by a team of scientists at the University of Rochester has unveiled an important new mechanism that allows cells to recognize when they are under stress and prime the DNA repair machinery to respond to the threat of damage. Their findings are published in the current issue of Science.
The scientists, led by biologists Vera Gorbunova and Andrei Seluanov, focused on the most dangerous type of DNA damage – double strand breaks. Unrepaired, this type of damage can lead to premature aging and cancer. They studied how oxidative affects efficiency of . Oxidative stress occurs when the body is unable to neutralize the highly-reactive molecules, which are typically produced during routine cellular activities.
The research team found that human cells undergoing oxidative stress synthesized more of a protein called SIRT6. By increasing SIRT6 levels, cells were able to stimulate their ability to double strand breaks. When the cells were treated with a drug that inactivated SIRT6, DNA repair came to a halt, thus confirming the role of SIRT6 in DNA repair. Gorbunova notes that the SIRT6 protein is structurally related to another protein, SIR2, which has been shown to extend lifespan in multiple model organisms.
The next step for Gorbunova and Seluanov is to identify the chemical activators that increase the activity of SIRT6.  source

Drug Makers’ Feared Enemy Switches Sides, as Their Lawyer - Michael K. Loucks was arguably the nation’s most influential prosecutor of health care fraud. He racked up numerous convictions and mega-settlements in nearly a quarter-century, using whistle-blowers and secret grand juries to pressure major pharmaceutical and health companies into ending illegal practices like kickbacks to doctors and misuse of blockbuster drugs.
But a year and a half ago, Mr. Loucks, a Republican, left the United States attorney’s office in Boston and has startled former allies by emerging in recent months as zealous a corporate defender as he was a prosecutor, complete with proposals seeking more lenient treatment for the medical companies he once vilified.
Antibacterial Chemical Raises Safety Issues
The Food and Drug Administration  is reviewing the safety of the chemical, which was created more than 40 years ago as a surgical scrub for hospitals. Triclosan is now in a range of consumer products, including soaps, kitchen cutting boards and even a best-selling toothpaste, Colgate Total.
Several studies have shown that triclosan may alter hormone regulation in laboratory animals or cause antibiotic resistance, and some consumer groups and members of Congress want it banned in antiseptic products like hand soap. The F.D.A. has already said that soap with triclosan is no more effective than washing with ordinary soap and water, a finding that manufacturers dispute.
The F.D.A. was to announce the results of its review several months ago, but now says the timing is uncertain and unlikely until next year.

Cuba releases world's first lung cancer vaccine  -- As the most common and deadliest form of cancer, lung cancer kills 1.4 million people per year worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. While current treatments may improve the survival rate when the cancer is caught in its early stages, the five-year survival rate for late-stage lung cancer can be less than 1%. Now some patients with advanced lung cancer may have another tool to combat the disease, as Cuban medical authorities announced on Tuesday that they will begin selling the world’s first therapeutic vaccine against lung cancer.
The vaccine, called CimaVax-EGF, is intended for patients with lung cancer in stages three and four who have shown no positive response to other kinds of treatment, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Although the vaccine doesn’t cure the disease, it can minimize the cancer’s growth due to its antibodies that combat the proteins that allow uncontrolled cell growth.

Study of Medical Device Rules Is Attacked, Unseen - Allies of the medical device industry are waging an extraordinary campaign in Washington to discredit a coming report by one of the country’s pre-eminent scientific groups that examines possible new regulations on the industry.
The scientific group, the Institute of Medicine, is scheduled to release a report on Friday that could propose a tougher approval process for a wide range of devices like hip implants, hospital pumps and external heart defibrillators.

The power of the inner world

It's a lovely spring outside and I decided to open the season with some articles on pleasure and well-being. After all, you can't escape the not so fun experiences - we all have to pass trough whatever we've written in our worldline (i.e. destiny). But the rest of the time, we're free to enjoy our life the best we can. So, here is some food for the thought on the nice and lovely and sweet side of our lives. 
Why Meditation And Orgasm Feel The Same To The Brain - "According to a recent article in Scientific American, both meditation and orgasm decrease our sense of self-awareness. Bliss, says author Nadia Webb, whether through the experience of meditative contemplation or through the bodily experience of sex, "shares the diminution of self-awareness, alterations in bodily perception and decreased sense of pain." In other words, both experiences lead to a temporary stoppage in the incessant flow of our internal commentary. Even if for only a few minutes, we are able to see ourselves as something other than the ego.
Meditation and orgasm light up different parts of the brain. Meditation, various studies have shown, lights up the left prefrontal cortex -- an area associated with joy and happiness. But during an orgasm, the left cortex remains totally silent. Meditation has also been known to create lasting change in the brain through a thickening of the cortex."
The conclusion is simple - make more sex and more meditation and be happy! 
10 Ways to Buy Happiness -
"1. Buy many small lovely things rather than one big one
2. Savour the cheap joys of life
3. Practice 'presence' for an extra jolt of joy
4. Buy experiences, not things
5. Spend on others, not yourself
6. Buy less insurance
7. Delay, delay, delay consumption
8. Happiness is in the details
9. Don't shop around
10. Follow the herd"
A lovely article on Stoicism :
"The core of the philosophy seems to be this: To have a good and meaningful life, you need to overcome your insatiability. Most people, at best, spend their lives in a long pursuit of happiness. So today’s successful person writes out a list of desires, then starts chasing them down and satisfying the desires. The problem is that each desire, when satisfied, tends to be replaced by a new desire. So the person continues to chase. Yet after a lifetime of pursuit, the person ends up no more satisfied than he was at the beginning. Thus, he may end up wasting his life.
The solution, the Stoics realized, is to learn to want the things you already have, rather than wanting other things. The most interesting technique that will help you achieve this is Negative Visualization.
For example, suppose that you currently have a good working set of eyes. Imagine carefully what it would be like to live your life as a blind person. You would have to work very hard to rearrange your life to remain functional (...) - in the end, you could surely survive and even become happy again if you were blind. But now open your eyes. SURPRISE!! YOU HAVE THIS BONUS OF SIGHT!!!. What an incredible life – you are truly blessed with more than you even need.
It turns out that if you practice negative visualization on a regular basis, you learn to both appreciate your current life much more, and to be mentally prepared in the event of any changes in your life as well – loss of health, fortune, a loved one, etc. You have replaced negative emotions with satisfaction and even joy.
The next great trick is the one that allows you to eliminate anxiety about the present and the future. That can be done by separating your worries into things you can control, and things you can’t.
Moving from the mental to the physical, Stoics actually enjoy experimenting with Voluntary Discomfort. (..)It sounds absurd by modern standards, until you realize that by doing this, you are actually broadening your comfort zone, even while you eliminate your fear of discomfort. By experimenting with voluntary discomfort, we learn to appreciate far more of our life, and can be content with a much simpler and more wholesome one.“The more pleasures a man captures, the more masters he will have to serve”
 Stoics believe that the main purpose of our productive energy is to fulfill all of our life’s obligations to our best ability, and to help our fellow humans.
Rewarding social interactions are a specialty of the Stoic. They believe that humans are social animals at the core, and thus we must exercise this part of our personality to maintain a balanced happiness. But at the same time, it is not rational to have any interest in fame or social status, since these are fleeting indulgences rather than sources of true happiness."
It's very strange to read an article like that if you're a fan of the positive visualization and the Secret and so on. On the first glance, positive and negative visualization can't be both right at the same time. But that's wrong. The negative visualization is a distinct effort from your side to see the things from another perspective. It's like an exercise you do to get stronger. While the positive visualization should be part of your mind-chatter. To always expect for the best result out of any situation, to become the person to whom such best results occur. It's amazing what our brains can do, if we use them properly.
Another very touching link, I just have to share is that to the alternate gospels, which I think everybody should read at least once, because they are so full of jewels.
with the gospel of Thomas what I find particularly ...interesting right now. It's not so important when and how they were written, the important part is the spiritual message they are brining to our attention.

And yeah, one more link. Read this crazy story : Terrified Woman From Another Universe Wake Up Here and make up your mind about it. For me, it's simply amazing. And also quite spooky. And very uncomfortably realistic. Linking it to the Stoicism - just imagine what would be to wake up like her - in a very familiar, but not the same world you went to sleep. And just appreciate what you have. Because many people do experience such things for very mundane reasons. So I think we should never forget what a wonderful gift our life is. Not because it's perfect, but because it ours.
Finally, I'd like to share a thought I read in a poem by William Mistelle:
"Your body is the cloak your spirit wears
In order to appear in this world"
I love it. I think we all know it, but still refuse to give up to this knowledge and accept it as part of us. In any case, we should enjoy our lives more. It's only them we have. Have a wonderful evening!

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