MA cancels tax holiday, raises sales tax

Abigail Beshkin reports:

C’mon, 50K!

This post introduces a new category to my blog: shameless self-promotion. Self promotion because it just is. Shameless because I’ve already posted about this before. But the parody review of The Oozinator that Phil and I did almost 3 years ago has 49,689 views as of this posting, and I’m so proud! It was written, rehearsed, and shot in less than 2 hours (and yes, it shows, but it’s still damned funny).

You know, the Oozinator? The horrifically ill-conceived Hasbro super soaker which looks like a green alien phallus and shoots white gloppy ooze? Ooh, yeah, that thing.

Every once in a while I compulsively check back on it to see what people think of it. I’ve been eyeing that 50,000 view milestone (which in non-youtube fame terms is about the equivalent of your first guest appearance on a public access TV show airing in Omaha). I’m also pleased to report that we are number 3 in the youtube search results for “oozinator”, right after the first ever posted video of the actual original ad, and a much better rehearsed bit about the meeting at which the Oozinator idea should have been killed (which is also amusing). And while we aren’t one of the two coveted video results at the top of google web searches for the term, somehow we are the number 2 slot in google video search. How does that work?

Bing, Microsoft’s arguably slick search engine, however, can suck it. Our review isn’t even in the first 5 pages of web results, and we’re on the second page, 28 videos into the result grid… and that link is to some guy’s myspace page where he reposted the video! Where’s the love, Bing?

And now the video:

Reflections on Jill Bolte Taylor’s Stroke of Insight

I watched Jill Bolte Taylor’s TED talk a year ago, after my uncle J sent around a link to an article in the NYTimes called A Superhighway to Bliss. In her talk, she recounts how she experienced nirvana while having a stroke in her left brain.
A few weeks ago the topic came up again on a mailing list, and I linked the talk to the group. I insist that you watch the first 3 minutes (out of the total 20) right now — I bet you will not hit pause.

I watched Jill Bolte Taylor’s TED talk a year ago, after my uncle J sent around a link to an article in the NYTimes called A Superhighway to Bliss. In her talk, she recounts how she experienced nirvana while having a stroke in her left brain.

A few weeks ago the topic came up again on a mailing list, and I linked the talk to the group. I insist that you watch the first 3 minutes (out of the total 20) right now — I bet you will not hit pause.

T, one of the people on the list, and a psychologist, said that Ms. Taylor was describing psychosis, and that while we learned much from her description of her experience, to aspire to that state was to aspire to psychosis. This set me to thinking, and led me to articulate for the first time some thoughts I’d had on this topic.

I see the message of her talk as grounded in a very difficult philosophical point which relates to T’s reaction that Jill Taylor was describing psychosis. The definitions you find of psychosis all root in abnormal states of mind, in which contact with reality is lost. Well, the purely right brain experience that Ms. Taylor was having was in no was disconnected with reality. Not in the way a physicist would describe reality. Her right brain was unaffected by her stroke, and continued to be just as connected to reality as it ever was. The reality from which she was separated, and from which those with psychoses are separated, is the consensual reality that all of us with left brain dominance dwell in, in which “we” end at the borders of our skin.

Where “we” stop and the outside world begins, however, is not cut and dry. Is the air in your lungs at this moment part of you? What about the urine in your bladder which you have not yet eliminated? The digested food in your stomach? The water in the glass you are about to drink quickly becomes the cerebrospinal fluid in your brain. At what point does it become “you”?

To be sure, a human without left brain function, incapable of conceiving of themselves as individual and separate from the rest of the matter and energy in the universe, is maladapted. We have invested a lot of evolutionary energy into that left hemisphere way of perceiving reality, and it has paid off rather well, in that we can build cities and study dentistry and live longer. But we also know that adaptations which pay off in some ways can be detrimental in others. Many of the way our bodies manage nourishment were evolved when food was scarce, and are actually detrimental now. The adaptation to stand on our legs has freed our hands to use tools, but ruins our backs and our knees.

So would be the case with our development of a left brain mindset. It precedes and enables all of our thinking, but cuts us off from one another and the universe at large, prevents us from experiencing that bliss. Call it expulsion from Eden, if you will.

This is the insight of which she speaks — that the notion that we are all connected, all one, is not just some hippie-dippy way of expressing aspirations for peace and coexistence. It is in fact the unadulterated truth; and merely perceiving it at all, even if we cannot live in that state of mind perpetually, has immediate, powerful, and positive consequences for our way of viewing the world, and our actions in it.

I like the new digs

UPDATE: my import problem turned out to be a version incompatibility issue with php and libxml2, and was a general problem with the xmlrpc API as well… Upgrading to latest versions seems to have fixed it.

At long last, I have finished migrating Terminus Est from blogspot to my own WordPress install. My old site now redirects here, please make note ofthe new address. My feed address has not changed.

The migration did not go as smoothly as one should, despite there being an importer that is supposed to handle things for you.

For one thing, the importer doesnt handle images hosted on blogger. It seems there is a plugin which might take care of it, but I didnt know that until it was too late. Fortunately most of the images in my blog are actually hosted on Flickr, so that was actually not so terrible.

The real issue, however, was that every post had its angle brackets stripped out, necessitating a manual correction, very annoying. Also for some reason it converted all of bloggers tags to WordPress categories, which is mystifying, and required manual correction as well.