Category Archives: Clear Thinking

Center for Plain Language

By CALVIN WOODWARD, Associated Press Thu May 19, 6:47 am ET

WASHINGTON – The federal government is rolling out a new official language of sorts: plain English.

That’s right: Pursuant to regulations promulgated thereunder and commencing in accordance with a statute signed herein by President Barack Obama, the government shall be precluded from writing the pompous gibberish heretofore evidenced, to the extent practicable.

That sentence contains 11 new language no-nos.

Obama signed the Plain Writing Act last fall after decades of effort by a cadre of passionate grammarians in the civil service to jettison the jargon.

It takes full effect in October, when federal agencies must start writing plainly in all new or substantially revised documents produced for the public. The government will still be allowed to write nonsensically to itself.

Ahead then, if the law works, is a culture change for an enterprise that turns out reams of confusing benefit forms, tangled rules and foggy pronouncements. Not to mention a Pentagon brownie recipe that went on for 26 pages about “regulations promulgated thereunder,” “flow rates of thermoplastics by extrusion plastometer” and a commandment that ingredients “shall be examined organoleptically.”

That means look at, smell, touch or taste.

By July, each agency must have a senior official overseeing plain writing, a section of its website devoted to the effort and employee training under way.

“It is important to emphasize that agencies should communicate with the public in a way that is clear, simple, meaningful and jargon-free,” says Cass Sunstein, a White House information and regulation administrator who gave guidance to federal agencies in April on how to implement the law.

Bad writing by the government, he says, discourages people from applying for benefits they should get, makes federal rules hard to follow and wastes money because of all the time spent fixing mistakes and explaining things to a baffled populace.

But can clarity and good grammar be legislated?

Full Article

___

Online:

Federal plain language guidelines: http://www.plainlanguage.gov/howto/guidelines/bigdoc/fullbigdoc.pdf

Center for Plain Language: http://centerforplainlanguage.org

we’ve got to think seriously of third-party candidates, third formations, third parties.

We all are likely familiar with the popular dissatisfaction with Big Government of the right-wing tea party movement. I have been watching for some time, and with great interest, the left coming to the same point:

“We have got to attempt to tell the truth, and that truth is painful,” he says. “It is a truth that is against the thick lies of the mainstream. In telling that truth we become so maladjusted to the prevailing injustice that the Democratic Party, more and more, is not just milquetoast and spineless, as it was before, but thoroughly complicitous with some of the worst things in the American empire. I don’t think in good conscience I could tell anybody to vote for Obama. If it turns out in the end that we have a crypto-fascist movement and the only thing standing between us and fascism is Barack Obama, then we have to put our foot on the brake. But we’ve got to think seriously of third-party candidates, third formations, third parties. (http://www.truthdig.com/report/print/the_obama_deception_why_cornel_west_went_ballistic_20110516/)

The mainstream Republican/Democrat, Left-Wing/Right-Wing Hegelian Dialectic, that we are all too familiar with, will soon find some interesting competition.

It would appear that the populace on both sides are beginning to wake up and see the corruption in Big Government. It looks like each side has many of the same issues with Big Government. It will be interesting to see if the two sides of this awakening populace will be able to work together to address these issues in a productive and effective manner.

What thinkest ye?

Perceptual Diversity?

What in the hell is Perceptual Diversity, and why is Polyphasic Consciousness Necessary for Global Survival?

Read all about it here: http://www.izilwane.org/assets/docs/PerceptualDiversity.pdf

“development will continue to destroy perceptual diversity because it exports the dominant cognitive process of ‘developed’ nations, i.e. monophasic consciousness. Destroying perceptual diversity, in turn, leads to the destruction of cultural diversity and biocomplexity.”

” . . . perceptual diversity, the whole, and the synergistic interrelationship between parts.”

“A growing number of psychologists and anthropologists have become interested in the value of perceptual diversity, seeing the use of multiple perceptual processes as positive rather than pathological.”

“According to Walsh, Western culture is monophasic, that is, its worldview is derived from a single state: the waking state. Walsh adds that in the Western world there is a need to ‘reduce this cultural myopia and to shift society, psychology and other disciplines from monophasic to polyphasic perspectives.'”

” . . . transrational states of consciousness are statistically normal.”

~~~

Why Polyphasic Consciousness is Necessary for Global Survival:

. . . when a culture restrains perceptual diversity, that same culture reduces human adaptability, which, in turn, leads to human beings living unsustainably. Unsustainable lifestyles result in ecological destruction, including destruction of biodiversity (or biocomplexity). In a feedback loop, degraded environments offer fewer choices to human beings for adaptability, and a downward spiral commences. If, indeed, perceptual diversity promotes human adaptability and indirectly promotes healthy environments, then perceptual diversity has a practical application in everyday life. Yet the value of perceptual diversity is not acknowledged by international development experts, who insist that only a monophasic worldview is valid. In fact, one of the steps to development is for a culture to jettison its perceptual diversity in favor of a specialized approach based on the scientific method and economic progress. The scientific method only acknowledges monophasic consciousness. The method is a specialized system that focuses on studying small and distinctive parts in isolation, which results in fragmented knowledge.

And:

. . . Systems theory emerged in the mid-twentieth century and takes a different approach from that of
the scientific method.

By contrast, the systems approach attempts to view the world in terms of irreducibly
integrated systems. It focuses attention on the whole, as well as on the complex
interrelationships among its constituent parts. This way of seeing is not an alternative,
but a complement, to the specialized way. It is more all-embracing and comprehensive, incorporating the specialized perspective as one aspect of a general conception (Lazlo and
Krippner 1998:54).

Furthermore, systems theory posits that when studying only the parts of something, one may be missing the value of the whole.

Structurally, a system is a divisible whole, but functionally it is an indivisible unity with
emergent properties. An emergent property is marked by the appearance of novel
characteristics exhibited on the level of the whole ensemble, but not by the components in
isolation.

There are two important aspects of emergent properties: First, they are lost when the
system breaks down to its components—the property of life, for example, does not
inhere in organs once they are removed from the body. Second, when a component is
removed from the whole, that component itself will lose its emergent properties—a hand
severed from the body, cannot write, nor can a severed eye see.

The notion of emergent properties leads to the concept of synergy, suggesting that, as we
say in everyday language, the system is more than the sum of its parts….(Lazlo and
Krippner 1998:53).

In the same way, I see monophasic consciousness as one part of perceptual diversity—the part based on waking, rational thought and the scientific method. But the entire system of consciousness is far more complex and, in breaking it down and valuing only one of its parts, waking rational consciousness, one loses the value of the whole. I propose that in disavowing polyphasic consciousness (perceptual diversity), we may be losing the emergent properties of polyphasic consciousness. Coming from developed, Western cultures, which highly value monophasic
consciousness and the scientific method, we may not even be aware of what we are losing. And it is altered states of consciousness, which speak through symbols and intuition, such as dreaming,
imagining, and meditating, that often allow us to grasp the whole in a way that the scientific method can never provide.

~~~

“Many of these perceptual processes are transrational, altered state of consciousness (meditation, trance, dreams,
imagination) and are not considered valid processes for accessing knowledge by science (which is based primarily upon quantification, reductionism, and the experimental method).”

More examples of perceptual processes that are transrational, altered states of consciousness not considered valid processes for accessing knowledge by science:

rich fantasy lives, intuition, emotion,

Five different categories of induction into altered states of consciousness:

(1) reduction of external stimulation and/or motor activity

(2) increase of external stimulation and/or motor activity and/or emotion

(3) increased alertness or mental awareness

(4) decreased alertness or mental awareness

(5) the presence of somatopsychological factors

Read all about it here:

http://www.izilwane.org/assets/docs/PerceptualDiversity.pdf

Harm Reduction Guide To Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs & Withdrawal

The Icarus Project and Freedom Center’s 40-page guide gathers the best information we’ve come across and the most valuable lessons we’ve learned about reducing and coming off psychiatric medication. Includes info on mood stabilizers, anti-psychotics, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety drugs, risks, benefits, wellness tools, withdrawal, detailed Resource section, information for people staying on their medications, and much more. A ‘harm reduction’ approach means not being pro- or anti-medication, but supporting people to make their own decisions balancing the risks and benefits involved. Written by Will Hall, with a 14-member health professional Advisory board providing research assistance and 24 other collaborators involved in developing and editing. The guide has photographs and art throughout, and a beautiful original cover painting by Ashley McNamara. Download a .pdf to read or a ‘zine version to print and fold into a booklet (instructions included). Published copies also available through orders(at)theicarusproject(dot)net.

Click for downloads

There is a war going on in this country!

David McCandless: The beauty of data visualization

David McCandless makes infographics — simple, elegant ways to see information that might be too complex or too big, small, abstract or scattered to otherwise be grasped. In his new book, Information Is Beautiful (in the US, it’s being called The Visual Miscellaneum), McCandless and his cadre of info designers take a spin through the world of visualized data, from hard stats on politics and climate to daffy but no less important trends in pop music.

McCandless’ genius is not so much in finding jazzy new ways to show data — the actual graphics aren’t the real innovation here — as in finding fresh ways to combine datasets to let them ping and prod each other. Reporting the number of drug deaths in the UK every year is interesting; but mapping that data onto the number of drug deaths reported by the UK press, broken down by drug, is utterly fascinating (more deaths by marijuana were reported than in fact occurred, by a factor of 484%). McCandless contributes a monthly big-think graphic to the Guardian‘s Data Blog, and makes viral graphics for his blog Information Is Beautiful.

“It’s not just the sheer variety of topics covered — though knowing the relative effect of rising sea levels or the prime vintage years for red and white wines by country will come in handy someday soon, I’m certain — but the way in which, for many of these charts, there’s considerably more than meets the eye.”

Chris Bilton, Eye Weekly review of The Visual Miscellaneum

http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/

Changing Education Paradigms

 

Randomised controlled trial of Alexander technique lessons, exercise, and massage (ATEAM) for chronic and recurrent back pain

via http://www.bmj.com/content/337/bmj.a884.full

Back pain is a common condition managed in primary care and one of the commonest causes of disability in Western societies.1 2 As yet few interventions have been proved to substantially help patients with chronic back pain in the longer term.

Supervised exercise classes—mainly strengthening and stabilising exercises—probably have moderate benefit for chronic pain.3 4 5 6 7 A trial of advice from a doctor to take aerobic exercise showed short term benefit for acute pain,8 but the evidence of longer term benefit for chronic or recurrent pain and for exercise “prescriptions” is lacking.9

Lessons in the Alexander technique offer an individualised approach designed to develop lifelong skills for self care that help people recognise, understand, and avoid poor habits affecting postural tone and neuromuscular coordination. Lessons involve continuous personalised assessment of the individual patterns of habitual musculoskeletal use when stationary and in movement; paying particular attention to release of unwanted head, neck, and spinal muscle tension, guided by verbal instruction and hand contact, allowing decompression of the spine; help and feedback from hand contact and verbal instruction to improve musculoskeletal use when stationary and in movement; and spending time between lessons practising and applying the technique (also see appendix on bmj.com).

The Alexander technique is thus distinct from manipulation,10 back schools,11 and conventional physiotherapy.12 The practice and theory of the technique, in conjunction with preliminary findings of changes in postural tone and its dynamic adaptability to changes in load and position,13 14 15 support the hypothesis that the technique could potentially reduce back pain by limiting muscle spasm, strengthening postural muscles, improving coordination and flexibility, and decompressing the spine. A small trial, not fully reported, showed promising short term results for back pain.16 We are not aware of a trial reporting long term results.

Systematic reviews and a recent trial highlighted the importance of research to assess the effectiveness of holistic therapeutic massage17 18 19; we particularly wanted to assess massage as it provides no long term educational element, in contrast with lessons in the Alexander technique.

We determined the effectiveness of six or 24 lessons in the Alexander technique, massage therapy, and advice from a doctor to take exercise (using an exercise prescription) with nurse delivered behavioural counselling for patients with chronic or recurrent back pain.

Read More . . .

You are here to help

from How to Survive the Crash and Save the Earth

by Ran Prieur

4. You are here to help. In the culture of Empire, we are trained to think of ourselves as here to “succeed,” to build wealth and status and walls around ourselves, to get what we desire, to win in games where winning is given meaning by others losing. It is a simple and profound shift to think of ourselves instead as here to help — to serve the greatest good that we can perceive in whatever way is right in front of us.

You don’t have to sacrifice yourself for others, or put others “above” you. Why is it so hard to see each other as equals? And it’s OK to have a good time. In fact, having a good time is what most helping comes down to — the key is that you’re focused on the good times of all life everywhere including your “self,” instead of getting caught up in egocentric comparison games that aren’t even that fun.

Defining yourself as here to help is a prerequisite for doing some of the other things on this list properly. If you’re here to win you’re not saving anything but your own wretched ass for a few additional years. If you’re dropping out to win you’re likely to be stepping on other outsiders, instead of throwing a rope to bring more people out alive. And as the system breaks down, people here to win will waste their energy fighting each other for scraps, while people here to help will build self-sufficient communities capable of generating what they need to survive.

In the real world, being here to help is easier and less stressful, because you will frequently be in a situation where you can’t win, but you will almost never be in a situation where there’s nothing you can do to help. Being here to win only makes sense in an artificial world rigged so you can win all the time. Thousands of years ago only kings were in that position, and they reacted by massacring all enemies and bathing in blood. Now, through a perfect conjunction of Empire and oil energy, we just put the entire American middle class in that position for 50 years. No one should be surprised that we’re so stupid, selfish, cowardly, and irresponsible. But younger generations are already getting poorer and smarter.