Kyoto Sun

I try to get out as much as possible to get as much sun as possible. Outside has been substantially cut since 2020 with sanctions implemented worldwide to one degree or another. But staying home all the time is idiotic. It’s not healthy. Everyone knows it. Ok, maybe not everyone. Anyway, Kyoto is a nice place to walk around to get some sun. It’s a nice mix of wild nature, ancient traditions, and modern life. But any place outside will do the job pretty well. It’s the sun and fresh air and the mixing with people that I’m after.

Near Togetsukyo Bridge in Arashiyama, Kyoto. March 2021.

Empty

Kyoto was dead today. We had the place for ourselves to roam around. Back during the era when much of the world lived in freedom and without fear, these stairs would be filled with Japanese people and people from all over the world happily exploring the temples and shrines throughout this iconic city.

Chion-in 知恩院 temple. Kyoto, Japan.

Managing the Mind, Recognizing Propaganda

Here’s a handy meditation exercise you can do every day. I do. Absolutely. Every. Day. It’s based on Theravada Buddhism, which is my personal favorite, but you can insert any religion into this as you want. Go to this site. There are 20 years of short meditation talks there. Put your headphones on and listen to one per day. Do this sitting in a chair. In the dark. Close your eyes and really focus on the talk. Don’t waste time thinking about work or television or something else. Think only about the talk you are listening to. Try to understand it. That will help train your mind to be focused on one thing only without wandering off to the next thing — generally an unrelated thing. That little bit right there is really critical. You’re thinking here. That’s true. But you’re thinking in a way that narrowly focuses your mind. It may sound odd but you have to use some thinking to eventually transcend thinking.

When the talk ends keep your eyes closed for another 20 minutes or and replace the talk as your single object of focus with another single object of focus — maybe a mantra from your religion, or just follow your breath. When a thought comes, recognize it as a thought and gently push it away or just ignore it. In other words, when thoughts come think of them as teases. The thought wants to capture your attention and give it life. Don’t. Just ignore it. When another one comes, recognize it, push it away. Repeat. That’s it. That’s the entire process.

The purpose of starting out with a little audio lecture is to get you motivated to sit and meditate. It also starts the focusing process, too, which can take a few minutes and that’s the time when most people quit. Remember that most people can’t meditate even for a few seconds before quitting so cut yourself some slack and just move slowly. If you’re not especially religious and think all this is dumb (you know, because science and all) try it with a physics lecture or whatever you like. Audio only. Same process.

This will train your mind to focus so you (your conscious mind) are more in control. Do this every day and you may notice after a few months that you are less susceptible to the idiocy of the propaganda on the news every day. Or at the very least you may notice you are starting to question things more. All the madness will seem to move slower so you can process the information better. Some of won’t make sense any longer. Hopefully you won’t feel so overwhelmed or afraid. Or terrorized. That’s because meditation is an excellent exercise to thwart propaganda because it teaches you to NOT just accept the next thought that comes along — no matter who it comes from!

Experiencing longer and longer periods of silence between thoughts is the thing you are looking for here. Really very few people know what this feels like because it doesn’t come naturally. It takes training. That’s why the Buddhists say that meditation is a “practice” that you do every day. And by “every day” these guys mean all day, every day, for as many days as you have. They understand their minds in ways that would surprise most people.

Recognizing propaganda is important because it’s everywhere. And it will distract you and eventually wreck your life — just like random thoughts darting around your head will distract you and keep you from progressing in practices like meditation if you take their bait. But you can’t solve this problem using intellectual processes, such as research, debate, etc. Instead, it’s the eventual absence of the intellect that you’re looking for. Some people call this transcendence. This is anti-intuitive so it has to be experienced directly to be understood. Your brain is wired to think and that’s a useful tool in this world. But it has some dangerous side effects. The problem is that it’s ALWAYS thinking and most of those thoughts are just crap repeats from yesterday (and the day before, etc). Propagandists know this. They know all humans are easily influenced via language — especially language delivered by authorities who are causing constant pressure. It’s also how propagandists hide. They hide under the distractions. Learn to manage your thoughts and over time those invisible propagandists can gradually be seen as clear as day. It’s a shocking realization, too.

Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, 2014

Oracle Developer Live — App Dev with Oracle Database

Been getting closer to the database and cloud teams and will be spending a lot more time with them in the coming months since I moved to the Developer Relations team recently (but, honestly, I’ve been doing “devrel” in one form or another for two decades now so it ain’t new). Anyway, I’m just interested in digging out interesting characters to talk to. That’s how I learn. I’m sort of working my way through the company. It’s big, though, so it’ll take a while. See you at the next OracleDevLive in May. But a lot more in the works. Hopefully cool.

Oracle Developer Live — App Dev with Oracle Database

Absolutely No Clue

“I think modeling in public heath has been invaded by people who have absolutely no clue about public health, have no clue about medicine for sure, and they have no clue about epidemiology, to be honest.” –  John Ioannidis

Would be interesting to see Ioannidis in a discussion with Gates and some of his favorite friends. Just a casual public chat streamed on the net for all to see and determine who has a brain and who has “absolutely no clue.” Could be fun. A lo of people would enjoy it but also a lot of people would be horrified to see the reality.

Or perhaps we should all just keep following all those Blue Check geniuses on Twitter. They know stuff, like science and all, right? I like where John puts them in the image below. Well deserved.

Image from “Evidence-Based Public Health – Professor John Ioannidis” with full presentation below.

This is not gonna end well. Nor is it gonna end soon.


A Pariah in Medical School

If an Oxford Ph.D. is worried about being a “pariah” in medical school that really says something and that something is not good. Personally, I make it a point to never listen to a medical doctor about nutrition unless he or she is an expert in nutrition. And I ask. And, yes, they don’t like that. Too bad. Those of us who have direct and extensive experience with the so-called medical “community” feel very differently about their authority.

A ketogenic diet brought me back to life. Will believing in its effectiveness make me a pariah in medical school?