The God part of the brain

Stroke of Insight, is a TED talk (and who can resist a TED talk? Not I.) You can find a transcript of the talk also. Here’s the ending.

When I awoke later that afternoon I was shocked to discover that I was still alive. When I felt my spirit surrender, I said goodbye to my life, and my mind is now suspended between two very opposite planes of reality. Stimulation coming in through my sensory systems felt like pure pain. Light burned my brain like wildfire and sounds were so loud and chaotic that I could not pick a voice out from the background noise and I just wanted to escape. Because I could not identify the position of my body in space, I felt enormous and expensive, like a genie just liberated from her bottle. And my spirit soared free like a great whale gliding through the sea of silent euphoria. Harmonic. I remember thinking there’s no way I would ever be able to squeeze the enormousness of myself back inside this tiny little body.

But I realized “But I’m still alive! I’m still alive and I have found Nirvana. And if I have found Nirvana and I’m still alive, then everyone who is alive can find Nirvana.” I picture a world filled with beautiful, peaceful, compassionate, loving people who knew that they could come to this space at any time. And that they could purposely choose to step to the right of their left hemispheres and find this peace. And then I realized what a tremendous gift this experience could be, what a stroke of insight this could be to how we live our lives. And it motivated my to recover.

Two and a half weeks after the hemorrhage, the surgeons went in and they removed a blood clot the size of a golf ball that was pushing on my language centers. Here I am with my mama, who’s a true angel in my life. It took me eight years to completely recover.

So who are we? We are the life force power of the universe, with manual dexterity and two cognitive minds. And we have the power to choose, moment by moment, who and how we want to be in the world. Right here right now, I can step into the consciousness of my right hemisphere where we are — I am — the life force power of the universe, and the life force power of the 50 trillion beautiful molecular geniuses that make up my form. At one with all that is. Or I can choose to step into the consciousness of my left hemisphere. where I become a single individual, a solid, separate from the flow, separate from you. I am Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, intellectual, neuroanatomist. These are the “we” inside of me.

Cincinnati is 10 of US most toxic cities

A pretty picture of Cincinnati in the news accompanying not-so-pretty facts:

Last year, Environmental Data Resources ranked America’s most toxic cities, defined by the amount of man-made chemical in each area’s soil.

10. Cincinnati

Contaminated Sites: 22,992
Leaking storage tanks: 1,719
Corrective action reports: 44

Cincinnati

Prisoners are 1 in 100 adults

I’d never realized this fact. It’s striking, to say the least.

Additionally, 1 out of 9 young black men is locked up.
The Pew Center on the States’ Public Safety Performance Project counted 2,319,258 adults behind bars at the beginning of this year. That was 25,000 more than the previous year.
Ohio was one of the three large states whose prison populations rose last year. The number of prisoners in state institutions topped 50,000 recently for the first time.
One in 30 men between 20 and 34 is locked up, the study showed.

Cincinnati’s Soapbox mistakes Charlotte as hot?

A new effort to cast Cincinnati in a positive light, Soapbox Media, has an opening blog post that lauds Charlotte.

For whatever reason, Charlotte is red hot. Everyone’s talking about Charlotte. Charlotte’s buzz has enabled them to sustain rapid growth, largely from a massive influx of young talent. Charlotte’s buzz has allowed them to overcome a location not in the mountains or near the ocean.

Red hot? Compared, maybe to Detroit, which Forbes lists as the number one most miserable place to live. Charlotte is ninth. Charlotte is the ninth most miserable place to live.

Charlotte has undergone tremendous economic growth the past decade, while the population has soared 32%. But the current picture isn’t as bright. Employment growth has not kept up with population growth, meaning unemployment rates are up more than 50% compared with 10 years ago. Charlotte scored in the bottom half of all six categories we examined. It scored the worst on violent crime, ranking 140th.

(Then there’s anecdote. I know of three creative professionals/people who moved from Charlotte within a one-year period. They didn’t move to Cincinnati or elsewhere in the Rust Belt.)

Cinci roundup

A few items, in between watching the candidates speak to medical marijuana and decriminalization.

At The Nation, Engaging Youth, For Real. Originally published by Wiretap, a national magazine for a new generation of progressive ideas and action. (Lori Roddy).

T]he last of a ten-part series produced by the All Ages Movement Project, in which the leaders of community-based youth organizations share tips and tricks of their trade. All stories are researched and written by members of organizations using independent music–punk, hip-hop, rock, noise, electronic and more–as a vehicle for social change.

The summer of 2001 in Cincinnati, Ohio, the year of its infamous race riots. (April 2001, a police officer shot and killed 19-year-old Timothy Thomas; explosive riots ensued.):

In a community called Over-the-Rhine–a largely marginalized, poverty-stricken neighborhood–several leaders including Life Allah, Islord Allah, Dureka Bonds, and Gavin Leonard decided to take what had been their regular discussions in a barbershop about housing, drugs and police issues and turn them into a community organizing effort.

That summer, a mix of community folks who cared about police accountability founded CopWatch, a neighborhood organization charged to monitor police-citizen interactions. In 2003, volunteer-driven CopWatch became a nonprofit called Citizens Organizing Neighborhoods to Regain Our Liberation (CONTROL). CONTROL decided to found Elementz, a hip-hop youth center, as a way to ensure the young people in Over-the-Rhine were provided with the necessary resources to gather, build community, and promote change.

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The local paper publishes a DUI checkpoint planned for tonight? Well, thanks and all, but doesn’t that sort of miss the point?

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UrbanCincy laments the in/famous Mark Twain quote about Cincinnati, i.e. “When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because it’s always twenty years behind the times.” (Which, by the way, is attributed to Twain, but not ever verified, as far as my uninspired Google search takes me.) But, come on, Uncle Rando, think about it, at the same time, we’ve got the paper publishing a story on the Go Green Challenge. “Save-the-Earth fervor spreads in businesses, governments,” is the story’s name. Fervor? Fervor! This is 2008, and these few places are just now talking about how to recycle?

I think if Twain (or whoever’s responsible for the quote) were around today, he would perhaps rethink this. (While undergoing chemo for pancreatic cancer or dragging his oxygen tank along.)

Cincinnati proclaims February 12, 2008 Darwin Day

The Free Inquiry Group of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, Inc. (FIG) is pleased to announce that the Honorable Mark Mallory, Mayor of the City of Cincinnati, has proclaimed February 12, 2008 as “DARWIN DAY.” You can read the press release and actual proclamation on Edwin Kagin’s blog.

John Welte, Sr., President of FIG, who had requested the Proclamation, said he was very gratified to see the City of Cincinnati continue its historic support of science, reason, and free inquiry. “This is particularly important in light of the fact that there are constant attacks on the evidence of evolution by the ‘Creation Museum’ here in our area, by educators who want to allow the religious viewpoint called ‘Creationism’ to be taught in our schools, and even by candidates for the Presidency of the United States. Evolution has been clearly established as one of the most robust of scientific facts,” Welte said.

The breast pad thing

Hard to imagine anyone who likes a mammogram. At best, there must be those who don’t mind it. It’s not that it’s particularly painful, for me, because it’s not, really — it’s, just as they describe it, more uncomfortable than anything — but I have bad feelings about it. Deeply bad. I resent it: that I have to do it; that there’s controversy surrounding it’s usefulness especially in the face of the procedure itself, the radiation, as harmful to the human body; that there is the disease of breast cancer that is directly attributable to our toxic environment and as such, preventable, and nobody is doing a thing about that. Resentful and fear. Will I, despite my best efforts, going out of my way to avoid the foods, the cosmetics, the g-d water of  rustbelt, not quite post-industrial cities, be one of the ones struck down?

But I do my best with this resentment and fear; you know, all the right things to manage the stress (because stress is a killer, too! you know). Yoga. Deep breathing. Etc and so on.

So I go to the hospital at the appointed time, which actually includes an extra fifteen minutes pre-appointment time to run through another registration cycle. I mean that this on-site physical registration is on top of an earlier pre-registration by phone that took about thirty minutes of my time one afternoon.  After it is clear that today’s registration is stretching well beyond my appointment time, I get annoyed. I point out to the person on the other side of the desk that I’m late for my appointment and that I hope this doesn’t mean that I will then be kept waiting further for my service. Nothing. More clicking on the keyboard keys, more scrutinizing the screen at data I can’t see, then the helper/clerk gets up and goes out of the space, no comment. She returns with another clerk, who after much pointing at the screen and further key-clacking, confirms that, yes, all is as it should be. “Pardon me,” I say, “but what was the purpose of my having spent thirty minutes pre-registering by phone only to come here and go through another lengthy process that causes me to miss my appointment time?” No good answers, the consulted clerk scurries off, my clerk gives (at least) a tepid “I’m sorry” and wan smile. This is something to take up with those powers who be who have enacted processes that are not working as they should. Will I do that? Probably not. Throw more of my time away. Unlikely. And so it goes.

Back in the Breast Health Center, I have indeed missed my appointment time. It turns out that I will wait. But first, more papers to fill out. The chipper clerk behind this counter hands me a pamphlet and wants to know if I would like the breast pads, which cost $5, just check the box here yes or no.  Meanwhile, there are other women coming through, and asked again verbally by the clerk who I must assume just does not bother to look at how each women has checked her form — surely she can read yes or no. Many of the women answer affirmatively. I sit waiting. And think, why? Why if this is now understood as a standard of comfort, a little foam pad to put on the machine to ease the cold, the discomfort of the surface, why put the burden on the patient? What does it mean to decline? (I don’t care about myself? My breasts can take it?) Where in the hell are all these used pads going? Consider there is no “away.” What a gimmick!