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If you want to understand a culture, look at its drugs of choice. February 23, 2017

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Scarface!!!!!!!!!!1“Drugs have always reflected a simpler, consistent truism. Sometimes we have wanted out of ourselves, sometimes we’ve wanted out of society, sometimes out of boredom or out of poverty; but always, whatever the case, we have wanted out. One can only guess where this is leading America and Trumponomics will be hard pressed to reverse it. In the past, this desire was always temporary — to recharge our batteries, to find a space away from our experiences and the demands of living pressed upon us. However, more recently, drug use has become about finding a durable, lengthier, existential escape — a desire that is awfully close to self-obliteration.”

Source: If you want to understand a culture, look at its drugs of choice.

Video Games and Unemployment February 2, 2017

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Temptation_of_ipadA few decades ago, an unemployed person might be stuck on the couch watching TV, isolated and depressed. Today, cheap or free services such as Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube and Netflix provide seemingly endless entertainment options and an easy connection to the outside world. Video games, in particular, provide a strong community and a sense of achievement that, for some, real-world jobs lack.

Read more about it

Why Facebook Is A Hotbed For Conspiracy Theories June 18, 2016

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The findings retin_foil_hat-218x300inforce prior studies that have shown that trying to debunk skeptics never works, and perhaps now we know why. Conspiracy theorists don’t join social networks to learn, they join them to hear comforting reinforcements of their own ideas. And if you disrupt their happy place with scientific facts, you’re not going to get very far. The study also suggests that social media, especially Facebook, has provided a particularly strong breeding ground for extreme ideas by creating a forum for loners to establish large communities that echo similar, strange beliefs.

Source: Why Facebook Is A Hotbed For Conspiracy Theories – Vocativ

Which stars were you really born under? May 26, 2016

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did you know around 86% of us were actually born under a different constellation to our star sign?

Source: BBC iWonder – Which stars were you really born under?

Heavier Waiters Make for Heavier Eating – WSJ January 18, 2016

Posted by tkcollier in Food, In The News, Lifestyle.
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In yet another blow to our sense of self-control (to say nothing of our waistlines), it now appears that overweight waiters may inspire people to eat and drink more.

That’s the latest finding from Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab, which over the years has produced an array of discoveries about the unconscious factors that influence eating.Lab Director Brian Wansink has gained renown for showing that he can manipulate how much people eat by varying lighting, music, the colors and arrangement of jelly beans and the size of one’s fellow diners. In one famous experiment, Dr. Wansink and colleagues fed people soup. But some bowls were rigged up to subtly refill themselves from a large unseen reservoir. “Despite consuming 73% more,” the scientists wrote of the subjects with the refilling bowls, “they did not believe they had consumed more, nor did they perceive themselves as more sated than those eating from normal bowls.”

ibeatanorexia“If you have a heavy server,” says Mr. Döring, “you order more.” Diners with servers with an over 25 BMI (Body Mass Index) – and thus considered “overweight” – were four times likelier to order dessert and ordered 17% more alcoholic beverages. The disparity in ordering was particularly pronounced when diners below the BMI threshold of 25 had a server who was at or over the threshold. Or as Mr. Döring put it, “A heavy waiter or waitress seems to have an even bigger influence on the skinniest diners.”

Source: Heavier Waiters Make for Heavier Eating – WSJ

The Reign of Recycling October 5, 2015

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According to the E.P.A.’s estimates, virtually all the greenhouse benefits — more than 90 percent — come from just a few materials: paper, cardboard and metals like the aluminum in soda cans.
Once you exclude paper products and metals, the total annual savings in the United States from recycling everything else in municipal trash — plastics, glass, food, yard trimmings, textiles, rubber, leather — is only two-tenths of 1 percent of America’s carbon footprint.

As a business, recycling is on the wrong side of two long-term global economic trends. For centuries, the real cost of labor has been increasing while the real cost of raw materials has been declining. That’s why we can afford to buy so much more stuff than our ancestors could. As a labor-intensive activity, recycling is an increasingly expensive way to produce materials that are less and less valuable.

It would be much simpler and more effective to impose the equivalent of a carbon tax on garbage, as Thomas C. Kinnaman has proposed after conducting what is probably the most thorough comparison of the social costs of recycling, landfilling and incineration.

The Reign of Recycling http://nyti.ms/1iUpbBE

How we $pend it September 21, 2015

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The Appeal of Dictators June 2, 2015

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MaoCollection0242 Two-thirds of the world’s citizens live under a dictatorship, and two billion people suffer from an oppressive rule. Freedom House says 106 dictatorships or partial dictatorships persist today, accounting for 54% of the world’s nations.

Contrary to popular Western belief, however, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing for all places and people. Not all dictatorships end in misery, and not everyone wants to live in a democracy. “A bad democracy might be worse than a humane dictatorship,” Pinker points out.

There is no proof that the desire for freedom and democracy is an innate part of human nature, Ezrow says. As long as quality of life remains high and people are allowed to live their lives as they wish, citizens can be completely happy under a dictatorship.  “Some cultures may just prefer security and stability over freedom.”

via BBC – Future – Will dictators disappear?.

Men-Only Airline Flights May 29, 2015

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From 1953 through 1970, United offered men-only ‘Executive flights’ between New York and Chicago and between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

UnitedExecutiveServiceFlights mostly operated at 5pm in each direction between the two cities(generally six days a week excluding Saturdays). They didn’t just ban women, but children also, and flight attendants catered to these business flights with special meals and offered complimentary cigars.

One story has the airline  issuing vouchers to business men to bring their wives with them along, so they could show them how safe flying was (a serious concern back then). They discontinued the promotion because they decided to start calling the wives after the vouchers were redeemed, and a bunch of them had never set foot on a plane.

via United Men Only Executive Service from 1953 to 1970.

Education and class: America’s new aristocracy January 24, 2015

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The Economist | Education and class: America’s new aristocracy http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21640331-importance-intellectual-capital-grows-privilege-has-become-increasingly?frsc=dg%7Cd via @theeconomist

Why porn is exploding in the Middle East January 16, 2015

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bikini_burkha According to data released by Google, six of the top eight porn-searching countries are Muslim states. Pakistan tops the list at number one, followed by Egypt at number two. Iran, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Turkey come in at numbers four, five, seven and eight, respectively. Pakistan leads the way in porn searches for animals like pigs, donkeys, dogs, cats and snakes.

via Why porn is exploding in the Middle East – Salon.com.

Islam On Dogs: Can You Be A Good Muslim And Still Have A Dog? October 19, 2014

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http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/1885580
Malaysian Muslims trying to break dog taboo with dog petting event.
http://m.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/squeals-and-giggles-abound-as-malays-get-acquainted-with-dogs

Millennial. « Generation Wuss » by Bret Easton Ellis September 27, 2014

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In his books, he used to shoot at the materialistic excesses of his generation. But today, youth has become Bret Easton Ellis’ favorite target. According to him, young people are just too sensitive, too narcissistic ,too stupid. But ultimately, as he explains in this exclusive text, he kind of feel sorry for them ( and they love it).
http://m.vanityfair.fr/culture/livre/articles/generation-wuss-by-bret-easton-ellis/15837

Why Hockey Is Hot May 30, 2014

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When NBC agreed to broadcast a few regular season and playoff weekend games and the Stanley cup finals in prime Time, NHL viewership was so weak that the network didn’t even have to pay the usual “rights fees” that sports leagues usually can demand.

nhl-fan-mapSo why is NBC getting record TV ratings for Hockey this year? For years hockey has struggled on television. As a kid after screaming myself hoarse at Ranger games in smokey Madison Square Garden, trying to watch a game on TV was excruciating. As hard as it was to see the puck, sometimes even the camera man would lose the puck.

So what changed? …the size of TV screens. With the spread of large-format, hi-def TVs, you could actually follow the fast-paced action. So a sport, which grew up on frozen ponds in cities like Chicago, now has a rabid fan base in the Sunbelt, with many local junior leagues.

NBA Ownership – The World’s Most Exclusive Club April 27, 2014

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NBA teams are clearly ego purchases, but rich guys hate losing money … and that’s about ego, too. In 2010 and 2011, six NBA franchises sold or changed hands, and another four were practically thrown on Craigslist.2 That’s one-third of the league. A steady stream of billionaires crunched numbers and came to the same conclusion: Unless it’s a killer market, the NBA isn’t a good investment. During 2011’s lockout, Philly sold for a measly $280 million as the league frantically looked for a New Orleans buyer (and didn’t find one).

Everything flipped in December of that year, after the NBA negotiated an owner-favorable collective bargaining agreement (and then some) that included a 50-50 revenue split, shorter long-term deals and a more punitive luxury tax system, as well as a pay-per-view event in which David Stern and Adam Silver poured Dom Perignon on each other’s heads and danced over the ruins of Billy Hunter’s career. Fine, I made that last one up. From there, everything kept breaking the NBA’s way. In no particular order …

lebron-james-cover• The economy rebounded (at least in rich guy circles).

• LeBron became the league’s most famous and talented superstar since MJ, right as we suddenly had the deepest pool of under-27 stars in 20-plus years.

• The 2013 Finals went down as one of the greatest Finals ever, followed by a LeBron-Durant rivalry emerging that could and should carry the rest of the decade.

• Americans stopped caring about PEDs and started worrying about concussions right when everyone should have started worrying about PEDs in basketball (a sport that rarely has any concussions).

• The YouTube/broadband/iPad/GIF/Instagram/Twitter era turned basketball into a 24/7 fan experience — just the ideal sport for the Internet era, the kind of league in which your buddies email you a bizarre Kobe Bryant tweet, an endearing Spurs team selfie and a ridiculous Blake Griffin dunk GIF in the span of three hours (and by the way, that happened to me yesterday).

• A new multimedia rights deal is coming soon … and it’s going to easily double the current deal.

(Repeat: easily double it.)

And I didn’t even mention basketball grabbing the no. 2 spot behind soccer as the world’s most popular sport. I’m not sure when it happened, but it happened. Buy an NBA franchise in 2014 and deep down, you’re thinking about stuff like, I wonder if fans from 250 countries will be paying for League Pass 20 years from now? Throw in the other breaks and that’s how you end up climbing from here …

via The World’s Most Exclusive Club «.

Psychopaths: how can you spot one? – April 6, 2014

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Professor Robert Hare is a criminal psychologist, and the creator of the PCL-R, a psychological assessment used to determine whether someone is a psychopath. “A high-scoring psychopath views the world in a very different way,” says Hare. “It’s like colour-blind people trying to understand the colour red, but in this case ‘red’ is other people’s emotions.”

psychopathsAt heart, Hare’s test is simple: a list of 20 criteria, each given a score of 0 (if it doesn’t apply to the person), 1 (if it partially applies) or 2 (if it fully applies). The list includes: glibness and superficial charm, grandiose sense of self-worth, cunning/manipulative, pathological lying, emotional shallowness, callousness and lack of empathy, a tendency to boredom, impulsivity, criminal versatility, behavioural problems in early life, juvenile delinquency, and promiscuous sexual behaviour. A pure, prototypical psychopath would score 40. A score of 30 or more qualifies for a diagnosis of psychopathy. Hare says: “A friend of mine, a psychiatrist, once said: ‘Bob, when I meet someone who scores 35 or 36, I know these people really are different.’ The ones we consider to be alien are the ones at the upper end.”

If someone’s brain lacks the moral niceties the rest of us take for granted, they obviously can’t do anything about that, any more than a colour-blind person can start seeing colour. So where does this leave the concept of moral responsibility? “The legal system traditionally asserts that all people standing in front of the judge’s bench are equal. That’s demonstrably false,” says the neuroscientist David Eagleman, author of Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain. He suggests that instead of thinking in terms of blameworthiness, the law should deal with the likelihood that someone will reoffend, and issue sentences accordingly, with rehabilitation for those likely to benefit and long sentences for those likely to be long-term dangers

via Psychopaths: how can you spot one? – Telegraph.

Honey Boo Boo vs. Duck Dynasty November 4, 2013

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While Conservatives bemoan the crudeness of popular culture, there are 12 million viewers tuning in to watch the Season Premiere of the comparatively-positive  White Trash role model  “Duck Dynasty”.  The largest audience ever for a reality show on cable. They’re even releasing a Holiday record “Duck the Halls”. Now those rich rednecks know how to market themselves.
As reality’s first family, the Kardashians, have seen their ratings steadily decline over the past several years, shows like “Pawn Stars,” “American Restoration” and “Duck Dynasty” have risen to dominate basic cable.

Reality Cable StarsLast year, “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” which features a cornucopia of social ills, was TLC’s highest-rated show, attracting more cable viewers than the Republican National Convention, which had the misfortune to share the time slot with the charmers from Georgia. The show’s matriarch, June Shannon, has four daughters by four men, one of whose names she can’t recall.

Students of Arnold Toynbee, the English historian, will recognize what is going on here. In a chapter of his “A Study of History” entitled “Schism in the Soul,” Toynbee argued that it is a sign that a society is disintegrating when it takes its cues for manners and customs from the underclass. He describes such societies as being “truant” to their own values.

Toynbee is the guide to what we see all around us today.

We modern philistines tell ourselves that rejecting the customs and conventions of a stuffy, old elite will release creativity and bring about a renaissance. Nothing could be further from the truth. According to Toynbee, self-expression replaces creativity when disintegrating societies look downward.

Aspiration is replaced by complacency. Shame vanishes. Any criticism becomes “haters gonna hate,” or the White Trash motto: “It don’t make no difference.”

White Trash signifiers have changed of course — the foreclosed McMansion with the mosquito-infested swimming pool has replaced the rusting tractor permanently bivouacked on cement blocks in the front yard. But it’s the same general idea.

Obesity, the product of a lack of discipline, sloppy dressing, loud and intimate cellphone chats broadcast to a captive audience and foul language nonchalantly uttered in the ATM line are all forms of this “self-expression.”

Pre-White Trash, physical intimacy was reserved to private places. Now it’s reserved for the subway. You no longer have to live in a one-room shack to learn the facts of life early. Just walk down the toy aisle at Toys “R” Us for a sexpot Bratz Doll.

Children who see daytime television, broadcast in public areas, are inevitably treated to Jerry Springer reruns. How do you explain “Honey, I’m a Ho,” or “Transsexuals Attack” to a tot? Oh, wait, the tot explains it to you.

Tattoos are form of self-expression that have moved from gangs and prisons to the mainstream.

via When did white trash become normal? | New York Post.

If You Also Hate The Time Change… November 3, 2013

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AccordUS Time Zonesing to Time and Date, a Norwegian Newsletter dedicated to time zone information, America started using four time zones in 1883. Before that, each city had its own time standard based on its calculation of apparent solar time (when the sun is directly over-head at noon) using sundials. That led to more than 300 different American time zones. This made operations very difficult for the telegraph and burgeoning railroad industry. Railroads operated with 100 different time zones before America moved to four, which was consistent with Britain’s push for a global time standard.

Now the world has evolved further—we are even more integrated and mobile, suggesting we’d benefit from fewer, more stable time zones. Why stick with a system designed for commerce in 1883? In reality, America already functions on fewer than four time zones.

 Research based on time use surveys found American’s schedules are determined by television more than daylight.  That suggests in effect, Americans already live on two time zones.

via Daylight Saving Time Is Terrible: Here’s a Simple Plan to Fix It – Allison Schrager – The Atlantic.

What In The World! October 4, 2013

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To gain perspective on just how differently people are living on this planet,
Half the World
(Parts of Malaysia and Indonesia have been intentionally left out—without them, the red regions still contain more than 50.2% of the world’s population.)

World_population_density_map

The Science of Snobbery September 10, 2013

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Articles on this wine research recommend that serving cheap wine in fancy bottles or reaching for bottom shelf wine. Does that mean you should constantly deceive yourself into enjoying cheap wine? Or never spend more than $10 since we often mistake $10 bottles with $100 bottles? In that case, will you never spend over $10 on sushi for same reason? Or never spend over $30 at a fancy restaurant because the ambiance often tricks people into thinking a simple chicken dish is fancy?

j0178091Ordinary consumers don’t think hard and deliberately when sipping wine over a conversation with friends or listening to a concert. Even when thinking deliberatively, overcoming our intuitive impressions is difficult for experts and amateurs alike. This article has referred to the influence of price tags and context on products and experiences like wine and classical music concerts as tricks that skew our perception. But maybe we should consider them a real, actual part of the quality.

What does this all say about wine snobs? The answer is just as unclear. Due to the way that appreciation of wine, fancy food, and other aspects of high culture is often used to police class lines, studies demonstrating the limitations of expert judgment in these areas become fodder for class warfare and takedowns of wine snobs.

That’s fair. Many boorish people talking about the ethereal qualities of great wine probably can’t even identify cork taint because their impressions are dominated by the price tag and the wine label. But the classic defense of wine – that you need to study it to appreciate it – is also vindicated by Master Sommeliers. The open question – which is both editorial and empiric – is what it means for the industry that constant vigilance and substantial study is needed to dependably appreciate wine for the product quality alone. But the questions is relevant to the enjoyment of many other products and experiences that we enjoy in life

via The Science of Snobbery.

Why Is Gay Porn So Popular in Pakistan? June 21, 2013

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As of this writing, Pakistan is by volume the world leader for Google searches of the terms “shemale sex,” “teen anal sex,” and “man fucking man,” according to Google Trends. Pakistan also ranks second in the world (after similarly gay-intolerant Kenya) for volume of searches for the search term “gay sex pics.”

In its report, Pew noted that countries exhibiting the highest levels of gay tolerance are largely secular, whereas nations where religion is central to public lifesuch as Egypt, Nigeria, and Pakistantend to reject homosexuality. But in Pakistan, what’s even more peculiar is that the highest number of hits for some of these terms, including “shemale sex,” come not from Pakistan’s cosmopolitan centers, but from Peshawar, a bastion of conservative Islam, lately known in the West as a counterterrorism frontline.

Farahnaz Ispahbikini_burkhaani, an expert in Pakistani minorities at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a former member of Pakistan’s parliament, says that homosexuality is a taboo subject throughout the country. In major cities such as Lahore and Karachi, gays can develop a network of allies outside their tribe or family, but in conservative Peshawar, gay identity is more complicated. Part of the popularity of gay porn could stem from the fact that even highly observant Muslim males often have physical relationships with men without considering themselves gay, she says.

“The real love they can have that most of us find with a partner, they find with men,” Ispahani says. “They mostly see their wives as the mother of their children.”

Why Is Gay Porn So Popular in Pakistan? | Mother Jones.

20 Years Later April 18, 2013

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20 Years Later

Did Cocaine Fuel the Financial Bubble? April 17, 2013

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The controversial former drug tsar David Nutt told the London Sunday Times this weekend that cocaine-using bankers with their “culture of excitement and drive and more and more and more … got us into this terrible mess”.

Nutt, who was sacked for claiming that ecstasy was as safe as horse riding, told the Sunday Times that abuse of cocaine caused the financial meltdown.

“Bankers use cocaine and got us into this terrible mess,” he told the paper adding that the drug made them “overconfident” and led to them taking more risks. Nutt, who is professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College, claimed that cocaine was perfect for a banking “culture of excitement and drive and more and more and more. It is a ‘more’ drug”

There were also lots of stories about some of the big swingers in New York enjoying a line or 10 of an evening. Bernie Madoff’s office was apparently known as “the North Pole” such were the gargantuan quantities of “snow” to be found there and most bankers are aware of the published allegations that Jimmy Cayne (former CEO of Bear Stearns) had an anti-acid medication bottle that was filled with cocaine.

Scarface!!!!!!!!!!1Dr Chris Luke, an A&E specialist based at Cork University Hospital, Ireland, who has studied the effects of cocaine on bankers, has stated that “prominent figures in financial and political circles made irrational decisions as a result of megalomania brought on by cocaine usage”. He concludes that “people were making insane decisions and thinking they were 110% right … which led to the current chaos.”

Greed, selfishness, ignorance and ruthlessness also played their part, of course, but I think it would be foolish not to see the role that the drug played in creating the bubble.

Did cocaine use by bankers cause the global financial crisis? | Business | The Guardian.

More Baby Talk = More IQ April 10, 2013

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Children whose families were on welfare heard about 600 words per hour. Working-class children heard 1,200 words per hour, and children from professional families heard 2,100 words. By age 3, a poor child would have heard 30 million fewer words in his home environment than a child from a professional family. And the disparity mattered: the greater the number of words children heard from their parents or caregivers before they were 3, the higher their IQ and the better they did in school. TV talk not only didn’t help, it was detrimental.

Hart and Risley later wrote that children’s level of language development starts to level off when it matches that of their parents — so a language deficit is passed down through generations. They found that parents talk much more to girls than to boys (perhaps because girls are more sociable, or because it is Mom who does most of the care, and parents talk more to children of their gender). This might explain why young, poor boys have particular trouble in school. And they argued that the disparities in word usage correlated so closely with academic success that kids born to families on welfare do worse than professional-class children entirely because their parents talk to them less. In other words, if everyone talked to their young children the same amount, there would be no racial or socioeconomic gap at all. (Some other researchers say that while word count is extremely important, it can’t be the only factor.)

via The Power of Talking to Your Baby – NYTimes.com.

When Enlightenment Meets Science April 1, 2013

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The veteran meditators in the MRI could do each of the resting states perfectly, but when it came to creating a contrasting condition, they were helpless. They had lost the ability to “let their minds wander” because they had long ago shed the habit of entertaining discursive narrative thoughts. They no longer worried about how their hair looked, or their to-do lists, or whether people thought they were annoying. Their minds were largely quiet. When thoughts did come – and they did still come – these subjects reported that the thoughts had a different quality, an unfixated quality. The thought “This MRI machine is extremely loud” might arise, but it would quickly evaporate. Thoughts seemed to emerge as-needed in response to different situations and would then disappear crisply into the clear backdrop of consciousness. In other words, these practitioners were always meditating.

This turned out to be the least dramatic of Vago’s discoveries. With the two most experienced meditators, something even more surprising happened, something that, to the knowledge of the investigators involved, had never before been captured on any kind of brain imaging technology.

Lying on their padded gurneys in the center of the humming MRI in this famous research hospital in the heart of East Boston and Harvard Medical School, each of the two research subjects suddenly … disappeared.

Har-Prakash Khalsa, a 52-year old Canadian mail carrier and yoga teacher – and one of the veterans to whom this happened – describes his experience:

“It’s a kind of pressure or momentum. I was in one of the rest states, and as I let go of it, I felt myself heading into a much bigger dissolution – a bigger ‘gone’ as Shinzen would call it. It felt impossible to resist.  My mind, body and world just collapsed.”

A few moments later – blinking, refreshed, reformatted – Har-Prakash returned to consciousness, not at all sure how he was to supposed to fit this experience into the research protocol. He couldn’t indicate it with a button press even if he wanted to: there was no one present to press the button.

This wasn’t rest – it was annihilation.

via Understanding Enlightenment Could Change Science – Psychology TomorrowPsychology Tomorrow Magazine.

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