All posts by Mike Zonta

New Zealand honours attack victims with silence, call to prayer

Date created : 

William West / AFP | People pray during congregational Friday prayers and two minutes of silence for victims of the twin mosque massacre, at Hagley Park in Christchurch on March 22, 2019.

Text by:NEWS WIRES

The Muslim call to prayer rang out across New Zealand on Friday followed by two minutes of nationwide silence to mark a week since a white supremacist gunned down 50 people at two mosques in the city of Christchurch.

As the call was broadcast around the country, thousands — including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and wounded survivors — stood in a park opposite the mosque where the killing began, as the nation of 4.5 million came to a standstill.

New Zealand is still in shock following the killings by alleged shooter Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian national who had hoped to foment an ethnic war with his attacks.

But horrified Kiwis have responded with outpourings of love, with many embracing their Muslim neighbours on Friday in moving scenes across the country.

A muezzin in white skullcap issued the call to regular Friday prayers at 1.30 pm (0030 GMT) with chants of “Allahu Akhbar” (God is greatest) as thousands listened in Christchurch’s Hagley Park, across from the Al Noor Mosque.

New Zealand PM Ardern addresses ceremony to honour attack victims

The country then fell silent for two minutes, with public gatherings in Auckland, Wellington and other cities.

In neighbouring Australia, people stopped in the streets and in shops to mark the moment.

Al Noor imam Gamal Fouda then took to the lectern at Hagley Park to denounce the “evil ideology of white supremacy” and praise Kiwis for their support.

Unbreakable

“I look out and I see the love and compassion in the eyes of thousands of fellow New Zealanders and human beings from across the globe,” Fouda said.

“This terrorist sought to tear our nation apart with an evil ideology… But, instead, we have shown that New Zealand is unbreakable.”

The Al Noor mosque remains closed as workers repair bullet-pocked walls and clean blood-spattered floors.

But after Friday’s prayers, the sombre mood outside lightened markedly as non-Muslims approached the mosque to lay flowers or embrace and take selfies with Muslims.

Koro Tini, a 46-year-old Maori man with elaborate traditional facial tattoos and ceremonial native cloak, embraced and touched noses with a man who was among a group of Muslim worshippers.

Gamal Fouda, Imam of Al Noor mosque: ‘we have shown that New Zealand is unbreakable’

“We weren’t meaning to pose for pictures but people wanted to do it after the prayers. There’s a sense of joy and rejoicing,” Tini said.

‘Hate cannot win’

Many women across the country wore headscarves in solidarity with Muslims.

“I can take my scarf off if I feel afraid. They cannot,” said Kirsty Wilkinson, who came to Hagley Park with two friends, all in make-shift hijabs.

“The message I want to send is that hate cannot win.”

Tarrant took advantage of relatively lax New Zealand gun laws to acquire military-style weapons that he used to mow down 50 men, women and children — ranging in age from three years to 77 — and leaving dozens injured in an attack live-streamed online.

New Zealand police revealed on Friday that in October 2017 they met with Tarrant at his home and conducted a “security inspection” as part of the gun licence approval process.

The “correct process” was followed and the licence was granted, a police statement said.

Tarrant is in police custody and has been charged with murder.

Ardern on Thursday announced an immediate ban on assault rifles and military-style semi-automatic weapons, making good on a pledge to rid the country of the kinds of weapons the gunman used.

Police said that by Friday morning more than 1,000 people had contacted them about handing in firearms now in private possession, which are now outlawed and must be turned in under a government buyback scheme.

Prayers and pause

Major New Zealand newspapers published special tributes on Friday, with the front page of Christchurch daily The Press bearing the Arabic word “Salam” (Peace) and the names of the 50 killed.

The national mourning and moment of silence were broadcast on television networks, radio and across multiple local media websites.

“We are so happy that this prayer will be broadcast to the entire world so that everyone can be part of it,” Mustafa Farouk, president of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand, said in a statement announcing the prayer session.

Burials also resumed Friday in Christchurch, with 26 people expected to be laid to rest, ranging from three-year-old Mucaad Ibrahim to 77-year-old Muse Awale.

Salwa Mustafa, who lost her husband Khalid and 15-year-old son Hamza in the massacre, had defiant words despite her devastating loss.

“People say that… Muslims are terrorists. The whole world saw who is the terrorist,” she said of the shooter.

“Muslims are people of peace and love, not terrorists. And I hope the whole world now can understand the real Islam, the reality of Islam.”

(AFP)

Book: “The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings of Authenticity, Connections and Courage”

The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings of Authenticity, Connections and Courage

The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings of Authenticity, Connections and Courage

by Brené Brown (Goodreads Author)

Show Up and Let Yourself be Seen 

Is vulnerability the same as weakness? “In our culture,” teaches Dr. Brené Brown, “we associate vulnerability with emotions we want to avoid such as fear, shame, and uncertainty. Yet we too often lose sight of the fact that vulnerability is also the birthplace of joy, belonging, creativity, authenticity, and love.” On The Power of Vulnerability, Dr. Brown offers an invitation and a promise – that when we dare to drop the armor that protects us from feeling vulnerable, we open ourselves to the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives. Here she dispels the cultural myth that vulnerability is weakness and reveals that it is, in truth, our most accurate measure of courage.

“The Power of Vulnerability is a very personal project for me,” Brené explains. “This is the first place that all of my work comes together. This audio course draws from all three of my books – it’s the culmination of everything I’ve learned over the past twelve years. I’m very excited to weave it all into a truly comprehensive form that shows what these findings and insights can mean in our lives.”

Guidance and Insights for Wholehearted Living

Over the past twelve years, Dr. Brené Brown has interviewed hundreds of people as part of an ongoing study of vulnerability. “The research shows that we try to ward disappointment with a shield of cynicism, disarm shame by numbing ourselves against joy, and circumvent grief by shutting off our willingness to love,” explains Dr. Brown. When we become aware of these patterns, she teaches, we begin to become conscious of how much we sacrifice in the name of self-defense -and how much richer our lives become when we open ourselves to vulnerability.

“In my research,” Dr. Brown says, “the word I use to describe people who can live from a place of vulnerability is wholehearted.” Being wholehearted is a practice—one that we can choose to cultivate through empathy, gratitude, and awareness of our vulnerability armor. Join this engaging and heartfelt teacher on The Power of Vulnerability as she offers profound insights on leaning into the full spectrum of emotions—so we can show up, let ourselves be seen, and truly be all in.

HIGHLIGHTS

Cultivating shame resilience—the key to developing a sense of worth and belonging.
Vulnerability as the origin point for innovation, adaptability, accountability, and visionary leadership.
Our emotional armory – how we use perfectionism, numbing, and other tactics to avoid feeling vulnerable.
The myths of vulnerability – common misconceptions about weakness, trust, and self-sufficiency.
Discovering your vulnerability armor – recognizing what makes us shut down, and how we can change.
The 10 guideposts of wholehearted living – essential skills for becoming fully engaged in life.
Six hours of stories, warm humor, and transformative insights for living a life of courage, authenticity, and compassion from Dr. Brené Brown.

Rethinking what sets humans apart starts with asking if we’re special at all

By Adam Rutherford

March 18, 2019 (popsci.com)

Human animal humanimal hand swan feeding

What separates humans from other animals?  Deposit Photos

You are an animal, but a very special one. Mostly bald, you’re an ape, descended from apes; your features and actions are carved or winnowed by natural selection. But what a special simian you are. Shakespeare crystalized this thought a good 250 years before Charles Darwin positioned us as a creature at the end of the slightest of twigs on a single, bewildering family tree that encompasses 4 billion years, a lot of twists and turns, and 1 billion species.

“What a piece of work is a man!” marvels Hamlet. “How noble in reason! How infinite in faculty! … In action how like an angel! / In apprehension how like a god! … The paragon of animals!” Hamlet then ponders the paradox at the heart of humankind: What is this quintessence of dust? We are special, but we are also merely matter. We are animals, yet we behave like gods. Darwin riffed on Hamlet in 1871 in his second masterpiece, The Descent of Man, declaring that we have “god-like intellect,” yet we cannot deny that man—and woman—carries the “indelible stamp of his lowly origin.” This is the central question in understanding our place in the scheme of evolution.

What makes us special, while we remain rooted in nature? We evolved from earlier creatures, each on a unique trajectory through time. We share DNA with all the organisms that have ever existed; the proteins encrypted by our genes utilize a code that is indistinguishable from that in an amoeba or a zebu.

Humanimal Adam Rutherford paradoxical homo sapiens animal

“Humanimal” by Adam Rutherford is on sale now.

Courtesy of The Experiment

How did we become the beings that we are today? Scientists call this state “behavioral modernity,” or sometimes “the full package,” meaning all the things that we consider as part of the human condition: speech, language, consciousness, tool use, art, music, material culture, commerce, agriculture, non‑reproductive sex, and more. Precisely when these facets of our lives arose in our species is debated. But we do know that within the last 40,000 years, they were all in place, all over the world. Which facet singles us out, among other animals—which is distinctively human?

Navigating this territory can be treacherous, and riven with contradictions. We know we are animals, evolved via the same mechanisms as all life. This is comprehensively displayed in the limitless evidence of shared evolutionary histories—the fact that all living things are encoded by DNA. Or that similar genes have similar functions in distantly related creatures (the gene that defines an eye is virtually the same in all organisms that have any form of vision). Or that our bodies harbor the indelible stamps of common descent in our bones (our hands contain bones almost perfectly like-for-like with the bones in the flat paddle of a dolphin’s fin, and with a horse’s front legs, and a bat’s wings).

Prudent skepticism is required when we compare ourselves with other beasts. Evolution accounts for all life, but not all traits are adaptations. We use animals in science every day to try to understand complex biochemical pathways in order that we might develop drugs or understand disease. Mice, rats, monkeys—even cats, newts, and armadillos—provide invaluable insights into our own biochemistry, but even so, all researchers acknowledge the limitations of those molecular analogies; we shared ancestors with those beasts millions of years ago, and our evolutionary trajectories have nudged that biochemistry to suit each species as it is today.

When it comes to behavior, though, the parallels frequently become either distant or examples of convergent evolution. The fact that a chimpanzee uses a stick to wheedle out a fat grub from the bark of a tree is a trick independent of the same ability in Caledonian crows, whose skills are frequently the source of increasing wonder as we study them more. Humans are obligate tool users; we’ve extended our reach far beyond our grasp by utilizing nature and inventing technology. But many other creatures use tools, around 1 percent of all animals, and these span nine classes—sea urchins, insects, spiders, crabs, snails, octopuses, fish, birds, and mammals. What this inevitably means is that using tools is a trick that has been acquired many times in evolution, and it is virtually impossible to assume a single evolutionary antecedent from which this behavior sprang. Orangutans use leaves and branches as gloves when handling spiny fruit and as hats when it’s raining, and they fashion twigs to aid masturbation. Chimps sharpen sticks with their teeth with which to kebab sleeping bush babies. Boxer crabs carry pairs of stinging anemones to ward off enemies, which earns them the less hardcore nickname of “pom-pom crabs.” There is no evidence that these similar behaviors show continuity through time.

Arguments around these issues are generally the preserve of scientists. But there is a set of behaviors that is also inspected forensically and with evolution in mind, which extends far beyond the academy. We are a species that devotes enormous resources, effort, and time to touching each other’s genitals. Most animals are sexual beings, and the primary function of sex is to reproduce. The statistician David Spiegelhalter estimates that up to 900,000,000 acts of human heterosexual intercourse take place per year in Britain alone—roughly 100,000 per hour. Around 770,000 babies are born in Britain each year, and if we include miscarriages and abortions, the number of conceptions rises to about 900,000 per year. This means that of those 900,000,000 British encounters, 0.1 percent result in a fertilized egg. Out of every 1,000 sexual acts that could result in a baby, only one actually does. In statistics, this is classed as not very significant. If we include homosexual behavior, and other sexual behavior that cannot result in a pregnancy, including solitary acts, then the volume of sex that we enjoy magnificently dwarfs its primary purpose.

Is Homo sapiens the only species that decouples sex from reproduction? Enjoying sex might seem like a uniquely human experience, yet while we are reluctant to consider pleasure in other animals, we are certainly not the only animals that engage in non-reproductive sex. Zoo behavior is often weird, as animals in captivity are far from their natural environment, but there are two male bears in the zoo in Zagreb, Croatia, who enjoy a daily act of fellatio, while simultaneously humming. Some goats perform auto‑fellatio (which, according to the famous Kinsey Report on sexual behaviors, 2.7 percent of men have successfully attempted). Some eighty species of male and fifty species of female primates are frequent masturbators. Some behaviors reflect deviant or criminal sexual behaviors, such as sea otters, who drown females and then keep their bodies to copulate with. The award for sheer ingenuity goes to the dolphins: There is one reported case of a male masturbating by wrapping an electric eel around his penis.

Some—not all—of these seemingly familiar sexual practices can be explained readily. Male Cape ground squirrels are promiscuous, and masturbate after copulation, we think, for hygiene reasons, protecting themselves from sexually transmitted diseases by flushing their tubes. Other behavior is still mysterious to us: Giraffes spend most of their time sexually segregated, and the vast majority of sexual relations appear to be male-to-male penetration. As with the myriad examples of sexual behavior between members of the same sex, it demonstrates that homosexuality—once, and in many places to this day, decried as a crime against nature—is widespread.

Because sex and gender politics are so prominent in our lives, some look to evolution for answers to hard questions about the dynamics between men and women and the social structures that cause us so much ire. Evolutionary psychologists strain to explain our behavior today by speculating that it relates to an adaptation to Pleistocene life. Frequently these claims are absurd, such as “women wear blush on their cheeks because it attracts men by reminding them of ripe fruit.”

Purveyors of this kind of pseudoscience are plenty, and most prominent of the contemporary bunch is the clinical psychologist and guru Jordan Peterson, who asserts in lectures this “fact” about blush and fruit with absolute certainty. Briefly, issues with that idea are pretty straightforward: Most fruit is not red; most skin tones are not white; and crucially, the test for evolutionary success is increased reproductive success. Do we have the slightest blip of data that suggests that women who wear blush have more children than those who don’t? No, we do not.

Peterson is also well known for using the existence of patriarchal dominance hierarchies in a nonspecific lobster species as supporting evidence for the natural existence of male hierarchies in humans. Why, out of all creation, choose the lobster? Because it fits with Peterson’s preconceived political narrative. Unfortunately, it’s a crazily poor choice, and woefully researched. Peterson asserts that, as with humans, lobsters have nervous systems that “run on serotonin”—a phrase that carries virtually no scientific meaning—and that as a result “it’s inevitable that there will be continuity in the way that animals and human beings organize their structures.” Lobsters do have serotonin-based reward systems in their nervous systems that in some way correlate with social hierarchies: Higher levels of serotonin relate to increased aggression in males, which is part of establishing mate choice when, as Peterson says, “the most desirable females line up and vie for your attention.”

Sexual selection is one of the driving forces of natural selection in most animals. In general, males compete with each other, and females subsequently have choice over which males they mate with. While this is one of the most studied areas of evolutionary biology, it’s incredibly hard to establish that rules applying to lobsters (or does and stags, or peacocks and peahens) also apply to humans. There are physical and behavioral differences between men and women in relation to sex, but our cultural evolution has loosened the shackles of natural selection to the extent that we cannot satisfactorily match our behavior with other beasts—and claims that we can often result from poor science.

Peterson believes that the system used by lobsters is why social hierarchies exist in humans. The problem with the assertion is this: Serotonin is indeed a major part of the neural transmitter network in humans, but the effect of serotonin in relation to aggression is the opposite. Lower levels increase aggression, because it restricts communication between the frontal cortex and amygdala. Lobsters don’t have an amygdala or frontal lobes. Or brains for that matter. Most serotonin in humans is produced to aid digestion. And lobsters also urinate out of their faces. Trying to establish evolutionary precedents that justify or explain away our own behavior is scientific folly.

If you wanted to make a different but equally specious political argument with a waft of science about how to arrange our society, you could compare us to killer whales. They live in a matriarchal social group, in some cases led by postmenopausal females. Or hyenas, the animal with the greatest jaw strength of any, which are also matriarchal, and engage in clitoral licking, to bond socially and to establish hierarchy. Or the insect order Hymenoptera, which includes ants, bees, and wasps, and are roughly the same evolutionary distance from us as lobsters. Their social hierarchy involves a single queen and males, whose role is twofold: protecting the colony, and providing sperm on demand—they are literally sex slaves. Or the freshwater small invertebrates called bdelloid rotifers: Millions of years ago, they abandoned males altogether and seem to be doing just fine.

Yes, hierarchies assuredly exist in animals, since competition is an inherent part of nature, and our sexual biology has common roots with all life on Earth. But we should not presume that understanding the biology of other animals will necessarily illuminate our own, as Peterson does. It’s a strange irony that someone who claims to bow to evolution should simultaneously fail to grasp its concepts. In some ways it’s a less-cogent argument to an evolutionary biologist than that of creationists, who simply deny that evolution has happened. Then again, it was Darwin who said that “ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.” Nowadays, you can buy “lobster dominance” T-shirts.

We crave stories, and for those tales to deliver narrative satisfaction. We want dramatic triggers that bestow us with behaviors that are ours alone and therefore might be used to define humankind, and in doing so give us a sense of belonging or even purpose in the confusing modern world. We look to science and history to fulfill those cravings. But evolution doesn’t work that way; life is complex, culture is dynamic. Sometimes we talk about cultural evolution in opposition to biological evolution—the former being passed on socially, the latter being encoded in our DNA. But the truth is that they are intrinsically linked, and a better way to think about it is as gene–culture coevolution. Each drives the other, and cultural transmission of ideas and skills requires a biologically encoded ability to do so. Biology enables culture; culture changes biology. What humans uniquely do is accumulate culture, and build on it. Many animals learn, but only we teach.

As we meandered into the most recent 100,000 years or so, our culture became ever more significant in crafting our abilities. This is apparent in the fact that our bodies have not significantly changed in that time. A woman or man from 1,000 centuries ago would fit in perfectly well in any city in the world today if we tidied them up and gave them a haircut. But the way we live our lives since then has become ever more complex.

We are desperate to find the things that tipped us over the edge from being merely an animal into Hamlet’s paragon of animals. Was it our language? Was it religion, or music, or art, or any number of things that are not as unique to us as we had once thought? The truth is that it was all of these things and more—but crucially, it was in the engagement of our minds to transmit skills and ideas to others. We changed our societies and maximized how culture is transmitted. We took evolution’s work, and by teaching each other, we created ourselves. The stories we tell about how we came to be who we are often neglect the complexity of biology and the oceans of time during which we evolved. To understand human evolution, we need new stories.

Excerpted from “Humanimal: How Homo sapiens Became Nature’s Most Paradoxical Creature—A New Evolutionary History” by Adam Rutherford. (Originally published in the UK as “The Book of Humans.”) Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold.

(Submitted by Gwyllm Llwydd.)

Alain de Botton on Love, Vulnerability, and the Psychological Paradox of the Sulk

By Maria Popova (brainpickings.org)

thecourseoflove_alaindebotton.jpg?fit=320%2C480

“Nothing awakens us to the reality of life so much as a true love,” Vincent van Gogh wrote to his brother“Why is love rich beyond all other possible human experiences and a sweet burden to those seized in its grasp?” philosopher Martin Heidegger asked in his electrifying love letters to Hannah Arendt“Because we become what we love and yet remain ourselves.” Still, nearly every anguishing aspect of love arises from the inescapable tension between this longing for transformative awakening and the sleepwalking selfhood of our habitual patterns. True as it may be that frustration is a prerequisite for satisfaction in romance, how are we to reconcile the sundering frustration of these polar pulls?

The multiple sharp-edged facets of this question are what Alain de Botton explores in The Course of Love (public library) — a meditation on the beautiful, tragic tendernesses and fragilities of the human heart, at once unnerving and assuring in its psychological insightfulness. At its heart is a lamentation of — or, perhaps, an admonition against — how the classic Romantic model has sold us on a number of self-defeating beliefs about the most essential and nuanced experiences of human life: love, infatuation, marriage, sex, children, infidelity, trust.

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Alain de Botton

A sequel of sorts to his 1993 novel On Love, the book is bold bending of form that fuses fiction and De Botton’s supreme forte, the essay — twined with the narrative thread of the romance between the two protagonists are astute observations at the meeting point of psychology and philosophy, spinning out from the particular problems of the couple to unravel broader insight into the universal complexities of the human heart.

In fact, as the book progresses, one gets the distinct and surprisingly pleasurable sense that De Botton has sculpted the love story around the robust armature of these philosophical meditations; that the essay is the raison d’être for the fiction.

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Art from Strong as a Bear by Katrin Stangl

In one of these contemplative interstitials, De Botton examines the paradoxical psychology of one of the most common and most puzzling phenomena between lovers: sulking. He writes:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngAt the heart of a sulk lies a confusing mixture of intense anger and an equally intense desire not to communicate what one is angry about. The sulker both desperately needs the other person to understand and yet remains utterly committed to doing nothing to help them do so. The very need to explain forms the kernel of the insult: if the partner requires an explanation, he or she is clearly not worthy of one. We should add: it is a privilege to be the recipient of a sulk; it means the other person respects and trusts us enough to think we should understand their unspoken hurt. It is one of the odder gifts of love.

Sulking, De Botton suggests, stems from a form of magical thinking — the belief, endearing in its origin but deleterious in its effect, that an impossibility is possible:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngSulking pays homage to a beautiful, dangerous ideal that can be traced back to our earliest childhoods: the promise of wordless understanding. In the womb, we never had to explain. Our every requirement was catered to. The right sort of comfort simply happened. Some of this idyll continued in our first years. We didn’t have to make our every requirement known: large, kind people guessed for us. They saw past our tears, our inarticulacy, our confusions: they found the explanations for discomforts which we lacked the ability to verbalize.

That may be why, in relationships, even the most eloquent among us may instinctively prefer not to spell things out when our partners are at risk of failing to read us properly. Only wordless and accurate mind reading can feel like a true sign that our partner is someone to be trusted; only when we don’t have to explain can we feel certain that we are genuinely understood.

But rather than bemoaning the sulk as a fatal flaw of a relationship, De Botton wrests from it evidence of the most hopeful and generous capacity of the human heart:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngWe would ideally remain able to laugh, in the gentlest way, when we are made the special target of a sulker’s fury. We would recognize the touching paradox. The sulker may be six foot one and holding down adult employment, but the real message is poignantly retrogressive: “Deep inside, I remain an infant, and right now I need you to be my parent. I need you correctly to guess what is truly ailing me, as people did when I was a baby, when my ideas of love were first formed.”

We do our sulking lovers the greatest possible favor when we are able to regard their tantrums as we would those of an infant. We are so alive to the idea that it’s patronizing to be thought of as younger than we are; we forget that it is also, at times, the greatest privilege for someone to look beyond our adult self in order to engage with — and forgive — the disappointed, furious, inarticulate child within.

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Art by Isol from Daytime Visions

Half a century after Iris Murdoch consoled a heartbroken friend by reminding her that “love is better than no love, though it can hurt so much,” De Botton revisits another facet of the same bewildering dynamic in a section on the interplay between trust and blame:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngThe most superficially irrational, immature, lamentable, but nonetheless common of all the presumptions of love is that the person to whom we have pledged ourselves is not just the center of our emotional existence but is also, as a result — and yet in a very strange, objectively insane and profoundly unjust way — responsible for everything that happens to us, for good or ill. Therein lies the peculiar and sick privilege of love.

Toward the end of the book, De Botton follows this paradoxical privilege to its equally paradoxical conclusion:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngMaturity begins with the capacity to sense and, in good time and without defensiveness, admit to our own craziness. If we are not regularly deeply embarrassed by who we are, the journey to self-knowledge hasn’t begun.

The Course of Love is an immensely perceptive and pleasurable read in its totality. Complement it with philosopher Erich Fromm on what is keeping us from mastering the art of loving, sociologist Eva Illouz on why love hurts, and Anna Dostoyevsky on the secret to a happy marriage, then revisit De Botton on the seven psychological functions of art and what philosophy is for.

For more of his largehearted wisdom on love and our human vulnerabilities, see his magnificent Design Matters conversation with Debbie Millman:

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2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngMy view of human nature is that all of us are just holding it together in various ways — and that’s okay, and we just need to go easy with one another, knowing that we’re all these incredibly fragile beings.

Subscribe to Design Matters here for more invigorating conversations with artists, writers, designers, and other creative thinkers.

Libra Full Moon, Supermoon, March 20th, 6:42 pm PDT

Wendy Cicchetti

The March 20-21, 2019, Full Moon ushers in the first Full Moon of Spring for the Northern Hemisphere, and the first Full Moon of Autumn for the Southern Hemisphere. This Full Moon is also a Supermoon, particularly close to Earth. It comes less than four hours after the arrival of the March 20 equinox. This is the closest coincidence of a full moon with the March equinox since March 2000 – 19 years ago.

With this Full Moon in the earliest degrees of LibraAries, it is a time when the vernal quality of the spring equinox is particularly resonant. We can almost feel the lushness of new growth! The Libran emphasis of the Full Moon underlines that this is a shared experience; we individually sense the sprouting forth of some new beginning, yet this is also being felt on the collective level. And what a healing experience it can be, given that the Sun is conjunct Chiron! A major question could be whether healing will be internal and individual, or in the context of a relationship — it is quite possible that both can happen. After all, if we heal something internally, then we can often find a way to extend the olive branch and bridge the rifts in relationships.

We may be less focused on the past during this Full Moon, and more eager to form new bonds. There appears to be cosmic permission to start with a clean slate. We can let go of unnecessary baggage, which has been processed and belongs in the past. Going forward, the focus is on a fresh start and being unburdened — rather like the Fool in the Tarot, who travels light with just a tiny knapsack over his shoulder.

Venus at 23° Aquarius is tightly square Mars in Taurus, emphasizing the immovable object, since both planets are in fixed signs. It may be best to agree to disagree, rather than try to drive a point home, because both parties could easily be debating all day long! These are inner planets, though, offering a strong reminder that even a tough argument is likely to be a temporary blip on the horizon. People or circumstances will change, sooner or later.

Besides, both Venus and the Moon occupy air signs(Aquarius and Libra, respectively), drawing attention to the true nature of trends. While Venus may be bucking them, the Moon may wish to align with them! Either way, trends are ephemeral and stress short-term directions. This is not to say that nothing can stick, however, as Mars in Taurus is trine SaturnPluto, and the South Node in Capricorn: Some actions might have a certain longevity about them. Still, certain developments are likely to be temporary and will not matter in the long run — an idea that is somewhat supported by Mercury and Neptune in Pisces, reminiscent of steam and sea-spray and a reflection of how people can blow hot and cold on ideas and plans.

The wisdom to be gleaned is to not put too much stock in someone else’s ideas, suggestions, or promises. Or, where these remain important to us, to ensure that we do something concrete to move them along, rather than rely on others’ initiatives. Mercury–Neptune reminds us how much can be forgotten or overlooked, despite our best intentions.

There is every reason to be optimistic about relationship connections given Jupiter’s close sextile to Venus. Opportunities may well open up for us to expand our social circle, or to accept support from someone who is more than happy to offer it. Whatever interesting new developments life may present, the planets assure us that we are not alone!

Written by Diana McMahon Collis for the Mountain Astrologer Magazine

Full Moon symbolizes the fulfillment of the seeds planted at a previous New Moon or some earlier cycle. Each Full Moon reminds us of the seeds that may be coming to maturity, to their fullness, to fruition, to the place where the fruits or gifts are received. It may seem that fulfillment of our goals takes a long time. Some intentions may manifest within the two week phase prior to the next New or Full Moon. Some however, depending on their complexity, may take a much longer time. Just remember that our thoughts and emotions set Universal Action in motion and much work takes place behind the scenes as everything is orchestrated for fulfillment. Keep visualizing your goals as though you have already attained them and they will eventually manifest. Do not concern yourself with current conditions or worry about controlling it. The universe takes care of those details. Just keep seeing what you want, and move in that direction with your actions, and give no energy to what you don’t want. Patience is required.

Historians Uncover Lost Socrates Dialogues Where He Just Gave Up And Started Screaming That Opponent A Fucking Brainwashed Shill

March 19, 2019 (theonion.com)

CAMBRIDGE, MA—In a landmark discovery that sheds new light on the development of Western thought, historians announced Tuesday they had found several lost Socratic dialogues in which the ancient Greek philosopher simply gives up and screams that his debate opponents are all fucking brainwashed shills. “In these newly unearthed texts, there are numerous instances in which Socrates accuses his interlocutors of having small penises before going on to claim he has fucked their wives,” said Harvard University professor Helen Speck, citing dialogues in which Socrates proposes that anyone who disagrees with him is a pathetic piece of shit on the payroll of the Athenian aristocracy and ought to just kill himself. “We’ve uncovered many rhetorical tactics previously undocumented in the classical canon, such as Socrates’ tendency to scream ‘Fuck you!’ ad nauseam until his challenger stopped trying to express his viewpoint. We even have contemporaneous accounts suggesting Socrates doxxed his opponents, posting their addresses all over the Acropolis and inciting his followers to harass them. It’s pretty amazing to see our culture’s philosophical tradition being born here.” Speck added that Plato, the most famous student of Socrates, received an education centered around learning to shout a stream of relentless, unsubstantiated libel at anyone believed to be a giant pussy.

Don’t Censor the New Zealand Shooting Videos

People stand and pay tribute to victims along a cordon in front of the Al Noor mosque after a performance of the haka in Christchurch on March 20, 2019.
People stand and pay tribute to victims along a cordon in front of the Al Noor mosque after a performance of the haka in Christchurch on March 20, 2019. | ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images

FOURTH ESTATE

Averting our gaze from mass murder won’t keep it from happening—and it won’t even stop the murderers from spreading their sick ideas.

Jack Shafer is Politico’s senior media writer. 

The greatest danger to the republic, Republicans and Democrats alike have shouted in recent months, is tech companies like Google and Facebook. They wield too much power over free speech and commerce, the argument goes, and thus must be broken up into smaller, weaker companies to reduce their hold on us.

Then came last Friday’s massacre of 50 innocents at two New Zealand mosques, live-streamed on Facebook from the suspect’s body cam—an attack New York Times columnist Kevin Roose dubbed the world’s first “internet-native mass shooting.”

The new complaint was that big tech wasn’t powerful enough to block the shooter’s videos from appearing on the web. Even though Facebook deleted 1.5 million of the first-person videos inside of 24 hours and Google’s YouTube boasted of “unprecedented“ scale and speed in erasing the videos (one per second!) and temporarily disabling search functions, neither service could keep up with the uploaders. Some users subtly altered the videos to slip under automated screening processes.

At least two British tabloids ran edited footage from the suspect’s body cam and one published his 84-page “manifesto,” but they quickly self-censored the material off their websites. The Australian Broadcasting Company probably spoke for most media companies that limited their graphic coverage when it explained that it had deliberately denied the suspect a “platform” because his attack was “aimed not at the audiences of traditional news organisations but at reaching and triggering atomised and often extreme online audiences.” The ABC continued, “His every move appears to have been deliberate, calculated, web savvy and designed to grab attention.” The Aussie broadcaster seems to be saying it had no desire to reward the suspect’s media efforts and thereby encourage additional mayhem.

But limited coverage didn’t mean zero coverage. Every major media organization flooded the New Zealand story with reporters and photographers who told the story in tick-tock detail. You might think this would be a counterproductive tack for the news media to take if deplatforming the suspect and restricting the reach of his propaganda goals was the intent. And you’d be right. Far from “protecting” the impressionable from the suspect’s racist and murderous message, the press communicated it everywhere. This let the press have it both ways—to claim an imagined moral victory by not using the video and manifesto directly but by extracting every essential reportorial detail from them. The “atomized and often extreme online audiences” who clicked through to read the tempered coverage of Christchurch killings in the New York Times or viewed it on CNN surely got the suspect’s message.

Then why the charade? I can understand why the likes of Google and Facebook want to resist delivering maximum destruction, blood and massacre. They’re in the advertising business. But journalists are supposed to be hell-bent on chasing every angle on a story, to err by telling too much instead of not enough, to disclose and not conceal, aren’t they? Suppression of the news is the censor’s game.

I can understand why New Zealand journalists gagged themselves: The New Zealand government invoked its powers to ban “objectionable and restricted material,” thereby criminalizing the sharing of the video. And the government acted on the ban. One person arrested for sharing the video faces 28 years in prison. Both New Zealand and Australian ISPs have blocked sites like 4chan that have hosted the videos.

But no such law prevented the American press from running the videos.

When the 9/11 terrorists struck, the networks live-streamed that atrocity into American living rooms, including the human demolition of desperate people leaping from high windows to escape the flames. This attack was every bit as deliberate, calculated and web-savvy as the Christchurch assault, but the press didn’t retreat behind worries that the coverage might encourage another attack. Nobody said, We can’t be free to publish this material because we must make every effort to be safe first! To this day, YouTube finds such journalistic significance in the jumper videos that they still host them in easily searchable form. So much for their “standards.”

The “contagion” theory of mass killings, which instructs journalists to limit their coverage lest they inspire new villains to pick up the gun, is leaky. As Paul Farhi of the Washington Post noted in 2012, what are we to make of the fact that some killings, like Columbine, seem to have inspired additional killings, yet others, like the assault on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, which left six dead, didn’t? “School shootings have waxed and waned for more than 100 years; shootings in postal facilities are all but unknown these days,” Farhi writes. It’s magical thinking to imagine that murderous violence will disappear if only the press can be persuaded to report it in small doses.

If the logic of squelching the Christchurch video is to prevent another attack—which, as you can tell, I find dubious—have the censors thought through the unintended consequences of their plan? Although the video has been driven underground, it can still be found and shared, and its forbidden status will only lend it additional cachet for certain audiences. Call it a bloody version of the Streisand effect.

The censor is never somebody who doesn’t want to see things. He wants very much to see salacious and disturbing stuff! He just thinks it’s his calling to prevent his neighbors from seeing the same material. When everybody is a potential publisher—something the millions of video downloads counted by Facebook and Google help affirm—today’s censor can only delay and distort. Information may not, despite what Whole Earth Catalog founder Stewart Brand once said, want to be free. But some free people want access to it—even if it’s abominably unpleasant to consume.

******

Sharp eyes will notice that I rejigged the excellent line, “We can’t be free because we have to be safe,” from the movie Page Eight in the third from the last paragraph. Send your favorite movie lines to Shafer.Politico@gmail.com. My email alerts have seen all of John Ford’s work. My Twitter feed fancies Budd Boetticher’s Westerns. My RSS feed wants to go to a “The Wild Bunch” re-enactor camp and play the role of either Lyle or Tector Gorch.

Full Moon March 2019 ~ Lift The Veil

The Full moon 20 March 2019, falls at 0º Libra decan 1. The full moon is aligned with fixed star Markeb in the sails of the constellation of Argos the ship. The closest aspect to the full moon is a quincunx to Uranus. The tarot card is the 2 of swords and the healing crystal will be Mookaite.

The full moon brings out concepts that are ahead of their time or just too mystical for the average human to grasp. This is also an extremely right-brained decan for this full moon March 2019. For those touched by this full moon, the light of illumination will shine while the intuitive sense is very sharp. This is the vibration of the mystic, diplomat and peacemaker rather than a war-monger. There also seems to be a strong connection with the night sky and the ability to prophecy at this time. The Moon actually rules this decan also, so it is a very powerful moon for manifestation magic.

Full Moon March 2019 Astrology ~ Libra Decan 1

At this time we can feel an aura of peace and tranquillity within, even if the outer appearance looks spiky or dishevelled. Those touched by this full moon energy are able to neutralise a fiery environment just by being present. Moon Libra 1 carries a very potent balancing energy. But strangely if the situation is one of too much acquiescence, then they will actually shift the scales towards a more defensive stance. That is when events can, surprisingly, even flip over to the shadow. This is rare though and generally, Moon Libra 1 is soothing and harmonious. At the time the only fault is perhaps being too naive and ignorant of malice. We might need to remember not everyone is as fair-minded as we are. Austin Coppock and Ibn Ezra associate the scales more strongly to decan 1 than with the other two Libra decans. I also think the qualities of Maat are strong here too.

Full Moon March 2019
Full Moon March 2019 ~ Aspects

Moon quincunx Uranus breeds a range of crazed lunatics, unconventional rebels and quiet outsiders. There is a pathological need to shock and outrage. However Moon quincunx Uranus is often shy and uncomfortable with the notoriety the outrageous behaviour brings. This aspect can be branded as an attention seeker when all it is doing is being itself. The roots of this seemingly bonkers behaviour very often stem from upbringing. This is a time to examine our unconscious behaviour patterns inherited from childhood trauma.

Moon quincunx Uranus can describe a shock to the infant at a very vulnerable stage in their development, which can leave us feeling rather unhinged. At the same time, it is exciting, electric and quite chaotic. Both the Moon and Uranus are fluctuating and changeable and motions often change in a flash. Uranus stands for the truth and revelation, so it can happen that certain spokespeople at this full moon will risk exile by speaking truth that the populous find hard to accept. Moon quincunx Uranus may never feel truly at home in the present moment because they are so far ahead of time in their thinking.


FULL MOON MEANING

Full moons tend to make us purge and release things from our lives, so we need to make sure that we are in control of this and no one is forcing our hand! Sometimes we can let go of things that we regret later, due to heightened emotions and the full moon’s penchant for saying ‘F*** You!’ The bright light of the sun throws a spotlight on our subconscious and our shadow. This can feel uncomfortable as the Sun literally blasts out the demons who have nowhere to hide. Often the full moon is a time when we reap what we sowed at the new moon,.. for good or for ill.

The veils between the worlds are thinnest around a full Moon, so be very careful what you invite in. Instead, the full Moon is best used to purge things out, and banish entities/bad habits back to the underworld from whence they came. Make sure you close the door firmly afterwards! This is a good time for exorcism, but make sure you are completely grounded and fully in control of the process. If in doubt, lie low and protect yourself. A Lunar Eclipse is a turbocharged Full Moon where the blood-red moon makes a graphic statement of any symbolic ‘deaths’ or aborted projects that might occur at this time in our lives.

Book: “Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World”

Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World

Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World

by Rutger Bregman

From a universal basic income to a 15-hour workweek, from a world without borders to a world without poverty – it’s time to return to utopian thinking.

Rutger Bregman takes us on a journey through history, beyond the traditional left-right divides, as he introduces ideas whose time has come. Utopia for Realists is one of those rare books that takes you by surprise and challenges what you think you know. In the words of leading social theorist Zygmunt Bauman, it is “brilliant, truly enlightening, and eminently readable.”

This original Dutch bestseller sparked a national movement for basic income experiments that soon made international headlines.

God Really Dreading Visit From Older Brother Who Made Much More Successful Cosmos

March 17, 2019 (theonion.com)

CREATION—Admitting that the mere thought of hosting His guest next weekend filled Him with terrible anxiety, God, Our Lord and Heavenly Father, revealed Monday that He was “really dreading” an upcoming visit from His older brother, who had brought into being a far more successful cosmos. “I stress out whenever my brother visits because His universe doesn’t even have war or famine, so when I try to talk to Him about my problems, He just stares at me with this blank look upon His countenance. It’s like, come on, I’m trying my best over here,” said the Creator of All Things, adding that He tries, really tries, to be a compassionate and merciful God, but His brother’s visits always leave Him feeling deeply inadequate despite His vast accomplishments. “Last time He was here, He kept going on and on about how His flock never had to leave their Edenic garden and was making all these little passive-aggressive jabs, like, ‘Oh, wow, creating humans in your image, how original, I suppose I just enjoy taking risks, more of a challenge that way, don’t You know, but still it’s nice that You stick to the basics, simplicity is its own virtue, I suppose, at least in Your world.’ He actually said that! And you should have seen the way He was squinting at sub-Saharan Africa, just being terribly judgmental. It feels like no matter what I do or how I live my life, nothing I ever do will be good enough for Him. Man, I hope humanity never feels that way about Me.” At press time, God was attempting to create an elaborate excuse to cancel on His brother.

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