Tag Archives: Meditation

Choosing Electric Shocks Over Silent Contemplation

Hell, it turns out, isn’t other people.

According to some recent research, published in well-respected journal Science, a whole bunch of people would rather suffer through a self-administered electric shock than spend a measly fifteen minutes sitting quietly alone in a room by themselves with nothing to do.

As hard as it is to believe, yes, I’m completely serious here. I’m not sure I even could make up something as wacky as this.

 ouch2The authors found that “simply being alone with their own thoughts for 15 min was apparently so aversive that it drove many participants to self-administer an electric shock that they had earlier said they would pay to avoid.”

Would it, no pun intended, shock you to learn that of those those choosing shock over self reflection, there were many more men than women? If so, maybe you dudes should try and pay a bit more attention to what’s going on around you.

I mean, it’s long been a joke popular with the less-refined comedians that men have the sensitivity and feelings of a particularly large and dense specimen of rock. But still. . .

What are these people so afraid of? Is it being alone with their own thoughts? Possibly being disconnected from their auxiliary brains (or, as most folks know them, smartphones) for a while? Having no one else there to break the silence?

Considering that it was the entire purpose of this paper, the authors of said work do have a few opinions on the subject. (Okay, sure. It sometimes seems as if some of these papers are published merely so we’ll have someone new at whom to point and laugh, but definitely not in this case.)

“Research has shown that minds are difficult to control…and it may be particularly hard to steer our thoughts in pleasant directions and keep them there. This may be why many people seek to gain better control of their thoughts with meditation and other techniques, with clear benefits. Without such training, people prefer doing to thinking, even if what they are doing is so unpleasant that they would normally pay to avoid it. The untutored mind does not like to be alone with itself.”

So, in essence, what the study authors are saying is that people are so desperate to avoid thinking unhappy thoughts that they would rather subject themselves to electricity shooting painfully through their bodies.

If I can’t be constantly happy and thinking continuous happy thoughts, I’d rather be in pain.

That’s just. . . I mean, dudes. That’s crazy, right?

I can’t be the only one who thinks these people are in desperate need of a psychiatric intervention, can I?

Now, I know — KNOW — I’m not the most psychologically stable person around, dudes, but even I would have no problem sitting alone in a white room for a quarter of an hour. I mean, if all else fails, I’d probably just fall asleep.

Fifteen minutes? Sure. No problem. It’s when we begin to talk longer periods of time in solitary confinement that things start to get more than a little scary.

It makes me wonder if these people have ever managed to mature out of childhood, when a time out was one of the worst punishments that could be inflicted on a little dude.

You don’t have to love yourself (although you should), but at least learn to tolerate yourself.

Share on Facebook

Dude Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

When I was training to be a newspaper reporter, I learned never to bury the lead. Which meant, always start with the most important stuff right up front.

Not in the second paragraph.

And certainly never in the third.

I am, however, willing to state here, in the fourth paragraph, uncategorically, that Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a fantastic, rip-roaring, rootin’-tootin’, bad-guy shooting, uplifting, side-splitting fantastically good movie.

I liked it, is what I’m trying to say.

I thought it would be difficult for any Marvel movie to surpass the wonder that is Marvel’s The Avengers, which I thought might have been one of the best movies of the decade at least. And, to be sure, CA: TWS, doesn’t surpass The Avengers, but it comes darn close.

Chris Evans returns as Steve Rogers, aka Captain America. Samuel L. Jackson is back as Nick Fury, while Scarlett Johansson also is back as Natasha Romanov, the Black Widow. They’re joined by Anthony Mackie, playing Sam Wilson, the Falcon, and a host of other folks, including Robert Redford as S.H.I.E.L.D. high-muckety-muck Alexander Pierce.

And they all — every single one of them — are fantastic in their role. The Black Widow, instead of being a girlfriend, or a pawn, or a sacrifice to make the male hero’s journey personal, is a formidable hero in her own right, facing down doubts and horrors from her past. She also benefits from the double-edged sword that is Captain America: She believes she can be better because Captain America believes she is better and she doesn’t want to let him down.

That’s only one of the things that makes Steve Rogers such a dangerous man.

Not only is the film well acted, but it’s filled with astonishing special effects, drastic fight scenes, Easter eggs too numerous to count (including the birth of at least two new villains, a certain tombstone near the end and namechecking the Sorcerer Supreme), and — believe it or not — an extended meditation on the idea of freedom versus security.

Following the events in New York, chronicled in Marvel’s The Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D. is all set to step out and take over world security. This eagerness is making Captain America a bit wary as it seems S.H.I.E.L.D. wants to start killing people before they actually commit a crime.

Should Americans and, by extension, the world give up their freedoms to become safer from a world that now contains super soldiers, aliens, gods and ten-foot-tall rampaging rage monsters?

Unfortunately, it’s not a question that will get answered in this movie, because it turns out that the entire operation has been compromised by Hydra, the bad guys from the first Cap film. Which means that the entire notion is, prima fascia, a bad idea. It sort of deflates the argument I was having in my head there, but I applaud the movie for at least bringing it up.

I’m also amazed by the actual change displayed in this movie. In most action series, there’s a set status quo and, once the movie is over, no matter what happened in the previous two hours, everything is back to the way it started. Not so in this movie.

Things change. Structures and organizations you thought were permanent fixtures of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been completely transformed.

And all this before the Winter Soldier hits the scene, himself stalking out of Captain America’s past with a secret that could shatter him without a fight.

So, yeah. It’s a great movie, not just a great superhero movie.

What I loved the most about this movie can be summed up in one amazing elevator ride.

Captain America is trying to leave the S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters after telling a powerful person no. He steps in the elevator. Two floors down, several men get on. Several floors after that, more rough and tough men come on. Eventually, the elevator is packed with roughboys and Captain America, who realizes what’s about to happen.

Instead of immediately smacking them all silly, Captain America first tries to settle the situation peacefully.

“Before we get started,” he says, “does anyone want to get out?”

The answer is no, so then he wipes the elevator floor with them in an amazing fight scene that’s worth the price of admission all by itself.

Go pay said price of admission and enjoy yourself. This is a fantastic movie for the family or anyone else who enjoys action movies with fun, adventure, laughs and a couple of moments of genuine sadness and deep emotion.

Share on Facebook

Mind, Set, Match

by Richard

With school all started up again, the folks at Beloit College have come out with their annual mindset list. No, it’s got nothing to do with yoga, transcendental meditation or psychics. Basically, it’s a list of stuff designed to make sure their professors don’t go around dropping outdated pop cultural references in class that their students wouldn’t understand.

Like, gag me with a spoon, you know?

It’s easy to make fun of out-of-touch professors who can’t keep up with the zeitgeist (German for spirit of the times). In fact, it’s so easy, I’m not even going to get into the silliness of making this list so the professors can pretend to be up to date. Let’s just look at the list itself. That’s easy to make fun of.

This list is made with the class of 2014 in mind. That is, the kids who are entering college this year, which means most of them will have been born in 1992. Whoa. I just realized. That’s the year before Sarcasmo made his first sarcastic comment. (a snarky, sideways look. She Who Must Sometimes Misremember Because She Was Under Anesthetic disagrees, but I’m sure I saw it when I was giving him his first diaper change and he peed on me.)

Anyway. The list.

No. 1 shows us that Few in the class know how to write in cursive. I’m not so sure about this. Even Hyper Lad, who’ll be in the class of 2021, knows how to write in cursive. He doesn’t like it, and all three little dudes confess ignorance about how to read cursive, but they do know how to write it. I’m not even going to comment on the inherent contradiction there. Too silly.

Picking purely at random and not because I can think of a good joke for it: No. 12: Clint Eastwood is better known as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry. Go ahead, make my loving and tender comment. You know, it just doesn’t have the same resonance, does it?

No. 28. They’ve never recognized that pointing to their wrists was a request for the time of day. Now this one I’ll go with, no question. None of the three little dudes wears a watch. Not only that, but I have to work with them to get them to be able to read my analog watch. They’ve got cell phones with time displays on them. So do I and, I’m sure, most of you. It’s just I feel, well, naked without a watch, I’ve been wearing one so long. Strange to think that in 20 years, the watch will be seen as a trite antique, something only the very old wear. Or maybe as jewelry. I think I’ll be selling my Seiko stock right about now.

Now, this last one really frosts me. No. 74. They’ve always been able to blast off with the Sci-Fi (SYFY) Channel. You young punks don’t know how good you’ve got it. Why I had to search all over to find quality entertainment like Mansquito and all you’ve got to do is flip on the TV. Young punks.

Go ahead and check out the whole thing at http://www.beloit.edu/mindset/2014.php

Share on Facebook