What Silicon Valley Can Learn From Buddha’s Diet

Dan Zigmond at his home in Silicon Valley. ROSS MANTLE FOR WIRED


AS WE WALK, Dan Zigmond pulls on a black baseball cap. The sun is high, and the trees give little shade. It’s a big park—stretching across a good nine acres of grass, mulch, shrubs, and gravel paths—but from where we are, it looks much bigger. Beyond the nine acres, all we can see are more trees, more green, and the mountains in the east, so the park seems almost endless. “That always amazes me,” I say. After all, we’re on the roof of the newest Facebook building, a Frank Gehry creation called MPK20, right next to Highway 84, the Dumbarton Bridge, and the sprawling urban marshlands of Menlo Park, California, where the bog is decorated with so many power lines, transmission towers, and electrical substations.

Zigmond works in the building below, overseeing data analytics for the Facebook News Feed and other parts of the world’s most popular social network. That means he analyzes the massive of amounts of online data generated by News Feed, looking for ways to improve the service and other parts of Facebook. He’s also a Zen priest who studied with the same Buddhist monk as Steve Jobs. And that means he’s part of a long tradition inside Northern California tech circles. As we walk through Facebook’s rooftop park, he hands me a copy of a 1986 academic monograph called From Satori to Silicon Valley. A thin paperback small enough to fit into my back pocket, it explores the link between Silicon Valley and the American counter culture of the 1960s and 70s, including so many hippie attitudes lifted from Buddhism. On the cover, two black-and-white symbols merge together: the ying-yang and the transistor.

As Zigmond tells me, the conceit is that the counter culture helped drive the evolution of the personal computer as it emerged from Silicon Valley and challenged the dominance of giant techno-corporations like IBM and AT&T. People like Jobs—a long-haired hippy Buddhist fruitarian computer maker—didn’t just look forward to a future driven entirely by technology. Instilled with the hippie ethos—the notion that we could find something truer, healthier, and simpler than the post-industrial mega-capitalist society that emerged in the 20th Century—Jobs and his peers also looked back to a more natural past, hoping they could use personal computers to empower people and bring them together and reclaim some of the humanity the modern world had taken away. Zigmond believes these same attitudes continue to drive Silicon Valley, including tech giants like Facebook (a company intent on “making the world a more open and connected place”) and Google (“organize all the world’s information”). “There’s that same spirit of seeing technology as a way of getting us to a better future,” Zigmond says.

So, it’s only natural that Zigmond, one of Facebook’s top data analysts, just published a book of his own called Buddha’s Diet. It mixes three of Northern California’s biggest obsessions: science, Eastern philosophy, and food. Yes, it’s a diet book. The subtitle is: The Ancient Art of Losing Weight Without Losing Your Mind. But there are greater lessons to be learned from this slim volume, not just about science, Eastern philosophy, and food, but about Silicon Valley.

Of Mice and Zen

Dan Zigmond has been a Buddhist for nearly 30 years. He discovered the Eastern religion while studying computational neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania, and after graduating, he moved to Thailand, living in a Buddhist temple while teaching English at a nearby refugee camp. In this temple, the monks ate between dawn and noon, according to the rules of the Vinaya Pitaka, the original teachings of Buddha. They ate whatever was available and as much as they wanted, but only within that window. And they remained slim. In the popular imagination, the Buddha was a fat man. But he too was slim.

After two years in Thailand, Zigmond returned to the States, and eventually, he wound up at Google. He worked as a data scientist, hunting for ways of improving services like YouTube and Google Maps, and he was part of the Buddhist culture that ran right through the company. After an early engineer named Chade-Meng Tan promoted meditation groups across the company and wrote a book called Search Inside Yourself, Google became a destination for monks from across the world. When Meng gave tours to these visitors, he would bring them by Zigmond’s desk, showing off Google’s unique brand of Buddhism. “I remember more than once working on some tricky statistics code and looking up to see a band of Tibetan monks in full Buddhist robes hovering over me, always smiling,” Zigmond remembers…




The second sage

Resultado de imagem para Mencius, The Three Moves. Anonymous drawing, China, 20th century. Photo by AKG Images

Mencius, The Three Moves. Anonymous drawing, China, 20th century. Photo by AKG Images

Confucian philosopher Mengzi provides an intriguing (and oddly modern) alternative to Aristotelian accounts of human virtue

Bryan W Van Norden is professor of philosophy at Vassar College in New York, and a guest professor at Wuhan University in China. His latest book is Readings in Later Chinese Philosophy (2014), co-edited with Justin Tiwald. 

A man is hiking in the countryside when he suddenly sees a toddler about to fall into an abandoned well. What will he do? Many people will instinctively run toward the toddler to save him. However, some people will simply panic, freezing in the moment of crisis. A handful of people might start to move toward the child, but then stop, because they realise that the crumbling old well could collapse under their weight. Their initial impulse to save the child competes with their desire for self-preservation.

The fact is that we cannot be entirely sure what a human in this situation will do. What we can be sure of is what a human in this situation will feel: alarm that the child is in danger, and compassion for any potential suffering. What if someone did not have these feelings? What about someone who could look upon a child about to fall into a well with nothing but indifference, or perhaps even amusement? We describe those who are this unfeeling as ‘inhuman’, more like a beast than a person.

This thought experiment was formulated by the ancient Confucian Mengzi, the most influential philosopher in world history whom you have probably never heard of. He uses it to argue that, contrary to egoists, and to those who believe that human psychology is a tabula rasa, human nature is hard-wired with an incipient tendency toward compassion for the suffering of others.

Although Mengzi was born long after Confucius died, he is referred to as the ‘Second Sage’ because he shaped the form that Confucianism would take for the next two millennia, not just in China, but also in Korea, Japan and Vietnam. Also known as ‘Mencius’ (the Latinisation of his name given by early Jesuit missionaries), Mengzi is attracting renewed interest among Western philosophers. Not only does Mengzi provide an intriguing alternative to Aristotelian accounts of the virtues and their cultivation, but his claims about human nature are supported by recent empirical research. Beyond the intrinsic philosophical interest of Mengzi’s thought, it behooves us to learn more about it because Chinese culture is increasingly abandoning the radical Marxism of the Mao era and returning to a reverence for traditional systems of thought such as Confucianism.

Confucius (551-479 BCE) did not regard himself as founding a school. In the Analects (the collected sayings of Confucius and his immediate disciples), Confucius said: ‘I transmit but do not innovate. I am faithful to and love antiquity.’ Of course, no one with a mind as brilliant as that of Confucius simply repeats the past. All explanation is re-interpretation. But both Confucius himself and his later followers conceived of him as transmitting the Way – the right way to live and to organise society – that had been discovered by sages even more ancient than Confucius. This Way is based upon what contemporary philosophers such as Thomas Nagel refer to as ‘agent-relative obligations’: the filial piety that I owe to my mother and father precisely because they are my parents; respect for those who are elder to me; the loyalty I owe to my friends and to my spouse; and the special affection I have for my children.

This does not mean that I should be indifferent to strangers. The whole point of the child-at-the-well story is that our compassion extends to all humans. However, as one of Confucius’s disciples put it: ‘Are not filial piety and respect for our elders the root of benevolence?’ In other words, it is in the family that our dispositions to love and show respect for others are first incubated…




Migrant battles on the streets of Paris: Riot police clash with Afghans and Eritreans as they move in to clear up camps in French capital following closure of Calais Jungle

French riot police begin destroying camps full of UK-bound migrants in Paris 

Up to 3,000 migrants, many wanting to head to the UK, had set up tents on the pavements close to the Paris Eurostar hub but they were destroyed this morning after riot police moved in. It followed thousands of migrants arriving in the French capital following the razing of the Calais Jungle refugee camp last week. While some 5,000 Jungle residents agreed to be bused to resettlement centres around France, many others headed off independently, saying they still wanted to get to Britain.



ISIS Defeat In Mosul May Lead To More Terrorist Attacks In Europe

ISIS Defeat In Mosul May Lead To More Terrorist Attacks In Europe

Oct 30, 2016Source: rt.com

The defeat of Islamic State militants in their Iraqi stronghold Mosul may spark terrorist attacks across Europe, the head of the German Federal Office for Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Hans-Georg Maassen, has said.

Speaking to German media outlet Deutschlandfunk, Maassen acknowledged that the jihadists “possibly stand with their backs to the wall” and can “effectively face defeat” in the Iraqi city, adding that the BfV is “closely watching the situation in Mosul.”

The Iraqi Army and allied militias backed by the US-led coalition launched an operation to retake the country’s second-largest city on October 17.

“That is good. But this can lead to the consequence that this situation may alert its [IS] supporters in Europe, that it can lead to violent attacks,” the BfV chief warned.

He added though that security services in Germany are preparing for such an event. “This is what we want to prevent and we also adjust ourselves accordingly, so that it can be avoided.” Maassen did not name any imminent threat facing Germany.

Yet according to the intelligence chief, the BfV should prepare itself for“different scenarios,” including cases when well trained fighters [who could] simultaneously stage suicide attacks or terrorist acts with Kalashnikov assault rifles.” This was the case during IS-inspired terrorist assaults in Paris in November 2015 as well as suicide bombings in Brussels airport and metro station in March this year.

“And then we have the case of a lone wolf who is not really a lone wolf because, as we have now encountered in a number of cases, these people are being radicalized and led via instant messenger service, via the internet,” Maassen said.

On September 21, police in the German city of Cologne raided a refugee compound, arresting a 16-year-old Syrian refugee over suspicion he was allegedly planning a terrorist attack.

Law enforcement officials released a statement saying the young man had attended a mosque in Cologne and “has radicalized himself in a very short time.” The Syrian came to the attention of police on June 10, 2016, after sending IS-related images to his friends.

German police are now also investigating whether a 16-year-old girl named Safia, who stabbed a police officer in Hannover earlier in October, may have been directed by IS.

In response to the case, Maassen said that Islamic State is increasingly trying to address young people via social networks to “radicalize them.”

One of the most recent terrorist plots was foiled in early October in the eastern city of Chemnitz, when a 22-year-old Syrian national, Jaber al-Bakr, was captured after a two-day manhunt.

Although a special operation had been launched by the authorities, the man was only detained when three fellow Syrians tied him up and alerted police.

Al-Bakr later committed suicide in his cell. Prior to the manhunt authorities in Germany had reportedly received a tip-off from US intelligence services that the Syrian was planning a terrorist attack, possibly on Berlin airport, after intercepting his phone calls with IS in Syria.

In July, Germany was shaken by several attacks committed by asylum seekers. On July 18 a man believed to be an Afghan refugee injured five people on a train near the town of Wurzburg.

While just a week later, another asylum seeker, this time from Syria, launched a suicide attack at a festival in the city of Ansbach, injuring 15 people. In both cases the perpetrators had pledged allegiance to IS.



The Psychology of Environmentalism

planting seeds

By UC Santa Barbara

Study by researchers at UC Santa Barbara finds culture a significant factor in motivating eco-friendly behaviors

Plenty of people give lip service to solving environmental issues, but what actually leads them to change their behavior? According to research conducted by psychologists at UC Santa Barbara, it may have a lot to do with culture.

Individual concern, they suggest, is more strongly associated with motivation to act in countries that espouse individualistic values, while social norms may be stronger in collectivistic societies. Their findings are published in the journal Psychological Science.

“It isn’t that people from different cultures have more or less pro-environmental beliefs or engage in more or less pro-environmental actions,” said Kimin Eom, a doctoral student in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and the paper’s lead author. “The triggers for these actions are what vary across cultures.

“Our findings suggest that changing personally held beliefs, attitudes and concerns about social issues, which is one of the most frequent strategies for behavioral change, may not guarantee corresponding change in all cultures,” Eom continued. “It is more likely to be effective in fostering people’s actions to address environmental issues in more individualistic cultural contexts.”

Eom became interested in the links between culture, environmental concern and environmental action when he noticed that both public discussion and academic research on environmental behavior typically focus on people from Western countries. This is noteworthy, he said, because Western countries tend to have cultural values that prioritize the attitudes and beliefs of individuals and encourage their expression.

“The assumption seemed to be that once individuals are led to believe in the urgency of environmental issues and have stronger concerns about sustainability, they will change and act to address these issues,” explained Eom.

But, the researchers hypothesized, this relationship might not hold for individuals living in more collectivistic societies, which place more emphasis on social harmony and conformity than on self-expressions. In one study, Eom and his co-authors, Heejung S. Kim and David Sherman, both professors of psychological and brain sciences at UCSB, examined data collected from individuals in 48 countries for the World Values Survey. As part of the survey, participants rated how serious they considered various environmental issues, including global warming and pollution. As a measure of environmental action, individuals also rated their support for two strategies aimed at addressing environmental pollution: allocating a portion of their income and paying increased taxes.

The results showed that expressing concern about environmental issues wasn’t necessarily linked to support for environmental action. “We found that nations dramatically differed in how much personal concerns about the environment were associated with intentions to perform environmentally friendly behavior,” Eom said.

According to the researchers, data from respondents in the United States, a country with a high level of individualism, showed the strongest correlation between the two variables. At the same time, data from participants in many countries showed almost no relation between environmental concern and pro-environmental behavioral intentions.

Further analysis, they said, demonstrated that the link between environmental concern and support for environmental action was associated with national-level individualism: The more individualistic the society, the stronger the link. This remained true even after the researchers took various other cultural factors into account.

To examine whether different factors drive environmental action in individualistic and collectivistic cultures, the researchers conducted a second study with participants from the U.S. (individualistic) and Japan (collectivistic). In line with their previous findings, environmental concern was correlated with environmental behavior — in this case, choosing environmentally friendly products — but only among American participants.

Conversely, believing that a large proportion of people engage in environmentally friendly behaviors was associated with making eco-friendly choices among Japanese
participants, but not among those from the U.S. Together, the findings suggest that personal concerns are more likely to motivate people to take environmental action if they live in individualistic countries, whereas social norms are more likely to drive people to engage in environmentally conscious behavior if they live in collectivistic countries.

The research has direct implications for galvanizing public support and action in relation to environmental issues, but it also sheds light on promoting public engagement in societal issues more broadly, Eom said. “Getting citizens actively engaged is critical to addressing urgent social challenges, such as climate change,” he noted. “Our research suggests that scientists, policymakers and activists need to understand how culture shapes the psychological antecedents of action to develop policies, campaigns and interventions that address important social issues.”

Keiko Ishii of Kobe University is also a co-author on the research.

www. ecology.com/2016/10/12/psychology-environmentalism/


When the Mob Owned Cuba

Cuba's Hotel Nacional in 1957Tourists and Cubans gamble at the casino in the Hotel Nacional in Havana, 1957. Meyer Lansky, who led the U.S. mob’s exploitation of Cuba in the 1950s, set up a famous meeting of crime bosses at the hotel in 1946. (Ralph Morse, LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Best-selling author T.J. English discusses the Mob’s profound influence on Cuban culture and politics in the 1950s

By Simon Worrall Smithsonian Journeys Quarterly

T. J. English, a best-selling author of books about organized crime, caught the Cuba bug as a child watching Fidel Castro on newscasts. Later he fell under the spell of Cuban music. His book Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba … and Then Lost It to the Revolution takes readers to the underbelly of Cuba in the 1950s, when mobsters like Charles “Lucky” Luciano and Meyer Lansky turned the island into a criminal empire and unwittingly launched a vibrant Afro-Cuban music scene that continues to this day.

When Smithsonian Journeys contacted English recently by phone, he explained how Frank Sinatra became a draw for mob casinos in Havana, how the Castro-led revolution in Cuba and its subsequent diaspora had a protracted, corrosive effect on American politics, and how the ghosts of the 1950s still haunt the streets of Havana.

In one of the most famous scenes in The Godfather, Part II, the mob meets on a rooftop in Havana under the aegis of Hyman Roth, played by Lee Strasberg, who is supposed to represent mobster Meyer Lansky. Separate fact from fiction for us.

The movie is fictionalized but uses a lot of accurate historical detail. The rooftop scene shows Roth’s birthday party. They bring a cake out depicting the island of Cuba and cut it into pieces. It’s a powerful symbolic image, but the actual gathering of mob bosses from around the United States at the Hotel Nacional in Havana in 1946 was even more grandiose. It had been called by Meyer Lansky, the leader of the mob’s exploitation of Cuba in the 1950s, and it kicked off the era of entertainment and licentiousness Havana became known for. The mob funneled dirty money into Cuba to build casinos and hotels, which in turn generated the funds used to facilitate the corrupt political system led by President Fulgencio Batista.

You write, “It is impossible to tell the story of the Havana Mob without also chronicling the rise of Castro.” How closely were the two linked?

They weren’t directly linked. Castro was produced by many social conditions that existed in Cuba. But I think the mob became a symbol for the revolution of exploitation by outside forces, particularly the United States. Part of the narrative of the revolution was that the island was not able to control its own destiny and that all of the most valuable commodities were owned by corporations from the United States. In the eyes of Castro, the mob, the U.S. government, and U.S. corporations were all partners in the exploitation of Cuba.

Did mob bosses like Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky have bigger dreams for Cuba than just the creation of an enclave for gaming and leisure?

The idea was to create a criminal empire outside the United States where they had influence over local politics but could not be affected by U.S. law enforcement. They were exploring doing the same thing in the Dominican Republic and countries in South America. It was a grandiose dream. But the gangsters of that era, like Lansky, Luciano, and Santo Trafficante, saw themselves as CEOs of corporations, operating at an international level.

Mobster Lansky built Hotel Havana Riviera in the 1950s. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Several American icons come off pretty badly in your book—tell us about Frank Sinatra’s and John F. Kennedy’s involvement with the Havana mob.

Sinatra’s involvement with the mob in Havana is a subnarrative of his involvement with the mob in general, which was rooted in his upbringing in Hoboken, New Jersey. The mob is even rumored to have been instrumental in launching his career by financing his early development as a singer. He was very close to Lucky Luciano, who came from the same town in Sicily as Sinatra’s relatives and ancestors. Cuba was crucial because of the mob’s plan to create a chain of important hotels and nightclubs. Sinatra was going to be used as a lure to make it all happen. He was like the mob’s mascot in Havana.

Havana also became a destination for junkets, where politicians could do things they couldn’t in the United States. Sex was a big part of that. [While still serving in the Senate and before he was elected president], John F. Kennedy went down there with another young senator, from Florida, named George Smathers. Santo Trafficante, one of the leaders of the mob in Havana, later told his lawyer about how he had set up a tryst with three young Cuban prostitutes in a hotel room. What Kennedy didn’t know was that Santo Trafficante and an associate watched the orgy through a two-way mirror. Trafficante reportedly regretted not capturing it on film as a potential blackmail resource…


Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/mob-havana-cuba-culture-music-book-tj-english-cultural-travel-180960610/#JMGq4Q6heTU4W9id.99
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Did you know that cinnamon can boost intelligence?


(NaturalNews) Cinnamon is one of the world’s most consumed spices. For thousands of years, it has been prized for its medicinal properties and sweet, warming taste. Aside from sprinkling cinnamon on top of your lattes or adding magic to grandma’s apple pie, researchers have found that consuming this tasty household spice also might enhance learning skills.

Scientists at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found that increased ingestion of cinnamon significantly improved the memory of “poor learning” mice. Recently, their findings were published in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology in an article entitled “Cinnamon Converts Poor Learning Mice to Good Learners: Implications for Memory Improvement.”

The study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Alzheimer’s Association.

How cinnamon affects the brain

For the study, lead researcher Kalipada Pahan, a neurology professor at Rush University Medical Center, and his team zoomed in on two key proteins, GABRA5 and CREB, located in the hippocampus region of the brain. The hippocampus is a small part of the brain that generates, organizes, and stores memory. Previousresearch has shown that lower levels of CREB and higher levels of GABRA5 occur in the brain of poor learners.

To see if ground cinnamon could improve the memory of slow learners, the researchers took a group of mice and placed them in a maze with 20 holes. The experiment was focused on watching the mice learn how to locate their target hole.

When they tested the mice again after one month of cinnamon feeding, the researchers found that the mice determined to be poor learners had significantly improved their memory and learning skills. They could find their target hole twice as fast.

Pahan and his team explained that when cinnamon is ingested the body converts it into sodium benzoate, a chemical compound used to treat brain damage. Furthermore, they discovered that when benzoate entered the mice’s brains, it increased CREB, decreased GABRA5, and stimulated hippocampal neurons, which led to improved memory and learning skills.

“We have successfully used cinnamon to reverse biochemical, cellular and anatomical changes that occur in the brains of mice with poor learning,” Pahan said.

However, no significant improvements were seen in the mice that were considered good learners. But Pahan added that if these results could be replicated in slow learning students, cinnamon could become one of the safest and easiest approaches to convert weaker students to good learners.

Cinnamon may halt the progression of Parkinson’s disease

Pahan and his colleagues previously found that cinnamon had a positive effect on the brains of mice with Parkinson’s disease. When cinnamon transforms into sodium benzoate, it works to protect the neurons, normalize brain cells, and improve communication within the brain, which slows down the progression of the disease.

Given their promising results, Pahan and his team – supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health – plan on moving forward with testing in human patients with Parkinson’s disease.

“This could potentially be one of the safest approaches to halt disease progression in Parkinson’s patients,” Pahan said. “It would be a remarkable advance in the treatment of this devastating neurodegenerative disease,” he added.

Before starting to add cinnamon to all your dishes, know that not all cinnamon is created equal. Pahan explained that there are two major types of cinnamon available in the United States – Chinese or cassia cinnamon and Ceylon cinnamon. While both metabolize into sodium benzoate, Ceylon cinnamon is much better than Chinese cinnamon. Chinese cinnamon contains coumarin, a molecule that can damage the liver.







Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/055813_cinnamon_intelligence_Parkinsons_disease.html#ixzz4OZP7Xlvt