Madeleine Albright: Being a Woman and a Diplomat

Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright talks bluntly about politics and diplomacy, making the case that women's issues deserve a place at the center of foreign policy. Far from being a "soft" issue, she says, women's issues are often the very hardest ones, dealing directly with life and death. A frank and funny Q&A with Pat Mitchell from the Paley Center.


Set some goals!

Assignment One

27 February 2011


In less than 500 words please describe, in detail, some of your professional or academic goals. Select one to two goals that will take less than 5 years to accomplish. Select one to two goals that will take less than ten years to accomplish.

A goal can be something that is important to you that you desire to achieve. Goals could be the purpose for you to do well in your life. Goals are aspirations, dreams, and hopes.

When considering what goals to select for yourself, it is okay to think big. Think about interests and activities that you enjoy. Explore programs that suit your interests.

Goals: Objectives

For each goal, describe in detail how you think you need to achieve those goals. These are your objectives.

Objectives are smaller miniature-goals that you are able to accomplish and achieve as you progress towards your larger more significant goals. Think of objectives as the baby steps that you need to take to achieve your goals. This is going to be bulk of your plan. As you write about your objectives think about what you need to do and by when you want to have completed it.


Save the world, one game at a time

Games like World of Warcraft give players the means to save worlds, and incentive to learn the habits of heroes. What if we could harness this gamer power to solve real-world problems? Jane McGonigal says we can, and explains how.


Nutrition Tip of the Week: Hemp Milk

Last weekend I was daring enough to try what is now my new favorite beverage:

Hemp Milk

First, let me tell you why it is worth talking about:

Hemp seeds contain a three-to-one ratio of Omega-6 and Omega-3 essential fatty acids and other nutrients include magnesium, phytosterols, ascorbic acid, beta-carotene, calcium, fiber, iron, potassium, phosphorus, riboflavin, niacin and thiamin.

Hemp milk also contains 10 essential amino acids, making it a good vegetarian source of protein as hemp protein does not contain phytates, enzyme inhibitors found in some soy protein that can interfere with the assimilation of essential minerals.

Source: Wikipedia - Hemp Milk

Hemp milk may be good for you!

Second, let me tell you why this may be better than cow's milk.

Reasons to consider limiting your dairy intake

Lactose Intolerance

Many people have some degree of lactose intolerance. For them, eating or drinking dairy products causes problems like cramping, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. These symptoms can range from mild to severe. Certain groups are much more likely to have lactose intolerance. For example, 90 percent of Asians, 70 percent of blacks and Native Americans, and 50 percent of Hispanics are lactose intolerant, compared to only about 15 percent of people of Northern European descent.

One alternative for those who are lactose intolerant but who still enjoy consuming dairy products is to take a pill containing enzymes that digest milk sugar along with the dairy product, or to consume milk that has the lactase enzyme added to it.

High Saturated Fat Content

Many dairy products are high in saturated fats, and a high saturated fat intake is a risk factor for heart disease. And while it's true that most dairy products are now available in fat-reduced or nonfat options, the saturated fat that's removed from dairy products is inevitably consumed by someone, often in the form of premium ice cream, butter, or baked goods.

Strangely, it's often the same people who purchase these higher fat products who also purchase the low-fat dairy products, so it's not clear that they're making great strides in cutting back on their saturated fat consumption. (For more information on dietary fats, read the Nutrition Source article Fats and Cholesterol: Out with the Bad, In with the Good.)

Possible Increased Risk of Ovarian Cancer

High levels of galactose, a sugar released by the digestion of lactose in milk, have been studied as possibly damaging to the ovaries and leading to ovarian cancer. Although such associations have not been reported in all studies, there may be potential harm in consuming high amounts of lactose. A recent pooled analysis of 12 prospective cohort studies, which included more than 500,000 women, found that women with high intakes of lactose—equivalent to that found in 3 cups of milk per day—had a modestly higher risk of ovarian cancer, compared to women with the lowest lactose intakes. The study did not find any association between overall milk or dairy product intake and ovarian cancer. Some researchers have hypothesized, however, that modern industrial milk production practices have changed milk's hormone composition in ways that could increase the risk of ovarian and other hormone-related cancers. More research is needed.

Probable Increased Risk of Prostate Cancer

A diet high in calcium has been implicated as a probable risk factor for prostate cancer. In a Harvard study of male health professionals, men who drank two or more glasses of milk a day were almost twice as likely to develop advanced prostate cancer as those who didn't drink milk at all. The association appears to be with calcium itself, rather than with dairy products in general: A more recent analysis of the Harvard study participants found that men with the highest calcium intake—at least 2,000 milligrams a day—had nearly double the risk of developing fatal prostate cancer as those who had the lowest intake (less than 500 milligrams per day).

Clearly, although more research is needed, we cannot be confident that high milk or calcium intake is safe.

Learn more about dairy by visiting this page from the Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source: Calcium and Milk: What's Best for Your Bones and Health?


Stop the unnecessary abortions! Stand for Planned Parenthood


To the members of the House of Representatives who voted for the Pence Amendment to H.R. 1:

How could you?

How could you betray millions of women — and men, and teens — who rely on Planned Parenthood for basic health care?

How could you condemn countless women in this country to undiagnosed cancer, unintended pregnancies, and untreated illnesses?

Your vote was not only against those who seek care at Planned Parenthood health centers, but against every one of us who has ever sought care there, and against every one of us who knows that when we are healthy, when we are in charge of our lives, we thrive.

It was a vote against me.

To every senator who will soon consider this legislation:

I stand with Planned Parenthood to say to you: STOP THIS.

I stand with Planned Parenthood and the hundreds of thousands of people from every walk of life and every corner of this country who join me in signing this letter to tell you that we will fight this bill and we expect you to do the same.

I stand with and for the millions of women, men, and teens who rely on Planned Parenthood, and I expect you to do the same.

To every member of Congress, know that we stand together today against this outrageous assault, and together we will not lose.

Resist the fascist movement.

Remember which legislators are trying to do this. This is just a ploy to reduce the number of abortions. If these people really cared about the unborn they would work to improve sexual health education to reduce the number of unplanned and unwanted pregnancies. Instead they preach from their pulpit with such self righteous zeal that they subjugate common sense.

Put those legislators in your sights.

Sign the letter.

Here is the link to do so:

Take Action: Open Letter to Congress


A day without Christianity: the Civil Rights Era

The purpose of this post is to thoughtfully examine what our world, or at the very least our community, may have been like had the Christian religion never established a foothold in our cultural development. My intent is to objectively scrutinize Christianity and present to you, a world free from the cultural impact Christianity has had on Amerikan culture. Join me, as I try to present a community that might have been.

Allow me to tell you about my young child, Quincy. Quincy came home from school today, his favorite subject is history. He was so excited to tell me about his day that he rushed through the door, dropped his bag on the floor and ran over to the kitchen where I was preparing his afternoon snack. He began by telling me of how in 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the “separate but equal” doctrine that formed the basis for state-sanctioned discrimination, drawing national and international attention to African Americans’ plight.

He anxiously went on to say that:

In the turbulent decade and a half that followed, civil rights activists used nonviolent protest and civil disobedience to bring about change, and the federal government made legislative headway with initiatives such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1968.
With Quincy's infectious excitement spreading, I asked, What did you and your classmates think about this?

Astonishingly, Quincy responded by saying The Civil Rights era showed us that, when people speak out against cruel and inhumane acts, they can make a difference. They cared enough for the human condition and believed that their community was worth standing up for.

To some extent this story is true. Civil Rights leaders rose up and took action in the name of freedom and equality. Many of them were driven by their faith to do this. I argue that, had Christianity never existed, people like you and me, like the brave leaders of that era, would have done the very same thing. We would have been driven to speak out against injustice, not because we thought that it was sinful to discriminate but because we knew it was not good for the long term well being of our community. We are intelligent enough, as a collective species, as a race, to realize that injustice is vile. I didn't have to realize it by reading a book supposedly inspired by gods. Neither do you.

And that, friends, is a day without Christianity.


How can you motivate yourself?

Love can motivate you to succeed.

Daniel Pink's new book entitled, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us cites research showing that we are motivated...not by reward and punishment as we have believed, but by three things we love the most. Here is what apparently drives us:

  1. Autonomy--the love of doing your own thing. This can also be seen as the love of freedom.

  2. Mastery--when we are free to do our own thing, we love to get good at it. You know the feeling of mastery? Of course you do...we are all masters in the area of our chosen passion. (And by the way, this has nothing to do with what anybody else thinks of your results!)

  3. Purpose--this is where we rise to the highest and best in our heart and soul. We want to make a difference, make a contribution. We are good, and this book proves it in many surprising ways.

So...as much as you can, in as many ways as possible, do what you want to do. Do it enough that you get really good at it, and make sure it's connected with a sense of purpose that has meaning and value for you. Then you will be highly motivated, enthusiastic, optimistic and committed to your life's work!

Examples of this from Pink's book include open source technology such as Linux--a major competitor to Microsoft Windows and currently used by over 50% of world businesses, and Wikipedia, now the largest encyclopedia in the world. People who power open source software do not get paid--they are motivated by autonomy, mastery and purpose.


Human Evolution, Briefly Explained

Human Evolution

Human evolution is the theory stating that humans (Homo sapiens) developed from apes or ape-like ancestors. This is a process that took about 5.8 million years. Modern humans first appear in the fossil record about 195 thousand years ago. Our species first displayed behavioral modernity 50,000 years ago; our ancestors first started doing things considered to be human, like performing ritualistic burials, making clothes, using complex hunting techniques, and painting on cave walls (the oldest known cave art dates back 35,000 years ago). Agriculture and village life began 10,000 years ago. Systems of writing date back as early as 5,000 years ago.

As far as the earth or the universe are concerned, humans have not been around very long; the planet is about 4.54 billion years old and the universe itself is estimated to be 13.75 billion years old. Life on this planet started about 3.5 billion years ago. Since then, many species have emerged and expired, including our ancestors.

I hope we use our time wisely.

Scientific Theory

Scientific theories are verifiable truths that have undergone scrutiny and have not been proven false. Saying that evolution, or more specifically human evolution is a scientific theory, is really saying that this is as close to factual as we can get.

From Wikipedia:
A scientific theory comprises a collection of concepts, including abstractions of observable phenomena expressed as quantifiable properties, together with rules (called scientific laws) that express relationships between observations of such concepts. A scientific theory is constructed to conform to available empirical data about such observations, and is put forth as a principle or body of principles for explaining a class of phenomena.

A scientific theory is a type of inductive theory, in that its content (i.e. empirical data) could be expressed within some formal system of logic whose elementary rules (i.e. scientific laws) are taken as axioms. In a deductive theory, any sentence which is a logical consequence of one or more of the axioms is also a sentence of that theory.

Stephen Hawking writes that:
A theory is a good theory if it satisfies two requirements: It must accurately describe a large class of observations on the basis of a model that contains only a few arbitrary elements, and it must make definite predictions about the results of future observations. [...]

Any physical theory is always provisional, in the sense that it is only a hypothesis; you can never prove it. No matter how many times the results of experiments agree with some theory, you can never be sure that the next time the result will not contradict the theory. On the other hand, you can disprove a theory by finding even a single observation that disagrees with the predictions of the theory.


New Scientist Human Evolution Time-line:

New Scientist Human Evolution:

Wikipedia, Human Evolution:

Minnesota State University e-Museum, Human Evolution:


Why I Like The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead provides us with a different look at our civilization, especially our culture. Stories like these help us to examine what is truly important to us. The story chronicles the travels of a small group of people trying to survive the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse.

The literary subtext of a zombie apocalypse is usually that civilization is inherently fragile in the face of truly unprecedented threats and that most individuals cannot be relied upon to support the greater good if the personal cost becomes too high. Many also feel that zombies allow people to deal with their own anxiety about the end of the world.

The thing about these zombie monsters is that, their origin is unknown, and they are unstoppable. Individuals quickly fall to the sudden threat and the government's are incapable of maintaining any semblance of order. To me the most interesting aspect of this mythology is the evolution of the characters' personalities as they are faced with constant threat to their life. Some of these characters resort to abandoning any semblance of a civilized person, acting only to survive the moment. You can compare these characters' survival to the people that are living in war zones or some dangerous urban areas.

What else do zombies represent? It also represents the spread of ideology. I'm sure that some Conservative Evangelical Christians view Islam as a sort of zombie apocalypse; it is spreading at an ever alarming rate. The Conservative Amerikan Tea Party Movement is also a sort of zombie apocalypse; more and more people are hopping on this selfish bandwagon.

There are some important lessons to be learned from these stories.

  • In most zombie stories the characters must cope with loss. This demonstrates the importance of valuing our lives and showing appreciation for the people that we love.

  • Groups of survivors endure longer when they work together. Our planet is a global network of communities. Individuals within communities need to work together for their own community and communities need to collaborate to benefit their global community. Allowing ourselves to become divided does not further humanity's survival.

  • We must prepare ourselves as a civilization to continue on. Relying on unsustainable food, energy, and water resources is silly. We can't continue to consume everything like a virus. We need to wake up and work towards indefinite sustainability.


Finally, no abortions for anyone!

Washington is on a mission to tell you what you can and can't do. For years they've been forcing you to give up your hard earned money to fund public education, maintain roads, a public water supply, and kill millions of misguided ignorant foreigners. Now, Washington has gone too far. This loathsome group wants to make it a federal law to restrict abortion funding for less than thirty percent of rape survivors.

John Boehner (Republican) is at the helm of this push to redefine rape so that only "an act of forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of incest" could be publicly funded by our hard earned taxpayer dollars. Think of all the poor crack babies that would be born if Boehner and his GOP buddies had their way.

In all seriousness, this really is an issue.

  • First, this is a push from the Christian Conservative Evangelical movement that, has chosen to ignore science, believe in deities and essentially say "I'm sorry someone raped you, but god says to have babies so go fuck yourself." I'm not exaggerating. These people are all for protecting the rights of an unborn fetus (a human in development) but could not care less or give a dime once these little guys are born. No abortions for anyone! If they really cared about reducing the number of abortions in this country, which is a good goal, they would improve sexual health education so that there are far fewer unwanted pregnancies.

  • Second By redefining rape as a forcible violent event it completely disregards the experience of rape survivors that have had to face their attacker each day. I'm talking about the wives and girlfriends (and other domestic violence survivors) that live each day with their rapist attackers. Redefining rape so that a rape is really only a rape if it is violent and forcible, is just another big "Fuck You" to the Amerikan people.

Check out the Salon.com article Doyle, S. (2010). John Boehner's Push to Redefine Rape. Retrieved Feb. 1, 2010, from Salon Media Group, San Francisco CA. Web site: http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2011/02/01/hr3_abortion_rape/index.html.