Jan 29, 2014

The Ruins of TED

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.




A Facebook friend of mine posted a video lecture the other day by another casualty of TED's war on "pseudoscience." Above is the TEDx talk that was removed from TED's platform after its super secret science board had a go -- or perhaps it was just another Reddit feeding frenzy.

I'm not terribly surprised that they disappeared Jim Vieira's talk. It's on unacknowledged ancient monuments in New England and disputed reports of the skeletal remains of a race of giants. It's pretty outre stuff, slightly more so than the Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake talks that were deleted. Not so much more controversial that it should be treated so differently. And it was treated very differently.

I've searched the entire TED site and found no official reference to Jim Vieira or his talk. All I was able to turn up was the original announcement of that TEDx event, a complaint about the deletion, and a comment about it in the discussion thread about the Hancock and Sheldrake deletions.

During the fracas over Hancock's and Sheldrake's talks, we heard repeatedly from Chris Anderson and his various acolytes that it wasn't "censorship" and how dare anyone call it that. How could it be censorship when the videos had been reposted in an unembeddable format, padded with shaming text from TED, and offered with a time limited discussion to amuse the hoi polloi? As Anderson explained it to Hancock:

In informing us that they are about to delete our talks from the TEDx Youtube channel, TED also state in their letter: “The talks won’t simply disappear from the web. Instead, we propose to feature them in a new section of TED.com that allows for debate, in which talks are carefully framed to highlight both their provocative ideas and the problems with their arguments.”

Jan 28, 2014

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"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

Healing in the Amazon: Nihue Rao with Dr. Joe Tafur

Among the indigenous cultures of the Upper Peruvian Amazon, the Shipibo are one of the few cultural groups which has managed to maintain their language, their art and their ancient plant medicine. Dr. Joe Tafur apprentices under Maestro Ricardo Amaringo, a Shipibo shaman, assisting in ayahuasca ceremony and in all other aspects of treatment. A Colombian-American, integrative family physician, Joe works part-time as a physician in the United States and otherwise assists in management and treatment at Nihue Rao, a traditional healing center in the Amazonian Rainforest, established in 2011 in Iquitos, Peru. Joe joins host and shaman, Christina Pratt, this week to share the work at Nihue Rao, the medicinal power of traditional Shipibo healing with master plants and the ayahuasca healing ceremony. Nihue Rao offers people from all over the world access to the profound healing found in the plants and traditions of the Amazon Rainforest.

This week's guest:
Dr. Joe Trafar

Colombian-American, integrative family physician Joe Tafur works part-time as a physician in the United States and otherwise assists in management and treatment at Nihue Rao, a traditional healing center in the Amazionian Rainforest in Iquitos, Peru. Nihue Rao, established in 2011, offers traditional healing and training with master plants and traditional ayahuasca ceremony. Further programs in integrative healing, medical education, and visionary art are being developed at Nihue Rao.

Joe is also currently apprenticing under Maestro Ricardo Amaringo, assisting in ayahuasca ceremony and in all other aspects of treatment. He has extensive experience in Integrative Medicine and has been inspired to initiate the Office of Ancestral Medicine at Nihue Rao.

Joe completed medical school at the University of California, San Diego. He has participated in research projects with the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine in San Diego and has also guest lectured at their program among many other projects in the development of effective integrative medicine. He has now begun lecturing on his work at Nihue Rao as an integrative physician.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Jan 21, 2014

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"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

Spiritual Bypass and Shamanism

Any spiritual practice can be misused as a "spiritual bypass," or the means by which one jumps to spirit prematurely in an effort to avoid the challenges of life in the body, painful emotions, unresolved events from the past, or our responsibility to do what is uniquely ours to do with this life. The world needs our gifts. Our gifts require that we engage our whole life, with its messy emotions and past events that must be reconciled in a new way. Join host and shaman, Christina Pratt as she explores what makes a spiritual practice practical and powerful. The fact that any spiritual practice, including shamanic practice, can be misused as a spiritual bypass is not a valid excuse to dismiss cultivating your spiritual practice. Without a real relationship with spirit the mind will fail to innovate and make the intuitive leaps needed to find the gifts in the past, the practical steps in the present, and a vision to a possible future.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Why Shamanism Now? on Co-Creator Network
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Jan 19, 2014

The First Stone

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.




A transgender woman in Shreveport, Louisiana put a councilman's biblical beliefs to the test and offered him the first stone. Unlike Councilman Ron Webb, Pamela Raintree seems to actually understand the Bible. As noted here, here, and here, the Bible doesn't simply condemn homosexuality. It imposes a death sentence. But like most good Christians, Webb discovered he wasn't willing to see his belief through to its natural conclusion. So far the only fundamentalist Christians that I'm aware of whose faith is that unambiguous, at least here in the States, are Pastor Worley and his congregation.

Councilman Webb inappropriately and in flagrant violation of the First Amendment invoked the Bible when he voted against a nondiscrimination ordinance in Shreveport. He was still voted down 6-to-1.

Shortly before the council voted 6-to-1 in favor of the ordinance back on December 10th, Councilman Ron Webb said, "the bible tells you homosexuals is an abomination." Webb added that he does not socialize with homosexuals and that the ordinance is a bad piece of legislation.

He refused to let the matter drop and put forth a motion to repeal said ordinance. Until this plucky transgender woman tested his faith.

Raintree brought the stone with her to the council meeting and stated, "Leviticus 20:13 states, 'If a man lie also with mankind as he lieth with a woman, they shall surely put him to death.' I brought the first stone Mr. Webb, in case that your Bible talk isn't just a smoke screen for personal prejudices."

KMSSTV.com reports that after Raintree gave her moving speech, "Webb moved to withdraw his proposal to repeal the Fairness Ordinance" and "his withdrawal motion received support and was unanimously supported."

Jan 15, 2014

Noah, the Versificator & the Persistence of the Soul

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.



I love Noah.  I fell hard the instant I heard his rendition of "Sexy and I Know It." He took it to pieces and brought the innate irony of the song to new heights. A round-faced, ruddy-cheeked cherub with the voice of a Delta bluesman, the boy has chops. And he keeps turning out glorious covers of good songs and bad. He elevates them all.

It occurred to me this morning as I was listening to his transformation of One Direction's "Story of My Life" just why it is that I love Noah so. I loathe One Direction, another prefab pop act designed in a board room. My daughter's twelve -- their target market -- and she knows their music insults her intelligence. Her instincts are intact. She quickly intuited that they exemplify the contempt the industry has for her. Their music is the worst kind of dreck. But there was Noah making it beautiful. So naturally I thought of Orwell's 1984.

I thought of George Winston puzzling at how the pointless entertainment churned out by a machine could be brought to life by an authentic human voice.

Under the window somebody was singing. Winston peeped out, secure in the protection of the muslin curtain. The June sun was still high in the sky, and in the sun-filled court below, a monstrous woman, solid as a Norman pillar, with brawny red forearms and a sacking apron strapped about her middle, was stumping to and fro between a washtub and a clothes line, pegging out a series of square white things which Winston recognized as babies’ diapers. Whenever her mouth was not corked with clothes pegs she was singing in a powerful contralto:

It was only an ’opeless fancy.
It passed like an Ipril dye,
But a look an’ a word an’ the dreams they stirred!
They ’ave stolen my ’eart awye!

The tune had been haunting London for weeks past. It was one of countless similar songs published for the benefit of the proles by a sub-section of the Music Department. The words of these songs were composed without any human intervention whatever on an instrument known as a versificator. But the woman sang so tunefully as to turn the dreadful rubbish into an almost pleasant sound. He could hear the woman singing and the scrape of her shoes on the flagstones, and the cries of the children in the street, and somewhere in the far distance a faint roar of traffic, and yet the room seemed curiously silent, thanks to the absence of a telescreen.

Jan 14, 2014

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"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

The More Beautiful World our Hearts Know is Possible with Charles Eisenstein

"The fundamental precept of the New Story is that we are inseparate from the universe, and our being partakes in the being of everyone and everything else," explains our next guest, Charles Eisenstein, writer, speaker, genre-defying social philosopher and countercultural intellectual. A growing number of very diverse people, especially those engaged in a shamanic life, find themselves in service to an emerging Story of the People that is defining the mythology of a New World. Charles calls this the Story of Interbeing and he joins host and shaman, Christina Pratt, to discuss the principles of Interbeing and the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible. Join us as we dive into "a deep wisdom we all innately know: until we get our selves in order, any action we take-no matter how good our intentions-will ultimately be wrongheaded and wronghearted."

This week's guest:
Charles Eisenstein

Charles Eisenstein is a speaker and writer focusing on themes of civilization, consciousness, money, and human cultural evolution. His viral short files and essays online have established him as a genre-defying social philosopher and countercultural intellectual. Eisenstein graduated from Yale University in 1989 with a degree in Mathematics and Philosophy and spent the next ten years as s Chinese-English translator. The author of Sacred Economics and Ascent of Humanity, he currently lives in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Jan 12, 2014

The Artist Formerly Known as Teal Scott

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.



On January 4, Teal Scott and Sarbdeep Singh Swan were wed.
The Artist will henceforth be known as TEAL.


Comment Overflow: Once again, we've rolled over to a second page of comments. I'm adding direct links because blogger doesn't seem to handle this well in all browsers, notably mine. Comments: page 2 and page 3 and page 4 and page 5 and page 6


There's a story in the Marine Corps, perhaps apocryphal, about something a senior officer wrote in a FITREP for one of his junior officers: "His Marines will follow him anywhere, if only out of a morbid curiosity to see what he'll do next."

TEAL has many followers. Only some of them are fans. Or so I learned when I wrote a blog post articulating my questions and concerns about the self-described "spiritual catalyst." Shortly after posting the piece, I started getting comments from some of her fans and detractors -- mostly detractors. About a month later TEAL responded to my post.

Last night on my way to the bathroom, I peered into Blake’s room and noticed that he looked incredibly distressed. [Doesn't anybody knock?]  I asked him what happened and he explained that a blogger named LaVaughn (Celestial Reflections) had dedicated a ten page itemized article slamming me for every aspect of my career and personal life that she could get her hands on.  He also explained that he was receiving e-mails from people asking me to refute her outrageous claims [Pssst. I didn't make any claims.] because they “no longer knew what to think”. [I believe what we have here is the need behind the need. Her response is an attempt at damage control.]  It was by far and away the most “anti-Teal” material we’ve encountered to date.  Blake was livid.  He wanted me to write an entire counter article to put people’s minds and hearts at rest.  But it didn’t feel good to me.  On top of the fact that many of her claims were too off base to even be worthy of address, [Did I mention that I didn't make any claims?] I could not get my energy behind the idea of dedicating time to defending myself against a random person who crawled out of the woodwork to gain popularity and attention by slandering me. [Dear God, could this woman be any more vain?]

It is profoundly out of alignment [Alignment with what?] to design an entire piece of writing around resisting someone or something, which is what this woman did.  She does so from a place of bitterness and fear and therefore pain.  I would not seek to increase her pain by attacking back to defend myself. [Aaawww. How sweet.] It seems that what people wanted from me was proof that she is wrong about what she said about me.  Proof is a difficult thing because there is ultimately no way to create solid proof that could not be refuted. [I'm gonna go out on a limb and assume that this is the real reason she won't defend herself against the many claims I didn't make. She can't.] I could refute each piece of her evidence, the same way that she is refuting mine, but what would be gained?  I will not convince her that I am good.  I would not be doing so for any other reason than my own need to be approved of by everyone.  And I do not distrust the discrimination of the people who enjoy my material.  People do not need my proof to know what is good for them or right for them personally.  What they need to do is trust themselves.  And whatever answer they receive about me, is right for them at that time. [Aahh. So I didn't so much critique TEAL as I insulted the judgment of her many, many fans. Did you hear a dog whistle? 'Cause I'm pretty sure I heard a dog whistle.] I do not wish to prove skeptics wrong.  I gain nothing by resisting skeptics.  As my fame increases, [Dear God...] there will be more and more skeptics.  I gain only by continuing to do what makes me happy and hoping that what brings me happiness, brings other people happiness.  I understand how hard it is when you distrust yourself, to navigate a world full of opposing perspectives.  When you live without self-trust, the world seems to be full of people who are out to get you.  And so, you don’t know who to trust. [I believe that should read "whom to trust" but I probably shouldn't play grammar noodge with TEAL. That game has no end.] But you can trust yourself.  And by not refuting every skeptic that comes up against me, I am in essence giving people the opportunity to consult their own feelings and their own personal truth, and thus learn to trust themselves.  It would be a great world though if the people, who were inspired to write ten pages on one person, did so from a place of loving that person.  All too often, the only people full of enough bottled up energy to write ten pages on one person, do so from a space of hating them. [Yup. I'm a hater. Haters gotta hate, yo.]

Jan 7, 2014

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Around the Web, Around the World


"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

What are your Gifts?

Every individual has gifts to bring to the world, though many will live their lives precisely running away from those gifts. Every individual has gifts to gain in this life, though we need to give ourselves to life to get them. Shamanism offers us both an attitude from which to view life and the skills to engage in it in a way that our gifts can be given to a world in need. Join host and shaman, Christina Pratt, as she explores our gifts and the shamanic path we can walk to cultivate them. First, there are the gifts we bring in to this life and how they can align us with our calling. Then there are the gifts that are here for us to gain if we engage with spirit to use what we came into this life with to become who we could be. We must each take responsibility for the powers we brought into this lifetime and cultivate our unique gifts for our well-being and the nourishment of all life on earth.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Why Shamanism Now? on Co-Creator Network
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