Archive for May, 2014

Learning is about rethinking our views, which is incompatible with censorship

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Brittney Cooper writes: [T]he growing national conversation, buttressed by demands from students, that college professors place trigger warnings on their syllabi to alert students to uncomfortable and traumatic material gives me great concern. While I care about my own academic freedom and the ways that trigger warnings impede my ability to teach course materials in the ways I deem most appropriate, I care far more about educating students who can entertain a range of competing views, wade through those beliefs, and come out on the other side with clarity and the capacity to articulate their position.

Yet, those of us in the academy are now encountering the generation of students educated under the high-stakes testing model of both No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. They are a generation of students who are uncomfortable with being made uncomfortable. They are a generation of students who want the right answers, and the assured A, rather than the challenge of thinking and writing their way through material that is more complex than the multiple choice answer requires. To me, such an orientation to the world – the desire for endless comfort – is an untenable educational proposition. Encountering material that you have never encountered before, being challenged and learning strategies for both understanding and engaging the material is what it means to get an education.

But in this era of the corporate university, the belief in educating students to be something other than laborers in the capitalist machine is increasingly obsolete. In many respects I understand this position: In a time when good public education is increasingly difficult to access at reasonable prices, creating strategies for making university education economically feasible guides policymaking at many universities. The reality is that parents want their children to be able to get out of school and get jobs that will offer them an economic livelihood. In that kind of environment it becomes harder to justify a robust humanities education focused on thinking about questions of power, the nature of human relationships, literature, history and politics.


Raccoons Are Awesome: Compilation

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Watch wonderful raccoon video.

Liberal arts and the humanities aren’t just for the elite

Saturday, May 24th, 2014

We don’t intellectually embrace a society where the privileged few get to enjoy the advantages of leisure and wealth while the masses toil on their behalf. Yet that’s what a sell-out of the liberal arts entails. For the most part, the wealthy in this country continue to pay increasingly exorbitant tuition to private prep schools, good liberal arts colleges, and elite universities, where their children get strong opportunities to develop their minds, dress themselves in cultural capital, and learn the skills necessary to become influential members of society. Meanwhile, the elite speak of an education’s value for the less privileged in terms of preparation for the global economy. Worse yet, they often support learning systems designed to produce “good employees”—i.e., compliant laborers. Then, money for public education is slashed, and tuition soars. Those in the middle class, let alone the poor, have to fight an ever-steepening uphill battle to spend their time and money on the arts appropriate to free people.


From basic biology to early childhood attachment, the roots of eroticism are complex

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Unless you want children – which can also be mechanical – a person can live without meaningful or loving sex. But, who wants to? While there have been many theorists working in the field, such as Masters and Johnson, Helen Singer Kaplan, John Bancroft and John Gottman, the core of erotic intimacy comes down to combining trust with experience and excitement. It’s about knowing yourself (and your partner), truly accepting, feeling safe, and then letting go – like a child at play.


International Sacred Music Festival, Fes, Morocco

Sunday, May 18th, 2014

D years a mystical tale of 13th century Farid Ud-Din Attar tells us how the hoopoe has decided one day to bring all the birds to invite them to a long journey, after which they must meet the Simurgh, the king of birds.

This adventure leads them through seven valleys seven spiritual places, which are engaged whenever various pleas; the parrot, peacock, partridge, nightingale, the hawk … should we continue this difficult and dangerous journey or simply what is already acquired and nourishes desires and aspirations? Should curb fears and embark into the unknown? Give up what we already have, however modest it may be, to seek a major spiritual sense which raises doubts and uncertainty? …


8 Ancient Beliefs Now Backed By Modern Science

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

In . . . recent years, modern science has validated a number of teachings and beliefs rooted in ancient wisdom that, up until now, had been trusted but unproven empirically.

A full 55 pages of Arianna Huffington’s new book, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder, are dedicated to these scientific breakthroughs that often confirm the power of ancient psychology and contemplative practices. On an intuitive level, we’ve known for centuries that these lifestyle practices can help us lead happy, healthy and balanced lives. But now, with the support of hard science, we can embrace these pieces of ancient wisdom and start really living them.

Here are eight ancient beliefs and practices that have been confirmed by modern science.


Why Read Poetry?

Monday, May 12th, 2014

Read poetry because of the times you have stopped to look at rain fall through the light of a street lamp and wished you knew the words that made it what it was. Read poetry because you are lonely and full of wild abandon. Read poetry so when you are no longer lonely and are wrapping your arms and legs around your beloved your beloved will tell you I have never known arms and legs to have such wild abandon. Read poetry so a part of you stays in what you see, so what you see stays with you.


Musician Composes Pi Song On Piano

Friday, May 9th, 2014

In order to help himself remember the digits of pi, David Macdonald decided to turn each digit into a note on the A minor scale to play on the piano. He claims that now he can hear the melody in his head, which allows him to recall the numbers in order. He included a harmony with his left hand in order to round out the melody a bit. During the video, fun facts about pi are shown in the corner as he plays the song.


Watch video.

Funny Animal Compilation: Over 10 Minutes Of Curious Critters

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Watch video.

7 Literary Gardens We’d Love To Spend All Day Reading In

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

A Chinese proverb says, “a book is like a garden carried in your pocket.” Jorge Luis Borges, who wrote the short story “The Garden of the Forking Paths” would agree. In his story, a professor and a scholar attempt to decode a cryptic note left by a literary ancestor, who bequeaths “to several futures (not to all) my garden of forking paths.” The “garden,” it turns out, is not a physical space, but a labyrinthine novel with its own twists and turns.

Fictional gardens serve as metaphors not only for winding plots, but also for contemplation, as in Henry James’s Portrait of a Lady, and for suppressed desires, as in Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence, in which a disgruntled woman has an affair with a gamekeeper.


Thomas Ramey Watson is an affiliate faculty member of Regis University's College of Professional Studies. He has served as an Episcopal chaplain (lay), trained as a psychotherapist, done postdoctoral work at Cambridge University, and was named a Research Fellow at Yale University.

In addition to his scholarly writings, he is a published author of poetry and fiction.