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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Today, I climbed Mt. Carmel (and not the ice cream sunday sort of carmel)

by @ 9:39 pm. Filed under Joe's Rants

Today, my partner and I decided to check out Sleeping Giant State Park.  When we first started hiking, we had no idea what we were in for or how high in the sky we would go.   I have to say, I really enjoyed the day and my legs are feeling like jello.   It turns out that the park is a series of trails that lead you up all 739 feet of Mt. Carmel.  I loved the view from the top.  I also felt so inspired by how being in nature changes people.  Everyone we met was friendly and amazing.  I think Nature is a way of connecting with Einstein’s god.  I truly believe that people are more in touch when they are out in nature.  I think that we connect in ways that respect out humanity in newer and better ways.

Here are some shots from the summit (and a snake we met on the way down the trail):

giant3 snake2


Friday, August 29, 2008

Just for fun!

by @ 12:26 pm. Filed under Uncategorized





Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Science of Giving, Monkeys and Humans

by @ 12:46 pm. Filed under Nonviolence, Nonviolent Communication

I think this article and the study it is about, are both brilliant.   At the heart of it all, we humans are programed to be giving to one another.   If we would tap into that during conflict, then think how much easier conflict would be to resolve?   This idea is one of the main principles of Nonviolent Communication.   Now, it has some science to back it up!


Monkeys Enjoy Giving To Others, Study Finds

ScienceDaily (Aug. 25, 2008) — Researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, have shown capuchin monkeys, just like humans, find giving to be a satisfying experience. This finding comes on the coattails of a recent imaging study in humans that documented activity in reward centers of the brain after humans gave to charity.

Empathy in seeing the pleasure of another’s fortune is thought to be the impetus for sharing, a trait this study shows transcends primate species.

Frans de Waal, PhD, director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes Research Center, and Kristi Leimgruber, research specialist, led a team of researchers who exchanged tokens for food with eight adult female capuchins. Each capuchin was paired with a relative, an unrelated familiar female from her own social group or a stranger (a female from a different group).

The capuchins then were given the choice of two tokens: the selfish option, which rewarded that capuchin alone with an apple slice; or the prosocial option, which rewarded both capuchins with an apple slice. The monkeys predominantly selected the prosocial token when paired with a relative or familiar individual but not when paired with a stranger.

“The fact the capuchins predominantly selected the prosocial option must mean seeing another monkey receive food is satisfying or rewarding for them,” said de Waal. “We believe prosocial behavior is empathy based. Empathy increases in both humans and animals with social closeness, and in our study, closer partners made more prosocial choices. They seem to care for the welfare of those they know,” continued de Waal.

de Waal and his research team next will attempt to determine whether giving is self-rewarding to capuchins because they can eat together or if the monkeys simply like to see the other monkey enjoying food.

The research was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation and by the Yerkes base grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Journal reference:

1. Frans B. M. de Waal; Kristin Leimgruber; Amanda R. Greenberg. Giving is self-rewarding for monkeys. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,

Friday, August 22, 2008

Quotes to Make “us” think!

by @ 11:10 pm. Filed under Joe's Rants

For no reason at all, I am posting some quotes I read on Violence.   Enjoy and be inspired!

So long as governments set the example of killing their enemies, private citizens will occasionally kill theirs.  ~Elbert Hubbard

The moment a man claims a right to control the will of a fellow being by physical force, he is at heart a slaveholder.  ~Henry C. Wright, The Liberator, 7 April 1837

Nonviolence doesn’t always work – but violence never does.  ~Madge Micheels-Cyrus

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Alabama Sex Sting Arrests: Hoping History Doesn’t Repeat Itself

by @ 6:23 pm. Filed under Americans For Truth, Gay News, hate speech, Nonviolence, Nonviolent Communication, Restorative Justice

Back in 2002, a young man named Stuart Denton was arrested for cruising for sex at a Rhode Island adult bookstore.  The papers published his name and picture.  He was understandably humiliated and embarrassed.   I don’t condone what he was doing as I wish for all of us to treat ourselves better, but I do understand that living in a homophobic world some are driven to live in the shadows.  The news reports called these men “disgusting”  and a “public health hazard”.   People saw these men for the labels they were given and not their humanity.   We saw their actions, but not their human side.   Sadly, Stuart Denton hanged himself four days after his arrest.  Later investigation showed no crimes had been committed by any of the men as they were in private booths.

Now, flash to 2008 and officials in Huntsville, Alabama have arrest two dozen men for cruising for sex in a scenic overlook area.  Again, as with the men in Rhode Island, their names and picture are being posted on the internet and they are being kicked with a heavy foot from their closets.   They are being painted as monsters by the media and most people will stop at the label never seeing the fathers, brothers and friends these people are.   When we label people, we only see the label we give them not the human behind the label.  The youngest being 25 years old but the oldest being almost 90, these men are clearly from a time and place where being gay is highly frowned upon.

Sadly, we live in a society that is not interested in restoring the community after a member of our community does something unlawful.  We demand they are punished, but punishment does not restore, heal or rehabilitate the community or the offender.  Nothing good comes from it except good ratings for the newspapers.  I would have hope these men would have been treated with some dignity regardless what undignified things they were doing.  Sadly, I can’t hope for such compassion to exist because the media and the far right wing would never let it be so.  These men’s names should have never been printed and they should have been sent for treatment.

I believe with all my heart that it is the Peter LaBarbera’s, the AFA’s, the Stephen Bennett’s and the Stacy Harp’s of the world that maintain the culture of the closet in which these men live and suffer.  It is this culture that drives men to live these secret lives in the woods, parks, rest stops or adult book stores rather than coming out of the closet and meeting a nice man and settling down.  Perhaps running off to one of the two coastal getaways that allow gay marriage.

I hope time changes this to where men with same sex attractions are not living in fear, in the shadows having unfullfilling sex in the brush when they could be having meaningful and loving relationships out in the open.  Perhaps, if Mr. LaBarbera rethought his work, he might see he perpetuates the same problems he hopes to solve.

As an afterthought, here in New Haven, CT dozens of men were arrested in a prostitution sex sting.   Again, the pictures of these men are being posted for the sake of public humiliation.   (A tactic I would call outdated and cruel)  I agree with the article that calls prostitution a “very violent crime.”  To sell yourself off for sex is to not love yourself.  On the other hand, I know that to pay for sex means one may not have the proper self respect, self-esteem and needs some help.   Rather than help rehabilitate these men, we are just humiliating them like dogs.  I am sickened by how we treat people who do unlawful things when that treatment lacks humanity!

I long for the day we move toward “Restorative Justice” rather than “punitive justice” which just isn’t working.

Hat Tip to Queerty!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Richard Dawkins: The God Delusion Lecture at UC Berkeley

by @ 9:39 pm. Filed under Atheism

This lecture is a summarized and shortened version of  many of the main points made in the bestseller, The God Delusion.

Just brillant stuff!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Travel and Leisure

by @ 8:35 am. Filed under Joe's Rants

Sorry for the lack of articles here on the site, I have been traveling.   So far I just spent a week in central PA and next I am on my way to spend a few days in Chicago.  Regular articles will be coming soon!

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Mahatma Gandhi

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