- Jan 2023
This site is a cesspool of authoritarian, fascist-apologist, conspiracist mind-mangling content. It's a good place to find out what kinds of bizarre notions people (particularly Catholics of an authoritarian bent) are being fed, and consuming — ridiculous fabrications and warped interpretations of the sort contributing (with giddy joy) to the suffocation of democratic inclinations and institutions.
The site does have some interesting images. I think this will be an inspiration for some dystopian and horror fiction ideas.
- Nov 2022
phytoncides, antibacterial and antimicrobial substances that trees and other plants release into the air to help them fight diseases and harmful organisms. When humans breathe in these substances—typically by spending time in nature—their health can improve. Across several studies, phytoncides have been shown to boost immune function, increase anticancer protein production, reduce stress hormones, improve mood, and help people relax.
I always feel better during and after a forest walk.
- Jul 2022
- Nov 2021
(the VTA is also part ofthis system, but is too small to image with standard fMRImethods, but see  for successful imaging methods).
All imaging studies face questions of validity and should (and many do) link to comprehensive details on instrumentation, methodology, and interpretation. Apparently, the professional consensus remains that, properly executed and interpreted, fMRI and other functional imaging techniques based on detection of oxygenation can lead to highly valid conclusions. (See Nautil.us article.)
The dopamine reward system has also been shown to bestimulated by most drugs of abuse and plays an important rolein addiction . An important question is whether jhanameditators are subject to addiction and tolerance effects thatcan result from stimulation of the dopamine reward system.
The question of potential addiction to self-induced states that activate the dopamine (and/or other neurochemical) reward system(s) is important. From a more philosophical angle, should we welcome beneficial addictions that, if cultivated, might significantly improve individual and group quality of life? Isn't this related to our high regard for replacing detrimental with positive habits? Habit formation and maintenance also depends on activation of neural reward systems (see Nir Eyal's book, Hooked).
imaging the brain of an individual who claims to generatejoy without any external rewards or cues could point the waytoward improved training in joy and greater resilience in theface of external difficulties. Of particular interest is the neuralmechanisms by which happiness is generated.
Such a self-administered neural 'technology' of happiness should be driving much more related research but I see no other neuroscientific studies delving into jhanas.
We report the first neural recording during ecstatic meditations called jhanas and test whether a brain reward system plays a rolein the joy reported. Jhanas are Altered States of Consciousness (ASC) that imply major brain changes based on subjective reports:(1) external awareness dims, (2) internal verbalizations fade, (3) the sense of personal boundaries is altered, (4) attention is highlyfocused on the object of meditation, and (5) joy increases to high levels. The fMRI and EEG results from an experienced meditatorshow changes in brain activity in 11 regions shown to be associated with the subjective reports, and these changes occur promptlyafter jhana is entered. In particular, the extreme joy is associated not only with activation of cortical processes but also with activationof the nucleus accumbens (NAc) in the dopamine/opioid reward system. We test three mechanisms by which the subject mightstimulate his own reward system by external means and reject all three. Taken together, these results demonstrate an apparentlynovel method of self-stimulating a brain reward system using only internal mental processes in a highly trained subject.
I can find no other research on this particular matter. It would be helpful to have other studies to validate or invalidate this one. This method of reward requires a highly-trained participant and involves no external means.
- subjective experience
- brain imaging
- altered states
- external awareness
- subjective reporting
- ecstatic states
- inner monologue
- beneficial addiction
- functional imaging
- reward system
- neural correlates
- Aug 2020
Burn bosses in California can more easily be held liable than their peers in some other states if the wind comes up and their burn goes awry. At the same time, California burn bosses typically suffer no consequences for deciding not to light.
Much of the fire-suppression apparatus — the crews themselves, the infrastructure that supports them — is contracted out to private firms. “The Halliburton model from the Middle East is kind of in effect for all the infrastructure that comes into fire camps,” Beasley said, referencing the Iraq war. “The catering, the trucks that you can sleep in that are air-conditioned…”
“The median compensation package — including base pay, special pay, overtime and benefits — for full time Cal Fire firefighters of all categories is more than $148,000 a year.”
A six-word California fire ecology primer: The state is in the hole. A seventy-word primer: We dug ourselves into a deep, dangerous fuel imbalance due to one simple fact. We live in a Mediterranean climate that’s designed to burn, and we’ve prevented it from burning anywhere close to enough for well over a hundred years. Now climate change has made it hotter and drier than ever before, and the fire we’ve been forestalling is going to happen, fast, whether we plan for it or not.
- fire fighting
- fire ecology
- conflicts of interest
- war framing
- forest fires
- Apr 2020