Neurology, motivation, and the news

Whenever I file an entry under both “mind and consciousness” and “current events,” I am often nervous. This entry is no different.

First up is the story about how tobacco advertisers are “targeting women”:http://www.scienceblog.com/cms/node/8052, especially in developing countries. It seems they have their advertising techniques down to a science, including the perception of addressing health issues with cigarette. (Preview to the article: one of the techniques they use is putting appetite suppressants into the cigarette and touting weight-loss.)

Bitch, Ph.D. guest blogger PorJ talks about an NYTimes article discussing “neural circuitry and relationships”:http://bitchphd.blogspot.com/2005/05/neuroscience-sells-out.html. Science Blog has its “own coverage”:http://www.scienceblog.com/cms/node/8048 of the findings. The findings in themselves are fascinating — not only is love connected to emotion and sexual arousal, but also to attachment and long-term planning. This science, as all science to some degree does, have a downside. It enables advertisers to be even more efficient, and, in light of the tobacco advertiser article linked above, you bet I smell danger.

Put this on your long list of developments to watch. And it’s high time we develop a defense against the onslaught of scientifically-refined advertising.

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More commentary on spiritual themes in Star Wars

This “column”:http://www.djournal.com/pages/story.asp?ID=194077&pub=1&div=Lifestyles explains that there’s something regarding spirituality for a large diversity of people in the ??Star Wars?? series. The article goes on explaining the influences of different religions — Eastern and Western — and even discusses how clergy are interpreting the themes of the vague “The Force” and the wisdom on its use.

The ??Baghavad Gita?? and other texts teach that there are many paths to union with God. More and more Americans have been opening up to that possibility, and it does seem that George Lucas rode upon the “crest of the wave” with “The Force” — an impersonal, vague presence that powers Life, or is composed of Life, or simply results from Life.

Maybe this is the reason for the success of ??Star Wars?? — it tapped into a need for an individual understanding of spirituality separate from an institutional religion such as Christianity. As the conclusion of the article says, when a movie becomes this big it can be a mirror for society.

More hi-tech meditation

There is a new course that combines “meditation and virtual reality”:http://www.stnews.org/articles.php?article_id=578&category=news to teach people how to cope with stressful situations not only during a sitting practice, but also out in the world where stressful situations occur. One technique teaches meditation while using VR to simulate a stressful environment. They are testing these ideas especially on people suffering post-traumatic stress disorder.

I wonder if they have a spot for me. I have during-toddler stress disorder.

Is America a Christian nation?

Is it merely the rantings of a few madmen (_e.g._ Dr. Dobson, Pat Robertson, and Jerry Falwell), or is America a Christian nation? Separation of church and state has had a few victories in the public forum, such as the defeat of Judge Moore and his 10 commandments display in the courtroom and the removal of officially sanctioned Christian prayer from school events. However, as recent events in Kansas (the debate over inclusion of “intelligent design” as a scientific theory in the school curriculum) and Virginia (the inclusion of Christian prayer but rejection of a Wiccan prayer before a town council meeting) show, this separation is far from complete. A strong movement would like to tear down the walls between church and state, and you can be certain they have an ear at the top levels of the government. After all, Tom DeLay now has a “prayer army” asking God to protect him from political attacks.

Sandya Jain of “??The Daily Pioneer??”:http://www.dailypioneer.com/ paints a “darker picture”:http://www.dailypioneer.com/columnist1.asp?main_variable=Columnist&file_name=jain%2Fjain65.txt&writer=jain and focuses on recent investigations of institutionalized prosletyzing at the Air Force Academy. You can think of the military as a microcosm of what the government would do if they had full control over our private lives, and, in light of the editorial, this view really scares me.

More connections between Star Wars and Buddhism

I’ve noted before the influence of Buddhism on ??Star Wars??, but I didn’t know it ran “this deep”:http://groups.yahoo.com/group/zeph/message/654. Yoda was apparently modeled after “this man”:http://www.berzinarchives.com/bioghaphies/portrait_serkong_rinpoche.html#1. And I missed the most obvious reference — _padmé_ is Sanskrit for lotus (which symbolizes beauty springing forth out of the muck, among other things).

Revenge of the Sith (spoiler warning)

I finally saw ??Revenge of the Sith??. Maybe I’ll get my geek credentials revoked by saying this, but I _liked_ the movie. In fact, I liked ??The Phantom Menace?? and ??Attack of the Clones?? also.

Anyway, the only thing that really bothered me about the movie was the scene, however implied, where -Anakin- +Darth Vader+ kills a bunch of children.

My favorite part of the movie (MAJOR SPOILER WARNING) was the deep irony that the Jedi found a means of immortality, which is what -Palpatine- +Darth Sidious+ promised Anakin to seduce him to the dark side and never delivered.

And by the way, the appearance of Jar Jar at the end was innocuous and completely natural. Who cares, really?

Why the hell …

What’s up with Matt Furey’s “advertising on Wonkette”:http://www.wonkette.com/politics/about/advertiser-lovefest-105287.php?