A Point of View: Can your name shape your personality?

Claire Danes as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet (1996)

Claire Danes as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet (1996)

Over at BBC Magazine, writer Will Self, asks “Does what we’re called have any bearing on who we are?”

Does what we’re called have any bearing on who we are? Writer Will Self echoes Juliet’s famous question, and attempts an examination of self (and Self).

When Juliet desires her lover Romeo to abandon his patrimony so as to take possession of her, she utters these immortal lines: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet.” That they should have become quite so celebrated is surely because they express a fundamental truth – or indeed truths. Shakespeare was writing 350 years before the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein developed his theory of language − yet he strongly anticipates its basic contention, which is that the meaning of a word is purely a function of how it’s used.

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Embracing the Call to Your Shamanic Initiation


Our friends at Evolver are hosting another Learning Lab. Here are the details:

Embracing the Call to Your Shamanic Initiation

Learn about initiation from leading shamanic practitioners trained in indigenous lineages from around the world.

Host: Itzhak Beery

Special Guests:

John Perkins
Oscar Miro-Quesada
Christina Pratt
Lewis Mehl-Madrona
Uncle Agaangaq Angakkorsuaq

5 Sessions • Starts October 22

To see the schedule and purchase the package, go here.

We are all being called upon to transform through a profound shamanic journey. But too often we are held back by ignorance and fear. We feel alone and uncertain about the best way forward.

How do you know when you have received the “call” to enter onto the shamanic path?

Why, when you go through your initiation, do you have to face your own dark night of the soul?

When might plant medicines be helpful in the initiation process, and how might they lead to connection to Source without entheogens?… Read the rest

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Runners’ High May Be From Endocannabinoids

The well-known “runners’  high” may not just be about endorphins; Scientific American reports on a new study suggesting that it comes from the brain’s endocannabinoid system—the same one affected by marijuana’s THC:

After a nice long bout of aerobic exercise, some people experience what’s known as a “runner’s high”: a feeling of euphoria coupled with reduced anxiety and a lessened ability to feel pain. For decades, scientists have associated this phenomenon with an increased level in the blood of β-endorphins, opioid peptides thought to elevate mood.

Runner girl in grey

Now, German researchers have shown the brain’s endocannabinoid system—the same one affected by marijuana’s Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—may also play a role in producing runners’ high, at least in mice (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2015, DOI: 10.1072/pnas.1514996112).

The researchers hit upon the endocannabinoid system as possibly being involved because they observed that endorphins can’t pass through the blood-brain barrier, says team member Johannes Fuss, who’s now at University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf.

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Humans are still evolving and we don’t know what will happen next

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 10.35.03 PM

Malcolm T. Nicholson writes at Hopes&Fears:

Evolutionary biology is not a slow-moving science. Just last month a new species of hominid (Homo naledi) was unveiled at a news conference in South Africa. When did modern humans branch off as an independent species? What have been our most important adaptations? And, most importantly, what is the next evolutionary step for humanity?

We reached out and spoke to five of the foremost experts on human evolution, who shared their expertise and predictions.

MICHAEL RUSEProfessor of philosophy at Florida State University who has written extensively on the philosophy of biology. He founded the journalBiology and Philosophy and was a key witness in McLean v. Arkansas arguing against teaching creationism as science in public schools. He has published dozens of books on the philosophy of science, including The Philosophy of Human Evolution (2012) and Darwinism and Its Discontents (2006).


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Scholarslip: A documentary about the student debt crisis

Determined to speak up about America’s crumbling higher education system, three students at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism rallied the voices of an indebted generation. The trio of aspiring journalists—Alex Lancial, Tara Molina and Jake Stein— produced a documentary entitled “Scholarslip”.

h/t Sgt Doom.

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Time to Abolish Columbus Day

From the very beginning, Columbus was not on a mission of discovery but of conquest and exploitation. It is time to abolish the holiday commemorating his accomplishments. (Photo: University of Wisconsin-Madison)

From the very beginning, Columbus was not on a mission of discovery but of conquest and exploitation. It is time to abolish the holiday commemorating his accomplishments. (Photo: University of Wisconsin-Madison)

This post originally appeared on Common Dreams. See more of Bill Bigelow’s articles here.

Once again this year many schools will pause to commemorate Christopher Columbus. Given everything we know about who Columbus was and what he launched in the Americas, this needs to stop.

Columbus initiated the trans-Atlantic slave trade, in early February 1494, first sending several dozen enslaved Taínos to Spain. Columbus described those he enslaved as “well made and of very good intelligence,” and recommended to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella that taxing slave shipments could help pay for supplies needed in the Indies. A year later, Columbus intensified his efforts to enslave Indigenous people in the Caribbean. He ordered 1,600 Taínos rounded up—people whom Columbus had earlier described as “so full of love and without greed”—and had 550 of the “best males and females,” according to one witness, Michele de Cuneo, chained and sent as slaves to Spain.… Read the rest

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Many of Buddhism’s core tenets significantly overlap with findings from modern neurology and neuroscience. So how did Buddhism come close to getting the brain right?

A Buddha in the Rain
David Weisman analyzes the intersection of Buddhism and neuroscience over at Seed Magazine:

Over the last few decades many Buddhists and quite a few neuroscientists have examined Buddhism and neuroscience, with both groups reporting overlap. I’m sorry to say I have been privately dismissive. One hears this sort of thing all the time, from any religion, and I was sure in this case it would break down upon closer scrutiny. When a scientific discovery seems to support any religious teaching, you can expect members of that religion to become strict empiricists, telling themselves and the world that their belief is grounded in reality. They are always less happy to accept scientific data they feel contradicts their preconceived beliefs. No surprise here; no human likes to be wrong.

But science isn’t supposed to care about preconceived notions. Science, at least good science, tells us about the world as it is, not as some wish it to be.

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