LSD is Curative

lsdNew studies given researchers an unprecedented insight into the neural basis for effects produced by one of the most powerful drugs ever created. One study could pave the way for LSD or related chemicals to be used to treat psychiatric disorders. Researchers suggest the drug could pull the brain out of thought patterns seen in depression and addiction through its effects on brain networks.

Amanda Feilding, director of the Beckley Foundation that helped fund the study said, said: “We are finally unveiling the brain mechanisms underlying the potential of LSD, not only to heal but also to deepen our understanding of consciousness itself.”  A study appearing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals how LSD reverses the more restricted thinking we develop from infancy to adulthood.

How to be Good

derek parfitAn Oxford philosopher thinks he can distill all morality into a formula. Is he right?

The philosopher Derek Parfit believes that neither of the people is you, but that this doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that you have ceased to exist, because what has happened to you is quite unlike ordinary death: in your relationship to the two new people there is everything that matters in ordinary survival—a continuity of memories and dispositions that will decay and change as they usually do. Most of us care about our future because it is ours—but this most fundamental human instinct is based on a mistake, Parfit believes. Personal identity is not what matters.

Painkillers - Now Deadlier than Illegal Drugs

drugs cloudIt's a terrifying fact: More than 47,000 people in America died of drug overdoses in 2014 — in what's been widely called an epidemic. But the biggest killer of this epidemic isn't cocaine, meth, or even heroin; it's totally legal opioid painkillers. Here's how it happened:

Since the 1990s, doctors have been under more and more pressure to treat pain as a serious medical issue. Pharmaceutical companies took advantage of this desire, marketing opioid painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin as a safe, effective solution to pain.

The result: Millions of Americans got hooked on the drugs, and tens of thousands have died from overdoses. In 2014, nearly 19,000 died from overdoses linked to opioid painkillers.

Fasting Diets Gaining Acceptance

diet iconIn a culture in which it’s customary to eat three large meals a day while snacking from morning to midnight, the idea of regularly skipping meals may sound extreme. But in recent years intermittent fasting has been gaining popular attention and scientific endorsement.

Across the world, millions of people fast periodically for religious and spiritual reasons. But some are now looking at the practice as a source of health and longevity. Valter Longo, the director of the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California, initially studied fasting in mice that showed that two to five days of fasting each month reduced biomarkers for diabetes, cancer and heart disease. The research has since been expanded to people, and scientists saw a similar reduction in disease risk factors.

Predestination - A False Doctrine

religions squarePredestination is a bit of a thorny thicket for theologians.  Today, strict predestinarianism (to include double predestination) is a minority view.  Among the broad theological community, predestination is widely understood to be heresy.

Why?

As this paper will illustrate, that free will does not exist (the premise of strict predestination) is simply not supported in scripture and in many places directly contradicts scripture.  Then there is the notion of paradox.

The doctrine reduces the eternal salvation of the elect as well as the eternal damnation of the reprobate to one cause alone -- namely to the sovereign will of a Higher Power, Being, or God.  It thereby denies and excludes the free co-operation of man as a secondary factor in bringing about a happy or unhappy future in the life to come.

Ray Tomlinson, RIP

raytomlinsonA computing legend has died. The inventor of email, Ray Tomlinson, suffered an apparent heart attack on Saturday, according to reports. He was 74 years old.

Tomlinson sent the very first email back in 1971; at the time, he was working in Boston at Bolt, Beranek, and Newman (BBN), a company that was instrumental in the development of a very early version of the internet, called ARPANET. As an employee, he was "looking for problems [ARPANET] could solve," Tomlinson said in a 2012 interview.

Globally Monks Call for Tackling Climate Change

buddha5Buddhist monks from around the world gathered at Thailand's ancient Ayutthaya city on Thursday for the last day of the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) during which they laid emphasis on actions to tackle climate change.

"What is exciting is that we heard a lot of young voices coming up with their ideas on how we should spread the message. I think it's novel for us to hear that people are talking about Facebook, about internet, about tablets, iPads, new methods of communications, how to raise funds. Totally different from the traditional, you know, view point of Buddhist leaders who talked about sermons," said Lalit Mansingh, a former Indian diplomat and founder president of Kalinga Langka Foundation.

Half-Earth Prospect

"Half of Earth's surface and seas must be dedicated to the conservation of nature, or humanity will have no future."

Unstanched haemorrhaging has only one end in all biological systems: death for an organism, extinction for a species. Researchers who study the trajectory of biodiversityeowilson loss are alarmed that, within the century, an exponentially rising extinction rate might easily wipe out most of the species still surviving at the present time.

The crucial factor in the life and death of species is the amount of suitable habitat left to them. When, for example, 90 per cent of the area is removed, the number that can persist sustainably will descend to about a half. Such is the actual condition of many of the most species-rich localities around the world, including Madagascar, the Mediterranean perimeter, parts of continental southwestern Asia, Polynesia, and many of the islands of the Philippines and the West Indies. If 10 per cent of the remaining natural habitat were then also removed – a team of lumbermen might do it in a month – most or all of the surviving resident species would disappear.

David Bowie, Musical Genius, Dies at 69

DavidBowieDavid Bowie has died after a battle with cancer, his rep confirmed to Billboard. He was 69. "David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer. While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief," read a statement posted on the artist's official social media accounts. 

The influential singer-songwriter and producer excelled at glam rock, art rock, soul, hard rock, dance pop, punk and electronica during his eclectic 40-plus-year career. He just released his 25th album, Blackstar, Jan. 8, which was his birthday. His artistic breakthrough came with 1972’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, an album that fostered the notion of rock star as space alien. Fusing British mod with Japanese kabuki styles and rock with theater, Bowie created the flamboyant, androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust.

Information

Pragmatic Journey is Richard (rich) Wermske's life of recovery; a spiritual journey inspired by Buddhism, a career in technology and management with linux, digital security, bpm, and paralegal stuff; augmented with gaming, literature, philosophy, art and music; and compassionate kinship with all things living -- especially cats; and people with whom I share no common language.