Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Halloween costumes: Why I'm going as Hitler

Editors, Wisdom Quarterly; Mr. Elfman, Forbidden Zone; Dead Kennedys, "Halloween"

This is no costume. It's Mr. Hitler, USA
Here's why I'm going as Adolf Hitler, German Führer, and why you should, too. But don't copy me. Be something worse:

George Bush, Trump, Kavanaugh, serial killer Dahmer, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Than Shwe, Hillary, a happy prostitute, ghost, racist cop, slut, the Devil, Jesus, child molester, Catholic priest, US soldier...

Pope makes deal with a devilish demon
Nazi officer, sexy nurse, sexy homeless person, clown, funny fat person, AIDS victim, witch, a guy in black face, deformed person, Fat Buddha (Budai), Muhammad, a man in a dress, a pregnant nun, furry, a Star Wars character like Darth Vader, a gorilla, a drug dealer, a gay raver, a superheroine, Notorious Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Harvey Weinstein, Obama, OJ Simpson, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Anne Frank, Genghis Khan, Mao Zedong, Pamela Anderson, a whirling dervish, a fairy, a queen, a gal in a gray business suit... The sky's the limit, as are the depths of hell.

Dress up as a gang rapist? That's going too far!
Why is Halloween (Samhain, Obon, Day of the Dead) the best holiday ("holy day") of the year? It is precisely because we live in a hypocritical society with many verboten (banned, off-limits, out of bounds, beyond the pale) topics.

You don't believe in devils, d'ya?
This, therefore, is the only day of the year we can face our fears, our hypocrisy, our foibles. And we can show our society that it needs to shape up and more closely adhere to our lofty ideals.

It's not easy agreeing with a jerk like Megyn Kelly, who still claims "Santa Claus is white" and "blackface is fine."

Hey, bitch, I'm going to the party as a sexy elf. That's stupid! I'm going as a sexy she-devil.
Danny Elfman in "Forbidden Zone" -- a movie about Venice Beach, LA, by his brother.

Horror: "Faces of Death" (video)

Dr. Francis B. Gross (Gorgon Video) via Tizzle TV; Editors, Wisdom Quarterly
Skull with third eye open and mudra hands (DesignCahat/
WARNING: This film contains graphic content and explicit scenes!

The original "Faces of Death" (1978)
I'm not vain. I just have a skull I hide with skin.
Everybody dies. It's the fate we all face from the moment we're reborn. There is no escape from death. In this film we get a firsthand glimpse of many modern ways of dying, from accidents to executions and much more. Age-restricted video (requested by uploader).

After numerous VHS releases around the world, Australian distributor Umbrella Entertainment released this film on DVD in 2007. It and its sequels were at times banned. The first film is currently available, but the sequels remain banned in Australia. Gorgon Video released the movie in Blu-ray Disc format in October of 2008. 

Many bodies go missing, killed and discarded.
Rotten Tomatoes reports that Faces of Death received very poor reviews, accounting for 18% of 11 surveyed critics; the average rating was 2.6 out of 10.

Joshua Siebalt of Dread Central HAS said, "As a curiosity piece, Faces of Death is well worth a look, especially if you've not seen it in a very long time. As for its place in horror cinema history, well, that remains to be seen. As I said it's not a film that holds up very well at all, but considering how groundbreaking it was for its time, I doubt anyone will ever forget it.

Halloween: West Hollywood Carnaval (video); Crystal Quintero, Ashley Wells, CC Liu (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
Why do we crave scary Halloween costumes like flesh-eating zombies? (

West Hollywood gets ready for Halloween Carnaval
Carnaval Halloween, West Hlywd (Instagram)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, Los Angeles (CBSLA) - Street closures are in place early today (Wednesday, Oct. 31st) hours ahead of one of the biggest Halloween parties in the world -- the West Hollywood Carnaval. The festivities kick off at 6:00 pm. Major streets and roads were shut down overnight, hours before anyone had even donned the slightest costume.

The Carnaval will move along Santa Monica Boulevard between Doheny Drive and La Cienega Boulevard until 11:00 pm. The festivities are FREE, and there will be plenty of live entertainment, music, and food. But no alcohol or public drinking is permitted along city streets. Nudity and debauchery seem to be allowed. Banned items include backpacks, camera cases, weapons, and fireworks. More

Science: Halloween Candy Rankings ("study")

Elina Shatkin in , Oct. 30, 2018; Ashley Wells, Crystal Quintero (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
Halloween candy offered for sale at Walgreens in Wheeling, IL, 9/19/13 (Scott Olson/Getty)
LAist's ultra scientific Halloween candy ranker proves Reese's is best candy bar ever
A few weeks ago, LAist asked readers to get out and vote in what might be the most important election in a generation.

They also asked readers to vote in LAist's Ultimate Halloween Candy Ranker Quiz, which was divided into three categories:
  1. Chocolate
  2. Fruity Rainbow
  3. Old Timey.
Readers delivered. They confessed in cold, hard numbers which candies they loved -- and which they hated. Want the results? Here they are. Now get out there and vote on the issues that actually matter.
"Good" chocolate (Theobroma cacao) is healthy fruit seed from Mexico, deva-food.
Bad chocolate is a vehicle for white sugar.
Chocolate is the supermodel of the candy world. As soon as she sashays into the room, heads turn, and every other confection looks downright dowdy, especially if chocolate has caramel, nougat, or peanut on her arm.

Seriously, once someone has tasted chocolate, it's hard for anything else to compete. No surprises in this category. Human beings who live in the United States under late [disaster] capitalism have a strong genetic predisposition to love chocolate, and the LAist Candy Ranker confirms that. More

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

InsightLA opens in East Hollywood

Trudy Goodman (; Crystal Quintero, Seth Auberon (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly

New offerings at East Hollywood in the old Against the Stream location.
. is now closed.
A few of weeks ago, InsightLA teachers and office team members gathered for further training about racism and equity, implicit bias and white privilege -- learning more about the organization and themselves.

During a brainstorming session for ways to better serve the diverse community of Los Angeles and beyond, the whole room felt bathed in loving-awareness. It’s a demanding and worthwhile effort, and InsightLA has skin in the game.

For it has a new eastside center in Hollywood, at the former Against the Stream: Buddhist Meditation Society (ATS) on Melrose Avenue.

Spring Washam teaches POC on the westside
It opens its doors on Monday, November 12th and will include different voices. Come meet a few new teachers (some from ATS) and dedicated InsightLA regulars.

There will be offerings in Spanish and English and affinity groups for people of color (POC), queer and transgender people, as well as immigrants to sit together and build community.

As the schedule is designed, the priority is providing many opportunities for neighbors and friends on the east side to enter a safe and accommodating space that is welcoming to all.

In this spirit, all offerings (except for Saturday workshops) will be 100% donation-based and mostly drop-in (no pre-registration) through the end of the year.

Suggestions are invited as the teachings at InsightLA East Hollywood take shape. When communities have had a chance to practice together for a little while, there will be a town hall meeting to listen to everyone’s input. Here is some of what the InsightLA team has planned so far:
  • Buddha’s Path Community Sits: Sunday morning, Tuesday, Thursday evenings
  • Trauma-Informed Mindfulness Community Sit: Monday evenings
  • Mindfulness Community Sit: Wednesday evenings
  • Guided Meditations: Monday-Friday, 7:15 am, 12:15 pm, 6:15 pm; Saturdays 11:00 am  
  • Affinity groups
  • Saturday Afternoon workshops
  • Silent Sitting periods: Monday-Friday, 10:00 am and 3:00 pm
After hearing from all participants, InsightLA will build on what’s here. Trudy Goodman is overjoyed to have an ongoing place to practice on the eastside where all are respected for our heart’s willingness to be present. Let’s have a joyful celebration and ceremony to bless the new center after the holidays, in the new year.

White people in white towns (video)

Rich Benjamin (TED, Summer 2015); Crystal Quintero, Ashley Wells (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly

My road trip through whitest towns in US
Goebbels: "Keep things stirred up and boiling"
As North America becomes more and more multicultural, Rich Benjamin noticed that some communities are actually getting less diverse. So he took out a map, found the whitest towns in the USA -- and moved in. In this funny, honest, and very human TED talk, he shares what he learned as a black man in Whitetopia.

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Talks on Technology, Entertainment, and Design -- plus science, business, global issues, arts, and more. Closed captions and translated subtitles in many languages: TED news on TED on Channel:

Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills (toxic MSG); Seth Auberon, Ashley Wells (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly

Dr. Blaylock
(Russell Blaylock M.D) EXCITOTOXINS: The Taste That Kills (The Dangers of MSG) with Dr. Russell Blaylock, March 7, 2013. Lecture by Dr. Blaylock on his book, Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills. The shocking truth about MSG (monosodium glutamate) and how it destroys the brain and causes shocking brain degeneration, cancer, Alzheimer's, and many other neurological disorders. Excitotoxins are proteins (amino acids) that excite brain cells to the point of exhaustion to cause them to die. Other excitotoxins include aspartame and mercury.
Review of: Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills
But it tastes good, doesn't it? - Sure does!
Dr. Russell L. Blaylock, MD, has written Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills, in which he explains that certain amino acids when overly abundant in the brain can cause neurons to die.

Many biochemicals can act as neurotransmitters in the brain: some [over] excite our neurons; others calm them.

In particular, glutamate, aspartate, and cysteine are three amino acids that excite our neurons and can be called "excitotoxins." They are now added in large amounts to our food supply.
It's TOXIC! MSG harms brain tissue.
Glutamate, as monosodium glutamate (MSG), is added to many foods [as a toxic flavor enhancer]. It excites our taste buds and can make bland food taste wonderful.

It is contained in the sea vegetable kombu, which has been used as a flavor enhancer "for thousands of years in Japan."

In 1908 a Japanese scientist discovered that glutamate is the active chemical in kombu. By 1933 their annual consumption of monosodium glutamate was over ten million pounds.

Japanese cooks had found that MSG made even the most bland recipes "taste scrumptious." In [WW II] it was used in the rations for the Japanese soldiers. "Unlike American rations, theirs tasted delicious."

Soon the American [synthetic] food industry was following the lead of the Japanese and using MSG. "The use has doubled every decade since the late 40's.

"Today MSG is added to most soups, chips, fast foods, frozen foods, ready-made dinners, and canned goods. And it has been heaven sent for the diet food industry, since so many of the low-fat foods are practically tasteless....

"Often MSG and related toxins are added to foods in disguised forms. For example, among the food manufacturers favorite disguises are 'hydrolyzed vegetable protein,' 'vegetable protein,' 'natural flavorings,' and 'spices.' Each of these may contain from 12 per cent to 40 per cent MSG."

The human brain has two excellent natural methods of control: (1) balance the chemicals within and (2) selectively screen the chemicals allowed inside.

Can science solve online dating? (video)

Amy Webb (TED, Oct. 2, 2013); Ashley Wells, Crystal Quintero (ed.), Wisdom Quarterly

How I hacked online dating
Amy Webb was having no luck with online dating. The dates she liked didn't write her back, and her own profile attracted crickets (and worse). So as any fan of calculus and data would do: she started making a spreadsheet. Hear the story of how she went on to hack her online dating life -- with frustrating, funny, and life-changing results.

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less) on Technology, Entertainment, and Design -- plus science, business, arts, more. Facebook.

If the Buddha Dated:
Zen and the art of falling in love...
At once practical, playful, and spiritually sound, this book is about creating a new love story in our lives. Drawing from Christian, Buddhist, Sufi [Mystical Islam], and other spiritual traditions, If the Buddha Dated shows how to find a partner without losing yourself. Dr. Charlotte Sophia Kasl (author of If the Buddha Married), a practicing psychotherapist, workshop leader, and Reiki healer for 30 years, offers practical wisdom on using the path to love as a means of awakening. If the Buddha Dated teaches that when you stay loyal to your spiritual journey, you will bring curiosity, fascination, and a light-heart back to the dating process. More

Monday, October 29, 2018

Contemplating the Body

Ajahn Mun (original flawed translation by Ven. Thanissaro) via Ven. Sujato (; edited by Dhr. Seven, Dhamma Teacher Aloka, Crystal Q., Wisdom Quarterly
"Alas, before long this body, deprived of consciousness, will lie strewn on the earth, discarded, just like a useless log" - Dhammapada, Verse 41 (
Not me, baby! I'ma last forever!
The contemplation of the body is a practice sages -- including the Buddha -- have described in many ways.

For example, in the "Great [Fourfold] Establishing of Mindfulness" Sutra, the Buddha calls the contemplation of the body a support (or "frame of reference") for establishing mindfulness using this very body.

Among the root subjects of meditation taught to new monastics at the beginning of the ordination ceremony, a preceptor instructs them to mindfully contemplate:
  1. head hairs
  2. body hairs
  3. nails
  4. teeth
  5. skin.
When organism overtake the immune system
In the Buddha's first ever sutra, the "Discourse on the Turning of the Wheel of the Dharma," he teaches that birth, aging, and death are disappointing (unwished for, unsatisfactory, painful, hard to accept, hard to endure, displeasing, leading to no fulfillment).

We have all now taken birth, have we not? So when we practice to take these liberating-teachings inwardly, contemplate them, and apply them to ourselves (opanayiko), we are doing well in our practice of the Dharma.

Why? Because the Dharma ("Truth") is akāliko (timeless, immediate, ever present) and āloko (self-evidently clear by day and night, free of anything that would obscure it).

What's the hell? Who stinks?
War criminal Hillary Clinton stinks of foul sulfur.
While residing at Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse 41 of the Dhammapada with reference to Venerable Tissa.
After taking a meditation subject from the Buddha, Ven. Tissa was diligently practicing meditation when he became afflicted with a disease.

Small boils appeared all over his body then developed into big sores. When the sores burst, his robes became sticky, stained with pus and blood. And his body began to stink.

For this reason, he was known as Putigatta Tissa, "Tissa with the stinking body."

Bathed by the Buddha
Another realizes the Truth and is set free.
As the Buddha surveyed his surroundings with the light of wisdom, the monk appeared in his field of vision.

He saw his sorrowful state, abandoned by other monks (his resident pupils) on account of his bad smell.

The Buddha knew Tissa had the capacity to attain full enlightenment. So he proceeded to a shed close to where Tissa was staying.

He boiled fresh water and took it where Tissa was lying down. He took hold of the edge of his cot.

Only then did the resident monks, Tissa's pupils, gather around. And as instructed by the Buddha, they carried Tissa to the shed, where he was bathed and rinsed.

His robes were washed and dried for him. Afterward, Tissa felt fresh in body and mind. Soon he developed one-pointedness of mind in profound concentration.

Standing at the head of the cot, the Buddha said to Tissa that this body, when devoid of life, would be as useless as a log strewn on the earth.

The Nature of Things: Body

Ajahn Chah and Ajahn Fuang Jotiko via Ven. Sujato (; Dhamma Teacher Aloka, Dhr. Seven, Crystal Quintero (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly

Noble Thai Meditation Master Ajahn Chah
Trees, mountains, and vines all live according to their own truth. They appear and die following their nature. They remain impassive. But not we people. We make a fuss over everything. Yet, the body just follows its own nature: It is born, grows old [gets sick], and eventually dies. The body follows nature in this way. Whoever wishes it to be or do otherwise will suffer.
Ajahn Fuang Jotiko edited by Dhr. Seven

What's the true nature of things? (AG)
The Dharma [the "Truth" (Dhamma) about phenomenal "things" (dhammas)] -- our meditation theme -- is something we all have within us, each and every one of us.

It's something we're doing as we sit here. We're practicing it, training in it. The question is, How can we take what's already here and make it complete?

We have to make an effort to use our powers of observation to acquaint ourselves with what's already here.

Our teachers simply tell us, point out the way. As for us, we have to train ourselves to use our powers of observation within ourselves: to know in line with the truth within us.

Once we see that it's true, we look after it so that it develops. We keep looking after it as much as possible, and there are no two ways about it: It'll simply have to progress [to full self-realization].

Keep going, Sid!
There aren't a lot of complicated steps to all this. We simply look after what's already there so that it can become full and complete.

It'll grow day by day, month by month, year by year. The developments in our minds will get better and better.

It's not the case that things appear only for a moment and that's plenty enough. That's not the case at all.

Whatever appears here and now, while we're sitting here, we have to keep looking after it continually, all day, all night, all month, all year long. We have to keep after it continuously, without stopping.

If we keep looking after it, the developments in our minds will keep developing further along.

The teeth in this body
Ajahn Chah
 My teeth, too?! But I'm a dentist!!
Conditions all go their own natural way. Whether we laugh or cry over them, they just go their own way.

And there is no knowledge of science that can prevent this natural course of things. We may get dentists to look after our teeth, but even if they can fix them, teeth still finally go their natural way.

Eventually even the dentist has the same trouble. Everything falls apart in the end.

When Things Fall Apart

"Holy Sh*t, We’re in a CULT!" (video)

The Atlantic, Oct. 14, 2016; Sheldon S., Crystal Quintero (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly

How to End Up in a Cult
How do well-meaning, intelligent people end up in a cult? "EnlightenNext was an organization founded by Jewish New Yorker and self-styled guru Andrew Cohen. It aimed to facilitate "spiritual awakening." Cohen’s most devoted students meditated for hours -- at times, months -- on end, were often celibate, and lived together. However, what started as an idealistic venture quickly turned into a complicated, sinister world. More: