The Thirty Minute Blogger

Exploring Books and the Writer's Life, Faith and Works, Culture and Pop Culture, Space Science and Science Fiction, Technology and Nostalgia, Parenting and Childhood, Health: Physical and Emotional ... All Under the Iron Hands of the Clock and That 30 Minute Deadline

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Remembering Leonard Nimoy: The Five Minute Response

Then there was that time you showed up in
Sheldon's dreams as one of these on Big Bang Theory. Priceless!
Thank you Leonard Nimoy for making my teen years easier. Your portrayal of Mr. Spock, the eternal outsider who never quite fit in but always managed to do so with dignity and wry wit, helped me navigate those awkward years where many of us feel like aliens ourselves. I never tried to be emotionless as your character showed me that just wasn't possible, even for a half Vulcan. 

With the 50th anniversary of Star Trek approaching and so many original cast members now gone, it is wonderful to have you all captured on that originally short-lived TV series ... and all that followed. Much appreciated, Leonard! 

LLAP all you Trekkers out there. 

And that's the five minute response.

No Place for Bigotry: The Five Minute Response

Let's start with a definition from Merriam-Webster. A bigot is: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance

There are many events in the news that lead to bigoted responses. The tarring of an entire people for the misbehavior of a few is wrong. It is a bigoted response. The people of Indiana were tarred, as were religious people, for their government's misbegotten "religious freedom" act. The act was wrong. The statements about all the people of Indiana and all religious people were also wrong. 

Bigoted language leads to bigoted behavior, which quickly devolves into violence. This language, behavior, and violence have no place in the modern world. When you encounter such bigotry, don't let it slide. Correct it, but civilly, without public shaming. 

That's the five minute response.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Applauding the Indianapolis Star for Their Coverage of Indiana's Discriminatory "Religious Freedom" Law

As a one time Hoosier myself, with family and friends I love living in Indiana, I was particularly disgusted by Indiana's passage of a twisted version of the RFRA that has been around since the early 1990s. I want to take a moment to congratulate the Indianapolis Star for their coverage of this legislative failure. Keep up the good work and keep things hot for Governor Pence. He and his cronies deserve it.

For a history of the RFRA and what it became for Indiana (and what it might become for other states), see: http://www.indystar.com/story/news/politics/2015/03/30/look-history-religious-freedom-laws/70648294/

Here's an article on Indiana's five Republicans who voted against this wretched bill: http://www.indystar.com/story/news/2015/03/30/meet-indiana-republicans-voted-rfra/70568776/

For more, see: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2015/03/there-is-no-religious-freedom-in.html and http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2014/08/stereotyping-and-dehumanizing-run-wild.html

There Is No "Religious Freedom" In Discrimination

To all the legislatures who feel they can make an end run around equality for various groups, organizations, religions, etc. that they do not care for, dragging us back to the bad old days of segregated bathrooms, "No Irish Need Apply" signs, and all the rest of the evil that we have tried to leave behind in the march of "civilization," STOP IT NOW!!! You are not being clever. You are not hiding your irrational hatred behind a smokescreen of legalities. It is perfectly obvious that you are not operating out of concern for anyone's religious freedom. You are being bigots and promoting hatred.

The day the foul version of the religious freedom law (please note, good intentions are easily perverted by hatred ... early versions of this law were to protect the rights of Native Americans to pursue their traditions and faith, to keep the Amish safe to follow their beliefs, etc.) was passed in Indiana, after the sun went down, in one community folks with marriage equality bumper stickers on their cars had them vandalized. This "law" empowered angry bigots to lash out in hate. That is no law anyone should defend. That is spreading evil.

Speak out against the vile wave of bigoted legislation rising up like backed up sewer water around the nation. Tell them this is no way for a civilized people to behave. Tell them pandering to simple-minded hatred is wrong. Apparently, our civil servants have forgotten this basic idea and need reminded. Let's all remind them.

If this evil spreads, I highly recommend entering each and every business with which you do business with the following question, "Do you discriminate based on your religious beliefs?" or "Do you turn away customers based on your beliefs?" If the answer is yes or is a refusal to answer directly, take your business elsewhere.  It may be the best means average citizens have to end this vile practice back by wicked laws of twisted intent.

While on the topic of bigotry, defining all members of a faith ... or lack thereof ... by the behaviors of a few is also bigotry and must stop.

For more, concerning stereotyping (bigotry) run amuck, see:http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2014/08/stereotyping-and-dehumanizing-run-wild.html

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Spend More Time Befriending ...

Unlikely friends ...
For living in the great Information Age, we sure aren't treating each other in a very informed manner. It seems we've allowed all of our freedom of choice to splinter us into a huge number of insular special interest groups driven by memes and sound bite reactionary responses rather than informed and considered thought. As such, we are spending far too much time screaming and creating enemies lists and far too little time befriending and listening.

Here's a modest proposal: the next time you're ready to launch into an entrenched defense of your point of view using some well worn verbal cliche from your favorite talking head, stop. Clamp that mouth shut, reign in those anger-fueled emotions, and listen. Truly hear what the other person has to say. Ask questions that tease out (without creating a defense for you, you clever soul) how the individual really feels and prunes away the verbal clutter of their favorite cliched talking points. Perhaps suggest you get a cup of coffee or tea and every time you feel like jumping in with an angry retort, you take a sip instead. When it is your turn to speak, reasoned, friendly responses about how you see the issue and feel about it (no accusations or demands or belittling language here) is in order.

The idea is to listen more than speak and actually try to create friendships. Friends have far better influence on each other than enemies do. I know many stories of unlikely friendships that have changed entrenched points of view. It is certainly better than throwing verbal bombs and perhaps literal fists at each other (or worse when the blood really boils). What do you say? 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Best Audio Book Fiction: Top Ten Lists of Books

I have a long commute. I have found that audio books rented from the local library at just over two dollars for three weeks each have been life savers (almost literally during miserable, traffic chocked commutes). They keep the mind sharp and the nerves from fraying. They allow me to catch up on books I otherwise would not have the time to persue. I arrive at work or home far more relaxed than I would otherwise, making me an easier person to deal with at either end of the trip. I highly recommend such audio books to you. I first started listening to them on tape when making long trips for work.

Without further introduction, ten lists of top audio books in fiction for your consideration:

New York Times recommendations (many titles): http://www.audible.com/nytbs

Audio Editions counters with: http://www.audioeditions.com/top-audio-books-cd-tape.aspx

About.com recommends: http://walking.about.com/od/music/tp/audiofiction.htm

Goodreads.com has 83 suggestions: http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/6320.Best_Science_Fiction_Audiobooks

Random House Audio has been at this game a long time and has a few suggestions: http://www.randomhouse.com/audio/

If crime fiction is your favorite, try: http://www.booklistonline.com/ProductInfo.aspx?pid=5424557&AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1

For science fiction fans (myself included): http://www.audiotexttapes.net/ivx.htm

Okay, my blog, my bias, sticking with sci-fi, Recorded Books suggests: http://www.recordedbooks.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=rb.show_imprint&show_by=imprint&imprint=sci-fi

For 500 of the best audio books ever, see Goodreads.com again: https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/130.Best_Audiobooks_Ever

or you can try Oprah's list instead: http://www.oprah.com/oprahdotcom/Best-Audiobooks--Popular-Fiction

That should be enough to get you started. Happy listening. Enjoy broadening your literature and popular fiction horizons!


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Resolution That Is Working: Living Comments Free!

Back when 2014 rolled over to 2015, I was reading a well written, well researched article from one of the groups I follow on Facebook. It was heady stuff and well worth the time. However, then I kept reading into the comments below. It was like a hard slap in the face. Heady, well reasoned, articulate writing was replaced with ludicrous rants, off topic comments, and ridiculous stereotyping by one angry person after another. It was an awful transition.

At that moment I made my New Year's resolution. I would not read (and never respond) to comments beneath online articles for an entire year. The peace of mind that has followed has been well worth my resolve. I have since seen articles about how useless it is to get caught up in responding in the land of trolls that is the comments section, which reinforces my resolve.

I hope you find something that gives you peace this year. 

NASA orbits dwarf planet Ceres



If you want more detailed information about Dawn's arrival to the inner solar system's only dwarf planet, Ceres, you can thank the LA Times for this. And yes, there is some competition between the scientists behind Dawn and Pluto's visitor New Horizons!

Dawn, Mission to the Asteroid Belt (HD) – Narrated by Leonard Nimoy



This short film serves two purposes, to commemorate the successful Dawn robot arrival at Ceres ... and in memory of Leonard Nimoy, who has so recently died. He will be missed. I'm glad he has such a body of work through which those of us who grew up with Mr. Spock, and his other work, can remember him.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Coping with Anger and Frustration: Ten Articles That Help

Constructive approaches to destructive
emotions
There are times when we all have setbacks that leave us emotionally battered and seething. There are other times when people or circumstances are just so deeply disappointing we want to scream. So, the question arises, what does one do with this white hot mess when it rises up inside? How do we cope. Here are some articles I hope will help you ... and me. Let's explore them together.

Realsimple.com provides sixteen ways of coping with different types of anger and frustration: http://www.realsimple.com/health/mind-mood/best-manage-your-anger

Lifehack has some good methods of dealing with the frustration arising out of anger. I'm doing one of them this very moment: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/six-great-ways-to-vent-your-frustrations.html

The American Psychological Association has some very good advice on dealing with anger AND explode the poisonous myth that "letting it all hang out" is healthy or in any way good: http://www.apa.org/topics/anger/control.aspx

I found this advice from the APA particularly valuable in my circumstances:
Logic defeats anger, because anger, even when it's justified, can quickly become irrational. So use cold hard logic on yourself. Remind yourself that the world is "not out to get you," you're just experiencing some of the rough spots of daily life. Do this each time you feel anger getting the best of you, and it'll help you get a more balanced perspective. Angry people tend to demand things: fairness, appreciation, agreement, willingness to do things their way. Everyone wants these things, and we are all hurt and disappointed when we don't get them, but angry people demand them, and when their demands aren't met, their disappointment becomes anger. As part of their cognitive restructuring, angry people need to become aware of their demanding nature and translate their expectations into desires. In other words, saying, "I would like" something is healthier than saying, "I demand" or "I must have" something. When you're unable to get what you want, you will experience the normal reactions—frustration, disappointment, hurt—but not anger. Some angry people use this anger as a way to avoid feeling hurt, but that doesn't mean the hurt goes away.
Helpguide.org also has some wonderful tips, particularly on bullying: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/emotional-health/anger-management.htm
True power doesn’t come from bullying others. People may be afraid of you, but they won’t respect you if you can’t control yourself or handle opposing viewpoints. Others will be more willing to listen to you and accommodate your needs if you communicate in a respectful way.
The Mayo Clinic provides ten excellent tips for dealing with anger too: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/adult-health/in-depth/anger-management/art-20045434

Kidshealth.org has advice that is short and sweet: http://kidshealth.org/teen/expert/emotions/bully_stress.html

WebMD has me talking to myself (in a good way): http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/tc/overcoming-frustration-and-anger-topic-overview

Mind Tools has some great techniques to implement at work for anger, frustration, worry, the whole range: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newCDV_41.htm

Love Our Children USA has anger management tips for parents on those really frustrating days: http://www.loveourchildrenusa.org/parent_controlanger.php

Penn Behavioral Health has a very valuable PDF file for coping with anger and frustration in the workplace: http://www.pennbehavioralhealth.org/documents/handling_anger_and_frustration_at_work.pdf

There you have it. Ten articles on helping us cope with those really awful days where everything seems to be going wrong. Take a deep breath, sit back, relax, and read through these. Those constructive steps will start you down the right path. Take care of yourself and those you love. Peace.