Updated: 08/10/03; 1:02:12 AM.
   Abyssal Mind
        Musings and Links about Mind, Psychology, Spirituality and other Curiosities.

October 8, 2003

Moving Abyssal Mind to http://brain.blogs.com

It is time for me to move Abyssal Mind to another site. I chose the excellent TypePad service for various reasons. I think at the new site I might be able to put more effort into Abyssal Mind, and perhaps start some other blogs at http://brain.blogs.com  This Radio Userland site will definately work until the end of October, and perhaps longer than that. However, I will be making all new postings on that site. Also, for those interested, I've got a new RSS Feed URL for that site (which may eventually change, though). Bear in mind that I am still ironing out the kinks for the look & feel etc. as I learn more about the powerful TypePad service.

Please update your links and see you over there!


12:41:22 AM    trackback []  comment []

October 7, 2003

Latent Inhibition

This link discusses interesting research that goes one step deeper into understanding creativity:

... creative people appear to be more open to incoming stimuli from the surrounding environment. Other people's brains might shut out this same information through a process called Latent Inhibition - defined as an animal's unconscious capacity to ignore stimuli that experience has shown are irrelevant to its needs.

The article says that both psychosis and creativity share this lack of latent inhibition, and this provides an explanation of the link between the two. I wonder if it also explains some of what is going on in attention deficit disorder.

(via Creative Generalist)

12:39:39 AM    trackback []  comment []

October 5, 2003

Sleep Position Personalities

This BBC News article discusses new research that correlates different personality types with the position people sleep in. For instance, the most common position (41%) - the foetus position - allegedly are initially shy and have externally tough but internally sensitive personalities.

This is yet another of the long string of studies of the dispositional paradigm which purport to relate almost anything you can think of with personality "types". I am increasingly skeptical about such research for various reasons, but mainly because I think personality is a much more complicated affair than assigning pseudo-permanant features to people. I can almost bet that either you didn't fit into any of the sleep positions or you fit into several categories or always sleep in different positions. Further, even if your sleep position was constant and in one of the categories, the description of the category either didn't or rarely fit you or was too general so that it could fit almost anybody.

Nevertheless, this link -is- an amusing read.

1:07:23 AM    trackback []  comment []

October 3, 2003

Answering "Who Am I?" Explicitly

Doug, over at a new blog called slumberfogey, recently posted this fine answer to the perennial "who am i?" question. While most of his items are included in my own self-concept, I don't often make such a clear declaration of myself. I think all of us already have an implicit answer to the who am I question, and the answer underlies everything that we say and do. Clearly understanding parts of this self-concept and making it explicit gives us the ability to then intentionally modify it to more effectively work with reality. Self-concept metaprogramming can be liberating and is a powerful tool for anyone interested in personal growth or "reality hacking".

2:39:00 PM    trackback []  comment []


According to a quotation in this wikipedia article, psychogeography is "the study of specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organised or not, on the emotions and behaviour of individuals". It seems psychogeographers are a very interesting bunch.

I think psychogeography is more about creating environments to produce effects, not so much about studying the effects of environments. But anyway, it got me wondering about how often we pay attention to the situations and surroundings that we find ourselves in. It seems at least part of our behavior, feelings and thoughts are influenced by our environment -- this much is obvious. What strikes me is how little importance we place on such influences and how little we realize what is really happening under the surface of our minds. For instance, are you aware of how your current environment, perhaps the music that is playing, or the uncomfortable chair you are sitting on, is affecting what you think about this little entry I've made?

(via kottke.org)

1:43:45 AM    trackback []  comment []

October 2, 2003

Managing Your Attention to Avoid Information Overload

The amount of information that we are being bombarded with is getting insane. Life in the 21st Century is typified by us having to monitor more information channels than we can handle and sifting through increasing amounts of noise to find the precious signal that we need.

Think of every mode of experience as an information channel. Each RSS Feed is an information channel. Your email lists and friends, IM, chat, and forums are information channels. The radio news is a channel. Each web site or blog is another. Our conversation with our friend is a channel. Interaction with our dog is a channel. Feeling the gas pain in our stomachs is another channel. What channels have in common is that they are each a rough point of focus; at each moment you are probably paying attention to one channel. You might have some sense that the number of possible channels, or things we can pay attention to, is practically infinite.

Perhaps the most critical question of our time is then: What in the world should we pay attention to? What follows is just a few observations that I use to help answer this question for myself.

For many, these may seem obvious, but given the amount of information overload or information anxiety and stress that people feel, I'm sure most of us do not always put into practice such suggestions like these:

1) Know that you must limit what you monitor.

You cannot monitor every information source. We cannot be omniscient, at least for now. Our lifetimes are limited, so we cannot be exposed to everything there is to know (never mind learn it all), since that is practically infinite. While this is obvious, we often act as if we have all the time in the universe and "subscribe" to almost every information channel that comes our way. Then we wonder why we feel frantic and guilty for not keeping up with it all.

2) Choose the content of your mental programming.

Your brain is being programmed by the information that you take in. This is a huge subject covered, for instance, by the new science of memetics; for now, realize that you are being changed by the information that you consume. You can either let the world program you, by just choosing information channels that are practically forced upon you, or you can say no to them and choose instead something better for your mind.

3) Mostly monitor channels that reflect your values and goals.

In order to apply this advice, you need to develop a strong sense of what your values are, and be clear about your goals. This is highly recommended, but again it is a big topic that perhaps I will talk about some time. For now, think about what you pay attention to and notice how much time you spend paying attention to things that are simply not useful to you.

4) Monitor some channels that help expand your general knowledge.

To avoid becoming a narrow person who is only feeding your tiny interests, expand your horizons. Find good quality general channels that allow you to come across other information channels that you find interesting or that will foster new values in you. You might find some life-changing topics that you might have otherwise missed by just elaborating on what you already know and value.

5) Choose good quality channels.

Information channels vary in quality and signal-to-noise. In general, choose channels where most of what you come across is something that you want. While reputation may be a starting point, don't choose channels just because "they are supposed to be good". Always evaluate whether what you pay attention to is meeting your needs.

6) Choose some low quality channels but scan to find the pearls.

Some information channels are mostly useless to you but occasionally have some excellent information on them that is vital or otherwise valuable to you. For these channels, consider carefully whether it is worth putting up with the nonsense for the rare jewel. And become an expert at quickly scanning through material to find what you need. However, if you find you are spending most of your time scanning, then it is time to drop some of these low quality channels.

7) Find new channels and get rid of old channel clutter.

We are not static creatures. We are continually changing our likes and dislikes. Realize that you need to be always changing and put some time into it.

8) Minimize the preparation of information channels and focus on the information.

Sometimes, we can get caught up in getting ready to participate, and never get around to participating in the information channel. Endlessly optimizing your computer or trying to find the perfect software when what you have will do is one way that people spend their valuable time. On the other hand, investing time in preparing the tools required for connecting to information channels is required to save time later or to connect in the first place. I suggest limiting the time you spend on preparation, and get busy consuming the stuff you are interested in. Unless of course, you have decided to make "tweaking" a life goal.

9) Limit your time on each channel.

Even if you have a finely tuned information reality by choosing channels well, you will likely find that you still don't have time for everything. Make information priorities based on your values and goals and plan your perusals of all channels. Budget your time accordingly. Otherwise, it is tempting to spend a disproportionate amount of your time in one place. Also, realize that you cannot usually afford to obtain complete information about any particular topic, even if it were possible.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly:

10) Turn off the information hose.

Make time for processing the information you come across. Silence and quietness, disconnection from everything, is the best medicine for a wide variety of mental and physical ailments. Both this "time out" and managing your attention with some of the suggestions above are necessary parts of effectively dealing with information in this amazing universe that's almost too full of stuff to know.

1:54:55 AM    trackback []  comment []

September 30, 2003

Why Comfort Food Calms You

This article discusses why eating fat and sugar-laden foods reduces feelings of stress. It turns out such foods reduce CRF (corticotropin-releasing factor), which in turn reduces levels of the "stress hormones" such as cortisol.

Of course, this isn't a prescription for you to eat when you are feeling stressed out. But it may help explain the rising rates of obesity in our stress-filled society. Instead of eating calorie-rich foods, or waiting for scientists to produce CRF-combatting medications, we can learn to maintain a level of calmness in even the most pressing situations. In this way, we help avoid putting on weight and the host of other stress related medical problems. It is really not that hard, so I wonder why we remain so attached to our frantic, intense attitudes.   Is it just we haven't  heard about the ways out of our madness, or are we just not convinced that stress is a problem that must be rectified in ourselves?

12:45:24 PM    trackback []  comment []

The Minimally Conscious State

The brain activity of people in comas or with major communication disorders (vegetative states) is turning out to be much more normal than previously believed. In other words, people with such problems may be in fact quite conscious, or at least in a "minimally conscious state". This great New York Times article describes the research which may be redefining what we think of as states of consciousness.

The article speculates what it might be like to be minimally conscious:

"You wake up every morning but feel as if you're under a deep anesthesia. Images enter your eyes, and sounds enter your ears, but most of them reverberate through your brain without triggering any awareness. From time to time, you join the outside world at the sight of a familiar face or at the words of a loved one. Memories and meaning emerge. But as soon as that face or those words disappear, you sink back into darkness. Perhaps you can't even tell you're sinking -- perhaps your awareness leaps from one isolated moment to the next."

All this leads me to a (common) question that I sometimes think about, and may blog more about:

We normally consider ourselves fully conscious during our waking hours. But is there a whole level of consciousness that we have never experienced yet?

In some sense, are most of us, if not all of us, not minimally conscious, but equally in a fog, much less conscious than our potential? Is there an "outside world" that is all around us that we rarely "join", or if we do glimpse that world (as in peak religious experiences, perhaps), do we inevitably "sink" back to our previous level of sub-consciousness? And does what we learn from those that have recovered from a minimally conscious state suggest methods of accessing this super-consciousness?

Maybe this is something to think about when you read this interesting article.

(via Boing Boing Blog)

1:18:40 AM    trackback []  comment []

FeedDemon, My Favorite RSS Reader

Recently, I reevaluated a host of RSS newsreaders. FeedDemon, written by Nick Bradbury, won my little competition by far. Its unique "News Bins" feature, which allows you to save and categorize feed items, should be a standard feature of all news aggregators (RSS readers). But FeedDemon has many other great features and a fantastic interface. Currently it is in beta and is free. Highly recommended.
12:16:20 AM    trackback []  comment []

September 29, 2003

RSS Feeds for Newbies

Did you ever wonder what is that red XML icon on the bottom right of my blog and in tens of thousands of other web sites? It is the link to my "RSS Feed". Many people say RSS stands for "Really Simple Syndication". That means you can subscribe to my site if you use software called an RSS reader. With it, you can see when I have a new post, and in my case, the post itself, without having to go to my site to check. You will be able to see what posts you have read, and which ones you haven't. This saves you quite a bit of time, particularly if you read many feeds. Click on the above link for Lockergnome's quickstart guide to RSS.

One of the downsides for me having a feed is that I have no way of knowing how many people are using it, because I am using Radio Userland and don't have my own site with my own weblogs to analyze. The hitcount reported on the sidebar doesn't take into account RSS traffic. So if you are using the feed and love my site, please let me know via email or a comment or something so I know that the RSS feed and my site is of value to someone. :)

11:56:12 PM    trackback []  comment []

Big Heads are Better

It turns out that the bigger your head, the smarter you may be when you get older, believe it or not. This Guardian Observer news link describes a study done by Southhampton University scientests that shows a sizable correlation between the size of a group old people's skulls and their performance on memory and intelligence tests. The bigger, the better.

It seems humans have developed large heads, in general, and that is why birthing is so difficult. But suppose future technology will enable us to make them even bigger, with genetic engineering. The births would have to eventually be caesarean or maybe by then gestation could occur completely outside the body. This would increase the brainpower of the populace, at least somewhat, which I think would be only good for society. Of course, by then, we may have much better ways to increase our brainpower.

4:47:47 PM    trackback []  comment []


I have a feeling that I may be getting back to blogging. But I'll believe it when I see it :) I basically took the summer off because I was busy at other things. Summers are like that.  Now it is autumn again and it is getting colder out here in Calgary so I am doing less bike riding and thus have a little more free time lol. (I laughed because I've been unemployed for a while now.)

I'm not sure how this blog will turn out this season. I am thinking of changing the content. I will keep doing links and comments similar to what I was doing, since I am still interested in that stuff. However, I may do entries on what I am finding to be interesting in the area of software and general web sites that I find useful or interesting. I am also going to experiment with posting short paragraphs on things that I am thinking about or thought provoking questions. If you have any ideas or topics that I could post about, drop a comment here or email me at my spam filled address lol bjkrawchukXXX@hotmail.com  (Take out the XXX string)

Hopefully these changes will make this blog a little more read than it already is, which is almost not at all, right now :)

3:37:56 PM    trackback []  comment []

© Copyright 2003 Bj Krawchuk.
October 2003
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  
Sep   Nov

Go to homepage

Monthly Archives

Please send me feedback and link ideas! bjkrawchukXXX@hotmail.com

Blogs and Sites

Click here to visit the Radio UserLand website.

Subscribe to "Abyssal Mind" in Radio UserLand.

Click to see the XML version of this web page.

Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.