Thursday, October 16, 2008

Who won on Body Language in the Debate?

This past Tuesday, in my Midway College Senior Seminar on Leadership (HRM $A(@), I instructed my students to try to turm off the sound during the dabate and simply observe the body language of the two candidates.

What a contrast last night between McCain and Obama. Whenever Obama was speaking, there was McCain grimacing, rolling his eyes, looking shocked, but when McCain attacked Obama, Obama smiled as if he had a secret waiting.

Few of the commendtators last night except for a brief several minute episode on CNN spoke on the body language. David Gergen commented that McCain looked like an Anger Management class. I saw a very angry man, trying hard to cover his disdain, frustration and anger. Here is the analysis of one pundit:

"McCain scored the zinger of the night with, "I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago." But his performance was, in fact, incredibly Bush-like, mirroring Bush's signature stubbornness -- especially on Iraq -- by doubling down on a failed strategy. McCain's reliance on angry attacks on Obama has been an unequivocal failure. But instead of course-correcting, he doubled down -- coming across as angrier and meaner than ever before. This debate was won on the reaction shots. Every time Obama spoke, McCain grimaced, sneered, or rolled his eyes. By contrast, every time McCain was on the attack, Obama smiled. It was like watching a split-screen double feature -- Grumpy Old Men playing side by side with Cool Hand Luke."

I thought McCain did very well in scoring "point" even when most of them were not true or were known to be distorations. He landed more "punches" than did Obama, but Obama was not disposed to counter punch or compete with jabs. Instead he answered some major distortions and then used his time to talk about his program on the economy. He seemed more authentic (more comfortable in his own skin) in his proposals for the working man and won on substance and most important atttitude designed to speak to the Undecided. Arrianna Huffington, (Huffington Post) agree with some interested metaphors. Here is the rest of her blog today, Thursday.

"This debate wasn't decided on the arguments being made. It was won on the reaction shots. Every time Obama spoke, McCain grimaced, sneered, rapidly blinked, or rolled his eyes. "He looked like Captain Ahab, again and again going after Moby Dick," John Cusack told me. "Or an animal caught in a bear trap. He even seemed pissed at Joe the Plumber."

McCain's contemptuous reactions were so intense and frequent, they've already been turned into a YouTube video. The disdain McCain feels for Obama was unmistakable. It's as if Obama is not just blocking his way to the White House, but robbing him of his destiny.

By contrast, every time McCain was on the attack, Obama was smiling. And the nastier McCain got, the brighter Obama's smile became. It was the non-verbal equivalent of Reagan's disarming "There you go again" -- and it served to underline McCain's need for anger management. The angrier McCain got, the more unruffled Obama appeared.

It was like watching a split-screen double feature -- Grumpy Old Men playing side by side with Cool Hand Luke.

McCain was frantic -- as though he was running out of time, which he is -- throwing everything he had at Obama, logical connection between thoughts be damned. In one memorable answer, he brought up Colombia, quickly jumping from free trade, to drugs killing young Americans, to hostages freed from Colombian rebels, to job creation.

Colombia also brought out one of McCain's most sneering reactions, chiding Obama for never having "traveled south of our border" -- a jaw-dropping line of attack from the man who chose Sarah "Just Got My Passport" Palin as his No. 2.

Another head-scratcher: McCain's claim that "talking about a positive plan of action to restore this economy" is "what my campaign is all about." Really?

This is another way in which McCain's campaign mirrors Bush's handling of the Iraq war: not only doubling down on a failed strategy but also engaging in an endless search for an underlying rationale.

McCain's campaign was all about experience -- until he picked Palin. It was all about putting country first -- until he picked Palin. It was all about the success of the surge -- until everyone from General Petraeus and the authors of the latest NIE made it clear that victory in Iraq exists only in McCain's and Palin's stump speeches. It was all about William Ayers -- until voters rejected that line of attack. It was all about national security -- until the economy collapsed.

Now it looks like it's going to be all about Joe the Plumber -- and Sarah Palin's "expertise" on autism. Note to Sen. McCain, check out Palin's record as an advocate for special needs kids. She may understand their problems "better than almost any American that I know," but she sure isn't making their life easier in her state. (Is it any wonder McCain choked on the words as he referred to Palin as a "bresh of freth air"?)

Another note to McCain: If your mentioning Hillary Clinton three times in the debate was an attempt to win the hearts of women, putting women's "health" in air quotes and labeling it the concern only of "extreme" pro-abortionists was not a very good way to close the deal. He can kiss those women -- and those pro-choice swing voters -- good-bye.

McCain's spirit at the beginning of the debate quickly curdled into a desperate rage. And looking at the post-debate insta-polls, one thing became crystal: for voters, a lot of anger doesn't go a long way.

Obama closed by promising to "work every single day, tirelessly, on your behalf." McCain closed by just sounding tired -- exhausted by all the unleashed fury.

Read more reactions to the Obama-McCain Presidential Debate from HuffPost bloggers

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Shaman Who Became a Storyteller.

The Shaman who Became a Storyteller.
Paschal Baute.

Once upon a time, long time ago, there was a young shaman, called against his will to be a shaman for his tribe. He was to be a go-between, between ordinary reality and the Upper World and the Lower World. He would be a mediator, a bridge-builder, between worlds.

He was taken for rigorous training with older shamans. He endured years of study and hardship. Finally he was ready to return to his tribe. Most welcomed him, although some avoided him and a few were suspicious of him, for no reason he could ever discover.

He was trained in the art of shamanism, with tools of magic power, drumming, rituals and trance inducing methods. He learned to take persons, help them journey into the Upper or Lower World. Introducing them to Power Animals was part of his repertoire. He had his own very powerful Power animals to call on and to guide him. He could take himself into a trance and call on his own power animals and have them have a conference for answering some question.

He found he could help many people. Some he could not. IT was most likely their own fault, for not trusting his art and many skills. Then he reached his first mid-life crisis. His Shamanic arts and skills stopped working for him. He was in despair. Even when he went to another shaman, a must older and wiser shaman, it did not seem to help.

In despair, he gave up being a shaman and went away to monastery where old and burnt out shamans lived, not a faith community so much as a non-faith community of grumpy old men. He could not help but observe the vast diversity of shamanic traditions they had all given up.

One day, a young shaman cam to this gathering of refitted and burned out shamans. He told such fantastic stories that he made even the oldest ones laugh and feel good. Our hero knew those stories were not true, but he could not help noticing and admiring the effect they had. He began to see that the power of the shaman was not in the truth of what he told, but it resided in the heart of the teller and the story itself. Even though the tales were a little weird, they worked. It dawned on him, like a shining light from the Upper World, that whether the beliefs were true or not, or even whether the story was true. It did not matter if the Upper World or the Lower World was real. What mattered was that the story touched the human heart.

What was vital was the story offered help, through hope. He realized that humans needed these things, and these “magical tricks” he had used and lost belief in, were, in fact, Life Giving for humans. It was the story itself that was transforming agent. Or, maybe, better still, the way each listener resounded to the story.

So, thirty years after his first mid-life crisis of doubt and despair, this burned out shaman became a storyteller. He loved it so much that he became a raconteur, beguiling many young hearts into the world of awe, wonder, possibility, passion and courage. He found himself believing in the power of his stories. He was surprised that the power of the story was what seemed to be the magic, inviting wonder and hope.

He slowly learned that catching stories and storytelling kept him young and happy long after his appointed time. He felt as if the joy in storytelling and the delight of many children had become for him, the Elixir of Youth. He had never imagined that much joy and delight. He continued to be amazed. When he finally passed, put one word on my tombstone, he said. “Storyteller.” Or perhaps, if someone chooses. “Raconteur.” He died happier than he ever imagined. He was long remember by many children not only for his wonderful stories but also for the great enthusiasm he brought to his beloved art of storytelling.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Seven Silver Bullets That Prevent Aging

The Seven Silver Bullets That Prevent Aging
Paschal and Janette Baute, October 2008

You already know some of these, but some you may not know. Most of these are supported my medical and health research. Yes, we now know ways that life can be prolonged.

You probably already know that a Mediterranean diet, low meat, high fish, vegetables, nuts, and fruits is conducive to living long. The best record in the world is held by Okinawans who have more centenarians than any county. That is not only their diet, but they tend to eat less, never to satiation. Are we headed toward a health crisis in this country? We already have one, Do not notice the waist lines at the supermarket or mall.

Regular exercise for heart, lungs, muscles is essential. Probably few of us get enough since our life styles have become sedentary, even young children because TV is used as a baby sitter and kids today do not get outside and play. Recent evidence is that life style for kids affects learning.

The other five Silver Bullets have to do with faith, love, relationships and connection. Those who live with a strong faith, no matter whether it is Christian, Hebrew or Muslim, live longer and have healthier immune systems. Fascinatingly, faith seems to be an evolutionary adaptation. Those who discover it, accept and embrace it, are stronger and have more resistance to stress.

It is healthier to be in a committed relationship. Monogamy is also an evolutionary adaptation. Those who work it out, the enormous challenges today in marital stability are better off, health-wise. The practice, habit or attitude of loving service seems also to be a longevity factor.

Diet, exercise, faith, commitment in marriage, and loving service: Five factors. Are there more? I want to suggest two more: There needs to be a place in life where one has a sense of play, fun, humor and laugher. We know that laughter is a factor in health and longevity. Keep looking for ways to laugh at the human condition and at yourself. You will live longer.

The last health factor can be combined into one. We need ways of living in the present moment. This can be gardening, hiking, biking, swimming, skiing, or any activity that forces you to pay attention right now to your environment.

I believe it is also important to risk oneself, to expose your vulnerability. That can be some kind of risk sport, or hobby. But if one is risking oneself in loving service, some volunteer community activity, social service, prison ministry, storytelling to children, this can stretch your mind and your heart regularly. You must get out of your box, stretch your envelope. No pain, no gain; No guts, no glory; no balls, no blue chips. Stretching yourself regularly to do more of something is a health factor.

Silver bullets to retard the aging process: was that seven or eight. You might add one of your own. Keeping an active mind and heart is certainly critical. We have friend who are avid bridge players, or who love cross word puzzles.

We called out children together about ten years ago as we were entering our seventies. We have some good news and bad news, so what do you want first. They hesitated. So we said., We will start with the bad news. We are going to spend your inheritance on downhill skiing. Don’t count on anything. What is the good news? Well downhill skiing, particularly the way your Mom and Dad do it is a risk sport. So we may go sooner than later. Amen.

Ten years later, although we live in Kentucky, we still ski weekly from December to March. Carpe Diem. Noblesse Oblige.