Weekend Thoughts - 8.22.15

Image by  Minoru Nitta , courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Image by Minoru Nitta, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Happy Saturday y'all! Below, I have rounded up some things for you to think about this weekend:

1. A great reminder to stay positive, an article titled "Negative Thinking: The Number One Cause Of Chronic Depression And How To Overcome It" points out that negative thoughts attract more negativity. The piece makes a point about proof of the results of positive thinking, claiming that "Proof is not the result of what is true. Proof is the result of what you believe." Chronic negative thinking can be a real problem, and my main advice is to remember to smile!

2. Vice published an article on the need for a regulatory organization in the recreational drug market. Rather than the outright banning of all psychoactive substances other than the exempted few, which causes a host of public health and safety issues as well as criminalizing a group of otherwise law-abiding citizens, why don't we focus on ensuring the safety, purity, and efficacy of these new psychoactives?

3. Mrs. Homegrown at Root Simple wrote a piece on the value of trees that is worth reading. To summarize her points briefly: trees increase property values, cool the environment, absorb rain and share it with other plants, assist with cleaning water, absorb and store carbon, improve air quality, create food and habitat for animals, and heal the soul. Give her article a read for more detail, and while you're at it, check out the rest of the blog—I've been reading it for at least five years now and have enjoyed it immensely.

4. I found this take on the "Thanks, Obama" meme to be pretty spot-on. It's interesting that the meme can be used in a sincere way as well as a sarcastic one. Obama's presidential career has certainly proved to be an compelling one to follow.

5. There is finally some scientific evidence showing that e-cigarettes are about 95% less harmful than smoking tobacco. I think it's beyond clear to anyone who has tried both vaporizing and smoking that the vapor is easier on the throat and lungs than smoke. It's nice to see some scientific research being done in this arena, because for what feels like the longest time there hasn't been much research to speak of. Vaping is almost all around better than smoking—it tastes better, it smells better (and the smell dissipates extremely quickly), it's easier on your body, it can be less expensive, and it can actively aid in smoking cessation. The one thing I can think of that smokers may miss is the huge clouds of smoke that you can get from smoking, although many vaporizers produce full clouds of vapor instead. If you're a smoker, and you haven't tried vaping, I highly suggest you give it a try.

6. In the aftermath of Jeb Bush's recent statement supporting giving the NSA broader powers to spy even harder on Americans, a news story broke at The New York Times explaining how AT&T helped the NSA spy on Internet traffic on a vast scale and was in fact the most enthusiastic and top surveillance provider for the agency. For many decades, the United States government has relied on eager cooperation from AT&T to spy on immense quantities of Internet traffic. Now if only we could get the same amount of transparency from the other side of the equation—looking into our own government—that they are forcing on us...

7. Local (Durham, NC) vegan chef Kathy Hester featured a post on her blog Healthy Slow Cooking that centers around building a vegan pantry with dried beans. As an amateur vegan chef and bean-lover myself, I enjoyed her piece—especially the links to articles debating whether or not to presoak dried beans before cooking, the must-have beans to stock your shelves with, and the more uncommon beans to sample for a fun treat. There are also several recipes to try out, although I can't vouch for them personally as I haven't attempted to make any of them yet. I had the great fortune of meeting Kathy at last year's inaugural Triangle VegFest in Raleigh, NC and found her to be an engaging speaker with a warm personality and a wealth of knowledge about vegan cuisine. Her specialty is slow cooking, so give her blog a read if that piques your interest!

8. And speaking of Triangle VegFest, the 2nd annual event will be held in Raleigh, NC's Moore Square on October 17th from noon to 5PM. The event is free to enter and features tasty plant-based foods, exhibitors and vendors, and a lineup of fantastic informational speakers (including a favorite of mine, Chef AJ—a knowledgeable and extremely inspirational plant-based chef and culinary instructor). I hope to see you in the Square for some veggie-related fun and learning!

9. A writer tested out the Polyphasic sleep practice for a week and found it to be similar to taking LSD. The topic of Polyphasic sleep holds a sort of fascination for me although I haven't given it a try yet. It is the practice of breaking sleep into several segments spread throughout the day rather than one long segment of sleep overnight. I found this account to be entertaining and enlightening, with some great tips for going to sleep—even for regular sleepers!

That's all for this week's edition of Weekend Thoughts. Until next week, keep thinking wilder.