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  • ChicagoCPA - I used the Project Key to renew IS 2011 for another year

    After reading the reviews here, I did not see much reason to upgrade from IS2011 to IS2012, so I bought this to extend the license on my IS2011 for my 3 computers for another year and paid a lot less than Norton wanted by doing it via just clicking the renew icon (they wanted $49 for a 1 year license).

    At the bottom of the initial screen when you double click on the IS 2011 tray icon, there is a Renew link just below SUBSCRIPTION STATUS:

    At the bottom of the screen that pops up there is a message:

    If you already have a subscription renewal code or a product key, enter it here:

    I entered the IS 2012 Product key there and I have 2011 for 366 days (yes I lost the 14 days remaining).

  • Neuron "Family father, neuroscientist, and no... - A refreshing account of moral rights and wrongs

    In one of the most memorable examples in The Moral Landscape, Sam Harris reflects on his own thoughts after his wife told him that another man had openly flirted with her in the gym, even though she had said she was a happily married woman. Sam Harris imagines how men in certain cultures would have reacted to this information. The first thing a man should do if he want to keep his pride is to beat the rivaling male, perhaps kill him too. In some cases it would also have been culturally appropriate to punish the wife for.... well I don't know... sub consciously tempting the man to approach her? In extreme cases it would have been appropriate to also kill the wife, just to emphasise the way in which your property is not to be meddled with!

    Sam Harris admits that he initially did feel hostility towards the other male (something which I think men world wide will sympathise with). He felt that his behavior was wrong. However, having been brought up in a western society he did not follow through on these feelings. He realized that killing the other person would not lead to positive outcomes for anybody, and he realized that it was certainly not his wife's fault. In addition, he also thinks that his wife is attractive and can understand that another man finds her attractive too.

    The main thesis of Sam Harris book is that just like statements about the world can be right or wrong (for example, it is wrong to say earth is flat), moral statements can also be right or wrong. What makes an act/policy/moral guideline right or wrong? Well according to Harris this is determined by the degree to which it increases/decreased the well being of humans. For those who remember their philosophy, this is in essence a utilitarian argument. Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill argued that there are no categorical imperatives (as Kant said). Whether something is good or evil depends on the consequences. Thus it can be good to lie if it prevents sadness in a lot of people. To calculate the effect of a certain act on the well being of the rest of the world is of course more or less impossible. For example, frequent lying can ruin relationships leading to divorce, leading to depressions etc etc...

    Harris acknowledges that there is large gray area where it is hard to say if a certain action or moral guideline aids general well being or not. This does not mean however, that anything goes. However, some acts, such as killing another man and your wife because of minor flirtation is really unlikely to lead to greater well being. It is comparable to arguing that the earth I'd merely 6000 years old - not entirely impossible but really really unlikely.

    Simply put, some moral guidelines or cultural norms are more conducive towards human well being than others.

    Still many people (perhaps mainly academics living comfortable lives), would argue that cultural norms are merely cultural and that we should not criticize other cultures for holding certain values, because values are subjective etc. However, even among cultural relativists there are few people who argue this way when discussing terrible acts. Can people who consider themselves to be cultural relativists abstain from judgement and condemnation when they hear about say Josef Fritzl or the genocide in Rwanda. Would they be indifferent to whether their children were raised in Josef Fritzl's basement, or in a Tutsi family experiencing mutilation from Hutu militia. Are these alternatives merely an interesting cultural alternative? What sane parent would not prefer their child to grow up in a western society with individual rights and a police force that protects their citizens?

    Can we not say that the genocide in Rwanda was wrong? Can we not deplore the ethical code of the catholic church when they excommunicate a doctor for performing an abortion on a girl raped by her father and pregnant with twins, while not excommunicating a single Nazi? If we can it follows that we can say something about which norms are good and bad.

  • Akashic Recordings "Akasha" - The author's magnum opus, that could have used a better title

    When I first came across this volume in my local bookstore my first thought was, "No, not another writer trying to cash in on this trendy theme." Fortunately, I was already familiar with the author, having had devoured and immensely enjoyed his previous work, Breaking Open The Head (2003). Still, I almost passed on this one mainly because the subject doesn't interest me all that much. Yet I purchased a copy for myself after reading the back write-up that stated all that this massive publication includes - side-topics and tangential passages that touch on all sorts of fascinating personalities and areas of study including, among many: the Beat Generation, the Burning Man festival, crop circles, Aleister Crowley, Patrick Harpur, Graham Hancock, the Hopi, kundalini, LSD (and Alfred Hofman), the Santo Daime, the Secoyas of Ecuador, Rudolph Steiner (whom I first became familiar with while perusing Anthony Storr's phenomenal Feet Of Clay), synchronicity, etc, etc, etc. Really, how does Mr. Pinchbeck expect even his most devout and studious of readers to retain all of this captivating information?

    To be honest, 2012: The Return Of Quetzalcoatl (2007; 411 pages) was quite the slog, requiring mega headwork on my part, but worth all the effort and time it took chewing and savoring the meaty offering, via piecemeal. I've had to read it three times just to digest it all. The author put a lot of work into this engrossing, mind-expanding tome that many consider to be his magnum opus. And, what do you know, after a lengthy semi-diversionary introduction, the reader finally arrives at the discussion centering around the Mayans, beginning on page 187 of the publication. Could 2012: TROQ have been shortened, more tightly composed? Less of an esemplastic, verbose hodge-podge? The book's title is somewhat misleading in my opinion. It covers a lot of ground, not just the plumed serpent woven-in topos, and I think would have attracted a greater readership had the book been named with a more encompassing heading.

    Those that can't stand a biographical side-dish to go along with their thematic main course (a la Whitley Strieber's Communion) will likely be pulling their hair out trying to get through this book, which reads like a part-confessional in parts. Besides being a half-memoirs, and a book mainly focusing on Mayan mythology and prophecy, it also delves into present-day topical issues and concerns - such as the alarming oceanic and rain forest depletion, global overpopulation, resource consumption, environmental deterioration, etc - as well as paranormally related abstractions and metaphysical/philosophical musings.

    Whether or not anything of significance - positive (cue epoch) or negative (enter upheaval) - will occur in December of 2012 or any other proposed imminent date or time period is of somewhat irrelevance to me. Not that I don't care about our future, but when December 21, 2012 comes and goes, as I'm sure it will, without incident, I'll still be continuing in my re-reading of and meditating on this always ever-pertinent material. And this is what separates Mr. Pinchbeck's book from others of its kind: It's not a work of ahistorical consumption; it'll never grow outdated, for it contains so many other intellectually stimulating inclusions. In 2020 and beyond it'll still be tremendously informative and current. (To reiterate: it needed a different title.)

    In the erudite Daniel Pinchbeck, I not only see one of the greatest thinkers of our age but a kindred spirit. Like Mr. Strieber, Mr. Pinchbeck strikes me as a truth-seeker, a quality that I most admire in anyone who doesn't subscribe to a rigid and absolutist belief system. Daniel is also a self-proclaiming college dropout, yet has the intellect of a professor that's coupled with the humility of a disciple.

    There is so much that I agree with him on. Personally, I feel that the Western view of masculinity and success is a very skewed one. Also: I have, for instance, been aware for quite some time of the distracted and preoccupied ovine masses, how Joe and Jane Public are kept busy making a living (a conspiracy, I wonder?), often through no fault of their own, never to notice or care about deeper matters along hyper-physical lines - whereas science has recently shown that psychic phenomena exists! Mr. Pinchbeck's thoughts on the unnatural institution of monogamy and the interpersonal frictions it needlessly wreaks resonate with me as concepts refreshingly iconoclastic and intuitively true. As an ex-sectarian, in recent years I have re-evaluated my Christian heritage in a more universal light (along Tom Harpur's The Pagan Christ) which concurs that Christ left for us a model, not a willed estate. I also feel masculine aggression, a left-over of Son- or sun-worshippers (as with the Catholic Spaniards who diabolically slaughtered the Aztecs) ought to give way to feminine qualities more compatible with the maternal planet in which we inhabit. I also feel that the transcendence of our so-called biological limits, if pursued, ought only to be sought after on a spiritual basis, and not on a superficial level as those promoting future A.I. and cyborgs would have it. I also think that modern civilization can learn a thing from tribal life - namely, for starters, that of population control, and of living in balance with Nature. I also agree with Jung that the apocalypse is an archetypal, psychological event, that takes place both on an individual and collective basis. As well, it appears to me too that possibly obliviously egocentric fundamentalist doom-sayers may, on an unconscious level, be desiring the end of this system primarily out of the disappointment felt at facing their own mortality.

    There is so much that I learned from reading this book: Women's plight; how the Industrial Revolution paved the way toward seeing to gender equality, in that machines leveled the playing field where the centuries-old disadvantage of being born physically weaker now became a thing of the past. How thought precedes material effect: By thinking positively we can positively transform even the material world, so often quickly dismissed by secularists as a reality intrinsically separate from the spiritual. How both the religious and secular systems are contributing toward the destruction of our planet. It was also interesting to learn about the notion that considers Yahweh and Satan to be one in the same, comprising an "antimony," a concept that makes sense to me, especially if you've ever read the Book of Job.

    While at other times, my own contemplating on the material would inspire somewhat expanded though primarily overlapping reflections and opinions, such as: Is lucid dreaming the key to surviving bodily death? Does the universe contain meaning? Or do we provide it with such? And, if the latter, is this a psychological trick or a divine reward bestowed upon the seeker?

    Regarding the ingesting of shamanic substances, in lands where these hypothetically would no longer be prohibited: Some feel, from having read books or seen DVDs about these botanical teachers, that others besides themselves, namely mainstream scientists and fundamentalists, might benefit greatly from such plant knowledge, in possibly opening up to these ones greater truths ... though, should ever that happen, one hopes without their experiencing of too much embittered disillusionment.

    And yet these precious substances have been outlawed and demonized in countries like the U.S., thanks to the Controlled Substance Act of 1970. That Mr. Pinchbeck traveled abroad to partake freely and harmlessly of such psychedelics as therapeutic iboga, ayahuasca and DMT is a feature of the man's life that I am most enviable of.

    Indeed, as I see it, it might very well be a case of these substances, if ever legally permitted, maybe being a more reliable means of treating mood disorders than the current popularity and medical acceptability of often ineffective, if not entirely harmful, and addictive antidepressants which have been the current rage in the last few reigning decades of the pharmaceutical industry.

    Also, we are made to wonder: Could it be that early Christians partook of a psychedelic mushroom, as depicted in early Church frescoes that show what appears to be the amanita?

    My five-star review in no way implies that the book is absolutely faultless. Some portions were just way too abstruse for my liking - in particular, Mr. Pinchbeck's fondness for the recondite mumblings of radical Jose Arguelles (quite the longueur). This is not to say that a new calendar wouldn't do wonders for the world and the number thirteen, but Arguelles, as much as I like him on a bohemian level, does or did hold some rather kooky ideas (noosphere schmoosphere). As for Terence McKenna, his writing style I find distastefully ornate. His prose is what an English teacher might describe as being clinquant. Between the bombastic terminology and obfuscation I can't make out half the things of what McKenna taught. Regrettably, Mr. Pinchbeck also devotes numerous pages to this circumlocutory communicator as well.

    Still I wonder: As much as I support the legal use of psychedelics (in those parts of the world where these are sensibly permitted and commonly used), and wish for the legalization of them in North America (what with their current, inappropriately banned status), it must not be overlooked as to their potential opportunity for inadvertently allowing negative forces and/or lingering effects to enter one's life and/or play upon one's psyche; citing as two examples - the former, in the form of poltergeist activity, which the author here admits to having experienced as a result of his ingestion, and the latter what Mr. Pinchbeck terms as a sleep-disturbing "flickering festival," behind closed eyelids, which I myself have also experienced without ever having used these substances, instigated by what I think was the unconscious ingression on my part of low-level spirits.

    In conclusion, this exceptional work is quite the head trip. One doesn't need to be the least bit interested in the topic of 2012 in order to be thoroughly wowed by the tome. If you're anything like me, you'll derive enjoyment from simply reading about the author's orphic theorizations, physical travels (to Hawaii and the Amazon, etc), psychic trips, domestic life, and his attraction to a priestess who in my mind behaved as a bit of a coquette, if not a jilt.

  • Marylene Delbourg-Delphis - A must read

    The common definition of a context is "the group of conditions that exist where and when something happens." We evoke the "context" when we want to explain events or behaviors. The implicit assumption is that what happens results from a collection of causes that we do not control. A context is more or less what we have to be subjected to.

    The Age of Context analyzes how technology is reversing the context equation. We have entered an "interactionist" age and have the ability to weave together (the etymological meaning of the word "context") the various components of our own environment, proactively build "contexts" that matter to us, take new perspectives on what surrounds us, capture the moment, and ultimately better control our world. The Age of Context is the Age of Relevance as devices and technologies allow us to extract what matters to us at any point in time in any given location. It's the Age of Involvement as sensors provide us with the ability to better comprehend our surroundings, open our eyes and see more, expand the scope and accuracy of our experiences while assisting us in anticipating situations. It's ultimately the Age of Encapsulated Control through continuous and pervasive information capable of assisting our choices or our health.

    Yes, it's also the Age of Big Data and the book consistency addresses the Orwellian specter. Sure, but isn't it also true that too little data is ultimately just as dangerous for individuals? History shows that abuse and tyranny are pretty much data agnostic and that ignorance feeds despots just as much as knowledge anyway. The book is not designed to solve this philosophical issue, but definitely shows that it's ultimately thanks to big data that each of us can find the meaningful or the very small details that make a difference in our lives, and feed our respective personal microcosms. The Age of Context opens a new era of humanism too.

    I loved the tone of this book and the communicative excitement of both Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. Their passion is contagious -- yet they do alleviate fears by also showing that we have the power to monitor the scope and the usage of same tools we leverage to guide and assist us.

  • Elizabeth - Wonderful and Whimsical

    It arrived on the exact date that it said it would be and at first I was going to use it in a gift exchange, but then I looked at it and decided to keep it for myself. It has such beautiful photography and I love the quotes that gives the reader a tiny insight into someone else's life. Fantastic and a great conversation starter.