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This Is What Weight Loss Does To Your Brain

Originally posted on TIME:

Too much fat weighs down not just your body, but also your brain.

Obesity harms most organs in the body, and new research suggests the brain is no exception. What’s more, the researchers found that getting rid of excess fat actually improves brain function, reversing the ill effects of the extra weight. The new study, which focused on people who underwent bariatric surgery, found that the procedure had positive effects on the brain, but other research has shown that less invasive weight loss strategies, like exercise, can also reverse brain damage thought to be related to body fat.

Here’s why that matters: Obese men and women are estimated to be about 35% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s compared to people of a normal weight. Some research suggests that body fat ups the number of proteins in the brain that trigger a cascade of events that predispose someone to the disease…

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Robin Williams’ Depression Struggles May Go Back Decades

Raj Kumar:

It is sad we lost him. I’m amused to the way public figures and celebrities often go through depression and alcoholic habits despite having everything they desire/want.
Too much fame must be hard to handle actual reality, perhaps.

Originally posted on TIME:

The storied comedian and actor Robin Williams had spent time at a rehab facility this summer to maintain his sobriety, his publicist said.

“This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings,” Williams’ wife Susan Schneider said in a written statement on Monday afternoon. According to the local sheriff’s office, coroners believe Williams may have committed suicide by asphyxia, and the actor’s representative said he had been “battling severe depression of late.”

While the representative did not elaborate on the potential source of his recent depression, one-third of people with major depression also struggle with alcoholism, and Williams admitted to abusing both cocaine and alcohol during the height of his popularity in the 1970s as alien Mork on Mork & Mindy, which showcased his manic improvisational style. He quit using drugs and alcohol in…

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Edward Snowden Opens Up in New Interview: ‘I Was Trained as a Spy’

Originally posted on TIME:

Updated May 28 at 8:22 a.m. ET

Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor behind one of the biggest leaks of classified intelligence in American history, describes his previous job as more Bond-like than reported in the past.

“It’s no secret that the U.S. tends to get more and better intelligence out of computers nowadays than they do out of people,” Snowden said in an excerpt from a new interview with NBC News’ Brian Williams that will air on Wednesday. “I was trained as a spy in sort of the traditional sense of the word in that I lived and worked undercover overseas — pretending to work in a job that I’m not — and even being assigned a name that was not mine.”

The 30-year-old is currently living in Russia and wanted on espionage charges in the U.S. after he helped expose some of the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs.

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Bed Night thought on 21st April 2013

Today was a lazy, slow and “not much” Sunday. Got up late of the movie, the previous night. Hot tea steamed on the bed side table, little thoughts, some expectations, pinch of contemplation and huge smile. Life is a gift in itself when i stop expecting any outsider’s understanding. And when I stopped hoping for other people’s sympathy.
I chose to read instead. I’m inspired by the passion Steve Wozniak had in engineering and electronics. His autobiographical book “iWoz” is a nice and inspiring book. 
Listening to radio had been my hobby and I love doing that with eyes closed, ears wide opened. Afternoon went by and evening knocked on. 
It’s never been my idea to go out for a Bhutanese movie but a friend who loves movies threw an idea of watching a movie in town. I agreed and we went to watch a new movie called “karma” in the city mall theatre. It was a good and nice movie by Bhutanese standards. Not bad. 
Back home in bed now, I’m reflecting and writing my days’ account simply. It has never been a bad day in life- how lucky I m :-)

Why sanitation first

Raj Kumar:

Watch out :-)

Originally posted on Sanitation Updates:

Wherever the Need has produced a simple, but effective sanitation promotion video narrated by Baroness Glenys Kinnock. Wherever the Need is a small UK-based charity with projects in India, Kenya and Sierra Leone.

Their latest activity is the introduction of income-generating ecosan toilets in rural Tamil Nadu, India. The state government is providing 50% subsidy for each ecosan  toilet.

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Driving and being driven

September 23rd 2012. I was in conversation with her. Grabbed my coffee for the morning. A text message beeps. Hung up the phone and I was on the road. I had an appointment on the road to get my Kindle. I have it now. Oh yea! I was suppose to rush to yet another event at YDF. My watch said I am already late.

Am I not late? “you are never too late” I was told. Drove fast to get the glimpse of what turned out to be a beautiful day.

I rushed in and the hall was fresh and full. Silent prayers and tranquil minds, I sneaked in like a thief. Heaven bell rang and mortals roared. Young men and women opened their eyes after conversation with the wise. I saw all them, calm and quite, robed in Buddha’s robes. Brothers and sisters from far away village called Plums in France–a distant land.

Wake up songs we all sang. I was a bit offbeat and of the center for having missed the earlier sessions. But here I caught up with what the “Wake up movement” was all about : www.wkup.org later at home.

Many things were on offer and many people were new to me, I will talk of just few things that I brought back with me after the day’s attendance to the “Mindfulness as a source of Happiness” workshop that day.

A game:
we got paired up.  I happen to be too old a guy among the young school going kids in their teens. I nearly didn’t get a friend for the game :-( At last I had a young boy as my game player. The game was simple. We were suppose to be a driver and a car. One of us had to close our eyes (and act like a car being driven) following the tapping instructions by our partners. I chose to be the driver at first and had to tap his head to keep moving forward. Tap his right shoulder to turn right and left shoulder to turn left. And tap his back to stop the car. Very simple traffic rules and the game seemed like holding a joystick of a play-station. A little more than 50 pairs were on the ground tapping, moving and driving randomly and I had to maneuver without crashing on other pairs.

It was tough and hard. It required quick, prompt and calculated instructions so as not to hit or give wrong instructions to my partner (acting a a car being driven). And then we interchanged the roles. Wao how easy it was to just close my eyes and get tapped and driven. I had complete faith and trust in my partner/driver. It was so easy for me just to remember to a) keep moving. b) turn left or right. c) and stop.

In life too, we can either drive or be driven–the choice is all ours–to be a driver is hard and tough but the risk of being driven is that you could end up being driven by a bad driver.

Keeping things simple and easy gets us through being happy and calm. Trusting that a tap or a pat on the back means “all is well and life is going to be good” demands having faith in who drives us.

Buddha’s teachings:
I am in for all sorts of wisdom from all religions. I believe in humanity and my pursuit to becoming a good human being shall never cease. If that was what Buddha taught I am a Buddhist.
A session on the 8 fold paths and 4 noble truths was inspiring for the fact that it was explained so well and simply. Simplicity really sells. I have read and heard a lot about these two basic facts and great teachings of Buddha but none until a brother/monk from Plum’s village explained that I understood it be well enough to see the correlation of these paths.

My understanding:

Right Mindfulness leads us to Right concentration that in turns leads us to Right view to Right Thinking/intention that guides us to Right speech to  Right action to Right livelihood encouraging us to put in Right effort.

All these Right(s) 8 fold paths to just understand, grasp, accept and eliminate the Four Noble Truths:

1) The Truth Of Dukkha–Suffering.

2) The Truth Of The Cause Of Dukkha–Suffering.

3) The Truth Of The Cessation Of Dukkha–Suffering.

4) The Truth Of The Path That Ends Dukkha–Suffering.

The day was beautiful with bright sunshine and music around. Lunch served was palatable. Programme and event hosts were caring and compassionate. The young participants were lively and lovable. The monks and nuns who flew with other crews were inspiring and beautiful mortals. I was lucky to have been driven to the event.