Rick’s Picks

Rick’s Picks is a collection of things that I’ve really liked, and you may, too. They can be inspiring, entertaining, fun, and sometimes wacky.

Worth Noting

Articles:

Resources for Climate Action:

Organizations Worth Supporting:

Resources for Equity and Social Justice:

Humor:

Videos

Like everybody else, my tastes are a little – ah – eclectic. See if you like these.

Science News

These are some of the latest Science Picks from my weekly Just One Thing newsletter. For a full archive of Science News, go here.

  • The James Webb telescope, Hubble’s replacement, successfully launched on Christmas Day and is hurtling towards its position in the 2nd Lagrange point or L2, 1.5 million kms from Earth. What is L2?
  • Astronomers were amazed to find that dark matter, the elusive invisible matter that keeps galaxies together, was missing in six galaxies they’ve studied over the past three years.
  • As our science and technology expand out beyond Earth’s atmosphere, new biosecurity risks are threatening our earthly life. Scientists are preparing for an alien invasion of the microbial kind.
  • Summertime arctic sea ice is less than half what it was in the 1980s. Recent studies suggest a daunting future for the region, with the possibility that summertime sea ice could disappear by 2100, along with the animals that depend on it, including seals and polar bears.
  • Scientists measure earthshine – the faint glow on the darkened portion of a crescent moon – to learn that Earth is dimming, caused by fewer bright clouds, due to warming temperatures.
  • Using advanced climate and agricultural models, scientists have found that climate change will impact crop yields as early as 2030.
  • A recently discovered set of fossil footprints in New Mexico suggests humans crossed the Bering Strait into North America 6.5 thousand years earlier than previously thought – at the peak of the last ice age.
  • Stars or satellites? With thousands of satellites currently occupying our skies (and 10s of thousands set to be launched in the near future), it can be hard to tell what’s what in the night sky. This paper explores the effects of satellite megaconstellations on our night sky, and this tool helps you predict the number of visible satellites.
  • Can we replicate dinosaurs from their DNA? A paleontologist explains the ABCs of DNA and why dino-DNA makes recreating the mammoth species a challenge.
  • The ability to harness fusion – the energy source of the sun – would be a game-changer in our quest for clean energy. A recent experiment triggered nuclear fusion ignition in a lab for the first time. It could lead the way to clean energy and insights into the Big Bang.
  • To understand how the brain works, neuroscientists map how each of the roughly 1,000 types of cells thought to exist in the brain speak to each other in their different electrical dialects.
  • A classic Physics class experiment looks at how fast objects fall to the earth due to gravity. This animation looks at how fast a ball would drop on other bodies in our solar system, including the sun.

Newsletter Picks

These “Rick’s Picks” are from my MindFull of Good newsletter (launched in 2020):

Dr. Ramani Durvasula is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, and expert on the impact of toxic narcissism. She is a Professor of Psychology at California State University, Los Angeles, and also a Visiting Professor at the University of Johannesburg.

The focus of Dr. Ramani’s clinical, academic, and consultative work is the etiology and impact of narcissism and high-conflict, entitled, antagonistic personality styles on human relationships, mental health, and societal expectations. She has spoken on these issues to clinicians, educators, and researchers around the world.

She is the author of Should I Stay or Should I Go: Surviving a Relationship With a Narcissist, and Don't You Know Who I Am? How to Stay Sane in an Era of Narcissism, Entitlement, and Incivility. Her work has been featured at SxSW, TEDx, and on a wide range of media platforms including Red Table Talk, the Today Show, Oxygen, Investigation Discovery, and Bravo, and she is a featured expert on the digital media mental health platform MedCircle. Dr. Durvasula’s research on personality disorders has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and she is a Consulting Editor of the scientific journal Behavioral Medicine.

Dr. Stephen Porges is a Distinguished University Scientist at Indiana University, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, and Professor Emeritus at both the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Maryland. He is a former president of the Society for Psychophysiological Research and has been president of the Federation of Behavioral, Psychological, and Cognitive Sciences, which represents approximately twenty-thousand biobehavioral scientists. He’s led a number of other organizations and received a wide variety of professional awards.

In 1994 he proposed the Polyvagal Theory, a theory that links the evolution of the mammalian autonomic nervous system to social behavior and emphasizes the importance of physiological states in the expression of behavioral problems and psychiatric disorders. The theory is leading to innovative treatments based on insights into the mechanisms mediating symptoms observed in several behavioral, psychiatric, and physical disorders, and has had a major impact on the field of psychology.

Dr. Porges has published more than 300 peer-reviewed papers across a wide array of disciplines. He’s also the author of several books including The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-regulation.

Dr. Bruce Perry is the Principal of the Neurosequential Network, Senior Fellow of The ChildTrauma Academy, and a Professor (Adjunct) in the Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago and the School of Allied Health at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. From 1993 to 2001 he was the Thomas S. Trammell Research Professor of Psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine and chief of psychiatry at Texas Children's Hospital.

He’s one of the world’s leading experts on the impact of trauma in childhood, and his work on the impact of abuse, neglect, and trauma on the developing brain has impacted clinical practice, programs, and policy across the world. His work has been instrumental in describing how traumatic events in childhood change the biology of the brain.

Dr. Perry's most recent book, What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing, co-authored with Oprah Winfrey, was released earlier this year. Dr. Perry is also the author, with Maia Szalavitz, of The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog, a bestselling book based on his work with maltreated children, and Born For Love: Why Empathy is Essential and Endangered. Additionally, he’s authored more than 300 journal articles and book chapters and has been the recipient of a variety of professional awards.

Dr. Allison Briscoe-Smith is a child clinical psychologist who specializes in trauma and issues of race. She earned her undergraduate degree from Harvard and then received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. She performed postdoctoral work at the University of California San Francisco/San Francisco General Hospital. She has combined her love of teaching and advocacy by serving as a professor and by directing mental health programs for children experiencing trauma, homelessness, or foster care.

Dr. Briscoe-Smith is also a senior fellow of Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center and is both a professor and the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Wright Institute. She provides consultation and training to nonprofits and schools on how to support trauma-informed practices and cultural accountability.

Sharon Salzberg is a world-renowned teacher and New York Times bestselling author. She is widely considered one of the most influential individuals in bringing mindfulness practices to the West, and co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts alongside Jack Kornfield and Joseph Goldstein. Sharon has been a student of Dipa Ma, Anagarika Munindra, and Sayadaw U Pandita alongside other masters.

Sharon has authored 10 books, and is the host of the fantastic Metta Hour podcast. She was a contributing editor of Oprah’s O Magazine, had her work featured in Time and on NPR, and contributed to panels alongside the Dalai Lama.

Rick Hanson, PhD is a psychologist, Senior Fellow of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, and New York Times best-selling author. His books have been published in 29 languages and include NeurodharmaResilient, Hardwiring HappinessBuddha’s BrainJust One Thing, and Mother Nurture – with 900,000 copies in English alone. His free newsletters have 215,000 subscribers and his online programs have scholarships available for those with financial need. He’s lectured at NASA, Google, Oxford, and Harvard, and taught in meditation centers worldwide. An expert on positive neuroplasticity, his work has been featured on the BBC, CBS, NPR, and other major media. He began meditating in 1974 and is the founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom. He and his wife live in northern California and have two adult children. He loves wilderness and taking a break from emails.

FOUR THEMES:

  1. Befriending Yourself
  2. Self-Compassion
  3. Acceptance
  4. Enjoying Life

TOPICS COVERED:

  • How life course is shaped by challenges, vulnerabilities, and resources; why you can usually affect resources the most.
  • Resources are located in the world, the body, and the mind; why mental resources are often the easiest and quickest to develop.
  • Mental resources are inner strengths like gratitude, confidence, calm, self-acceptance, determination, compassion, assertiveness, and happiness.
  • Developing inner strengths – growing the good inside yourself – means using your mind to change your brain for the better.
  • The vital stance of being on your own side, a friend to yourself. Understanding why you matter. Self-compassion.
  • A preview of how to turn passing experiences into lasting inner strengths woven into your brain.
  • Finding more acceptance of things as they are, even if they’re not your preference. Accepting yourself. Telling the truth about how it is for you. Honoring your pain.
  • Opening to the longings in your heart. What do you wish was better in your life? What, if it were more present in your mind, would really help these days? How can you use this program to get more good stuff inside yourself?
  • Preview of the Foundations of Well-Being program.
  • What do you want to get out of this program? Setting intentions for it.

ALSO FEATURED:

  • Tara Brach Interview
  • Compassion for Yourself as a Child Creative Activity
  • The Caring Quilt Creative Activity

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