I love TED Talks and from time to time I wander all around that site watching some of the brief videos on a variety of thought- and conversation-provoking topics.
I went looking for one of my personal faves today, neuroscientist VS Ramachandran, and landed upon his discussion of "The neurons that shaped civilization." Ramachandran is best known for his experiments in behavioral neurology which, despite their apparent simplicity, have generated many new ideas about the workings of the brain.
Before you get worried that I'm going to get all neuro-geeky here, relax ... I'll be introducing Congress into the mix so you know it can't get too esoteric and intellectual. J
In a nutshell, I think Congress as a whole basically lacks something called "mirror neurons", and I think they've proven that this week. (Perhaps they are magically dissolved once our 'elected representatives' step inside the Beltway for more than 72 hours.)
The role of mirror neurons explains a variety of human mental capacities, one of which is empathy. The lack of these mirror neurons is, I believe, why Congress has no empathy whatsoever for the majority of their constituents ... especially those making less than $250,000 per year or lining their personal pockets ... which is STILL the majority of their constituents.
Ramachandran has theorized that mirror neurons may be the key to understanding the neurological basis of human self awareness, again helping to explain why Congress is totally disinterested in the <$250K crowd.
Ramachandran is also credited with the invention of the mirror box and the introduction of Mirror Visual Feedback (MVF) as a treatment for a variety of conditions, one of which is the phantom limb pain condition. How it works: a mirror is placed vertically in front of the patient and the patient looks at the mirror reflection of the normal arm so that the reflection is optically superimposed on the felt location of the phantom (thus creating the visual illusion that the phantom had been resurrected). Moving the intact limb creates the illusion that the phantom limb is moving, and over time this illusion reduces the pain experienced by the patient.
I propose a bit of a twist on the mirror box, however.
Instead of placing them in front of a mirror, you place them in front of an actual constituent, you know, that 'nameless, faceless thing' that voted them into their lofty positions in the first place, making them so much more special than us mere mortals? And rather than dealing with some phantom pain like not being able to buy your third vacation home or that expensive little trinket for your mistress or collect huge fees from speaking engagements, you expose them to the actual pain of real Americans that are out of work, unable to pay bills, buy food, obtain medical treatment, that sort of thing.
My brilliant plan is radical in its simplicity. I think I'm on to something here. We need to implement BEFORE Thanksgiving, when the next artificial deadline presents itself.
Look for me on TED talks, someday.