Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Stephen's report showed us Forrest Gump in a whole new light: he's a Taoist, like Pooh.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
what can the believer in karma or The Law of Attraction possibly say about an event such as the Holocaust? Again, the believer in karma is forced to say that each and every individual got what he or she deserved and that karmic justice was served. “Whatever one deserves … he deserves by virtue of his actions and he gets all that he deserves and only that which he deserves. Nothing which accrues to a doer on account of his actions is ever lost and nothing accrues to him on account of anything other than his actions.” What about those who hold the belief that, through your feeling-state, you attract either positive or negative events? Here is a little visualization for the believer in the Law of Attraction: Imagine looking each of those six million Jews in the eye and telling every one of them that due to the negative feeling-states they were each projecting, they were all, in effect, asking for it. They got what was coming to them because, “What you think and what you feel and what actually manifests is always a match — no exception.
Like Byrne, I'm all for creating a better reality for myself and others. But like Arendt, I'm pretty sure we're going to have to do it together. The Secret, like its cinematic precursor What the Bleep Do We Know? ("debunked"), mixes physics and New Age ideas in an unsatisfying cocktail of confusion not much more stable than those serotonin concoctions Brandon told us about.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
I'm ambivalent about this: there should not be a category of speech called "blasphemy" that gets free speakers prosecuted, persecuted, or dead.
But neither should theists and atheists go out of their way just to spite those who think differently than they do.
That said, I expect I'll continue to defend blasphemy by commission, omission, and grandstand applause. Just don't take it personally, anybody. I still respect your right to differ, and expect you to say that you do. Doesn't mean we have to be mean-spirited or violent about it.
Speaking of blasphemers: here's the charming side of Richard Dawkins, who really is passionate about his science. Good for him, and us. Talk on!
(P.S.-- And what a "cool" coincidence, as Alex would say, that his name came up independently in two different report presentations today. I think he's wrong to insist on an either/or between science and religion, but I also think a lot of his vaunted, reviled "arrogance" boils down to a compelling passion for "popular understanding"... and an impatience with those who won't acknowledge the birth of evolutionary "cool.")
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
So why isn't this the news story of the decade? The universe evidently teems with geology, and-- who knows-- maybe somebody smarter and nicer than us. Either way, what an exceptional find... bringing the known total of planets outside our solar system to over 400. Much more interesting than balloon boys and market slides.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Q: Do you believe in the Lord?
A: Even though I don't personally believe in the Lord, I try to behave as though He was watching.
Monday, October 12, 2009
If you're gonna be against happiness, must you then be for depression? Hope not.
Psychiatrist and author Peter D. Kramer is a forceful proponent of judiciously-deployed psycho-pharmacological intervention to minimize mental suffering. He first made his case in Listening to Prozac. And in Against Depression he called out those who defend pathological unhappiness as a boon to civilization, thinking of all those works of creative genius by all those sad, anguished, tortured, self-abusing artists, writers, musicians et al through the ages who, it's been speculated, might not have been so creative if they'd been blissfully medicated instead.
Kramer's clear: clinically-diagnosed depression is an illness no less than tuberculosis or AIDS. Who would ever defend not treating that, just so the rest of us could reap the artistic effluvium (and to hell with the artist herself)?
Much depends on where we draw the ever-shifting line between "normal" sadness and mental illness.
I do like Kramer's rationale for Obama's Nobel.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Much that I treasure, including an Earth stove, a couple of comfy old recliners, a large old restored roll-top desk that's followed me everywhere forever, and books and files and photos and personal affects of all kinds, and wireless Internet access-- is here. If such spaces really reflect (as Sam Martin says) "who we are," then I probably ought to take better care of it.
Mustn't be too quick to discount the value of tension-free homeostasis, in a home away from home.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
For instance, there was Johnny Damon's statement in 2004 explaining why he and his Red Sox teammates called themselves idiots: "We try to eliminate the thinking, and we've tried to let our natural abilities take over. We don't think. If we use our brains, we're only hurting the team."
Johnny's helping the Yankees now.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Well, this is great news, with midterm essays about to start pouring in: nonsense and absurdity make you smarter, "disorientation begets creative thinking."
And for those of you who are anxious about midterm essays and presentations, you can take solace from Jerome Kagan's research. Some, anyway. Don Williams said it (and Bob McDill wrote it) best: guess we're all gonna be what we're gonna be. Don't panic.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Also in the news this Sunday: