Sunday, May 15, 2016

Interview with Pulitzer Prize Playwright David Mamet: On being a liberal and becoming a conservative

5/15/16. Mr. Mamet started to read Fredrick Hayek, Thomas Sowell, Shelby Steele, and learned.

Putting Grit in Its Place

5/15/16. NYT op-ed writer David Brooks on Professor Angela Duckworth's new book:  "Grit."

Neuro Expert Testifies for Tsarnaev

5/15/16. Dr. Sally Satel and Professor Scott O. Lilienfeld write about the adolescent brain, the law, and the Boston bombing. What we don't know and what we think we know that ain't true --- can hurt us.

part I

See Drs. Satel and Lilienfeld book:  "Brainwashed:  The Seductive Use of Neuroscience."

Why Do Millennials Embrace Socialism?

Why Are Our Business Leaders So Dour?

Historical Opinions on Hiroshima, President Obama, and the Atomic Bomb

Was Christopher Hitchen's Shaky in his Atheism?

Aphorism: The Long History of a Short Form

5/15/16.    "... La Rochefoucauld worked on his collection for years, revising it until each aphorism perfectly balanced deliberateness with casualness, self-evidence with counterintuitiveness, and impact with concision. The mark of a great mind, he wrote, was to “say many things with few words” (adding, “little minds use many words to say nothing”). With the Maxims the aphorism begins its move from philosophy to literature, where the beauty of expression is the only consolation for the ugliness of what is expressed..."

Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook Confronts the Death of Her Husband

5/15/16.  Ms. Sandberg gives the commencement speech at UC Berkley.

Transgenderism: A Pathogenic Meme

5/15/16. Psychiatrist Paul McHugh reports that transgender people suffer from gender dysphoria.

Dr. McHugh was chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical School starting in the 1970's when he witnessed follow-up studies on transgender patients who had sex change surgery.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Favorite Yiddish Saying Regarding Conduct


Don't be too sweet, lest you be eaten up; don't be too bitter, lest you be spewed out.

Book Review of Joseph Epstein's "Frozen in Time: Twenty Stories"

4/26/16.  My book review of a wonderful book of stories.     
      Joseph Epstein is a short story writer, an essayist, and from 1974 to 1998, the editor of the Phi Beta Kappa Society’s The American Scholar Magazine. He was a lecturer in the English department at Northwestern University, from 1974 to 2002. When he told his mother about his teaching job, she said, “It’s nice you got a job in the neighborhood.” He has contributed to many magazines, and newspapers. And in his words, he thinks outside of the lox.

          He is the author of more than 29 books on such topics as Snobbery, Envy, Friendship, Gossip, Fred Astaire, and Alex de Tocqueville.

           In his review of “Snobbery: The American Version,” no less than William F. Buckley Jr. writes, “Epstein…is perhaps the wittiest writer (working in his genre) alive, the funniest since Randall Jarrell,” … who I never heard of.

          Epstein’s latest collection of twenty stories in “Frozen in Time,” describes in witty, wise, and with effective surprise – one definition of creativity – the lives of people caught in predicaments. It was Henry James who observed that “Life is a predicament which precedes death.”

          His stories focus on sex, love, betrayal, aging, death, marriage, family loyalty, con-artists, gender identity, desire, mourning, and more.

          Epstein knows that there are as many different minds as bodies on this planet. He takes this knowledge and weaves unique stories about people we feel we have met, know and know about. These characters seem to have digested some of the wisdom of Francois de La Rochefoucauld, for example:  “Self-love is the greatest of all flatterers;”  “We all have strength enough to endure the misfortunes of others;” “Everyone complains about his memory, and no one complains about his judgment.”


          Epstein writes about practical people, with perspective, passion, and humor.


          The titles of his entertaining stories are like flashy lures getting us to bite on the first page, and not stop: “The Viagra Triangle;” “JDate;” “Adultery”; and “My Five Husbands.”


          I give this book six stars out of five.   

Steven J. Ceresnie, Ph.D.

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Evolutionary Origins of Laughter

4/15/16. We laughed without words ---- for most of our time on the planet.

7 Habits of Highly Effective Relationships

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Relationships


Everybody knows Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
But only a select few of us know the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Relationships.

These 7 Habits of Highly Effective Relationships help us gain insights into how to lead an effective personal life with your partner:

 Habit 1:  Be Proactive

This is the foundation for the rest of the 6 habits. A proactive person chooses his behaviors overriding schools of determinism, and making free choices. Rather than wear your first choice of clothing for an elegant evening, wear your third choice. That way, you avoid suggestions and criticisms from you partner for stylish outerwear.

 Habit 2:  Begin with the End in Mind

This habit creates a clear vision of direction of where to focus on in the destination of attaining your goals. Choose clothing that gives you a slim, tasteful look.

 Habit 3:  Put First Things First

By staying disciplined and maximizing self-control, apologize to your partner for things you did not do.

 Habit 4:  Think Win-Win

Assert your leadership and initiate actions that take your partner’s perspective. Do all of the things your partner does not tell you to do.

 Habit 5:  Seek first to understand, then be understood.
This principal of interpersonal relationships requires honest communication. Before turning out the lights to go to bed every night, turn to you partner and say, “I’m sorry.”

 Habit 6:  Synergize.

This is the habit of creative cooperation. Refrain from asking your partner “Do you have to do that now?”

 Habit 7:  Sharpen your saw
This last habit ensures our engagement in personal renewal. When your partner says she or he wants to have sex in the back seat of your car, make sure you are not driving.

Andrew Klavan: The Left is Not Blameless in the Nasty Political Talk

4/15/16. The left dishes out its share of nasty lies.  Some intelligent people are like high powered rifles with a bad, nasty aim.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Jews on the Loose: Joseph Epstein reviews new book on Groucho

4/1/16. Groucho in his hotel room on the phone to the front desk:  "Could you send me up a bigger room?"

Groucho:  "I don't know whether he's dead or my watched stopped."

More quotes from Groucho and his brothers:

Friday, March 11, 2016

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Sally Satel, M.D. Precision Psychiatry: Hype or Promise?

3/5/16.  The Brain:  A Million-Billion Connections.

Dr. Satel:

"...The brain is the most intricate system in the known universe. Frustrating proof of this complexity is the fact that the biological basis of mental disorders has eluded us for centuries and largely continues to do so. The current state of neuroscientific knowledge is simply not mature enough to devise therapies based upon brain mechanisms. Nonetheless, there is little question that researchers are on a great odyssey of discovery about how the brain works..."

Monday, February 15, 2016

Remembering Scalia

2/15/16. A man who could separate friendship and ideology, and knew how to laugh at himself.

Monday, February 8, 2016

My Letter Printed In the Wall Street Journal

Progress in Treating Autism but No Magic Bullet So Far - WSJ

Page 1 of 1


This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers visit


Progress in Treating Autism but No
Magic Bullet So Far

Crank, expensive autism treatments masquerading as science
promising quick cures, lurk at the doors of progress, waiting

Jan. 29, 2016 11 :05 a.m. ET

Regarding Dr. Richard McNally's fine review of John Donvan and Caren Zucker's
extraordinary book "In a Different Key" (Books, Jan.
23): The first time I evaluated an
autistic child, in the 1970s, I met two warm, loving, guilt-ridden parents telling me
through their tears about their unresponsive, odd five-year-old child who didn't talk and
was obsessed with playing with door knobs and hinges. When this child entered my
office, he walked past me as if I wasn't there, and went straight to curtains and began
sucking on the cloth.

Scientists discovered the importance of genetics in autism and devised behavioral
methods to help some autistic children reach closer to their potential and live lives of
meaning. Because we know so little about the complex etiology of autism, crank,
expensive treatments masquerading as science promising quick cures lurk at the doors of
progress, waiting to lure parents down the road of dangerous psychiatric misadventures.

Steven J. Ceresnie, Ph.D.

Plymouth, Mich.

Copyright 2014 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. Distribution and use of this material are governed by our Subscriber Agreement and by copyright
law. For non-personal use or to order multiple copies, please contact Dow Jones Reprints at 1-800-843-0008 or visit

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Flint Water Crisis - in the Wall Street Journal

Through Hell and Flint Water ,-L_!·-t-t



The real scandal is

government failure-
local, state and federal.



ichigan Governor Rick Snyder apolo-
gized Tuesday for the contaminated
water crisis in Flint, and rightly so.
Hillary Clinton and most of the
media are peddling this as a
parable of Republican neglect
of a poor black city. But the
real Flint story is a cascade of
government failure, including
the Environmental Protection

An auto factory town some 65 miles from De-
troit, Flint has been under emergency manage-
ment since 2011 after decades of misrule: More
than 40 of residents live in poverty; the popu-
lation has fallen by half since the 1960s to about
100,000. Bloated pensions and retiree health
care gobble up about 33 cents of every dollar in
the general fund.

This grim financial reality explains why in
2013 the city sought to save millions by switch-
ing water sources, dropping expensive, treated
aqua routed through Detroit. Flint's then-emer-
gency manager Ed Kurtz agreed to join a new au-
thority that would pipe water from Lake Huron.
The next day Detroit said it would kick Flint off
its water contract in a year, well before the new
pipeline was finished. In the interim the city de-
cided to slurp up the Flint River, not known for
cerulean clarity. For months residents com-
plained about murky water, but local officials of-
fered assurances.

The folks running Flint and the Michigan De-
partment of Environmental Quality'(MDEQ) ap-
parently had no idea how to pump water through
Flint's rickety pipes-and thus corroded metal
leached into the water supply. A federal Lead and
Copper Rule stipulates that sprawling public wa-
ter systems must control corrosion. Flint and
MDEQ weren't handling this properly, if at all,
as emails obtained through the Freedom of In-
formation Act by Virginia Tech researcher Marc
Edwards reveal. Mr. Edwards told MDEQ in Au-
gust of last year that he intended to study Flint's
water and he turned up lead leaching in Septem-
ber. MDEQ initially dismissed his findings.

If there were ever a moment for federal ac-
tion, this would seem to be it. MDEQ and the EPA
were chatting about Flint's system as early as
February. MDEQ said it wanted to test the water
more before deciding on corrosion controls,
though it isn't clear that federal law allows this.


In a May email to the EPA, a MDEQ staffer said
that requiring a corrosion study "will be oflittle
to no value" because, hey, we're heading to Lake
Huron any day now. EPA did
not intervene.

EPA Region 5 water expert
Miguel Del Toral worked up an
internal memo in June flagging
the lack of corrosion control as
"a major concern" for public
health. He further noted that Flint's testing might
be producing misleading results, as the city told
residents to flush toilets before collecting a sam-
ple, which can wash away lead. If contaminated
water had flowed somewhere inhabited by a man-
atee, the feds would have sped to Michigan.

But here's how the region's top EPA official,
political appointee Susan Hedman, responded
in a July 1 email to Flint's Mayor Dayne Walling,
after Mr. Del Toral's memo was leaked: "When
the report has been revised and fully vetted by
EPA management, the findings and recommen-
dations will be shared with the City and MDEQ
and MDEQ will be responsible for following up
with the City." She also noted over email that it's
"a preliminary draft" and it'd be "premature to
draw any conclusions." The EPA did not notify
the public. This report rotted and wasn't re-
leased for months while tawny, infected water
ran from faucets across Flint.

None of this exonerates Governor Snyder, but
at least he sacked people at MDEQ in December,
including the director. Ms. Hedman still works
at the EPA, which now says that "necessaryac-
tions were riot taken as quickly as they should
have been," and no kidding. On Wednesday af-
ternoon Mr. Snyder released his emails pertain-
ing to the crisis, a good move for ensuring that
all involved are held accountable.

Flint switched back to Detroit's water in Octo-
her, but the pipes had already been damaged.
The water in Flint still isn't safe to drink, and
President Obama has declared a state of emer-
gency. Mr. Snyder asked the legislature for $28
million to send to Flint, though there's no quick
fix for an infrastructure problem.

The broader lesson is that ladling on layers
of bureaucracy doesn't result in better oversight
and safety. It sometimes lets agencies shirk re-
sponsibility for the basic public services like
clean water that government is responsible for

Saturday, January 16, 2016

On the Evolution of David Brooks

1/16/16. A mind in search of meaning.

How Groucho Marx Invented Modern Comedy

1/16/16. Lee Siegel in the WSJ.

On the Marx brothers:

"...These are not people who merely act on their impulses. These are people who lack a filter between their conscious and unconscious, and who refuse to stop being themselves no matter what social boundaries and prohibitions surround them..."

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Therapy Wars: The Revenge of Freud

1/9/16. Science? Religion? Beliefs?

Because of intermittent, random reinforcement for our beliefs (i.e. Skinner's schedules of reinforcement), it is difficult for many professionals to abandon a theory of psychological treatment.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Why Bullshit is No Laughing Matter

When Black Lives Mattered --- to Other Blacks

1/7/16. Jason Riley - staff writer for the Wall Street Journal.

James Q. Wilson on Morality

1/7/16. A brilliant politically scientist --- his wisdom is missed.

From "What Is Moral, and
How Do We Know It?"
by polit-
ical scientist James
Q. Wilson
(]931-2012) in Commentary
magazine, June 1993:

Almost every important
tendency in modern thought
has questioned the possibility
of making moral judgments.
Analytical philosophy asserts
that moral statements are
expressions of emotion lacking
any rational or scientific basis.
Marxism derides morality and
religion as "phantoms formed
in the human brain," "ideologi-

cal reflexes" that are, at best, view of human nature, one
mere sublimates of material that assumes that people are
circumstances. Nietzsche writes naturally endowed with cer-
dismissively that morality is tain moral sentiments. We
but the herd instinct of the in- have a peculiar, fragile, but
dividual. Existentialists argue persistent disposition to make
that man must choose his moral judgments, and we gen-
values without having any erally regard people who lack
sure compass by which to this disposition to be less than
guide those choices. Cultural human. Despite our wars,
anthropology as practiced by crimes, envies, snobberies,
many of its most renowned fanaticisms, and persecutions,
scholars claims that amid the there is to be found a desire not
exotic diversity of human life only for praise but for praise-
there can be found no univer- worthiness, for fair dealings as
sallaws of right conduct .. " well as for good deals, for

I wish to argue for an older honor as well as for advantage.

These desires become evident
when we think disinterestedly
about ourselves or others ....

Mankind's moral sense is
not a strong beacon light, radi-
ating outward to illuminate in
sharp outline all that it
touches. It is, rather, a small
candle flame, casting vague
and multiple shadows, flicker-
ing and sputtering in the
strong winds of power and
passion, greed and ideology.
But brought close to the heart
and cupped in one's hands, it
dispels the darkness and
warms the soul.