Thursday, December 31, 2009

"Seeking a Cure for Optimism"

12/31/09. Hope springs eternal in the healthy, but not in many intellectuals who make a living knowing things that aren't true.

This NYT article takes a swipe at Positive Psychology, a movement that Professor Martin E.P. Seligman started in 1998. Positive Psychology has attracted some of the best and brightest psychologists and psychiatrists, among other professionals, and spawned some important, well designed research studies on such topics as character, virtues, and enhancing human experience. This emphasis on looking for what is positive in human experience is a much needed corrective to years of only examining psychopathology.

This article quotes the work of Barbara Ehrenreich, a congenital sourpuss, with a long history of applying her Marxist world view --- and I don't mean Groucho --- to helping the poor and downtrodden, barely disguising her smug attitudes.

Monday, December 28, 2009

"Information - For Better or Worse"

12/28/09. Journalist Robert Samuelson reflects on his 40 year career getting to the "truth."

Monday Quotations


"I went to a restaurant that serves 'breakfast at any time.' So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance."

--- Steven Wright (1955 - )

"The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings."

--- Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

In physics the truth is rarely perfectly clear, and that it certainly universally the case in human affairs. Hence, what is not surrounded by uncertainty cannot be the truth."

--- Richard Feynman (1918 - 1988)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

"What My Daughter Taught Me About Compassion"

12/27/09. Former 60's radical, editor of Ramparts Magazine, friend of the Black Panthers, author of "Radical Son," and now conservative social critic, David Horowitz tells the story of what he learned from his daughter - a passionate liberal --- who recently died.

"Where Did These Guys Come From?"

12/27/09. Victor Davis Hanson, Professor of Ancient History, looks at Obama and his followers. Not all will agree with Hanson, for sure, but his ideas are provocative and make you think.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

"Trial by Fire"

12/25/09. David Grann investigated the death of Cameron Todd Willingham's three children --- they died in a house fire, and Williamgham escaped.

"The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering pain and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky..."

Willingham was executed for killing his children. --- Did Texas execute an innocent man?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

College Students and Suicide

12/24/09. Psychiatrist Sally Satel reviews the policy of too many colleges to expel students who talk about suicide - rather than getting students the help they need.

"The Protocol Society"

12/24/09. NYT's writer David Brooks reviews a new book about the new economy - filled with ideas, knowledge, and the creativity of entrepreneurs.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Monday Quotations


"Music is the best means we have of digesting time."

--- W. H. Auden (1907 - 1973)

"Familiar things happen and mankind does not bother about them. It requires a very unusual mind to undertake analysis of the obvious."

--- Alfred North Whitehead (1861 - 1947)

"It is also true that one can write nothing readable unless one constantly struggles to efface one's own personality. Good prose is like a windowpane."

--- George Orwell (1903 - 1950)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

Monday Quotations


"Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh."

--- W. H. Auden (1907 - 1973)

"The trouble with our times is the future is not what it used to be."

--- Paul Valery (1871 - 1945)

"To teach is to learn."

--- Japanese Proverb

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Paul A. Samuelson, R.I.P.

12/13/09. Economist Paul Samuelson dies at age 94 years. Among his many contributions, he wrote one of the most famous and enduring textbooks.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

"Married (Happily) with Issues"

12/5/09. In the NYT, writer Elizabeth Weil muses about the complexity of marriage.

Couple therapy is the toughest kind of therapy ---- psychologist and couple are in a room with the strong winds of unconscious forces, blame, regrets, jealousies, projections, voices from the past, and much more ---- yet when it works, couple therapy is often the most gratifying.

"By all means marry. If you have a good wife, you'll be happy; if you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher."

--- Socrates (469 B.C. - 399 B.C.)

"Love is strong as death, jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame."

Song of Songs (8:6)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday Quotations


"If there were no God, there would be no atheists."

--- G. K. Chesterton (1874 - 1936)

"The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind."

--- William James (1842 - 1910)

"In the history of the world, no one has ever washed a rented car."

--- Larry Summers (1954 - )

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lessons Learned

11/24/09. This is an interview with Dr. Wilbert "Bill" McKeachie, Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan, about the lessons he has learned over 60 years of teaching, research, and learning.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday Quotations


"The intellect is always fooled by the heart."

--La Rochefoucauld (1747 - 1827)

"Better to sleep with a sober cannibal than
a drunken Christian."

--Herman Meville (1819 - 1891)

"Either he is dead or my watch stopped."

--Julius Henry "Groucho" Marx (1895 - 1977)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday Quotations


"A professor is someone who talks in someone else's sleep."

--- W. H. Auden (1907 - 1973)

"Man's inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn!

--- Robert Burns (1759 - 1796)

"One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool."

--- George Orwell (1903 - 1950)

"Nothing was the Same"

11/16/09. Johns Hopkins psychologist Kay Jamison is a world authority on Manic-Depressive Illness --- and the author of "The Unquiet Mind," a telling of her life with the disease. This is a review of her latest book about the death of her husband, and her struggle to cope and live.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Malcolm Gladwell: "What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures"

11/15/09. Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker reviews Malcolm Gladwell's latest book.

A Schtick with a Thousand Lives

11/15/09. Mel Brooks (83) and Carl Reiner (87) have been cracking each other up for nearly 60 years. On Nov. 24, "The 2000 Year Old Man: The Complete History," will be released. Brooks and Reiner are interviewed for this article. brooks&st=cse&scp=2&pagewanted=print

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Teaching Math

11/14/09. Should only math teachers teach math? Doing math requires thinking clearly. Are we thinking clearly about math education?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

On the Efficacy of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

11/8/09. Psychologist Jonathan Shedler writes an excellent review on the efficacy of psychoanalytic therapy. He describes how principles of psychotherapy derived from the developments of psychoanalytic theory and research over many years benefit patients.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

In Depth: Temple Grandin

11/4/09. This is a 3 hour interview with Temple Grandin, a remarkable autistic woman. She has written ten books, and is a professor of animal science. She has written about growing up with autism, and about her work with animals.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

Brain Scans Link ADHD to Biological Flaw Tied to Motivation

10/26/09. This study is another big piece in the puzzle of understanding the origins of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. This study finds a striking difference in the brain's motivational machinery in people with ADHD symptoms.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Knowledge, Understanding, Medicine and Wisdom

10/5/09. In his article "The Best Medicine," Dr. Jerome Groopman, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, writes - "While knowledge and understanding are necessary for wisdom, they are not sufficient."

Friday, October 2, 2009

Do Psychologists Reject Science?

10/2/09. Some say that psychologists are too quick to reject scientific findings about effective treatments for their patients.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Feeling Your Pain

9/29/09. Book review of "The Age of Empathy" by Frans de Waal, a biologist at Emory University who studies altruistic behavior among primates.

Monday Quotations

9/29/09. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at the United Nations last week:

"Yesterday, the man who calls the holocaust a lie spoke from this podium... "

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Kristol Clear

9/22/09. Irving Kristol died a few days ago at age 89. He was a tireless champion for free markets and open minds, understanding how the remarkable engine of American free enterprise created opportunities for so many people from all over the world to improve their lives.

Below is a lecture Kristol gave in 1991 entitled "The Capitalist Future."

David Brooks writes about Irving Kristol in today's New York Times.

Charles Krauthammer on Irving Kristol.

Joseph Epstein remembers Kristol's genius of temperament.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monday Quotations


"You can't find the soul with the scalpel."

--- Gustave Flaubert (1821 - 1880)

"Heaven defend me from a busy doctor."

--- Welsh proverb

"The diseases of the mind are more destructive than the diseases of the body."

--- Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 B.C. - 43 B.C. )

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday Quotations


"There is no observer outside the experiment."

--- Werner Heisenberg (1901 - 1976)

"The psychopathology of schizophrenia is one of the most intriguing, since it permits a many-sided insight into the workings of the diseased as well as the healthy mind."

--- Eugen Bleuler (1857 - 1939)

"Children sweeten labors, but they make misfortunes more bitter. They increase the cares of life, but they mitigate the remembrance of death."

--- Frances Bacon (1561 - 1626)

Man vs. God

9/14/09. Two prominent thinkers debate God, science, evolution, and religion.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Sorting Fact from Fiction in Health Care

8/31/09. Two physicians express their worries about evidence based medicine, and the potential harm of the government coming in between you and your doctor. The road to hell is paved...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Monday Quotations


("Doctor" Hugo A. Hackenbush, played by Groucho Marx, attempting to take Harpo's pulse:)

"Either he's dead, or my watch has stopped."

A Day at the Races (motion picture) (1937). Screenplay by Robert Pirosh, George Seaton, and George Oppenheimer.

---Jules Henry "Groucho" Marx (1895 - 1977)

"Life without this sort of examination is not worth living."

---Plato (429 B.C. - 347 B.C.)

"It is only with the heart that one can see
rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."

---Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900 - 1944)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Health Care Reform

8/22/09. American businesses compete with each other for the privilege to serve their customers --- at the best price and with the highest quality products. Most customers of health insurance do not directly choose their health care and thus have very little comparative information about the quality, price, and restrictions of their health plans.

We need to open markets and minds.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday Quotations


(Cowardly Lion, played by Bert Lahr, speaking) :

"What makes the elephant charge his tusk
in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What
makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage!"

The Wizard, played by Frank Morgan, speaking) :

"Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain."

"A heart is not judged by how much you love;
but by how much you are loved by others.

--- The Wizard of Oz (1939). Screenplay by Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, and Edgar Allan Woolf.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Monday Quotations


"I believe that a scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy."

"You can know the name of a bird in the all the languages of the world, but when you're finished, you'll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird...So let's look at the bird and see what it's doing -- that's what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something."

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool."

--- Richard P. Feynman (1918 - 1988)

Friday, July 31, 2009

Is There a 'Right' to Health Care?

7/31/09. A retired British psychiatrist who spent his career as a physician treating patients in prisons says beware when health care becomes a right.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Jail Inferno

7/27/09. A descent into the bowels of the modern prison --- chaos, delusions, disorganization, violence...and the discipline required to run such institutions.

Monday Quotations


Capitalism undoubtedly has certain boils and blotches upon it, but has it as many as government? Has it as many as marriage? Has it as many as religion? I doubt it. It is the only basic institution of modern man that shows any genuine health and vigor.

--- H. L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)

A perpetual holiday is a good working definition of hell.

A lifetime of happiness! No man alive could bear it: it would be hell on earth.

--- George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Monday, June 29, 2009

Monday Quotations


He's an animal lover...People he don't like so much.

--- Tom Stoppard (1937 - )

Dancing is a perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire.

--- George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)

Chutzpa is that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court as an orphan.

--- Leo Rosten (1908 - 1997)

Autism - The Non-Hollywood Version

6/29/09. A memoir of his autistic brother.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Capitalist Manifesto

6/18/09. Fareed Zakaria in Newsweek's cover story, describes the system of capitalism --- an economic system - with all its faults - that has created more wealth for more people than any political system in history.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Health Risks and Stimulant Medication for ADHD

6/16/09. Despite 60 years of research, controversies about using stimulant medication to treat ADHD remain a never-ending story. Here are links to recent balanced responses from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and an editorial in the American Journal of Psychiatry to the latest - but not new - controversy about the use of stimulant medication.

The American Journal of Psychiatry

Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday, June 8, 2009

Book Review: "The Evolution of God"

6/8/08. Robert Wright has also written "Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny," and "The Moral Animal: Evolutionary Psychology and Everyday Life."

"Can religions in the modern world reconcile themselves to one another, and can they reconcile themselves to science? I think their history points to affirmative answers."

--- Robert Wright

Saturday, May 30, 2009


5/30/09. Psychologist Jonathan Haidt talks about his research on morality --- looking at morality from a politically liberal and conservative perspective.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


5/21/09. Evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller applies science to tell us why buying more stuff doesn't lead to happiness.

Edwin S. Shneidman dies

5/21/09. Dr. Shneidman was a psychologist who established the study of suicide as an interdisciplinary field and was chief of the first national suicide prevention program at the National Institute of Mental Health.

The Climate-Industrial Complex

5/21/09. Bjorn Lomborg is a former member of Greenpeace. He is the director of the Copenhagen Consensus, a think tank, and author of "Cool it: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What Makes Us Happy?

5/14/09. Some of the best information in psychology is gleaned from longitudinal studies --- and the Harvard study of men graduates who are now in their 80's is among the most informative. This article reviews the pioneering, creative work of the director of this study, psychiatrist George Vaillant.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday Quotations


"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested."
"Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man."

--- Francis Bacon (1561 - 1626)

"The poem must resist the intelligence, / Almost successfully.

--- Wallace Stevens (1879 - 1955)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Science, Spirituality, and Some Mismatched Socks

5/09/09. Quantum physics is turning up evidence that the world is not only strange, but stranger than we can imagine.

Two particles, for example, seem to communicate with each other instantly, even when they're billions of miles apart. These discoveries are used to improve data encryption, and push philosophers to sit up and take notice of signs of unknown forces perhaps akin to the spiritual dimension.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Monday Quotations


"Two things people throughout history have had in common are hatred and humor. I am proud that, like Mark Twain, I have been able to use humor to lessen people's hatred."

--- Richard Pryor (1940 - 2005)

"Humour is by its nature, more truthful than factual."

--- P.J. O'Rourke (1947 - )

"There are some ideas so wrong that only a very intelligent person could believe in them."

--- George Orwell (1903 - 1950)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Genius - The Modern View

5/2/09. When asked how he became such a productive professional, a famous psychologist replied, "80/20 --- I put in 80 hours a week for 20 years."

Monday, April 27, 2009

Between Experience and Reflection

4/27/09. Theodore Dalrymple reviews "The Only Superpower: Reflections on Strength, Weakness, and Anti-Americanism" by Paul Hollander.

Monday Quotations


"Objective evidence and certitude are doubtless very fine ideals to play with, but where on this moonlit and dream-visited planet are they found?"

"The moral flabbiness born of the exclusive worship of the bitch-goddess SUCCESS. That - with the squalid cash interpretation put on the word success - is our national disease."

"First, you know, a new theory is attacked as absurd; then it is admitted to be true, but obvious and insignificant; finally it is seen to be so important that its adversaries claim that they themselves discovered it."

William James (1842 - 1910)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Enlightenment Therapy

4/25/09. After fourth marriage ends, Zen master meets psychoanalyst.

Beth Clark Award

4/25/09. Last night in Lansing, MI at our annual Michigan Psychological Association Spring Conference, I, along with two of my colleagues, received the Beth Clark Service Award.

The late Dr. Beth Clark was a respected leader of MPA and this award was given by her husband, Dr. Charles Clark to an MPA member "who has demonstrated volunteerism, initiative, perseverance, integrity, selflessness and good will" in service to MPA.

I had the privilege of nominating Dr. Beth Clark for the MPA Distinguished Psychologist Award in 2000. Last night, Dr. Josephine Johnson received the MPA Distinguished Psychologist Award.

It feels good to be recognized by your peers.

Just My Confabulations

4/25/09. This article is about Choice-Blindness -- or we often don't know what we want.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Optical Illusions and Visual Phenomena


The Marriage of Reason and Nightmare

4/21/09. Novelist J.G. Ballard exposes the fragility of the affluent society.

To Fight Stigmas, Start With Treatment

4/21/09. Now is the best time in human history to seek treatment for psychiatric disorders. Why? Because treatments work.

Yet, there is still much stigma surrounding the mentally ill.

Psychiatrist Sally Satel says that antistigma campaigns are well-meaning but not enough to change people's attitudes.

What's needed, she says, are psychiatric treatments that work which reinforces encouraging people to seek those treatments --- "nothing destigmatizes likes success."

Monday, April 13, 2009

To Have, to Hold, For a While

4/13/09. Amid divorce, remarriage, and co-habitation, children do not do well. This is a review of Andrew J. Cherlin's book "The Marriage-Go-Round."

Over 35 years of practice, I have witnessed many changes in families.

Above all, divorce is significantly more common, and so to is remarriage. Even though divorce affects many more youngsters now, the psychological effects of divorce are no less painful for children, parents, and other family members.

I have sometimes said to families - in an ironic tone - that I am starting a group for children whose parents have stayed together - to help them cope.


4/13/09. Atul Gawande asks, "Should long-term solitary confinement for prisoners be considered torture?"

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Mind-Changing Books

4/12/09. Economist Thomas Sowell discusses some of the books that deeply influenced him.

Sowell's book "Conflict of Visions" is a mind-changing book, clarifying the assumptions underlying political ideologies.

Sowell observes that experiences changed his mind more than books.

When asked to give a list of books for a psychologist to read, one of my favorite professors, Fritz Redl, advised, "Read people, not only books."

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Science of When to Get Married

4/7/09. Hannah Seligson asks "How do we pick the moment at which we finally decide to settle down?" Do neuroscientists have something to say about this urge to merge? See what you think.

"The End of Philosophy"

4/7/09. David Brooks reviews some recent findings about the evolution of morality. Reason is not the master in the moral house --- emotions appear to come first.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Monday Quotations


"It's deja vu all over again."

"A nickel isn't worth a dime anymore."

"You can observe a lot by watchin'."

--- Yogi Berra (1925 - )

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Benny Golson's Adventure

4/2/09. Jazz critic Nat Henthoff writes about Benny Golson, an 80 year old jazz saxophone player. I talked with a well respected jazz sax player from Detroit the other day. Here is what he said about Benny Golson:

"This guy's the real deal. I play his tunes all the time, as do all serious musicians that I know. Every recording he's made is great."

Jazz has been defined as "the sound of surprise." Benny has spent his life creating effective surprises, traveling on a life-long adventure translating his life experiences and heart-felt soul into jazz.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Monday Quotations


How can the combination of fragments of knowledge existing in different minds bring about results which, if they were to be brought about deliberately, would require a knowledge on the part of the directing mind which no single person can possess? To show that in this sense the spontaneous actions of individuals will, under conditions which we can define, bring about a distribution of resources which can be understood as if it were made according to a single plan, although nobody has planned it, seems to me indeed an answer to the problem which has sometimes been metaphorically described as that of the 'social mind.'

--- F. A. Hayek (1899 - 1992)

I am certain that nothing has done so much to destroy the judicial safeguards of individual freedom as the striving after this mirage of social justice.

--- F. A. Hayek

The progress of science is strewn, like an ancient desert trail, with the bleached skeleton of discarded theories which once seemed to possess eternal life.

--- Arthur Koestler (1905 - 1983)

Nature v Nurture. Not How Much but How.

3/30/09. Nature works through nurture and nurture works through nature.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tails of Manhattan

3/29/09. "Two weeks ago, Abe Moscowitz dropped dead of a heart attack and was reincarnated as a lobster." --- and so Woody Allen's latest story begins.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Monday Quotations


"The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason."

--- G. K. Chesterton (1874 - 1936)

"So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do."

--- Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790)

"They (mirror neurons) allow us to grasp the minds of others not through conceptual reasoning but through direct stimulation; by feeling, not by thinking.

--- Giacomo Rizzolatti (1937 - )

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Rethinking Drinking: Alcohol and Your Health

3/10/09. This is a new government Web site called "Rethinking Drinking" that aims to help people recognize problem drinking patterns earlier and catch themselves before they fall.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Two Crooks for the Road

3/9/09. Book review of the untold story of Bonnie and Clyde.

Monday Quotations

The struggle of man against power is the
struggle of memory against forgetting.

--- Milan Kundera (1929 - )

There are one hundred and ninety-three living
species of monkeys and apes. One hundred
and ninety-two of them are covered with hair.
The exception is a naked ape self-named Homo

--- Desmond Morris (1928 - )

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

--- Alexander Pope (1688 - 1744)

Past Their Prime (Rate)

3/9/09. Sovietologists did not predict the fall of the Soviet Union, and economists were asleep at the wheel when the economy crashed. So much for experts.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Favorite Five Composers

3/5/09. Denis Dutton, professor of philosophy at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, and editor of the popular Web site Arts and Letters Daily, discusses his five favorite composers.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

From Attitude to Gratitude

3/4/09. Wall Street Journal writer Jeff Zaslow discusses why the attitude of gratitude --- not complaining, fits the tough times we live in.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Monday Quotations


You can persuade a man to believe almost anything
provided he is clever enough, but it is much more
difficult to persuade someone less clever.

--- Tom Stoppard (1937 - )

Festina lente.
Make haste slowly.

--- Latin proverb

Children sweeten labors, but they make misfortunes
more bitter. They increase the cares of life, but they
mitigate the remembrance of death.

--- Francis Bacon (1909 - 1992)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Aging Well

2/26/09. Psychiatrist George Vaillant, director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, offers advice for aging well:
  • A good marriage before age 50
  • Ingenuity to cope with difficult situations
  • Altruistic behavior
  • Stop smoking
  • Do not use alcohol to the point where your behavior shames you or your family
  • Stay physically active. Walk, run, mow your own grass, play tennis or golf
  • Keep your weight down
  • Pursue education as far as your native intelligence permits
  • After retirement, stay creative, do new things, learn how to play again

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Worries about Obama

2/24/09. David Brooks writes a succinct op-ed article in the NYT expressing his worries about Obama, a man he no doubt admires.

Brooks writes, "The people in the (Obama) administration are surrounded by a galaxy of unknowns, and yet they see this economic crises as an opportunity to expand their reach, to take bigger risks and, as Obama said on Saturday, to tackle every major problem at once."

Intellectuals often overestimate the power of intelligence to positively influence the complexities of society. Over the years, a diverse group of intellectuals --- such as Friedrich Hayek, Edward Banfield, Reinhold Neibuhr, George Orwell, Michael Oakeshott, and Milton Friedman --- have warned about the limits of top down rationalistic planning to reorganize society.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Monday Quotations


Humour is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility.

--- James Thurber (1894 - 1961)

A difference of taste in jokes is a great strain on the affections.

--- George Eliot (1819 - 1880)

Everything is funny as long as it is happening to
Somebody Else.

--- Will Rogers (1879 - 1935)

The Evolution of Art

2/23/09. Some say art appreciation is in the genes.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Will President Obama's Plan Help or Hurt?

2/22/09. A very smart economist says if you know whether Obama's plan will help or hurt --- then you don't know.

A Reconcilation on Gay Marriage

2/22/09. Disagreements on moral issues ususally bring more heat than light rather than finding common ground.

David Blankenhorn and Jonathan Rauch offer a thoughtful compromise regarding gay marriage. Their compromise reminds me of a comment a smart Southern writer suggested many years ago during the heat of the school busing and school prayer controversies --- he suggested, "Let's allow school prayer on buses."

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Ann Coulter

2/21/09. I just watched a video of Joy Behar of "The View" interviewing Ann Coulter.

Coulter reminds me of a female right wing Lenny Bruce.

She is an expert at throwing well-timed cherry bombs to shake up our sleepy assumptions. No matter what your ideological bent, it is hard to watch Ann Coulter without jacking up your blood pressure, laughing, or shaking your head.

The Art of the Con

2/21/09. Michael Shermer, editor of Skeptics Magazine, reports on why we are easy prey for con artists such as Bernie Madoff.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Monday Quotations


God is, or He is not. But to which side shall we
incline? Reason can decide nothing here.
There is infinite chaos which separates
us. A game is being played at the extremity
of this infinite distance, where heads or tails
will turn up: what will you wager?

--- Blase Pascal (1623 - 1662)

If only God would give me some clear sign! Like making a large deposit in my name at a Swiss bank.

--- Woody Allen (1935 - )

It could probably be shown by facts and figures
that there is no distinctly native American
criminal class except Congress.

--- Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

The Evolutionary Gospel

2/16/09. The Evolutionary Gospel according to Richard Dawkins, fundamentalist atheist.

Promises, Promises

2/15/09. Chicago writer Joseph Epstein says Obama's soaring expectations collide with harsh political realities.

Friday, February 13, 2009

U.S. Court Rejects Vaccine Connection to Autism

2/13/09. This is a sad story. Many parents with an autistic child have grabbed onto the belief that vaccinations cause autism. With this belief, parents have not only ignored scientific research that has never supported the autism - vaccination link, but too many parents have put their children who are not vaccinated at risk for serious illness and death.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Monday, February 9, 2009

Darwin, Ahead of His Time, is Still Influential

2/09/09. Nicholas Wade of the NYT adds another fine article on evolution for Darwin's 200th birthday.

Monday Quotations


Owing to the struggle for life, any variation, however slight and from whatever cause proceeding, if it be in any degree profitable to an individual of any species, in its infinitely complex relationships to other organic beings and to external nature, will tend to the preservation of that individual, and will generally be inherited by its offspring. The offspring, also, will thus have a better chance of surviving.

I have called this principle, by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved, by the term Natural Selection, in order to make its relation to man's power of selection.

I cannot look at the universe as the result of blind chance, yet I can see no evidence of beneficent design or indeed of design of any kind, in the details.

---Chares Darwin (1809 - 1882)

We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born.

Richard Dawkins (1941 - )

The first effect of not believing in God is to believe in anything.

G. K. Chesterton (1874 - 1936)

The Pesistence of Idealogy

2/9/09. Grand ideas still drive history.

Unfinished Business

2/9/09. Charles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809. His ideas continues to deepen our understanding of life.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Positive Psychology: Selected Readings


Csikszentmihalyi, M. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York: HaperCollins, 1990.

Diener, E., and Biswas-Diener, R. Happiness. Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2008.

Fredrickson, B. L. Positivity. New York: Crown Publishers, 2009.

Lyubomirsky, S. The How of Happiness. New York: Penguin Press, 2008.

Nolen-Hoeksema, S. Women Who Think Too Much: How to Break Free of Overthinking and Reclaim Your Life. New York: Henry Holt Co., 2003.

Peterson, C. A Primer of Positive Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Seligman, M.E.P. Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment. New York: Free Press, 2002.

Vaillant, G.E. Aging Well, Boston, MA: Little, Brown & Company, 2002.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder / Learning Disabilities: Selected Readings


Barkley, Russell. Taking Charge of ADHD. The Complete, Authoritative Guide for Parents. New York: The Guilford Press, 1995.

Brown, Thomas E. (Editor). Attention-Deficit Disorders and Comorbidities in Children, Adolescents, and Adults. Washington DC: American Psychiatric Press, Inc., 2000.

Faraone, Stephen V. Straight Talk about Your Child’s Mental Health. New York: The Guilford Press, 2003.

Hallowell, Edward M., and Ratey, John J. Delivered from Distraction. Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder. New York: Random House, 2005.

Kelly, Kate, and Ramundo, Peggy. You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?! Cincinnati:
Tyrell & Jerem Press, 1993.

Silver, Larry B. The Misunderstood Child. A Guide for Parents of Children With Learning Disabilities. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006.

Weiss, Garbrielle, and Hechtman, Lily Trokenberg. Hyperactive Children Grown Up. New York: The Guilford Press, 1993 (Second Edition).

Weiss, Margaret; Hechtman, Lily Trokenberg; and Weiss, Gabrielle. ADHD in Adulthood. A Guide to Current Theory, Diagnosis, and Treatment. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins
University Press, 1999.

Wender, Paul H. ADHD. Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Children and
Adults. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Wilens, Timothy E. Straight Talk about Psychiatric Medications for Kids. New York: The Guilford Press, 1999.

Practice Guidelines for diagnosis and treatment of ADHD:

Mood Disorders: Selected Readings


Alexander, Roger E. Stress-related suicide by dentists and other health care workers. Fact or folklore? Journal of the American Dental Association. Vol. 132, June 2001.

Clark, David B. Dental Care for the Patient with Bipolar Disorder. Journal of the Canadian Dental Association. Vol. 69, No. 1, January 2003.

Freud, Sigmund. Mourning and Melancholia. In The Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, 14: 243 – 258. London: Hogarth Press, 1957.

Friedlander, Arthur H., Mahler, Michael E. Major depressive disorder. Psychopathology, medical management and dental implications. Journal of the American Dental Association. Vol. 132, May 2001.

Goodwin, Frederick K., and Jamison, Kay Redfield. Manic Depressive Illness. Bipolar Disorders and Recurrent Depression. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Horwitz, Allan V., and Wakefield, Jerome C. The Loss of Sadness. How Psychiatry Transformed Normal Sorrow Into Depressive Disorder. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Jamison, Kay Redfield, An Unquiet Mind. New York: Knopf, 1995.

Jamison, Kay Redfield. Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide. New York: Vintage Books, 2000.

Koplewicz, Harold S. More Than Moody. Recognizing and Treating Adolescent Depression. New York: The Berkley Publishing Group, 2003.
McHugh, Paul R., Slavney, P. The Perspectives of Psychiatry. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998. Second Edition.

Mondimore, F.M. Bipolar Disorder: A Guide for Patients and Families. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

Klein, Donald F., and Wender, Paul H. Understanding Depression. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Seligman, Martin E.P. Authentic Happiness. New York: The Free Press, 2002.

Simpson, Janice C. Job Hazard. Dentists Grow Richer But Feel the Pressure; Suicide Rate is High. Some Good – Dentist Traits May Foster Depression: Schools and Societies Act. Isolation and Malpractice Suits. Wall Street Journal. December 17, 1976. And, Letter to the Editor of the Wall Street Journal. Dentists and Depression, Samuel Colish, January 1, 1977.

Storr, Anthony. The Art of Psychotherapy. New York: Routledge, Chapman and Hall Inc. 1990. Second Edition.

Styron, W. Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness. New York: Vintage Books, 1992.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Five Best Books on Charles Darwin

2/7/09. These books about Charles Darwin are a very select group, says James A. Secord, the editor of Darwin's "Evolutionary Writings" and the director of the Darwin Correspondence Project and professor of history and philosophy of science at Cambridge University.

Friday, February 6, 2009

How a City Lost Its Soul

2/6/09. This is a book review about my city --- Detroit. I have vivid memories of when Detroit, a flourishing and vibrant town of jazz and sports and more, began to lose its soul during the riots of 1967. I remember going down the morning after the riots to my father's store on Livernois in Detroit because his store, like so many others, was robbed.

In her review of Luke Bergmann's book about Detroit called "Getting Ghost," Julia Vitullo-Martin notes just how far Detroit has fallen since the riots.

"Getting Ghost" refers to disappearing from the neighborhood, coming in and out of the drug trafficking trade, or simply dying. Bergmann tells us about Detroit through the eyes of two drug dealers. This is a sad tale about a city that has not yet found its soul.

Friday, January 30, 2009

We Were Relentless

1/30/09. Jordan Levin is a remarkable, resilient young man. He never met a disability that he could not overcome. Dr. Martin Levin just published a book documenting raising his son Jordan to combat challenges that almost all the experts said could not be accomplished. The experts were wrong.

Jordan is an excellent motivational speaker.

Check out his Web site:

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The DNA of Politics

1/29/09. Professor James Q. Wilson discusses how genes shape our values, our beliefs, and even our votes.

Follow the Evidence

1/29/09. Philip Kitcher, professor of philosophy at Columbia University, reviews a new book about Charles Darwin --- whose 200th birthday on February 12 will be marked by world wide celebrations.

The new book is by Jerry Coyne, a leading evolutionary geneticist - "Why Evolution is True."

Monday, January 26, 2009

Monday Quotations


He who would teach men to die would teach them to live.

--- Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533 - 1592)

To be conservative, then, is to prefer the familiar
to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the
untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible,
the limited to the unbounded, the near
to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant,
the convenient to the perfect, present
laughter to utopian bliss.

--- Michael Oakeshott (1901 - 1990)

For what links us are elemental experiences -
emotions - forces that have no intrinsic language
and must be imagined as art if they are
to be contemplated at all.

--- Joyce Carol Oates (1938 - )

Monday, January 19, 2009

Monday Quotations


Tragedy is if I get a paper cut...Comedy is if you fall in an open sewer and die.

--- Mel Brooks (1926 - )

He never made the ten-most-wanted list. It's very unfair voting. It's who you know.

--- Woody Allen (1935 - )

Room service? Send up a larger room.

--- Groucho Marx (1895 - 1977)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Dopamine Made Me Do It

1/16/09. So why did so many people fall for the Ponzi scheme of Bernard Madoff? Some say that brain chemicals are the culprit. Sally Satel, M.D. argues against such a reductionist view.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

'Uncle Bernie' and the Jews

1/16/09. Joseph Epstein, my favorite essay writer, waxes eloquently on how the Madoff scandal plays to an ugly stereotype. But maybe there's a silver lining for his cultural cohort.

New Thinking on How to Protect Your Heart

1/15/09. New York Times science writer Jane Brody outlines how new research plays an important role in keeping hearts healthy.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Art Instinct

1/13/09. This is a book review of Denis Dutton's "The Art Instinct." To read Dutton is to enter the world of a creative, courageous, and insightful explorer of the human mind. Dutton - the founder of one of the best Web sites - "Arts and Letters Daily" - takes an evolutionary perspective in his analysis of the art instinct.

Interview with Denis Dutton:

Monday, January 12, 2009

My Genome, My Self

1/12/09. Steven Pinker, Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, tells us what he has learned about his DNA. Professor Pinker discusses the field of behavioral genetics, and what we know about what personality predispositions, intellectual abilities, and diseases are lodged in our "hard drive," and what are acquired in our "software."

Know thyself takes on a whole new meaning.



I firmly disbelieve, myself, that our human experience is the highest form of experience extant in the universe. I believe rather that we stand in much the same relation to the whole of the universe as our canine and feline pets do to the whole of human life. They inhabit our drawing-rooms and libraries. They take part in scenes of whose significance they have no inkling. They are merely tangent to curves of history the beginnings and ends and forms of which pass wholly beyond their ken. So we are tangent to the wider life of things.

William James (1842 - 1910)

It is difficult to predict, especially the future.

Niels Bohr (1885 – 1962)

I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals Himself
In the orderly harmony of what exists, not in
a God who concerns himself with fates and
actions of human beings.

Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Deepak Chopra et al.: 'Alternative' Medicine is Mainstream

1/9/00. Deepak Chopra, Dean Ornish, Rustum Roy, and Andrew Weil tells us that "The evidence is mounting that diet and lifestyle are the best cures for our worst afflictions." Is this a case of the barbers telling us we need a haircut or are these docs on to something?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Why We Are Still Happy

1/6/09. Psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky reflects on why we are still happy. As the author of "The How of Happiness," she should know.

REVOLUTION IN MIND. The Creation of Psychoanalysis.

1/6/09. This is a review of George Makari's book "Revolution in Mind." Makari is the director of Cornell University's Institute for the History of Psychiatry.

Makari takes us on a stroll down all the thorny branches of Freud's family tree. Makari introduces us to many neglected figures of Freud's era such as Theodule Ribot, who added to the powerful stream of Freud's ideas. Makarai states that psychoanalysis created "the richest systematic description of inner experience that the Western world had produced." It addressed, "sex, love and death; parenting and family; cruelty, fear, jealousy, envy and hate; identity, conscience and character; desire and mourning" --- all the themes of Woody Allen's movies.

Monday, January 5, 2009

"Spiritual Evolution. A Scientific Defense of Faith"

1/5/09. Harvard psychiatrist George Vaillant recently published a book defending man's inherent spirituality (with the above captioned title). With a surge of recent books declaring that religion is a danger, it is refreshing to read a pioneer in the study of adult development drawing on research from psychology and neuroscience to restore our belief in faith as an essential human striving.

The link below is to an article Vaillant wrote in 2006 that highlights some of the themes developed in this new book.

Friday, January 2, 2009