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