Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday Quotations


"Capitalism without bankruptcy is like Christmas without hell."
--- Frank Borman (1928 - )

"Angles can fly because they can take themselves lightly."
--- G. K. Chesterton (1874 - 1936)

"The best ideas come from jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible."
--- David Ogilvy (1785 - 1849)

"Life is short, the art long."
--- Hippocrates (460 B.C. - 357 B.C.)

"In my youth ...there were certain words you couldn't say in front of a girl; now you can say them, but you can't say 'girl.'"
--- Tom Lehrer (1928 - )

"Age is a high price to pay for maturity."
--- Tom Stoppard (1937 - )

Monday, October 18, 2010

"Bringing in Family to Combat Anorexia"

10/18/10. Not a new idea to bring in the family to treat anorexia. But if you wait long enough, many old ideas become new discoveries.

Monday Quotations


"Gentleman, include me out."

"I read part of it all the way through."

"A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on."

--- Samuel Goldwyn (Samuel Goldfish) (1882 - 1974)

"It is not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger."

--- David Hume (1711 - 1776)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

WSJ Henninger: "Capitalism Saved the Miners"

10/13/10. Read this article and weep ---- tears of joy. And give thanks to the profit motive that created the
equipment that allowed the rescue of the 33 miners, buried 2,000 feet.

WSJ deputy editor Daniel Henninger highlights some obvious truths about capitalism --- that often elude the elite class:

Henninger writes:

..."It needs to be said. The rescue of the Chilean miners is a smashing victory for free-market capitalism.
Amid the boundless human joy of the miners' liberation, it may seem churlish to make such a claim. It is churlish. These are churlish times, and the stakes are high.

"In the United States, with 9.6% unemployment, a notably angry electorate will go to the polls shortly and dump one political party in favor of the other, on which no love is lost.

"The president of the U.S. is campaigning across the country making this statement at nearly every stop:"

'The basic idea is that if we put our blind faith in the market and we let corporations do whatever they want and we leave everybody else to fend for themselves, then America somehow automatically is going to grow and prosper.'

"Uh, yeah. That's a caricature of the basic idea, but basically that's right. Ask the miners."
"If those miners had been trapped a half-mile down like this 25 years ago anywhere on earth, they would be dead. What happened over the past 25 years that meant the difference between life and death for those men?"

"Short answer: the Center Rock drill bit."

"This is the miracle bit that drilled down to the trapped miners. Center Rock Inc. is a private company in Berlin, Pa. It has 74 employees. The drill's rig came from Schramm Inc. in West Chester, Pa. Seeing the disaster, Center Rock's president, Brandon Fisher, called the Chileans to offer his drill. Chile accepted. The miners are alive."...

Two cheers for Capitalism.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday Quotations


“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

--- Max Planck (1858 – 1838)

“The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility…The fact that it is comprehensible is a miracle.”

--- Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955).

“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 relationship 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 life of things.”

--- William James (1842 – 1910)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Benny Gurvitz R.I.P. --- 10/10/10

10/10/10. Ben would have been 100 years old today --- we were all planning a party to celebrate his remarkable spirit.

Over the years, Ben said he was going to live to be a 100, "because when I turned 50, I felt half-dead."

Ben said at his age, G-d was a local, I'm sure Ben has a direct line "to the man upstairs."

Below is a link to Benny's stand-up comedy riff he gave at his 99th birthday party.

When we hear G-d laugh, we know who's telling the jokes.

My article about Benny in the Michigan Psychological Association Newsletter, 4th quarter, 1997:

                                                       My Friend Benny
Psychiatrist George E. Vaillant, who recently spoke at our Fall Convention on aging well, has said that mature humor allows us to look directly at what is painful. Humor, he says, permits the expression of emotion without individual discomfort and without unpleasant effects upon others and he adds that miraculously humor transforms pain into the ridiculous. (1)

I think Vaillant would approve of my friend Benny.

Benny is the funniest human being I have ever met. He lives alone, drives a car, plays golf, travels, has lots of friends, and loves to watch sports. There is nothing funny about this list, although Benny says he’s bringing a fire extinguisher to his next birthday when he lights the candles. Benny’s birthday is 10/10/10 --- yeah, he’s 97 years old. As Benny reminds me, at his age, God is a local call.

I met Benny about 10 years ago when our lockers were next to each other at the Jewish Center Health Club. When I found out Benny’s age, I asked him whether he attributes his longevity to regular exercise. He thought for a moment and said, “My attitude towards exercise has always been when I feel the urge to exercise, I lie down and wait until the urge passes.” Benny is a strict vegetarian, although he reminds me that he could walk across the street tomorrow and get run over by a meat truck.

Benny is a retired pharmacist who maintains his license. We have attended our share of Continuing Education Seminars together. I drive, listen and learn, and Benny picks the meetings with the best food.

He reminds me that he is so old that “When I was a kid, the Dead Sea wasn’t even sick.” His family was so poor that “The rainbows in my neighborhood were in black and white.”

Benny brings to mind the emerging field of positive psychology with the focus on the study of positive subjective experiences and the study of positive individual traits.

In their 800 page book on positive psychology classifying strengths and virtues, Peterson and Seligman (2) offer a “Manual of The Sanities,” that includes chapters on the following strengths:

• Wisdom and Knowledge
• Courage
• Humanity
• Justice
• Temperance
• Transcendence

In this book, Willibald Ruch (3) writes the serious and informative chapter on humor – under Transcendence – which makes me think of Benny. Ruch writes that individuals with the humor strength strongly endorse such statements as the following:

• Whenever my friends are in a gloomy mood, I try to tease them out of it.
• I welcome the opportunity to brighten someone else’s day with laughter.
• Most people would say I am fun to be with.
• I try to add humor to whatever I do.
• I never allow a gloomy situation to take away my sense of humor.
• I can usually find something to laugh or joke about even in trying situations.

No doubt psychologists use humor often in their work. Humor does much to buffer life stress and hassles, reminds us that “we are more simply human than otherwise,” (4) and helps us re-interpret life-story events for our patients to promote hope and optimism.

Benny sets the bar high as an example of hope and optimism. He once quipped that he knew he was going to live to be 100 “Because when I turned 50, I felt half dead.”

As you can imagine, Benny has weathered his share of tragedies and losses. Benny claims that the only exercise he gets these days is being a pallbearer. He mentioned he went to a party last weekend and he was the only one there with his original hips.

I wish I had enough space here to tell you more about Benny. But Benny is one resilient human being who treasures each day, never complains, and helps everyone who knows him stay optimistic about the species. Researchers and clinicians at the ground level of the new Positive Psychology movement are working to discover how to nourish and develop our character strengths and virtues. It is time we had a Manual of The Sanities.


(1) Vaillant, George E. Aging Well. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2002, pages 62 – 63.
(2) Peterson, Christopher, & Seligman, Martin E. P. Character Strengths and Virtues. A Handbook and Classification. Washington D.C.: American Psychological Association and Oxford University Press, Inc., 2004.
(3) Ruch, Willibaud. Humor. In Christopher Peterson & Martin E.P. Seligman. Character Strengths and Virtues. A Handbook of Classification. Washington D. C.: American Psychological Association and Oxford University Press, Inc., 2004. Pages 583 – 598.
(4) Harry Stack Sullivan.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday Quotation


The Ten Carrots:
  1. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
  2. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
  3. You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
  4. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
  5. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
  6. You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
  7. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
  8. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
  9. You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.
  10. And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

--- William J.H. Boetcker (1873 - 1962). published 1916.

"A Light in Oslo"

10/8/10. Guy Sorman writes:  "The Nobel Foundation does itself proud by honoring Liu Xiaobo and Mario Vargas Llosa."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Does School Choice "Work?"

10/5/10. Frederick M. Hess writes:

"These would seem to be dark days for the school-choice movement, as several early champions of choice have publicly expressed their disillusionment. A few years ago, the Manhattan Institute's Sol Stern — author of Breaking Free: Public School Lessons and the Imperative of School Choice — caused a stir when he backed away from his once-ardent support. Howard Fuller, an architect of Milwaukee's school-voucher plan and the godfather of the school-choice movement, has wryly observed, "I think that any honest assessment would have to say that there hasn't been the deep, wholesale improvement in [Milwaukee Public Schools] that we would have thought." Earlier this year, historian Diane Ravitch made waves when she retracted her once staunch support for school choice in The Death and Life of the Great American School System. "I just wish that choice proponents would stop promising that charters and vouchers will bring us closer to that date when 100 percent of all children reach proficiency," she opined in her blog. "If evidence mattered, they would tone down their rhetoric." Harvard professor and iconic school-voucher proponent Paul Peterson has characterized the voucher movement as "stalled," in part by the fact that many "new voucher schools were badly run, both fiscally and educationally," and in part because results in Milwaukee were not "as startlingly positive as advocates originally hoped." Likewise, Peterson argues, "the jury on charter schools is still out."

Hard Rock Band

10/5/10. Hard rock band speaks out for metal health reform. It's about time.,18174/

Monday, October 4, 2010

LATER -- It's Just My Procrastination

10/4/10. No hurry to read this article now.

"Procrastination is a powerful example of what the Greeks called akrasia—doing something against one’s own better judgment. Why do we seem to want what’s bad for us?…"

"... it’s possible to see procrastination as the quintessential modern problem.
It’s also a surprisingly costly one. Each year, Americans waste hundreds of millions of dollars because they don’t file their taxes on time. The Harvard economist David Laibson has shown that American workers have forgone huge amounts of money in matching 401(k) contributions because they never got around to signing up for a retirement plan. Seventy per cent of patients suffering from glaucoma risk blindness because they don’t use their eyedrops regularly. Procrastination also inflicts major costs on businesses and governments. The recent crisis of the euro was exacerbated by the German government’s dithering, and the decline of the American auto industry, exemplified by the bankruptcy of G.M., was due in part to executives’ penchant for delaying tough decisions. (In Alex Taylor’s recent history of G.M., “Sixty to Zero,” one of the key conclusions is “Procrastination doesn’t pay.”)...

Monday Quotations


“In North America there is the general belief that everything can be fixed, that life can be fixed up. In Europe, the view is that a lot can’t be fixed up and that living properly is not necessarily a question of mastering the technology so much as learning to live gracefully within the constraints that the species invents.”

 --- Jonathan Miller (1934 - )

“No, Groucho is not my real name. I’m breaking it in for a friend.”

--- Julius Henry “Groucho” Marx (1890 – 1977)

“All our reasoning ends in surrender to feeling.”

--- Blaise Pascal (1623 – 1662)

“Man, an animal that makes bargains.”

--- Adam Smith (1723 – 1790)

“A man is a kind of inverted thermometer, the bulb uppermost, and the column of self-valuation is all the time going up and down.”

--- Oliver Wendell Holmes (1841 – 1935)

National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior

10/4/10. A comprehensive survey completed by the Center For Sexual Health Promotion, Sexual Health, Physical Education and Recreation. Indiana University - Bloomington.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Diane Ravitch: "Stop Trashing Teachers"


As a child psychologist, I always depend on good teachers --- their observations of students, their commitment to teaching difficult kids, their insight into ways parents may guide their child ---- A good teacher is a gift to a student ---- and I try to enhance this gift to help the student make the most of what good teachers, chums and the educational climate have to offer.

"Diane Silvers Ravitch (b. July 1, 1938) is a historian of education, an educational policy analyst, and former United States Assistant Secretary of Education who is now a research professor at New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.
Obama’s misguided policies and the over- hyped doc Waiting For "Superman" have turned America against its teachers. Education expert Diane Ravitch on why the vitriol is so dangerous.

For the past week, the national media has launched an attack on American public education that is unprecedented in our history. NBC devoted countless hours to panels stacked with "experts" who believe that public education is horrible because it has so many "bad" teachers and "bad" principals. The same "experts" appeared again and again to call for privatization, breaking teachers' unions, and mass firings of "bad" educators. Oprah devoted two shows to the same voices. The movie Waiting for "Superman", possibly the most ballyhooed documentary of all time, explains patiently that poor test scores are caused by bad teachers, that bad teachers are protected for life by their unions, and that the answer to our terrible test scores is privatization..."

My experience teaches the following. Good teachers are everywhere, private and public schools. Bad teachers are everywhere, private and public schools. The Principal is a key leader that sets the tone for the staff and students. Teachers' unions sometimes help education and sometimes hurt education. Without sound rules and effective compromises, no school works well for students.

Educational vouchers work well in some communities, allowing minority youngsters to attend schools of their choice. Do vouchers always work? Of course not. But when they do work we should not stop youngsters from finally getting the education they deserve. Are unions always a bad thing for students. Of course not. Unions protect  teachers, but it is a process sometimes easily distorted into a protection racket for some incompetent teachers, leaving many children behind.


"Democracy's Laboratory"

10/1/10. Editor of Skeptic Magazine and a psychologist, Michael Shermer introduces his article in this month's Scientific American:

"DO YOU BELIEVE IN EVOLUTION? I do. But when I say 'I believe in evolution,' I mean something rather different than when I say 'I believe in liberal democracy.' Evolutionary theory is a science. Liberal democracy is a political philosophy that most of us think has little to do with science..."