Monday, December 28, 2015

The Great Courses

12/27/15. Michigan Psychological Association Newsletter. December 2015

My take on the Great Courses:

Once a month I eagerly wait for the catalogue of the great courses. When I open the thick, slick magazine advertising these amazing courses I am never disappointed. Immediately, I notice I can save 70% on 110 courses offered that range from “The Search for Exoplanets: What Astronomers Know” to “Critical Business Skills for Success.”

By taking advantage of these great offers, my half-hour commute to and from work turns into an educational adventure, listening to CDs of renowned and award-winning professors lecture about science, history, religion, philosophy, music, and math. The following is a sample of some of the great courses offered in the latest catalog: • Darwin and

Unnatural Selection: The Coming Extinction of Book Shelves

The Growing Threat of Capitalism When It Becomes Capitalized

Four Laws of Thurman’s Dynamics

Integrating Mind, Body, and Shoes

The Everyday Guide to Whining: A Tour Through the Valley of the Naps

Understanding the Relations and Implications between the Nose and Bisexuality

Understanding the Implications of the Higgs-Bosom Discovery for the Modern Marriage

The Art of Persuasion: Half-Truths and Whole-Lies

Understanding Why Small People Have Deep Roots: A Short Introduction to Genealogy

Sex, the Big Bang, and Arguing

A Biopsychosocial Approach to Understanding How and When to Tell a Highway it is Adopted.

On affirmative action

Sunday, December 27, 2015

George Will: Secular Creationists

12/27/15. On "The Evolution of Everything," "The Fatal Conceit," "The Wealth of Nations," and more. On why it is so hard to understand the emergence of order from spontaneity, free choice, and bottom-up organization.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Brain Pickings: The Best Books of 2015

A New Biography of Woody Allen

12/26/15. I'm sure it wasn't a moving violation.

Carly Simon: On Harems, James Taylor, and Her Memoir

Why Do Rituals Grow as a Year Dwindles?

12/26/15. Melvin Konner, Ph.D., M.D. - anthropologist and physician.

Trying to Hide the Rise of Violent Crime

Jerome Groopman: The Most Notable Medical Findings of 2015

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Socialism: Opium of the Intellectuals

12/17/15. Socialism = heaven on earth. Good Luck.
From the Nobel Prize lec-
ture by Svetlana Alexievich,
recipient of the 2015 award in
literature, in Stockholm Dec. 7:

[Soviet-era Russian author]
Varlam Shalamov once wrote:
"I was a participant in the
colossal battle, a battle that
was lost, for the genuine re-
newal of humanity." I recon-
struct the history of that bat-
tle, its victories and its
defeats. The history of how
people wanted to build the
Heavenly Kingdom on earth.
Paradise! The City of the Sun!
In the end, all that remained
was a sea of blood, millions
of ruined human lives. There
was a time, however, when no

political idea of the 20th cen-
tury was comparable to com-
munism (or the October
Revolution as its symbol), a
time when nothing attracted
Western intellectuals and
people all around the world
more powerfully or emotion-
ally. Raymond Aron called the
Russian Revolution the
"opium of intellectuals." But
the idea of communism is at
least two thousand years old.
We can find it in Plato's
teachings about an ideal, cor-
rect state; in Aristophanes'
dreams about a time when
"everything will belong to
everyone." . . . In Thomas
More and Tommaso Campan-
ella ... Later in Saint-Simon,

Fourier and Robert Owen.
There is something in the
Russian spirit that compels it
to try to turn these dreams
into reality.
Twenty years ago, we bid
farewell to the "Red Empire"
of the Soviets with curses
and tears. We can now look
at that past more calmly, as
an historical experiment.
This is
important, because
arguments about : socialism
have not died down. A new
generation has grown up
with a different picture of
the world, but many young
people are reading Marx and
Lenin again. In Russian
towns there are new muse-
ums dedicated to Stalin, and

new monuments have been
erected to him.
The "Red Empire" is gone,
but the "Red Man," homo
sovieticus, remains. He endures.
My father died recently.
He believed in communism to
the end. He kept his party
membership card. I can't
bring myself to use the word
"sovok," that derogatory epi-
thet for the Soviet mentality,
because then I would have to
apply it my father and others
close to me, my friends. They
all come from the same
place-socialism. There are
many idealists among them.
Romantics. Today they are
sometimes called slavery ro-
mantics. Slaves of utopia.