Recent Articles

Giving Space to a Romantic Relationship

From “Brain Pickings,” a blog by Maria Popova – first, Popova quotes Rilke:

“I hold this to be the highest task of a bond between two people: that each should stand guard over the solitude of the other.”

Then Popova begins her blog post:

““Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls,” the great Lebanese-American poet, philosopher, and painter Kahlil Gibran counseled in what remains the finest advice on the secret to a loving and lasting relationship.

Our paradoxical longing for intimacy and independence is a diamagnetic force — it pulls us toward togetherness and simultaneously repels us from it with a mighty magnet that, if unskillfully handled, can rupture a relationship and break a heart. Under this unforgiving magnetism, it becomes an act of superhuman strength and self-transcendence to give space to the other when all one wants is closeness. And yet this difficult act may be the very thing — perhaps the only thing — that saves the relationship over and over.”

Addiction as dysfunctional Bonding – TED talk by Jonathan Hari

Wonderful TED talk by Journalist Jonathan Hari. Two Quotes stand out:

Professor Peter Cohen in the Netherlands said, maybe we shouldn’t even call it addiction. Maybe we should call it bonding. Human beings have a natural and innate need to bond, and when we’re happy and healthy, we’ll bond and connect with each other, but if you can’t do that, because you’re traumatized or isolated or beaten down by life, you will bond with something that will give you some sense of relief.

. . .

And I think the core of that message — you’re not alone, we love you — has to be at every level of how we respond to addicts, socially, politically and individually. For 100 years now, we’ve been singing war songs about addicts. I think all along we should have been singing love songs to them, because the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.

See also, Rachel Wurzman’s TED talk: How Isolation Fuel’s Opiod Addiction.

The effects of social disconnection through opioid receptors, the effects of addictive drugs and the effects of abnormal neurotransmission on involuntary movements and compulsive behaviors all converge in the striatum. And the striatum and opioid signaling in it has been deeply linked with loneliness.

When we don’t have enough signaling at opioid receptors, we can feel alone in a room full of people we care about and love, who love us. Social neuroscientists, like Dr. Cacioppo at the University of Chicago, have discovered that loneliness is very dangerous. And it predisposes people to entire spectrums of physical and mental illnesses.

Think of it like this: when you’re at your hungriest, pretty much any food tastes amazing, right? So similarly, loneliness creates a hunger in the brain which neurochemically hypersensitizes our reward system. And social isolation acts through receptors for these naturally occurring opioids and other social neurotransmitters to leave the striatum in a state where its response to things that signal reward and pleasure is completely, completely over the top. And in this state of hypersensitivity, our brains signal deep dissatisfaction. We become restless, irritable and impulsive.

November 13, 2018 | By | Reply More
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Ellis Haizlip: Soft-Spoken Art Activist

A friend and I attended a session of three films at the St. Louis Film Festival Friday evening, at Washington University. All three films were wonderful, but we were enthralled by the main feature, “Mr. Soul,” featuring one of the most amazing people I had never before heard of, Ellis Haizlip. The film was directed by his niece, Melissa Haizlip, who attended, explaining that this film was a labor of love for ten years of her life. If you ever have a chance to view this (which you will, in coming months), don’t hesitate. Here’s a link to the film’s description.

November 12, 2018 | By | Reply More

The age at which a woman has her first baby – consequences

Fascinating article in the New York Times. The age at which a woman has her first baby has dramatic ramifications.

First-time mothers are older in big cities and on the coasts, and younger in rural areas and in the Great Plains and the South. In New York and San Francisco, their average age is 31 and 32. In Todd County, S.D., and Zapata County, Tex., it’s half a generation earlier, at 20 and 21, according to the analysis, which was of all birth certificates in the United States since 1985 and nearly all for the five years prior.

Many graphs in this article. Well worth a review.

November 12, 2018 | By | Reply More

Matt Taibbi’s Ten Rules of Hate

Here’s something almost everyone can agree about: Dysfunctional public discourse is ubiquitous. What is feeding it? There are many ideas out there, but one that I find compelling is that the mass media has adopted “Dysfunctional public discourse” as its favorite method of providing us with “news.” Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone boils down his criticisms into the form of “Ten Rules of Hate.”

First, here is an excerpt from his article:

We’ve discovered we can sell hate, and the more vituperative the rhetoric, the better. This also serves larger political purposes.

So long as the public is busy hating each other and not aiming its ire at the more complex financial and political processes going on off-camera, there’s very little danger of anything like a popular uprising.

That’s not why we do what we do. But it is why we’re allowed to operate this way. It boggles the mind that people think they’re practicing real political advocacy by watching any major corporate TV channel, be it Fox or MSNBC or CNN. Does anyone seriously believe that powerful people would allow truly dangerous ideas to be broadcast on TV? The news today is a reality show where you’re part of the cast: America vs. America, on every channel.

The trick here is getting audiences to think they’re punching up, when they’re actually punching sideways, at other media consumers just like themselves, who just happen to be in a different silo. Hate is a great blinding mechanism. Once you’ve been in the business long enough, you become immersed in its nuances. If you can get people to accept a sequence of simple, powerful ideas, they’re yours forever. The Ten Rules of Hate.

Here are Taibbi’s Ten Rules, but I highly recommend reading the entire article:

1. THERE ARE ONLY TWO IDEAS – Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative. Boolean political identities.
4. EVERYTHING IS SOMEONE ELSE’S FAULT (“The overwhelming majority of “controversial news stories” involve simple partisan narratives cleaved quickly into hot-button talking points. Go any deeper and you zoom off the flow chart”).
5. NOTHING IS EVERYONE’S FAULT (“If both parties have an equal or near-equal hand in causing a social problem, we typically don’t cover it.”)
6. ROOT, DON’T THINK (“By the early 2000s, TV stations had learned to cover politics exactly as they covered sports, a proven profitable format. The presidential election especially was reconfigured into a sports coverage saga.”)
7. NO SWITCHING TEAMS (“Being out of touch with what the other side is thinking is now no longer seen as a fault. It’s a requirement.”)
9. IN THE FIGHT AGAINST HITLER, EVERYTHING IS PERMITTED. (“If the other side is literally Hitler, this eventually has to happen. It would be illogical to argue anything else. What began as America vs. America will eventually move to Traitor vs. Traitor, and the show does not work if those contestants are not offended to the point of wanting to kill one another.”)
10. FEEL SUPERIOR. (“We’re mainly in the business of stroking audiences. We want them coming back. Anger is part of the rhetorical promise, but so are feelings righteousness and superiority.”)

November 4, 2018 | By | Reply More

w88 phien ban di dongThe cost of asthma inhalers in the United States compared to other countries

I’m traveling abroad, a trip centered on teaching law school for a week in Istanbul. On the way out of the U.S., I had an asthma attack while walking through the perfume area of a Duty Free store in Atlanta. I had an inhaler, but it was getting low (my inhaler is the red Albuterol inhaler on the left. It costs about $70 or $80 WITH the insurance price. My first stop overseas was in Beirut, Lebanon, where I entered a pharmacy without a prescription. They didn’t have Albuterol but the pharmacist sold me the Lebanese equivalent called Salres. Total price was $5. When I arrived at Istanbul Turkey, I visited a pharmacy and paid less than $2 for their equivalent, “Butalin,” the one in the middle Again, no prescription needed, and the pharmacist assured me that this was an equivalent prescription.

I am now in Madrid. Yesterday, I visited a pharmacy here, no prescription, and they sold me the “equivalent,” the inhaler on the right. Price was 2.5 Euros (about $2.85). I spoke with the pharmacist in Spanish. I told her that in the United States, my inhaler costs about $80 with the insurance rate, $300 without. Her immediate reaction was shock at the price. The she became angry, and asked “What do children do when their families cannot afford the medicine?” I told her that I don’t know, and that it is a terrible situation and that there is no excuse for it.

October 29, 2018 | By | Reply More
Introverts trying to be Extraverted: Difficult to Fake it Til You Make It

Introverts trying to be Extraverted: Difficult to Fake it Til You Make It

New research reported in w88 phien ban di dongScientific American shows that Introverts will struggle to look extraverted in a hyper-extraverted environment:

Another line of research led by Rowan Jacques-Hamilton investigated the costs of sustained extraverted behavior in everyday life. I highlighted the word “sustained” because it turns out this is a really important caveat. Prior research had shown that no matter one’s placement on the extraversion-introversion continuum, those who more naturally acted extraverted were more likely to feel authentic in the moment. Consistent with that finding, Jacques-Hamilton and his colleagues found that asking participants to “act extraverted” for one week in everyday life had “wholly positive” benefits for positive emotions and reports of authenticity for the sample overall.

However, the important nuance is that more introverted people displayed weaker increases in positive emotions, experienced increased negative emotions and tiredness, and experienced decreased feelings of authenticity over the course of the experiment. This research highlights the costs of repeatedly acting out of character, and also the costs of being forced to act of character (the experimenters explicitly instructed the participants to act in a certain way).

This has deep implications for the well-being of introverts who live in cultures where extraversion is highly valued and emphasized as the ideal way of being. C. Ashley Fulmer and her colleagues investigated the relationship between extraversion and happiness and self-esteem across 7,000 people from 28 societies and found that the positive relationship between extraversion and happiness and self-esteem was much greater when a person’s level of extraversion matched the average level of extraversion of their society. This research suggests that person-environment fit matters quite a bit when looking at the relationship between introversion and well-being. The researchers proposed a “person-culture match hypothesis” that argues that culture can function as an important amplifier of the positive effect of personality on self-esteem and happiness.*

October 10, 2018 | By | Reply More
Things we cannot talk about with each other, including the benefits of capitalism

Things we cannot talk about with each other, including the benefits of capitalism

Joe Rogan and Steven Pinker discuss some reasons why we cannot talk with each other. The merits of capitalism being one example.

September 29, 2018 | By | Reply More
Coddled Children Grow up Self-Disruptive

Coddled Children Grow up Self-Disruptive

In The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, Attorney Greg Lukianoff (founder of FIRE) and moral psyhchologist Jonathan Haidt address America’s mushrooming inability to engage in productive civil discourse. Increasing numbers of people are claiming that they cannot cope with ideas that challenge their own world view. They sometimes claim that ideas that challenge their own ideas are “not safe.” In dozens of well-publicized cases, rather than work to counteract “bad” ideas with better ideas, they work to muzzle speaker by disrupting presentations or even running the purportedly offensive speakers off campus.

There is a related and growing problem. We cannot talk with each other at all regarding many many important issues. We shout each other down and use the heckler’s veto. These maladies are especially prominent on some American college campuses, but these problems are also rapidly spreading to the country at large, including corporate America.

Consider this 2016 example featuring the students of Yale having a “discussion” with Professor Nicholas Christakis:

You would never guess it from this video alone, but this mass-meltdown was triggered after child development specialist Erika Christakis (wife of Nicholas), w88 phien ban di dongsent this email to students.?This incident at Yale is one of many illustrations offered by Haidt and Lukianoff as evidence of a disturbing trend. ?Here’s another egregious example involving?Dean Mary Spellman at Claremont McKenna College who was run out of her college after committing the sin of writing this email to a student. ?More detail here.?

The authors offer this as the genesis of the overall problem:

In years past, administrators were motivated to create campus speech codes in order to curtail what they deemed to be racist or sexist speech. Increasingly, however, the rationale for speech codes and speaker disinvitations was becoming medicalized: Students claimed that certain kinds of speech—and even the content of some books and courses—interfered with their ability to function. They wanted protection from material that they believed could jeopardize their mental health by “triggering” them, or making them “feel unsafe.”

The solution offered by Lukianoff and Haidt is to take a moment to stop to recognize what they call the “Three Bad Ideas.”

September 19, 2018 | By | 1 Reply More