Sunday, October 13, 2019

Positive Psychology - Looking at the Whole Person, and the Person in the Social Context

Scott Barry Kaufman recently reviewed Glenn Geher and Nicole Wedberg's Positive Evolutionary Psychology: Darwin's Guide to Living a Richer Life in  Scientific American. The review is based on Kaufman's introduction to the book, but goes beyond just framing and describing the book. He adds a valuable critique of the writers's approach. In concluding he writes that "...those working within the field of positive evolutionary psychology should look not only at the individual parts that may have increased reproductive fitness in our distant past, but also at the whole person, right here, right now, listening to their dreams, desires, priorities, and conflicts and helping them become something greater than the sum of their parts."

To that I would like to add that we need not only to look at the whole person, but to see every person as a member of a social group. Humans are social animals and can only be understood in a social context, and it is in that context that Kaufman's call for a discussion of "meaning" becomes, well, meaningful.

Scott Barry Kaufman: Toward a Positive Evolutionary Psychology (Scientific American,  August 30, 2019) 

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

You ask me what books to read...

"You ask me what books to read. Read Montaigne; read him slowly, steadily. He will calm you. And do not listen to people who talk of his egotism. You will like him, you will see. But do not read, as the children read, to amuse yourself, nor as ambitious people read, to get instruction. No! read to live! 
Make an intellectual atmosphere for your soul, which shall be composed of the emanation of all the great minds. Study Shakespeare and Goethe thoroughly. Read translations of the Greek and Roman authors,—Homer, Petronius, Plautus, Apuleius, etc."
(Gustave Flaubert in a letter to Mme Leroyer de Chantepie, 1867)

Monday, June 17, 2019

Sorry AOC and Liz Warren, but Jon Snow Did the Right Thing

My two favorite politicians - Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Elizabeth Warren - complained about the ending of Game of Thrones, but they were deeply wrong on this one.

"I feel like we were just getting so close to having this ending with just women running the world and then the last two episodes it's like, oh they're too emotional, the end. It's like ugh this was written by men.'" AOC frustratedly explained.
"Yeah, exactly. Can't do that," Warren added.
This is where their feminism stumbles.

Overlooking her Spartan army, Daenerys Targaryen revealed herself as a female Pol Pot, itching to order her legions to slaughter the rest of the seven kingdoms as she slaughtered the people of King's Landing.

This is a moment that Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn would have understood perfectly:
“Macbeth's self-justifications were feeble – and his conscience devoured him. Yes, even Iago was a little lamb, too. The imagination and spiritual strength of Shakespeare's evildoers stopped short at a dozen corpses. Ideology—that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination. That is the social theory which helps to make his acts seem good instead of bad in his own and others' eyes, so that he won't hear reproaches and curses but will receive praise and honors. That was how the agents of the Inquisition fortified their wills: by invoking Christianity; the conquerors of foreign lands, by extolling the grandeur of their Motherland; the colonizers, by civilization; the Nazis, by race; and the Jacobins (early and late), by equality, brotherhood, and the happiness of future generations....”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956 
When Jon Snow realized - being advised by Tyrion Lannister - that Daenerys were about to launch a campaign of mass murder and genocide driven by utopian fanaticism, he had no choice but to kill his beloved queen.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Paris for Ever

Notre Dame, 1959. By Harald Sandberg.
This is part of a Paris suite consisting of eight large oil paintings.
Photo: Hans Sandberg

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Dubbing news programs distorts our understanding of the world

I just saw Theresa May interviewed on TV here in Uruguay. Weird to see her answering in Spanish, dubbed of course.

I wonder what dubbing does to human understanding. It deprives the viewer of the speaker's unique voice.

It may not matter much if it's a one time appearance or in a movie, but it does if it's a real  person that appears over and over.

It distorts reality.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A Question for Trump Voters

First published February 11, 2016.  Click on the title to read the blog post.
What Whites with Broken Hearts can Learn from the Crow Indians 

 'Depression Breadline' by George Segal, 1999.
Permanent display at the Grounds for Sculpture, in Hamilton, New Jersey.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

President Trump to Return Alaska to Russia - Putin Approves Trump Hotel in Moscow

In an early morning tweet, President Donald J. Trump declared that the United States will return Alaska to Russia in exchange for a new Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino in Moscow. The U.S. purchased the territory from the Russian Empire on March 30, 1867, for 7.2M U.S. dollars or 2 cents per acre.

Donald J. Trump‏ @RealDonaldTrump 5h
Alaska deal was not fair, so I have scrapped it. I called President Putin this morning to whish him HAPPY EASTER and offered a DEAL. GREAT DEAL! Putin said OK. He gets Alaska, which is empty anyhow. We get BIG BEAUTIFUL Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino in Moscow. BIG DEAL. Dems will hate it. Holy Week was NEVER BETTER. PEACE ON EARTH!
President Trump says in his tweet that the deal was not fair and that he has scrapped it in exchange for a long sought after hotel deal in Moscow. Sources in the White House told the Anchorage Times that the president compared Alaska to a useless piece of "frozen tundra" that "only environmentalists and Dems" cared about.
"I have questions about the deal, but he is the President, so we will look at this carefully," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in a statement.
"The President acts fast, but we will try to keep up, even if this is an unusual move," said Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, adding "this shows that the Tax Cuts and Job Act works, and will open for reining in the escalating costs for social security and medicare since many Alaskans are dependent on Federal largess."
Sarah Palin, former Governor of Alaska, tweeted that this came as "a total surprise to her," and "that this was really Barack Obama's doing."

Unconfirmed rumors had it that the White House had attached a rider in the deal with President Putin that would allow Donald Trump Jr. unlimited hunting and fishing rights in perpetuity in Alaska.

Monday, February 26, 2018

A Deadly Valentine

A young male,
always a male,
heads to school,
and starts shooting

Again, again and again
as so many other times
in so many other places

Targeting boys and girls,
young and vulnerable
who at that moment
are about to become
a lifeless statistic

Some fall silently,
some die fleeing,
some hide in horror,
texting home

The shooter is but a boy,
too young to buy a beer,
hiding under his red hat

Tapped in a maelstrom,
of swirling emotions,
he sets out for school,
hugging his only Valentine.
his newly bought AR-15,
which for a brief moment,
turns this scared little boy
into a mighty avenger,
able to kill,
to nullify,
to experience,
the ultimate power.

Those who die 
die prematurely,
for no good reason

They are sacrificed
to the Gun God
on the altar
that NRA built

Friday, December 22, 2017