More Politics and the Brain

I was reading the latest issue of the New York Review of Books today, fixated on an article by Adam Tooze on four recent books, all about the precarious state of western democracy. I haven’t read any of them, but had seen references to them. I found Tooze’s critique very thoughtful and even-handed. But that’s not what I want to write about. The following quote jumped out at me. Trump exposes starkly what the civility of Obama and his administration obscured—the subordination of American democracy to capitalism, patriarchy, and the iniquitous racial order descended from slavery. Tooze was arguing that Trump was not just not anomaly, but was a sign… Read More

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Birthday Thoughts

Another birthday for me, today. A beautiful spring day after several weeks of gloomy weather. Nature is celebrating my birthday. Earlier this week I sent back my book manuscript with corrections to the queries from the copyeditor. Surprisingly few. This is the last step before it gets type set and I get one more look before it goes to the printer. It has been so long in getting to this point that I have forgotten some of the details. But not too bad for an octogenarian. The Boston Globe’s main oped piece today was a critique of happiness as the primary driver of living. The author, Amy Cuddy, started by… Read More

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Should I Run?

I never thought much about running for President. For most of my life, the White House was out of reach, given my being Jewish. I did have one brush with such a calling when one of my first wife’s many cousins suggested that I should become President of their cousin’s club. I did not throw my hat, maybe it was a yarmulke, into the ring. But now, some 60 years later, the thought crosses my mind. After all, since 2016, the American dream of anyone, however unqualified, becoming President has been realized. I have looked carefully at the rapidly growing field of Democrats that have announced or are pretty sure… Read More

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Virtues Are Never Momentary

I started this post about 4 years ago, and, for whatever reason I had back then, I ran out of steam and left it to languish. But it still seems a relevant topic so am going to finish it. The source is the “The Stone,” the New York Times periodic column about philosophy by philosophers. The Times column, titled, “The Dangers of Happiness,” raises a number of important questions about the relentless “pursuit of happiness” that characterizes life in the US today (and for the past 300 years). The author, Carl Cederstrom, starts with a short, but informative, history of the concept of happiness, starting with Aristotle. He starts with… Read More

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Tabula Rasa

Having now read McGilchrist and his model of the divided brain, I keep finding other sources that both confirm and broaden his basic model. I wrote about Leonard Shlain’s Leonardo’s Brain in a recent post. Now I have another source to add. I have just finished Brain and Culture, by Bruce Wexler. (The MIT Press, 2006) While not specially about the divided brain, Wexler adds more dimensions to the divided brain model. He describes the way the brain develops that supports McGilchrist’s work, which is largely about the fully developed adult brain. Wexler is particularly interested in how the external world shapes the brain during its development. One key piece… Read More

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A Green New Deal (But Not Enough)

Brought back to life by Democrats in both the US Senate (Ed Markey) and House of Representatives (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez), the Green New Deal (GND) resurrects a platform proposed by the Green Party in 2006. The proposal, in the form of a Resolution, aims at both the threat of global warming and economic inequality. The key elements are: Guaranteeing a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States. Providing all people of the United States with – (i) high-quality health care; (ii) affordable, safe, and adequate housing; (iii) economic security; and (iv) access to clean water, clean… Read More

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Murder and the Internet

The murder of so many innocents at a mosque in New Zealand, as expected, has brought forth the words of many who try to explain why. Like so many similar instances of wanton killing, there is no single answer. An abused child. A rejected adult. A radicalized follower of a hate-filled group. And so on. In this case, one finds the Internet implicated as the means by which the killer found a community that agreed with and promoted his twisted ideas. Reinforcement of the rightness of your intentions can open the doors of action. Ironically, that same technology that can connect a network of like-minded individuals for whatever purposes, and… Read More

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Leonardo’s Brain

  Those who have followed by blog for a while know that I have written quite a bit about the divided-brain model of Iain McGilchrist. I mentioned the book, Leonardo’s Brain, a few posts ago as providing confirmatory evidence for that model. I thought it worth while to go beyond that mere mention. The author, Leonard Shlain, a doctor, basically echoes McGilchrist. Early in his book he writes, “…one fact remains without doubt: Natural Selection [his avatar for evolution] designed each cortical hemisphere in the human brain to process dramatically different functions.” A few pages later, he writes,”The left brain, the seat of the ego and superego, defined itself as… Read More

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First Things First

You should know by now, after 10 years of blogging, that I am a pretty liberal Democrat, but also a democrat. The lower-case version is more important that the party affiliation, especially at the present time. All the ideologies and left-right tilts will not protect our basic freedom and the rights that constitute it. Now that the Democrats have recovered control of the House, the headlines have shifted a bit from concern over democracy to intra-party battles about how far to the left the Democratic party should be if they are to win the 2020 Presidential election. This is the wrong battle. Before any debate and focus on policy differences,… Read More

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It Will Take More Than Love

Once again, David Brooks is my muse. His columns and public utterings tell me he has come to understand that the US is suffering from a lack of connections and, consequently, from the absence of love. Love, that is, of my variety, which is caring and accepting of the legitimacy of the other to exist, just as the actor does. But he has yet to get to the bottom of the situation and understand why the present condition has come to be and persists. In today’s column, Brooks writes, “What is the core problem facing America today? It is division: The growing gaps between rich and poor, rural and urban,… Read More

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