1. A fascinating review of How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer over at Boing Boing (ht Jeff Dean). The book appears to be ar neuroscience-for-dummies study of the decision-making process, aka another volley in the post-free-will debate, this time claiming that decision-making is neither wholly rational or wholly emotional, but a mix of both. What sounds especially interesting to the Mockingbird in me is the role that dopamine plays in our brains as a “predictor” of future events, prompting all sorts of “decisions” based on anticipated reward. Or on the flipside, the discussion of the power of “loss-aversion”, esp as applied to Wall Street. Check it out.

Btw, the NY Times review of How We Decide had a very interesting final paragraph:

“How We Decide” has one odd omission. For a book that plumbs the mysteries of the emotional brain, it has almost nothing to say about the decisions that most of us would conventionally describe as “emotional.” We hear about aviation heroism and poker strategies, and we hear numerous accounts of buying consumer goods. But there’s barely a mention of a whole class of choices that are suffused with emotion: whether to break up with a longstanding partner, or to scold a disobedient child, or to let an old friend know that you feel betrayed by something he’s said. For most of us, I suspect, these are the decisions that matter the most in our lives, and yet “How We Decide” is strangely silent about them.

2. In the it-was-only-a-matter-of-time category: An Islamic search engine which filters out potentially sinful material. Oddly enough, it was developed in Holland. (Another big ht to Jeff Dean).

3. An interview given a few weeks ago by yours truly on a Lutheran radio program out in Nebraska (Table Talk on KNGN) on two of my favorite subjects, Michael Jackson and The Gospel. Listen to Part One and then Part Two.

4. Last week Apple posted a great featurette about the making of Wes Anderson’s The Fantastic Mr Fox. Oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy! Speaking of trailers, as a sucker for anything post-apocalyptic, I could not be more excited for 9, coming out tomorrow. An animated feature about survivor puppets with a PG-13 rating is not something you see everyday, sort of a cult-classic before it has even come out.

p.s. Speaking as a long-time Mike Judge fan, I really wanted to like Extract more than I did.

5. In music news, two items of extreme Mockingbird relevance. First, David Bazan of Pedro The Lion has just released his second solo album, Curse Your Branches, detailing his, um, crisis/loss of faith. Listen to the first single “Bless This Mess” right now (opening lyrics: God bless the man who stumbles/God bless the man who falls/God bless the man who yields to temptation). And then read “The Passion Of David Bazan” over at Chicago Reader.

Second and finally, everyone’s favorite hyper-literate formerly lo-fi folk heroes The Mountain Goats are putting out a new album next month entitled The Life Of The World To Come, the inspiration for which comes directly from… The Bible. The tracklisting is as follows (no joke):

1. 1 Samuel 15:23
2. Psalms 40:2
4. Philippians 3:20-21
5. Hebrews 11:40
6. Genesis 30:3
7. Romans 10:9
8. 1 John 4:16
9. Matthew 25:21
10. Deuteronomy 2:10
11. Isaiah 45:23
12. Ezekiel 7 and the Permanent Efficacy of Grace

Don’t call it a conversion but read about it here and here (ht Willam Randolph Brafford)