1. This one really deserves a post of its own. So much writing about Wall Street greed has the air of jealousy and pettiness around it. Nothing’s an easier target or more convenient prop for self-righteousness than a corporate cog (i.e. “I may not be swimming in it, but at least I believe in something–at least my work has meaning–unlike all those soulless automatons I knew in college who are chasing the almighty dollar. How do they live with themselves?!”). Which is part of what makes Sam Polk’s “For The Love of Money” column in The NY Times last week…
Marilynne Robinson was on Krista Tippett’s On Being this Sunday, with physicist and professor Marcelo Gleiser, talking about the limits of knowing, and the much-hyped and far-lacking polarities drawn between God and Science. In their conversation, Robinson and Gleiser have some beautiful points about the untrue egotism of scientific “knowing,” and the differences between descriptive knowledge and explanatory knowledge.
Another Week Ends: Perfectionistic Pride, Spufford Bathes, Country Priests, Shoplifting Grace, Quitting Baseball, Katy Perry, Funeral Selfies, and William Peter Blatty
1. In the Harvard Business Review, Greg McKeown explores the problem of perfectionism, urging us “Today, Just Be Average”. Easier said than done, but a few of the observations are worth reproducing here, ht RW:
Unlike other obsessions and addictions, perfectionism is something a lot of people celebrate, believing it’s an asset. But true perfectionism can actually get in the way of productivity and happiness. I recently interviewed David Burns, author of “Feeling Good” has made this exact connection. In his more than 35,000 therapy sessions he has learned that the pursuit of perfection is arguably the surest way to undermine…
From his interview yesterday on the Diane Rehm show, starting at about the 3:30 mark:
AD3: “Frankly, I have this belief (that) if you scratch the surface of any human being, across the country, across the world, at any moment of any day, even right this moment, everybody’s in some kind of trouble. It’s normal. It’s just part of human existence. I think that in America, we freak out about that. I think we’ve been sold a bill of goods, that we think we’re supposed to be happy all the time, especially if we’re successful.”
DR: “It’s in the constitution!”
AD3: “Yeah. ‘Life, liberty…
Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” – Luke 21:1-4
A recent story on NPR’s “All Things Considered” discusses the findings of Dacher Keltner, a researcher who studies social class and generosity. Keltner says that, “in just about every way you can study it, our lower-class individuals volunteer more, they give more of…
Maybe you’ve heard, but AT&T approached Mbird favorite Werner Herzog to do a public service announcement on the dangers of texting while driving. Rather than a short commercial-length announcement, Herzog made a 36-minute short film, interviewing both the victims and the guilty. It is not an easy watch by any stretch, but worth it. As always, what Herzog is so adept at is the direct emotional resonance he pulls from all of his subjects. He levels these stories into the inner-lives of us all. This is also why he chose not to use graphic imagery in his PSA, as he…
You start to sing karaoke, and some kind of psychic heart-switch flips. If you’re lucky, and the beer doesn’t run out, it’s more than just a night of debauchery. It’s a spiritual quest. This spiritual quest, like so many spiritual quests, involves Bonnie Tyler.
After the sudden death of his wife, music critic and Rolling Stone journalist Rob Sheffield found unexpected comfort in karaoke. After moving from Charlottesville to New York, Sheffield found himself, night after night, in front of drunken strangers in dingy karaoke bars, mic in hand. But rather than jolting his audience out of their stupor and…
Another Week Ends: Snowden Psychology, Child Stars Grown Up, Sleep Perfomance, the Science of Risk-Management, and Ira Glass on Jesus Freaks
1) I guess the graduation speeches were of quite the well-suited ilk this year—fitted more for the heart and less the diploma. Jonathan Safran-Foer spoke at Middlebury’s graduation (the transcript was then printed for the Times), and talked a lot about today’s ease of communication and, thus, today’s relational retreat. Entitled “How Not To Be Lonely,” he catalogues some of the cultural and social restraints of technology, something we love…to…talk…about, but what’s more interesting is the focus he takes on power of intervention and attention.
He remembers sitting in a park, next to a woman who crying in public. Not knowing…
One of the criticisms of Gospel preaching is that it can, at times, be gloomy. “Do we have to hear about sin again?”, the complaint goes, “Do you have to be so down on humanity?”, “Can’t we talk about how great life is sometimes?”, “Can’t you give me some self-improvement tools?”
To these voices the Gospel preacher replies that life is often (perhaps mostly) hard, and that as much as we might crave a word of optimism, a little fuel for the part of us that longs to live in blissful ignorance (or denial), what we really need is not to…
The Vances lived in number seven. They had a different father and mother. They were Eileen’s father and mother. When they were grown up he was going to marry Eileen. He hid under the table. His mother said:
– O, Stephen will apologize.
– O, if not, the eagles will come and pull out his eyes.–
Pull out his eyes,
Pull out his eyes.
Pull out his eyes,
Pull out his eyes,
James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Chapter 1
Apologies are not hard; they are impossible. From the time we are children, we are forced to say that we’re sorry for things…
Another Week Ends: Poptropica Love, Retrospective Bullies, Foolish Proof, Colbert Logs, Lucille Bluth, and the Nabokov-Anderson Connection
1) Club Penguin is one of several multimedia and game sites geared towards tweens from the ages of seven to twelve. Club Penguin itself has over 200 million registered users worldwide, and was purchased by Disney not long ago. And there are plenty of others: Poptropica, Wee World, Moshi Monsters, Fantage. Alongside the sheer breadth of these programs’ appeal to children, they also seem to picking up the tendencies of commensurate older-kid web lives. In other words, 8-year-old kids are getting boyfriends and girlfriends online, ht JD.
Kids pair off by asking “say 123 if u want me” and break up…
After reading this very short clip from Nicholas Carr over at NPR’s Marketplace, I immediately had to order his book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. For now, I’ll suffice it to say this won’t be the only post on Carr; he’s a terrific writer of science and the brain and it doesn’t keep him from speaking confessionally, or leading off Chapter 1 with 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s not so much neuroscience as it is a scientist’s probe into a very “being” shift that is happening here in the internet age–you know, as if streaming…