Saturday, January 28, 2006

yet some more on the topic of men and women…from the great Oz

“Woman,” Grandpa said, “nu, in some ways she is just like us. Exactly the same. But in some other ways,” he said, “a woman is entirely different. Very very different.”

He paused here and pondered it for a while, maybe conjuring up images in his mind, his childlike smile lit his face, and he concluded his lesson:

“But you know what? In which ways a woman is just like us and in which ways she is very very different—nu, on this,” he concluded, rising from his chair, “I am still working.”

He was ninety-three, and he may well have continued to “work” on the question to the end of his days. I am still working on it myself.
From A Tale of Love and Darkness, a memoir by Amos Oz.

Friday, January 27, 2006

more on the "inherent differences" between men and women

Dr. Marianne J. Legato discusses her new book, Why Men Never Remember and Women Never Forget on WNYC:
[The title] really reflects the ability of women to recall experiences, especially unpleasant or sad experiences, or things that they have heard, much more vividly and in more detail than men. Men tend to process something, file it away; they have more effort in recalling what has happened to them than women do. Women seem to retrieve the memory more easily. And men are very much goal oriented; they are not interested in the local or remote history of the argument that is going on at the current time.
Only yesterday, at a job interview, I was reminded (yet again) of my relatively poor memory retention for things I studied in school, yet, for better or worse, I do have a pretty remarkable memory for recalling experiences in vivid detail (even some from when I was as young as 2 years old)...

But I wonder, is her theory too much of a generalization? Is it true that most men don't recall experiences with the same level of detail as women?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Follow-Up on No Pants! Subway Ride

New York Post, "Strip-Hangers' Pantless Escapade:"
The mischief lasted from Chambers Street to 59th Street, by which time police had been alerted to the prank...Riders weren't sure what to make of the situation. One elderly man shook his head in disgust. A woman covered her face with her hands. A few people smiled and giggled. But being New Yorkers, most didn't pay attention.
New York Newsday, "Cops bust up pants-less subway stunt:"
The NYPD, it seems, didn't appreciate the joke. Police said they detained eight participants at the Fourth Precinct and charged them with misdemeanor disorderly conduct before issuing them desk appearance tickets and releasing them early Sunday evening.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

on my top ten list of reasons to be wary of eating out

Common inspection violations :
1) Cold food held above 41°F (smoked fish above 38°F) except during necessary preparation.
2) Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility's food and/or non-food areas.
3) Evidence of roaches or live roaches present in facility's food and/or non-food
Via orthomom's post (Kosher = Cleaner? Ha!) on how Kosher restaurants had their fair share of violations in the NYC Department of Health latest inspection.

random difference of opinion

The mathematician turned biologist Jacob Bronowski writes in The Ascent of Man,
There is evidence now that women marry men who are intellectually like them, and men marry women who are intellectually like them.
This is in clear contrast to Freud’s claim of an inability among modern males to feel intellectual respect and sexual passion for the same woman. That is, unless men marry women who are intellectually like them but are fooled by appearances or passion or their own pompousness?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

blog browsing

I woke at the un-earthly hour of 8 am this morning, so decided to waste some time reading blogs I don't usually read. I found many surprisingly insightful. Like the post "re-applying myself" on twenty-nothing, where Debbie offers an experience that I think anyone who ever got caught up in the application process can relate to,
for better or worse, applications have forced me to be much more introspective than i've ever been before. and frankly, much more introspective than i'm comfortable with. yet in a way, i think every person should have to apply somewhere every five or so years. taking the time to answer "what makes you unique?" and "what have you accomplished to date and what are your next steps in life?" has been a profound experience.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

not a review with lots of clips

A couple weeks ago, in constant search of reading material, I happened upon Lost in America, one of the most interesting and stirring books I’ve read in a while. It’s a personal account of Sherwin Nuland, successful Yale surgeon, and author of New York Times bestseller, How We Die. While the focus of the book is on the author’s conflicted relationship with his father and how it affected it and continues to affect him, as he writes in the introduction:
My father’s power and the weakness that nurtured it have accompanies me all the days of my life. I have struggled to be the un-him—to be the opposite of what he was—and in the struggling I have faltered and fallen many times. His lingering power over me has been the source of much of my weakness; I have responded to the threat of his wakens by seeking to find ways to resist it—to be so powerful against it that I am unassailable by the great portion of himself that he has left within me. And in the process, I have instead become rather more like him than less.

I am writing this book to help me come to terms with my father. I am writing this book to finally make peace with him, and perhaps with myself.
Nuland along the way manages to also present us with a seemingly comprehensive account of his coming of age and beyond. I found it fascinating to read such a frank account by a somewhat public figure that is not quite on the brink of death. That is, Nuland writes very openly about many things that most people would find too personal to reveal to the world. For instance he provides a vivid account of his battles with debilitating depression:
From my late thirties until my early forties, I underwent a period of depression that gradually deepened into an intensity so absolute that I finally required admission to a mental hospital, where I stayed for more than a year. Neither medication, psychotherapy, the determined efforts of friends not the devotion of the few people whose love never deserted me had even the most minimal beneficial effect on my worsening state of mind. Finally, faced with my resistance to all forms of treatment till then attempted, the senior psychiatrists at the institution in which I was confined recommended the draconian measure of lobotomy. Their justification for such a drastic course was that disrupting the brain’s neural pathways might bring an immediate end to the complex of obsessional thinking and behavior to which I had succumbed.

I was, in fact, completely disabled by pathological preoccupations and fears. Obsession with coincidences; fixations on recurrent numbers; feelings of worthlessness and physical or sexual inadequacy; religious anxieties of guilt and concerns about G-d’s will; ritualistic thinking and behavior—they crowded in on one another so forcefully as to occupy every lacuna of my mind. I covered before them, not only emotionally but physically, too—my hunched-over posture reflected my decline into helplessness. Rational thinking was driven out by a ferocity of fear that consumed all energy and pride. I came not to have a moment’s peace form the din and deluge of that rampaging stampede of obsessional ideations. So profound was my depression and so tyrannical the jumble of unbidden thoughts and compulsive actions that they ruled the hours of my days and the day of my years. I feared the obsessions, I feared the threatening loss of control, and I feared the fear—all at once. Mostly, I feared for my sanity. (Read more here.)
Another thing I found interesting was his general (conflicting?) attitude towards Judaism (and how it evolved):
Formalized religion, formalized prayer, formalized observance—they are all part of the heritage of my family, and I cherish the sustenance they give me. More than cherish—I need it. As agnostic as my philosophy is, the synagogue has been a place of refuge and a home for me, and the congregation a family. With my wife and my children, I go there more occasionally, a skeptic faithful to his memories.

Monday, January 16, 2006

smart enough yet?

Walter Kirn raises some interesting questions in What's so Great About Acuity?
The devilish problem, of course, is defining "smart enough." Enough to accomplish what, precisely? To make a living or to make a killing? And smart enough to satisfy whom? An employer who wants you to do your work by quitting time or one who wishes you had finished it yesterday? Being able to do what must be done is liberating, but being able to do whatever might be done (or whatever your driven ego or pushy boss might conceivably demand) can be enslaving.
He then brings an example of when it might be beneficial to suffer from decreased mental ability (and no, not the standard example of the dumb blonde catching the man):
I read somewhere once that many mothers and fathers suffer a rapid, appreciable drop in IQ after their babies are born. This, if true, is a huge gift from nature. Diapering, feeding and comforting little ones demands dumb endurance, in my experience, not penetrating cleverness. Thinking too clearly while cleaning up diarrhea on two hours' sleep in a house that you've just realized is one room too small and two times too expensive can make you suicidal.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

walking or driving in the NE and SW

The other week, I was out in NY with a friend who is originally from NY, but more recently a LA resident, and she commented that one of the things she really misses about NY is the walking. In LA, the farthest one walks is from the parking lot to the mall. While in the North East, the tough sort we are, bad weather doesn't stop us from getting out.

Case in point. Today, it was 15º F with flurries in Boston, and a windshield that made it feel like below zero temperatures, yet the streets were filled with people. With or without their gloves and hats, they were on the trains and buses, walking the streets of Boston, bar hopping, window shopping while being careful to avoid the icy patches remaining from this morning's ice storm, stopping to chat with an acquaintance, and alright, complaining a bit about the cold (I find that New Yorkers don’t complain as much about the weather...). While in Southern California, it’s in the 60’s and sunny, and people are in their cars driving to their posh gyms. What a waste.

Friday, January 13, 2006

only in NY

5th Annual No Pants! Subway Ride (found via Express Train):
When you enter the 2nd to last car, act as you normally would. You do not know any of the other pantless riders. If questioned, tell folks that you “forgot to wear pants” and yes you are “a little cold”. Insist that it is a coincidence that others also forgot their pants. Be nice and friendly and normal.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

according to a 1997 medical study, depression hits losers hardest

Most amusing paragraph from this mostly amusing, but sometimes insensitive, dated article in The Onion:
With over one million Americans on Prozac, depression remains America's leading mental illness. But while most patients can expect to benefit from the drug, mental health experts agree that losers will not be helped by prescription drug therapy or, for that matter, anything at all.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Ruse and the transit strike

My favorite photo blogger gets written up in the NYtimes:
When Mr. Ruse first began taking photos in the subway, and for a long time after, he would get stopped by undercover transit officers who, he recalled, were hostile and always seemed to be wearing New Jersey Jets shirts ("It's like the official uniform of undercover transit cops," he said).

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

in favor of small talk in the elevator - but not much more

Entertaining article on a rare building in NYC with friendly tenants: Love (and Leave) Thy Neighbor:
But in New York, where many people don't know their neighbors and prefer it that way, 126 Rivington Street, where the residents eat together, often sleep together and live above a cupcake shop, is an anomaly.

Many New Yorkers their age - or any age - would not choose to live in a place almost devoid of privacy. In most buildings, especially rentals, "there's an unspoken social rule that you only nod at your neighbors or grunt at them in the elevator," said Lockhart Steele, the publisher of the real estate blog
I live in one of those buildings where people generally grunt in the elevator and hallways. And although I don't particularly care to "get to know" my neighbors, I do appreciate it when they are civil, and I admit, I'm not opposed to small talk in the elevator (sometimes I even attempt to initiate it!).

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

among its mysterious ways

Excerpt from NYTimes article that BPS sent my way, While You Were Sleeping:
IT WON'T LAST Falling madly in love significantly changes our body chemistry - but not for long. Researchers from Italy studied a group of people who had fallen in mad, passionate love in the past six months, comparing them with people in longer-term relationships and with single people. The group consumed with passion had more of a stimulating protein called nerve growth factor in their blood. The more intense the feelings of infatuation, the more nerve growth factor there was. But when these same lovers were tested a year later, the levels had dropped back down to normal. Someone should warn Brad and Angelina: their year is up.