Monday, February 27, 2006

more talk of science related categorization

In NYtimes Op-Ed, A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Measure, Adam Phillips discusses the concept of redefining psychotherapy as a "hard science" and in the process also touches on some interesting points regarding science, religion, and human nature. Some snippets:
The scientific method alone is never going to be enough, especially when we are working out how to live and who we can be.

The things we value most, just like the things we most fear, tend to be those we have least control over.

Psychotherapy turns up historically at the point at which traditional societies begin to break down and consumer capitalism begins to take hold.

If psychotherapy has anything to offer—and this should always be in question—(His admitting that psychotherapy is something that shouldn't be blindly accepted makes his opinions more credible in my book, probably since there's very little—if anything—I’m not skeptical about myself...)

Psychotherapy makes use of a traditional wisdom holding that the past matters and that, surprisingly, talking can make people feel better even if at first, for good reasons, they resist it. There is an appetite to talk and to be listened to, and an appetite to make time for doing those things.

Friday, February 24, 2006

the women's garb

Travis Ruse captures Chasidic women:

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

the engineer’s humor

Microsoft was on campus today asking engineering students to write/draw something on the topic of what engineering means to them (I drew a rocket, and wrote “It IS rocket science,” a line I borrowed from one of my mechanics professors) and giving out these little magnetic toys as an incentive, on which there was the following warning statement:
*WARNING! Product should never be eaten for ANY meal, but especially not dinner.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

President Summers, for all it’s worth, I think you’re alright

I am grossly disturbed by the news of Summers’ resignation—well, not so much his resignation, but the circumstances that lead him to resign, the Nytimes reports:
The decision to step down came from Dr. Summers after he decided that his situation had become untenable
How can people be so obnoxious as to force someone to be compelled to resign on the basis that “his situation had become untenable”? So he made a un-P.C. comment. Big deal. He has a right to an opinion. He even apologized. Repeatedly. Should it really deem him unfit to continue his tenure as president? And besides, shouldn’t we be thanking him for the entertainment? (I personally thoroughly enjoyed the uproar triggered by his remarks.)

I am saddened by the "innate" cruelty that persists in women and men alike. And I am inclined to feel more anti-politics and anti-feminist than ever.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

marriage pop quiz

Take it here.
Everyone agrees that marriage isn't what it used to be, and everyone is quite right. But most of what "everyone knows" about what matrimony used to be and just how it has changed is wrong. How much do you really know about marriage? Find out by answering the true or false questions.
(I failed, getting 9/13 wrong, but it's not news to me that I'm no authority on marriage...)

Sunday, February 12, 2006

to attract or to repel

From an interview discussing his latest book, Maimonides, Sherwin Nuland’s response to, Did this book in any way change your relationship to Judaism?
Well, I'm a funny kind of a Jew. I call myself an observant agnostic, because I go to shul every Saturday. The rabbi knows I'm an agnostic. You know, my colleagues in the shul know I'm an agnostic, but I get carried away by the emotion of the thing. Having been brought up in an Orthodox home, I become the biggest shuckler in the place. And without meaning to, in becoming someone knowledgeable in the biography of Maimonides, I look at myself as a little more a part of the Jewish community of this town than I did before.
Reading this, I got the feeling that I had read it before, and I did, but coming from someone else, of another generation, and in slightly different terminology (posted here).

Makes me wonder whether, if all Jews felt this drawing towards other Jews, regardless of their philosophical leanings, if perhaps we wouldn’t need to be concerned about the American Jew vanishing after all...Is this the secret to our immortality that amazed Mark Twain*? And if so, are we in danger of losing our “immortality” as too many Jews try to run from their identity (or their seeming lack thereof) and alienate themselves from other Jews?

*(He has made a marvellous fight in this world, in all the ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it. The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished.

The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?)

Friday, February 03, 2006

clever-ish piece on dating

BPS sent this amusing n+1 article my way. Some highlights:
Dating presents itself as an education in human relationships. In fact it’s an anti-education. You could invent no worse preparation for love, for marriage, than the tireless pursuit of the perfect partner.

We must stop dating. But we can’t. Because the only way to stop dating would be to date more, and more efficiently...

The only way to stop dating is to fall in love. But how, under conditions of dating, would this be possible? You are affected by all the dates you’ve been on, the relationships you’ve had. The pain you’ve inflicted binds you to the people who bore the brunt of it.