Saturday, June 23, 2018

A Closer Look



Having recently studied the brain and human behavior, this story really caught my eye.

A scientist was doing research on the brain hoping to identify common characteristics of sociopaths (especially serial killers).  He mapped his brain and his family's along with the "killer" samples to use in the "control" group.  All of the family group was normal except for one "killer" brain -- his own!

Astonished, he went home to tell his wife.  Her response?  "I'm not surprised."  Then, he went to all of his colleagues and friends:  "You're very smart, organized, witty, a great guy at a party.  When it comes to feeling close to you, sorry."

He thought to himself:  "Well, that's interesting."  And, he then realized, "That's the response of a sociopath, all right."

 He seized on the intelligent approach: "Well, some sociopaths serve society:  Surgeons.  CEO's.  Maybe scientists." Then he researched his ancestry and found several killers among them...including Lizzie Borden!

So now, our scientist is working on what he decided to do with his newfound knowledge:  He studied the characteristics of empathy and is faking it as best as he can.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Truth and Consquences



Remember the good old days when we had the luxury of contemplating the "end of truth"?  When the physicists were telling us that reality is indeed a collaboration between the observed and the observer?  "Not so fast" we now whine.  As we drown in a sea of lies, we cling to our lifeboat called Truth.  "Please, we need to be saved by truth."

Same for the FBI.  We oldsters remember when Hoover was busy unleashing his band of white male clones.  His targets were the "Commies" among us, the protesters, MLK.  Now we celebrate those men, desperate for their investigation to force things back in place.

It's tough being an observer in this upside down world.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Alone or Not



The legal strategy now allowed in sexual predator cases that nailed Bill Cosby and maybe Harvey Weinstein is permitting the testimony of many women in order to establish a "pattern of conduct." Previously, each woman had to stand alone.

I wonder what will happen if these cases reach the Supreme Court.  Just this week, there was a 5 to 4 decision (hello, Neil Gorsuch) depriving employees of the right to band together to fight the bosses' companywide policies.  And, if I understand it right, each employee -- if they want to get hired --
could be forced to agree to arbitration thus blocking them from the courts and the jury system.

So, again if I understand it right, a woman has a better chance of fighting sexual harassment than a woman or a man standing up to employer harassment.

The guys keep their priorities intact, don't they?

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

All or Nothing



Sports fans like me are noticing a chorus of complaints from the talking heads.  In baseball, they are lamenting the dominance of either a home run or a strikeout.  "We are losing the great shortstop play, or the exciting throw from third or deep in center," goes the dirge.

In basketball, they point to the three-pointer.  "Not enough action under the basket.  Too many points piled up too fast."  Some have suggested widening the court to make those shots from the corner even more difficult.  Of course, they would have to move back some of the millionaire seats, so it probably will never pass the ownership test.

All this reminds me of what is happening in Washington.  Devil or savior.  Crook or white hat.  The games and the political game have this in common:  lack of contact...lack of engagement.  Too much air between home plate and the stands.  Too much air from mid-court into the basket. Too much hot air on cable.

And I haven't mentioned the arrival of legalized sports gambling.  Everyone is predicting a flood of cash.  Sounds like politics to me.




Saturday, May 12, 2018

Why We Shake Hands



After the Sixers' playoff run came to an end when they lost to the Celtics, Joel Embiid walked off the court without shaking hands with the winning team.  Bad sport.  I immediately remembered when Isiah Thomas and the Pistons turned their backs. The Bulls had finally defeated them after so many tries.  He and his team were criticized for being such bad sports.  I never liked Isiah again.

So, I was disturbed when one of my favorite sportscasters, Jemille Hill, defended Imbiid and the ESPN colleagues she was discussing it with seemed to agree. "He was showing his passion for winning.  Showing that he was serious."

Yes, of course we root for our favorites.  But we understand that both sides are serious.  Both sides are passionate.  We shake hands to acknowledge the beauty of engagement.  The winning is sweet because this time it's your turn.  Next time maybe not.




Sunday, May 6, 2018

Pointless Points




My bridge playing friends know what the expression "Points Schmoints" means:  there is more than one way to evaluate a hand.  I was thinking about this as my friend David lamented that a computer breakdown had prevented him from getting the "points" he needs for a free donut.

Then I went home, opened my email, and found out that because one vendor considers me a "VIP Customer",  I am entitled to "points(!)" which I can use at times and for purchases that are too complicated to describe.

Walgreens is a little more straightforward.  Seniors get 20% off on the first Tuesday of the month.  Of course, you have to remember the date. But, like bridge, they say memory games are good for your brain.

Target gives 5% discount on everything as long as you use their "Red Card."  I'm sure there is profit in there somewhere.

Facebook probably wishes they were giving "points" for your VIP identity.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Another Way



My friend Marilyn recently posted a moving depiction of grief.  It showed how grief's intensity may fade over time, only to be punctured by moments of vivid memory.  We never escape but learn to endure.

The Japanese have added another approach to life's promise of despair.  In this country and culture, you can hire an actor to assume the role of a departed family member.  One man hired a woman to take the place of his wife.  It wasn't a sexual arrangement.  He just wanted his "wife" to be waiting for him when he came home from work.

A distraught mother hired a man to "be" the husband who had deserted the family leaving the daughter behind.  The miserable young girl blossomed after her "father" returned occasionally to care for her.

Japanese weddings are often populated by guests who are hired "members of the family."  The same goes for boyfriends and girlfriends when the need arrises.

Too cold and pragmatic for you?  Too unsatisfying?  Or maybe creative enough to merit another thought.