I'm about to hear a ratchet click of yet another year of age. Time is truly flying by! One way I try to keep track of things is by taking photos. It started as a hobby, then grew into a business about eight years ago. And it is also therapy. Photography helps me to stay in the moment. Photography is also exciting, and post-production is as exciting as capturing images.I have accumulated an unwieldy number of photos over the past eight years. Given that I'm about to be a year older, I decided to steer away from any existential funk by going through my favorite images from home and abroad. It then occurred to me that I really ought to share these by making them accessible in a website. Over the past two days I have designed my official photography website. I invite you to take a look at some (or many) of the hundreds of images you can find in the seven Galleries.
Today I decided to play the album Chicago V while working.? That album includes a two-part song called "Dialogue."? I remember this song well, including all the lyrics.? That's because I sing one of the lead voices of this song (along with Charles Glenn) with a band I formed with Charles Glenn back in the late 1970's. We were an 7-piece jazz-rock band that performed many types of music, including the music of Chicago, including "Dialogue.""Ego" in 1975.: Tom O'Brien (bass), Tom Atkinson (woodwinds), Erich Vieth (guitar), Mike L'Ecuyer (keyboards), Sharon Schutte (vocalist), Charles Glenn (percussion and vocalist), Mark Harmon (trumpet), Ron Weaver (trumpet) and Mike Harty (trombone). ---- As I heard this tune today, it very much brought me back to the happy times of playing with such an extraordinary group of good friends.? It also struck me how little things have changed.? It also haunts me that the vocal part of the song that I sang in our performances (sung by Terri Kath on the album) is an extraordinary challenge.? I very much meant those opening words as an 18-year old young man and they resonate with me today.?
I'm really enjoying the writing of time-management writer Laura Vanderkam. ?More important, I'm using her ideas to change my life. I discovered Laura on TED. Last week I read her 2018 book,Laura's first order of business: In order to know how to get more out of life, you need to track your time to learn how you are actually spending your hours. Creating this inventory is critically important because humans are notoriously error-plagued when they attempt to intuitively account for how they use their time. We fool ourselves relentlessly. Laura points to studies showing that we claim to be working far more hours than we actually work. For example, people claiming to work 75 hours per week typically worked only 50 hours per week. I've been tracking my time for more than a week using a free spreadsheet, Google Sheets. My rows consist of 20 categories (sleeping,attorney work, exercising, entertainment, altruism, eating, reading, wasting time on social media, etc). My columns are the days of the week. Fitbit keeps exercise and sleep counts accurate and an insurance company app tells me house much time I'm actually driving. I estimate the other activities, inputting the data several times per day. It only takes a few minutes per day once you set up your spreadsheet.
How corrupt is the U.S.? This video by Represent US gives us the shocking result. We have the best government that money can buy.
At The Atlantic, Jay Van Bavel discusses recent experiments showing that we are not permanently polarized with regard to our political positions. The article is titled, How Political Opinions Change.
In a recent experiment, we showed it is possible to trick people into changing their political views. In fact, we could get some people to adopt opinions that were directly opposite of their original ones. . . . A powerful shaping factor about our social and political worlds is how they are structured by group belonging and identities... We are also far more motivated to reason and argue to protect our own or our group’s views. Indeed, some researchers argue that our reasoning capabilities evolved to serve that very function.People tend to take more extreme positions of their same viewpoint when challenged with information supporting the opposite view. The trick is to suggest to the person that they actually held the opposite view through false-feedback. The take-away: "people have a pretty high degree of flexibility about their political views once you strip away the things that normally make them defensive."
It's not enough to be a scientifically savvy person, because your scientific savviness can be hijacked by your tribal impulses, leading to such things as intelligent people vigorously arguing that climate change is a hoax. That is the conclusion of Dan Kahan, writing for The Atlantic in "Why Smart People Are Vulnerable to Putting Tribe Before Truth."
Unless accompanied by another science-reasoning trait, the capacities associated with science literacy can actually impede public recognition of the best available evidence and deepen pernicious forms of cultural polarization.
My two daughters are now living far away, attending college. I thought it might be a good time to reflect on what it means to be a parent. I looked hard for some quotes that reflected my experiences:
"Before I got married I had six theories about raising children; now, I have six children and no theories. "? John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester (1647-1680)?
"One thing I had learned from watching chimpanzees with their infants is that having a child should be fun." Jane Goodall
"Parenting without a sense of humor is like being an accountant who sucks at math.” —Amber Dusick, blogger
From "Brain Pickings," a blog by Maria Popova - first, Popova quotes Rilke:
“I hold this to be the highest task of a bond between two people: that each should stand guard over the solitude of the other.”
Then Popova begins her blog post:
"“Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls,” the great Lebanese-American poet, philosopher, and painter Kahlil Gibran counseled in what remains the finest advice on the secret to a loving and lasting relationship.
Our paradoxical longing for intimacy and independence is a diamagnetic force — it pulls us toward togetherness and simultaneously repels us from it with a mighty magnet that, if unskillfully handled, can rupture a relationship and break a heart. Under this unfiving magnetism, it becomes an act of superhuman strength and self-transcendence to give space to the other when all one wants is closeness. And yet this difficult act may be the very thing — perhaps the only thing — that saves the relationship over and over."
Wonderful TED talk by Journalist Jonathan Hari. Two Quotes stand out:
Professor Peter Cohen in the Netherlands said, maybe we shouldn't even call it addiction. Maybe we should call it bonding. Human beings have a natural and innate need to bond, and when we're happy and healthy, we'll bond and connect with each other, but if you can't do that, because you're traumatized or isolated or beaten down by life, you will bond with something that will give you some sense of relief. . . . And I think the core of that message -- you're not alone, we love you -- has to be at every level of how we respond to addicts, socially, politically and individually. For 100 years now, we've been singing war songs about addicts. I think all along we should have been singing love songs to them, because the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.-- See also, Rachel Wurzman's TED talk: How Isolation Fuel's Opiod Addiction.
The effects of social disconnection through opioid receptors, the effects of addictive drugs and the effects of abnormal neurotransmission on involuntary movements and compulsive behaviors all converge in the striatum. And the striatum and opioid signaling in it has been deeply linked with loneliness. 09:48 When we don't have enough signaling at opioid receptors, we can feel alone in a room full of people we care about and love, who love us. Social neuroscientists, like Dr. Cacioppo at the University of Chicago, have discovered that loneliness is very dangerous. And it predisposes people to entire spectrums of physical and mental illnesses. 10:16 Think of it like this: when you're at your hungriest, pretty much any food tastes amazing, right? So similarly, loneliness creates a hunger in the brain which neurochemically hypersensitizes our reward system. And social isolation acts through receptors for these naturally occurring opioids and other social neurotransmitters to leave the striatum in a state where its response to things that signal reward and pleasure is completely, completely over the top. And in this state of hypersensitivity, our brains signal deep dissatisfaction. We become restless, irritable and impulsive.