Archive for November 2005

Just When I Was Ready to Discuss What We Could Do to Encourage New Thinking Skills in a Seminar at Her Employer, I Get This Question about Believing in God

I am accustomed to being questioned by prospective business clients on all kinds of issues. What I’m not accustomed to is having them ask me, unexpectedly and point-blank, as happened over dinner not long ago, “Do you believe in God?”
But it happened, and I replied immediately, “I don’t believe in your God.”
I think that’s [...]

“Tableaus of Greatness” Department: Dr. Schweitzer’s Sensitivity Toward the Living Extended to the Single, Solitary Ant

Like so much about the man, Dr. Albert Schweitzer’s fondness for animals was legendary. In his book, The Africa of Albert Schweitzer (Harper & Brothers, 1948), Charles Joy captures a moment of confirmation:
“I was sitting beside him on a wall one day, and noticed an ant on his collar. I started to brush it away, [...]

Topics and Attitudes—Not to Mention the Opening Event’s Keynote Speaker—at This Year’s Neuroscience Society Conference Suggest an Important Corner Has Been Turned on the Nature Versus Nurture Debate

A few days ago—in mid-November—the Society for Neuroscience met in Washington, DC, in an event that, if it had any message at all (and it had many), it was this: in terms of exploring and understanding how the brain works, times are a’changing. This was indicated from the opening moments because guess who was invited [...]

More from Our Correspondent in the Middle East: Some NPR-Like Snippets About Bank Accounts, Apartment Hunting and Condoms in the Dust from the Front Lines of Daily Existence in the Deserts of the Gulf Region

I have a Brain Technologies associate now putting down roots in one of the more advanced of the Middle Eastern countries. From time to time, I want to share some of this person’s observations because they have a National Public Radio-like way of revealing more than the headlines often do.
The tight focus with which the [...]

And In These Times of Great Changes, Chaos and Conflict, A Little Levity for Our Souls’ Sake

My favorite limerick:
There was a young fellow from Trinity
Who took the square root of infinity
But the number of digits
Gave him the fidgets;
He dropped Math and took up Divinity.
—with thanks to the late George Gamow, the physicist, who used the doggerel on the frontispiece of his One two three … infinity, Viking Press.

We Just Keep Making the Same Old Mistakes and Using the Same Old Arguments—As One of Mark Twain’s Most Brilliant Stories Warns Us

As hard as I try, I can’t keep Mark Twain’s posthumously published story, The Mysterious Stranger, off my mind for very long these days. That’s because I keep reading the daily newspaper.
Twain’s story was published posthumously because he thought it might get him hung from the nearest tree if he were alive when it appeared. [...]

If You Think Jacob Marley’s Ghost Was on a Mission, Then Get the Ghost of Peter Drucker on Your Case

All weekend long, the ghost of Peter Drucker perched just behind my right shoulder, talking to me all the way. In the end, it got to be a little much. But I knew how to get rid of the apparition. “Now, look, Dr. Drucker…” I said. And the ghost was gone.
Drucker had a doctorate in [...]

Hark! Is It the Voices of Sinclair Lewis and H.L. Mencken We Are Beginning to Hear Again After Years of 1920s-Like Self-Delusion?

As I read The New York Times each morning, I sometimes feel like we have returned to a more (much more) complex version of the 1920s.
Wal-Mart is plotting to force older employees to quit because they’ll use more health care. Gillette is alleged to be allowing its packaging contractors to treat temporary workers like Nike [...]

Turn With Me Now to the Mind of a Great Philosopher as He Muses on the Issue of the Political Religion

What follows is a very long quote by the standards of length I intend for quotes in this space. My rules are violated in this instance because of my intense interest in the troubling issues produced by the increased commingling of church and state in America today.
The speaker is the philosopher George Santayana. The passage [...]

In My Next Life, I Want to Be Able to Watch Newshounds Interview CEOs and Then Write Things Like, “What By Being Not Is—Is Not By Being.”*

In my next life, I want to return as the poet Robert Creeley. (Of course, it would be more convenient if he first departs this life. He’s now 86.) Blinded in one eye (left) at age 5, he seems to have compensated for a lack of complete eyesight with an amazingly sharp verbal acuity. One [...]