We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Thursday, December 31. 2009
A Dr. B. re-post from our long-ago archives -
"Why do I do all these things for Jim, Dr Bliss, when for the past six months I can't stand his presence and I can't even stand the way he eats? Is it because I feel guilty, or have no self-esteem?"
Guilty? Self-esteem? It's of interest to me how the morality-free zone of psycho-babble in our popular culture can obscure the persistence of the old virtues, even among those who live them.
The language of duty, loyalty, honor, self-sacrifice, endurance, perseverance, reliability, courage, self-reliance - the things Bill Bennet wrote about - has been replaced by a language of "feeling" and "guilt" in some strange and ill-informed distortion of psychoanalytic understandings.
Indeed, "my feelings" appear to have replaced the virtues to the point that "not being true to your feelings" is like a modern-day sin. And yes, I guess it is a sin - if you regard yourself as a god.
But back to my patient. I know her well enough to know that she was raised with the sturdy Mid-Western Presbyterian virtues, internalized them, and lives them. Her kindness and thoughfulness with her husband are driven by character (in the old sense of the word) - not guilt, and surely not, at the moment anyway, by "loving feelings." For her, it would not be so much "guilt" in betraying her character - it would be "failure." And not life failure, but a failure to be who she was built to be.
The point I want to make is not about my patient's psychology, or how she ought to deal with her situation. That's another subject. It's about the pop-psych assumptions that are in the air that would cause a person who "does the right thing" despite her emotions of the moment is somehow afflicted by "guilt" or some other pathology (although guilt is not a pathology), rather than being a mature person whose habits of character are stronger than her emotions.
I sometimes joke that if we were all true to our feelings, we'd all be in jail.
A few take-home points:
There is one tonight, for whatever it means.
and here's Dylan's cover of the tune from 1970's Self Portrait:
Except for the lift lines one can expect this weekend, I wouldn't mind waking up tomorrow morning in Killington:
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 12:36 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
So I learn from my post yesterday about HDR that I now have to learn about Ansel Adams' Zone System. Sheesh. I just like to take casual family snaps.
I do not aspire to be an expert in this. Can't do everything.
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 12:03 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
New Years Eve. Time to party hearty? Been there, done that in youth. No more. There's no point to it.
We ask our readers to please drink responsibly. Each reader is precious to us, and we cannot afford to lose one to a traffic accident.
Speaking of alcohol abuse and alcoholism, here's an interesting report on The Three Types of Alcoholism. I am not sure whether it corresponds well to my clinical experience or not. Probably not. However, this does:
In other words, substance addiction often - but not always - has underpinnings of either neuroticism or sociopathy. In the end, every human - drunk or sober - is a unique individual with his own basket of issues.
To Change One’s Life:
1. Start immediately.
2. Do it flamboyantly.
3. No exceptions.
- William James (h/t, Protein). Sounds like a recipe for disaster for 99%.
Here's another, h/t Vermont Tiger:
New Year's is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls and humbug resolutions.
- Mark Twain
A more interesting mission than global cooling: asteroid prevention
Why do we delay gratification even when there is no downside?
Econ 101: water
Rent or buy? Megan.
Now we own GMAC too. Why?
Reisman: The central problem is the central bank
Are Harvard guys sissies? Some of them are, for sure. Plus, insults are fun. What's the big deal? Anybody who cannot handle an insult or two is a sissy.
Related: Is the Dem healthcare bill consitutional? Inquiring minds wonder. I say No, and I have read the thing (the Constitution) many times. Always seemed to be about individual freedom to me, and restricting the reach of government.
Wednesday, December 30. 2009
While I am quite pleased and content with my own (first) marriage, when I talk with unhappy people, which I do all day, I am often reminded that the nuclear family is a very recent invention, that the notion of romantic love is also recent, that arranged marriages and marriages of convenience or necessity were the norms of the past, and that humans are not "naturally" monogamous - whatever I might mean by "naturally".
When you put the nuclear family together with dreams of enduring romantic love, it's a set-up for disappointment. The nuclear family, unlike the extended family (or the tribe), is isolating and does not provide a broad base of support in life. Intense romantic love, unlike plain old-fashioned strong attraction and desire, is a regressed state of mind - some shrinks half-jokingly call it a form of insanity. Not that it isn't great fun, but it gives way to reality in time, although the best marriages can rekindle the old feeling from time to time.
One thing that is probably not talked about enough is how many marriages are not founded in "true love," but instead are founded on loneliness, desire for companionship, desire for babies, desire for security, fear of becoming an old maid, friendship, desire for a social foundation, etc. This is not a bad thing, but I sometimes wonder whether the contrived and ridiculously costly fairy-tale trappings of the typical American wedding is designed to obscure those facts. Young folks these days often talk about having "friends with benefits" while they await true love, without realizing that "friends with benefits" can be one description of one kind of satisfying marriage.
But to get back on track here, yes, I believe that we tend to wish that a marriage could meet all of our emotional and physical needs. Shrinks term that a regressive, ie childish, wish - not just because it is unrealistic, but also because if emphasizes the "meeting my needs" aspect of a relationship rather than emphasizing "how can I try to give these people (wife, kids) a good life".
It's a truism that people thrive when they have multiple sources for emotional care, and many outlets for love and caring. Friends, colleagues, neighbors, members of clubs or churches, etc, Making and keeping good friends is not really an easy thing to do, and I don't know anyone who doesn't want one, or doesn't want another one. In fact, I suspect that one reason moms want jobs these days is because they feel isolated with their kids.
Althouse noted a NYT op-ed piece by History Prof Stephanie Coontz about the limits of marriage. Althouse comments:
Quotes from the Coontz piece:
Read the whole thing here.
A powerful piece by Steele in the WSJ (h/t, reader). The emperor has no clothes, says Steele. One quote:
Capt. Tom posted a snow photo of an old Ford truck enhanced by HDR. I had no idea what HDR is, and I mainly/only take family snaps.
Apparently it is High Dynamic Range imaging. I wouldn't term it a surrealistic effect: more like a hyper-realism effect. Like an oil painting. Or like what the eye sees, when gazing at a certain spot.
This guy discusses how to use HDR. It's over my head. Maybe a reader can make it simple for me.
This fine night photo of NYC is in large scale here.
Mr. Nyquist has a post about truth, with abundant cool quotes including this from Nietzche: "Nobody dies nowadays of a fatal truth. There are too many antidotes to them." A quote from his piece:
This one came in over the transom a few years ago:
Basic sex tips for guys from Maximum Man and 2 Girls Teach Sex.
If you need "Business Formal" for your work, but are of the thrifty sort who does not like to spend $2-3000 on a suit, the Brooks Brothers winter sale only has a few more days to go.
I make sure I always have a bit of this stuff on hand, if only for weddings, funerals, and special parties. However, my 20 year-old Brooks tux probably gets more use than my suits: I am not in a Business Formal line of work and I have been fortunate lately in not having many funerals to attend.
"[W]hen the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliament was advised by an artful man, who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually, by totally disusing and neglecting the militia."
George Mason, speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, 1788. h/t, Patriot Post
Why the Dems will lose the House in 2010
Satire in the US - but it could be reality in England
The cadence is indeed odd. In fact, he seems pissed to have to be talking instead of golfing. Somebody told him to do this.
Iran: Khamenei has his escape planned
Dems love taxes, but do their damnest not to pay them. All the rich Dems I know are like that. Now another four more caught. Wizbang
sorry for the link problems below - the links do work -
Are you sure we want a world without nukes? at Marginal Rev http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2009/12/a-world-without-nuclear-weapons.html
Bob Herbert: There is a middle-class tax time bomb ticking in the Senate’s version of President Obama’s effort to reform health care. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/29/opinion/29herbert.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss
Orszag discusses how to redistribute while wounding but not quite killing the golden goose
Betsy: Don't you find Janet Napolitano so reassuring?
Smart science student? It's not fair, but We can fix that.
Tuesday, December 29. 2009
A BD pupette made home-made pumpkin ravioli last week. Nothing but butter and a little chopped sage on top. Delicious, but one only has to make the home-made ravioli pasta one time, just for the experience. After that, you can use wonton wrappers from the store instead.
Here's Alton on the topic:
On Friday morning a patient told me that he liked to hire people who are in AA because he knows that they struggle with honesty, and take the subject seriously - and often know more first-hand about dishonesty than most.
So thanks to Assistant Village Idiot for noting a relevant piece by the always interesting Kling at TCS on the anthropological subject of "trust cues" in human relationships and especially in affiliative groups (tribes), That's Your Cue.
Are humans tribal? You bet they are. And it often makes good sense to be.
Trust cues are our ways of indicating that we are members of a group, or tribe, and that it is important for us to be a member in good standing. In a sense, my patient took AA "membership" as a trust cue, because he knows they talk about honesty all the time in AA.
My favorite example of a trust cue which is ceremonially acknowledged is the "made man" in the Mafia: the guys know they can fear and trust him because he has blood on his hands. A similar example might be admission to any exclusive club.
But trust cues aren't always rational or reliable. For example, I have a bias towards trusting the intentions of serious Christians but, as far as I know, serious Christians are as morally flawed as everyone else. I suppose I'd like to believe that we, like the AA "members," worry more about how we treat others.
Thus trust cues do not necessarily mean "trust" in a moral sense, but more "trust that we're on the same page;" that we view the world somewhat similarly, and/or that we share enough similar life experience to constitute some sort of group membership.
When I attend a psychoanalytic meeting, I know it's my "club:" mere attendance indicates some fundamental interest in unconscious processes. When I go to my church, I know I'm with my "tribe:" we are all interested enough in Christ to show up. And, come to think about it - if you really want to see a trust cue festival, attend a Dartmouth alumni Christmastime cocktail party: you have never seen so much green conviviality since St. Patrick's Day in NYC.
What Kling does, in his discussion of Wade's book Before the Dawn, is to note the ways in which dogma (as opposed to truth) is used or abused to indicate group membership.
It has been my view that the current fad of getting upset about global warming is a trust cue, and little more. What it actually proclaims is "I am virtuous and I care a lot, and I don't mind more government control over things." The science, and the real empirical debate, lies outside the cue structure. Assertion of tribal membership is what such political postures are all about.
I Like Guns video at Tiger
I discover, sometimes, that things about others which I detest are qualities of my own which I detest, reject, and attempt to disown by pinning them on others.
Although I am not a Borderline Personality, there is an element of projective identification in this. Whether in fantasy or in reality, we can mentally construct another person so as to contain, embody (or, if the person is in our personal lives, to even get them to enact) our own rejected demons. Then we can detest them or look down on them while preserving an illusionary and undeserved self-esteem.
I have learned to reflect on the qualities I seem to be most irritated by or contemptuous of in others and to do a little reality check to see whether it's more about my stuff than about theirs.
Do you find yourself doing this sometimes, as I do?
Sign via Theo
How Manhattan is out to lunch. Olasky
Expel Students Who Might Kill Themselves? Minding the Campus
Last exit to utopia. City Journal
Iran: The stolen election. Am Scholar
Contemporary Art and Reviving Civilisation. New English Review
Bomb suspects were released from Gitmo
The Dem war against the not-so-rich and the aspiring
Via Riehl re the O and Duncan:
Monday, December 28. 2009
Almost everyone agrees that 2009 is ending on a troubled or fearsome note. That leaves little space for my tendency toward optimism. Yet I still remain optimistic.
Why? I believe that the activism of free individuals, alone and in concert, is an increasing force in the
Although some shifts may be radical, it won’t be a revolt led by radicals nor will radicals take over in its wake. The revolt toward individual freedoms will be by the majorities of common-sense pragmatists, empowered by modern means to communicate and organize despite statist efforts to stifle these abilities. Extremists and false populists will be more quickly exposed and rejected.
Whatever their political label, the entrenched oligarchies throughout the world are as one in their primacy upon feathering and protecting their own nests. In most countries their selfish actions are recognized as already or becoming over-reaching, with reckless abandon endangering existing or nascent basic freedoms and economic security. Rapidly expanding numbers of citizens are moving to activism, in the voting booths and the streets, as excuses, rationalizations, and lies are less and less tolerated.
Realities are unavoidable. Those on the left admit that their year of “hope” has instead been politically hackneyed, essentially hollow, and played out. Those on the right tend to get mired in the undeniable fears that across the board the acts of those in control of
In 2010, those who wish to lead and succeed will be innovative, constructive optimists who unite us to go beyond just complaining. The
The coming year will not be the end of statist profiteers, but the optimistic beginning of their end, at least for this generation.
Re John Adams and freedom, a quote from Serfdom vs. liberty in 2010 in the Pittsburgh Trib:
Image: John Adams, right-wing nutjob
Watch out for (yield) curves
Why is this clown in charge of our security?
WSJ: The New Climate Litigation How about if we sue you for breathing?
A Lib discovers that other nations pursue their own interests
Related, 25 Brits in jet bomb plots
Related, Human Rights according to the O Admin
With half the world either on vacation, spaced out, "enjoying" family, skiing, lounging in the Caribbean over Mohitos and Rum Punches, or too busy digesting cookies to spare time for the intertubes, it seems like a good time to mix in some daily Dr. B. re-runs from our archives.
This one, "A Good Spanking," is from 2007.
The proposed anti-spanking law in California has been much discussed, as here at Education Wonks. Also, Raven.The story has also been much mocked: Blame Bush notes that spanking can lead to things which are considered "disorders" in California, such as respect for authority, consideration of rules, self-discipline, and awareness of consequences.
There may be some shrinks who are opposed to corporal punishment, but I do not think that I know any. There are many situations for which I would recommend corporal punishment (eg ignoring a rule about playing in the street, or accidentally pointing a BB gun at somebody, or being sadistic with a sibling or a pet - for a few examples) and, in general, I think it is preferable to withdrawal of love or attention (ie, "time-outs," which I think are usually applied when the adult needs the break from the kid. That is, a "time-out" is a cop-out.).
In fact, I think schools ought to be able to administer corporal punishment too. I received my share, and not only did it not harm me - I think it helped me (in retrospect!). It "concentrates the mind," assists the memory, sets a firm limit, and demonstrates "tough love." A reasonable degree of anger is an essential accompaniment.
What I observe more than anything else is that defiant, obnoxious, or even "conduct disordered" kids - and sometimes just naughty kids, get sent to psychiatrists and social workers before anyone tries forceful discipline - as if growing up respectful and obedient were automatic. For many it is, but for many it is not.
Never forget that when a young adult messes with a drill sargent, watch out. When an adult messes with a cop, that adult will be taught a very firm physical lesson. When an adult breaks a serious rule, men without smiles with loaded guns will come and point them at your chest, throw you to the floor, cuff you, and lock you away in a small room with Bubba-With-No-Teeth who is big and strong and feeling lonely.
So a good whuppin', when needed, isn't really so bad. It beats humiliation by a long shot. When the rules of life are not internalized, they need to be enforced externally until they are - which for some people means never. Some fear is very useful in life to keep us out of trouble. We can be their friends later, after they grow up a bit.
Spare the rod and spoil the child. Do not listen to those who deliberately and sneakily try to conflate punishment with child abuse, and never let the government tell you how to raise your kids. In case you haven't noticed yet, the government is an idiot.
Related: Dr. Helen on kids who kill
Image: Boy being birched by teacher, no doubt deservedly, while other students observe. 1375.
I should have known that the line to get into the Guggenheim yesterday would wrap around the block. Thus we just returned the pupette to her apartment with her Christmas loot in time for her to cook a post-Christmas dinner for friends (I think Julia and Julie inspired her), and we banged around town a little. Lousy photographer.
I do love NYC for its vitality. I think this is the Ukrainian mission to the UN on the right:
The walk-up in Yorkville on 85th where Mrs. BD first lived when she moved to NYC. I hiked up those stairs many times to the fifth floor. It was worth the effort.
Very convenient to the dry-cleaners -
More below the fold -
Continue reading "NYC yesterday"
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