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Showing posts from September, 2017

THE GREATEST TRICK

This just in: Study finds that kids whose friends enjoy good moods are more likely to report good moods themselves, and the opposite holds true for those with sad friends. Proving or at least supporting what I have always believed - viz., that moods are contagious. So why is it that I, who smile the whole day through, am almost always alone?

It is probably because I insist on telling anyone willing to listen that life is a dream. I have even written a book on the subject. It's been three years and my On Dreams has yet to sell one copy, other than the one I purchased for myself. 

This does not detract from my assertion's truth. The only thing differentiating your waking hours from your shut-eye is the length of time it takes to get through them. Your day dream, what you call life, appears to go on longer than your night dream. You are said to live 80 or so years, while the average dream is over in minutes. But since time is a mental construct that endows our dreams with duration,…

GIVE TRUMP A HUG

Boy meets girl. Boy falls madly in love with girl. Girl feels the same way. Boy and girl get together for a time. It's nice. As happens, they have a fight and break up. It hurts so much they wish they had never even met.

Sound familiar? Of course it does. It's the modern love story and we've all experienced some version of it. Each romantic interlude is its own answer to the age-old question, "Is it really better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?" How can it be when breaking up is so agonizing that we try to erase the memory of our lover from existence!

And in the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, this actually happens. Well not really, because it's just a movie. But ex-lovers Joel and Clementine do independently go to a scientist who hooks them up to a machine and zaps away their shared memories. And yet fate won't keep them apart. The two meet again as strangers, but sense a connection neither of them can explain. A curiou…

WELCOME TO SWIPE LEFT LAND

The Rorschach test is a therapeutic tool in which a subject's appraisal of various inkblot impressions is recorded and interpreted by a psychologist to examine personality traits and emotional architecture. The accuracy of the test is a function of the therapist's aptitude, the subject's honesty and the picture's interpretability. Some images just look downright bizarre. I don't know about you but I always see a colorful pelvis. What does that say about me? 

Widely used in the 60s, the test that bears its Swiss developer's name has fallen out of favor somewhat and been dismissed as pseudoscience whose results are little better than what can be obtained by chance. Though it is still taught in graduate programs all over the country, some therapists have retired the test in favor of more reliable methods of evaluating personality such as, I dunno, the good ole questionnaire. If a person answers "no" when I ask "Do you think you are better than other …

YOUR BRAIN IN A BOX

A worthwhile exercise in freeing your mind from the delusion that it even exists is to see the world and your place in it from a fresh and clean perspective. We find what we are looking for - to glimpse reality as it truly is, seek nothing - while also sounding like a commercial for Irish Spring.

As William James has said in his oft-quoted Varieties of Religious Experience: "When one views the world with no definite theological bias one way or the other, one sees that order and disorder, as we now recognize them, are purely human inventions. We are interested in certain types of arrangement, useful, aesthetic, or moral— so interested that whenever we find them realized, the fact emphatically rivets our attention. The result is that we work over the contents of the world selectively. It is overflowing with disorderly arrangements from our point of view, but order is the only thing we care for and look at, and by choosing, one can always find some sort of orderly arrangement in the …

ADVANCES IN FIBEROPTICS

Today a catastrophic occurrence rattled me to my very core. It happened while I was in the kitchen preparing my breakfast. I had just finished cutting up a mango, and as I opened the cupboard and reached for a plate, my forearm knocked over a coffee mug and sent it toppling toward the countertop. As the cup fell through the air I calmly stood by and watched as my hand shot out and caught it inches before it crashed against the tile. 

Now my impulse was to applaud these lightning-fast reflexes of a super-hero. But the realization that overwhelmed any self-congratulatory instinct was this: "I didn't just do that." Catching the cup wasn't caused by my conscious awareness. Whoever sent a message to my hand to save the glass was not me. At least not who I think myself to be. There was no voluntary control involved. 

And as your friendly neighborhood neurologist will tell you, my saving the glass cannot be explained away by calling it a reflex. Without getting too technical:…

MY FRIEND'S OLD FARTS

Have you ever discovered a truth so momentous and vital, you are overcome by the inexorable urge to share it with all your friends? Your inclination is to scream its message from the rooftop, advertise it on bus stops, post it on your news feed - and write about it in a blog nobody reads. Well it happens to me all the time. 

My dad, you see, is a dauntless patron of the Home Shopping Network. Growing up our kitchen was littered with all sorts of gadgets - salad spinners and spiralizers, food processors and ginsu knives that never got dull with use, but only because they were never used. Meanwhile our driveway housed enough workout equipment - more impulse buys, of course - to rival the local Bally's gym. Anyone with any business sense whatsoever would have opened the garage up to the neighborhood for a small fee and easily paid off the mortgage by the century's end. 

But I call myself a philosopher when I call myself anything, and thankfully I don't watch much TV. I have how…