Archive | December, 2013

On Reading

29 Dec

George R. R. Martin: A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.

Novel Commemts

26 Dec

Upon the recommendation of a dear friend, I have just read The Signature of All Things (2013) by Elizabeth Gilbert. It has been an excellent read. Especially impressive have been Ms. Gilbert’s mastery of the science of botany, which frames the story, and her rendition of the time in which the story is set, the 1800’s. But even better is her portrayal of the life-long struggles of one woman, Alma Whittaker, with what seemed to her to be the contradictory elements inherent in a rational scientific approach to work and life, sexual passion, and mystical spirituality. Over the course of her life, Alma became an expert in botany and even an independent discoverer of evolution, a virgin wife, and a respectful doubter of the mystical. Although never able to reconcile completely reason with passion and with the mystical, she did what she could and as she matured, became far more tolerant of the contradictions she still perceived and those who were struggling with them as well. 


24 Dec

Crocker, J. & Carnevale, J: “Self-esteem that is contingent on success is fragile.” (Letting go of self-esteem. Scientific American Mind, 2013, 24. 4, p. 28)

Online Dating & Marriage

20 Dec

It looks like using the internet to search for a mate leads to more satisfactory marriages with fewer breakups. ( Scientific American Mind, 2013, 24, 4, p. 13)

On your side?

15 Dec

Jascha Heifetz: No matter what side of the argument you’re on, you always find some people on your side that you wish were on the other side.

Unhappy Marriages & Depression

13 Dec

A University of Michigan study found that people with unsupportive spouses were much more likely to develop depression than those with positive marital relationships. (PLOS ONE, April 30 in Monitor on Psychology, 2013, 44, 7, p. 17)


8 Dec

Among 35 to 64 year old Americans, the suicide rate increased by 28.4% between 1999 and 2010, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Monitor on Psychology, 2013, 44, 7, p. 12)

Be Aware

5 Dec

Stanislaw Lec: No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.

Novel Comments

2 Dec

Where’d You Go, Bernadette (2012), a Maria Semple novel, deserves the high critical praise it has been given for its laugh-out-loud humor and its masterful interweaving of first person narrative with letters, e-mails, written documents, and even an ER bill. By having the narrator, Bernadette’s daughter, Bee, use these various materials written from and to a variety of characters, Ms. Semple shows how to enact what seemed to me to be the unifying message of the story: It is best to use all the resources at hand to understand, create, and communicate.

The title character, Bernadette, a master architect, was able to show what wonderful creations can be made from using concrete materials, by the way which often did include poured concrete. But all collapsed, or was razed, because she disregarded human resources. Except for her daughter and husband, Bernadette could only try to connect with those at a distance. She wrote her most personally revealing missives to a former architect mentor, who admittedly barely knew her personally and lived elsewhere, and to a virtual assistant in India, who turned out to be an internet scam run by the Russian Mafia. She could only deal with the culture and people where she lived, Seattle, through very funny, and often accurate, satire and withdrawal. Underneath, however, was a very loving, as well as brilliant, woman.

The book is a rambunctious account of Bernadette’s journey toward being able to use all of her available resources, material and human. It is well worth the time spent reading it for its many good laughs and inspiration.