22 September 2008
18 September 2008
Why do people do the things they do?
Do we choose actions - or are they chosen for us?
Do we more or less follow courses laid out for us by a calvinist god? or nature's genes?
What forces interact with our parent's combined genetic material as they develop in our mother?
What is (or isn't) the environment and what does it do to us?
What is the influence of gravity, light, temperature, magnetic fields and space-time on the expression of genes to proteins to cells to traits to personality to complex human behaviors - like posting existential teasers on the interweb in the midst of studying Freud and eating a bowl of soup?
I think each of us can come up with responses, even different types of responses to these questions. We each have some understanding that different people have different emphases in life, different points of view, different answers to questions. And not all questions are alike: What is 2 + 2? is in different waters than Why do I lie when people ask how many pairs of shoes I own?. For me, as a grad school plebeian, I'm consciously, constantly, putting on different philosophic shoes each day, sometimes several different times a day, in an attempt to crack open this mind of mine, filled with too many conclusions and theories.
Posted by M. R. at 5:28 PM
14 September 2008
Today is Sunday, right? A popular day for god and church and all of that; that must be why I found this particular poll interesting. 44% of Americans favor torture in at least some instances (13% say it should be allowed generally), alongside of other societies founded on judeo-christian values like Thailand, Turkey, and Nigeria; more than China, Russia, Iran, Mexico, Indonesia, Ukraine and the Palestinians. Not much stomach for torture in Europe, but I guess we already knew that. Heathens.
Update: Lo! What's this? Southern Evangelicals too! That is, until they're reminded about that thing called the golden rule. God bless America!
11 September 2008
06 September 2008
I trust that most Americans 18 years and older sense that we nearing the apex of a rather significant election season. America will soon have the opportunity to choose it's next President and Vice-President, and in so doing endorse certain priorities and process for our government. We are nearing the end of a period of largely "conservative" administration of government, lead by Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, and many thoughtful people are asking themselves questions like "Is America Better Off Now Than It Was Eight Years Ago? - Am I?" and "Why?" or "Why Not?." I am older than 18, American, and not un-thoughtful. I have been asking myself these kinds of questions for months now, even in the midst of my unending-thirty-something-existential-upheaval. Some of my fellow Americans are fighting and have died in war. Some of my fellow Americans are precariously housed and underinsured. Some of my fellow Americans are having their email read without their knowledge and consent. Some of my fellow Americans are being treated unfairly because of their sex, race, age, religion, or sexual preference. Some of my fellow Americans are having trouble finding and keeping good work for good pay. And most of us are paying lots of dollars to get to work if we got it. What is the role of our elected American government in addressing these matters? And if there isn't any role, what do we pay those people for?
As I evaluate our nominees for future American leadership, I'm not looking for a Dynamic Duo to completely eradicate what I consider to be dysfunctional in or deleterious to America today. When I really think about it, I am looking for a couple of people that have good ideas, good experience, good temperament, and even good intentions - which I think they all have - to meaningfully address as many critical areas as possible. I totally understand that what may be troubling and what may be a good idea may only look that way to me and, after all, I only get one vote. Nevertheless, I do not think that all the nominees would address what I consider to be America's challenges with equal competence, insight or commitment - the necessary, though perhaps not sufficient ingredients to good leadership.
Senators Obama and McCain have been each making their case to Americans for nearly two years, and their respective VPs much less than that. This is an important feature of an election, in my view - the opportunity to evaluate a candidate in real-time, over time: their responses, reactions, thoughts, evolutions, and immutables. Despite the obvious age/life experience disparity between Obama and McCain, Americans have ample evidence of each candidate's qualities and thought-processes, from nearly two years of campaigning, in order to decide not just what the issues are, but who is best suited to lead at this time. While McCain has demonstrated some competence, some insight and commitment - to certain notions involving war and the mechanism of war - I see Obama as demonstrating far more competence and insight in a greater range of issues facing America, as well as commitment to the process of getting it right, as opposed to being right. That's just the way I see it.
I could end the post at that, but I can't resist giving my two-penny opinion on the Palin Phenomenon. I don't understand how people who profess to think about politics and America with any degree of sincerity, and have been following the national dialogue for the past 18 months, could now in the past week be given to argue that Sarah Palin is ready for executive office, in the capacity that a VP would need to be on Day 1, as they say. More so than Biden? More than Obama, some venture to say. Some particularly excited Republicans state that she and McCain should switch seats! Really? When there's this, this, this and this? I do understand how the idea of Palin, the self-described "average hockey mom," moose-hunter and mother of five (or four, give or take a grandchild), as VP and possible POTUS is interesting and definitely Lifetime material. I also understand that up until Palin's nomination by McCain a week ago, Republicans didn't have an "Obama" (as I wrote a few weeks ago) - or, a non-white-male-person that elicited enthusiasm. But if social conservatives feel the way about Obama that I do about Palin, then maybe we all understand each other even less than I thought.
Update, RE Palin: revelations like this are a little disconcerting, no?
05 September 2008
I apologize for the protracted internet silence - the death knell for any blog whose readership extends beyond one's siblings. I find myself today in transition from 9 to 5 social worker to 9 to 5 student, and in the Fog of Making New Habits Necessary For Survival in the New Normal. Ahem. It's been a qualitative, happy exchange for me, from Cases to Classes, Practice to Theory - though practica do begin soon. I enter school feeling that I've gone as far as I could go with as much as I knew. I want to go somewhere else.
The clinical psych program here at Widener is indeed diverse, even pluralistic (let me be naive for a few days) - in terms of orientations, or schools, and I am happy that this seems to be the case. Any 'confusion,' as the director put it to us on our first day, that may be generated by competing minds amongst faculty, is a good thing; the apparent dissonance is but an opportunity for creativity on the part of the student, as he or she integrates newer experiences with those that precede. This, creativity, is where things get really, really exciting - right up there with other sources of really exciting things like beer pong.
And so, I am excited - but without many expectations. At the suggestion of my uncle, I've let my Grad School Anxiety out of the box - and, in the light of day, one sees that Fear is simply Excitement. Get Excited.