Are humans just smooth primates? Yes and no. It’s complicated. We have an inherent, biologically driven nature and a socially constructed nature. The relationship between them has been debated ever since biology was first defined as a science. In the late twentieth century it became a tired, cliched discussion known as the nature-nurture debate.
In the early twenty-first century, it seems that the reality of human biological nature is far, far more complicated than most thinkers in the last century suspected.
When philosophers get involved, the discussion gets heated. But I’m jumping in anyway.
Humans are hardwired to seek status…
Today is Family Day in Canada. It’s a statutory holiday invented a few years ago to help strengthen the Canadian family. It sometimes seems a little artificial. Or like it should come with a trigger warning for people who don’t have strong family relationships. People who might feel even more alone and vulnerable on a day like today when so many families are getting together to go skating or or watch hockey or do whatever typical Canadian families do.
I wouldn’t actually know. My Canadian family is anything but typical. But it’s all I have. You see, at age sixty…
This morning I woke up early, as I usually do, and picked up my phone from my bedside table. It’s kind of a ritual. I turn on my phone, take it off night-time mode and check the weather.
Something was different this morning. Something told me to click on the Medium app first. I’m glad I did. I saw this amazing article from Jessica Wildfire:
Jessica explains, very brilliantly IMHO, that Americans today are in a financial bind because they can’t save money, they can’t buy or pay off a house, they don’t have healthcare, and, therefore, they can’t invest…
In the first article of this series, I wrote about how I learned to control my weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol through a structured approach to diet and exercise:
When I first worked with my nutritionist, she had me do a blood test that would determine my optimal foods for weight loss and a healthy metabolism. The test generated a list of specific foods that I would eat for the duration of the diet. A friend of mine used the same nutritionist and her blood test generated a completely different list of foods.
The diet was successful for both of…
I was originally going to call this article “I tried intermittent fasting for a month. Here’s what happened.”
I had just read Life in the Fasting Lane by Jason Fung, M.D., Eve Mayer and Megan Ramos. It is a book that advocates the strategic use of intermittent fasting for weight loss. I found it very convincing. It also seemed easy. The testimonials from the other two co-authors were inspiring. It suggested that body-transforming results were possible just from limiting food intake for 16 hours per day.
I lasted about two weeks and I didn’t lose any weight.
Intermittent fasting was…
Speaking is a slippery art. We have all had the experience of taking a course we are interested in and having it ruined by a boring instructor who is clueless about how to present material. We have all endured the exquisite torture of sitting next to a garrulous guest at a dinner party and having to listen to a lengthy monologue by someone who doesn’t know he suffers from verbal diarrhoea. It’s like being in prison.
You have been invited to give a talk in some kind of public form. Maybe you will talk to your daughter’s fourth grade class…
This article has been updated to reflect developments in the events since January 6.
I’m feeling a little clairvoyant right now. In October I wrote this article about Trump’s ultimate downfall:
But Shakespeare makes you clairvoyant; he wrote about things that never change: he wrote about power. He knew power, seeing it all around him while being a powerless playwright dependent on powerful, scheming aristocrats for patronage.
In the article, I talked about how Trump is like Macbeth, who once he realizes that the jig is up, that he will not longer be king, decides that the whole world can…
Warning: this article contains spoilers for seasons 1–5 of Outlander.
A few years ago, my daughter was raped. I have gone through all of the emotions that a mother goes through after such a devastating attack on her child, and all I could think about was revenge. When I found out, I just wanted to kill that man (who was never charged). What helped me heal from my irrational desire to inflict violence was a fantasy/historical television series called Outlander.
Outlander is both feminist and anti-violence, even though the plot is peppered with violence, murder, and rape.
As I was…
It’s a spiritual truism that suffering is a great teacher. But it feels horrible when one is experiencing it. No one wants it when it happens. We want the pain to stop right now. But the pain is what wakes you up.
The great novelist Henry James illustrates this truth in his classic novel The Portrait of a Lady. The novel’s heroine, Isabel Archer, a young American woman living in late nineteenth-century England, is hungry for experience. She marries an aristocratic bounder named Gilbert Osmond. She gets so much more than she bargained for. He gaslights her, he dominates her…
Smoking cigarettes is disgusting. If you want to be seen as déclassé, just light up a Marlborough and watch the stares and appalled gasps. If you decide to actually do this, you could probably get away with it on the patio of a donut shop or greasy spoon in a small town. That is pretty much the only acceptable context for sucking tobacco smoke into your lungs without incurring outraged disapproval and courting suspicion that you are, if not an actual criminal, then someone not to be trusted around children or pets.
It didn’t always use to be like this.
Mother, Teacher, wife, food lover, spiritual searcher.