Archive for March 25th, 2009
Once again, I’m up late writing (it’s almost midnight), but that is a natural thing for me to do, given that I don’t actually become wide-awake until about 5 PM. That’s the way it’s been for me for as long as I can remember. Back in college, my grades started going up once I gave up on those 7:40 AM classes, and tilted my day toward the late morning through mid-afternoon. Quite often, I will get to work at about 10, working until seven or eight at night. This allows me to harness more of my peak time to do the challenging job I do (I am a consumer attorney). Several times a month, I find myself at the office writing a legal brief at one in the morning, working quite effectively.
It’s not that I don’t like to sleep. I love to sleep. It’s just that I love to sleep in. That’s when it feels natural to me. I know that it’s not merely a matter of biology. I stay up late because I want to get one more thing done, and then one more thing. I hate to give up the day, even when it turns into the next day. for me, there’s no better time for concentrating than the night. For whatevercombination of nature and nurture, the night is my favorite time. I am an owl.
Those other kinds of people, those “larks,” often look at owls with suspicion, however. Even when owls spend as much time at work as larks, the larks assume that we owls are goofing off in the morning while they are working hard. What about those evening hours while we owls are still hard at work while the larks are long gone? Larks think that this is our own damned fault and the owls should be getting up earlier. I do think this is part of the Larkian thought process. This perceived tension has often provoked me to think about why it is that my schedule is tilted toward the afternoon and evening. Do I choose for it to be this way or am I biologically geared to be an owl? And why is it that so many owls (me included) end up marrying larks?
In a recent talk at TED, psychiatrist Stuart Brown talked about the vital importance of play. Brown opened his talk by showing an incredible series of photographs demonstrating that a huge hungry polar bear can be seduced into playing with dogs rather than eating them. Like a polar bear, play induces an “altered state” in humans. Play is a great leveler: great differences in power can be overridden by play. In fact, the absence of play is dangerous, as demonstrated by the case histories of mass murderers.
Brown describes various kinds of play, including body play (e.g., jumping), object play (manipulating objects), social play, rough-and-tumble play, ritual play and imaginative play (storytelling). These activities simply make us feel better. They are purposeless. In fact, if the purpose is more important than the act of doing these things, they are not “play.” As I listened to this list, I was wondering whether sexual play is of the same importance as the other types of play.
The study of play is still in its infancy. Historically, this has not been a well-funded area of scientific investigation. Nonetheless, the evidence we already have suggests that play is important for developing cognitively, emotionally and developmentally. We already know that “nothing lights up the brain like play.” In fact, the ability to trust is learned through vocal, facial and gestural play signals. As Brown indicates, humans are perhaps the most neotonous species, suggesting a special need for humans to engage in play, whether they are infants or adults.
Various animal studies have shown that preventing an animal from playing causes dysfunction. Thus, it seems that play is important for survival. In fact, life without play seems to lead inexorably to depression. When we look back in our history to determine what sorts of activities energized us when we were youngsters, we might deal with see that we have strayed from those things that gave us the pleasure of play. When we explore our personal history, we might find that we are mismatched in terms of career or other activities.[caption id="attachment_5702" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Image by mildegard at dreamstime.com"][/caption]
Brown encourages the audience that they should not set aside time to play. Rather, they (including adults) should infuse every moment of their lives with play. He argues that play is just important for humans as is asleep and dreaming.
Obama’s economic plan is receiving heavy criticism from distinguished economists, including Joseph Stiglitz, James Galbraith, Paul Krugman and many critics from Europe . Many of the critics believe that Tim Geithner and Henry Paulson are far too beholden to Wall Street and the financial sector. The fear is that the toxic debt (much of it based on fraudulent mortgage-backed securities enabled by Wall Street fraud) is being lifted from the banks and dumped onto the U.S. taxpayers because the Obama plan is making the FDIC ultimately responsible. I’m not an economist, but based on these criticisms, this fear seems well-founded. I don’t see any reason for Geithner or Paulson to be going to bat for the taxpayers. Most of their friends live on Wall Street.
At this same link, you’ll see the Nation’s view that we need an outsider to clean up this mess. Writer Katina vanden Heuvel even recommend Eliot Spitzer as one of the few people aggressive enough to take on Wall Street before it was a trendy idea. Frankly, I like that idea, based on her stroll down memory lane (pre-Ashley Dupre):
Spitzer took on Wall Street’s metastasizing corruption before the meltdown. He defended consumers’ and taxpayers’ rights. He speaks with passion and clarity about what went wrong and what needs to be done to restore integrity to our system. He is chastened by personal scandal, yet untouched by complicity in Wall Street’s public scandals which have obliterated peoples’ savings and devastated our country.
What does Spitzer have to say about the economic crisis? That the crisis was not caused by the lack of necessary laws. Rather, the crisis was caused by the lack of good judgment and lack of tenacity to defend the public interest. These things, says Spitzer, cannot be legislated:
Politics dictated FDA policy? Say it isn’t so!
According to this NY Times piece, the Bush Administration (they get the blame because, after all, he was the Decider) bade the FDA to meddle with contraception when it suited a certain agenda.
What I find so delightful about this, as with the Dover PA decision on Intelligent Design in the classroom, is that a Republican judge, this time a Reagan appointee, made the call.
The thing is, contraception and all that it implies really ought to be a conservative issue. I mean, really—it has all the hallmarks of the last 60 years of conservative philosophy built on the rights of the individual, the freedom from interference being chief among them. You would think conservatives would have leapt on this a long time ago, staking it out as exemplary of the idea of American Individualism and the freedom to act as a moral agent, dictating one’s own destiny and making determinations about how one will live one’s life free from government meddling. Handing both men and women the tools—provided by the free market, to boot—to manage their own lives in accordance with their formulation as individuals of the American Dream should have been a slam dunk for conservatives. They should have been cheering for it since the days of Margaret Sanger.
What is more, given the attitude of the communist states, which dismissed Sanger and the entire notion of family planning as a bourgeois, capitalist plot to undermine the growth of the collective, this should have been part and parcel of rearing a generation of people cumulatively opposed to Soviet style socialism and collectivism.
Everything about the Choice movement smacks of good ol’ fashion American Values! It is the perversity of the debate that is ironic, that it should be those who are castigated as liberal soldiers in the march to socialism and its destruction of all things individualist and true blue American who are the champions of the idea that people ought to have full say in the when and if of having children.
How did this happen?