Monday, March 24, 2014

Indian Movies

Today, I aired my radio interview with Kallirroi Tziafeta, an actress based in Bombay. Here are her recommendations for Indian movies:

Omkara is a version of Othello; Makbool is a version of Macbeth and Rajniti is a political thriller.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Links from the World of Optimism


A house made of recycled pallets.

Spillian: a place to revel. A new Victorian-era, eight-bedroomed inn in the Catskills for events, weddings and simply kicking back, run by Leigh Melander and Mark Somerfield. Green Door Magazine reviews it in their Spring issue. It's on the former Fleischmanns' estate of the yeast magnate Charles Fleischmann in upstate New York. 

The number of young farmers in New York is growing quickly according to the Suffolk Times

A British woman gives birth on the sidewalk in New York. She was hailing a taxi, but the "baby didn't want to wait".

And, finally, above is my dog, still enthusiastically playing fetch in two feet of snow last week, diving into the powder head first like Scarface to retrieve the ball. If that isn't optimism, I don't know what is.

Goings On About Town and Country

The Holy Innocents Church in Halcottsville, NY is unusual for a country church in that its bishop and priest, Frank and Dante have been partners for 36 years, they conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies and welcome parishioners of all faiths.
"There's so much pain and suffering associated with churches because of the judgment and the condemnation," says Father Dante. "The teachings of Christ are an all-embracing love. If we truly look at the teachings of Christ, who he was and what he did on earth, that was something I was interested in." 
Read my piece on this unique country church and my interview with Bishop Frank and Father Dante in the Spring issue of Green Door Magazine, out today. You can download the latest iPad version for 99 cents.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Science News & Links

Not sure who to attribute this next quotation to, but it influenced my last two radio shows: "When kids look up to great scientists the way they do to great musicians and actors, civilization will jump to the next level". So why haven't we had a reality show featuring scientists - perhaps locked up with each other "Big Brother" style - each competing to become the last scientist standing...? Hmm. Anyway, here's some mind-boggling recent discoveries in the world of science:

From the BBC News Website:
20 Top Predictions in science 100 years from now
Tiny Robots operating inside cells
Living robots powered by muscle
Printing New Human Organs
Spray on skin using a water solution and healthy cells from elsewhere in the body to treat burns victims

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Gossip Is Good For You

Gossip: a social minefield… Scientists have new data about gossip and it's effect on our lives and evolution. Those who gossip, get ahead, says one interviewee.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


I caught a tweet from Jon Stewart's camp this week and it said something like: "women making in-roads into a traditionally male-dominated industry". I'd like to ban this phrase because everything is traditionally male-dominated. Our entire written history for the last few thousand years has been dictated mostly by men from the ancient Greeks, to the apostles, to all the male translators of the bible, to the owners of the first newspapers. We had our hands rather tied until we got the vote, only 100 years ago when Schopenhauer said we're only good for obeying men.

Even traditionally female-dominated industries have been traditionally male-dominated. Think about nursing where until fairly recently, nurses were really doctors' assistants and took orders from them.

In the 21st Century, Hollywood is still a male-dominated industry with women taking only 25% of the speaking roles for the entire year of 2012. Hollywood is hardly feminism's last stand, but it's quite surprising that men still rule there despite women being 51% of the US population. I can barely believe that we really can't get enough of those blockbusters where grisly older men save the world while their much younger female co-stars sit around looking only slightly moved, doll-faced and impervious to the elements. 

So what's traditionally female-dominated these days? Plastic surgery? Dieting? Feminism?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Art for Art's Sake

The Daily Dish quotes Schopenhauer: "The best works of great men all come from the time when they had to write either for nothing or for very little pay."
His brutal take-down of writing for money is about as good a case for that position as I’ve read:
The author is cheating the reader as soon as he writes for the sake of filling up paper; because his pretext for writing is that he has something to impart. Writing for money [is], at bottom, the ruin of literature. It is only the man who writes absolutely for the sake of the subject that writes anything worth writing. What an inestimable advantage it would be, if, in every branch of literature, there existed only a few but excellent books! This can never come to pass so long as money is to be made by writing. It seems as if money lay under a curse, for every author deteriorates directly [whenever] he writes in any way for the sake of money. The best works of great men all come from the time when they had to write either for nothing or for very little pay.
Schopenhauer's work has helped me understand the world, but we all need to eat. We cannot all be part of the leisure class with all day to sit around and ruminate like himself and the likes of louche Frenchmen like Richelieu. Oh, how I wish I was a wealthy sybarite, a full-time epicurean, because there's a stack of books festering on my floor that I'm dying to read. Week after week, the pile gets higher and higher. Alternatively, I suppose you could choose to be homeless and take to the streets, shuffling around in oversized garments scribbling notes on scraps of paper. The problem with this is that people tend not to listen to what you have to say when you're sitting up against an exterior wall wearing discarded clothing, holding in the underwire of your bra with a paperclip you found under a parked car. It's tricky when you've only got a dollar left in the hat: food or a new pen? Hm, tough choices. However clever, we can't all write for leisure.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Modest Habits

According to the Huffington Post:
Making the bed every morning doesn't seem like it has much to do with our more ambitious goals, like meditating twice daily or learning Mandarin. But it's an example of a "keystone habit" -- along with regular family dinners and daily exercise -- that sets in motion other good habits, explains Charles Duhigg in his book The Power of Habit. (Bed-making, he writes, is "correlated with better productivity, a greater sense of well-being and stronger skills at sticking with a budget.") The point is that strategic "small wins" strengthen something you really need when you want to change for the better: willpower. First, conquer the bed; next, the world.
I would rather say that small habits like bed making in the morning, if you have time, are meditative and can be the foundation for strengths that include discipline and focus. Back in the day, if you were a Girl Guide one of the badges you earned was for changing the sheets of a hospital bed with someone in it. Imagine that. Also, small modest attempts at things like deep breaths and meditation throughout the day become rare treats in an otherwise very stressful day.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

New Year's Resolution Tips

Something that seems to have a huge influence in the failure of resolutions is the act of thinking that a small defeat is an absolute. For example, you decide to quit smoking on January 1st, 2014 and you have a cigarette on the 15th. Don’t just throw your hands up in the air and say, “that’s it! I’ve failed”! You’ve only failed if you’ve decided to fail. Somebody who’s much easier on themselves might say: I’ve had one cigarette only this year and that’s quite something. I might only have one this year and that would be a marvelous success. Don’t let that one cigarette make you a smoker again.

Good luck

Happy New Year

It's been a while…