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From an article titled "Unlike boomers, Gen Y doesn't believe in disaster" by Garrison Keillor:

I am of a generation that believes in disaster; the younger generation does not. A Harris Interactive poll of Generation Y's feelings about work shows 92 percent want a "flexible work schedule," 96 percent want a job that "requires creativity," and 97 percent want a job that "allows me to have an impact on the world." All I can say is, Wow. Good luck. And now you know why we need illegal immigrants to do the inflexible uncreative stuff that simply needs doing right now. We've raised a generation of young people who want to be writers. Whassup? That's whassup, dude.

My father was a carpenter and a postal worker. He admired people who came early and stuck with a job until it got done. People who embraced work. His Republicanism was based solidly on that old bootstrap philosophy. Finish your coffee and get to work and let's get this hole dug and don't complain about the heat, it's the same heat for everybody. Stick with the job, rest, then resume. The kids surfing and snazzing up their Web sites at work would be aliens to him, and he wouldn't have a lot of sympathy for the gloomy old guy with visions of disaster either. The people most like my dad are the Mexicans coming across the border to work hard and send money home to their families. He would understand those people completely.

Where are They Now Part 3

My unintentional and occasional series of posts about Lipscomb contemporaries on the national scene continues tonight with J. Holland Moore. Previous installments included David French and Shannon Terry. Tonight's subject is the "other John Moore," affectionately known by the nickname "Barley." I recently got back in touch with him via Linked In. Unlike French and Terry, JHM was actually someone I was friends with at Lipscomb. After spending some time working in TV in Nashville, he's spent the last few years in Hollywood writing, producing, and miscellaneous crewing on various TV shows. You can see the list on his IMDB profile here.

Writer: 1. "Pros vs. Joes" (1 episode, 2007) - Kordell Stewart Gets Revenge on the Refs (2007) TV Episode (writer) 2. The Teen Choice Awards 2006 (2006) (TV) 3. "Fresh Baked Video Games" (2006) TV Series (unknown episodes) 4. "Invasion Iowa" (2005) TV Series (unknown episodes) 5. "Joe Schmo 2" (9 episodes, 2004) - Finale (2004) TV Episode (writer) - T.J. Needs T.P. (2004) TV Episode (writer) - Cruiser (2004) TV Episode (writer) - Requiem for a Frog (2004) TV Episode (writer) - Porked and Beans (2004) TV Episode (writer) (4 more) 6. "The Joe Schmo Show" (9 episodes, 2003) - Episode #1.9 (2003) TV Episode (writer) - Episode #1.8 (2003) TV Episode (writer) - Episode #1.7 (2003) TV Episode (writer) - Episode #1.6 (2003) TV Episode (writer) - Episode #1.5 (2003) TV Episode (writer) (4 more) 7. "Mohr Sports" (2002) TV Series (writer) Producer: 1. "Fresh Baked Video Games" (2006) TV Series (co-executive producer) (unknown episodes) 2. "Master of Champions" (2006) TV Series (consulting producer) (unknown episodes) 3. "Invasion Iowa" (2005) TV Series (co-executive producer) (unknown episodes) (producer) (unknown episodes) 4. "Joe Schmo 2" (2004) TV Series (senior consulting producer) (unknown episodes) 5. "The Joe Schmo Show" (2003) TV Series (senior episode producer) (unknown episodes) 6. "The Surreal Life" (2003) TV Series (producer) (unknown episodes) 7. "The X Show" (1999) TV Series (producer) (unknown episodes) 8. "Prime Time Country" (1996) TV Series (show producer) (unknown episodes) Miscellaneous Crew: 1. "Worst Case Scenarios" (2002) TV Series (story editor) (unknown episodes) 2. "Big Brother" (2000/II) TV Series (story editor) (unknown episodes, 2001) ... aka Big Brother 2 (USA: second season title) ... aka Big Brother 3 (USA: third season title) ... aka Big Brother 4: The X-Factor (USA: fourth season title) ... aka Big Brother 5: Project DNA - Do Not Assume (USA: fifth season title) ... aka Big Brother 6: Summer of Secrets (USA: sixth season title) ... aka Big Brother All-Stars (USA: seventh season title)

He was always a funny guy, so it's not surprising that he's found some success in Hollywood. Unfortunately there' still only one post in the IMDB discussion area devoted to JHM. It was left by Rich Holt several years back:

Yeah, I knew this guy in college. Slept a lot. Often ordered largest drink possible.

He's currently working on the "Larry The Cable Guy's Christmas Special." The most surprising news to me was that he recently ran (or as he put, "hobbled") his first marathon. I've neither ran nor hobbled one, so I'm quite impressed! The other big news, apart from some significant globetrotting, was that he made a cameo on Entourage. As he describes it:

Check out the episode of Entourage when they go to the U2 show and check out yours truly on screen with the cast. You can Netflix it. Fun fact: I EPed a show for Spike that was a sketch comedy/animation/hodge podge about the videogame culture and Turtle was supposed to host but his "Entourage" contract prohibited him from doing other cable projects.

Like a forerunner of Will Traveler, I'm pretty sure Barley was able to avoid appearing in any photos during college because I can't think on any that he is in. I'll have to try to track some down when we visit Nashville in August in case he really gets famous. I'm proud of Barley. He seems to have done well. He also sent me some photos from a recent Sonic Youth show he attended where they played "Daydream Nation" in its entirety in honor of its 20th anniversary. It was a Sonic Youth show in 1990 (in support of "Goo" instead of "Daydream Nation") that was the first of many concerts that James Lashlee and I attended together at Lipscomb. James is also the dude (along with Bill A.) who should have some photos of Barley if any of the ladies are interested.

Good and Evil

Today I was listening to the "Good and evil" episode of the New Scientist podcast. It contains a lengthy conversation with cognitive evolution researcher Marc Hauser discussing he theories regarding a biological basis for the sense of right and wrong. It reminded me of the recent article by Shankar Vedantam in The Washington Post titled "If It Feels Good to Be Good, It Might Be Only Natural." A few excerpts:

...when the volunteers placed the interests of others before their own, the generosity activated a primitive part of the brain that usually lights up in response to food or sex. Altruism, the experiment suggested, was not a superior moral faculty that suppresses basic selfish urges but rather was basic to the brain, hard-wired and pleasurable. Their 2006 finding that unselfishness can feel good lends scientific support to the admonitions of spiritual leaders such as Saint Francis of Assisi, who said, "For it is in giving that we receive." But it is also a dramatic example of the way neuroscience has begun to elbow its way into discussions about morality and has opened up a new window on what it means to be good.

The more researchers learn, the more it appears that the foundation of morality is empathy. Being able to recognize -- even experience vicariously -- what another creature is going through was an important leap in the evolution of social behavior. And it is only a short step from this awareness to many human notions of right and wrong, says Jean Decety, a neuroscientist at the University of Chicago.

Neuroscience research, Greene said, is finally explaining a problem that has long troubled philosophers and moral teachers: Why is it that people who are willing to help someone in front of them will ignore abstract pleas for help from those who are distant, such as a request for a charitable contribution that could save the life of a child overseas? "We evolved in a world where people in trouble right in front of you existed, so our emotions were tuned to them, whereas we didn't face the other kind of situation," Greene said. "It is comforting to think your moral intuitions are reliable and you can trust them. But if my analysis is right, your intuitions are not trustworthy. Once you realize why you have the intuitions you have, it puts a burden on you" to think about morality differently. Marc Hauser, another Harvard researcher, has used cleverly designed psychological experiments to study morality. He said his research has found that people all over the world process moral questions in the same way, suggesting that moral thinking is intrinsic to the human brain, rather than a product of culture.

Anyway, back to the podcast. In the course of the conversation with Hauser, several scenarios were mentioned (one of which is also mentioned in the WaPo article). Imagine that you are a doctor in a hospital. Five of your patients are critically ill and in desperate need of organ transplants. A mostly healthy person walks into the hospital. Should you kill the one healthy person to save the other five? Most people would say that would be morally wrong. Imagine that you work for a railroad. There are five people working in a tunnel and are about to be killed by a runaway train. You can flip a switch to divert to train to another tunnel where there is only one person who will be killed. Should you divert the train? Most people would say yes. In both cases the intent and result are the same (to save lives), but one is morally acceptable and the other isn't. Most people believe it to be morally acceptable for a doctor to withhold treatment (e.g. remove a patient from a ventilator) to end a patient's suffering by hastening death. Most people consider it to be morally unacceptable for a doctor to administer drugs to to end a patient's suffering by hastening death. Both doctors have the same intent and the end result is the same...but one is considered morally acceptable and one isn't. Why?

The Older-and-Wiser Hypothesis

A month back there was an article of the same title in the NY Times Magazine by Stephen Hall. It's interesting description of social scientists' efforts to define and quantify wisdom. Some highlights:

As an ancient concept and esteemed human value, wisdom has historically been studied in the realms of philosophy and religion...It is only in the last three decades that wisdom has received even glancing attention from social scientists.

...a general thread running through modern wisdom research is that wise people tend to be humble and "other-centered" as opposed to self-centered.

Certain qualities associated with wisdom recur in the academic literature: a clear-eyed view of human nature and the human predicament; emotional resiliency and the ability to cope in the face of adversity; an openness to other possibilities; forgiveness; humility; and a knack for learning from lifetime experiences.

Clayton went off to consult the "literature" on wisdom, which almost mirrored the central canon of Western civilization. She rummaged through the Hebrew Bible for clues to wise behavior, analyzed the stories of Job and King Solomon, parsed the meaning of ancient proverbs. "What emerged from that analysis," she says, "was that wisdom meant a lot of different things. But it was always associated with knowledge, frequently applied to human social situations, involved judgment and reflection and was almost always embedded in a component of compassion." The essential importance of balance was embodied in the Hebrew word for wisdom, chochmah, which ancient peoples understood to evoke the combination of both heart and mind in reaching a decision.

One instrument the Baltes group developed to measure wisdom was posing open-ended, hypothetical questions like the one about the 15-year-old girl who wanted to marry. (In their view, a reply garnering a low wisdom-related score would be an inflexible, authoritative response like: "No, no way, marrying at age 15 would be utterly wrong. One has to tell the girl that marriage is not possible. . . . No, this is just a crazy idea.") These vignettes located wisdom firmly in the universe of problem-solving around significant life events - from issues like choosing a career versus child-rearing to facing decisions about early retirement to dealing with a diagnosis of cancer. The Germans were among the first to reach what is now a widespread conclusion: There's not a lot of wisdom around.

In Ardelt's working definition, wisdom integrated three separate but interconnected ways of dealing with the world: cognitive, reflective and emotional. Hence, a "three-dimensional" wisdom scale, which, according to the habit of psychological measures, is designated "3D-WS." The cognitive aspect, for example, included the ability to understand human nature, perceive a situation clearly and make decisions despite ambiguity and uncertainty. The reflective sphere dealt with a person's ability to examine an event from multiple perspectives - to step outside oneself and understand another point of view. And the emotional aspect primarily involved feeling compassion toward others as well as an ability to remain positive in the face of adversity.

...the implication is that people who learn, or somehow train themselves, to modulate their emotions are better able to manage stress and bounce back from adversity. Although they can register the negative, they have somehow learned not to get bogged down in it.

...there are strong hints that wisdom is associated with an earlier exposure to adversity or failure. That certainly seems to be the case with emotional regulation...

It's interesting that "an inflexible, authoritative response" is not considered to be associated with wisdom. Also that emotional stability, the ability to regulate negative emotions and to bounce back, etc. are important to wisdom.

Some Interesting Stuff I Read Last Week


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