October, 2019

Some of the essays on aeon, one of my favorite websites, are extracts from books. Can our self-conscious minds save us from our selfish selves?

In The Deep History of Ourselves, LeDoux argues that the key to understanding human behavior lies in viewing evolution through the prism of the first living organisms. By tracking the chain of the evolutionary timeline he shows how even the earliest single-cell organisms had to solve the same problems we and our cells have to solve each day. Along the way, LeDoux explores our place in nature, how the evolution of nervous systems enhanced the ability of organisms to survive and thrive, and how the emergence of what we humans understand as consciousness made our greatest and most horrendous achievements as a species possible.

The ABC book selection for October is Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? by Bill McKibben.

YES! Magazine recently published an article by him with good advice to us all. Bill McKibben: This Climate Strike Is Part of the Disruption We Need

But it can’t be just young people. It needs to be all of us—especially, perhaps, those of us who have been placidly operating on a business-as-usual basis for most of our lives, who have rarely faced truly serious disruptions in our careers and our plans. Our job is precisely to disrupt business as usual. When the planet leaves its comfort zone, we need to do the same. See you on the streets on Sept. 20!

The ABC book selection for July, 2018 was Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know and in my review I wrote, "I am not a dog person and I have never had a dog of my own. Consequently, Inside of a Dog was not a book that captured my interest, but I read it anyway."

Now I learn that Alexandra Horowitz has recently published another dog book. This is not a book that will make my wish list. But I did enjoy the review that Maria Popova wrote. Does Your Dog Really Love You and What Does That Really Mean? A Journey in Cognitive Science and Moral Philosophy

Another aeon essay and another addition to my wish list. Righteous incivility as public discourse grows crueller, nastier and more aggressive, my temptations to be uncivil increase apace, and I don’t like that.

The Wrong of Rudeness: Learning Modern Civility from Ancient Chinese Philosophy

In a time of fractious politics, being rude can feel wickedly gratifying, while being polite can feel simple-minded or willfully naïve. Do manners and civility even matter now? Is it worthwhile to make the effort to be polite? When rudeness has become routine and commonplace, why bother? When so much of public and social life with others is painful and bitterly acrimonious, why should anyone be polite? As Amy Olberding argues, civility and ordinary politeness are linked both to big values, such as respect and consideration, and to the fundamentally social nature of human beings. Being polite is not just a nicety--it has deep meaning. 

Edward Snowden is a hero to some and a traitor to others. His book, Permanent Record, is now on my wish list. However, for lack of time I will probably only read some of the reviews.

In 2013, twenty-nine-year-old Edward Snowden shocked the world when he broke with the American intelligence establishment and revealed that the United States government was secretly pursuing the means to collect every single phone call, text message, and email. The result would be an unprecedented system of mass surveillance with the ability to pry into the private lives of every person on earth. Six years later, Snowden reveals for the very first time how he helped to build this system and why he was moved to expose it.

Edward Snowden Tells NPR: The Executive Branch 'Sort Of Hacked The Constitution'

Seven things we learned from Edward Snowden's new book