Everyday sadism and squashing bugs revisited

The karmic retribution for my recent exploration of whether willingness to kill bugs reflects “everyday sadism” is, apparently, a near-midnight discovery of the largest cockroach i have ever seen, running laps around my living room ceiling, and quite willing to remind me that, oh yeah, cockroaches can fly. As I texted my sister (note to self:…

Not quite ready to call squishing bugs “sadism”

I admit, I have sometimes wondered what leads people into the career euphemistically we might euphemistically call “pest control” or more realistically declare “extermination”. I have been greatly relieved that people have chosen such career paths and are so available to handle wasp nests in my attic, and unable to fathom why anyone would opt to spend…

The best years of our lives

Contrary to what many of my students are being told, these are probably not the best years of their lives – or at least, not the happiest. In fact, the people who are telling them this – parents and grandparents, one would suspect – are probably much happier now than they were when they were…

To Wake, Perchance to Remember (Your Dreams)

My morning coffee is often accompanied by a series of text messages from my sister relaying her latest bizarre dream. The latest installments the Annals of Sisterly Nighttime Hallucinations have featured piano sheet music composed by threading different colors of cross-stitch floss, a dryad guilt-tripping her for standing on rotten acorns, being left to be…

Cleanliness is Next to Conscientiousness

As I was unpacking boxes and scrubbing baseboards in my new home over the past week, I kept thinking of a favorite comedy routine by Jeff Foxworthy, as he describes what happens when friends call to say they’re in down and want to drop by: “You hang up and do that flight of the bumblebee.…

A thin slice of time, a hefty conclusion

At one of my brown belt tests for karate, the master (a 5th-degree black belt) made sure we all knew that he might only be standing by each student for a few seconds during any given drill or activity, but that would be more than enough time for him to gauge our martial arts skills.…

Meditator, Know Thyself…Maybe

How well do you know yourself? Do you know what you’re like – alone or in a group – and what others think of you? Do you think you could predict what you would score on a personality test…do you think that your own description of your personality would match what a trained psychologist would…

Getting into the mind of a hero

After several days of studying prejudice and the Final Solution, it is a balm to the soul to turn the mind toward heroics and resistance at the German Resistance Memorial Center. Some of the most famous members of the resistance, such as Hans and Sophie Scholl, still end tragedy, but the fact that they did…

Creatively Circumventing Checkpoint Charlie

Our first official visit in Berlin is not related to World War, itself, but to one of its legacies: Checkpoint Charlie. The museum is far more than a checkpoint station and warning signs now: There are rooms tracing the decline from triumph at the end of World War II into the Cold War, a great…

The qualities of a leader: Churchill vs. Hitler

Walking through the Churchill Museum, there was not one man on my mind but two: Churchill, and Hitler. The parallels between the two are sometimes striking: Both had charisma. Both made an effort to surround themselves with smart men. Both took similar steps to consolidate power in an effort to win the war. Both even…