Thursday, July 28, 2005

Learning From Lance

Interesting article. So interesting, in fact, that I won't comment.
Published: July 27, 2005
There is no doubt that Lance Armstrong's seventh straight victory in the Tour de France, which has prompted sportswriters to rename the whole race the Tour de Lance, makes him one of the greatest U.S. athletes of all time. What I find most impressive about Armstrong, besides his sheer willpower to triumph over cancer, is the strategic focus he brings to his work, from his prerace training regimen to the meticulous way he and his cycling team plot out every leg of the race. It is a sight to behold. I have been thinking about them lately because their abilities to meld strength and strategy - to thoughtfully plan ahead and to sacrifice today for a big gain tomorrow - seem to be such fading virtues in American life.

Sadly, those are the virtues we now associate with China, Chinese athletes and Chinese leaders. Talk to U.S. business executives and they'll often comment on how many of China's leaders are engineers, people who can talk to you about numbers, long-term problem-solving and the national interest - not a bunch of lawyers looking for a sound bite to get through the evening news. America's most serious deficit today is a deficit of such leaders in politics and business.

John Mack, the new C.E.O. at Morgan Stanley, initially demanded in the contract he signed June 30 that his total pay for the next two years would be no less than the average pay package received by the C.E.O.'s at Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns. If that average turned out to be more than $25 million, Mr. Mack was to be paid at least that much. He eventually backed off that demand after a howl of protest, but it struck me as the epitome of what is wrong in America today.

We are now playing defense. A top C.E.O. wants to be paid not based on his performance, but based on the average of his four main rivals! That is like Lance Armstrong's saying he will race only if he is guaranteed to come in first or second, no matter what his cycling times are on each leg.

I recently spent time in Ireland, which has quietly become the second-richest country in the E.U., first by going through some severe belt-tightening that meant everyone had to sacrifice, then by following that with a plan to upgrade the education of its entire work force, and a strategy to recruit and induce as many global high-tech companies and researchers as possible to locate in Ireland. The Irish have a plan. They are focused. They have mobilized business, labor and government around a common agenda. They are playing offense.

Wouldn't you think that if you were president, after you'd read the umpteenth story about premier U.S. companies, like Intel and Apple, building their newest factories, and even research facilities, in China, India or Ireland, that you'd summon the top U.S. business leaders to Washington to ask them just one question: "What do we have to do so you will keep your best jobs here? Make me a list and I will not rest until I get it enacted."

And if you were president, and you had just seen more suicide bombs in London, wouldn't you say to your aides: "We have got to reduce our dependence on Middle East oil. We have to do it for our national security. We have to do it because only if we bring down the price of crude will these countries be forced to reform. And we should want to do it because it is clear that green energy solutions are the wave of the future, and the more quickly we impose a stringent green agenda on ourselves, the more our companies will lead innovation in these technologies."

Instead, we are about to pass an energy bill that, while it does contain some good provisions, will make no real dent in our gasoline consumption, largely because no one wants to demand that Detroit build cars that get much better mileage. We are just feeding Detroit the rope to hang itself. It's assisted suicide. I thought people went to jail for that?

And if you were president, would you really say to the nation, in the face of the chaos in Iraq, that "if our commanders on the ground say we need more troops, I will send them," but that they had not asked? It is not what the generals are asking you, Mr. President - it is what you are asking them, namely: "What do you need to win?" Because it is clear we are not winning, and we are not winning because we have never made Iraq a secure place where normal politics could emerge.

Oh, well, maybe we have the leaders we deserve. Maybe we just want to admire Lance Armstrong, but not be Lance Armstrong. Too much work. Maybe that's the wristband we should be wearing: Live wrong. Party on. Pay later.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

More Media Fraud and Puppetry

Injustice and unfairness take many forms, but at an intellectual level they are particularly (ob)noxious when given the form of journalistic essay. David Gelertner, Yale professor and senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, commits several acts of intellectual injustice in his commentary on reported statements by Woody Allen.

Gelertner’s “Woody Allen's History Goes Nowhere ... And It Doesn't Explain Natan Sharansky” begins the assault by labeling Allen along political-ideological lines:
Woody Allen (liberal) and Natan Sharansky (conservative) are celebrity Jewish intellectuals who offer radically different worldviews for your contemplation. Allen’s is more popular with intellectuals worldwide. Sharansky's whole life says that Allen is wrong. Allen recently explained his view of history to the German magazine Der Spiegel. And Sharansky was interviewed by Jay Nordlinger of the National Review. If you understand their disagreement, you will grasp the main spiritual question facing Americans today.
Don’t be fooled: this is not about the real Natan Sharansky. The “Natan Sharansky” here is a rhetorical puppet used to represent correctness, propriety, and value. This is not even about Woody Allen or his worldview. It is, really, about Gelertner and a spiritual answer he needs to have, an answer he must know to be right.

Through the Allen-Sharansky puppet show, Gelertner first seeks to minimize Allen and glorify the ideological position represented by Sharansky:
Allen, 69, is a filmmaker from Brooklyn. Sharansky, 57, was a political prisoner in the Soviet gulag; today he is an Israeli politician.
Notice how provincial Allen looks next to Sharansky, a man of two nations. Notice how mercantile Allen seems beside the stately Sharansky. Gelertner deftly sets up Allen as a clown whose time has passed, as a relic and a Jewish Uncle Tom to the Europeans. Indeed, Allen’s popularity in Europe must surely make any statement of his wrong, Anti-American, Anti-Israel, and Anti-Judaism.
Allen got famous as the anti-hero of his own movies, the schnook who invites the world to laugh at him while he gets the girl anyway. He has become the master comedian of the age, so funny he hasn't found it necessary to make a joke in 30 years. During this time his movies have dispensed with mere humor in favor of gentle, carefully-crafted tedium. He is especially popular in Europe, where people enjoy well-written films, prefer literate irony to childish comedy, and never object to a Jew making a fool of himself.
Here, then, is the conclusion: Allen is a fool, liberals are fools, liberalism is foolish. Now that this has been firmly established, Gelertner gives us Allen’s statements from a recent interview in Der Spiegel. More importantly, we get Gelertner’s take on the statements:
"The history of the world," he told Der Spiegel, "is like: He kills me, I kill him." (Of course he was speaking casually, off the cuff.)" Only with different cosmetics and different castings: So in 2001, some fanatics killed some Americans, and now some Americans are killing some Iraqis. And in my childhood, some Nazis killed Jews. And now, some Jewish people and some Palestinians are killing each other. Political questions, if you go back thousands of years, are ephemeral, not important. History is the same thing over and over again."

If history is merely a bad movie endlessly repeating itself, then history is meaningless. If all killing amounts to the same thing, you can't possibly save the world by fighting wars. Allen doesn't say these things but plainly implies them.

These ideas are important: Americans must decide whether they are fools to fight for other people's freedom. The Iraq war was partly inspired by none other than Natan Sharansky — who passionately preaches that free people must battle tyranny militarily. Referring to Sharansky's "The Case for Democracy," President Bush said: "If you want a glimpse of how I think about foreign policy, read Natan Sharansky's book."
Notice that Gelertner first challenges (what he takes to be) Allen’s view of history by caricaturing some of the view’s implications, which Gelertner says are “plainly” made. This is an interesting tactic because it keeps intact the core premise of Allen’s statements on history. If Gelertner can establish that the implications are logically or morally wrong, then he can more easily discredit Allen’s statements, which are of course already suspect because Allen has been made a questionable character.

But even if Allen “plainly implies” them, the critical ideas – the ones that get bashed – are in fact those that must actually be attributed to Gelertner: “If history is merely a bad movie endlessly repeating itself, then history is meaningless. If all killing amounts to the same thing, you can't possibly save the world by fighting wars.” The only thing that’s plain to me is that these statements make no logical sense. What is the connection supposed to be between the historical fact of repeated human warfare – and history is as much the history of wars as anything else, is it not? – and the meaning that this or that Herbert ascribes to it? In other words, why would the repetition evacuate the meaning from history? Nietzsche suggested that endless repetition actually made life meaningful.

The second statement is pure theatre -- rhetorical thunder, but too ridiculous for comment. Clearly, Gelertner needs history to have meaning. He needs to believe that the world can be saved, and that wars are one way to do it. I cannot answer why he has these needs, but I think I understand them. Nevertheless, emotion and ideology seem to have overwhelmed Gelertner’s logic and intellectual rigor; otherwise, sweeping terms such as “meaningless” and “save the world,” which are utterly vacuous in context, would never have made it to print.

Gelertner certainly displays keen insight in connecting the “endless repetition of killing and retaliation killing” to the current conflict between Americans and terrorist insurgents in Iraq. Unfortunately, Gelertner apparently forgets that we went to Iraq under the pretense of an imminent threat to America: Saddam Hussein had, or was taking clear steps to obtain, nuclear warfare capabilities. Fighting “for other people's freedom” may be the official agenda now, in addition to preventing all of America’s new and old enemies from taking power in Iraq, but I don’t see how this contradicts Allen’s statements at all. Gelertner, of course, disagrees:
Allen's theory implies that we are crazy to fight in Iraq. True, Saddam Hussein and his rape rooms and torture shops and killing grounds have been washed away like gore off a butcher-shop floor; all the same, history is going nowhere. Whether you kill a man while liberating his country or because you are Saddam Hussein just fooling around, he is equally dead. America had no better excuse than Hussein to kill Iraqis.
Argumentatively, this is the essay’s heart. The monumental question is whether America’s military presence in Iraq has a unique, differentiating validity – in other words, if it’s justified. Gelertner is obviously trying to steer us in the direction of “we are logically and morally correct to be in Iraq.” And he attempts to get us there through some philosophical bullying: do you prefer to see yourself living in a world where history is going "nowhere" or "somewhere"?

This, however, is where Gelertner commits an important injustice against Allen. Forget that history is not, in fact, "going" anywhere and that Gelertner has let a metaphor overtake him. Forget also that if "Allen's theory" describes a cyclical, repetitive history, then it too depicts history as going somewhere. Based on the one quote of Allen’s that is provided, “Allen’s theory” does not evaluate the political questions behind individual wars against each other, it states that relative to many thousands of years of human history, these questions are unimportant. “Allen’s theory” comments on what appears to be an endlessly recurring human theme of military attack-retaliate-attack-retaliate, but it doesn’t suggest that some attacks and some retaliations are not more justified, more necessary, or more moral than others. In other words, “Allen’s theory” does not match with Allen’s quoted statement, and this is unfair.

The shame of it is that Gelertner’s support for American involvement in Iraq could have been articulated within the actual parameters of “Allen’s theory.” But this would have required acknowledging that Iraq is both a retaliatory and an initiatory military engagement. This would have required accepting that we are killing Iraqis, some of whom are very bad people.

Unfortunately, Gelertner chooses instead to construct, using Sharansky, a more palatable view of history:
But Sharansky knows that as language expresses human thoughts, history expresses deeds — which (like thoughts) are sometimes nonsense and sometimes meaningful. The collapse of the Soviet Union, for example, meant that innumerable freedom lovers had struggled and suffered and won.

Sharansky himself spent more than 10 years in Soviet prisons — because he was a dissident, had worked with other dissidents and yearned to go to Israel. Nordlinger writes about Sharansky's imprisonment: "More than 400 of those days were spent in punishment cells; more than 200 were spent on hunger strikes. His refusal to concede anything to the Soviets was almost superhuman."

Sharansky was prepared to die for freedom. He saw fellow dissidents die. Don't tell him that all killing is the same, that history is going nowhere. He rode history's bucking bronco from a Soviet cell to a Jewish state that is strong enough (physically, spiritually) to fight off insatiable enemies in war after war and never surrender.
Notice that by this point, Gelertner has not given us one word of “Sharansky’s theory,” only testimonial from President Bush and some anecdote. It’s the lowest point of the article, Gelertner as snake-oil salesman. Then, of course, Gelertner completes the character assassination of Woody Allen, with a Sharansky quote brought in for good measure:
I don't know Allen's view of religion. But the idea that history repeats itself endlessly, that no utopian "end of days" will ever come, that existence is a grim, meaningless merry-go-round nicely compliments atheism. The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche called this view (which he also held) "the eternal recurrence." Nietzsche was the wisest atheist of all. But again, Sharansky disagrees. As a Soviet prisoner he invented a prayer: "Grant me the strength, the power, the intelligence and the patience to leave this jail and reach the land of Israel in an honest and worthy way." The prayer was granted. For Sharansky, his personal history means nothing less than that G-d is listening.

Is that meaning enough for Woody Allen?
There is an interesting theological question in here: if everything we believe about G-d and Judaism and the world/universe is true, but there is no afterlife, is history meaningless? In other words, do our lives require an afterlife for meaning? Is the fact of living not meaning enough? Dayenu?

This article is a glaring example of journalistic irresponsibility. Gelertner had a topic of merit and substance, and chose a rhetorical path of manipulation and obfuscation. In America, we trust that those giving commentary on current events will provide fact-based insight and perspectives that transcend political trends. For whatever reasons, David Gelertner chose a less distinguished approach for this essay. It’s the kind of writing we can only hope does not get repeated endlessly.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Hardest Part

As Tom Petty sang once, "the waiting is the hardest part."

I sit here, tired of my job, waiting on UJAHS and "Hannah's Moon." I feel really good about the decisions for both, where I sent them. I think sending them to bigger publishers improves my chances of having one or both accepted.

I am also waiting on the decision from the Worcester Business Journal, whether I have been selected as one of the 40 under 40. That would be a nice award to have.

So too do I wait as I figure out how to pitch Adam, Monica, Josh and Melody about going into business with Becky and me. My parents raise a good point about not having an actual business to picth, but I think starting from total scratch can work to our advantage -- if they don't think negatively and laugh me out of the room.

Tick, tock, tick, tock ...

Friday, July 08, 2005

The Next “Big” Diet Thing?

I predict that the Palm Beach Narcissism Diet, soon to be released as a book, will be the next ubiquitous diet sensation in this country. It's distinguishing focus is on a "healthy narcissism" that leads the way for the practice and performance of the diet principles, which are themselves very similar to other currently fashionable plans (e.g. South Beach).

People love pop psychology and self-visualization. And legitimation of narcissism is probably too good to resist.

Seriously, my initial impression of the diet is cautious approval. The principles seem reasonable and sound, but some of the terminology puts me off a bit. What I would like to see is a basis in research and published studies.

Something else that makes me skeptical is this this article that feels too much like an advertisement, like a one of those Bush Administration-funded "news" reports:

John Murray says you can
with the Palm Beach Narcissism Diet

By Jane Daugherty
Pulitzer Prize Finalist and Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Thursday, July 07, 2005

One of those rude, middle-aged awakenings punched sports psychologist John F. Murray right in the solar plexus.

There he was on network television being interviewed as an expert who resurrects star athletes' careers. But watching the replay, Murray realized he looked like, well, the Michelin tire man.
What is the Palm Beach Narcissism Diet?
It's a state of mind, a way of motivating yourself, and a diet plan. Principle No. 11 of John F. Murray's Palm Beach Narcissism Diet is, 'Remind yourself several times a day what weight you want to be in four months. That probably involves thinking about yourself more than you are accustomed to, but it is healthy narcissism.'

The Palm Beach Narcissism Diet book will be available later this year at, but 12 key principles from the program appear on page 4E of original article or by scrolling down below. Color photos from Dr. Murray's office by Palm Beach Post staff photographer Bill Ingram appear on the top of the front page and in the ACCENT section.
From the pain of that moment, the Palm Beach Narcissism Diet was born. Murray, 43, who lives in Jupiter, applied the same motivation he used on flagging tennis and football careers to reshaping his own body. He calls it "healthy narcissism," a focus on loving yourself enough to make lifestyle changes and stick to them because you'll look and feel better if you're not fat.

Murray is not alone: An estimated two out of three adult Americans are overweight or obese. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in April released figures attributing more than 100,000 deaths a year to obesity. Being overweight also is blamed for contributing to adult-onset diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, stroke and some forms of cancer.

But with Americans already spending $33 billion annually on weight loss foods, products and services, according to the American Dietetic Association, is another diet needed? Current popular plans include the Atkins Diet, Suzanne Somers' Get Skinny on Fabulous Food, The Zone Diet, and, of course, the still hot South Beach Diet.

Murray decided none of those diets would work for him in the long run because they lack the mental focus that makes sports psychology successful for star athletes.

"It wasn't just my food intake that was messed up... I was jetting to London to do a seminar, hopping out to California to give a speech, running down to Miami for a coaches meeting," Murray recalled in his West Palm Beach office just off the Intracoastal Waterway.

"I'd grab some ribs for dinner at a great restaurant, eat fast food for lunch in my car, consume way too many calories for breakfast, and the only exercise I got was walking to my car."

Murray, almost Ken-doll handsome when he is trim at 175 pounds, went from looking like the ex-tennis pro he is to a middle-aged pudge who tipped the scales at 261 in January.

So he stewed, brooded and went through some self-loathing — none of which was productive, Murray says in retrospect.

Then he began to mentally convert some of the principles he included in his book, Smart Tennis, to winning his battle with the bulge.

Murray recalled his work with tennis pro Vince Spadea. In the middle of a huge slump, Spadea came to Murray for help. Ranked 19th in the world in 1999, Spadea had lost 21 matches in a row and, by 2001, his ranking had fallen to 229th.

"I had to convince him that as tough as things can get, the mind is tougher," Murray said, "Spadea was ready to quit tennis. The thrill was gone. He lived for a year and a half in a cellar. He seriously needed to believe in himself again."

Spadea, 30, won his first ATP tournament last season in Scottsdale, Ariz., beating Boca Raton's Andy Roddick in the semifinals. Spadea ended last year ranked 18th in the world.

"In a way, my experience in confronting my weight was similar. I had to finally admit that I was the one who was doing this to myself," Murray said, "And on some level it was, because I cared about everything else more. My work, my family, my travel arrangements, all were more important than what I was eating and drinking."

His doctoral work at the University of Florida introduced him to various modern-day pathologies, including narcissistic personality disorder, in which normal development is arrested and a person comes to focus all their efforts on gratifying and aggrandizing their false sense of self.

"It dawned on me that if you could focus in a positive way on your health and weight to cultivate a healthy narcissism, it could lead to dietary and exercise choices that make you feel better about yourself," Murray said.

He also decided that he had to cut off excuses and escape paths.

"I set a very ambitious goal to lose 2-2.5 pounds a week and posted it on my Web site and sent it to my newsletter audience of over 15,000 people," he said. "That's pretty much hanging it out there along with my 'fat picture.' If I fail to lose weight, it will be very public. A little fear of failure comes in handy. I post my weight on my Web site every Wednesday — that public exposure helps keep me motivated."

Murray's approach is dramatically different from the high-protein, low-carb Atkins diet, and has a much larger psychological component than the very successful South Beach Diet.

"Contrary to what most other diet programs say, I think you should weigh yourself daily at the same time in the morning," he said, "By weighing each day you will know how hard to be on yourself each day, which is better than waiting for a whole week to weigh again."

He advocates enlisting family and friends to support healthy eating and exercise and getting an informal coach who will check on your progress two or three times a week.

"Your family has to be on your side in this — and in the end they benefit, too," he said.

Diet experts weigh in
The intellectual approach of the Palm Beach Narcissism Diet makes a lot of sense to Barbara J. Moore, Ph.D. and president and CEO of Shape Up America!. Moore heads the national nonprofit initiative designed to raise awareness of the importance of healthy eating and increased physical activity founded by former U.S. Surgeon C. Everett Koop in 1994.

Not much has been written about the psychological areas of successful weight management that Murray is talking about, Moore told The Palm Beach Post, "One, weight management requires the right mind set.

"Attitude is everything... Not nearly enough information is available about the right mind set. For example, consider the typical attitude that demands instant gratification: It took years to gain the 30 pounds you are carrying around, but you want to lose it all in 30 days? Accepting that slow weight loss will probably characterize your journey is part of the process of recovery that Murray seems to allude to."

Moore, a former professor of nutrition at Rutgers University who headed program development for Weight Watchers International, worked at the National Institutes of Health on government weight-loss promotion efforts immediately before joining Shape Up, America!. She said one of the things she likes best about Murray's approach is toughness.

"Discipline is not a dirty word," she said, "It is essential for weight management." Murray likely knows a great deal about that because discipline is essential in sports performance.

"Mental toughness is needed to stay focused and to say no to the distractions that will encourage you to make bad choices... Murray gets that."

The food consumption recommended in Murray's diet "seems fundamentally sound," said Dr. Beth Reames, a professor of nutrition at Louisiana State University's AGCenter Reames has researched and written extensively on fad diets.

Asked about the key components of the Palm Beach Narcissism Diet, Reames said, "He's not going for the quick fix, it includes regular exercise and healthy foods in reasonable portions."

Reames said her research shows that most American adults need an hour of physical activity a day to maintain a healthy weight.

"There's no easy solution," she said, "It's a lifetime commitment and diets that recognize that can be successful."

The skinny

Specifically, Murray advocates eating three balanced meals a day with little or no snacking and little or no alcohol consumption. He doesn't drink, but says for those who do can have an occasional glass of wine with dinner if their weight loss progress is good.

Like South Beach and Atkins diets, Murray regards refined sugar, potatoes and bleached white flour as enemy combatants which can be virtually eliminated from adult diets with no ill effects.

He favors fruit, especially melons, berries and tomatoes, as part of a healthy breakfast with egg white omelets or yogurt for protein. Lunch should usually include plenty of fresh greens in a salad topped with grilled chicken or shrimp. Broiled fish, lean beef or skinless chicken with ample portions of steamed vegetables, especially broccoli and carrots, are his usual dinner.

Use olive oil for cooking, he said, and avoid butter, cream and sauces with high sugar or salt content. Mustard, balsamic vinegar, lime or lemon juice and a little low-sodium soy sauce add flavor without significant calories or salt, he said.

Murray said he also discovered that his weight loss has been hastened by drinking lots of water and dramatically reducing consumption of coffee, tea and soft drinks, which contain caffeine that stimulates appetite.

Does the Palm Beach Narcissism Diet really work? So far, Murray is down to 215 pounds, a loss of more than 45 pounds in less than four months. The real test may come on Sept. 15 when he promises to tip the scales at 185. By Christmas, he wants to be back to his pro tennis-playing weight of 175 — "that will be my Christmas present to myself," he said with a narcissistic wink.

Principles of the The Palm Beach Narcissism Diet

1. Love yourself enough to give yourself the gift of health and fitness. Do not condemn yourself to obesity if you can control your weight through an improved lifestyle.

2. Imagine the benefits of weight loss vividly. Visualize yourself as extremely fit and healthy.

3. Set very specific goals for weight loss with a deadline date and exact weight to reach. Set goals to lose anywhere from 1-2.5 pounds a week - men lose weight faster than women. Contrary to what most other diet programs say, weigh yourself daily at the same time in the morning on a good scale.

4. Make your goals so conspicuous that you have absolutely no escape route! Tell people your goal. A litle fear of failure here comes in handy.

5. Eat a healthy and balanced diet. Do not deprive yourself of any important nutrients or minerals. But stick to 3 meals a day - period! Cut out unhealthy sugars and keep overall carbs low. Do not snack, or if you do, keep snacks rare and healthy.

6. Drink lots of water and eliminate or dramatically reduce your intake of coffee, tea and soft drinks, which contain caffeine that stimulates appetite and may also have additives that cause water retention. Eat mostly egg whites cooked with vegetables or unsweetened yogurt for breakfast with fresh fruit. Have chicken or shrimp salads for lunch with fat free dressing. Make your dinners modest meals with occasional lean steak, fish or skinless chiecken with steamed vegetables and brown rice. Eliminate alcohol except for an occasional glass of win with dinner.

7. Gain the support of your friends and family. Let them know your mission so they can support you. Be clear that you may not be eating as much at big family get togethers. Avoid the mental trap of saying, "Oh, just this once!" But if you do make a mistake, make up for it the next day by being harder on yourself = without starving - but cutting back your food intake and/or exercising more.

8. Appoint one very positive person to check in with you several times a week to make sure you are on track. Find someone who can be consistently upbeat and encouraging, but also tough in terms of making sure you are avoiding snacking.

9. Walk, walk, walk! Try to walk at least 30 minutes at a brisk pace at least 4 times a week - more often is better. Make sure you are healthy enough to do this by checking with your physician first. Make sure to drink enough water to avoid dehydration.

10. Keep your mind focused on your goal. Remind yourself several times a day what weight you want to be in four months. That probably involves thinking about yourself more than you are accustomed to, but it is healthy narcissism.

11. Don't stop! After you lose the weight, continue in your lifestyle changes to keep your weight below a certain fixed number. Looking good and feeling good will motivate you.

12. Utilize the principles of sports psychology: bring passion, hard work, resilience, focus, confidence, emotional control, imagery, and goal setting to your diet.

There is more information on this healthy program at:

Palm Beach Narcissism Diet Principles Copyright © 2005, John F. Murray, Ph.D. All rights reserved.
Dr. Murray can be reached by telephone at: 561-596-9898

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Which Ten Commandments?

This is an interesting article, from The big, unasked question concerns whether a public display of one "version" of the Commandments -- if "version" is the correct interpretation -- effectively or implicitly grants government sanction to one religious denomination or faith.

Posted on Wed, Jul. 06, 2005

Which faith's Ten Commandments is court talking about, and does it matter?

Knight Ridder Newspapers

(KRT) - Which Ten Commandments are at issue?

After all, there is not one version of God's historic instructions to Israel, but at least four.

This multiplicity of texts, noted in the U.S. Supreme Court's rulings on posting the Ten Commandments in public places, gives rise to a theological and biblical dilemma at least as ambiguous as the high court's legal ruling.

The version of the Ten Commandments usually cited is in Exodus 20 in the Hebrew Bible, or the Old Testament.

It was written after 586 B.C., after the destruction of Solomon's Temple and when Israel was in its Babylonian exile, said Jerry Sumney, professor of the Old Testament at Lexington Theological Seminary, operated by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

There are similar versions of the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy 5 and in Exodus 34, although the latter is mentioned less often.

From this have developed versions of the Ten Commandments for the Jewish, Roman Catholic, Protestant and Lutheran traditions.

Probably the biggest difference is in the First Commandment. The Judaic version reads: "I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery."

The Catholic version says: "I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not have strange gods before me," while the Protestant text says: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."

The difference is crucial, said Rabbi Sharon Cohen of Lexington's Ohavay Zion Synagogue, a congregation of Conservative Judaism.

The First Commandment is the "ultimate statement of faith" about God's "unimpeachable, sovereign authority," Cohen said.

"You cannot have these other rules until you acknowledge that God is the force behind it," she said. "Then, everything that follows in the Ten Commandments makes sense."

Bill T. Arnold, director of Hebrew studies and professor of Old Testament and Semitic languages at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, agreed that the First Commandment in Judaism was needed "to combat the polytheism" of the ancient world and to connect Jews to God's deliverance of them from bondage in Egypt.

But Arnold, who earned his doctorate from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, said the omission of "I am the Lord thy God" by Protestants was not intended as a slight to Judaism.

"We assume that is in the prologue" in the Protestant text, Arnold said.

Another big difference is in the interpretation of the Sabbath.

Sumney noted, as did Walter Brueggemann, a retired professor of the Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga., and one of the world's foremost scholars in his field, that for Judaism, the Sabbath means Saturday, or technically from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.

"Christians celebrate the saving act of God in the resurrection of Jesus, which was on Sunday," Sumney said.

This difference is puzzling and ironic, Sumney said, because the people most in favor of posting the Ten Commandments believe in a literal reading of Scripture.

The debate about the Ten Commandments is not likely end soon.

Said Brueggemann: "The Ten Commandments are non-negotiable and endlessly negotiated," he said.



Art Jester is a reporter for the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Movin' On Down the Road

Here are the results from Hingham’s 2005 July 4 Road Race, a 4.6 mile tradition:

Me: 44:36, 9:42 split
Adam: 43:44 9:30 split

So, I didn’t beat Adam, even though he did not train for the race – as far as I know. Nevertheless, I am very proud on several counts.

I wanted to come in under 48:20, which I did. I wanted to do better than 10-minute splits, which I did (much better than my 10:30 splits for the Westford 5K). I was afraid of my calf cramping up, and it didn’t. I was afraid of shin splints, and I didn’t get any. I was afraid of having a stupid injury, a back twinge or a neck pull, and there was nothing there. My mind and body held strong, so this race was a great success for me.

What’s next?

I think I am going to train for a 10 mile run. That would be a great accomplishment if I could train for and complete that sort of race. Doing better than 9:30 splits would be simply awesome – confirmation that I am undoubtedly in the best shape of my life.

What’s more, I have an idea to present to my brothers and their wives. I think the six of us – Melody, Josh, Monica, Adam, Becky, and Me – should commit to creating our own company and going into business. What sort of business? I don’t know. But what I do know is that between the six of us are a lot of experience, knowledge, creativity, skill, and brain power. As a group, we can only succeed if we decide to go for something and proceed systematically. I don’t see how we could so anything but succeed.

My plan this week is to develop a rough plan to propose to them.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Blah, Blah, Blah

I am absolutely amazed at the load of crap that is my occupation. Not that I hate it or my company, but sometimes I just realize that I am a man in a cubicle just kind of passing the time away.

I have made a few inquiries into the topic of being a Dietician/Nutritionist. I am not so hot on the idea as I once was, mainly because I am reluctant to go heavy into any new educational ventures. I also think I have a preference for sports nutrition. I have contacted one Dietician, so maybe I’ll get a good sense from her.

I decided to pull “Hannah’s Moon” away from Stunt Publishing. The process was taking too long. I submitted this morning to Henry Holt. I know it’s a good text; at least, I believe in it. It’ll get published right and I don’t think I’ll stop until it does.

UJAHS went out again also, this time to Putnam. I feel optimistic that the big publishers will be able to use the manuscripts more than the smaller ones, who have niche markets.

I weighed in today at 163.5 pounds, which I haven’t seen in many years. I feel very good and strong overall, but I have to get better-fitting clothes now!!

On the other hand, Becky still has her depression. I am not exasperated or disheartened by what seems to me to be a lack of any real improvement over the past year. What bothers me, though, is feeling that there’s a part of Becky I cannot access or reach. This sounds like a selfish statement, but that’s not how I mean it. I feel as though my ability to “break through” to this part would mean I could help. But I suppose this is selfish, after all. It’s not about me, really, even though Becky says she feels as if she’s a bad mother and wife.

It reminds me of what they say about anorexics/bulimics: no matter how thin they get, they persist in seeing themselves as fat. No matter how excellent a wife and mother she actually is – and she is, in fact, the best of both – she continues to see egregious flaws, mistakes and disappointments.

I can’t say I have a coherent strategy or process for doing what I can to help Becky, or at least not make the situation worse. But I am thinking about it all the time and I know that productive conclusions will come.