Jonathan Haidt on the moral psychology of Capitalism and business.- My longtime friend Joe M sent me this video. Joe assumed that I knew who Jonathan Haidt was. I did not. But I’m grateful for the introduction. His is the sort of voice one needs in today’s polarized political world…

“Abducted in Plain Sight” (Netflix).- A documentary series about a child abduction and rape (in 1970s Idaho) that has layers of disturbing elements: Before abducting and seducing/tricking/raping the child, the charismatic criminal sexually seduced both parents, who were then complicit in the abduction.

What Makes a Good Life? James Altucher is a smart guy who has spent many years trying to figure out how to live a richer life. Recently, he published this little group of equations that are –  in my experience of trying to do the same – very true.

Persistence + Love = Success

Reality / Expectations = Happiness

Fear + Denial = Anger

1% compounded every day = 3700%

Great Idea * Different Great Idea = Unique Idea

Community + Mastery + Freedom = Well-Being

(My Wants > Their Wants) + Other Choices = Negotiation

Big + Safe + Easy + New = Sales

The 5 people you’re around most / 5 = You

Who you are + Why you are + Why now = Creativity

I was reminded of James’s formulae while watching this TED talk by a Harvard researcher…

 

“Flowers” is a British comedy series that premiered in the UK in 2016. I’m loving it – in part because the humor is so utterly odd. The Flowers family is functional but also possibly mentally ill. Maurice, the father (played beautifully by Julian Barratt), writes scary children’s books and is suicidal. His wife, Deborah, teaches music and seems to be borderline sociopathic. Their children, Donald and Amy… oh, forget it! I can’t possibly convey what’s so good about “Flowers” by describing the characters or the plot. Spend five minutes with it. You will love it or hate it.

“Explained” (Netflix): A series of short video essays on topics ranging from the world’s water crisis to the gender wage gap to cricket. These 20-minute documentaries are neither comprehensive nor entirely convincing, but they address interesting problems (e.g., Cape Town and Mexico City are two of a dozen major cities that are on the verge of running out of water) and provide provocative facts (e.g., 130 liters of water are needed to produce the beans for one cup of coffee).

Bordertown” on Netflix: A brilliant/half-psychic officer at the National Bureau of Investigation in Finland changes locations and jobs when his wife barely survives brain cancer. His new job, leading SECRI, the Serious Crime Unit in the previously peaceful little town of  Lappeenranta on the Russian border, turns out to be just as demanding.

The Scandinavians produce great crime dramas, and this one has an attractive film noir ambiance.

“Shtisel” (Netflix): An engaging and heartwarming series about the lives of a Haredi family living in Jerusalem’s Geula neighborhood. The show was created by two writers with Haredi roots. It gives you an inside view of what it might be like to live within a religiously ultra-Orthodox community where there are rules against so many things we take for granted, including appearing in public without all the required clothing and watching TV. It was produced several years ago and gained a surprising wide viewership (including some ultra-Orthodox viewers who aren’t supposed to watch TV) and won a number of awards. I noticed it a month ago on Netflix and relished the first two seasons. I hope there is a third.

The first time I saw The Graduate (1967, the year it was made), I was a junior in high school, and I thought it was a great movie. I saw it again about 25 years ago, and was happy to discover that it still worked for me. And I saw it again last night and still liked it. It had passed the test of time. But my response to it this time was different.

In 1967, I loved it because it seemed to perfectly depict what was then called “the generation gap” – the moral and intellectual gulf between my generation and our parents. I identified strongly with Ben, the main character (played very cleverly by Dustin Hoffman). I approved of the plot and the implicit critique of upper-middle-class values. I also liked the many cinematic tricks director Mike Nichols employed, the clever cuts and overlaps. And, of course, I loved the score, which was written by Paul Simon.

Watching it for the third time last night, I found the plot to be just as compelling, the music nostalgically engaging, and the cinematic effects dated but still effective. What was different was that I had difficulty identifying with Ben… and the moral dilemma of the story disturbed me. I could no longer see Ben as a sympathetic character. I was with him 100% in his inability to resist Mrs. Robinson, but I couldn’t excuse him for falling in love with and then courting her daughter. Fifty-one years later, I was no longer identifying with the 20-year-old Ben but with the husband he cuckolded.