Friday, July 12, 2024

How Is This Still An Issue?

I wholeheartedly agree with a recent column by Judge Gayden, in which he stated that all U.S. presidential candidates should be required to first pass a neuropsychological test. But I believe there is an even more pressing concern which is this: Why is President Biden and his team unable to accurately discern his current mental state? 

Even though neurological testing would help to exclude from presidency those with cognitive impairment, such as from early Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other causes, it does not offer much help in diagnosing a patient who refuses to recognize his / her current condition. (And I think most of us would agree there are all kind of issues if we were to try to expand this testing to predict future diseases and the impact it will have on an individual.)

President Biden's situation, unfortunately is quite common, in that the vast majority of persons with cognitive decline or serious personality disorder are unaware that they even have a problem. This is usually not due to active denial of pathology, but rather due to a phenomenon called "lack of insight" or what neurologists call "anosognosia".

Friday, July 05, 2024

The Most Important Presidential Debate Ever (by Peggy Noonan)

In the weeks before CNN’s presidential debate I was skeptical of its significance. I didn’t see a dramatic, high-stakes, pivotal showdown coming, only a moderately sized, pro forma moment in a long, drawn-out campaign. The format had too many prohibitions—muted mics, no open discussion, no live audience, no opening statements, no talking to aides during the breaks, no notes on the lectern. This promised something airless, manufactured, hermetically sealed.

Beyond that I doubted we’d learn anything, because I doubted whether either candidate had the ability to expand on his known persona. Joe Biden has moments of blurted thought, but could he really sustain a thought or make an argument that coheres over two minutes? Could he suddenly show command, a true grasp of his own positions?

Could Donald Trump demonstrate that returning him to power wouldn’t be a wholly irresponsible act? Could he make any dent in the doubts, grounded in history, as to his nature and character? This wasn’t a question about whether he’s grown but about whether he can control himself.

Still, as a national event the early debate would function as the formal kickoff of the campaign, replacing Labor Day. And it would make clear how each candidate intends to present himself and his issues the next four months. So maybe it would be more consequential than I anticipated.

Friday, June 28, 2024

The Cost = Value Equation

The other day, as I was thumbing through my ancient record collection, I started thinking about the investment I had in my collection. The majority of my records I do not own, due to a couple of very unorganized moves in my twenties. But I do still have the very first record I ever purchased, which is the Batman TV Show soundtrack by The Marketts. (Here is the link to the theme of that show.) 

Now for context, I had to work to own that album which was also true for any non-essential purchase in my childhood. I saved my allowance which I received for working around the house (beyond my normal chores), then bargained for transportation downtown to the Sears store, (which was the closest store that sold records back then) got home and devoured the album art and info - discovering who played on the record, the album list of songs, the artwork (which was awesome!) and then I put the record on my portable player and listened to the songs. Later I relived this experience when I visited friends and discovered together the shared experience of listening to music. As opposed to our current economic flow required to listen to music, I was heavily invested in my time and money into that experience, which is probably why that album became a treasured possession. 

Friday, June 21, 2024