- Iain Hollingshead on Dogs Helping the Disabled Having dogs as helpers is nothing new, but the Telegraph
writer goes through an unusually comprehensive list of situations in
which dogs have managed to improve the lives of those with special
needs. The occasion? The piece is written partly, it seems, because
Dogs for the Disabled is one of the three charities "supported by this
year's Christmas appeal" from The Telegraph, a British newspaper.
Hollingshead notes that the chief executive of Dogs for the Disabled
remains frustrated that "the man-dog relationship has still not been
properly evaluated to see how it can be harnessed in a more systematic
way." People in wheelchairs, the chief notes, can be "awkward" about
human interaction, but, given a canine companion, others will initiate
contact with them. Dogs can be trained to block Alzheimer's patients
from wandering out into the street, and help "adults with autism cope
with the stress and anxiety of work," while introducing dogs to
classrooms lowers "cortisol levels in autistic children." Adds
Hollingshead, "another intriguing American experiment involves using
dogs in courtrooms." In abuse cases, "children have found it easier to
talk freely if there is a dog to stroke at the same time."
Brooks on Getting Caught Up in Experiences "For the past hundred years
or so, we have lived in a secular age," writes the New York Times
columnist. "That does not mean that people aren't religious. It means
there is no shared set of values we all absorb as preconscious
assumptions. In our world, individuals have to find or create their own
meaning." He examines a new philosophy book by Berkeley's Hubert
Dreyfus and Harvard's Sean Dorrance Kelly. The book argues that this
lack of universal meaning "has led to a pervasive sadness. Individuals
are usually not capable of creating their own lives from the ground up.
So modern life is marked by frequent feelings of indecision and
anxiety," and we "lack the foundations upon which to make the most
important choices." Dreyfus and Kelly wind up deciding that the way to
combat this is through "the most real things in life," which "well up
and take us over." We shouldn't try to explain the universe but should
"live perceptively at the surface, receptive to the moments of
transcendent whooshes that we can feel in, say, a concert crowd, or
while engaging in a meaningful activity, like making a perfect cup of
coffee with a well-crafted pot and cup." Through Brooks has some
reservations about this interpretation, he seems attracted by the
book's "rejection of the excessive individualism of the past several
- Susan Jacoby on Growing Old Jacoby recently turned 65. It is simply not true, she argues in The New York Times
to her fellow Baby Boomers, "that we can transform ourselves endlessly,
even undo reality, if only we live right." In popular culture,
"age-defying" simply means "age-denying." This year, she asked one
doctor and aging specialist "what he thought of the premise that 90
might become the new 50." The thoughtful response: "'I'm a scientist,'
he replied, 'and a scientist always hopes for the big breakthrough. The
trouble with expecting 90 to become the new 50 is it can stop rational
discussion--on a societal as well as individual level--about how to
make 90 a better 90.'"
- The Boston Globe Provides 'A 2010 Dictionary' The newspaper
has its writers list and explain some of the key terms of the year.
Among them: primaried, Snooki, loyalty, refudiate, traumatic brain
injury, retweet, bedbugs, "it gets better," Winklevi, and "top kill."
Some of the terms, like "it gets better" and "refudiate," are entirely
new to this year. The selection of others, like "traumatic brain
injury," reflect, in the words of the Globe's Derrick Jackson, that
"finally, we've ended the denial over ... the concussive blasts that
afflict both the gallant soldiers of war and the gilded heroes of
- Peggy Noonan on the Actual Meaning of 'Auld Lang Syne' The New Year's song, explains the Wall Street Journal
columnist, "was written, or written down, by Robert Burns, lyric poet
and Bard of Scotland. In 1788 he sent a copy of the poem to the Scots
Musical Museum, with the words: 'The following song, an old song, of
the olden times, has never been in print.'" Though he "revised and
compressed" the lyrics, apparently "he found the phrase auld lang syne
'exceedingly expressive' and thought whoever first wrote the poem
'heaven inspired.'" Says Noonan:
The question it asks is
clear: Should those we knew and loved be forgotten and never thought
of? Should old times past be forgotten? No, says the song, they
shouldn't be. We'll remember those times and those people, we'll toast
them now and always, we'll keep them close. "We'll take a cup of
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