The Frontal Cortex

Archives for August, 2007

Don’t Read the Business Page

So the financial markets are all upset. Stocks began the morning with another steep slide. The media, of course, is covering the growing liquidity crisis in excruciating detail, spending lots of hours and column inches analyzing the latest rumors and sentiments on Wall Street. But here’s my advice: ignore everything. Don’t read the business page.…

The shit is hitting the fan: all those sub-prime mortgages given out so recklessly over the past two years are getting their interest rates re-adjusted. And that, of course, is when the foreclosures begin. By most measures, sub-prime loans are a bad idea. Look, for example, at the popular 2/28 loan, which consists of a…

Optimism

Here’s your feel-good story of the day. (It feels even better if you’re a fan of The Wire. And if you’re not a fan of The Wire, then you’ve made a very big mistake.) The story is a helpful reminder that it’s never too late to change your life: the mind is a gloriously plastic…

As the author of a book that’s equally divided between descriptions of neuroscience and descriptions of art, I’ve spent far too much time pondering the organization of book stores. How should books be classified? Is my book a “science” book, or does it belong in the neglected “Criticism and Essays” section? Personally, I’ve always been…

Move South, Live Longer

It turns out that moving to the sun belt will help you live longer. Here’s the NBER abstract: We estimate that the number of annual deaths attributable to cold temperature is 27,940 or 1.3% of total deaths in the US. This effect is even larger in low income areas. Because the U.S. population has been…

Addiction

Addiction factoid of the Day: Psychiatrist Lee Robins found that almost half of American soldiers used heroin or opium while in Vietnam, but rather fewer were actually addicted, and almost 90 percent of those kicked the habit upon returning to the United States. The reality of addiction is that it’s rarely quite as universal or…

The Evolution of Affluence

History tends to make even the most unlikely revolutions seem inevitable. Looking backwards to the 18th century, it’s easy to conclude that the Industrial Revolution was bound to happen, that the forward march of modernity was predestined. But what this fatalistic view of history overlooks is just how unlikely it is that a nomadic band…

Internet and Information Overload

Thanks for your patience while I was on vacation. If I wasn’t so jet-lagged, I’d probably feel really relaxed. (I’m currently in that circadian netherworld that not even caffeine can fix.) Hopefully, I’ll get around to blogging about the books I read while away. But for now, let me just say that I enjoyed my…