Blog re-entry: testing tools

This is a return to newShrink after interim with pressing professional & personal priorities — plus what am only now recognizing was a long spell of utter dismay and paralysis in response to the toxic environment and public discourse permeating our pop culture as well as our politics. As those who know me can attest, it takes a lot to silence me but I have been effectively pretty wordless and speechless ever since the fall ‘18 Brett Kavanaugh Senate hearings.

So this post (and maybe several more) is my toe back in the writing water as I experiment with the tech and tools, begin to find words and voice again, & work out what is wanting to be expressed here. More soon!

It’s “Advice & Consent,” Not “Law & Order”

Like a lot of the public rhetoric on the Senate confirmation committee re Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, this New York Times column draws much of its terminology and logic around the metaphor of a courtroom. That’s useful since most all of us are familiar with “innocent until proven guilty” and “due process.”

But I must respectfully disagree with the entire premise here that this (or any) Supreme Court nomination committee process is a court—of law or of public opinion. It is a job interview, in which the burden of proof is and has always been entirely on the nominee to prove—NOT his or her innocence of any crimes—but that the nominee is worthy of the appointment. This means it’s on him or her to respond to and explain any questionable things that come to light from anything in the past and for the Senate to determine whether the explanations allow sustained confidence for a proposed appointment to proceed. (This, btw, is the case with any job interview process for any finalist for any job.)

Neither Kavanaugh nor any other nominee has a right to the presumption that he is worthy and entitled to a lifetime appointment to the highest court of the land—as if any citizen bringing information that might suggest otherwise must outrun a rushed hearing process and  “prove” that he isn’t quite so entitled after all. Were this the way the founders intended it, there would be no, and no need for, a Senate confirmation process.

I value and often agree with the work and reasoning of Stephens on many issues. But he’s wrong about this as a matter of long and correct precedent.

Closer Look Can Change Things — And Us

Thanks to former NC Supreme Court Justice and Charlotte Observer contributing opinion columnist Bob Orr for this thoughtful piece, “I changed my mind about voter suppression.”

Good illustration of newShrinking: moving via thorough Journalism to Scholarship (in this case, History) and even the deepening Psychological step of challenging and changing one’s cherished positions.

New lenses, new perspectives. Refreshing things in our polarized, alt-fact times.

Truth Matters

Here’s a handy guidebook on separating truth from fake news in today’s environment, from Capitol Hill veteran, media commentator, and author Bruce Bartlett.

Check out the easy-save highlight pages of good tips at the start of each chapter. Topics covered in clear, concise language include critical thinking skills, choosing trusted sources, using fact-checking resources, and a lot more in a small package.

A Campaign FOR Neuroscience = AGAINST Violence


Amid the thorough and thoroughly heartbreaking journalistic reporting in the aftermath of the latest mass shooting, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, here’s a bit of expanded context through a scholarly lens: the highly relevant field of neuroscience, reactivity/self-regulation and violence.

From today’s The Takeaway program on Public Radio International station WNYC, this interview departs from the endless loop of polarized gun-violence debate.

According to the summary from WNYC: “Neuropharmacologist Dr. Jeremy Richman and his wife Jennifer Hensel, also a scientist, lost their daughter, six year old Avielle Rose, in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012. Shortly afterwards, they moved to create a foundation in her name that would take a scientific approach to understanding and preventing violence. As a parent who lost a child in a school shooting, Dr. Richman reflects on the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and discusses what violence looks like in the brain — and how we can treat it. The Avielle Foundation funds extensive research in every aspect of neuroscience and brain functioning in order to prevent violence.”