Living in More Than One World

The Blog of Bruce Rosenstein

The many worlds of Noah Levine

There can be fascinating results when two seemingly disparate worlds combine in the same person. A case in point is Kate Linthicum’s feature story in the Los Angeles Times, In the stillness, space for a rebellious spirit, about Noah Levine, who teaches Buddhist meditation infused with punk rock values. He’s the leader of the Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society, and author of the 2003 book Dharma Punx. The latter is the name of the Society’s members, and there are meditation groups across the USA and Canada. Levine appears to be an intriguing embodiment of living in more than one world, as a psychologist (which, according to the article, is how he earns his living), teacher, organization leader, author and family man.…

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A local human interest story, with built-in national interest

Cindy Leise’s neat human interest story Toni Morrison’s first-grade teacher recalls past century, in Ohio’s The Chronicle-Telegram, is the kind of article at which local newspapers excel. Leise interviews 98-year old Esther Hunt, who taught the Pulitzer Prize-winning Morrison in 1937, in Lorain, Ohio.  The peg for the story was Morrison’s local appearance at Oberlin College’s Convocation Series, which unfortunately Hunt could not attend because of a family event in another state. According to the article, she taught in Lorain City Schools for 45 years, until her retirement in 1974. Morrison’s latest novel is A Mercy, which was published last year.…

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The Future is Freelance

More people, especially those of us who have recently been laid off, may have freelance contracting for knowledge work in our future, according to Sarah E. Needleman’s article Negotiating the Freelance Economy, in today’s Wall Street Journal. It points out the sobering fact that not just full time, but temporary work opportunities are also less available than a year ago. Hence the increased popularity of sites such as elance.com, odesk.com, guru.com and sologig.com. Needleman also does a good job of pointing out some of the practicalities and possible pitfalls of working this way. In a similar vein, see the May 4 report by Jessica Dickler in CNNMoney.com, Freelance is the new full-time.…

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Living in More Than One World the Alain de Botton Way

The subject of The Independent’s My secret life feature on May 2 is the London-based author Alain de Botton, whose new book, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, has already been published in the UK, and comes out in the USA next month. Rather than a standard Q&A format, My secret life draws out brief answers to such statements as:  “At night I dream of”… “When I was a child I wanted to be”… “My greatest inspirations are”…(One of the replies to the latter is Geoff Dyer, who was featured in this blog on May 2.) A look at de Botton’s site shows him to be an embodiment of living in more than one world.…

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The Ongoing Wisdom of Huston Smith

Lisa Miller of Newsweek has a revealing interview/feature on Huston Smith. The 90 year old religion author-professor has an important new book:  Tales of Wonder: Adventures Chasing the Divine, an Autobiography. The foreword was written by Pico Iyer, whom I referenced in the May 2 blog on Geoff Dyer. (Iyer’s book The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, recently came out in paperback.) Smith is known for his million-selling book The World’s Religions, originally published in 1958 as The Religions of Man.  It was also completely revised and updated when it was renamed in 1991.…

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Geoff Dyer: Traveling Far and Wide

The Australian has an insightful interview/feature story on the British author Geoff Dyer, whose writing has encompassed many worlds, with books in both fiction and nonfiction. I’ve only read one, the wonderfully-titled collection of essays Yoga For People Who Can’t Be Bothered To Do It. His new novel, Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi, was reviewed in The New York Times by another highly accomplished, well-traveled writer, Pico Iyer. Also see the brief Q&A in The New York Times’ Paper Cuts blog, Stray Questions for Geoff Dyer. I really like this quote from The Australian interview: “All the writing I do is for me and about things I want to learn about, (which) are adding to my cultural capital.” Finally, Dyer reveals his fantasy career in a short piece for The Observer, My other life: Geoff Dyer.…

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If you’re curious, read (and listen) on…

The pros and cons of curiosity in life are explored in a great radio interview yesterday with psychology professor Todd Kashdan, of George Mason University, on The Kojo Nnamdi Show, produced by WAMU-FM. (It’s the public broadcasting station of my undergrad alma mater, The American University, in Washington, D.C., and also the producer of The Diane Rehm Show.) Kashdan was promoting his new book Curious? Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life. For more on Kashdan and the book, see his Q&A with Positive Psychology News Daily, and his blog. He’s also one of the interviewees in Deborah Kotz’s recent usnews.com post, 10 Secrets to Finding Happiness During the Recession.…

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Major recognition, major impact: Nonprofits receive MacArthur Award

Every year I look forward to the announcement of The MacArthur Foundation’s Fellows Program awards, the so-called “genius grants” that have been given to creative, make-a-difference individuals since 1981. The winners receive $500,000 over five years, with no strings attached on how the money is spent. Reading their profiles, and the media stories about them after they’ve won, is always enlightening. The 2008 fellows include a critical care physician, urban farmer, structural engineer, novelist, anthropologist, stage lighting designer and other professions. The entire list of winners, from 1981-2008, makes fascinating reading.  But the foundation also makes awards to organizations, and on April 27 it announced the worldwide, nonprofit recipients of the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.…

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Fast Rules from Alan Webber

There is a variety of interesting material online about Alan Webber and his new book Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths for Winning at Business Without Losing Your Self. Among other things in a varied career, he was the co-founding editor of Fast Company.  He has also written insightful columns for USA TODAY. Linda Tischler’s post on a Fast Company blog reports on his recent talk at the Japan Society in New York. He also did a guest post on Gloria McDonough-Taub’s CNBC blog Bullish on Books. The book grew out of years of collecting and distilling wisdom on 3 x 5 cards, a habit he encourages for his readers.…

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Laid Off, But Hopeful

To those of us in the challenging position of being laid off (and for others who might have a similar fate in the near future), the ongoing Wall Street Journal blog Laid Off And Looking makes for interesting reading. It contains valuable insight into the personal aspects of the job search and interview processes. Even though it follows a group of M.B.A.s who have been laid off recently, you don’t have to be an M.B.A. (employed or otherwise) to benefit from this blog. Today’s post, Coping with Isolation While at Home, is about the contrast between being alone at home during a layoff, versus the social interaction you previously experienced in the workplace.…

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