Archive for April, 2013


primum non nocere

We human beings have such great capacity for doing harm. It comes as no surprise that primum non nocere, “first do no harm,” has made it into the maxims as one of the basic things medical students are taught in medical school.

Most people think this phrase is a part of the Hippocratic Oath, but the oath does not contain the exact phrase. Perhaps the closest approximation in the Hippocratic Corpus is: “The physician must…have two special objects in view with regard to disease, namely, to do good or to do no harm.”

Primum non nocere was introduced into American and British medical culture by Worthington Hooker in his 1847 book Physician and Patient. And Hooker attributed it to the French pathologist and clinician Auguste Francois Chomel (1788–1858), who made the axiom a part of his oral teaching.

Regardless of its source, if only more doctors, lawyers, and others were to take this principle of non-maleficence to heart!

I have recently heard of a Maryland lawyer who took $9,000 that was raised for the defense of a juvenile parricide, but who made no filings of any kind and cannot explain where the money went before dropping the case after ten months of damaging inactivity. And today in Iowa commences the case of Noah Crooks, who was forced onto psychotropic drugs by his school and physician for ADHD–drugs which I believe are responsible for the death of Noah’s mother.

I’ve withdrawn from the world, in part to leave a more benign wake, and yet I have found that some people develop unencouraged expectations of me that I cannot help but disappoint. If this, too, is doing harm–if I refuse to be taken advantage of–then I give up!

But I don’t. And I won’t.

The idea of being taken advantage of has been a central issue of spiritual hospitality for centuries. The most quoted Hindu saying about hospitality is “a guest is God.” Since Vedic times, Indian culture has emphasized a level of care which has at times bordered on the extreme. A host was urged to not only provide for the basic needs of a guest, but for all the guest’s needs and wants.

The basics included providing water to drink or wash one’s feet, a comfortable place to sit or sleep, and food. Yet a guest’s demands could sometimes become humiliating or even hazardous to the host.

anasuyaThe story is told about Anasura, the wife of the sage Atri, and held up by many as a model of virtue. While Atri was away on a long journey, the gods Vishnu, Shiva, and Brahma went to Anasura’s home disguised as mendicants. They said they were Brahmins from far away and needed food. But just as Anasura was about to offer them a meal, one of the visitors said that they could not accept offerings from anyone who was clothed. Hence Anasura would have to disrobe before serving them.

Anasura immediately realized she was being tested, and probably by someone powerful. If she refused, she would commit the sin of refusing the Brahmins her hospitality. If she complied, she would dishonor her husband and betray her vows to him.

Anasura chanted a mantra and summoned all the Karma that she had accumulated through her lifetime. Immediately the three gods were transformed into crawling infants, and one by one she suckled them. She thus met the requirements of hospitality without compromising her fidelity.

This myth teaches that sometimes the demands of hospitality can be a challenge and that we must be up to it. While I have never been asked to get naked in its pursuit, more than once I have been caught with my pants down.

Live and learn. You can make mistakes about who you let into your life, but you must above all learn from them.


Groove of the Day 

Listen to Roxy Music performing “India”


not my type

deported 1

Talk about luck. A young Emerati man, Omar Borkan Al Gala, was recently deported from Saudi Arabia for being “too handsome.”

One wag on the radio said he’d never have to buy himself another drink in a bar in his whole life–I say at least until old age sets in. Another marveled at the pick-up lines now available to this fellow.

Even if I were so inclined, this guy wouldn’t be my pick; I was married to a blonde-haired, blue-eyed “ice maiden” for many years. But far be it from me to disparage Omar’s extreme good luck and looks.

Congratulations on the distinction.


Groove of the Day 

Listen to Right Said Fred performing “I’m Too Sexy”


brothers & sisters

everly brothers 1chapin sisters 2

The Chapin Sisters have recently released a tribute album to the Everly Brothers, and I thought you’d enjoy comparing some tracks… or at least I would! 

The Chapin Sisters were founded in Los Angeles in 2004 as a trio featuring Abigail and Lily Chapin and their sister Jessica Craven. But after 2008, Jessica left the band to start a family, so Abigail and Lily are now a duo.

They’re currently living in New York City and released A Date With The Everly Brothers on April 23rd.



Grooves of the Day

Listen to the Everly Brothers performing “Cathy’s Clown”

Listen to the Chapin Sisters performing “Cathy’s Clown”


Listen to the Everly Brothers performing “Crying In the Rain”

Listen to the Chapin Sisters performing “Crying In the Rain”


Listen to the Everly Brothers performing “When Will I Be Loved”

Listen to the Chapin Sisters performing “When Will I Be Loved”


you got the best of me


Happy Birthday to my best friend Paco.

It had to come from somewhere.


Groove of the Day 

Listen to The Holy Modal Rounders performing “Hey. Hey Baby”



gun violence

guns 2Gun Violence in America

by Bonnie Young

Last week saw the defeat of all the proposed national legislation for gun control.  It was a battle well-fought and won. Our President, on the other hand, saw it as a disgrace.

Many people question my stance on gun laws and gun control because, after all, guns are the reason my son is in prison. It is really quite simple. None of the proposed gun legislation would have stopped the young man from committing the crimes that caused my son’s incarceration. None of the proposed gun legislation would have prevented Columbine, Sandy Hook, Aurora, or Virginia Tech. Not one.

The other reality is this: although we are greatly affected emotionally by sudden violent attacks, more people die everyday from prescription drugs (about 270 per day), 25,580 people died from traffic accidents in 2012, and an estimated 98,000 people die every year from medical malpractice-related issues. The difference? No one focuses on the greatest issues or causes of death in the United States, only the most dramatic.

The other reality? Criminals always have a way to get a gun. Changing laws concerning gun control will not change the ability of a criminal to get a gun. Let’s take a look at the recent murder of Tom Clements, the Director of Prisons in Colorado. The man accused of his death, the death of another man and eventual demise of himself, was a former offender. He did not purchase a weapon. Yet he had one. It was not his access or lack of access that brought about this crime. It was the mental instability of this former offender, exacerbated by 8 years of solitary confinement and torture that lead to the crimes he committed.

Let’s look at Virginia Tech. The young man responsible for those deaths used two hand guns in the shooting. H e was also mentally unsound and had been in and out of treatment since junior high. He had also recently ceased taking Paxal, an antidepressant, which has severe side effects and can increase a patient’s propensity to violence and suicide.

We need to address mental health. We need to address family violence. We need to support families who are dealing with these issues that lead to profound acts of violence. This will make a difference… not gun legislation.


Bonnie Young is a minister in Colorado, and passionate about this and related issues. Her son was caught up in a sensational crime and as a juvenile he was railroaded into prison for 68 years. She has website, “FreeJonny,” which I encourage you to visit.


Groove of the Day 

Listen to Vampire Weekend performing “Giving Up the Gun”


magnificent obsession

Magnificent Obsession made into a 1954 movie starring Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson

Yesterday on the radio, I heard an author of a new book being interviewed. The author was Adam Grant, Wharton’s youngest tenured professor. The book, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, was released earlier this month, and it reminds me of a couple books from the olden days—books that literally changed my life.

The new book first. According to

For generations, we have focused on the individual drivers of success: passion, hard work, talent, and luck. But today, success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others. According to Grant, it turns out that at work, most people operate either as takers, matchers, or givers. Whereas takers strive to get as much as possible from others, and matchers aim to trade evenly, givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return.

Using his own research, Grant shows that these styles have a surprising impact on success.

Although some givers get exploited and burn out, the rest achieve extraordinary results across a wide range of industries. Combining cutting-edge evidence and captivating stories, this landmark book shows how one of America’s best networkers developed his connections, why the creative genius behind one of the most popular shows in television history toiled for years in anonymity, how a basketball executive responsible for multiple draft busts transformed his franchise into a winner, and how we could have anticipated Enron’s demise four years before the company collapsed—without ever looking at a single number.

Give and Take’s central premise appears to be that if the giving comes first, success will follow. This landmark book opens up an approach to success that has the power to transform not just individuals and groups, but entire organizations and communities.

Adam Grant is the youngest tenured professor and single highest-rated teacher at The Wharton School. An award-winning researcher and teacher, his consulting and speaking clients include Google, the NFL, Merck, Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, the World Economic Forum, the United Nations, and the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force. He has been honored as one of BusinessWeek’s favorite professors and one of the world’s top 40 business professors under 40. A leading expert in work and success, he has published more than 50 articles during the last five years in prominent psychology and management journals. He has appeared on the Today Show, CNN, and the Diane Rehm show, and was recently profiled in the New York Times magazine cover story, “Is giving the secret to getting ahead?” He holds a Ph.D. in organizational psychology from the University of Michigan and a B.A. from Harvard University. He is a former record-setting advertising director, junior Olympic springboard diver, and professional magician.

For more details, see

Although the idea of giving to others first may seem like a new idea, this is really an old one, according to some going back to Christ (though I suspect it predates Christ by thousands of years). When I was just a kid, my mom gave me two books for Christmas that I still prize: Dr. Hudson’s Secret Journal and The Magnificent Obsession, both by former minister Lloyd C. Douglass.

(I just checked, and Secret Journal appears to be out-of-print and available only at great expense, but Magnificent Obsession appears to be for sale at less than $20.)

This book about obsession actually became an obsession for scores of readers, including me. Lloyd C. Douglas wrote about the deluge of mail he received from readers who wanted to live out the principles of the novel in their own lives. As the two books make clear, the principle is based on a Biblical passage, the finding of which became an all-consuming goal for me many years ago. The principle of giving first and deriving something later assumed an almost magical power. It is this same dynamic that Grant’s research seems to show as being real.

The Magnificent Obsession (1929) is the story of the transformation of a young man—a churlish, spoiled, rich man who foolishly wrecks his speed boat—and whom the rescue team resuscitates with equipment that’s unavailable to aid a local hero, Dr. Hudson, who dies as a result. This experience leads the young man, reluctantly, to an unexpected life of full-immersion, anonymous philanthropy that helps others without feeding his ego. He becomes consumed with the task of helping others—sacrificing his time, effort, and money in order to do so. Ultimately the burdens he consents to bear are instrumental in leading him to his highest life goals. He develops a more “powerful personality.”  His life is redeemed and he greatly affects the lives of many others. His actions are emulated by those around him.

One person can truly change the world.


Groove of the Day 

Listen to Nat King Cole performing “Magnificent Obsession”


different views



BigBend 3


Groove of the Day 

Listen to George Strait performing “All My Ex’s Live in Texas”




Richie Havens, the opening act at the 1969 Woodstock music festival, died Monday of a sudden heart attack. He was 72.

Havens, who retired three years ago, toured for more than 30 years and recorded 30 albums.

Havens told Billboard that his breakthrough at Woodstock came after another artist’s equipment got stuck in traffic. He was supposed to be the fifth act.

“It was 5 o’clock and nothing was happening yet,” Havens told Billboard. “I had the least instruments and the least people.”

So Havens went on and performed for 40 minutes as planned. Organizers asked him to do four more songs.

“I went back and did that, then it was, ‘Four more songs…’ and that kept happening ’til two hours and 45 minutes later, I had sung every song I know,” he said.

Havens, a Brooklyn NY native, told CNN that music enabled him to leave his rough neighborhood to head to Greenwich Village and the music scene there. He never looked back.

Billboard reported Havens died in New Jersey, leaving behind four daughters and five grandchildren.


Groove of the Day 

Listen to Richie Havens performing “Freedom”


shining star

star sign


Groove of the Day 

Listen to The Stylistics performing “You Are My Shining Star”


goodbye cruel world

360-degree Finger

This has been such a crummy week in the outer world, I’m happy to be where I am.


Groove of the Day 

Listen to James Darren performing “Goodbye Cruel World”