This post is in response to the post on optimism by Mr. R. S. Braythwayt, Esq. found at http://braythwayt.com/homoiconic/2009/05/01/optimism.html

I usually get fairly tense reading posts that discuss psychology research. I sort of scootch over to the side of my chair. Perhaps I am concerned that I might pull an extraocular muscle from the imminent eye rolling once the results from one unimportant but highly quotable study gets generalized into a global statement about why we do everything that we do.


Fortunately, my anxiety was not founded. The writing itself refreshingly avoided becoming maudlin, and Mr. Braythwayt comes across as being a pragmatic gentleman. Since he chose to keep his message clear in order to make it more actionable, it's good that he took a while getting to the punchline and invited the reader to attempt a prediction concerning optimistic behavior. Going straight to the message that most folks over value negative experiences and do not put as much emphasis on the things that go right would have ended up just being a recitation from the Journal of Things We Already Know.

But just because we already know something doesn't mean it isn't important.


A week ago I attended the Bris of my friend's baby. This came after weeks of a complicated pregnancy in which the life of both the mother and son had been imperiled. During the ceremony, the cantor asked that the attendees make a point of continuing to work as hard to make time to observe happy occasions as sad ones. In the case of a funeral, it seems important enough to leave work and pay for a ticket to attend in person, but attending a wedding or visiting a new baby does not. Leaving a blog comment because someone is wrong on the Internet seems worth populating a text field, when having an equally strong, but positive opinion does not.

This is why so much of the Internet has become a bad neighborhood.