The Little Secret about Sustainability is Coming Out

From today’s Washington Post: PUERTO VARAS, Chile — “Sustainability” may be a worthy goal, but the word has become cliché, now typically deployed in its adverbial form to modify various nature-exploiting activities like “logging” and “fishing” or the catch-all “development.” So let’s quit talking about “sustainable” this or that and face the overarching question about the future: Can we create a durable civilization in which humans become good neighbors in the community of life? Where our society is embedded in a matrix of wild nature that allows all creatures — from microorganisms to blue whales — freedom to pursue happiness and raise their progeny in a secure habitat? The path… Read More

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Ethics and the Divided Brain

I am back from our trip to Morocco, and have mostly caught up with my sleep and the hundreds of emails that had accumulated. I did have my iPhone along, but needed to respond to only a couple of timely messages. The trip taught me I can hit the “unsubscribe” link without missing anything important. It was a great trip. Morocco is very interesting. An Arab country, with remnants of old cultures—Roman, Jewish, Berber—mixed into a modern setting. We went from a few days of camping in the Sahara to snow-covered mountains in only a few hours drive. Here are a few photos showing the range of cultures: A Roman… Read More

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Learning about Conservatism

I’ve just started a new course at my learning-in-retirement program on Edmund Burke and the origins and history of conservatism. Only one class in and already I am having trouble seeing anything in common with Burke and what goes for this “ism” today. While I have find myself unable to stomach virtually everything coming down the political pipeline with the label “conservative,” I am surprised by how much of Burke’s political thinking makes sense. Our first class began with a collection for the members of all sorts of characterizations of Burke. Out of the potpourri that filled the whiteboard, these resonated. Burke comes across as a pragmatist. He was very… Read More

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No More Crocodile Tears

    There is only one way to stop gun violence. Take away the guns. Anything else is pure bullshit. I won’t even bother to quote all the studies that show this is right. Nor will I enumerate the outrageous statistics on the prevalence of guns in the United States. It’s a simple matter of systems dynamics, but a very complicated matter of politics. For those not acquainted with systems dynamics, it’s a method for describing the behavior of complex systems, especially ones with human actors. The most common pattern (or archetype) is fixes-that-fail. The name tells all we need to know about it. It applies to attempts to deal… Read More

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The Importance of Truth

What do I mean by truth? The answer is not as simple as you might think. My definition is an understanding of the world as it really is out there. A corollary to this comes in the criterion for establishing that we have discovered the truth: things have turned out the way we thought they would. Having said that, this kind of truth is very hard to establish, which fact means there is always some possibility that our actions will not turn out the way they should. When we are sloppy in efforts to unearth the truth (it is always hidden), the possibility grows larger and larger. There is a… Read More

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Where to Begin?

It has been such a long time since I posted my last real entry that I hardly know where to restart. I have two main streams of attention going on right now: getting my book done and the mess the US is in. They are closely tied together. For those who have followed my blog previously, you might have seen a bunch of entries about Iain McGilchrist and his divided brain theory. Rather than recapitulate his work, my understanding of it is available in a series of posts starting in June 2017 listed under the archives menu. His basic finding is that the each hemisphere of the brain presents a… Read More

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Surprise

Welcome to my newly redesigned blog. After relying on my son-in-law, Tim Swan, to keep me out of trouble since my blog started just about 10 years ago, I have set out on my own. But not without his help in getting me through the transition. This move has involved a switch in the platform I use to run the website and a major overhaul of the appearance of the blog. The older posts, prior to July 28, 2017 are still available on the site archive, although the format may be a bit messy due to losses in translation. The last 10 posts have been re-formatted. The major change, other… Read More

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A New Trumpian and Congressional Vocabulary

The level of behavior in Washington has gotten to such a low level that the usual language of politics and government is no longer very useful. There’s little or no point throwing in words like liberal or conservative; certainly not progressive. Fairness, justice, or equality causes nothing but blank stares. Service simply raises an image of the huge tip left on the table by the donor that Paul Ryan had lunch with last week. Constitutional is limited to talk about the morning’s workout. Harassment is what the media are creating with their fake news. The following seven words have been forbidden in CDC documents: vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based”… Read More

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