Fraternal Twins (Part 2): Different Worlds—Different Human Beings

Humans are different from all other species in many ways, but one that has been singled out is that we seek meaning. A corollary to this is Socrates’s warning that, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” Heidegger wrote that only human beings make an issue about being, itself. Only we ask questions about what it is to be? This could be interpreted, again, as seeking the meaning of existence. We are also unique in our ability to create and use language in our quest for meaning and generally to express our intentions and feelings, and to coordinate our actions… Read More

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Fraternal Twins (Part 1): Introduction (Reposted May 10)

Fraternal Twins Are you aware that there are two of you? Two different people live inside your skin. One, cool and controlling – rational, too; T’other, empathetic, unlike its twin. The left brain offers a world, abstracted, Defined by dead reductions from the past. Because all meaning has been subtracted, You’re run by rules memory has amassed. The right brain connects you to the present Where the real you acts in the here and now. Unlike the rule-bound left, you can invent; Now, the creative, caring you can show. Our modern culture has suppressed the right. That means there’s little… Read More

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Systems Dynamics and the Brain

Systems dynamics, for those unfamiliar with it, is “is a methodology and mathematical modeling technique to frame, understand, and discuss complex issues and problems. Originally developed in the 1950s to help corporate managers improve their understanding of industrial processes, SD is currently being used throughout the public and private sector for policy analysis and design.” (Wikipedia) I used it to support my arguments in my first book, Sustainability by Design, that the persistent problems we face are the result of failures to understand their root causes. The behaviors that underlie the failure to find effective solutions are, in systems dynamics… Read More

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The Country Sleeps (More Poetry)

The Country Sleeps The last election now is in the past, And the right guy won to my great relief. The very last vote was legally cast. We have a worthy Commander-in-Chief. But the stench of the Big Lie lingers still; Truth hasn’t returned from its vacation. Although the results should produce a thrill, It’s much too soon to express elation. The cancer of MAGA waits, hidden deep In the heart of the body politic. Democracy is dulled and half asleep, Doped by electoral arithmetic. Will it awake soon? The jury’s still out. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of doubt.

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A Fish Rots from the Head

In the hundreds of thousands of words that have been written about the impeachment of Donald Trump, there is a singular omission: the word “corruption.” Maybe it does appear in places. I certainly have read only a minute fraction of everything that has been written, but the focus has been almost entirely on what is impeachable. Merriam-Webster defines corruption in several ways: 1a : dishonest or illegal behavior especially by powerful people (such as government officials or police officers) : depravity 1b : inducement to wrong by improper or unlawful means (such as bribery) //the corruption of government officials 1c… Read More

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More Technology Will Not Bring Us Flourishing

I am generally a fan of David Brooks. That doesn’t mean that I always agree with him, but I think he has a pretty good handle on what needs to be said at the right time. But his column today in the New York Times bothers me a lot. In a nutshell, he paints the possibility of technological breakthroughs as the bright light against all of today’s dark shadows. I think he is wrong, but worse, very wrong. I am not a Luddite, given my doctorate in Chemical Engineering from MIT, standing athwart the road to the artificially intelligent, autonomous,… Read More

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Reality and Democracy

The craziness of life in the US has abated a little following the inauguration of President Biden, but its causes still lurk in the background, but not far below the surface. Faced with a serious attack on our democracy, we are told by the pundits that our institutions held and we were saved (at least for now). Perhaps, but the institutions that hold us together are really in trouble. Institutions are nothing more than linguistic creations. We tend to talk only about the very big ones, but we exist within many, many of them. In today’s highly technocratic society, we… Read More

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Brainwashed Nation

A democratic, free nation can exist only when truth and civility abound. With neither in place, the bonds that hold the polity together shrivel and eventually disappear. The assault on the Capitol attests to that. Some level of shared truth is critical to enable the common good to emerge. Without a clear vision of that good, no collective action can be put forth and enacted by consent. The only alternative is action through force and fiat. Biden’s election will return truth to the White House, but little else. And even that will not matter so long as the body politic… Read More

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Too Much Wealth in the Wrong Place

The Washington Post welcomed in 2012 with this story, “World’s richest men added billions to their fortunes last year as others struggled.” A few of the stunning statistics: The pandemic has forced untold hardships onto many Americans, with tens of millions of families now reporting that they don’t have enough to eat and millions more out of work on account of layoffs and lockdowns. . . America’s wealthiest, on the other hand, had a very different kind of year: Billionaires as a class have added about $1 trillion to their total net worth since the pandemic began. And roughly one-fifth… Read More

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An Angry President Cannot Be A President (Re-posted)

(I posted this first in October 2020 before the election. It seems right to repost it after the events of this week.) Anger is an emotion that arises when our left-brain determines that it has lost control of the situation. Iain McGilchrist, in The Master and His Emissary, offers evidence that anger, somewhat unique among emotions, is associated only with this hemisphere. In his divided-brain model, control and manipulation are the primary functions of this hemisphere. The left-brain is also the seat of power, both in the sense of dominating others and empowering success in consensual acts. Because anger and… Read More

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