Continuous Partial Attention

I have become much more conscious lately of the omnipresence of Blackberries, iPhones, and other smart phones. (Disclosure, although I am a techie in most realms, I still hold on to my most basic cellphone, in spite of all sorts of incentives to upgrade.) Couple this awareness to the many articles on the web discussing, extolling, and critiquing the use of Twitter, and I land squarely on Linda Stone’s concept of continuous partial attention. Here’s what she says about it. > To pay continuous partial attention is to pay partial attention — CONTINUOUSLY. It is motivated by a desire to be a LIVE node on the network. Another way of… Read More

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Try Living Without Emotion

The hubbub over Judge Sotomayor centers as much on her mental processes as it does on her legal positions. Fueled by the remarks of the President stating that he was looking for Justices that could put themselves in the shoes of others and by his use of the word, empathy, a few earlier remarks of Sotomayor’s has created a firestorm. Credit David Brooks with [writing his column](http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/29/opinion/29brooks.html) arguing for a sensible way of understanding empathy and the role of emotion in the way we think and act. If you can put the immediate political context of this subject aside for a moment, let me try to connect what he has… Read More

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Be Careful with Adaptation

In Environment 360, the Yale Environmental Journal, Bruce Stutz [writes about adaptation](http://e360.yale.edu/content/feature.msp?id=2156) as an increasingly legitimate response to global warning. The begrudging acceptance of this strategy reflects a growing beliefs that we are moving too late to prevent significant temperature rise along with all its consequences. > “My view is that we’ll be lucky if we can stop CO2 at 600 ppm,” says Wallace Broecker, a geoscientist at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. “There’s no way we’re going to stop at 450. Impossible. If we’re going to double CO2, we’d better prepare what we’re going to do about it.” > > If Broecker and many of his fellow climate scientists are… Read More

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Finding Happiness Under a [Philosopher’s] Stone

A few days ago, I started to follow a blog in the New York Times called *Happy Days*. My first [post](http://www.johnehrenfeld.com/2009/05/happiness-continued.html#comments) features an article by Daniel Gilbert about how people react to uncertainty. The bloggers at the Times publish articles that look at how people are finding or not finding contentment in their lives under today’s difficult circumstances. While contentment does not equate exactly to flourishing, it suggests the same sort of positive reflections. Enough of what I have read in the column so far depicts a realization that contentment is not tied to having, but rather to Being. *Happy Days* published a [number of the comments](http://happydays.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/21/let-the-bad-times-roll/) it received in… Read More

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. . . and the Art of Motorcycle Mechanics

Every so often, I read something that reminds me that I can’t quite shake off my academic leanings when I write. Today I ran across just such an article in the NYTimes Sunday Magazine section. In many fewer and more evocative words, “[The Case for Working With Your Hands](http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/24/magazine/24labor-t.html?_r=2&ref=todayspaper&pagewanted=all),” by Matthew B. Crawford captures much of the concept of Being that I was painfully able to write about. Crawford turned his back on a hard-earned Ph. D. to become a motorcycle mechanic and in doing so found a deep satisfaction that was missing from his short career in the “information/knowledge” industry. Shades of Pirsig’s *Zen and the Art of Motorcycle… Read More

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Good Bubbles

We have all learned that bubbles in the market make us feel good while they grow, but then become the cause of our economic woes. I discovered another kind of bubbles that seems to have only a positive effect–homemade ginger ale. Champagne can do the same if drunk in moderation (Champagne–the drink divine; A dollar’s worth of bubbles and a dime’s worth of wine). I suspect that ginger ale’s contribution to sustainability is vanishing small, but it sounds like a step in the right direction. The Dining and Wine feature of the New York Times reports this: > At Stand, a New York bar and cafe that offers a variety… Read More

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Sustainability by the Numbers

The Greener by Design conference has produced a stream of reportable articles. I plan to post my thoughts on these from time to time. Today, a presentation by Rand Waddoups, senior director of business strategy and sustainability at Wal-Mart popped up to the toop of the pile. Reported by Amie Vaccaro in a post titled, “[A Metrics Driven Approach to Sustainable Business](http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2009/05/19/a-metrics-driven-approach-sustainable-business),” Waddoups described a system Wal-Mart is using to drive their whole system toward “sustainability.” > [Waddoups] described Wal-Mart’s four part journey to sustainability, beginning with consensus building around need for sustainability, moving into an evangelist phase, and then to a clear recognition of the business case of sustainability.… Read More

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Fear and Trembling in America

I just noticed the the New York Times has started a blog devoted to discussing the impact of the recession on people’s psychic and other parts of their lives. Here’s their own description. > The severe economic downturn has forced many people to reassess their values and the ways they act on them in their daily lives. For some, the pursuit of happiness, sanity, or even survival, has been transformed. > > Happy Days is a discussion about the search for contentment in its many forms — economic, emotional, physical, spiritual — and the stories of those striving to come to terms with the lives they lead. Today’s entry is… Read More

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Know Thy Audience Before Saying “Global Warming”

Departing a bit from the usual posts, I thought the report I talk about here is so important that it merits special treatment. Given the clamor that always accompanies any “political” conversation about climate change, carefully gathered and analyzed data on public attitudes is invaluable. Much of what goes for survey data is suspect and presented by some group way to one side of the issue or the other. But now we can turn to an extremely carefully executed study of attitudes done by the Yale Project on Climate Change and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. The title is *[Global Warming’s Six Americas 2009: An Audience… Read More

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