Going to a Wedding

I will be gone until Tuesday to attend a nephew’s wedding being held in the California wine country. This [item](http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/30/business/washington-considers-sale-of-spare-properties-to-raise-revenue.html?hp) in the NYTimes caught my eye. > Washington, Seeking Revenue, Is in a Mood to Sell > Like Americans trying to raise quick cash by unloading their unwanted goods, the federal government is considering a novel way to reduce the deficit: holding the equivalent of a garage sale. > > Deep within President Obama’s proposals to raise revenue and reduce the deficit lies a method that has garnered bipartisan support, something rare in Washington these days. It involves selling an island, courthouses, maybe an airstrip, generally idle or underused vehicles,… Read More

Continue Reading

Mr. Fixit Is Out

The cover of the September 19th issue of Newsweek carries this imprecation in bold red: “Let’s Just Fix it.” The subhead reads: Move over, Mr. President. Everyday Americans Can Turn This Country Around.” Inside are 29 solutions, each one coming from someone with an narrow interest.The founder of Zipcar says, “make cars smarter.” The CEO of Nasdaq want more visas for high-level workers. The founder of Linked In suggests that “Young people need to think about their careers more like a business, and think about their brand.” Having just written a post on the need for systems thinking, the approach taken by Newsweek is deplorable. The problems all of the… Read More

Continue Reading

The Need for Systems Thinking at the Top.

David Brooks must be reading my blog again. His[ op-ed piece](http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/27/opinion/brooks-the-lost-decade.html?hp) today (9/27/11) was the clearest recognition that he understands that the world is complex and the “big” problems of today are not amenable to simple, technocratic, ideological solutions. The headline of the piece, The Lost Decade?, is a bit excessive. Maybe, just maybe, it will instead be the decade we find ourselves and turn to a path towards sustainable and the realization of our vision of flourishing. Brooks speaks of taking on the big institutions and begin to change them at the core. (My words, not his, but the same ideas.) The article focuses on the financial/economic crisis and… Read More

Continue Reading

The Power of Words

We have been seeing a lot of editorializing about political talk lately, most of it scolding the left for letting the right speak to the heart, not the mind. The argument here is that conventional understanding of rationality, the way the left argues, is not correct. Rationality, the new theory goes, evolved as a means to prevail in argumentation, not to discover the truth. I think there is a lot of guidance here that the left should heed in order to level the playing field. The level will be much lower than that of an old fashioned “rational” debate, but the outcome will not be so distorted. The language being… Read More

Continue Reading

Sustainability and the Serious Side of Humor

Getting back to work in Lexington after a great summer in mine is turning out to be a challenge for my attention neurons. I find it hard to get serious about this blog and the rest of my regular activities. I have begun the fall semester at my retiree’s institute of learning in retirement taking two courses: one on comedy in film; the other on contemporary American poetry. Neither requires reflecting deeply on into the dismal state of the immediate world. The film course began with Chaplin’s wonderful *Modern Times*, followed by *Duck Soup*, one of the Marx Brothers’s masterpieces. The Chaplin film, made in 1936 in the depth of… Read More

Continue Reading

Prelude to an American Spring?

The NYTimes reported a story, “Wall Street Protests Continue, With at Least 6 Arrested,” in its blog a few days ago that reminded me of several past posts on this blog warning that the current social system was showing signs of strain. The protesters were demonstrating against “Wall Street,” as a symbol of the unhealthy dominance of corporate America–“Big Corporations.” > It was the third day of anticorporate protests that were promoted by a range of groups including AdbustersMedia Foundation, an advocacy group based in Canada, as well as a New York City group that called itself the General Assembly. Participants said that the demonstrations were meant to criticize a… Read More

Continue Reading

Lost in Transaction

Morality has several meanings. The one most often invoked is a set of rules about right and wrong; what actions are the right ones to take according to the rules of one’s society, family, business or whatever institution in which the actions are situated. Philosophers have forever struggled to ground these rules in universal terms, but without success. Short of universality, moral rules provide structure and security in these institutions. Without these rules to guide behavior, societies exhibit anarchistic patterns ruled by dominating forces. A recent [oped piece](http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/13/opinion/if-it-feels-right.html?_r=2&ref=opinion) by David Brooks discussed a study of the place of morals in the lives of young Americans. It’s another winner by Brooks.… Read More

Continue Reading

Tennis and the Tea Party

Today is September 12th. The tenth anniversary of 9/11 has come and gone. Both the moving and the maudlin tributes to those who died and to those who were affected by those deaths have been quickly replaced overnight by the mostly mundane concerns of the present moment. I collected a sampling of the paragraphs that the New York Times puts under each headline on all of their topics pages. I make no apology in picking these specific items. This was the NYTimes, not the NY Post. > In a new CW series called “H8R,” athletes and entertainment stars learn that not everyone loves them, then work to come to an… Read More

Continue Reading

Heading Back to Lexington

We’re getting ready to go back to Lexington for the long season until Spring starts to bring back the anticipation of returning. It has been a good season with plenty of sun and warmth once the very cold and wet early weeks passed. The hurricanes brought lots of rain but little wind. We were more fortunate than many friends in central New England. All we lost was power for about a day. Our freezer made it through, but another few hours would have trashed its contents. Fishing, my constant thought during the season, was nothing less than awful. It’s little solace to know that I was not the only one… Read More

Continue Reading

Listening, Care, and Political Rants

One of the cornerstones of my approach to understanding and creating sustainability is a model of human being based on care, not need. I am trying to make sense of the political speech that we all are increasingly being bombarded with. In listening to this as in all listening, what I hear depends on me, and on how the words and sentences my ears gather in and send to my nervous system get filtered through my already present cognitive structure. Sense comes when the message triggers a response that produces a set of bodily sensations I assess as positive and explain to others in positive terms. I may use some… Read More

Continue Reading