Creativity, Where Are You?

My blogs are often triggered by synchronicity, catching sight of similar articles, often about relatively obscure subjects. This time it was two separate articles about “groupthink,” published about two weeks apart. The [first](http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/15/opinion/sunday/the-rise-of-the-new-groupthink.html?_r=2&ref=todayspaper&pagewanted=all) was in the New York Times Sunday Review section, by Susan Cain, author of forthcoming book on the topic. The other was in January 30, 2012 issue of The New Yorker (needs a subscription to read), written by Jonah Lehrer, also an author who covers neuroscience and creativity. He also has a new book coming out this year. I see these as relevant to the way we are addressing unsustainability and other big issues. Cain leads off… Read More

Continue Reading

Is the “Perfect” Product Perfect?

I was reading a long article in the Sunday NYTimes of January 22 about why the iPhone ended up being manufactured in China. The gist of the article is that China simply has developed a factory system we cannot match. If you are interested in this important topic, go to the [article](http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/22/business/apple-america-and-a-squeezed-middle-class.html?_r=1&sq=Duhigg&st=cse&scp=3&pagewanted=all), but that is not what I want to comment on. About the middle of the article, I spotted this quote from ‘a current executive,’ “We don’t have an obligation to solve America’s problems. Our only obligation is making the best product possible.” It is a bit unfair to take this exactly as it stands because it was obviously… Read More

Continue Reading

[Not so] Creative Destruction

Politics is a good place to observe the values underlying the US culture. Politics is more than a set of values, but politicians convey their own and pander to their bases values. Politics is also about power and privilege. Power to allocate the wealth of the nation to whoever paid their way to victory in this current money-driven electoral system. Privilege to surround themselves in a cloak that shields them from the realities that would put the lie to their promises and claims. Ross Douthat, [writing](http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/15/opinion/sunday/douthat-the-benefits-of-bain-capitalism.html?ref=todayspaper) in this week’s New York Times Magazine, chastises those who are using Romney’s ties to Bain Capital and its business of creating wealth through… Read More

Continue Reading

A New Pattern for this Blog

I have been posting to this blog two or three times a week and occasionally more or less. For the time being, I will be posting only once a week unless something calls for immediate attention. The main reason is the demands of a new project. I will be writing a book with my former student and present colleague, Andy Hoffman. The book, which will take the shape of an extended conversation with Andy asking the questions and commenting on the answers I will provide. It’s not to be as formal as this seems. We tried this format at a conference earlier this year with considerable success. Stanford University Press… Read More

Continue Reading

The Disappearance of Truth

My favorite op-ed columnist, James Carroll, has hit the spot again. Memorializing the death of Vaclav Havel, Carroll [writes](http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2012/01/09/speaking-truth-power-world-that-full-lies/PiYRPotpxDInQeW5JW5g0I/story.html) about Havel’s signature accomplishment, pointing out that people have to live in truth or lose their freedom (my words about his work). I thought for a moment that he must have been eavesdropping on my conversation with my wife during and after the previous Saturday night “debate” in New Hampshire. I was expressing my concerns and consternation at the virtually complete absence of truth from the proceedings. Not only was the truth gone, but the participants appeared almost gleeful about speaking freed from the constraints that truth-telling creates. Carroll noted that… Read More

Continue Reading

In with the New

Welcome to 2012. I hope we will be able to say something more about the health of the world at the end of 2012 beyond noting that the extra day in February added 2.7 percent (1/366) to the economy. I have the same hope every year, year after year, and I expect little will be different in the rest of my lifetime. It seems to me that things will be getting worse for a while, given the blindness and denial of the state of the world in the movers and shakers of business and government–the two dominating institutions in the US and most everywhere else these days. Some of the… Read More

Continue Reading