Serendipity

Always on the lookout for stuff showing the dark side of technology, I found good example in the June 2012 issue of The Atlantic. Andrew Keen covered a new class of mobile device apps, as the headline says, “New “social discovery” apps try to engineer chance encounters. Could they spoil true serendipity?” Describing a scene in a bar, Keen writes, >After squeezing in at the bar, we slapped down our iPhones, like digital gunslingers. But as we caught up, I was distracted by a continual buzzing from her phone, which vibrated so relentlessly that it seemed to have a mind of its own. “It’s Highlight,” she apologized, switching off the… Read More

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The Other Side of Austerity

This week has been very exciting for me. The first draft of the book Andy Hoffman and I have been writing was sent to the publisher for their comments. The process has been the mirror image of the preparation of my first book, Sustainability by Design.That one took abut 5 years from start to finish. This one has taken less than a year from idea to first draft. Andy had the idea to expand a keynote presentation we did together at MIT to a book. We presented our stuff as a Q and A with Andy prompting me to respond. The upcoming book with a working title of, Flourishing: A… Read More

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No News Is (Truly) Good News These Days

“I’ve got mine and you can’t take it away from me, even if I got it by cheating, lying, and unfair (but legal) practices.” This seems to be the cry behind so much of what I read these days. One side of the US political campaign springs from this at the roots, even as the campaign tries hard to find other words. The Rio+20 conference starting just a few days ago, will, I believe, end up with the wealthy nations shrugging their collective shoulders at the plaints of the poor ones with all kinds of excuses for inaction or at most lip service to the problems. The European Community is… Read More

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The Inevitability of No Growth

Sorry to my regulars for my absence. I have been moving about for the last week. The big event was a grandson’s graduation from high school. He is going to follow his older brother to Harvard. Quite an accomplishment. Today, I am going to talk about Rio and what this gathering could be. There is a lot of chatter on the Web about degrowth and low or no growth economic policies. Some is timed, I believe, to the proceedings in Rio, but not necessarily. An [op-ed piece](http://www.marketwatch.com/Story/story/print?guid=5690DE5A-B033-11E1-AB8D-002128049AD6) in the Wall Street Journal railed against “growth economics.” Nothing surprising here except the venue. It’s very strange to see an article so… Read More

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Becoming Dinosaurs?

I often write about the systemic character of sustainability-as-flourishing, but it’s rare to read an article that presents this idea in stark, quantitative terms. [Writing](http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/03/opinion/sunday/are-we-in-the-midst-of-a-sixth-mass-extinction.html?_r=1&hp) in the New York Times, Richard Pearson warns us about the dangers of accelerated species extinction. > NEARLY 20,000 species of animals and plants around the globe are considered high risks for extinction in the wild. That’s according to the most authoritative compilation of living things at risk — the so-called [Red List](http://www.iucnredlist.org/) maintained by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. > > This should keep us awake at night. If we are concerned about sustainability, we should be worried about this simply on… Read More

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Cultural Convergence

Again, David Brooks got me thinking. Today he [writes](http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/01/opinion/brooks-the-segmentation-century.html?hp) about “The Segmentation Century,” his way of describing the failure of national and international cultural convergence. > In 1949, Reinhold Niebuhr published a book called “Faith and History.” Niebuhr noticed a secular religion that was especially strong in the years after World War II. It was the faith that historical forces were gradually bringing about “the unification of mankind. . . Old nationalisms would fade away, many people believed. Transportation and communications technologies would unite people. Values would converge. . . Unfortunately, this moral, cultural and political convergence never happened. In the decades since, people in different nations, even people within… Read More

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