Happy New Year

I will be heading for Vermont again this year in just a few hours. It’s hard to believe that another year has slipped by. I went back and read by 2011 year-end post. I could easily write the one for this year by just saying ditto. Too much more of the same, with the exception raised by the re-election of President Obama. But even there the frozen framework of our society is still in place. Well, it could have been worse. I’ll try to capture some of what were the high- and low-lights when 2013 rolls in. Happy New Year.

Continue Reading

“Good Credit is Sexy” Duh?

> “Good Credit Is Sexy,” says one site, Creditscoredating.com, which allows members to view the credit scores of potential dates who agree to provide the numbers. This is a tidbit from a recent [story](http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/26/business/even-cupid-wants-to-know-your-credit-score.html?_r=1&hp=&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1356791531-cbr6lhkvmUFS/z5Q3uWuaQ) in the NYTimes. I may be old, quite old, but even in my advanced stage, credit scores and sexy are about as far apart as I can imagine. I have often written about the use of scores to represent, or better to claim to represent some quality of a product. Invariably, I argue that scores that attempt to capture the quality of anything or some aggregate measure of a constellation of characteristics cannot do what they… Read More

Continue Reading

Black Friday, 1959

Tom Lehrer, the bard of my young adult days, wrote this in 1959. He was prescient about so many things. > Christmas time is here, by golly, > Disapproval would be folly. > Deck the halls with hunks of holly, > Fill the cup and don’t say when. > > Kill the turkeys, ducks and chickens, > Mix the punch, drag out the Dickens. > Even though the prospect sickens, > Brother, here we go again. > > On Christmas Day you can’t get sore, > Your fellow man you must adore. > There’s time to rob him all the more > The other three hundred and sixty-four. > >… Read More

Continue Reading

The NRA and the Death Spiral

The Newtown massacre was a private tragedy and a public shock. Always a tragedy, but perhaps not such a shock. Armed violence and death from the end of a firearm are so much a part of our American persona. I should be shocked at the shameless “solution” to the danger for schools offered today by the Executive Director of the NRA, but I am merely sickened by the deaf, insensitive, unfeeling, shameful, and absurd [suggestion](http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/22/us/nra-calls-for-armed-guards-at-schools.html?hp). > The National Rifle Association on Friday called for schools to be protected by armed guards as the best way to protect children from gun violence. . . The proposal from the pro-gun lobbying group,… Read More

Continue Reading

It’s the Economy Violence, Stupid

I have waited a few days to process my feelings (yes) and thoughts about the slaughter in Newtown. I have had to work hard to separate what seemed to show up in my consciousness into what came mostly from taking in what I read and listened to and what came from somewhere in my body. My first reaction to the manipulative reporting I found in both news and electronic media was that this horrifying murder was neither unspeakable or unimaginable or unnecessary or un-many other things. It is perfectly speakable and imaginable, neither of which reduce its horror and sadness. I think that sadness is the feeling that has most… Read More

Continue Reading

Persuasive Pernicious Technology

I have been in contact with a Dutch graduate student in a sustainable design program. Recently he directed me to the work of a Stanford University researcher, B. J. Fogg. Fogg is the director of their Persuasive Technology Lab. I went visiting the web site and downloaded a few articles by Fogg to learn what was meant by “persuasive technology.” To my dismay, I found that it meant just what the name conveys. Fogg begins a short [paper](http://captology.stanford.edu/resources/thoughts-on-persuasive-technology.html) on his thoughts about the subject with: > The world of technology has changed dramatically in twenty years. In 1993, I went to Stanford University to study how to automate persuasion. As… Read More

Continue Reading

The Propositions Prepositions of Sustainability

The prepositions used in conjunction with words like sustainability, care, or love tell us a lot about the speaker or writer’s understanding of and commitments to the word being referred to. We can take a lead from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address that juxtaposes three prepositions in “government ***of*** the people, ***by*** the people, ***for*** the people.” Let’s start with sustainability and think about the differences between business ***of*** sustainability, business ***about*** sustainability, or business ***for*** sustainability. Business ***by*** sustainability doesn’t make much sense. The first is the possessive use of ***of*** and is used to tell us that sustainability has some sort of business attached to it. Unlike Lincoln’s usage, sustainability… Read More

Continue Reading