All the Political Blaming Misses the Point

Disappointment and anger directed toward what are claimed to be the failures of government to solve persistent social problems is misdirected. Government is not the culprit; the ineffectiveness lies in the way we think. We are stuck in a modernist mindset that sees the world as a big machine. When the machine sputters and fails us, we turn to the engineers and technocrats, and charge them to fix it. This is true whether the problem is deemed to arise from the systems of the government, private sector, natural world, or elsewhere. We tried to fix the financial system that broke down in 2008 by tightening regulations, We think we can… Read More

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More about the Importance of Context

As a follow-up to the last post, I just read this [op-ed piece](http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/22/opinion/the-eight-second-attention-span.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region&region=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region) by Timothy Egan, Egan is bemoaning the drastic shortening of human’s attenuation span. > In the information blur of last year, you may have overlooked news of our incredibly shrinking attention span. A survey of Canadian media consumption by Microsoft concluded that the average attention span had fallen to eight seconds, down from 12 in the year 2000. We now have a shorter attention span than goldfish, the study found. > > Attention span was defined as “the amount of concentrated time on a task without becoming distracted.” I tried to read the entire 54-page report, but… Read More

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What Makes a Society Run (Down)?

The social/political world is constituted by a myriad of distinct groups of people, roughly distinguishable by a handful of structural features. Sociologists provide us with a plethora of models that vary largely by enumerating the relative dominance of these features. I tend to follow the structuration model of Anthony Giddens that posits that societies differ according to their beliefs, norms, authority structures, and commonly used material resources. The success or effectiveness of different societies can be assessed by comparing the outcomes of societal action relative to some set of stated values. In this blog post, I want to examine the relationship between the values and the kind of actions one… Read More

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The Absence of Care

I have had lots of time to think about what’s happening out there in the world as I am pretty much housebound for a few more weeks until my new knee tells me it’s OK to get behind the wheel. The political campaigns have captured much of the news, along with extreme weather and extremist terror events. Both the Republican and the Democratic races are full of negative name-calling and widely diverse policies. The Republicans, in general, are being characterized as appealing to an angry and disenchanted with government electorate. I see a very different dichotomy between the two parties that seems to capture their central philosophies more clearly. One… Read More

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Getting Back to Normalcy

It’s now 19 days since my knee replacement surgery. Improvement on each days. I can get all about the house on my own power, without using even a cane. Stairs still need a little help, Pain level is now low, except after I do my knee stretching and bending exercises. I felt well enough yesterday to get out and go to my MEAH class. That’s the one on Jewish religious and cultural history. A bit hard to concentrate for two plus hours, but got through. Yesterday we examined the story of King David. I will be working myself back into flourishing here on the blog and on the very slowly… Read More

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