Archive for the ‘Modern life’ Category
Posted by Chauncey on January 27, 2011
Posted by Chauncey on October 11, 2010
What do you think?
Posted by Chauncey on October 3, 2010
A call to action that I recommend we heed (link is below):
Clearly, anger abounds across the nation over what has become of our political process, not to mention the ethics and integrity of how we conduct business. … While anger seethes across widely different groups, it would seem that most people spend more time pointing fingers and placing blame than they do figuring out what they can actually do about the situation.
Sure, voting someone out of office may seem like active engagement, and if thats where your passion lies, go for it. … Is changing who holds political power and hoping they do something better really an effective workaround? Is changing political office holders just another form of rearranging the deck chairs as the Titanic sinks? Could relying on someone else to do something just be another form of personal abdication?
Posted by Chauncey on September 3, 2010
Progressivism in its best sense is not a politics of the Left. Or better, not just a politics of the Left. The 20th Century politician who struck the fatal blow to Republican William Howard Taft’s presidency was not a socialist, or a Democrat. It was another Republican: Wisconsin Senator Robert La Follette. La Follette was among a band insurgents in the Republican Party of 1910 who believed the party had been taken over by corporate interests. In April, 1911, he launched a challenge to President Taft, pushing five principles of “The National Progressive Republican League.” The League had been founded upon the recognition that “popular government in America has been thwarted … by the special interests.” And all five of the principles responded to this “thwarting” with anti-corruption ideals: Four calling for stronger democratic checks on government. The fifth demanding an anti-corruption law with teeth.
La Follette failed to beat Taft, but his partial success encouraged Teddy Roosevelt to return from the wild and try his own hand at ousting a sitting president. Roosevelt too failed to win the Republican nomination, but he continued his campaign as a third party candidate, leading the “Bull Moose Party.”
How will our current version of this play out today?
Posted by Chauncey on August 5, 2010
I have the highest regard for Joshua Cooper Ramo’s book The Age of the Unthinkable, which Bob Franza introduced to me. For various reasons, I just reviewed the book, and come away from it even more impressed than I was a year ago. Searching for more about what the man is doing now, I came across this conversation that he had with Charlie Rose early last year.
Late, but better late than never.
Watch it, and tell me what you think. Read the book.
Posted by Chauncey on July 8, 2010
George Lakoff does a wonderful job of characterizing what is going on, and I think he is right in his claim that the Republican/Conservative community does a much better job than the Democratic/Liberal/Progressive community. But the question for me is how to escape this box. Nowhere is there an opportunity for thinking here, much less thinking together.
As I think about it, I realize that the central missing ingredient is listening. Not the kind of listening that tape recorders do (recording words and sounds). Not the kind of listening that characterizes arguments (what my wife Shirah calls “reloading”.) Listening as the bio-historical-linguistic phenomenon in which we human beings, aware of our shared concern for building a future in which we take care of the things that matter to us, listen to the concerns and background of the others in our conversations seeking opportunities for creating new bridges to a successful shared future.
What do you think?
Posted by Chauncey on July 6, 2010
OK, I’m going to put my foot in it now.
Ariana’s “solution” of a fact-checking “tool” is wrong, I am sure, because the issue about the distinction between assessments and assertions, and tools will not do an adequate job of dealing with what AH points to here.
But that is an aside. What she does that I like a lot is to put her finger on, and provide a beautiful current example of, the way in which we moderns have come to a pathetic interpretation of language. With this way of being we are murdering our capacity to come together and work on things that matter to us .
via Truth 2.0.
Posted by Chauncey on July 5, 2010
Posted by Chauncey on May 12, 2010
At the end of this short piece, Andrew Leonard takes on the the difficulties of distinguishing among technology and the roles that it plays in education and the construction of life. Our modern technologies embody the capacity to couple fantastically well with our nervous systems, but are indifferent to the ethical and substantial concerns in which we employ them. Leonard both gores and praises the President, to good effect in both cases. Leonard’s conclusion:
There is a difference between getting an education and watching the latest viral YouTube clip on your iPad, between establishing a college for the education of freed slaves and rallying 10,000 fans to a Facebook page. And there’s no contradiction between employing any technological means necessary to organize a successful presidential campaign and recognizing that there may be aspects of that technology worth criticizing. To any readers of this post who might be consuming it via iPad, I invite you to push that contradiction to the limit: Watch, and learn: <video of the president follows in the linked article>
Posted by Chauncey on March 11, 2010
I highly recommend Joshua Cooper Ramo’s The Age of the Unthinkable.
“Little in the current discussion of our shared problems suggests the radical rethinking our world requires. There is now hope and even the first hints of substantial changes in policy, but the basic architecture of ideas and theories necessary to back up such difficult work remains profoundly underdeveloped. No debate about terrorism, global warming, destructive weapons, economic chaos, or other threats can make sense without a grand strategy, though this is the thing most obviously missing today. Instead, the most likely course for our future is the most dangerous: minor adjustments to current policies, incremental changes to institutions that are already collapsing, and an inevitable and frustrating expansion of failure. And this will happen fast. Among the things our leaders seem to be missing is a comprehension of the staggering speed at which these change epidemics occur; one bank fails, then fifty; one country develops an atom bomb, a dozen try to follow; one computer or one child comes down with a virus, and the speed of its spread is incomprehensible. … This book is the story of a new way of thinking. It is one that takes complexity and unpredictability as its first consideration and produces, as a result, a different and useful way of seeing our world. It explains why unthinkable disasters are blossoming all around us and — as important — what we can do about them.” (Page 10)
The author is a journalist and strategist. Read it and tell me what you think. I am now beginning to read it again with colleagues as an exercise in thinking.
Posted by Chauncey on February 23, 2010
Lakoff begins this short essay with …
“It is time for Democrats to talk about health in those terms, beyond just policy terms like health insurance reform, bending the cost curve, types of exchanges, etc.”
He is right, but I propose that it is not nearly enough for Democrats to do that. The whole country needs to begin to do that.
It is past time for us to begin to recognize that slanderous opinions, spin, slanting our reports and interpretations, and outright lying about fundamental questions in human life harm all of us.
We are well on the way to becoming a nation of lobbyists – a nation of people with no respect for the truth, life, freedom, or … health.
Posted by Chauncey on February 12, 2010
Rabbi David Wolpe and his writing have been important for me in a number of ways. I am a great admirer of this man. I find the following, written in the wake of the disaster in Haiti, wise, and I recommend it to my friends.
Read here: David Wolpe in the Washington Post.
Posted by Chauncey on January 24, 2010
Go back almost a century, to the time when the modern corporation was created, and you’ll find laws that prohibit or limit the use of corporate money in elections. And yet this week, a 5-4 Supreme Court struck down the limits that Congress passed in 2002 in this tradition in the case Citizens United v. FEC.
Posted by Chauncey on January 5, 2010
Michael Pollan’s new book, Food Rules, builds the same set of arguments that Ed Huling, friend of many years, developed in his work with food over the years. Here is Pollan playing with Jon Stewart.
Also take a look at A Completely Different Way to Fix the Healthcare Crisis, an interview about his book
Posted by Chauncey on December 7, 2009
Gloria Flores tells me that Fernando will be leading a three day session in San Francisco on January 27 – 29th, 2010, where participants will explore new ways of learning critical new skills for the 21st century — in particular, learning to work more effectively with others in “pluralistic networks.” During this session, besides engaging in group discussions led by Fernando, participants will participate in various exercises using virtual role-playing game technology to become more aware about how they learn and how they can become more effective in engaging with others. For more information, see www.pluralisticnetworks.com. Fernando and his colleagues are also doing a 4 month virtual leadership and teams program that begins in February. Their website has information on that program as well.
Posted by Chauncey on January 7, 2009
My friend Fernando Flores (see here, here, and here, and, for readers of Spanish or those who know how to get a web page translated, see here) briefed me last week about his new venture. I asked him to send me something in writing about what he is doing, and I reprint below substantially all of what he sent me. I recommend you read his invitation and consider it carefully.
As we discussed, I am in the process of starting a new enterprise that takes the work that we have done together in the past to the “next frontier” if you will, by putting it in the center of what people need to cope and thrive in the reality of our world today.
Posted by Chauncey on December 29, 2008
I have had severe gum disease since I was in my late 20s. I brought it on with a combination of poor home care and smoking. I have evidence that 0steoporosis and some poor orthodontia contributed to my difficulties. Of course, as a dutiful son, I held my mother responsible. She always got a laugh out of that.
Along the way I have discovered that a lot of people suffer with difficulties with oral health – cavities or periodontal disease. The published numbers say that more than 5% of those over 35 have moderate gum disease. By the time you get to my age, more than 10% of the population have at least moderate gum disease.
The real problem is some wicked little bacteria that like to live in pockets and create mischief in our mouths. And, recent research has shown, that mischief in our mouths can contribute to even more serious difficulties in other parts of the body, including the heart.
Some friends of mine have developed and just released a probiotic product that puts into the mouth a combination of “good bacteria” which, when ingested as directed (and alongside appropriate home care) will effectively eliminate gum disease and dental caries. Side effects that they promise include fresh breath and whiter teeth….
I have just ordered my first supply of the product, EvoraPlus from ONI Biopharma, Inc. They have an offer where if you set up automatic reorders they pay shipping. In a few weeks or months this product will be available in your local Drugstore.
If you have any concerns at all about the health of your mouth, your teeth, or your gums, I recommend you join me in using this product.
Full disclosure: Stanley Stein, the CEO of ONI BioPharma, is chief strategist for CareCyte, and I serve on the board of directors of ONI BioPharma’s Mexican subsidiary.
Posted by Chauncey on December 29, 2008
My friend Alan Solinger alerted me to this striking story. One of the world’s best violinists, dressed as a street person, played for 45 minutes in a Washington DC Metro station during rush hour. No one recognized him. He collected some tips, and the most interested listener may have been a small child. No one stopped and really listened. Read the whole story. It’s amazing. What conclusions would you draw about the way we listen in our world today?
Posted by Chauncey on September 20, 2008
A version of my essay on difficulties with design was published last week by the Association for Computing Machinery in their journal, Ubiquity. Ubiquity, in the words of the ACM, ‘is a Web-based publication of the Association for Computing Machinery, dedicated to fostering critical analysis and in-depth commentary on issues relating to the nature, constitution, structure, science, engineering, cognition, technology, practices and paradigms of the computing profession. Ubiquity is concerned with helping us see what we do not see. Ubiquity looks for novel perspectives on what is going on in the core of our field. Ubiquity looks also to the edges of our field and beyond, seeking the perspectives of those in other fields who are impacted by computing. We need to know about what they think.’
I am honored and pleased to see this essay published by the ACM, and invite your reading and comments.
Thanks to Peter Denning for making this possible.
Posted by Chauncey on July 1, 2008
My niece is traveling to Israel this week, and her mother asked me to make suggestions about how to avoid jet lag. She knows that I have traveled above 4 1/2 million miles in my years. (If you divide 4,500,000 by 300 you’ll get the number of hours I have spent in airline seats.)
So I sat down to write a few lines on what to do to cope with it; I doubt there is any way to avoid it. A little later, I discovered that I had written a lot of stuff, and my wife Shirah suggested I post it here as others might find what I had written useful. Here is what I said:
Posted by Chauncey on April 26, 2008
Last week I had my first meeting with my new primary care doctor. He works with Qliance Medical Group here in Seattle. I cannot tell you how pleased I am with their services. I have already recommended here looking at what they do.
On March 26th, Dr. Garrison Bliss, who founded Qliance Medical, spoke to the Washington Association of Health Underwriters about the situation of healthcare in the US, and what to do about it. If you are concerned about healthcare, for yourself or for the nation, or for both, I strongly recommend listening to this talk. Listen here.
Bliss asks, Why do we have the healthcare system we have? His answer: we designed the system to work this way, albeit not with the intention of producing the results we have produced.
He asks, with the current system, who wins?
Posted by Chauncey on April 21, 2008
(We revised and re-posted this on April 21st.)
In response to my posting on Jill Bolte Taylor’s TED Talk, my son Nicolas posted a comment. “Papa,” he said,
“I know that this take on the human being as processor (Pentium 17) really gets your Heideggerian goat. If I recall correctly, this is the approach that has taken over university philosophy departments, leaving guys like Rorty to sneak Nietzsche into literature classes. I wonder if you would say why you so dislike the compumorphizing interpretation? What kinds of problems do you see this interpretation producing in the world?“ (My italics.)
I am going to attempt to answer the biggest questions I think Nicolas is asking.
In my interpretation, he is touching on one of the central questions of the great spiritual and intellectual traditions. His question, ‘What kinds of problems are produced by poor interpretations about what human beings are?’ sits alongside what I consider the most important questions for us as human beings: Who are we? What are we doing here? and How best to use the short time that we have here?
Posted by Chauncey on April 5, 2008
Today I added a link in this blog to Glenn Greenwald’s blog. Over the past months I have been deeply impressed with what he pays attention to, and with the quality of his comments on the situation in the US and the world. Last week I followed carefully his direct criticism of the recent duplicity of the newly appointed Attorney General of the United States, and decided to cite his blog in mine. Today Greenwald has done a scathing characterization of the state of the media in the country, and I want to call attention to it.
This is not a political blog. I am committed not to speak casually about things to which many people that I appreciate and respect are paying serious attention, and I am also committed not to “vote” or pass around opinions in this blog. On the other hand, I consider the construction of the public agenda (which is what I understand politics to be really about) fundamental to the question of “Social, Commercial, and Technological Invention” that is, after all, what I said was the focus of this blog.
Here is how Glenn Greenwald begins his posting on the media today:
In the past two weeks, the following events transpired. A Department of Justice memo, authored by John Yoo, was released which authorized torture and presidential lawbreaking. It was revealed that the Bush administration declared the Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights to be inapplicable to “domestic military operations” within the U.S. The U.S. Attorney General appears to have fabricated a key event leading to the 9/11 attacks and made patently false statements about surveillance laws and related lawsuits. Barack Obama went bowling in Pennsylvania and had a low score.
Here are the number of times, according to NEXIS, that various topics have been mentioned in the media over the past thirty days:
“Yoo and torture” – 102
“Mukasey and 9/11″ — 73
“Yoo and Fourth Amendment” — 16
“Obama and bowling” — 1,043
“Obama and Wright” — More than 3,000 (too many to be counted)
“Obama and patriotism” – 1,607
“Clinton and Lewinsky” — 1,079
In a book review (also in today’s Salon) entitled Can Stephen Colbert save America? Louis Bayard quotes Stephen Colbert from his White House Correspondents roast, on the subject of how the media works at the White House:
“Here’s how it works,” Colbert explained. “The president makes decisions. He’s the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put ‘em through a spell check and go home … Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know — fiction!”
I pray for the continued health of Mark Twain’s spirit. The rest of the book review is worth reading as well.
To see Greenwald’s whole posting, click on the title “The US Establishment….” To see the book review, click on the title “Can Stephen Colbert ….”
Posted by Chauncey on April 2, 2008
(After listening to reactions from several reviewers I edited this post on Friday April 4th.)
Over the last week several people sent me links to this video. After reviewing and reflecting, I concluded that I wanted to say something about it. Ms. Taylor’s talk is brilliantly done, compelling, and potent. I find it poetically inspiring. At the same time, I want to take advantage of what she did as an opportunity to distinguish something of how we moderns think, (and don’t think) about important things in our lives.
So start by watching the talk by clicking on the link in the first sentence above. It takes about 20 minutes. This narrative is brought to us by a person interpreting and presenting herself as a scientist. Manifestly she is a scientist, but most of what she is doing is not science. In a nutshell, Taylor recounts how she arrived at brain science as a career, how she underwent a massive brain hemorrhage, how she experienced that event, and the conclusions she developed from that experience.
Ms. Taylor has a passionate, poetic sense of life, and she has undergone a unique experience. Her talk gathers awesome force and credence from the combination of her professional credentials, from the way she describes her experience of her own stroke, and from the actual physical presentation of a human brain on the stage. She inspires her listeners, calling on us to pay attention and commit ourselves to important human possibilities and values.
I have struggled to understand what bothers me about the talk. When I first wrote about it, most of my readers interpreted that I was put off by the fact that she “clothes” the talk in the language of science, while at the same time she is doing good poetry. I don’t think that is the source of my interest in the talk. Rather, after several days of reflection and listening to it several times, I think the issue for me is that this can represent a waste of an important educational opportunity. Rather than opening us to an important new direction for thinking about the human experience, I fear that this talk will produce a kind of ecstatic tranquilization. And, because its poetry and showmanship is so good, it may be a strong misdirection.
Posted by Chauncey on February 27, 2008
I came across this lovely introduction to blogging last week. I recommend nearly everything about it, including its brevity. “Elegance” is an old term of art in many fields, including science and mathematics, referring to the combination of effectiveness and simplicity. This is an elegant posting. Read and tell me what you think. Here.