....................but perhaps it's the wrong one. Don't you think that many are watching and thinking, "Yes! I want the political process (meaning those I favor) to control ever larger parts of those other peoples' (meaning those I don't favor) lives!" ? Be careful what you wish for. As always, the law of unintended consequences bats last. via
"Plumbing the depths of chaos, it divines meaning." "In the 1980's,it was still possible for an amateur to learn everything humans knew about the planets. Today, that's no longer true. The Alps of raw data would take more than one lifetime to summit, passing countless Ph D dissertations at campsites along the trail." "How extraordinary that we've created peripheral brains to discover truths about nature that we seek. We're teaching them how to work together calmly as a society, share data at lightning speed, and to cooperate so much better than we do, rubbing brains together in the invisible drawing room we sometimes call the 'cloud.' Undaunted, despite our physical and mental limitations, we design robots to continue the quest we began long ago: making sense of nature." -Diane Ackerman, The Human Age: The World Shaped By Us
Excerpted from our friends at the New York Times: "The country is now aflame with anger and disgust about politicians and bankers who conned trusting Americans and never got punished for it. That fury has led to the rise of wildly improbable candidates in both parties. As the Bush dynasty falls, it must watch in horror knowing that it is responsible for the rise of Donald Trump." Are we really "aflame with anger"? Disgusted with politicians, sure. That's a given. But out here in the Heartland, I'm just not feeling the "fury" and the "horror". How about you?
"But if history teaches us anything it is that enterprise is the father of peace, that innovation brings not just economic but ethical improvements: it demonstrably makes us kinder and safer as well as richer. There is no security in stagnation." -Matt Ridley, as culled from here
On the periodic table of the heart, somewhere between wonderonand unattainium, lies presence, which one doesn't so much take as steep in, like a romance, and without which one can live just fine, but not thrive. Those sensory bridges need to stay sharp, not just for our physical survival, but so we feel fully engaged and alive. -Diane Ackerman, The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us
What about us? Are we natural anymore? How can we be, when we've morphed into superheroes? Our ancestors adapted to nature according to the limits of their senses. But over the eons, by extending our senses through clever inventions - language, writing, books, tools, telescopes, telephones, eyeglasses, cars, planes, rocket ships - we've changed how we engage the world and also how we think of ourselves. We just assume now that human beings can move across the skies at 500 mph. Or spot a hawk across a valley. Or do colossal calculations at speed. Or watch events unfolding halfway around the world. Or safely repair someone's heart. Or wage war. Our attitude about our own nature, what sort of creatures we are, now includes the novelties we've pinned to our senses. -Diane Ackerman, The Human Age: The World Shaped By Us
"As he campaigns for the Democratic nomination for president, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) often sounds like he’s running as much against me as he is the other candidates. I have never met the senator, but I know from listening to him that we disagree on plenty when it comes to public policy.
"Even so, I see benefits in searching for common ground and greater civility during this overly negative campaign season. That’s why, in spite of the fact that he often misrepresents where I stand on issues, the senator should know that we do agree on at least one — an issue that resonates with people who feel that hard work and making a contribution will no longer enable them to succeed.
"The senator is upset with a political and economic system that is often rigged to help the privileged few at the expense of everyone else, particularly the least advantaged. He believes that we have a two-tiered society that increasingly dooms millions of our fellow citizens to lives of poverty and hopelessness. He thinks many corporations seek and benefit from corporate welfare while ordinary citizens are denied opportunities and a level playing field.
Another recent marvel of nanotechnology promises to alter daily life, too, but this one, despite its silver lining, is wickedly dangerous...Nano engineers have devised a true silver bullet, a way to coat both hard surfaces (such as hospital bedrails, doorknobs, and furniture) and also soft surfaces (sheets, gowns, and curtains) with microscopic nanoparticles of silver, an element known to kill microbes. You'd think the new nanocoating would be a godsend to patients stricken with hospital-acquired sepsis and pneumonia and tot he doctors fighting what has become a nightmare of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms that kill forty thousand people a year. It is. That's the problem. It's possibly too effective. Remember, most microorganisms are harmless, many are beneficial, but some are absolutely essential for the environment and human life. ...What if our nanopesticides accidentally kill off the nitrogen-fixing bacteria that make our atmosphere breathable? ...We're creating ethical problems that would have made Montaigne or Whitman blink. -Diane Ackerman, The Human Age: The World Shaped By Us
Only two-thirds of the way through this book, but it is moving quickly up the list of recommended books.
The Grumpy Economist (John Cochrane) welcomes a "conversation" with Neel Kashkari of the Minnesota Fed on the Too Big To Fail financial institutions: "When the technology bubble burst in 2000, it was very painful for Silicon Valley and for technology investors, but it did not represent a systemic risk to our economy. Large banks must similarly be able to make mistakes—even very big mistakes—without requiring taxpayer bailouts and without triggering widespread economic damage." "A second lesson for me from the 2008 crisis is that almost by definition, we won’t see the next crisis coming, and it won’t look like what we might be expecting." "The financial sector has lobbied hard to preserve its current structure and thrown up endless objections to fundamental change. Many of the arguments against adoption of a more transformational solution to the problem of TBTF are that the societal benefits of such financial giants somehow justify the exposure to another financial crisis. I find such arguments unpersuasive." full post is here.
12. Make small, big. And big, small. These endless small things. What's the context? Where do they really fit in? What are you actually trying to do? Make the small, big. Those big things. The 'man on the moon stuff.' How can you make it brain friendly? And time friendly? Break it down, break it down, break it down. Make the big, small. -Nicholas Bate, Paradoxical Productivity 35