Saturday, December 9, 2006

an astrobiological perspective

Today's “news” is largely follow-up on ordinary advents: primate behavior in the Middle East, ongoing geopolitical competition, public health problems, poisoned spies, crashes, bombs, bad weather....You know the story.

Yesterday, the space shuttle Discovery docked with the International Space Station.

Most all lives move on unnoted—mostly in good health (I hope), productive, peaceful, honest, learning. The prevailing story is really about a species evolving fairly well by its own designs. It's our virtue to give so much public attention to tragic exception (but it's never enough).

Sunday, September 24, 2006

beauty of reason is a philosophical one

The incendiary reaction by some Muslims against the Pope's academic recollection of a medieval Christian emperor's view of Islam's fetish for the sword is fair fodder for cartoon.

Now, Iran's Nasrallah in Lebanon exclaims that no army can remove Hezbollah's extant 20,000 swords (i.e., rockets) that are devoted to godknows what “resistance”—apparently resistance against a U.N. order of rights that Israel symbolizes.

Fundamentalist Islam is a campaign of the sword that nostalgically idealizes a new caliphate, contrary to all the Muslim lives flourishing peacefully within modern societies the world over. What Israel basically symbolizes for fundamentalist Islam (not just for violent extremists) is EuroAmerican modernity, and it is this realm of reason that was the point of the Pope's discourse earlier this month—something which has everything to do with the evolution of democracy within the Islamic world.

What's “evil”?:
a revised note to a student of religion

Once again, you're a good stimulation for thought. I'm no expert on evil, so let me know what you think here. You say that "....evil comes from ... experiences [of] fear, dread, uncanny, monstrous, disgust, disorder, unclean, polluted." What is the "comes from"? My sense of what's soberly called "evil" comes from what people normally mean my 'evil' (as indicated lexically or via standard accounts).

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Habermas as entrance into philosophical futuring

I have a rather intense sense of applied Habermasian work, making me a neo-Habermasian at best, but actually I'm not anymore basically Habermasian in my thinking, while I know of no better exemplar of philosophical work than Habermas. My post-Habermasian sense of things results after many years of avowedly Habermasian endeavor. Yet, I'm glad to hear from those who subscribe to the Yahoo! Habermas list because it seems to them that Habermas is at the leading edge of philosophy. They're right! Few really understand what he has been uniquely and profoundly trying to do in his career, as a matter of postmetaphysicalist thinking devoted to prospects for cosmopolitan life. If there's another philosopher more worth one's time, let's hear about it.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

investing in human futures

To: David Brooks, New York Times, re: " Investing in Human Futures"


What's going to make parents really better parents? I'll vote for raising the child tax credit if it'll facilitate the engaged parenting that Unequal Childhoods addressed (which you discussed March 9, 2006). What ensures that consumerist adults will use the tax cut to buy time with their kids, if they're not constructively engaged with their kids already in the time they have? (This isn't a presumptuous question, since chronic learning difficulties are usually related to home life.) Again, what's going to make parents really better parents?

Sunday, September 3, 2006

desiring good society

I'm enthusiastic about Maeve Cook's recent Re-Presenting the Good Society, which I expressed to the Habermas list. But I deleted some thoughts educed by looking at her book:

That enthusiasm arises from my own hopes for a neo-Habermasian approach to things—including the difference between "the ethical" and "the moral" (which has been with me for a long time (e.g., Sep, 97 and Oct, 97: 2, 5, and 11).

Friday, September 1, 2006

on really bridging personal and social growth

A respondent to my "Hamas, grow up!" wrote:

R: I am not sure how beneficial it is to shout about it, no one likes being told to "grow up" or that they are "stupid" even though there comes a time when it is [nearly] impossible not to be exasperated beyond the point of endurance.

G: The respondent provided a great analogy in terms of teaching (or trying to teach) early teens, and I want to expand on this analogy relative to interest in social evolution, which my Hamas posting was tacitly about. It was not about primarily implying that Hamas is stupid. The content of that posting is about gaining political realism. Of course, teens are paranoid about looking stupid.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

hoping to see multinational experience
evolve the Rawlsian tradition

I wanted to host a discussion group on Rawls, but it didn’t happen. This is an early post, intended to address presumed interest; so, it’s directed to casual interests.

Though I’m not actively developing this theme, I’m engaged with political philosophy for the long term and know that I’ll be focusing on the Rawlsian tradition again eventually and in detail. So, I hope that others will share their thoughts relative to their own traditions, and not worry a lot about looking Rawlsian enough. Theory should evolve relative to the hybridity of regional practices as much as practices strive to participate in a cosmopolitan universalism.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

identity via mediality: text as authorship

"Everything we know we learned from television" – Tom Goodman, TV Columnist, S. F. Chronicle

I'm surprised to discover that 'mediality' isn't in Webster's Unabridged Dictionary (nor in the Collegiate), so I hereby claim the sense of it I'll introduce in a moment.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

a primer on Islam, democratic development, and philosophy

One has to begin somewhere. So, I've used a very small amount of reliable material on Islam and democracy as basis for sketching a philosophical view of the theory-policy-activism relationship relative to the issue of Islam and democracy. I worked only with the summary statements of the conference and 2 research reports, and just that resulted in a relatively long discussion. If I had worked with the entirety of the conference materials and reports, I would be more confident of the result. As it stands, though, I believe it was a very worthwhile exercise, at least for exemplifying an approach to doing philosophy practically.

Aug. 30

The Project on Middle East Democracy

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Can the U.N. at last be effective
against violence?

In complement to my pro-Israel stance in the Hezbollah-Israeli war, I need to say I am not an Israeli hawk. For many years, I was vocally biased for the Palestinian cause, but was increasingly disappointed by Palestinian leadership failures, and the last straw was Arafat's all-now-or-nothing abandonment of the Clinton effort in 2000—an immaturity that just got more extreme as Israel got more moderate in the following years. A basically bipartisan stance toward the peace process can include belief that one side has more work to do than the other.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

multipolitan environmental engineering

For a long time, I've claimed that humanity is increasingly prevailing in nature (intelligence of Earth) as a post-national lattice of metropolitan areas—expressing a post-classical legacy of the city-state (by which the transitory nation-state has always been anchored—Paris, London, New York, Berlin, etc). In fact, I argued this in the early 1990s, before J├╝rgen Habermas coined the notion of "postnational constellation."

Today, Los Angeles, London, New York, Seoul and 18 other cities joined forces in a project aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by pooling financial resources to that end. (Thanks, Bill Clinton.)

Such multipolitan activity signals a keynote of postmodern (postnational) humanity.

Sept. 1

And this week, California leads the way for the U.S.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

parenting as concerted cultivation

[This is the passage about parenting dynamics from today’s other posting that is more focused on socioeconomic factors.]

Annette Laueau’s ethnographic Unequal Childhoods: class, race, and family life indicates in detail what parents of successful children do. She finds that successful children are far more communicatively engaged by their parents, for the sake of facilitating broad engagement of their children’s lives, than are the parents of unsuccessful children. This might seem unsurprising; but what’s interesting is what the parents of successful children do: They’re enmeshed in a syndrome, so to speak, that educes cognitive development and independence, whereas the parents of unsuccessful children tend to believe that letting their children have “freedom”—that “natural growth” takes care of itself—is good parenting.

a critical point in the fundamental war

Fighting poverty through community-based human development

Had not Hizbollah attacked Israel, the news might be occupied with G8 follow-ups related to WTO resolutions that can complement the UN Millennium Goals’ and World Bank’s war against poverty in developing regions (and the Gates Foundation’s material solidarity with the WHO’s war against disease).

Meanwhile, “developed” nations have their ongoing war against poverty—well, it’s not exactly a war, is it?&#151in terms of underfunded public health services, social services, and education. (A “great” success of terrorism is to keep public attention distracted from valid struggles.)

Saturday, June 3, 2006

How to be democratic

Republicans (big R) dominate U.S. politics because they are more democratically organized than the Democrats. This is a reality also pertinent for progressives outside the U.S.

How can we facilitate corporate innovation
for local pollution control?

To: The New York Times Subject: What "incentives"?, re: editorial "Look to the States for Cleaner Air"


One would easily agree with you that "industry usually needs powerful incentives to make things happen," but what incentives are displayed in Governor Pataki's mercury control plan? The Pataki model is apparently the traditional statist challenge to industry to innovate in the face of fair regulation or leave the game, a virtue of liberalism, but no display of innovative incentivization. I want to see The New York Times give more focus to new ideas for incentivization for near-term local pollution problems.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Instilling capability is critical
for the health of nations

One very practical employment of progressive thinking is to support progressive tendencies among very influential conservatives and otherwise try to influence the thinking of those who seem open minded (as well as working for open-mindedness among those who aren't). So, I frequently respond to David Brooks' columns, a very likeable guy (who early on, at his move to The New York Times, honored me with on-camera response to a query about his thinking [which is no longer available to link to]—but that's not why I respond to him).

What follows is my response to his fascinating (as newspapering goes) column today, "Of Love and Money," (now with an added link—and a follow-up to that at the end here, re: my longstanding interest in the work of Annette Laueau’s Unequal Childhoods, which I pursued at some length a couple of months later):

Sunday, May 21, 2006

poverty reduction & environmental health
need each other

Jeffrey D. Sachs and Walter V. Reid, in a short Science "Policy Forum" article, "Investments Toward Sustainable Development," write:
"Sustainable development, meaning economic growth that is environmentally sound, is a practical necessity. Environmental goals cannot be achieved without development. Poor people will circumvent environmental restrictions in their desperation for land, food, and sustenance. Nor can development goals be achieved and sustained without sound environmental management. Environmental catastrophes will undermine economic life, whether in New Orleans or Nigeria. Therefore, investing in poverty reduction is crucial for environmental policy, while investing in the environment is vital for successful poverty reduction [See figure in the 1-page article]. Yet the world underinvests in both, and rich-country and poor-country governments overlook the policy links between poverty reduction and the environment...."
Science, May 19, 2006 (312:5776, p.1002) 

J. D. Sachs is director of the U.N. Millennium Project and director of the Earth Institute, Columbia University. W. V. Reid was director of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and is with the Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

unbearable lightness of being there

vanity fair of self-validating media, episode #491480056

The May 16 BBC interview of Guy Goma—computer tech job applicant from Congo, mistaken for guest expert on the recent Apple, Inc/Apple Corp antitrust case...

...—gets a proper profundity from John Tierney in today's New York Times, making the event allegorical of normal political spinning. (Begin reading at his 5th paragraph: "Hearing his introduction....")

Saturday, April 29, 2006

dark energy (or: a vista of primate living)

The state of nature has hardly ended. We primates, once standing to look across a savannah, have now sometimes become "petroauthoritarian" regimes (Tom Friedman's coinage for Russia, Venezuela, Iran, and others) looking around the planet for primative (sic) petrocorporate clients (e.g., Chad to the U.S., Sudan to China), as the global species sucks the fermented legacy of planetary eons until it learns to fuel its technoeconomies otherwise via, e.g., limitless hydrogen (breeder reactors, fuel cells) and solar power.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Integrating news for a singular world

The notion of leading news continues to seem tenable. The fact that "more news media outlets are covering less news" relates to several kinds of developments: media market specialization relative to a proliferation of media, daily editorial equilibration (through wire mirrorplays) toward what the leading news is (tendencies toward consensus within the profession), and also regretable trends in the news business.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Ask not what humankind can do for you....

Dr. Wafa Sultan, Syrian-born psychiatrist living in L.A. created a rage this week on Al Jazeera television with her critique of Muslim violence. She tells the New York Times today:

"The Jews have come from the tragedy and forced the world to respect them, with their knowledge, not with their terror; with their work, not with their crying and yelling. We have not seen a single Jew blow himself up in a German restaurant. We have not seen a single Jew destroy a church. We have not seen a single Jew protest by killing people. Only the Muslims defend their beliefs by burning down churches, killing people and destroying embassies. This path will not yield any results. The Muslims must ask themselves what they can do for humankind, before they demand that humankind respect them."

Monday, March 6, 2006

love those humans

Mid-1990s, I was a charter member of Howard Rheingold's pioneering child of The Well, "Electric Minds," which bellied up, but some of its members carried on via a less costly software incarnation that survived [until late 2008], with me as a rarely active member. But I started the interesting topic "Becoming Post-Human," and last October cited an odd article from The New York Times called “Beyond Human,” to which "Starling" replied a few days later, and today, five months later, I wrote (including the separator bar and everything following it):

Saturday, March 4, 2006

Hamas, grow up!

Abu Marzouk, who was part of the Hamas delegation in Moscow, said today "I gave the Russian officials a white sheet and I asked them to draw me a map of the Israel they want me to recognize and nobody was able to draw the map."

Evidently, Abu Marzouk needs to know a man's contours—how fat he is—before that man is granted a right to life.

“God” as the wisdom of crowds extrapolated to history

In an interview for TV today, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said God and history would judge whether he was right to go to war in Iraq.

"In the end there is a judgment that, well, if I think if you have faith about these things then you realize that judgment is made by other people."