Against Ideology: Creativity is Best Hope in an Uncertain World

Uncertainty is everywhere and growing fast. That makes many people uncomfortable at best, violent at worst. Most seek certainty in what they perceive as a set of beliefs that they equate with reality. When conditions appear uncertain or change quickly, certain people conclude that someone is messing with their reality. They expect to live in … More Against Ideology: Creativity is Best Hope in an Uncertain World

The American Way of Violence: Community or Chaos in Politics and Policing

The tension seems to grow by the day. Anyone who steps into the limelight of media exposure is subject to death threats. Anyone who happens to be in a store or workplace when an “active shooter” begins to fire his semi-automatic combat weapon may die without the slightest sense of why. A teenager at a … More The American Way of Violence: Community or Chaos in Politics and Policing

Who Survives and Who Does Not: Civilization Lost in a Wilderness of Mistaken Mental Models

Have you ever been lost in the woods? Or just in an unfamiliar urban neighborhood? As it turns out, getting lost is not that uncommon. However, most of the time things work out because we got lost within the familiar bounds of civilization. We can rely on others to give us some directions. Today, industrial … More Who Survives and Who Does Not: Civilization Lost in a Wilderness of Mistaken Mental Models

Unrealistic Assumptions Dodge Difficult Decisions

It seems the highest point in John Kerry’s political career was his impassioned testimony before congress expressing his experience of the absurdity of the Viet Nam war. After that came serial mediocrity in search of sustaining moderate upper-class rule. Never again would he to take a principled stand as he pursued his political path, grounded … More Unrealistic Assumptions Dodge Difficult Decisions

Beyond the Yellow Brick Road*: Saving the Planet from Eco Modernism

For some time now, I have been unable to escape the conclusion that the way to find a path to stop the heating of the planet is not by developing new technologies to compensate for the ever-increasing carbon emissions produced by economic growth. All you have to do is think about how entangled everyone is … More Beyond the Yellow Brick Road*: Saving the Planet from Eco Modernism

Freedom, Responsibility, and the Absurdity of Autocracy

Ideas can get away from us, even take control of our lives. Sometimes, a great idea can become destructive when taken to its most extreme form. Life is full of ambiguities and imperfections. If we take our great ideas out of this context, they can become dysfunctional, stupid, and even dangerous. So it is with … More Freedom, Responsibility, and the Absurdity of Autocracy

Risk On Risk Off: Likely or Unlikely, Catastrophic or Not

“Risk on” and “Risk Off” are terms heard among stock market traders, analysts, and investment advisors. They indicate whether the speaker feels that risk is high or low for investing in markets or in a particular stock. Risk is always a matter of degree, except under conditions of certainty—and when does that happen? Yet, “risk … More Risk On Risk Off: Likely or Unlikely, Catastrophic or Not

Taser, Gun, and Character: What You Cannot Train

I am tired of all the convenient talk of “more training” and other improvements in the formal management of police practices, as if they were a mere problem of technical engineering. They are not. The most important quality of police officers is not the skills they take from the academy to the precinct. It is … More Taser, Gun, and Character: What You Cannot Train

Building Back Better: Deferred Maintenance vs. Emergency Response

Now that I have read President Biden’s “fact sheet” on his infrastructure plan, dubbed the American Jobs Plan, I have to wonder whether it will devolve into an “upgrade” to “modernize” business-as-usual. What we need is a genuine emergency response to the converging crises of climate, a crumbling main street economy, and the continued enrichment … More Building Back Better: Deferred Maintenance vs. Emergency Response