Showing posts from August, 2018

Human Nature - The Poets' View

Many thanks to all who attended Tuesday night’s “Human Nature - The Poets’ View.” The poetry recited or read aloud was wide-ranging and the discussion far exceeded expectations. Here’s the email from O&I that got this whole thing going:
Can we modern humans, three hundred years since the Enlightenment and a century-and-a-half since Darwin, accept as truths teachings about Humankind derived from sources other than secular science materialism? Is the inner view of self and outer vision of Humankind now all about science and its tech derivatives? Are the artists, musicians and poets merely useful as entertainers?
Yes, scientific or not, we humans, all of us, still like art, music and stories. But can the views expressed in, say, poetry impact us to the degree they once did, to the same degree that scientific facts do today? Can artistic, musical, literary/story truths be as consequential as those of the natural sciences? At the next O&I Confluence, led by yours truly, we shall r…

Waist Deep in the Big Muddy - A Conversation with a Friend in Cape Town

Friend: I see that Trump has entered South African politics. This bloody issue of [land] expropriation might really be a tipping point. How far does it go? Sure the whole colonial bit and apartheid were abhorrent. But firing the pendulum to the complete opposite also seems to invite chaos and evil. Yessus! The Institute of Race Relations here does some reliable measurements of attitudes and those do not show the excessive inter-group hatred that seems to be promoted by populist leaders. But who will gain the upper hand in the power stakes?
Me: Trumpian populism in South Africa’s politics!? Hadn’t been following the recent expropriations. Can’t think of a worse setting for populism. Talk about pouring gasoline on a fire.
One of my profs (economics) in grad school at Oregon in the ‘70s had a line he liked repeating: “The world is globalizing and tribalizing simultaneously.” He insisted it was an unsustainable dynamic that would eventually come to a fork in the road. He seemed to have no i…

BOOK REVIEW - Atrocities Too Often Forgotten

The Cry of the Innocents by Paul Lentz
Paul Lentz’s novel The Cry of the Innocents is a masterwork. It tells a monstrous story of human trafficking and organ harvesting in the US Southwest. Lentz is a highly gifted author whose strengths are his meticulous research skills and fluid prose.

The business of this book’s narrative involves the Russian mafia, profiteering medical administrators and practitioners, officials at privately run prisons, and corrupt and criminal government officials and employees at various local and state levels.

The heart and soul of the narrative, however, is expressed through ancient notions of honor, sanctity and justice still strong among the Hopi, Navajo and Apache. This includes a growing number of these cultures’ youth who find meaning and purpose for their lives, and moral guidance in long-standing indigenous cultural beliefs and practices.
Through the actions of the book’s ethnically diverse protagonists these spiritual and moral foundations are coupled with…

Luck - When Science, Religion and Common Sense Fail

Luck is a judgment many people produce after an unanticipated or uncontrollable outcome. It is a mental posture individuals learn and associate with their hopes for their future. If we decide an occurrence benefits us, another or anything’s wellbeing we conclude the occurrence was good luck; if not, it was bad luck. Luck’s most appropriate corollary is serendipity but even that is a human judgment. In raw, pre-human physics, yes, stuff happened. But, there was no luck, happenstance, serendipity. For example, when atoms combined to form a molecule with properties that the single atoms did not have, and no human was there at the time making a judgment about the event, there was no good or bad luck. There was simply, as far as we know, a non-judgmental occurrence. It happened and was neither an inherently good or bad event.
But, how far can such thinking be pushed - just how useful is it? Darwinian evolution would not have come to dominate the life sciences had Darwin not seen, judged and…

"Strange Brew: Religion, Politics and Business in America, Part II" by Pam Dewey

August 5, 2018
Today, Pam Dewey, author, blogger and video producer, posted "Strange Brew, Part III: Eye of Newt and Foot of Frog." It may be accessed here. Here's an accompanying note from Pam:

"If you have not yet seen Part 1 and/or Part 2, links to all three current videos in the series are available at the YouTube "Playlist" page linked below for the STRANGE BREW series. Be sure to watch them in order...the material in each one builds on information and commentary in the earlier entries. And stay tuned for more to come in the series. Links will show up on this playlist page on the YouTube website each time a new video is added to the collection. 
"The ongoing STRANGE BREW Series is an examination of the weird symbiosis of GOP Politics, Big Business, and Evangelical Christianity during the presidential administration of Donald Trump, which …