Category Archives: Society

Monday Miscellany #4

Ralph Emerson famously said, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” but I also like what Wilde Oscar said: “Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” The last two words in both sentences signify something important. Consistency is the enemy of creativity, art, and philosophy, although it’s generally welcomed in other places (one’s airline pilot, surgeon, or government, for instance).

Which is all by way of excusing the dreadful consistency of this so-called Monday Miscellany series. Episodes in 2012, 2014, and then not again until 2020, is barely a series. Another one so soon is definitely suspect.

Chalk it up to “creativity, art, and philosophy.”

Continue reading


Against the Darkness

Sometimes it’s tricky figuring right from wrong, but maybe it’s a bit easier if we cast it in term of light and dark. Here’s a guy whose security camera kept alerting him because a neighbor kid on a bike looped through his driveway every evening. His response is awesome and humbling…

The lesson here goes beyond acceptance. He could have just ignored it, done nothing. Instead he embraced it — turned it into something joyful and engaging. A bit of light in the darkness that surrounds us these days.

Continue reading


An Uprising of Robots

Back when I posted about Delores, the Westworld robot, I mentioned a question that once came up in a science fiction fan forum: What’s the collective noun for robots? A mechanation of robots? A clank of robots? I suggested an Asimov of robots, but maybe the best suggestion was an uprising of robots.

An uprising of robots could refer to the scary Terminator scenario, but could also be taken as just meaning the rising up of (non-killer, useful) robots. That latter interpretation being not just factual, but quite operative already.

So for this Wednesday Wow, an uprising of robots…

Continue reading


Recrudescent

One of the older notes on my idea board is a tiny Post-It™ with just a single word written on it: recrudescence. Wiktionary defines it as: “The condition or state being recrudescent; the condition of something (often undesirable) breaking out again, or re-emerging after temporary abatement or suppression.”

It is primarily a medical term referring to a disease reoccurring; the second Wiktionary definition is: “The acute recurrence of a disease, or its symptoms, after a period of improvement.”

But when I encountered the word several years ago, it struck me as a very good word for this “post-factual” era: the Dark Ages rises again.

Continue reading


Political Pendulum

For those who value character and honesty, politics has become increasingly depressing. To put it mildly. There never really was any hope the enthralled and craven Republican members of Congress would defy their cult leader. It’s a pity the Democrats didn’t play their hand better, but at least we got the asterisk in the history book.

And then we get kicked in the nuts by Iowa in what, make no mistake, was a stunning case of incompetence and stupidity. This was an unforced double (or triple) error I’ll rant about more when I learn more details.

One thing is clear: This is going to be a very strange — and no doubt very ugly — 2020 political season.

Continue reading


Local Brews

Since high school, I’ve wondered if the USA is just too big to ever make sense. How is it possible to govern a nation that ranges from Bangor to Baton Rouge and from Richmond to Redmond. Finding a political center to such a diverse group of people seems a daunting task.

As our nation grew, so did business, and now we have businesses “too big to fail” because their failure would wreck us. Our capitalistic approach to business seems based on unchecked obsessive growth. Bigger is always better!

The rise (or perhaps return) of local beer brewing offers an interesting lesson in how it’s possible some things should stay small and local.

Continue reading


Pluto, the Moon, & Dave Chappelle

What do Pluto (the planet), Queen guitarist Brian May, the Israeli Beresheet lunar lander, tardigrades, comedian Dave Chappelle, and Netflix, all have in common?

Firstly, that they’ve all been very prominent in my news reader (and perhaps yours as well). Secondly, they all deal with socially divisive things (some more than others). Thirdly, they all caught my eye because they have to do with things I feel a bit strongly about (some more than others).

Let me explain…

Continue reading


Apollo 11 and Us

We dream of soaring…

Sunday night I watched the new Apollo 11 documentary by Todd Miller. At first, I was really into the show. When the Apollo 11 mission happened I was just starting high school and had been a big fan of the space program going back to Project Mercury. Watching a Saturn V lift off has always induced a profound sense of awe in me.

But I was increasingly struck by how white it all was. And male, but really, really white. That diluted the joy I was feeling with some deep regrets about how we act still today over what are basically paint jobs and some minor accessories.

Given where we find ourselves these days, 50 years hasn’t brought as much progress as it should have. We’re still really stupid about paint jobs.

Continue reading


Our Existence (part 1)

I’m not quite halfway through Existence, by David Brin, but I’m enjoying it so much I have to start talking about it now. For one thing, it’s such a change from the Last Chronicles, which was a hard slog with a disappointing ending. (Still worth the journey, though.)

The novel is a standalone, not part of his Uplift Universe, but it apparently can be viewed as a kind of prequel to that reality. However: so far no alien contact, humanity is still on Earth, and computers are not conscious (but AI is very, very good). The year, as far as I can tell, seems to be in the 2040s or 2050s.

At heart, the novel’s theme is the Fermi Paradox; it examines many of the potential Great Filters that might end an intelligent species. But now an alien artifact has been found, a kind of message in a bottle that appears to contain a crowd of alien minds…

Continue reading


Liars and Cheaters

So very, very disappointing.

The headlines of articles I have no desire or intent to read proclaim that Lori Loughlin believes she did what any mother would have done for her child. I’m not all agog over actors, and barely recognized her name, but my impression of her persona involved a lot more of a moral center.

Recently, regarding our cultural calculus, I wrote, “Our greatest peril lies in disconnecting ourselves from truth,” because, “Life is hard enough these days without turning truth into a commodity.” Our social equation depends on us representing ourselves honestly, on not cheating.

Civilization demands that we play the game of life fairly.

Continue reading