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Here are other notable articles that I didn't learn about at Arts & Letters Daily.
- Ice Memory : Does a glacier hold the secret of how civilization began—and how it may end? From the New Yorker.
- Crony Capitalism USA: NYT Op Ed article by Paul Krugman. My question: in a business-economic model, is this inevitable? In other words, can we only struggle against this by heeding an ethical call 1, or can we build checks against this into the system (and if we can, what provides powerful enough motivation to overcome the force of the current patterns at work)? An administration comes to power riding on the contributions of large donor organizations with commercial interests, who are motivated by expected returns in large multiples of their contributions. Powerful business people help their friends all the time. How can we create an effective border between business and government along these lines? The answer seems to be in limiting campaign contributions, but how will such a law ever get passed and enforced, given the forces against it? The press around the Enron story is a starting point, but the problem needs to be picked up by a leader powerful and eloquent enough to hold people's attention on this endemic problem.
1But why assume that ethics can't be part of the solution? Because a mass phenomenon is less likely to inlclude anything but market effects? Or can we as humans struggle as a whole for a higher ethical level of behavior? In recent years, in some regards we seem to have slid backwards ethically as a society, but maybe it only appears so because our light of examination is so much stronger and broader now. Is it possible to call each other somehow to a higher level of ethics without being pollyannish?
- The Struggle for the Soul of the 21st Century The Dimbleby Lecture of 2001 by Bill Clinton. Excellent synoptic speech about the challenges facing the planet and its leaders today. Referenced by David Weinberger in his JOHO newsletter, noted by a JOHO reader.
- You Take the Stairs, I'll take the Roller Coaster Don't let the glib title put you off. It's a very good article on fundamental differences between U.S. (and other western) and non-western cultural attitudes about how much control we have over our lives. I found this while searching for the Arabic word that means "God willing" (inshahullah), after recalling that my grandmother peppered her letters with "LW" (Lord willing) in any reference to a planned future event. Somehow this goes well with the A&L-cited article on Gregory Chaitlin and Omega: "Chaitin's discovery implies there can never be a reliable 'theory of everything', neatly summarising all the basic features of reality in one set of equations."
- Yes, the rich get richer, but there's more to the story by Robert Frank. [How the concentration of service or delivery of goods concentrates wealth, and the problems caused by that disparity. Not a very deep article, but good thinking fodder for the 13-Dec-2000 4:40am Deep Thoughts post: how does specialization make for concentration of wealth (and thus survival in an evolutionary milieu). Last paragraph says most: "The technologies that have been steering the lion's share of income and wealth gains to those atop the economic pyramid are in their infancy. The gap between top earners and everyone else will continue to grow, as will the resulting pressures on middle-income families. This is not an inherently alluring story for journalists, but its importance will grow as the stakes in the battle for market share continue to mount. If it is not yet, as Merrill Goozner suggests in her article, the single most important economic issue confronting the nation, it soon will be." Source: chance receipt of email from Ian Pitchford's ev-psych list.