With Katrina still in the rearview mirror, the Deepwater Horizon oil platform exploded on 4/20/10 spewing millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf. Domestic shrimpers were diverted to skim oil in response to the crisis, and uncertainty about the safety of Gulf catches still exists. For a culture that enjoys seafood as much as the Gulf region, and integrates it as much into every aspect of life, a new way forward is clearly needed. LAqua is an indoor shrimp farm, we plan on using geothermal technologies, as well as an integrated systems design.
The general trend Putnam [the author] illustrates is that between 1900 and the mid 1930s, civic engagement was consistently moderate, but then an explosion of activity occurred between the 1940s and the mid 1960s. This period correlates to when people born between 1910 and 1940 started coming of age. Ever since then, participation has declined. This trend is illustrated best by the rise and decline of league bowling. Believe it or not, “bowling is the most popular competitive sport in America. Bowlers outnumber joggers, golfers, or softball players more than two to one, soccer players (including kids) by more than three to one, and tennis players or skiers by four to one.” [hence, the title of the book]
What makes good people do bad things? Where do the balances between individual and social responsibility lie? Amongst other solutions, acting socio-centrically, rather than egocentrically is a step. Philip Zimbardo knows how easy it is for nice people to turn bad. In this talk, he shares insights and graphic unseen photos from the Abu Ghraib trials. Then he talks about the flip side: how easy it is to be a hero, and how we can rise to the challenge.
MIT researcher Deb Roy wanted to understand how his infant son learned language — so he wired up his house with videocameras to catch every moment (with exceptions) of his son’s life, then parsed 90,000 hours of home video to watch “gaaaa” slowly turn into “water.” Astonishing, data-rich research with deep implications for how we learn.
Psychologists have long been puzzled by the psychological refractory period because it doesn’t fit with other things we know about how the brain works. We are very good at doing many things at once. As you read this column, your brain can also manage your heartbeat, perceive the melody of a song playing on the radio, and send out complicated instructions for drinking a cup of coffee. It can do all of that because it is parceled into hundreds of relatively self-contained regions. These regions can work on difference tasks at the same time. Yet there are simple jobs – like math problems – that our brains can handle only one at a time. It is as if the signals were flying down a 20-lane superhighway, and then the road narrowed to a single lane.
In my analysis of the issues plaguing American society, greed plays a significant and influential role. But as the sociologist, Max Weber, wrote in 1905 in The Protestant Ethic & The Spirit of Capitalism, “People do not wish ‘by nature’ to earn more and more money. Instead, they wish simply to live, and to live as they have been accustomed and to earn as much as is required to do so.” So then, where does this quest for personal wealth come from? The Protestant Ethic & The Spirit of Capitalism explains how personal wealth became to the faithful, actual evidence of their salvation status.
The holidays are part and parcel of the gross fraud, wrong, and inhumanity of slavery. They are professedly a custom established by the benevolence of the slaveholders; but I undertake to say, it is the result of selfishness, and one of the grossest frauds committed upon the down-trodden slave. They do not give the slaves this time because they would not like to have their work during its continuance, but because they know it would be unsafe to deprive them of it. This will be seen by the fact, that the slaveholders like to have their slaves spend those days just in such a manner as to make them as glad of their ending as of their beginning. Their object seems to be, to disgust their slaves with freedom, by plunging them into the lowest depths of dissipation.
As we move further into this digital age, we have to be aware of how radically different our world is becoming, especially when comparing it to the industrial age our parents and grandparents grew up in. The digital age makes necessary “a huge increase in the number of people paid to think or talk, rather than to produce or transport objects”. As others have said before him, Clay Shirky makes it extremely evident that we are living in a world of bits, not atoms. For instance, in analyzing Napster’s success, Shirky writes that “Napster, like all forms of digital data sharing, took advantage of the fact that music could now be shared like thoughts rather than like objects.” Music shared like thoughts, rather than like objects. Bits of information, rather than atoms of matter.
Having an abundance of food allowed groups/tribes to shift from hunter-gathers to sedentary food-producers. A sedentary society gives rise to larger populations and higher population densities. Sedentary societies rely on a portion of the populace to produce enough food for everyone, while the remaining portion are free to explore other endeavors, such as becoming priests, scientists, bureaucrats, philosophers, etc. The human brain feeds on curiosity, and liberating more of them to study other facets of life, deepened human knowledge.
Tapping into the findings of his latest book, NYTimes columnist David Brooks unpacks new insights into human nature from the cognitive sciences — insights with massive implications for economics and politics as well as our own self-knowledge. In a talk full of humor, he shows how you can’t hope to understand humans as separate individuals making choices based on their conscious awareness.