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Excerpts from Klein, Warren, Chirelstein, and Gluck

Customs grow out of social processes whose details are highly individuated in regards to the type of activity, the individuals involved, their reputational pedigree, the knowledge they have about each other, and so on.  Viewing cultural evolution as deeply and densely rooted process may make one doubt the wisdom of government attempts to fine tune, guide, or supplant it.  It is highly unlikely that the blunt instruments of government will be well suited to cultivating the growth of delicate, teeming, unique interactions.

Robert Nozick's 'Experience Machine'

The following is political philosopher Robert Nozick’s incredible allegory of the “Experience Machine,” from his book Anarchy, State, and Utopia. The allegory makes a case against hedonism, the idea that sensory pleasure is the highest good: — Suppose there were an experience machine that would give you any experience you desired. Superduper neuropsychologists could stimulate your brain so that you would think and feel you were writing a great novel, or making a friend, or reading an interesting book.

Discussing the Libya War on 'Russia Today'

I appeared on Russia Today (RT) yesterday to discuss the U.S./NATO intervention in Libya as well as the situation in Syria - feel free to check it out if you are interested:

My related article, “Rolling the Dice in Libya,” appeared on Antiwar.com yesterday. Another, unrelated op-ed of mine appeared yesterday as well in the Michigan Education Report: “National standards will stifle innovation.” In it, I argue that “strict standards risk forcing students and teachers alike into a curricular straitjacket, alienating creative teachers and sapping the motivation of students.

Rolling the dice in Libya

My latest op-ed, “Rolling the dice in Libya,” appeared today on Antiwar.com. You can find the op-ed here as well as pasted below. If you enjoy it, please consider sharing it on your Facebook wall, mentioning it on Twitter, or emailing it to a friend. Thanks, as always, for reading. — Rolling the dice in Libya Ryan McCarl President Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination in 2008 partly by reminding the party’s base of his early, prescient criticisms of the ill-fated decision to invade Iraq.

Excerpts from Jacques Barzun, 'From Dawn to Decadence'

(Note: The excerpts below are related to issues outside of education; I will post education-related excerpts from From Dawn to Decadenceon Wide Awake Minds, my education blog. You can find these here if you are interested.)

Here are a few excerpts from what I’ve read so far: — In any art a new technical power leads to uses and ideas not suspected at first. … Another singularity in Petrarch’s life was that he climbed a high hill in southern France in order to admire the view.

Excerpts from Benedict Anderson, Gottfried Benn, and Bob Altemeyer

Happy Thanksgiving weekend! I am spending it in Boulder, CO, one of the most beautiful cities in America. From “Static Poems” Deafness to imperatives is profundity in the wise man, children and grandchildren don’t bother him, don’t alarm him. To represent a particular outlook, to act, to travel hither and yon are all signs of a world that doesn’t see clearly. –Gottfried Benn (in Poetry, 11⁄09.) Adult authoritarians tend to be highly ethnocentric and heavy users of the “consensual validation pill” (Newcomb, 1961).

Two cents about COIN

My latest op-ed, “Two cents about COIN,” appeared today on Antiwar.com. It discusses the the growing faith of U.S. political and military leaders in the military doctrine of COIN, or manpower-intensive counterinsurgency warfare. You can find the op-ed here as well as pasted below; if you enjoy it, please consider sharing it on your Facebook wall, mentioning it on Twitter, or linking to it on your blog. Thanks, as always, for reading.

Empathy across neighborhood lines

My latest op-ed, “Love Thy Neighbor: In the wake of an attack on the Men’s Cross Country team, it’s time to rethink University-community relations,” appeared in the Chicago Weekly today. You can find the op-ed and add your comments here, and I’ve also pasted it below. Thanks, as always, for reading. —Love Thy Neighbor: In the wake of an attack on the Men’s Cross Country team, it’s time to rethink University-community relations

Readings from Solomon's 'Judaism: A Very Short Introduction'

Martin Buber and Emanuel Levinas put their faith in the God of relationships. Alles Leben ist Begegnung (‘all life is encounter’), declared Buber, and the important thing is to get your relationship with God and with people right (I-Thou, rather than I-It); from that relationship, which is the essence of Revelation, ethical action flows; laws and rules are feeble attempts to capture revelation, and doomed to inadequacy. … Genesis 1:27 states clearly enough: ‘So God created humankind in his own image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Readings from the stories of John Cheever

It was after four then, and I lay in the dark, listening to the rain and to the morning trains coming through. They come from Buffalo and Chicago and the Far West, through Albany and down along the river in the early morning, and at one time or another I’ve traveled on most of them, and I lay in the dark thinking about the polar air in the Pullman cars and the smell of nightclothes and the taste of dining-car water and the way it feels to end a day in Cleveland or Chicago and begin another in New York, particularly after you’ve been away for a couple of years, and particularly in the summer.