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August 4, 2011

Memory & Forgetting, Children & Love

By Joe Katzman at 04:19

A couple of articles lately that really hit home. Brink's "How to mend a broken heart" is simply excellent. Turns out that drug addiction may actually be a byproduct of love's existing circuitry, that a broken heart can medically kill people with something that looks a lot like a heart attack, and that simple pain relievers like Tylenol can help dull the pain of a breakup. Plus, how can you not love "The Museum of Broken Relationships"?

"Olinka and Drazen are artists, and after some time passed [beyond their breakup], they did what artists often do: they put their feelings on display.... Their collection of breakup mementos was accepted into a local art festival. It was a smash hit. Soon they were putting up installations in Berlin, San Francisco, and Istanbul, showing the concept to the world. Everywhere they went, from Bloomington to Belgrade, people packed the halls and delivered their own relics of extinguished love: "The Silver Watch" with the pin pulled out at the moment he first said, "I love you." The wood-handled "Ex Axe" that a woman used to chop her cheating lover's furniture into tiny bits. Trinkets that had meaning to only two souls found resonance with a worldwide audience that seemed to recognize the same heartache all too well."

Another article talked about a more profound kind of heartbreak, and a very different problem of memory. The Washington Post's 2009 piece "Fatal Distraction" is about something that really can happen to any parent, though we really don't like to think about it:

"Two decades ago, [death by hyperthermia] was relatively rare. But in the early 1990s, car-safety experts declared that passenger-side front airbags could kill children, and they recommended that child seats be moved to the back of the car; then, for even more safety for the very young, that the baby seats be pivoted to face the rear. If few foresaw the tragic consequence of the lessened visibility of the child... well, who can blame them? What kind of person forgets a baby?"

Research suggests a very unsettling answer:

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July 18, 2011

After the Arab Spring Comes the Storm?

By Joe Katzman at 00:33

Caroline Glick's "Caution: Storm Approaching" looks at the economic convulsions that underpin the Arab world's current political convulsions. Her conclusion is that those convulsions are about the get worse before they get better. It doesn't help that the same hate-spawning, dysfunctional political systems are big contributors to the Arabs' lack of economic progress as well. Nor does it help that key economies around the world cannot pretend away problems forever, but appear to be trying. The reckoning always comes, and the fallout from each side is about to affect the other.

Of course, replacing current governance in Arab/Islamic countries with an even more hate-filled and more dysfunctional system of Islamic theocracy - all that does is double down on human disaster and misery. It remains to be seen which way things tip. Revolution =/= progress; they are linked but ultimately separate variables.

On which topic, Brett Stephens had a useful reminder the other day, about courage...

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  • Chris M: Thanks for the great post, Joe ... linked it on read more

February 3, 2011

Egypt and the Acceptance of Limits

By Joe Katzman at 09:14

Back in 2004, I wrote "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Mubarak?." It was about 2 things, and one of them was acceptance of reality's limits on our options. Within which, I believe American could have done some good in shaping what would eventually come. It ended as follows:

"The bottom line is simple: Egypt has to change. We have to promote effective pathways to liberty, using pressure and/or confrontation on our own timetable, all the while strengthening the real champions of liberty and weakening the poseurs and the malevolent.

It's a tall order. It won't always be satisfying. And it may take time. Fortunately, time is an option we can afford in Egypt. The only thing we can't afford, is failure."

Time was an option we could afford in Egypt. But here's the thing... eventually, it runs out. And like all seemingly stable systems with major foundational cracks (vid. also, and still, global financial system, and debt supportability above key levels like 90% of GDP), it may not take a very big shock to set the endgame in motion.

We're in motion, now, in Egypt. And if America faced limits before, those limits are sharper. The Muslim Brotherhood is still the evil organization it has always been, complete with Nazi origins, and retaining its jihadist core. But Mubarak is toast, and America must now make clear choices... if its President can manage that.

I have nothing to add to Ralph Peters' current advice. I hope my country takes it.

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  • alchemist: Well Glenn, we'll see. If there as powerful an influence read more
  • Glen Wishard: IanC - No, I do not say that the MB read more
  • IanC: Glen - I am guessing that you are saying that read more

November 11, 2010

Remembrance, 2010

By Joe Katzman at 01:28
Their Name Liveth

On the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, in 1918, the guns ceased. During Remembrance Day, the British Commonwealth countries remember those who came before, and those who came after, and all who have given in their nation's service. John McCrae's poem "In Flanders Fields" is a common accompaniment at ceremonies, where the wearing of poppies is customary (on the left lapel, or as close to the heart as possible), and organizations like the Royal British Legion, Royal Canadian Legion, et. al. are supported.

A number of European countries know it as Armistice Day. Americans celebrate it as Veteran's Day.

There's one more kind of remembrance I'd like to point out, and ask you to consider on this day. It's a remembrance of the Bloodlands...

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October 28, 2010

Project Valor-IT - GIVE!!

By Armed Liberal at 20:03

It's that time of year again, and Soldiers' Angels is fundraising for Project Valour IT, and I'll be helping - again. The goal is to raise $15,000 dollars (team Army's goal) and to - SHOCKINGLY! - beat the teams from the other services.

And I'm going to ask every other day for money from you folks, like I always do.

But here's a small story that might make it feel a little more relevant to each of us. This afternoon, I'm headed up to Pasadena and the home of one of the guys working on one of the projects I'm heading up. He just moved into his new house, and wile doing some homeowner fiddling, managed to shove his right arm through a window, cutting two tendons, an artery, and a nerve.

He had surgery Monday, and won't have use of the arm for a while. Because of Valor-IT, I suggested that he get Dragon Naturally Speaking and a good headset; he did and he spent yesterday working on documents for a contract we're trying to close on Monday.

He was wildly enthusiastic about using it, and so relieved that he could function with his arm in bandages and a sling.

This is happening in the comfort of his own home, supported by his wife, and secure that he'll heal and all will be OK.

Now transport him to Walter Reed; he's just been flown ten thousand miles (no frequent flyer points!), he's alone - isolated form his buddies, and probably from his family - and suddenly he can communicate, because someone gave him the use of a laptop that he could run while his hands and arms heal.

I've watched Chuck Z tear up as he explains what it meant to him to be able to connect and communicate without a nurse dialing for him and holding the phone to his ear.

So skip a few lunches, drink office coffee instead of Starbucks, and toss a few bucks into Team Army's Valour IT account. It's all for a massively good cause.

And if you know someone in Congress, get them to think about appropriating a few bucks to make this whole exercise unnecessary.

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August 12, 2010

On the Proposal to Amend the 14th to End Birthright Citizenship

By Grim at 20:01
Mark B. asked for a thread to discuss this issue. Here are some recent news stories. Here is the Wikipedia entry on jus soli, which is the Latin phrase for what we call birthright citizenship. It is interesting to note that only 16% of the world observes this principle, with we ourselves being the largest practitioner. Here is a separate article on the concept's history in the United States. Discuss!
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  • PD Shaw: Grim: A number of legal scholars do not believe that read more
  • J Aguilar: Oh, it is not just a political problem, it is read more
  • mark buehner: I don't see this as a legal problem at all. read more

March 26, 2010

March 27th: Human Achievement Hour

By Joe Katzman at 06:04

The Competitive Enterprise Institute plans to recognize "Human Achievement Hour" between 8:30pm and 9:30pm on March 27, 2010 to coincide with Earth Hour, a period of time during which governments, individuals, and corporations have agreed to dim or shut off lights in an effort to draw attention to climate change.

So instead, leave your lights on between 8:30-9:30pm. I think it's a great idea. Not just as a celebration of the human achievement and technological progress that has given us lives without parallel in human history, though it is that. Those space shots of North vs. South Korea say it all.

But it's also something that every single environmentalist out there ought to celebrate, as an environmentalist.

Quick question - before the incandescent bulb, what did people use for lighting? Because it was quite widespread, even on public streets. The answer is...

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  • Joe Katzman: "Fanatical environmental extremists" exist, like "fanatical fundamental Christians", "fanatical white read more
  • Silverlake Bodhisattva: Joe: "Fanatical environmental extremists" exist, like "fanatical fundamental Christians", "fanatical read more
  • Joe Katzman: Silverlake, Envirohadis exist. There's concern for the environment, which makes read more

March 22, 2010

Diversity Training a Waste, or Counter-Productive

By Joe Katzman at 04:37

Generally, yes. That's the conclusion of recent research, including this gem:

"And those that were mandatory or discussed lawsuits - the vast majority of the programs the researchers examined - slightly reduced the number of women and minorities in management. Required training and legalistic training both make people resentful, the authors suggest, and likely to rebel against what they've heard."

Amazing! It turns out that putting people through "training" modeled on political indoctrination programs in dictatorships is productivity-draining make-work for a subset of the political class. Fortunately, it impairs its own stated objectives, thus creating more "demand" for the political class' "work."

Yeah, never saw that one coming, either.

On a more basically human level, it's amazing that some 4th grader hadn't pointed the problem out yet. Of course, they'd have to be asked... but people with a graduate humanities degree need the help. Perhaps they could be sent to mandatory courses on "4th grader training," explaining the benefits of testing one's thinking to survive the questions of an 8 year old...

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March 11, 2010

We Had to Destroy the City in Order to Save It

By Joe Katzman at 03:23

Yeah, well, Vietnam was a mess, and... wait, what? This isn't about Vietnam? This is the Mayor of Detroit talking? And you think he may actually be right? Hooo boy...

On the other hand, this program may hold some good lessons for California in a few years.

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March 5, 2010

Liberty Mutual's "Responsibility Project"

By Joe Katzman at 19:20

Liberty Mutual (yes, the insurance company) says:

"In 2006, Liberty Mutual created a TV commercial about people doing things for strangers. The response was overwhelming. We received thousands of positive emails and letters from people all over the country commenting on the ads.

We thought, if one TV spot can get people thinking and talking about responsibility, imagine what could happen if we went a step further? So we created a series of short films, and this website, as an exploration of what it means to do the right thing."

Hence "The Responsibility Project."

I love it! Well done, down to earth examples designed to spark comment and thought, and the concept itself is sorely needed in today's culture. Kudos, too, to NBC, for partnering up with them.

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October 6, 2009

Literature and The Moral Imagination

By Joe Katzman at 02:53

From Russell Kirk's 1981 essay "The Moral Imagination."

"Every major form of literary art has taken for its deeper themes the norms of human nature. What Eliot calls "the permanent things" - the norms, the standards - have been the concern of the poet ever since the time of Job, or ever since Homer: "the blind man who sees," sang of the wars of the gods with men. Until very recent years, men took it for granted that literature exists to form the normative consciousness - that is, to teach human beings their true nature, their dignity, and their place in the scheme of things. Such was the endeavor of Sophocles and Aristophanes, of Thucydides and Tacitus, of Plato and Cicero, of Hesiod and Vergil, of Dante and Shakespeare, of Dryden and Pope.

The very phrase "humane letters" implies that great literature is meant to teach us what it is to be fully human...."

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July 31, 2009

How to Apologize

By Joe Katzman at 03:08

A article that would make worthwhile reading for many a corporate executive, complete with examples.

Short version? Take first-person ownership, be timely, make concrete amends. Seems simple - so why is it so difficult?

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  • Glen Wishard: That was a nice apology Bezos made, but I'm still read more
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