Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Losing The Left...

Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich was thoroughly unimpressed by President Obama's oil speech last night.  Admittedly, Reich has been arguing for more assertive bureaucratic action for some time.  He believes the US should put BP into temporary receivership.  Even so, the denunciation -- from an ideological ally -- is pretty harsh: 

The man who electrified the nation with his speech at the Democratic National Convention of 2004 put it to sleep Tuesday night. President Obama's address to the nation from the Oval Office was, to be frank, vapid. If you watched with the sound off you might have thought he was giving a lecture on the history of the Interstate Highway System. He didn't have to be angry but he had at least to show passion and conviction. It is, after all, the worst environmental crisis in the history of the nation.
With the sound on, his words hung in the air with all the force of a fundraiser for your local public access TV station. Everything seemed to be in the passive tense. He had authorized deepwater drilling because he "was assured" it was safe. But who assured him? How does he feel about being so brazenly misled? He said he wanted to "understand" why that was mistaken. Understand? He's the President of the United States and it was a major decision. Isn't he determined to find out how his advisors could have been so terribly wrong?

And on it goes.   

Meanwhile, in a clip produced before the speech, The Daily Show compares the campaigning Obama with the governing Obama -- and his presidential predecessor. It's not pretty. Damn funny though.

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Monday, June 14, 2010


Novel Ideas For A Digital Era

After a weekend down in Annapolis, hanging out with various St. John's College alumni, this seems to be an appropriate article for broader perusal. With so much information coming at us from the Internet, social media, RSS feeds, etc., Sven Birkets argues for a greater appreciation of that wonderful art form called the novel:
Reading the Atlantic cover story by Nicholas Carr on the effect of Google (and online behavior in general), I find myself especially fixated on the idea that contemplative thought is endangered. This starts me wondering about the difference between contemplative and analytic thought. The former is intransitive and experiential in its nature, is for itself; the latter is transitive, is goal directed. According to the logic of transitive thought, information is a means, its increments mainly building blocks toward some synthesis or explanation. In that thought-world it’s clearly desirable to have a powerful machine that can gather and sort material in order to isolate the needed facts. But in the other, the contemplative thought-world—where reflection is itself the end, a means of testing and refining the relation to the world, a way of pursuing connection toward more affectively satisfying kinds of illumination, or insight—information is nothing without its contexts. I come to think that contemplation and analysis are not merely two kinds of thinking: they are opposed kinds of thinking. Then I realize that the Internet and the novel are opposites as well.
A thoughtful piece that warrants a download onto paper and a careful reading.  (Hat tip to my old high school AND college classmate, Greg Toppo, who covers education for USA Today 

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