Monday, December 24, 2012

I'm pulling the digital plug for the holidays

As Barney (following "Frude") would say: it's therapetic

And as Jimmy would say: 

You're caught up in the Internet
you think it's such a great asset
but you're wrong, wrong, wrong

Sherry Turkle would agree. We all probably need a holiday. Back in January, god willin'... Happy New Year!

Monday, December 17, 2012


Just joined Goodreads to post a little review in support of one of my favorite novels, Richard Powers' Generosity: An Enhancement (Picador, 2010). It's the last thing we'll read in Bioethics, in April.
I was already a Powers fan, when "Generosity" came along just in time for my "Future of Life" philosophy class (Gen1, Gen2). It served our purposes well there, and I'm going to try it next semester in Bioethics. And then in Philosophy of Happiness. 

Those who like the more cerebral Powers but think this is comparatively conventional or mainstream may be missing levels of complexity that present themselves on second and third reading. My present focus, pedagogically, is on the crucial bioethical choices we'll be making in the near future that promise great or terrible consequences for what the Aussie humanist calls the future of "human nature." Powers does a great job of setting those problems & questions in motion, leaving us with a story still to be written. I'd love to see his sequel, and am even more curious to anticipate ours.

“But this is when the story is at its most desperate: when techne and sophia are still kin, when the distant climax is still ambiguous, the outcome a dead heat between salvation and ruin.”
NOTE to Bioethics students: Amazon has the paper edition for $6 & the e-book for $10. There's also a terrific audio version at

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Go for the joy

Newtown can't be undone, but we the living can still seek the joy of life. A nice counterpoint to grief and anger.

Just step away from the TV and the keyboard, from the talking heads,the endlessly looping tragedy, the spiraling finger-pointing recriminations. Breathe free.

"To experience, to engage, to endeavor, rather than to watch and to wonder — that's where the real meat of life is to be found.” Ben Saunders

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Let us eat cake

I stopped by @PresidentMcPhee's house Tuesday afternoon, with a couple of colleagues, for his annual campus holiday reception. He met us at the door and instantly remarked on what a nice conversation we had the other week, when he visited our Environmental Ethics & Action class to discuss the ACUPCC. (Let's keep pushing on that!)

And then he directed us into the parlor, where the baby grand piano was groaning under the weight of a cake designed to resemble this humble Carolina abode:
Whatcha think, Scott? Maybe next year we can persuade him to order up from Aramark an Earthship cake?

Sunday, December 9, 2012


She went to church, but disliked equally those who aired either religion or irreligion. I remember her once pressing a late well-known philosopher to write a novel instead of pursuing his attacks upon religion. The philosopher did not much like this, and dilated upon the importance of showing people the folly of much that they pretended to believe... Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh
Yes: more freethinking novels, please!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

"The Nature of Existence"

I needed a grading-break. This was amusing.

Thumbs up for Druyan, Dawkins, Shermer, Solomon, & Sweeney, and the Sikh who says we're all  "learners," atheists and humanists included. Like the film-maker, I too still just wanna get to the pancakes.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Too much stuff

The real meaning of life: finding a place for your stuff.

Later, darker, more profane and more overtly misanthropic George had less flattering things to say about our penchant for collecting and consuming stuff at malls.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Get it while you can

It was one of those Sundays when the Times was full of fun and fascinating stuff (from my delighted POV) as reflected in the "most e-mailed" list.

Happiness researcher (& former Phil of Happiness author) Sonja Lyubomirsky held the top spot with her reflections on how new love fades. Another story spotlights the trend towards ergonomic workstations. And another notes another trend, of special interest to us parents of restless High School seniors: unCollege.

And there was more: Jellyfish immortality in Japan, Thomas Jefferson's hypocrisy, @brainpicker's brilliant Maria Popova, the year's most notable books... but guess what people weren't reading, despite its prominent placement on page one?
With Carbon Dioxide Emissions at Record High, Worries on How to Slow Warming
It didn't even crack the Top 20. Meanwhile, our university president was busy again this weekend tweeting his praise for our athletic teams and staying mum about the ACUPCC.

But like so many of my fellow Times subscribers, I still enjoyed my 70-degree December weekend. That's the point, after all, isn't it? To enjoy life?

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