Late Ming China & the contemporary United States

Listening to a recorded course on Chinese history* a few months ago, I was struck by how descriptions of "gridlock" in the late Ming dynasty government of China sounded much like the US government in recent years. Typically, Americans draw comparisons - apt or not - with ancient Rome, but perhaps late Ming China (which … Continue reading Late Ming China & the contemporary United States

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Earth Day 2017: Let’s stop industrial-scale burning of wood for energy

This year's Earth Day (22 April 2017) has as its theme "Environmental & Climate Literacy." In that spirit, I'd like to suggest that environmental and climate literacy require attention to the impact of industrial scale burning of forests, and the question of whether it makes sense as an investment in reducing carbon emissions. Yesterday there were articles in … Continue reading Earth Day 2017: Let’s stop industrial-scale burning of wood for energy

[LI] AI & the future of work, jobs, income & wealth

In his LinkedIn article "Why the future of work is a National emergency," Michael Spencer outlines what he sees as the threat of automation (which increasingly involves artificial intelligence - AI) for employment, and the ramifications of this in the economy. Here's an alternative view. First and most important is to disaggregate "work" on the … Continue reading [LI] AI & the future of work, jobs, income & wealth

WAWDT: USDA, animal welfare, and responses

On February 3, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) abruptly removed from its website access to inspection reports and other information on animal welfare, citing a review process. This is the kind of action about which I'm asking "Why are we doing this?" (WAWDT). At issue, according to Science, are "tens of thousands of reports … Continue reading WAWDT: USDA, animal welfare, and responses

“Security triangle” without the triangle

Having in the previous posting referenced the security triangle used in development and humanitarian work, I thought it would be worth taking another look at the concept. As I mentioned, the three elements in this model are (with brief definitions I adapted from other sources): Acceptance: Reduce the threat by fostering acceptance and positive image … Continue reading “Security triangle” without the triangle

WAWDT: The “Muslim ban” breaks the “security triangle”

Certainly the biggest "Why are we doing this?" (WAWDT) policy decision among many under the new administration so far is Executive Order (EO) 13769, titled "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States," but widely known as the "Muslim ban." (The latter term is controversial, but seems appropriate based on its perceived … Continue reading WAWDT: The “Muslim ban” breaks the “security triangle”