Monday, March 30, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
Saturday, March 21, 2009
What quantum mechanics tells us, I believe, is surprising to say the least. It tells us that the basic components of objects — the particles, electrons, quarks etc. — cannot be thought of as ‘self-existent’. The reality that they, and hence all objects, are components of is merely ‘empirical reality’.
“This reality is something that, while not a purely mind-made construct as radical idealism would have it, can be but the picture our mind forces us to form of ... Of what ? The only answer I am able to provide is that underlying this empirical reality is a mysterious, non-conceptualisable ‘ultimate reality’, not embedded in space and (presumably) not in time either.”
— Quantum physicist Bernard d’Espagnat, in the London Guardian
Friday, March 20, 2009
The commentariat, though not the bulk of the population, remains mired in an outmoded, neo-Reaganite paradigm that government must be small enough to be drowned in a bathtub, to borrow Grover Norquist’s famous phrase. It is almost a given that, with changed times, we need changed thinking. Two years ago, a friend who described his politics as “moderate,” spoke of the need for massive public works projects to get things moving again and foster better communal ties. Again, this was before the market crash. Yet, now, there is a reaction among certain circles that is deriding the plans on the table as socialistic. What is the alternative? Radical individualism and unremitting hostility to social democracy, which will atomize us further. It’s the wrong path, and we’ve been there before.
In William Leuchtenburg’s history of the pragmatic reforms of the 1930s, which thanks to revisionist historiography are now being reshaped into instruments of tyranny, we read that Franklin Roosevelt “refused to be awed by the warnings of economists and financial experts that government interference with the ‘laws’ of the economy was blasphemous. ‘We must lay hold of the fact that economic laws are not made by nature,’ the President stated. ‘They are made by human beings.’” This is no less true now than it was then. Henry Steele Commager and Richard Brandon Morris, in the introduction, write, “The character of the Republican ascendency of the twenties had been pervasively negative; the character of the New Deal was overwhelmingly positive. … Apathy, resignation, defeat, despair—these were the foes that Roosevelt routed from the scene; action, advance, confidence, hope—these were the sentiments that he inspired in his followers, the vast majority of the American people.”*
It is as if we as a society accept certain circumstances as immutable forces of nature that are beyond our control, and therefore cast attempts to remedy or reform them as wicked, for they oppose the divine will. The strategy is as foolish as it is corrupting. We need to be clear-headed and sober-sided about all of this. We need to recognize that the era of selfish acquisition and uncaring disposition toward our fellow citizens is dead and gone.
*Respectively, the quotations are from Leuchtenburg, Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, 1932-1940 (New York: Harper & Row, 1963), p. 344 and p. ix.
Monday, March 16, 2009
“The problem with American foreign policy goes beyond George Bush. It includes a Washington establishment that has gotten comfortable with the exercise of American hegemony and treats compromise as treason and negotiations as appeasement. Other countries can have no legitimate interests of their own. The only way to deal with them is by issuing a series of maximalist demands. This is not foreign policy; it’s imperial policy.”
— Fareed Zakaria
— Fareed Zakaria
Friday, March 06, 2009
Another newspaper folds. This time it is the first paper with a major readership (about 100,000) to fail. It is only a matter of time until the bigger fish start frying from hemorrhaging budgets. East Coast dailies still dominate, however, which may delay the inevitable. Where will all the reporters and editors go?
Sunday, March 01, 2009
After 150 years, the Rocky Mountain News published its last issue. The verdict, by this point, is beyond dispute: print media is going to die very soon. The New York Times could be next, sometime down the road given its recent financial difficulties, but as we said about the big investment houses it may be too big to fail. It is more likely that the Washington Post, once it is entirely digital, may be shuttered within the next decade; I want to clarify that I see no evidence for that assertion and that it is simply a dread feeling.