Blog 116. Understanding the social angst

There’s an angst in American society that has no single focus, no single cause.  Why do the political right and the political left promote simplistic, unrealistic solutions?  Because the system itself promotes those who promote the problems. Continue reading

Blog 110. Climate in one picture

The present temperature is not the key index to predicting the future climate any more than the current temperature in a cold room tells how warm it will be if you add insulation to the walls.  It’s knowing the insulation that’s important for prediction. Below is a drawing that explains earth’s energy budget—as affected by the insulation of the atmosphere— in one glance. Continue reading

Blog 103. Are we terrorizing ourselves?

There’s a social science of terrorism.  Science News magazine* devoted a special article to the research of anthropologist Scott Atran** of the University of Michigan.  Atran has been on the battlefields of ISIS, Continue reading

Blog 99. Why can’t I make a difference?

As best I can tell, satisfaction comes from accomplishing something we regard as useful and meaningful.  That seems to be true, whether you are a scientist, entrepreneur, gardener, or Mafia hit man.  Most of us want to make a difference.  We want to believe we’ve altered something for what we regard as the better.  To assert our importance, we erect large monuments in graveyards Continue reading

Blog 95. Gentrification by Zen?

The term “Zen” suggests a process that is easy, masterful, and calming—something most of us are eager to experience. (1)  And “gentrification” sounds like a gentle transformation of a pig sty into a pastoral abode.  However, urban “gentrification” means conversion of decaying inner city housing into a “higher and best use,” Continue reading