What Are Universities For?

Stefan Collini, professor of Intellectual History and English Literature at Cambridge offers some considerations in his 2012 book of the same title. His erudite, yet conversational style made for a quick and enjoyable, yet thought provoking read. The last third of the book are previously written essays in response to major reports emanating from efforts …

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Wise Souls

I have been privileged to meet many fine folks over my 65 years. Fame doesn’t necessarily wear well on all who achieve some level of it. Which is why many of those I put in this category of fine folks would include the not so famous who are close friends. But while I was sustainability …

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Dangerous Love

The newest (October 2014) issue of The Sun arrived late last week in my mailbox (October issue is not available online as of the time I write this. As of this morning I’ve read most all of it. Since resubscribing after many years of absence I have found it to be ‘soul building’ food. The …

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The Politics of Peace

Satish Kumar’s title – Soil, Soul, Society – could hardly be more sparse; yet it represents, he says, a “distillation” of his own lifetime’s thinking and that of his heroes – and the three small words are all we really need to put the world to rights. For our aim should be – should it …

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Higher Education and Rising Inequality

In an intriguing article last month on Huffington Post, Harry Boyte, director of the Center for Democracy and Citizenship at Augsburg College and a Senior Fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs,   talks about how the norms of higher education have shifted. In noting a recent report Unseen Disadvantage, Boyte …

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Another Arrow Hits the Bullseye

As is my destiny I suppose, I stumbled into another book (ok, four books last week, and another three yesterday) that I am now two-thirds through. Pete Lunn, a neurocientist, BBC journalist, turned economist wrote Basic Instincts: Human Nature and the New Economics, which is as one reviewer notes: “A trained neuroscientist, Lunn came to …

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Candidates, Elections and Citizens

As we approach the fall elections to many positions in our communities and state there arises a little more interest in politics, even as most of us decry the increasing partisanship. My thoughts wander a lot these days as I am simultaneously a candidate, a supporter of other candidates, and a citizen concerned with the …

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Gaza, Ukraine and Possibility

distressed by the recent violence in Gaza, we tried to offer something to address the killing, injury, destruction, and chaos that has been going on between Hamas and the Israeli military in recent weeks. We drafted a statement on the siege of Gaza which we put on our website, sent out to local media and …

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Citizenship Goes Global

My day was split between talking to a social forum at a local church this morning about sustainability, climate change and divestment; an afternoon around other candidates for office in Michigan from the Green Party; and this evening after dinner I’ve been catching up on some websites that I used to frequent. One is PelicanWeb …

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Higher Ed Behind Close Doors

The Detroit Free Press has sued the University of Michigan over the closed meetings it holds regularly. Our local paper’s coverage of that story indicated that MSU is similarly culpable of this violation, claiming “Michigan State University’s Board of Trustees also regularly meets in what amounts to private sessions.” For democracy to fulfill it’s ideal, …

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On the Cheap

Michael Carolan’s Cheaponomics: The High Cost of Low Prices shines some desperately needed sunlight on the current neoliberal hegemony over our economic system. Carolan, who writes with aplomb supported by a lengthy recitation of research unmasks the hidden costs of 21st century capitalism. . Carolan unmasks what he frequently refers to as socialism of the …

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Financing the Green Economy

I must have missed the NPR and local press coverage of the inaugural UN Environment Assembly held last week in Nairobi, Kenya. The five day conference of more than 1,000 attendees representing 163 member states including 113 ministers was blacked out so that we could focus more on the World Cup, baseball, and other more …

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Power of Imagination

The trip to the MSU Libraries new book shelf earlier this week brought me in contact with five titles that escorted me home. I picked up a new book from Mary Midgley, a 94 year old British moral philosopher, Are You an Illusion? “Midgley argues powerfully and persuasively that the rich variety of our imaginative life cannot …

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Our Fixation on Measurement

To measure the unmeasurable is absurd and constitutes but an elaborate method of moving   from preconceived notions to foregone conclusions. The logical absurdity, however, is not the greatest fault of the undertaking: what is worse, and destructive of civilization, is the pretence that everything has a price or, in other words, that money is the …

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Politics and Climate Change

Scientific evidence that climate change is real and raising havoc with our collective lives has been steadily mounting. This is all the more clear given recent reports emanating from many quarters, including the International Panel on Climate Change,   the National Climate Assessment, and   the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, on the impending …

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Turning Concepts into Policy

I’ve pontificated before about the growing income and wealth inequality. At times I have offered approaches to address it including the raising the minimum wage, establishing and enforcing a living wage and establishing a maximum wage ratio. The latter have primarily been adopted by companies or organizations Ben and Jerry’s in it’s heyday when Ben …

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Power and a Response to It

Indeed the loan [$3billion] was approved by the [Obama} administration just four days before the president delivered his address to the December 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. “As the world’s largest economy and the world’s second largest emitter, America bears our share of responsibility in addressing climate change,” Obama said then. “That …

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Thinking Big

If your life’s work can be accomplished in your lifetime, you’re not thinking big enough. (Wes Jackson) This quote from a recent white paper by Barrett Brown, The Future of Leadership for Conscious Capitalism, resonated deeply as I read it yesterday. Perhaps as a result of my own formal retirement from the pursuit of paychecks …

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Hoarding

Hoard – To keep for one’s self. (Websters Third Collegiate Dictionary) I have been searching for the correct word, and perhaps this isn’t quite it, to describe the attribute of the rich amongst us. Whether it be Bill Gates, the Walton Family, Justin Verlander or George Clooney, those that amass fortunes are essentially hoarding what …

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Earth Day and Divestment

I sense a pulse of momentum finally detectable in the information vortex regarding divestment from fossil fuels. Just in the past two weeks we have the following announcements:  Desmond Tutu’s call for divestment      British Medical Journal’s editorial calling for divestment Building on its recent update of the physical science of global warming,1 the …

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Expand the Us to Include the Them

The title of this blog comes from the closing chapter of Douglas Fry’s recent opus, War, Peace and Human Nature. This crucial sentiment is captured magnificently in this short video from the Cleveland Clinic, that me beloved wife shared with me this week, after she viewed it as part of some volunteer training she received. …

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The Killing Must Stop

“As we put out resources and energy into war we lose out in other areas: education, parks, vacations, retirements. We have the best military, and the best prisons, but trail far behind in everything from schools to healthcare to internet and phone systems.” (p.105) So reads, War No More: The Case for Abolition by David …

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The Great Unraveling and an Antidote

(CNN) — When Congressman Paul Ryan opined recently that there was a “real culture problem” in poor communities, “in our inner cities in particular,” and that this culture was behind some of the country’s economic troubles, he didn’t realize how half right he was. People are continuing to debate fiercely what Ryan said and whether …

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If For No Other Reason

Maybe it was the recent mailing that shows Where Your Income Tax Money Really Goes, or maybe it was a the gift of a little book, War No More: The Case for Abolition at last week’s Peace Education Center board meeting, or maybe it was reading a short piece on the Israeli prime minister’s recent …

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Choosing Our Future

Well the verbal battle for the vision of our future has been launched with the media focusing on two visions – President Obama’s and the House Republican’s (Ryan Budget) through their budget proposals. As is usually the case, a third approach from the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s, remains ignored. Well for the most part it does. …

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Something Happening Here

So goes the start of a well known Buffalo Springfield song at the height of the Vietnam War. I had started another blog earlier today and let it settle before going back to edit. Looks like it will have to set a little longer as I read or viewed several powerful presentations today that I …

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What Can We Afford?

We stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we …

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Thinking About a New Economy

There aren’t too many people globally, well at least the 1 per cent, who are satisfied with the current economy. I had written in a blog last fall about differing approaches to what I was putting under the umbrella of the New Economy with links to at least 15 differing ideas of possible new economy. …

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Big Time Sports the Circus of Our Time

 Big time sports has become the ‘bread and circuses’ of our time. ‘Bread and Circuses’ was a phrase originating in Roman times by Juvenal who saw Roman citizens becoming concerned only with those two issues in life. The circuses referred to were games held to entertain the public, including gladiators and chariot races. Wikipedia suggests, …

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Citizens Income

The State of Alaska has been sending a check annually to every Alaskan resident. They don’t have to do anything but live there, no strings attached. Similarly some economists have called for either a Basic Income, Universal Guaranteed Income or sometimes what  is called a Citizens Income. Even Richard Nixon once proposed an across the …

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Fossil Fuel Investment, the Tip of the Iceberg

While college students are pressuring many of their schools to divest from holdings in fossil fuel companies, there are collaborating efforts being launched by institutional investors by assessing the entire portfolio’s carbon intensity, not simply fossil fuel holdings.. Companies that perform those assessments, TruCost, Bloomberg, and yes, even Bank of America – Merrill Lynch are …

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Campaign for Real Farming

“I know that many will be gnashing their teeth at this point, if they can bear to have read this far; and quite correctly.” So writes Colin Tudge, a biologist and science writer, in his must read Good Food For Everyone Forever towards the end of chapter two, which is quaintly entitled , “Why Should …

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The Movement Evolves

Possibilitator has authored a couple brief blogs “The False God of Profit” and “Evolution in Investing” on the divestment from fossil fuel companies in the past few months. Such movements, like any grassroots popular uprising are usually smugly discarded by the powers that be. This was true of the 40 hour work week, the end …

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