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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Mass Shootings in the U.S.: Why Are Americans So Angry?

Even though the United States account for less than 5% of the world’s population, 31% of the total number of mass killings worldwide between 1966 and 2012 occurred there.[1] I contend that a rise in passive aggression and the related intolerance accounts for much of the difference. In other words, it could be that Americans generally are getting nastier and more angry at each other.

The full essay is at “Mass Shootings in the U.S.



[1] Stan Ziv, “Study: Mass Shootings ‘Exceptionally American Problem’,” Newsweek, August 23, 2015.

Is God the Father Marginalized in Christianity?

The name of Jesus (or Christ) is common on Christian lips. “Jesus saves” is a typical expression, whereas expressions highlighting the Father or the kingdom of God are much less frequent, and explicit references to the Holy Spirit (or Ghost) are essentially missing. As the three manifestations, or “persons,” of the Trinity are consubstantial (i.e., of the same substance), the hypertrophy (i.e., maximizing one part of a system) is worthy of investigation. This is not to say that equal attention to all three is optimal; Jesus himself says in the Gospels that he came to preach the mysteries of his Father’s kingdom. This statement implies that followers of Christ should focus most on the Father and his kingdom. That this is not the case suggests that historical and contemporary Christianity has missed the point. This should hardly be surprising, for throughout the Gospel of Mark, strangers get Jesus’ point whereas the disciples tend to miss it.


The full essay is at “Is God the Father Marginalized?

Jesus is clearly the focus at this church. (Maliz Ong)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Migrants Overwhelming Europe: Unfairness Impeding the E.U.

More than 100,000 migrants, many of them refugees from conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, entered Hungary from January to August 2015, the vast majority en route to the more affluent northwestern E.U. states. A record 50,000, many of them Syrians, reached Greece by boat from Turkey in July alone. Meanwhile, Hungary was building a fence along the state’s border with Serbia, where 8,000 migrants were staying in parks, to keep more migrants from entering.[1] I contend that the disproportionate power of the state governments relative to that of the federal government accounts in part for the difficulty that the E.U. has faced in coming to grips with the tremendous influx. This case suggests why redressing the imbalance in the federal system has been plagued with difficulty.

The complete essay is at “Migrants Overwhelming Europe.” 


Police disperse migrants at a registration place in Kos, Greece. Should the E.U. leave it to the state governments to handle the crisis? (Yorgos Karahalis/AP)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

American Consumers Using Gas-Savings to Reduce Debt: Frugality or Responsibility?

The steep drop in the price of oil in July 2015 was a concern for traders. Drillers and other energy companies comprise a significant portion of the S&P 500 index. “The upside to falling oil is that all the money that drivers are saving at the gas pump should mean more spending by them at stores — and a faster-growing U.S. economy. But Americans are choosing to pay off debt instead of going shopping.”[1] Is this a bad thing? In reckoning it as such, Wall Street analysts are missing the big picture, even financially.

The full essay is at “Wall Street Defining American Society.”

Gas at a station in January 2015 (ABC News)




[1] Bernard Condon and Ken Sweet, “Why Stocks Are Tumbling 6 Years into the Bull Market,” The Associated Press, August 23, 2015.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Humans As the Intense Predator: Unbalancing the Food-Chain Unsustainably

By 2015, humans—the homo sapiens species in particular—had become “the dominant predator across many systems”; that is to say, the species had become an unsustainable "super predator."[1] We have had a huge impact on food webs and ecosystems around the globe.[2] Moreover, we have been using more of the planet's resources than we should. By August 2015, for example, humans had already consumed the year's worth of the world's resources.[3] In terms of fossil fuels, the consumption has had an impact on the warming of the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans. Behind human consumption are human beings, so the astonishing increase in human population is a major factor. As a virus-like species incredibly successful genetically over the previous five-hundred years, the self-maximizing feature both in terms of population ecology and profit-maximization may be the seed of the species destruction, and thus long-term genetic failure.

The full essay is at “The Intense Predator.”
We are fishing fish out of existence. (James Watt: Getty Images)


1 Chris Darimont et al, “The Unique Ecology of Human Predators,” Science, Vol. 349, no. 6250, pp. 858-860.
2 Ibid.
3 Jonathan Amos, “Humans Are ‘Unique Super-Predator’,” BBC News, August 20, 2005.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

On the Pretentiousness of Senior Water Rights in California

California water regulators proposed a record $1.5 million fine on July 21, 2015 against the Byron Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The agency claimed that the district had defied cutbacks that the California Water Resources Control Board had ordered by diverting water from June 13 through June 25. The complaint said that Byron Bethany had consumed an estimated 2,056 acre-feet of water[1] in spite of the fact that the agency had imposed a 25 percent mandatory cutback in urban water use and cuts to major agricultural interests.[2] I contend not only that the district’s board put the interest of a part ahead of the good of the whole (i.e., the common good), but also that the board did so out of a sense of entitlement based on the sheer longevity of the water rights in the district.

The full essay is at “Pretentiousness of Water Rights.” 




[1] An acre-foot is the amount of water that would cover a square acre up to a foot high.
[2] Adam Nagourney, “California Farm District Accused of Diverting Water,” The New York Times, July 21, 2015.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Koko the Gorilla Meets Mr. Rogers

Koko, a western lowland gorilla held in captivity, learned over 1,000 signs from American Sign Language, and achieved a "sophisticated understanding" of spoken English by the age of 44.[1] Research has uncovered, moreover, that "gorillas may be capable of complex vocal behavior that defies previous beliefs about their communicative abilities."[2] In other words, the species is able to have a spoken language. Even though humans branched off from chimpanzees rather than gorillas 7 million years ago (our own species, homo sapiens, began 1.8 million years ago), the findings are hardly surprising; after all, whales and dolphins communicate by making distinct sounds. Even so, the prospect of being able to carry on a "conversation" with a member of another species is astounding. Gorillas like Koko might one day be able to tell us what it is like to be a gorilla. Ironically, we might learn more about our own species in the process. 

Koko teaching Mr. Rogers the sign for love.

The full essay is at "Koko the Gorilla."



1. Carolyn Gregoire, "Apes May Be Much Closer to Human Speech Than We Realized," The Huffington Post, August 15, 2015.
2. Ibid.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Educating Kids in American Schools: Early-Morning Zombies Subject to the Status Quo

It is natural to assume that the people in the business of educating children are highly committed to the dissemination of knowledge. That many school-administrators would stand by, and even enable the continuance of practices that compromise learning is difficult to believe; that fallacious reasoning would be used could only be reckoned as highly bizarre, and oxymoronic. Yet all this applies to dragging kids to school before their bodies have woken up.


The complete essay is at “Educating Kids in American Schools.”

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Analysis of Inferences and Assumptions: A Homework Assignment for “We the People”

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both strongly believed that the continued viability of a republic depends on an educated and virtuous citizenry. Public education and even the practice of some of the professional schools (e.g., medicine and law) since at least the early twentieth century to require a degree in another school (e.g. Liberal Arts and Sciences) before being admitted to the undergraduate program (i.e., the M.D. and J.D. or LLB, respectively). This lateral move is unique to the U.S.; entering medical and law students in the E.U. need not already have a college degree. I submit that the Founding Fathers’ firm political belief in the importance of an educated electorate concerns the value of not only having a broad array of knowledge, but also reason being able to assess its own inferences, or assumptions; for inferences, or leaps of reason, go into political judgments. Ultimately, voters make judgements, whether concerning the worthiness of candidates on a ballot, their policies, or proposals on a referendum. To the extent that subjecting assumptions to the “stress test” of reasoning is not a salient part of secondary education, an electorate is likely to make sub-optimal judgements, resulting in suboptimal elected officials, public policies, and laws.


The full essay is at “A Homework Assignment for ‘We the People’.” 

Friday, August 7, 2015

An Ex-CEO on U.S. Presidential Leadership: Dissecting Ted Turner’s Pessimistic Stance

The founder of CNN and TNT, two American television networks, Ted Turner maintains that presidential leadership at the federal level is elusive. More particularly, the American electorate’s task is very, very difficult because the federal president must be an expert in so many areas. Ironically, Turner may be overlooking how upper-echelons leadership differs from leadership within organizations, including the U.S. Government.


The full essay is at “Presidential Leadership.”

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Natural Wealth Model of the Modern Corporation: A Basis for Sustainable Organization

Going to the Humanities to construct a sustainable organization based on ecological theory, this essay presents a theory of the firm that is at odds with the profit-maximization premise. I draw on the notion of the natural wealth of the Golden Age as depicted by such ancient Western poets as Ovid and Hesiod—who assumed such wealth to be devoid of greed—as a basis for sustainable organization from ecological theory to produce an alternative theory of the firm.



Coal Industry Challenges Lower Carbon-Emission Targets: Human Nature on Full Display

With heat-waves underway and glaciers melting, climate-change was undeniable in the summer of 2015. Human nature itself was on full display. It was almost as if the human race could not summon itself into action even as the hardships of a warming world were a foregone conclusion. 

                               Penguins face receding ice and rising waters. (Natacha Pisarenko of AP)

The full essay is at "Coal Industry Challenges Lower Carbon-Emission Targets."

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Political Contributions in the U.S.: Political Bribery Beyond Access

What exactly does a large political contribution do for a contributor? The standard line is that access is “bought.” Being far removed from the Washington “belt-way,” the American people have swallowed the line, admittedly naively. As of 2015, we can look at the proverbial “man behind the curtain” for a much more realistic grasp of the extent to which the American political system is corrupt.

The full essay is at "Political Bribery"

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Apple’s CEO Manufactures a Human Right

People with disabilities represented 19% of the U.S. population in 2015—exactly 25 years after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became a federal law.[1] With computer technology being by then integral to daily life, the matter of accessibility came to the fore under the normative principle of equal, or universal, access. With major tech companies getting behind this banner, one question is whether they did so simply to sell more computers and software—better access translating into more customers. I contend that the stronger the normative claim being made, the greater the exploitation of the underlying conflict of interest.

The full essay is at “Apple’s CEO.”



[1]IOD Report Finds Significant Health Disparities for People with Disabilities,” Institute on Disability/UCED, August 25, 2011.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Management: Helping vs. Controlling

I submit that subordinates typically view managers as having control issues—by which I mean that managers tend to be obsessed with maintaining control. The pathology because really bad when the manager would rather have a project fail than give up control. Lest it be thought that management as control is intrinsic to managerial capitalism, an alternative approach proffers a way out.


The full essay is at “Management: Helping vs. Controlling.”