Mind Games 2.0

Bloggin' 'bout science and life

Category: Personal (Page 1 of 5)

Sage Words From The Past About Political Parties

A true party-man hates and despises candour; and, in reality, there is no vice which could so effectually disqualify him for the trade of a party-man as that single virtue. The real, revered, and impartial spectator, therefore, is upon no occasion at a greater distance than amidst the violence and rage of contending parties. To them it may be said, that such a spectator scarce exists anywhere in the universe. Even to the great Judge of the universe they impute all their own prejudices, and often view that divine Being as animated by all their own vindictive and implacable passions. Of all the corrupters of moral sentiments, therefore, faction and fanaticism have always been by far the greatest.

Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments III.3.43

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A Conservative Principle to Guide Health Care Reform

For all the “conservatives” who rail against the ACA as a liberal take-over, you should go back and read your Adam Smith (remember, the guy who wrote Wealth of Nations – or more correctly An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations – the founding document of modern capitalist economic theory). His first book was The Theory of Moral Sentiments, a fascinating philosophical book that lays out the basis for what makes the Wealth of Nations work. His moral philosophy is undergirded by the Golden Rule. For example, this paragraph is from Chapter 1 of The Theory of Moral Sentiments:

And hence it is, that to feel much for others and little for ourselves, that to restrain our selfish, and to indulge our benevolent affections, constitutes the perfection of human nature; and can alone produce among mankind that harmony of sentiments and passions in which consists their whole grace and propriety. As to love our neighbour as we love ourselves is the great law of Christianity, so it is the great precept of nature to love ourselves only as we love our neighbour, or what comes to the same thing, as our neighbour is capable of loving us.

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Can A New Sense Of Country Before Party Take Hold?

Among all the political and legal noise that was created last week, I think one thing that was sorely missed was this exchange between Gov. Kasich and Sen. Sanders.  I think both of these people have identified the important problems facing our country, and I agree much more with Gov. Kasich about what the solutions to those problems might be.  However, I, more than anything, appreciate the civil and intellectual tone that both take in this discussion.  This is what we need to get back to!

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Wisdom From Martin Luther King, Jr. For These Times

On 3 December 1956, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered an address to the First Annual Institute on Non-Violence and Social Change in Montgomery, Alabama.  I read this again last week and found much that resonated in today’s world.  One section in particular speaks to politics today:

Another thing that we must do in speeding up the coming of the new age is to develop intelligent, courageous and dedicated leadership. This is one of the pressing needs of the hour. In this period of transition and growing social change, there is a dire need for leaders who are calm and yet positive; leaders who avoid the extremes of “hot-headness” and “Uncle Tomism.” The urgency of the hour calls for leaders of wise judgement and sound integrity–leaders not in love with money but in love with justice; leaders not in love with publicity, but in love with humanity; leaders who can subject their particular egos to the greatness of the cause. To paraphrase [Joshua Gilbert] Holland‘s words:

God give us leaders!
A time like this demands strong minds, great hearts,
true faith and ready hands;
Leaders whom the lust of office does not kill;
Leaders whom the spoils of life cannot buy;
Leaders who possess opinions and a will;
Leaders who have honor; leaders who will not lie;
Leaders who can stand before a demagogue and damn his treacherous
flatteries without winking!
Tall leaders, sun crowned, who live above the fog
in public duty and private thinking.

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It’s Almost Baseball Season Again!

It’s almost baseball season again!  It always makes me think of a couple of my favorite comedians – Abbott & Costello.  Their word play is dizzying.  This is an audio recording of their radio show from 12 May 1948. The entire show was about Costello preparing to take Joe DiMaggio‘s place on the New York Yankees.  This has the classic “Who’s on First” bit, but I’ve excerpted the show to begin with another classic routine “Feller Pitching?”

Enjoy!

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Where Does It Say That Evolution Does Not Happen?

I was sitting in church a couple of weeks back on Christmas Eve waiting for the service to start.  As I usually do to pass the time, I picked up the Bible (what else are you going to do in church?), and I had a revelation about what I work on – namely evolution.    

This revelation came to me in the form of a simple question.  Where in the Bible does it say that evolution does not happen?

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Valuable Advice About Editing And Teaching In General

Posted by The Baltimore Sun on Thursday, September 8, 2016

This is hugely valuable advice.  If one is to teach what students need to know, one really has to just simply do it!

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Morality and Idealism Do Matter

The opening paragraph of Theodore Roosevelt’s book American Ideals: And Other Essays, Social and Political states the following:

In his noteworthy book on National Life and Character, Mr. Pearson says: ” The countrymen of Chatham and Wellington, of Washington and Lincoln, in short the citizens of every historic state, are richer by great deeds that have formed the national character, by winged words that have passed into current speech, by the examples of lives and labors consecrated to the service of the commonwealth.” In other words, every great nation owes to the men whose lives have formed part of its greatness not merely the material effect of what they did, not merely the laws they placed upon the statute books or the victories they won over armed foes, but also the immense but indefinable moral influence produced by their deeds and words themselves upon the national character. It would be difficult to exaggerate the material effects of the careers of Washington and of Lincoln upon the United States. Without Washington we should probably never have won our independence of the British crown, and we should almost certainly have failed to become a great nation, remaining instead a cluster of jangling little communities, drifting toward the type of government prevalent in Spanish America. Without Lincoln we might perhaps have failed to keep the political unity we had won; and even if, as is possible, we had kept it, both the struggle by which it was kept and the results of this struggle would have been so different that the effect upon our national history could not have failed to be profound. Yet the nation’s debt to these men is not confined to what it owes them for its material well-being, incalculable though this debt is. Beyond the fact that we are an independent and united people, with half a continent as our heritage, lies the fact that every American is richer by the heritage of the noble deeds and noble words of Washington and of Lincoln. Each of us who reads the Gettysburg speech or the second inaugural address of the greatest American of the nineteenth century, or who studies the long campaigns and lofty statesmanship of that other American who was even greater, cannot but feel within him that lift toward things higher and nobler which can never be bestowed by the enjoyment of mere material prosperity.

This is a fantastic statement about why character, moral example, and the art of language does matter in our political leaders.

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American Society of Naturalists Presidential Address 2016

Here’s the Presidential Address I gave at the 2016 American Society of Naturalists annual meeting in Austin, Texas.

 

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Are We Really In An Economic Apocalypse?

Given that the Republican Convention speakers last week all argued that the Obama Administration has destroyed the economy, I was curious what facts might exist to support such claims. As somebody who lives his life according to the creed “Show Me The Data”, I wanted to see for myself just how bad job growth has been during the Obama Administration. ( I didn’t want to hear some business reporter who never took a math or statistics class tell me.)

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