Monday, March 14, 2011

Time for Sleep Once More

I bought a wireless keyboard / multi-touch touchpad for my old HP that I hook into the big-screen TV. It' working quite well. I set the HP up on the book shelf and set the display to only show on the TV. I also moved some of the wireless router and DSL modem devices of the edge of the couch and onto some old popcorn tins. Finally getting past these small mental weights that are really annoying me around here. If I cannot be "sustainable" in keeping my mess near 0, how can I hope to be useful elsewhere?


I finished the American Mind audio course while walking at the Chattahoochee river trail after work today. The last couple of lectures were about the dissolution of "The New Left" in the 1960s, and then about Neo-Conservatives. I found it very fascinating that emigres from Europe were heavily involved in both the acculturation of the New Left and the Neo-Conservatives. What was most interesting toward the end was the observation that the left had sort of "missed he boat" when it came to understanding the human condition, at last as it applied to US culture. Its thought leaders, building on their own understanding of Marx, built their own philosophy on "Homo Economicus", or so-to-speak, upon the belief that people were driven, primarily, by economic motivations and that they would want to see a revolution i the social structure that would give them, and society at large, a better deal compared to the power-brokers of industry and capital. However, what the Neo-Conservatives understood, and "capitalized" on when Reagan brought them fresh-faced into his administration was that  people are driven more by a larger identification with their "culture". And, part of the American self-identity is a belief in social mobility afforded to them through the existing capitalist system.

At least, that's how I recall what I heard at this moment.

There is much more about the course that fascinated me, but I'm not very skilled at pouring out detailed reviews of facts from things I've just read or listened to. You'd have to listen to it for yourself. But, let's just say that these are some of the highlights popping to mind so far:

  • The development of "Pragmatism", out of William James' and John Dewey's life and work, and how this "philosophy of practical utility" continues to this day.
  • A number of scientists, including Albert Einstein, who regretted the development of the atomic bomb. Einstein said if he had known Germany would not have succeeded, then he would never have alerted Franklin Roosevelt in 1939.
  • Apparently, some American scientists freely gave instructions to Russians after WWII about making atomic bombs, in hopes that the Russians would develop a bomb and thus force the United States to become more balanced. (Cannot remember the names of them)
    • I guess that "worked", but thankfully the Cuban Missile Crisis didn't leave the world toast.
  • The development of university science labs in the late 1800's following the models of German universities, in which corporations often provided the initial funding, and ultimately became the "breeding ground" for the labor needed to power corporations.
I need to listen again, but the lecture about Reinhold Niebuhr was very fascinating. See


Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr (pronounced /ˈraɪnhoʊld ˈniːbʊər/; June 21, 1892 – June 1, 1971) was an American theologian and commentator on public affairs. Starting as a leftist minister in the 1920s indebted to theological liberalism, he shifted to the new Neo-Orthodox theology in the 1930s, explaining how the sin of pride created evil in the world. He attacked utopianism as useless for dealing with reality, writing in The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness (1944):

"Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary."

His realism deepened after 1945 and led him to support American efforts to confront Soviet communism around the world. A powerful speaker and lucid author,[vague] he was the most influential religious leader of the 1940s and 1950s in American public affairs.[citation needed] Niebuhr battled with the religious liberals over what he called their naïve views of sin and the optimism of the Social Gospel, and battled with the religious conservatives over what he viewed as their naïve view of Scripture and their narrow definition of "true religion."

Some time ago, Speaking of Faith had an episode called "Obama's Theologian", about him. Here it is:

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