Saturday, December 22, 2007

Concordia University adds "Escaping the progress trap" to course material

Dr. Sheila Mason, professor of Virtue Ethics, Feminist Ethics and Environmental Ethics with Concordia University's philosophy department has included portions of "Escaping the progress trap" in the Environmental Ethics course for January 2008. Comments Dr. Mason, "The two chapters that I would like to use are Excuses, Excuses, and Nurturing Genius. These fit in well as I like to use Damasio and Ledoux to make the point about emotion, which fits very well with Virtue Theory - the basis of this course...The writing is very beautiful: clear and measured."
Download the presentation "Excuses, Excuses"

Friday, May 25, 2007

Al Gore and real value in Human Resources

“There is a big shift in the business community around the world toward a greater appreciation for the fact that the short-term, quarterly report point of view misses a lot, and if a company is going to be profitable and productive on a sustained basis that means looking at some of the factors that don’t always show up on the balance sheet...If the only way we recognize what’s valuable and profitable is the price tag, then the things that don’t come equipped with price tags can begin to look like they’re not valuable...But the attitude of the employees and their loyalty and feeling about the company has a direct impact on turnover, re training costs, labour productivity, the amount of creative effort" said Al Gore at the 2007 Top Employer Summit in Toronto. - Canadian HR Reporter - April 9, 2007

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Climate Change 2007: Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

excerpt from Working Group II Contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Fourth Assessment Report, Summary for Policymakers: "Sustainable development can reduce vulnerability to climate change by enhancing adaptive capacity and increasing resilience. At present, however, few plans for promoting sustainability have explicitly included either adapting to climate change impacts, or promoting adaptive capacity. [20.3]
   On the other hand, it is very likely that climate change can slow the pace of progress toward sustainable development either directly through increased exposure to adverse impact or indirectly through erosion of the capacity to adapt." Summary for Policymakers available from IPCC site

The Cage, according to Adam Curtis

Adam Curtis, in his BBC documentary, The Trap concludes the first episode with this very succinct summary of the problem with technocracy: "As this program has shown, the idea of freedom that had now become dominant in the west was deeply rooted in the suspicion and paranoia of the cold war...this idea spread to take over politics itself because it seemed to offer a new and better alternative to democracy. What it actually leads to is rigidity, corruption, and a dramatic rise in inequality; we will come to believe that we really are the strange and isolated beings that the cold war scientists had invented to make their models work. This bleak vision, far from liberating us, will become our cage.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Nobel prize-winner changes beautiful mind

"There's overdependence on rationality, that is my enlightenment"
- John Nash 2007, in The Trap (episode 2), a BBC documentary by Adam Curtis.

John F. Nash, 1928 - 2015


Adam Curtis: And in mathematics, the man who had created the equations that lay behind the simplified model of society was also expressing doubts about the assumptions on which his work had been based. He was the mathematician John Nash. Nash, who has now recovered from paranoid schizophrenia and still works at Princeton, has come to believe that the purely rational, calculating creatures in his model, what he calls 'the human as businessman' have little connection with the complexity of real human beings.
John Nash: I have had some trouble myself on the psychological level, I have been in mental hospitals so I have .. I may be developing a pattern of.. rationally, I realise that what I had said may have sometime overemphasized rationality, or some type of thinking. I don't want to overemphasize rational thinking on the part of humans. Human beings are much more complicated... the human being as a business model. Human behaviour is not entirely motivated by the self-interest of each human.
Adam Curtis: The underlying assumption of game theory is that it is -
John Nash: Game theory works in terms of self-interest, but it was like - some game theory could be unsound, but there is over-dependence on rationality - that is my enlightenment.

BBC | The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom? | The Lonely Robot | Episode 2

2007 - 59 min.
Director: Adam Curtis

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Think the unthinkable

"The cost to move one small village of 300 people ranges from $130m (£66m) to a high of $200m (£102m), even if the distance is a few miles, because moving means reconstructing entire water, electrical, road, airport and/or barge landing infrastructure, as well as schools and clinics." from Patricia Cochran, BBC news online, Jan 4 2007
  Patricia Cochran is executive director of the Alaska Native Science Commission, and chairwoman of the Inuit Circumpolar Council. She is discussing the effect of storms, high waves, erosion and loss of permafrost on Arctic communities. She points out that Alaskan Native Elders are advising their people to adapt, and that this means re-learning how to gather information from the changing environment. "Even science is recognising the value of ancestral knowledge passed on to later generations of natives," Cochran comments, adding "There is a reason native people have been able to survive for centuries in the harshest of conditions, in the strangest of times; it is because of our resilience and our adaptability."

Friday, March 30, 2007

younger generation will live shorter lives ???

"It has been said that obesity outranks both smoking and drinking now in its effects on health and health costs," said committee chair Rob Merrifield, a Conservative MP for the Alberta riding of Yellowhead. "For the first time in recorded history, today's younger generation will live shorter lives than their parents. Yet parents, and this is, I believe, the most alarming statistic that we found, do not recognize the problem." from news online on Tuesday, March 27, 2007 Less food and more excercise are obvious ideas for avoiding this, but what will encourage kids to sacrifice that pleasure? What will inspire them to find energetic activities? Why are the parents not learning? And so on...