Index for 2007

159: The Decline of War, by Loren Cobb

"Looking back on the escalating horrors of twentieth century warfare and the advances in nuclear and biological weapons, one can hardly avoid wondering whether the art and practice of modern warfare is heading for some unimaginable apocalypse of terror, death, and destruction. It still might, if our existing methods of conflict resolution fail in a critical moment. Yet current anthropological thought has recently come to a startlingly different conclusion..." [30 Nov 07]

158: The Causes of Global Warming, by Loren Cobb

"This is a brief note on how to evaluate the causes of global warming, without the assistance of super-computers running advanced three-dimensional geophysical models of atmospheric and oceanic dynamics. The latter style of modeling has provoked quite a substantial controversy around the world, as it is based on methods that are nearly impossible for ordinary citizens to use and evaluate. Instead of joining this rhetorical debate, my goal in this essay is to show a simple way to evaluate the major hypothetical causes of global warming..." [24 Sept 07]

157: Corruption in America, by Loren Cobb

"Not a week goes by, it seems, without yet another revelation of corruption or cronyism and incompetence within the leadership and executive strata of these once-great United States. Each case is cause for dismay and anger, of course, but recent revelations coming out of the Department of Justice are of a different order entirely. It appears that the very ability of the American system of justice to detect, prosecute, and punish political corruption has been compromised..." [27 May 07]

156: Speaking Truth to Trauma, by Loren Cobb

"Persistent news reports of rapes, torture, and war atrocities perpetrated by American soldiers in Iraq continue to bring us enormous pain and sadness. The facts and rumors filtering out of Iraq are sickening, but I believe there is an alternative to yet another round of blame and guilt, of angry defense and deadpan denial. It concerns trauma. This is a very personal letter, on a matter with which I have too much experience..." [5 Apr 07]

155: The History and Future of World Energy, by Loren Cobb

"The media these days are flooded with stories about energy: hybrid cars, renewable energy, peak oil, fossil fuels and global warming, progress in wind power, biofuels, population pressures... it goes on and on. Unfortunately, no story that I have yet seen places all of these dramatic changes in historical perspective. This letter attempts to fill this gap..." [27 Mar 07]

154: Male Dominance in Bolivia, by Jack Powelson

"In Bolivia of 1960, the man was head of the household. The dominant male was also the head of the business firm, which was inevitably small. Oh yes, there were rich people in Bolivia, but rarely would they risk their money on a larger business, and anyone who was "lower class" could not possibly have good ideas (in the opinion of the upper class). Only big foreign companies would invest in larger businesses. Thus Bolivian industry rarely grew. In 1960 I had been an advisor to the monetary stabilization board, which consisted of all the cabinet. It met regularly with President Victor Paz Estenssoro. President Paz was the boss, and the whole cabinet knew it..." [3 Mar 07]

153: Goodbye to Economic Man: Meditations on Behavioral Economics, by William Rhoads

"In traditional economic theory, "economic man" is a unified self with definite coherent preferences, who maximizes his utility by using complete information to make rational choices. The more choices he is allowed to make, the higher his utility. In religion, the individual is a conflicted self who tries to maintain self-control and not to yield to temptation, usually with the help of a higher power. He has at least a dual self — two selves with different preferences. He seeks to maximize his utility by making a commitment to rule out choices that could mean giving in to temptation, and to accept choices only if they are part of a disciplined long-run commitment to a religious life..." [27 Jan 07]

152: A World Without Authority, by Jack Powelson

"... There's nothing wrong with 'living in the present,' except that I believe we should also take account of the future and guess where our present policies, once put into effect, might lead us. Most Friends try to resolve problems (e.g., war in Iraq, health care, etc.) by passing laws; those who disobey would be punished. Instead, I would like to create individuals who rely not on the government but on themselves to handle similar, but not identical, problems five hundred years from now....." [4 Jan 07]

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