Monday, April 25, 2011

Random thoughts on an Easter Monday

1. What if Bush and Cheney were right? What if America's invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq have catalyzed the current explosion of democratic (or at least anti-autocratic) mass movements across the Arab world? That's almost as scary to liberals, I know, as the notion that Ronald Regan, Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul brought down the Evil Empire in the 1980s.

2. At the barber shop on Good Friday, waiting behind a long line of other old codgers trying to look good (or at least better) on Easter Sunday, I read a piece in Philadelphia Magazine, which asks "just how stupid are our kids." The author admitted that her high-school-age son isn't too clear on the days of the week, or much else, apparently. She also noted that his AP literature course watched movies instead of reading the actual books, e.g., "The Great Gatsby." But a group of Ed faculty at Penn, whom she interviewed said, "Not to worry. The kids know what they need to know." This reminded me of a military pilot of some seniority, who recently asserted in a meeting I attended, that the young pilots are better at flying the new jet fighters, thanks to all the video game time they've logged. Still, it's hard for me to adjust. Yesterday, in mid conversation (I thought I was being so interesting), my nephew suddenly tuned me out to respond to a text. One minute I was in his world, the next I didn't exist. He never noticed me get up and go to the kitchen for more food.

3. Is the globalized human community settling into a new equilibrium? Our kids are coming out of college and going to work for Wal-Marta and the Gap. Legal work, CPA work, medical work is being outsourced to professionals in India and elsewhere. There is a reverse diaspora of Indian professionals, educated in the US, who return home, where for half their US salaries they can live so much better than here. Meanwhile, the same companies that pay so poorly, such as Wal-Mart, also sell everything for less, so that a sort of invisible deflation may be occurring.

4. In a film, "Leaves of Grass,"
a rabbi said to Edward Norton, "We are animals with brains that trick us into thinking we're not." We may be at a distinct disadvantage vis a vis the any and the bee. These species are comprised of billions of tiny brains that combine into a collective consciousness that acts for the good of the whole. We are billions of big brains that act individually with the result that the collective outcome is beyond the control of even our largest organizations, e.g., the US, the UN, and even Wal-Mart. E.G., billions of individual/couple's decision to have babies result in 200,000 more humans on the planet every day. Billions of decisions on how to live combine to cause global warming. We live with the illusion that we are in control, when in fact we are slaves to our collective consequences.

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