Archive for November, 2009

Take A Chance

Manifest Destiny

In his column yesterday, David Brooks wrote about America’s boundless verve and optimism. He wrote, “this eschatological faith in the future has motivated generations of Americans…to start up companies with an exaggerated sense of their chances of success. The faith is the molten core of the country’s dynamism.” But he goes on to write that we are experiencing a crisis of faith today.

What’s more, headlines today are saying Obama is getting rebuffed by the Chinese on everything from human rights to currency valuations. President Hu is emboldened by the fact that 86% of Chinese believe their country is on the right track, compared with 37% of Americans. And, I would have to agree that I’m skeptical that our government can address the systemic issues in our economy.

But, it would be un-American to end this post on a sour note. So, Brooks links us to an article from a year ago, before Obama was even elected, by Michael Porter in BusinessWeek titled “Why America Needs an Economic Strategy“. Even a year later, it remains a lucid assessment of where we are today and what we need to do to get back on track. I was amazed to read that the last time there was a public-private President’s Commission on Industrial Competitiveness was in 1983!

Let’s put down the Palin autobiography and get to work.

Reluctance by Robert Frost

Out through the fields and the woods
    And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view
    And looked at the world, and descended;
I have come by the highway home,
    And lo, it is ended.

The leaves are all dead on the ground,
    Save those that the oak is keeping
To ravel them one by one
    And let them go scraping and creeping
Out over the crusted snow,
    When others are sleeping.

And the dead leaves lie huddled and still,
    No longer blown hither and thither;
The last long aster is gone;
    The flowers of the witch-hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
    But the feet question ‘Whither?’

Ah, when to the heart of man
    Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
    To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
    Of a love or a season?

The Third Man… neurological defect or a glitch in The Matrix?

With only 22 hours to spare I just finished our next tome on the existence of the Third Man. Author John Geiger distills the phenomenon of sensing the presence of another being with us during times of stress or panic as not a guardian angel or religious savior but as a neurological defect that enables us to triumph over our immediate appalling situation. He further suggests that we should learn to master this feature of the brain. While interesting, I am not sure I am sold on the “science” behind the idea but I do have a few tangential ideas…

1) Check out the TED video presentation by Oliver Sacks (the neuropsychiatrist who wrote Awakenings) as he describes the lucid hallucinations of visually impaired people and the discovery of the areas of the brain the recognize teeth, facial features and cartoons. Maybe this is just biological brain stimulation and nothing more?

2) What of Will Ferrell’s character in the movie “Stranger Than Fiction” who is an IRS auditor suddenly finds himself the subject of narration only he can hear: narration that begins to affect his entire life, from his work, to his love-interest, to his death.  Maybe we are all just characters in our own book?

3) Perhaps there is a much simpler story… Maybe we are all captives of The Matrix and much like Deja Vu is an example of the The Matrix re-writing code to fix a glitch or bug… the experience of The Third Man is an example of our minds transcending The Matrix to see that we are actually part of “the system?”

Atlas Engaged

I submit for Fight Club’s consideration Anne Heller’s timely biography: Ayn Rand and the World She Made. Because, if there was ever a counterpoint for Rand’s unfettered capitalism (and by extension Alan Greenspan’s) it would seem to be our near brush with financial collapse. But, apparently the tea parties and Glenn Becks of the world have breathed new life (and book sales) into Ayn Rand. And, their bogeyman is Obama’s “socialist agenda.”

Nearly a year since Obama’s election, and in spite of two wars and a recession, Obama has embarked on an ambitious agenda of nation-building at home. What the Randian naysayers call socialism, I call getting America back on track.

It’s immoral that families go bankrupt due to illness. It is reprehensible that financiers made off with our savings and now are repossessing the very homes they talked us into. And, as Thomas Friedman has been advocating for years, we should be focusing on green technology, not only because it will help with climate change, but because it will lead to energy independence and thereby increased national security.

So, a year after much of the country came together to elect Barack Obama, we should renew our dedication to fixing what is wrong with our country. We, especially the Atlases among us, should share in the necessary sacrifices and engage in rebuilding America.



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