Archive for May 22nd, 2012
When it comes to temptations, we often fail. I’m referring to over-eating, over-drinking, procrastinating, losing one’s temper, speaking out in ignorance, and many other types of temptations–there are certainly hundreds of them. Maybe we don’t immediately fail, but eventually, when we are faced with an easy opportunities to fail, we tend to succumb. Removing the opportunity ahead of time tends to remove much of the temptation. That is why a good strategy for avoiding obesity is to avoid bringing sugary/fatty/salty food into the house in the first place. This strategy of not allowing such food into the house is much more effective than bringing junk food into the house, then trying to ignore its easy accessibility and trying to just say no.
Richard Thaler is known as the “Father of Behavioral Economics.” At Edge.org, Thaler warns that we are not better off to have more alternatives to choose from. His reason runs parallel to the reasoning of Barry Schwartz, who warned of the “paradox of choice.” According to Thaler, “there are cases when I can make myself better off by restricting my future choices and commit myself to a specific course of action.” Thaler mentions the example of Odysseus, who instructed his crew to tie him to the mast and the decision of Cortés to burn his ships upon arriving in Mexico, thus removing retreat as an option. He then offers this general principle:
Many of society’s thorniest problems, from climate change to Middle East peace could be solved if the relevant parties could only find a way to commit themselves to some future course of action.
A recent investigation by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith–according to Angela Bonavoglia of The Nation this body serves as “the modern-day vestige of the Holy Office of the Inquisition”
After giving an obligatory nod to the sisters’ good works in schools, hospitals and social service agencies, the CDF devoted the remainder of its Doctrinal Assessment to attacking the sisters for failing to provide “allegiance of mind and heart to the Magisterium of the Bishops”; focusing on the “exercise of charity” instead of lambasting lesbians, gays, and women who use birth control or have an abortion; refusing to accept the ban on women’s ordination; allowing “dialogue” on contentious subjects; and tampering with the notion of God the “Father” while promulgating other “radical feminist” theological interpretations. The CDF’s solution: send in three men, an archbishop and two other bishops, to take control of LCWR for five years.
It’s hard to think of a more effective combination of priorities to drive away thinking Catholics, and to drive away the relatively small number of nuns that remain. But then, who am I to judge the Catholics? I apparently share some of those same warped views as the nuns, especially that the primary mission of a church devoted to Jesus would be to work hard to emulate the teachings of Jesus rather than those things that were off his radar.
Serious journalism has always been a dangerous business. It continues to be dangerous now, even for folks who want to make a record of how law enforce officers are cracking down on people reporting on protestors expressing their First Amendment rights.
Tim Karr of Free Press reports:
While it’s important to take a day to recognize our right to speak and share information, threats to our First Amendment freedoms happen all the time, everywhere. It’s a threat that will become very real on the streets of Chicago this weekend as a new breed of journalists and onlookers attempt to cover the protests surrounding the NATO summit.
Just ask Carlos Miller. The photojournalist has been arrested three times. His “crime?” Attempting to photograph police actions in the U.S. Most recently, in January, Miller was filming the eviction of Occupy Wall Street activists from a park in downtown Miami.
In a twist that’s become too familiar to many, the journalist became the story as police focused their crackdown on the scrum of reporters there to cover the eviction. Miller came face to face with Officer Nancy Perez, who confiscated his camera and placed him under arrest.
Ooops. What I meant to say was that because Americans choose to text or talk while driving, Americans cause 1.2 million traffic accidents per year. Many of these accidents cause serious injuries and deaths. As the linked article states, many of these tragedies are caused by people who are yapping or texting while on-the-job for an American business.
I’m waiting to hear our politicians announce a war on cell phone use while driving–an all-out war employing check points, high tech surveillance and violations of fundamental civil liberties.
This war won’t happen, though, because these injuries, like 99% of the problems America currently faces (these things include wildly out-0f-control obesity, repealing Glass-Steagall and gutting the First Amendment) are self-inflicted. Further, our calculus for deciding public policy is mostly geared to finding an other to blame. In America, a tragedy caused by someone deemed to be an outsider is 1,000 times more “serious” than a tragedy caused by an American. The needless injuries and deaths due to cell phone use constitute Exhibit A.