LIFE VS. LIVING – WHICH IS THE BEST PATH TO DEATH?

A number of years ago, my dad and I joined a few friends up in Alaska for salmon fishing. Salmon are amazing creatures. Born in river streams, they swim out to the ocean for several years and then come back to the very same river to spawn a new generation. They enter the river shiny and beautiful, lay or inseminate eggs, and then they begin to die. They become disfigured, their colors change and they literally rot to the bone.  One of my new-to-salmon-fishing friends looked at this with horror and asked our guide what was wrong with the fish.  Our guide chuckled and said, “There is absolutely nothing wrong with them.  They have lived their lives and now having produced another generation and they are dying. There is nothing ‘wrong’ with them.” (more…)

STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS

If you’ve ever spent some time navigating the pages of Brain Pickings – one of the most stimulating collections of cultural pieces out there today – you’ve likely gathered that its theme is creativity. The people behind this site believe that creativity isn’t a supernatural force, but rather a combinatorial force, or a combination of new ideas with pre-existing ones. (more…)

THE RESOLUTION TO VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES AND MINORS: WHAT WOULD SUPERMAN DO?

The U.S. Supreme Court vetoed a California law that bans violent video game sales to minors last week. The decision, though to many it may seem obvious in one direction or another, was a difficult one to come by. Undeniably strong arguments were made on all points of the spectrum, with unusual pairings of justices who you do not often see siding with each other.  This leads me to believe that this issue is something that cannot be adequately regulated by law and law alone: a legal ban on violent content to minors is a very simple resolution to a very complex issue. And, generally speaking, a quick fix to a complex issue is not a good fix. (more…)

NAKED CIVICS TERMINOLOGY

When it comes to new concepts like civic design, where we align interests for common good outcomes rather than meet adversarially in capitols alone, it’s helpful to use and understand a certain set of terminology. New ways of thinking require new ways of describing those thoughts, right? (more…)

THE EQUATION ONLY STEVE JOBS SEEMS TO GRASP

I recently stumbled upon a great article in The Atlantic about GM’s inability to make a product specifically for the consumer. That is, a product with every gadget the consumer would want without worrying about cost-efficiency. The article is called “Why GM Couldn’t Be Apple, According to a Former GM Exec,” and I think it’s spot-on.

It’s an insider’s view of the cookie cutter vehicle industry and the yearning for decent models, but more importantly, cost-efficient materials. Why have real Italian leather when we could have vinyl? and the like. The author, Alexis Madrigal, compares GM – a company that once upon a time had to be bailed out by the government – to Apple. (more…)

IS YOUR COMMUTE KILLING YOU?

Studies and articles galore articulate that commuting to and from work is detrimental to one’s health.  The common commuter claim that their “trips are killing them” are actually not exaggerations, according to this article in Slate by Annie Lowrey. Stress, a shortage of sleep, physical discomfort during the commute, and lack of exercise are just a few of the contributing factors that lead to this finding. The article also highlights a study in which Swedish researchers found that if one partner commutes 45 minutes or more to work, the couple is 40 percent likelier to get divorced. As if health problems wasn’t enough. (more…)

URBAN CRIME ON THE DECLINE

According to this article in The Atlantic, crime in America’s urban areas has dropped to the lowest it’s been in 40 years. My initial thought is that in an economy that’s hurting as much as ours, crime and violence would skyrocket. So why is it that now, of all times, crime rate is so low? I personally think it’s the culmination of proactive, forward thinkers and the efforts of urban communities. (more…)