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Showing posts from September, 2019

Sharpiegate

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has not had a confirmed leader since Trump took office in January 2017. Trump nominated Barry Myers, whose conflict of interest is so blatant that the government has preferred to confirm no one at all for the job.On May 1, 2019, a business columnist for the Los Angeles Times discussed the nomination of Barry Myers, the former CEO of AccuWeather and the brother of the current CEO, for head of NOAA. The conflict of interest is that "AccuWeather allegedly has tried to restrict [NOAA's public activities], largely because services provided by the National Weather Service, a NOAA agency, compete with AccuWeather’s business model of offering similar services for a price." In 2005, the Myers family asked Sen. Rick Santorum "to introduce legislation that would have barred the National Weather Service from issuing any weather forecasts that could be issued by private businesses. The Weather Service would be limited t…

Quotes: What is the effect of television on culture and on self-understanding?

Rene Dubos, writing in 1974, observed that a person living in safety can spend a lot of time watching journalistic reports of catastrophes in faraway places, yet still feel that their own life is lacking. This is because television reports may not necessarily impart a sense of gratitude that nothing terrible is happening to them; rather, the time they have wasted in front of the television has prevented anything interesting from happening to them, and this lack of interestingness is what stirs within them. But is this simultaneous lack of interestingness and lack of gratitude a fault of the television, or is it a fault of the person watching the television?Dubos wrote:In 1973, a young female college student published a book in which she presented 'a chronicle of growing old in the sixties.' On her own account, the most significant influence in her life had been that before she was twenty she had spent more than 5,000 hours watching television. She had witnessed on the screen J…

When the planet is "cognitively trapped" as "the environment"

"'Environment' is not something around and about human activities in an external sense; it is their medium," John Dewey wrote in 1949, and the "narrowing of the medium is the direct source of all unnecessary impoverishment in human living." Similarly, Vaclav Havel complained that the word "environment" suggests "that whatever is not human merely 'environs' or surrounds us and is therefore inferior to us, something we need care for only if it is in our interest to do so." He challenged us to reconsider that "the world is not divided into two types of Being, one superior and the other merely surrounding it.""Sadly, in recent decades," Calvin Luther Martin wrote in 1992, "both the earth and the concept of wildness have become cognitively trapped as "the environment" — yet another thing for Homo to conserve and preserve."One problem — call it a "spiritual" version of the problem — is …