In 1861 – 72 years after the ratification of the Constitution in 1789 – the southern states of the United States exited the American Union. In 2016 – 70 years after Winston Churchill first called for the establishment of a United States of Europe in 1946 – Great Britain exited the European Union.
Howard Nathan was reading his hologram news “paper” at breakfast (funny how archaisms survive, he thought— there hadn’t been paper newspapers for well over 50 years). It was December 2099, and the pundits had begun to pontificate about the new century. The headline “Worried Environmentalists” caught his eye; it was an article about the impending manmade Ice Age and the disappearance of the world’s deserts.
”…mathematics…ought only to give definiteness to natural philosophy, not to generate or give it birth.”  Francis Bacon
“So far as the laws of Mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain. And so far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”- -Albert Einstein, Geometry and Experience
While the postmodernist social scientist often uses the language of words to obfuscate, the postmodern ‘hard sciences’ scientist sometimes appears to use the language of mathematics to obfuscate. Mathematics is a language not a science. It is the language of science and of the known physical world. The inorganic reality of our known world can be described mathematically with eerie precision. This we know is an absolute fact. I stress ‘known world’ because we cannot know empirically that mathematics pertains for all of nature. To know this empirically, one would have to be outside of nature, to be a supernatural being, to be a supernatural God.
The following is a thought experiment: an attempt to understand the Iranian deal by way of logical speculation regarding the issues and facts as perceived by the Obama administration.
I am assuming that Obama is not a Marxist/Islamist/Kenyan, consumed by post-colonial resentment and dedicated to destroying the Constitution and the United States. Nor a Black Nationalist anti-Semite, whose most important priority regarding Iran is to screw Israel. I am assuming he is a patriotic American who desires to be a historically great President.
This is a letter to the late Christopher Hitchens, disputing his take on the historical role of the concept (not the reality) of monotheism as being utterly evil. It posits that monotheism played a vital role in the development of science, constitutionalism and social justice – that Occam’s Razor (vital to the development of both science and constitutionalism) is historically dependent on theological disputes ‘proving’ the existence of one god.
Over the past several years the Jewish custom of male circumcision, in which the foreskin of the penis is removed, has been increasingly compared to female circumcision, in which the clitoris and sometimes the labia are removed, and condemned as genital mutilation. This comparison demonstrates an abysmal ignorance of anatomy. The clitoris is analogous to the penis and the labia to the scrotum which are certainly not removed in male circumcision. The foreskin is comparable to the clitoral hood which is sometimes removed surgically in women in order to enhance sexual pleasure.
“Putin plays chess; Obama plays marbles”; “Obama makes me nostalgic for Jimmy Carter”. These are some of the pejoratives being directed at Obama by the right and even some on the left. What am I missing? OK, Obama looks wimpy next to the bare-chested horseback riding Putin, I will grant that. And given that perception is reality in today’s 24/7 media circumstance this is a serious flaw in Obama’s presidency.
The technological revolution gives us an opportunity to view questions of social justice differently. One example pertains to the handicapped. We now see them as needy unfortunates; objects of social and humanitarian concern rather than autonomous subjects capable of managing their own lives.
Energy and environment are the central issues of human civilization in the 21st century. K-12 must educate for scholarship and core skills, but also for hope, optimism and the shared values of national and societal myths. In other words the educator must walk a fine line between the radical skepticism of the critical scientific approach and a hopeful optimism without which life is not worth living. This balancing act has always been difficult – never more so than today.
Roger Howard presents plausible scenarios regarding the geopolitical dangers of peak oil. Equally plausible scenarios could envision some positive impacts, because countries dependent on natural resources are often poor and undemocratic, while countries dependent on human resources are often rich and democratic.
I came to Israel in 1967 following my two-year service in the American Army. I made a rule not to vote in American elections even though as a citizen with an honorable discharge I had every legal and moral right to do so. I thought it improper to vote for representatives and polices of a country I was not living in. In 2012 – after 45 years – I broke that rule. Why?
Pre-modern, modern and postmodern societies existing concurrently in dynamic interaction have created a global situation of cultural tension and conflict. This has resulted in clashes between modernists and anti-modernists and has become a major global change agent. All the major religions are pre-modern in origin but not all have adapted to modernity to the same extent and none have done so completely. This is concurrent with the rise of the non-Western World (Asia, Africa, Latin America) as a dominant global religious force. The unevenness of accommodating to modern life constitutes part of the religious/cultural tension within and between faith traditions. This requires constructing future visions that can unite a pluralistic civilization around common goals.
Even though there are no statistics on the economics of religion, we might reasonably assume that if we calculated the aggregate turnover and cash flow of all the religions and religious activities globally – their aggregate buying power and the goods and services they produce and consume – that we are talking about one of the biggest business sectors in the world, if not the biggest. The global economics of organized religion, New Age religiosity and various other ‘spiritual’ practices might run into the trillions of dollars.
Despite fashionable twaddle about American decline, America’s cultural influence has never been as dominant as it is now. Indeed, the 21st century promises to be the American Century to an even greater extent than the 20th. The American attitude to life – The American Idea – is now reflected in the universal aspirations of all humanity.
I am not politically correct. I do not think the death penalty is intrinsically immoral or contrary to basic human rights. I believe organized society, like individuals, has a right to self-defense and that this right is an unconditional absolute that includes the societal prerogative to deprive a human being of his or her life for particular crimes adjudicated according to due process. I am not, therefore, opposed to the death penalty in principle. I am, however, opposed to it in practice.
The 19th century was the European century; the 20th century was the American century and the 21st century could be the women’s century. This is a conclusion drawn from a combination of several factors: the nature of the global economy, the particular qualities of women and the requirements of world development.