On Neophilia

“My mind’s distracted and confused..” for some reason that snippet of Simon and Garfunkel popped into my head this evening as I sat down to write. I’ve obviously been making an effort to get back into blogging more consistently and seriously over the past few weeks. And I’ve done well. I’ve changed my blogging process as well. I’m currently collecting snippets of ideas and partial drafts inside of Ecto on my computer.

Habits and Writing

Two summers ago I took a writing class at the Loft writing center in Minneapolis. The class was called ‘The Writing Habit’ and taught by Roseanne Bane. The main thrust of the class was to work on writing as a habit, something that you do regularly, day in and day out. The same sentiment was expressed by Jane Yolen at Wiscon this year when she said, “a writer writes.” The advice to do it, and do it consistently, is one of the main themes I’ve heard from writer’s offering advice to other wannabe writers.

Finding the Roots of Violence

Part of the joy of the blogosphere is finding connections to ideas that I was previously unaware of. Today’s discovery was the writing Arthur Silber has been doing about suicide, child rearing, morality, father figures, psychoanalysis, and more. The inspiration for this latest bit of writing was the recent suicide by prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Via Avedon Carol at the Sideshow. At first I was unsurprised that prisoners who are being held without the hope of a trial would choose to take their life.

Is it Possible to Change a Person's Mind?

One of the recurring questions raised around the Democratic political campaign is whether it is possible to change another person’s mind? Arnold Kling was so outraged by a quote from Eli Pariser “Changing people’s minds is overrated, most of the people in this country are with us, and it’s a matter of getting them active and getting them informed.” (taken from Politics of the Web: Meet, Greet, Segregate, Meet Again; by Amy Harmon, New York Times) that he decided to pen an entire column at TechCentralStation: The Downfall of the Anointed.

Why do we laugh?

At this evening’s Socrates’ Cafe we discussed a question I raised: Why do we laugh? As a preface I started things off by asking whether humor is a biological/chemical response and if humor is a universal experience that crosses cultural boundaries. We all seemed to agree that there was a biological and chemical basis for laughter. Animals sometimes seem to have a sense of humor. There is a feeling of euphoria caused by laughter.

A minor tiff reveals a vital point: or the internet does it strange work again

I’m so far from actually being invited to the Friends of O’Reilly camp that occurred over the weekend that the discussion it engenders seems to be miles removed, but out of it comes a very perceptive comment from Danny O’Brien about the different registers in which online discussion takes place. The problem here is one (ironically) of register. In the real world, we have conversations in public, in private, and in secret.

Beyond Selfishness

Via McGee’s Musings who got it from OL Daily comes this interesting paper “Beyond Selfishness” in contemporary culture. The authors Henry Mintzberg, Robert Simmons, and Kunal Basu are business professors from McGill, Harvard, and Templeton College, respectively. The essay describes and responds to some of the common beliefs adopted and promoted over the past decade. A tight little model - we call it a syndrome of selfishness - has taken hold of our corporations and our societies, as well as our minds.