Bad Thoughts What makes us

Bad Thoughts
What makes us think that we’re all immune from the ravages of history. When 100 million people died between 1901 and 2000, I wonder how we position ourselves historically. The past fifty years have not only been times of incredible economic growth but of the growth of peace in the West. Now that we’re all talking about nuclear terror (see 5/28/2002 post), it makes one think that we could be entering the full stage of history once again. India and Pakistan, I hope, will prove us all wrong.
I heard an interesting post on NPR the other day — with the fall of national governments over the past twenty years or so has also come a precipitous rise in two organizational constructs — multinational companies and terrorist organizations. In both cases, they are often state-sponsored and in both cases they work according to internal machinery that impacts external communities and the lives of many individuals. In fact, I’m sure that terrorists like those in Al Quaeda have studied the organizational structure of companies whose reach, in both communications and markets, is global.
It’s also likely that, because of our return to history’s fold(s), we are all moving past the lines of “individualism” that has marked our lives and our behavior for the past 20 years. In other words, we have joined a cause whether we wished or not.
These thougths were had over a discussion with my friend M, who was here for dinner tonight with my wife and daughter. We also spoke about the likelihood of the next terrorist attack here in NYC (and/or WDC) and about the great unwritten story — how many people are leaving NYC (and/or WDC) out of fear, panic, or plain old anxiety. Surely the New York Times, full of Real Estate advertisements and classified advertising, won’t be covering this story. And who would have the data — probably Bloomberg (the mayor and the machinery) and likely a lot of other companies — Visa, Banks, and Realtors.

That time again I haven't

That time again
I haven’t posted interesting links in a while, perhaps because I’ve been busy trying to make my own links interesting. But here are a few that are must-seebies. (Shoot, I just posted something to this without publishing and now it’s gone when I hit the Forward button.) BTW, I’m still horrified by the recent article about nuclear terror in the Sunday New York Times. Note that this link may expire in two weeks time.
Glurge: a collection of spiritual and otherwise odd emails sent around the planet
A discorama of NYC bloggers
What is this? Did Brad feel like he has to support the Taliban because they are the underdogs?

On the New York City

On the New York City Company of Friends list, Lisa Hendrickson, a client and colleague of mine, posted this. It was in reference t someone trying to figure out their personal conflict of interest. I liked it:
Here’s my opinion on the subject:
So many people wait for the “right” time to do something or the “right”
circumstances or whatever it is that has it be “right.” I think it
isn’t a question of what’s “right” rather it is in making the commitment
to live your dream. Making the commitment, a real commitment means that
you’re willing to go through whatever it is that you will go through to
live your dreams. To live a life that is rich and rewarding by living
through your dreams takes courage. It takes bravery. It takes
singlemindedness and a self-confidence that you can do whatever it is
that you put your mind, heart and soul into. Often times, people around
you don’t understand what you’re doing or why, and in the face of
people’s lack of understanding you must have the strength and courage to do what calls you. I believe doing your dream isn’t a question of
timing but one of commitment. When are you going to start living the
life you’ve dreamed of?

Stephen Jay Gould He died

Stephen Jay Gould
He died yesterday at the ripe age of 60. I met him a few times and was always astounded by his wit, his ferocity, and his knowledge of baseball. Alas, he’s gone, a kind of dinosaur himself. This is from a Salon piece about him, by Scott Rosenberg:
“Woven through much of Gould’s writing, and at the heart of his new ‘Full House,’ is an insistent demand that we ‘cash out’ the deepest implications of Darwin’s insights — and begin to comprehend that our species, far from being the pinnacle of some inevitable trend in nature toward greater complexity, is simply a tiny accident occurring on a minor side-branch of the evolutionary tree.”
He’s one of those people, like, say, Henry James, for whom I can’t say I liked his books but I admired his brawn.

I had the good fortune

I had the good fortune of taking a walk with my friend Mary in Prospect Park today. Mary is an excellent painter and we got on the subject of the art profession. I asked the question, “Where exactly does the desire for success reside?” It’s a question that I myself could not completely answer, or answer well. Is it internally based or social scripted? Is it a part of the evolutionary mechanism or a spark of divinity in each of us? Is it Oprah-istic magik or the most profound element of human civilization?
I don’t have an answer but I do know that success resides differently for artists from what I can tell. It doesn’t just sit and grow. It matures, it snakes away, it devolves, and then it flourishes. Success is a many-headed monster for artists, unlike say, for doctors, cowboys, and educators. It’s not cool to talk about success, especially in the year 2002 but now I’m risking sounding like Andy Rooney.

The Web My intuition about

The Web
My intuition about the Web has always been that it best approximates how we do our deepest, most relevant thinking. Others, like Kurzweil, may agree. My hope is that the Web will stay out of our control (in the way that Maciej Toporowicz speaks about and against control) so that we can ensure that beauty surfaces and the unknown continues to haunt us.
Of course, beauty and the sublime are not everything, nor can they be. But I still argue that the Web privileges everything that could be right with the world, offering us continuity, communication, communion, and connectedness. The word “mean,” after all, stems from the Old High German meinen meaning “to have in mind.” It’s perhaps what G-d had “in mind” in creating an evolutionary brain.

A number of interesting online

A number of interesting online contests have come my way in the past few days. Mostly, I’m interested in this one, the 5k Competition, which, as rich media continues to take over the high bandwidth Web, is an increasingly fascinating exercise in nostalgia, complex high-tech, design simplicity and code efficiency. Here is their ASCII ad that I received via email. Formatting is now, appropriately, off.