There’s a really fascinating talk on TED right now about the factors that make up our moral outlook, how they trap us, and what to do about it.   I think it’s definitely worth a watch for anyone who wants to change the world.


It’s a really great interview; one of the highlights of it is how Bill reacts when a third person who happens to be sitting next to them during the interview jumps in and starts asking questions too:

Young Woman: Can I ask a question?

 Of course – you’re part of the interview.

And then he goes on to very thoughtfully answer her question, which as it happens was a good one.   Given that I dissed Bill pretty heavily in my recent article, I think it’s worth listening to what he has to say—not only is he very thoughtful, but also a lot of fun.

I twittered this a while ago, but I was reviewing my twitter posts recently and it occurred to me to mention it here – an article in Wired from last month that talks very insightfully about the future of war, and what we can do about it.   From the article:

…the next generation of war — the so-called “fifth-generation” — won’t feature armies or clear ideas. It will be what U.S. Army Major Shannon Beebe, the top intel officer for Africa, calls a “vortex of violence,” a free-for-all of surprise destruction motivated more by frustration than by any coherent plans for the future.

Keep going to the end – I think the conclusion the article draws may surprise you.

Really great article on changing the world through our own interpersonal relationships.   From the article:

If you think that love is finite, think again … look at Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving—the interracial couple that pushed Loving vs. Virginia all the way to the Supreme Court—striking down the last anti-miscegenation law on the books and ushering in a new era of legally-sanctioned love across racial boundaries.

There’s a nice article in the New York Times titled The Cost of Fearing Strangers that I think is worth a read.   Bruce Schneier comments on the article by saying this:

Remember, if it’s in the news, don’t worry about it.  The very definition of news is “something that almost never happens.”  When something is so common that it’s no longer news—car crashes, domestic violence—that’s when you should worry about it.

What does this have to do with PaxPac?   Simple: when we are offered a pretext for war, it’s usually in this exact form.   We are encouraged to develop a high degree of personal fear about something that does not pose any serious risk to us.   Once we are properly afraid of this phantom, we can be convinced to go to war.   Ironically, we are asked to do something much more dangerous than the thing we fear, so as to make ourselves safe from that thing.

LRB · Henry Siegman: Israel’s Lies

Informed Comment:

Those hawks who proclaimed so loudly that Israel had no choice but to just fall upon the Gazans, and that the Palestinians of Gaza were unalterably dedicated to war-making on Israel, have fogotten a mid-December poll that showed 74% of Palestinians wanted to see the truce extended, and 51% of Israelis did. Let me just repeat that. In calling Hamas’s bluff to break off negotiations, and massively punishing Gaza civilians, the Olmert government was ignoring the majority view among Israelis and the vast majority of Palestinians who wanted a truce. Of course, once hostilities began, people rallied around their flag. But if Olmert had been forced to hold a referendum among Israelis on whether to do this horrible thing, he would have lost.

Of course, most wars begin when the majority of the people still oppose their leaders’ desire to win territory.