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Linda Nowakowski (230)



Posted to: Linda Nowakowski (230) by Linda Nowakowski (230), Tue, 21 Jul 2009 06:56:57 PDT
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I am coming to hate writing.

I have written the first 3 chapters of my thesis 3 times and am now working on the fourth. (First Gulu, second looking at a purely theoretical paper on faith and economics, third on looking at faith based organizations-Asoke,Amish and BALLE)

This time I am only looking at BALLE and looking at the three levels of structure - the national network, the local network and the individual entrepreneurs - and how they individually and corporately embed their values into their business organization and culture. I believe I have completed most of the library work now - whew. It has been a joy beyond imagining being able to access current literature and books but I am tired. I have read some 30 plus books and scores of journal articles in the less than 60 days I have been back. The systems nature of their values and goals makes it difficult to focus in on how to look at and measure their efficacy.

One and a half chapters down and one and and a half to go. Then it is looking like I will be needing to spend some more time in the Denver area.

Back to work. .

By Christina Jordan (269), Tue, 21 Jul 2009 23:43:51 PDT
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I was wondering earlier today to myself about whether you are missing Thailand or not.

30 books + in 60 days - whew, I can imagine you are tired! Sounds to me like a good moment to get out somewhere for some fresh air. I find personally that when I am thinking too much or trying to process alot of information, that taking a break to get out and see or experience something completely new and unrelated usually helps to clarify my thoughts.

Hope the thesis sticks this time.

By John Powers (139), Wed, 16 Sep 2009 12:30:05 PDT
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Hello Linda, I hope your writing is going along apace. I was looking for which thread it is that I pollute with my random links, several to choose from, but I suppose I'll just put a few links here. The link that prompted looking over your threads comes from Chris Blattman's blog today Psychology of poverty and temptation. Here's the link to the 46 page PDF.

I know somewhere I've bloviated at length about Paul Krugman's recent piece in the NYT Magazine How Did Economists Get It So Wrong? I don't remember where exactly and whether or not I yammered about it with you. But if you've not read the piece, it is worth your time IMHO.

In one post here at Ned I think I shocked people by talking about anti-capitalism. I've never worked out any consistent ideology or signed onto any particular bandwagon. Slavoj Zizek has interesting and sometimes infuriating things to say. I know that Harper's Web site is gated, but there's an excerpt from Zizek's forthcoming book, "First as Tragedy, Then as Farce" in the October issue. The essay deals with the financial bailout of financial houses and the unexpected overlapping of the left's views and conservative Republicans about it. Anyhow, wanted to copy a bit of the essay for you--clearly you don't have to read it.

There is a real possibility that the primary victim of the ongoing crisis will not be capitalism but the left itself, in so far as its inability to offer a viable global alternative was again made visible to everyone. It was the left that was effectively caught out, as if recent events were staged with a calculated risk in order to demonstrate that , even at a time of shattering crisis, there is no viable alternative to capitalism. Immanuel Kant countered the conservative motto "Don't think, obey!" not with the injunction "Don't obey, think!" but rather "Obey, but think!" When we are transfixed by something like the bailout, we should bear in mind that since it is actually a form of blackmail, we must resist the populist temptation to act out our anger and thus wound ourselves. Instead of such impotent acting-out, we should control our fury and transform it into an icy determination to think--to think things through in a really radical way, and to ask what kind of society renders such blackmail possible.

From a different political orientation there's James Kunstler. I try not to use the "F" word in my online writing, but there's plenty of serious online writing where the word pops up. Kunstler has written often as if his hair's on fire, but it seems to me his writing of late is mellower. This change is a bit disquieting to me actually. Many writers write from the perspective of the collapse of industrial civilization, in comparison Kunstler comes off as an optimist. Consider this bit from his Monday post:

I would hasten to cut through the fog of despair to reassert -- for the thousandth time -- that a true American perestroika is possible, if the public could overcome the plague of cognitive dissonance sweeping the land and form a consensus for action that comports with reality's agenda. But that is looking less and less likely. Instead, what we see is a rush into delusion, seasoned with grievance and gall.

Later in the piece he outlines the sort of restructuring he feels is necessary. What troubles me so is that it seems so reasonable, but Kunstler is viewed as such a crank. Anyway, let me copy a bit of it, I think it's not so far from your views:

American perestroika really boils down to this: we have to rescale the activities of daily life to a level consistent with the mandates of the future, especially the ones having to do with available energy and capital. We have to dismantle things that have no future and rebuild things that will allow daily life to function. We have to say goodbye to big box shopping and rebuild Main Street. More people will be needed to work in farming and fewer in tourism, public relations, gambling, and party planning. We have to make some basic useful products in this country again. We have to systematically decommission suburbia and reactivate our small towns and small cities. We have to prepare for the contraction of our large cities. We have to let the sun set on Happy Motoring and rebuild our trains, transit systems, harbors, and inland waterways. We have to reorganize schooling at a much more modest level. We have to close down most of the overseas military bases we're operating and conclude our wars in Asia. Mostly, we have to recover a national sense of common purpose and common decency. There is obviously a lot of work to do in the list above, which could translate into paychecks and careers -- but not if we direct all our resources into propping up the failing structures of yesterday.

Mindfulness has always seemed to have a particular connotation in Buddhism, and I've not always followed the ways you've talked about mindfulness. But if there's a link between these links I've presented, I think it probably has to do with mindfulness. "Obey, but think!" is doubly hard. Radical means "to the root" but most people take a pretty superficial glance at radicals. How much harder it is then to know that we all must think and get to the root. A very scary proposition.

I think one of your greatest gifts is courage. I believe that the work you are doing can encourage in a way that rough and tumble radicals are not able to.

By John Powers (139), Wed, 23 Sep 2009 14:01:41 PDT
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Clearly you're busy so I hope you don't take links I put here as more stuff for you to do. My intention really is just to lay some markers down, just notes about my thinking in re your work.

I do enjoy reading 3Quarks Daily daily. Today there were several articles which caught my attention. The first on economist Hyman Minsky Why Capitalism Fails:

if there’s anything to be drawn from Minsky’s collected work, it’s that perfection, like stability and equilibrium, are mirages. Minsky did not share his profession’s quaint belief that everything could be reduced to a tidy model, or a pat theory. His was a kind of existential economics: capitalism, like life itself, is difficult, even tragic. “There is no simple answer to the problems of our capitalism,” wrote Minsky. “There is no solution that can be transformed into a catchy phrase and carried on banners.”

The second an essay Science, Pseudoscience and Bollocks. I'm not sure I buy the argument in the essay of what science is: "Specifically, it was the sort of accurate, systematic, demonstrative knowledge that traditional folk-wisdom often lacked." But I like the essay because at 3Quarks there's quite a bit of the New Atheism particularly from biologists which often seems to me to miss the fundamental intellectual challenges inherent in life science. So it's nice to see some push back.

Finally Is Psychology Science? addresses one of those fundamental challenges:

It remains true, however, that a human study such as psychology is not a science in the same sense as physics, because whatever it shares with the scientific method, it also receives essential support from the methods of hermeneutics. Faced with communications, we need to establish the background, likely knowledge and personal motives of the communicator.

That caution seems to me to go doubly for the field of economics.

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