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Distractions - Transience Divine
May 27th, 2004
12:07 am

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Distractions
It's tough to tear one's eyes from the world, which appears to have accelerated its frantic move toward hell (climate change, oil shortages, ID barrages, and an imminent draft). With Claudia away (2 weeks), my solution is to bury myself in work and reading.

I recently put together a syllabus for a course in Human Systems Dynamics, and I'm looking for feedback or additional pointers. Read the PDF and reply! A syllabus for an Artificial Intelligence Workshop is on the way.

Like one LJ friend, I recently started my first Philip K. Dick (Do Androids...?). The first few days I tried to read single chapters only between studying my other two current books: a pre-mammoths-and-angels version of The Way Things Work (I've been curious), and my Handbook of Hypnotic Suggestions and Metaphors (with which it looks like I'll be able to do about anything). Damn SciFi for being so much more engaging than the books I should be reading. I should be done by tomorrow.

Current Mood: pensivepensive

(9 comments | Leave a comment)

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From:siderea
Date:May 27th, 2004 05:19 am (UTC)
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Teehee. I've been volunteered!

It looks like a hoot, but I'm dubious about how much one can get out of many of those topics treating them so briefly.

("Practice NLP on your friends." *snrk* :)

If you do this, I definitely want your course pack!

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From:jrising
Date:May 27th, 2004 03:19 pm (UTC)
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> Teehee. I've been volunteered!

I just put you down as a Potential "remember to ask these people if they're interested after syllabus is done" Speaker.

> It looks like a hoot, but I'm dubious about how much one can get out of many of those topics treating them so briefly.

I am worried it's too much. I could easily make this a 9 or 12 unit class (3 or 4 credits, Olin-speak), but as an experimental class, I think I can start small and go for breadth rather than depth.

Besides, it's the ways of thinking that count. The topics are just excuses to talk about underlying themes. Perhaps what I need to do is clearly define what those themes are, and create a mapping of several readings to each theme.

> ("Practice NLP on your friends." *snrk* :)

Thanks for noticing! Some time, when I know how, I need to run a seminar: "Program you friends-- for fun and profit!" Or maybe "How to Win Followers and Manipulate People".
From:(Anonymous)
Date:May 28th, 2004 12:34 am (UTC)

course ideas

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Jimmy, you're course sounds really interesting, I would definitely take it. Any chance you will have the chance to actually offer it at Olin? Sounds like we have some similar things going on that we might enjoy talking about.
p.s. don't worry about the draft. Right now there is mild and falling support for a war that doesn't touch 99% of us; it is primarily a TV war as far as the average American is concerned. If they instituted a draft the war would end immediately as riots broke out everywhere on the part of parents not wanting to send their 20 year olds overseas. This from my dad, a U.S. history buff.
Jake Basson
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From:jrising
Date:May 28th, 2004 08:03 pm (UTC)

Re: course ideas

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Wow-- not someone I expected to see here. I think the odds that I'll convine Olin to let me teach one class of my own are good (75%), but I have two that I want (this and a 2 credit A.I. workshop). Plus, some profs may have made noise about teaching this kind of class already, so I might run into politics. I'd say the odds for this class are around 35%.

As for drafts and wars and other dreadful things that start with W, I fully expect a large draft and a large war in the next 10 years. In fact, it may be that a draft is the best thing for us right now. I think that we are currently headed toward civil war-- we have two cultures in America, and a mode of government bound to disenfranchise one of them. It's a classic thesis-antithesis setup. If we don't direct our energy outward, we'll direct it at each other.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:May 29th, 2004 06:31 pm (UTC)

Re: course ideas

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i'm unconvinced we're headed to civil war. our citizens are too ignorant and apathetic to stand up and fight for anything, as long as there is another season of American Idol coming up. can you elaborate on what cultures you see dividing the nation? are you talking about different economnic groups? personally i think America is made up of too many separate subgroups and microcultures with too little in common and no concept of a common enemy to ever organize and act up for a civil war. even a foreign war is something we can only semi-agree on when it has no bearing on our lives like the Iraq war. tell people to dodge their own bullets and conserve their own metal and they'll shut up and go watch Fox's latest special, 'when animals attack...magicians.' comments? Jake B
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From:jrising
Date:May 29th, 2004 07:33 pm (UTC)

Re: course ideas

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Four years ago, I would have agreed that America was composed entirely of thousands of micro-cultures. Now, I think we're coalescing into two groups: the red states (republican) and the blue states (democrat), and I think that the divide is actually a spiritual vs. secular one. Apathy is ultimately an unstable state-- it leads to a build-up of tensions both within and between people (and w.r.t. their societal situations), and the only way for that tension to be released is for everything to eventually snap.

Predicting history is next to impossible, but I think that it's clear that this decade is not like the last one. As Bob Dylan said, "The times they are a-changin'" (albeit of a different time); whatever the end result, this is probably to be one of the most interesting times in American history, and in some inconceivable way, all the reality shows and terrorist fears will fit together to make it that way. We can see all the juggling balls in the air, even if we don't know what the juggling pattern is yet.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:May 29th, 2004 11:59 pm (UTC)

Re: course ideas

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is there somewhere else you would prefer I respond? or, indeed, should I just shut up already? red states vs. blue states? yes, to a sickeningly polarized degree within the voting population, but it is vital to remember that 50% of eligible voters don't even bother to drag themselves to the presidential polls, and only close to 1/3 for the off year elections. If we can just get that nut out of the white house and stop starting wars and pissing off as many new terrorists as possible, which i hold out hope for, i think the mounting tensions can diffuse themselves naturally. pot will help...
From:olinerd
Date:May 29th, 2004 02:12 am (UTC)

Uh, at the risk of freaking you out further

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Sorry -- I keep up on the world by reading every Olin livejournal and buddy profile I can find. Though I've only found your livejournal thus far ;) Anyway, I think your course sounds really awesome. I hope you make it an independent study even if it doesn't become an official course.

As far as the war goes, we had an interesting speaker a few years ago at one of my high school's graduations, who said that history does indeed repeat itself -- and that our generation, in the great repeating scheme of things, is roughly at the same point now that the WWII generation was. Basically, the speaker's point was that we're due for a big war. Now, he did say that we'd all be uniting together, WWII style, and I don't see that here -- but perhaps in some ways, he was more right than we originally thought.

As to the draft, being the daughter of two military parents, I'm kind of a fan of compulsory civil service, Israel style. It doesn't have to be the military -- there are plenty of other public service opportunities -- but I think it would give people a better appreciation for their country. And it would make people work for the rights they so take for granted. I have become more liberal recently, and I am extremely upset with the way things are going in Iraq -- but as far as the military goes, I believe it can be a very good thing for people to deeply understand.

~Mikell
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From:jrising
Date:May 29th, 2004 05:13 am (UTC)

Re: Uh, at the risk of freaking you out further

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I'm actually very pleased that my journal is getting some action-- it just makes me want to impove the quality & quantity of my posts.

Would your speaker happen to be one of the authors of The Fourth Turning? That is one of the main theses of this book, and I think it's absolutely fascinating (and I included it in the HSD syllabus!). The question is whether we are headed toward world war or revolution.

I'll need to think more about compulsory civil service. I like aspects of it, but it seems to assume a connection between the liberties of a people and the interests of their government, which makes me very wary. I think that a better model for natural public service is something like Participatory Economics (parecon), in which everyone has a more complete, rounded role in society, simultaneously being both manager and trash collector.
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