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After a dozen years as a market research executive, Fred Phillips was professor, dean, and vice provost at a variety of universities in the US, Europe, and South America. He is now Visiting Professor... Read More »


Our eyes see only a tiny band of the electromagnetic spectrum. Matter is mostly empty space, but we see and feel it as continuous solid. Why don't we comprehend the world as it really is? It is because evolution has prepared us to survive and reproduce. Evolution has no interest in preparing us to see the world as it is. There is no reproductive value in seeing the whole truth.

The way Chief Justice Roberts tosses red herrings, he could get a job at Seattle’s Pike Market. The court may make unpopular decisions, he says, but that’s no reason to question the Supremes’ legitimacy. He’s right, but he’s right in a way that totally misses the point.

About Taiwan

About Taiwan

Aug 06 2022 | comment(s)

“We got rich fast here,” a man in Beijing told me, “and we’re fast getting richer. Those lazy Taiwanese aren’t getting richer at all.” It is fashionable on the mainland to diss Taiwan, but – as I was too polite to inform my interlocutor – Taiwan residents have created a fine civil society and have learned to get along well with each other, tasks that are much harder than just getting rich.

The book’s reviewers offer no clue that Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future is the most important book published in this century. And it is that. Its fictional form makes climate science and climate remediation readable. It’s scary (pulling no punches about current perils and who’s responsible for them), hopeful (if we can get certain people off their asses, and get certain others to STFU), informative (with stunningly well-informed subplots on the political, science/engineering, and economic struggles ahead), and very, very long.

Lately I’ve been thinking and writing about environmental governance. Here’s a summary. It has to do with the consequences of not thinking systemically; combining top-down and bottom-up policies; technology forcing; fairness and the SDGs; and prospects of violence.

Many are the sci-fi encounters with races that have transcended their physical bodies, having moved on to dwell on some energetic or spiritual plane. The tales skip the backstories, so we wonder: Did these aliens get where they are via Darwinian evolution? Did they get disgusted with the physical world and devise a technological means of transitioning? Do their planets of origin still exist, or were they destroyed? Always in sci-fi, we are given to assume that these aliens enjoy their non-material existence and don’t miss the meat world.