Saturday, December 15, 2007

Catching Up

As I said, my file is full of articles illustrating lighted change. This first go-around will empty that file this weekend and may prove to be quite a marathon. Maybe even enlightening. You judge. Many of these articles highlighted are here not only for what they say, but that they were news at all. Remember, we are trend watchers and plan to carry on for many years. . .
  • The Wall Street Journal has been running advertisements for the University of Virginia Darden School of Business entitled "The Darden Perspective in First Person" written by professors at the school apparently. The ads are in prominent places in the newspaper and are about surprisingly enlightened subjects, particularly for a business school. Obviously, the years of unethical business behavior have had an impact at the collegiate level. Note this one by Saras D. Sarasvathy, Associate Professor of Business Administration, "Why Can't I Buy Shares of Human Hope?" (12-11-07, p. A21.) She asks the question "Why can't I buy futures contracts in Rwandan prosperity? Or options in environmental conservation in Brazil: Or equity in the emancipation of Afghan women?" Ms. Sarasvathy concludes, "People are learning that there is calls in human hope and asking more and more questions about ways we might all benefit from the eradication of human misery. The answers to these questions will certainly require more struggle. But the struggle is worthy of all our creative efforts. . ."
  • You might think I'm stuck on advertisements--and in a way, I am. They provide a window into how we think and what we are thinking about--and what we want to spend money selling. Surprisingly, a full page ad entitled "Let's Redefine Christmas" recently ran in the WSJ, 12-4-07, p. A5. "If you feel that the gift giving season has become a burden and too commercial...if you wish your gifts were more personal and meaningful...if you would rather spend quality time with family and friends rather than in stories shopping for can redefine Christmas this year." The ad then goes on to list alternative holiday ideas and concludes "If you'd like some helpful hints on how to redefine Christmas, please go to REDEFINE-CHRISTMAS.ORG" and "The sole purpose of this message is to facilitate charitable giving. Please pass it on."
  • And here's another ad from Time magazine last week "Diversify Globally. New Online Global Trading in 6 different markets in local currencies" from The six markets are Canada, US, UK, Germany, France, Japan and Hong Kong. What effect will globalization of the trading markets have on the worldwide economy? We will watch as this trend unfolds at whatever level of knowledge and expertise we have on the topic.
  • Biofuels are another hot topic and most likely a wave of the future. However, ethical considerations have already come into play in this young market: WSJ 12-12-07, "Royal Dutch Shell will fund a project that aims to produce transport fuel from algae, as biofuel production from crops is increasingly criticized for causing deforestation and higher food prices." "Higher oil prices in recent years have improved the economics of alternative fuels...Shell is also motivated by government mandates in the US and Europe..." A question for the Observer, does motive make a difference as to whether something is enlightened or not?
  • "If aliens are out there, how should Earthlings go about getting in touch with them?" was the first line in an article "Scientists Debate Protocol for Reaching Out to Aliens" WSJ, 12-12-07. It goes on to say "A dispute erupted recently among the scientists over an effort to draft the protocol. . .several scientists resigned in protest." Two things are worthy of note, first that this topic was highlighted in a mainstream newspaper. And second, that we would not be past fighting (unenlightened) when discussing such an evolved topic. Let's say the aliens in question were watching this dispute, what might they think about it? One never knows, but could be aliens are not "out there" but rather right here in another dimension able to tune into our goings-on. Given the contentious nature of these scientists wanting to reach them, the aliens might decide not to engage at this time.
  • Remember when we had never heard of Doha? This tiny country of 750,000 is now hotly pursuing the 2016 Olympics. Thing is, Qatar's native population is only 20% of the total and most services would have to be outsourced internationally. That would be a first, but it might be rather enlightened for the Olympics Committee to consider a Mideast, Muslim country for this athletic spectacle.
  • In the US freedom is taken for granted, so much so that we often turn a blind eye to those who still put their life on the line for it. Arthur Mutambara is one of these freedom fighters, and he does it working from the Zimbabwean Parliament. John Fund of the WSJ interviewed Mr Mutambara (12-8-07, p. A11:) "As Mr. Mutambara prepares to pack to fly home to Zimbabwe, I ask him about his own safety. Doesn't he worry about what the regime could do to him? He says he would if he weren't convinced the leaders are 'both moral and physical cowards' who are unsure of what might happen if prominent opposition leaders such as himself are killed. It is also a relief to know his wife and children are in South Africa while he is on the front line. But he recognizes the risks he faces every time he returns. 'After all it was your Founding Fathers who said give me liberty or give me death, he says flashing a smile. 'I plan to gain the first, but I know I have to risk the second to get it.' "
  • "A United Arab Emirates-based project called Kalima ('word' in Arabic)has announced plans to translate hundreds of foreign books into Arabic and distribute them throughout the Middle East. The venture, which has official government backing was inspired by a United Nations' report that pointed out that more books are translated into Spanish each year than were translated into Arabic in the past 1,000 years...You can see a list of Kalima's first 100 titles at the project's website, Kalima's list of books is multicultural by design, since its purpose is to give Arabs access to the widest possible range of information about the world beyond their borders" says Terry Teachout of the WSJ. Mr Teachout wonders out loud what the Arabs might take from this glimpse.
  • "In a Shift, White House Seeks Direct Engagement" with North Korea. Jay Solomon says, "The White House said that President Bush sent a letter directly to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il seeking cooperation in implementing a pact to dismantle its nuclear arms in exchange for full normalized relations. The move is the latest example of how the White House has reversed itself on numerous foreign policy fronts" (WSJ, 12-7-07, p. A9.) Many say it's about time, but don't you wonder why now?
  • Vinzenz Brinkman is an extraordinary visionary. When everyone else saw white classical statues and thought nothing of it, Mr. Brinkman saw something else. The Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard Campus, is currently hosting a show called "Gods in Color." "The prime mover behind the show is. . .the German archaeologist who has spent the past two decades investigating polychromy--literally the use of many colors--in Greek and Roman sculptures. 'Without color,' Mr Brinkman said in a recent visit to Harvard, 'you can't understand ancient figures at all.' He went on to say, 'The emotional response of viewers here is as intense as it has been everywhere else. The new view of antiquity upsets some people. Unconsciously, they register the message that images lie. Artists through the ages have been working hard to achieve just that. The aesthetic ideal of the Greeks was mimesis: the imitation of life. and it was color that brought their statues to life.'" (WSJ, 12-4-07, p. D4.) Now that is enlightening.
  • And last but not least for today, "Green Projects Generate Splits in Activists Groups" (WSJ, 12-13-07, p. B1.) This argument is between the wind turbine groups and the trout stream groups. So, now we know, even the greenies fight. But, it's enlightened that this is mainstream news and that we can watch how it unfolds.

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