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June 30, 2008

The Goddess of Wisdom Visits the Pentagon

Pentagon.jpgMinerva, the Greek goddess of wisdom - and it should be hastily added of warriors as well - is coming to the Pentagon in the form of a new initiative aimed at getting academicians to weigh in on various security issues.  In a recent New York Times article, Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, would like to have his department fund research projects in the humanities much like it currently does in the sciences and engineering.

In its [ed - the Minerva Project] written call for proposals, the department said Minerva was seeking scholars who can, for example, translate original documents, including those captured in Iraq... The department is also looking for computational models that could illuminate how groups make what seem to be irrational decisions, and decipher the way the brain processes social and cultural norms. [emphasis added]

The project, focused as it is on issues of "soft power", is not without its critics.  Some see inherent conflicts of interests if the Defense Department is the organizations tasked with approval such RFPs, rather than the National Science Foundation, while others see this as an opportunity for historians, anthropologists and other social scientists to join the national conversation on security.

June 17, 2008

Is 350 The Magic Number?


Seems so. That's the number of parts per million of CO2 that the planet can seem to handle reasonably safely. We are not there. We are somewhere above that number. The higher we go, the more stress on the planet - more global warming, more Al Gore movies, more apocalyptic scenes from the bible...

Seriously, there is a site that is dedicated to educating the population and creating pressure on thought leaders around the world to bring that number down. Bill McKibben and his colleagues are serious people with the hard data of science and the soft power of persuasion backing them up.

Take a look HERE at 350.org. Help get that number down.