Author: Crissie Brown

Morning Feature: Revealing Our Bippies – TV Ads (Meta-Monday)

Despite factual accounts to the contrary, there was no “Ask Ms. Crissie” Morning Feature yesterday because the resident faculty and staff of Blogistan Polytechnic Institute did more than spend the weekend drowning their sorrows researching our motto of Magis vinum, magis verum (“More wine, more truth”).  They were huddled around the hot tub faculty lounge, discussing and voting on the annual BPI Bippy Awards.  Today we’ll reveal the results for TV advertisements.  The other Bippies will be revealed over the coming days. Revealing Our Bippies – TV Ads For over 12 decades years hours, the Bippy Awards have held a unique place in our culture: they are awards given by an institution that doesn’t exist for things that didn’t happen.  You can’t get more Zen than that. But before we get to the festivities, let’s first thank last week’s guest lecturers.  Last Tuesday, our Professor of Jurinursinfosystology, FarWestGirl, offered the first of her two-part series: Religiosity + Politics = Holy War.  She will conclude the series in tomorrow’s Morning Feature.  And yesterday, our Professor of Ecoinsaninsuroscamology, winterbanyan, stepped into the breach with I Fired My Health Insurance.  If you missed either, please give them a read. Note: We have no guest lecturers scheduled for next week (September 1-2).  If you have ideas you’d like to share, please volunteer in a comment below! Last year the Bippies were awarded in...

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Morning Feature: Mass Transit – Our Lives and Footprints

Like most progressives I know, I favor mass transit.  A state of the art mass transit system brings people together in ways that, to me at least, are far better than the hyper-individualized car culture common in many parts of the U.S.  Instead of “racing to the next red light,” we’re “all on the same train.”  Plus it’s greener right? Well, it can be, but new research shows that mass transit is not automatically greener.  Like most things in life, the truth is a bit more complicated. But if your intrepid Kossologist can sort out the complexities of your holiday weekend based on a peek at a handful of stars in an overcast nighttime sky, we can easily simplify mass transit.  Or not. Mass Transit – Our Lives and Footprints Note: Thanks to organizing efforts by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse and Land of Enchantment, and with support by Meteor Blades, this is DK GreenRoots week, with diarists and series asked to look at environmental issues.  Here at Morning Feature, we’re both privileged and pleased to join in that effort.  Yesterday we looked at the plight and promise of the grey wolf.  Today and tomorrow we’ll explore the carbon footprint of mass transportation.  A list of recent and upcoming GreenRoots diaries, and an invitation to join the DK GreenRoots campaign, are at the end of today’s diary. I’ve long argued...

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Morning Feature: Some Necessary Neologisms

Color me radical, but I want to change the language a bit.  Fortunately, English is a good language in which to have that impulse, because we’ve been changing it pretty much non-stop ever since its emergence.  English is not a language guarded by an academy that decides which words are legitimate.  The good side is that it’s among the world’s most robust and subtle languages.  The bad side is it’s among the world’s most difficult to learn. As I like making my life more robust, subtle, and difficult – and because I’d rather laugh than yell – I’ll offer a few necessary neologisms to describe the fracts of modern political life.  And yes, “fract” is one of them…. More below the fold…. Some Necessary Neologisms Back in the 1980s, when dinosaurs still roamed the earth and there was one big continent, HBO had a series Not Necessarily the News.  Rich Hall was among the stars, and he coined the term sniglet to refer to a word that doesn’t appear in the dictionary, but should.  But like dinosaurs and the SPD-Green coalition government of Gerhard Schröder, that program went adstinct.  And we feel its loss, if not the loss of the dinosaurs or Herr Schröder.  So in the interest of Jurassic discourse, we take up Hall’s mantle and offer some necessary neologisms for our age: adstinct (ad-STINKT) – n. A...

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Morning Feature: Moral Equations, Game Theory, and Human Struggle (Non-Cynical Saturday)

To read some of the research, you’d think humans should have gone extinct long ago.  To read cynics, or the news, you’d think we’re likely to go extinct within a generation of two.  Certainly we’ve done and continue to do some horrific things, as ongoing wars, genocides, and even single events like the murder of Dr. George Tiller illustrate.  Is there any hope for us to progress as a species? I suppose that depends on how you define progress.  If you mean resolving our differences and living truly beneficent lives, probably not.  But if you mean struggling with our problems and not letting them swamp our potential, our biology and history suggest there’s cause for hope. Moral Equations, Game Theory, and Human Struggle Morning Feature began this week by suggesting the murderer of Dr. George Tiller failed in his jihad, his moral struggle.  That failure happened long before he walked into Dr. Tiller’s church and pulled the trigger.  The failure of jihad happened when he stopped struggling with the difficult moral questions posed by abortion and decided he’d found a Right Answer for which he was willing to kill an unarmed human being. The killer rationalized that murder as acceptable, in part, because he didn’t see himself and Dr. Tiller as members of the same group.  For the rest of the week, we explored psychologist Jonathan Haidt’s research on...

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Morning Feature: Moral Equations and Othering (plus Kossascopes)

This week we’ve been exploring psychologist Jonathan Haidt’s research on moral thinking.  In another current diary, csquared asks a question based on experiences with his/her family: “Why are otherwise caring people racist/homophobic?”  Haidt’s research suggests that group identity and loyalty play a role in moral reasoning, and many people have different rules for Us and Other.  But how do we decide who is Us and who is Other? Moral Equations and Othering This week Morning Feature has explored Jonathan Haidt’s research on moral reasoning.  Haidt posits five basic moral principles: (1) Avoid harm and care for others; (2) Fairness and reciprocity; (3) Group identity and loyalty; (4) Obedience to authority; and, (5) Personal purity.  His research suggests that people who identify themselves as progressives tend to weight the first two principles more highly than the rest, while people who identify as conservatives weigh all five principles about equally. On Wednesday I offered those differences in terms of moral equations, to explore why many progressives often find it so frustrating to discuss morality with conservatives.  Put simply, we can agree on the facts, apply those facts logically, and still reach different moral decisions because we’re plugging those facts into different equations.  Because conservatives value group identity and loyalty as a cardinal virtue – while progressives don’t – then all other things being equal, conservatives see no moral dilemma in: “It’s...

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