Complexity – Part I

Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned this year is to better recognize and appreciate complexity. We, as humans, love nothing more than to simplify things, to create simple black and white dichotomies, to attempt to find simple answers for complex problems. It’s only natural, but it is terribly dangerous. My aim is to create a series on complexity to examine this phenomenon a bit more closely. In Part I, I will look at the recent death of Osama bin Laden, and specifically, the reaction to the news in America. I believe the popular reaction is incredibly revealing in ways that most of us fail to recognize.

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Scotland Days 2 and 3: St. Andrews and other stuff

Scotland Days 2 and 3: St. Andrews and other stuff

As we were driving into St. Andrews along the winding and hilly roads, I had a weird sensation of finally visiting, for the very first time, a place I had known all my life.  A place I had grown up with.  One of my favorite yearly rituals, from when I was a kid up until just a couple years ago, was waking up at 5 a.m. (or earlier) for four days in July to watch the British Open golf tournament on TV.  Every year I was transported from my house in Titusville, or on a couple occasions I can remember my grandmother’s house in North Carolina, to Scotland…the old country…a magical land of rain- and windswept hills and golf with picturesque little towns along the sea.  Of course, the Old Course at St. Andrews was the crown jewel.  The unquestioned holy land of golf and the most familiar because the Open tended to visit every 5 years.  I knew practically every hole.  The double greens, the Swilken Bridge on the 18th fairway, the indomitable Road Hole 17th, the Road Hole Bunker, the Valley of Sin…all the history.  

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Ireland: Day 3 (Cliffs of Moher and Ashford Castle)

Ireland: Day 3 (Cliffs of Moher and Ashford Castle)

Getting out on the open road in a foreign country can be very liberating...for the driver at least.  For the passenger...it's merely hours of torture with frequent flinching, seat grabbing, and frantic air braking.  Both Michelle and I experienced both roles today in our road trip from Enniskerry, on the east coast of Ireland, to Ashford Castle, on the west coast of Ireland, by way of Limerick, the Cliffs of Moher, and Galway.

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Don't wanna be an American Idiot, na na na...na...na na na na na na!

AI.jpg

So yeah...tonight was a pretty good night.  American Idiot on Broadway...with Billie Joe Armstrong as St. Jimmy...my beautiful wife by my side...life doesn't get much better!  And then...Billie Joe goes and takes his shirt off in his final, masterful scene...how good is that?  (Does that seem weird at all...I don't think so.)

Anyway, where was I?  Yeah, American Idiot is a must see show.  If you get the chance, take it!  Great energy, great music, great visuals, and a spot-on commentary of my generation's contradictions and ills.  While I certainly haven't experienced much, if any, of the turmoil firsthand (despite observing and studying from the outside with fascination and an almost perverse sense of guilt the devastating toll our society's obsession with guns, violence, war, hedonism, self-righteousness, and consumerism has had) the themes define who we are as a society and a generation.  Seeing Green Day's American Idiot album acted out on stage...where it was always destined to end up...reminded me of just how amazing and transformative the album is and was. 

The Final Week of Term Re-Cap Edition

The Final Week of Term Re-Cap Edition

So yeah, I’ve been catching quite a bit of flak for my sporadic posting lately.  My apologies, but brilliance like this can’t be rushed.

The last week of term has been a good one.  My classes are all done (as of Thursday), so we’re just wrapping things up (and partying) and getting ready to head home for the extended holidays.  Some notes from the week that was…

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Why Democracy for the Post-Socialist Societies Event at CRASSH

As I continued my Joe DiMaggio-esque streak (or is Cal Ripken-esque streak more appropriate?…since what it is I do really just requires showing up) of event attendance Friday, I realized what it is I love best about these things…the audience participation.  There’s nothing I enjoy more than a passion-filled, long-winded, pointless question or comment.  

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CRASSH/Judge Business School Event: Freedom and the Digital Revolution: can journalism be free in the digital age?

“May I ask you a question…what’s wrong with market incentives?” – John Murdoch, CEO of News Corp (aka Rupert Murdoch’s son)

I dropped in on another conference event this week on media in the digital age.  The above quote, delivered by the 37-year-old prodigy CEO of News Corp James Murdoch (well, prodigy might be a bit misleading…considering that he is the son of the much beloved owner of the huge media conglomerate), was by far the quote of the night and perfectly represented the growing animosity between the big media-dominated final discussion panel and the Cambridge audience.

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Taking over England (or wherever): The Canterbury and Cambridge-American Cemetery Edition

Taking over England (or wherever): The Canterbury and Cambridge-American Cemetery Edition

So the weekend is coming to an end in beautiful and sunny England, but we certainly kicked things up a few notches and really got some stuff done.  Saturday Michelle and I made our first foray onto the UK trains and made our way all the way down to Canterbury.  Not wanting to rest on our laurels, today we biked out to the American Cemetery, which is a few miles down the road from our place heading out of Cambridge.  I'm sure you are anxiously anticipating the photographic evidence and I will provide plenty after the jump.

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CRASSH: Cyberdissidence in the Middle East

Had the pleasure of attending another CRASSH (Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities) event this evening.

After last week’s conference stoked my interest in the value (or not) of new media in activism, I was pretty psyched for another dose of ‘brilliant’ presentations and meandering audience questions and comments. 

I was not disappointed.

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Taking over England (or wherever): The Churchill Matriculation Dinner Edition

So, our big night finally came...the much anticipated matriculation dinner for MCR students (MCR = Middle Common Room = the room(s) where grad students can hang out = the term they generally use in lieu of 'graduate').  Some quick highlights (please keep in mind that I'm blogging this without a safety net, i.e., I'm not typing into Word first...and I'm pretty much sloshed...more on that later...so I apologize in advance for any mistakes)...

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