Archive for February 20th, 2011

February 20, 2011

Small Is Beautiful

small is beautiful

Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered is a collection of essays by British economist E. F. Schumacher. It is often used to champion small, appropriate technologies that are believed to empower people more, in contrast with phrases such as ‘bigger is better.’ First published in 1973, ‘Small Is Beautiful’ brought Schumacher’s critiques of Western economics to a wider audience during the 1973 energy crisis and emergence of globalization.

Schumacher argues that the modern economy is unsustainable. Natural resources (like fossil fuels), are treated as expendable income, when in fact they should be treated as capital, since they are not renewable, and thus subject to eventual depletion. He further argues that nature’s resistance to pollution is limited as well. He concludes that government effort must be concentrated on sustainable development.

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February 20, 2011

Wicked Problem

Wicked problem‘ is a phrase originally used in social planning to describe a problem that is difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often difficult to recognize. Moreover, because of complex interdependencies, the effort to solve one aspect of a wicked problem may reveal or create other problems.

A problem whose solution requires a great number of people to change their mindsets and behavior is likely to be a wicked problem. Therefore, many standard examples of wicked problems come from the areas of public planning and policy. These include global climate change, natural hazards, healthcare, the AIDS epidemic, pandemic influenza, international drug trafficking, homeland security, nuclear weapons, and nuclear energy and waste.

February 20, 2011

Bread and Circuses

bread and circuses by Tim Lahan

Bread and Circuses‘ (Latin: panem et circenses) is a metaphor for a superficial means of appeasement. In the case of politics, the phrase is used to describe the creation of public approval, not through exemplary or excellent public service or public policy, but through the mere satisfaction of the immediate, shallow requirements of a populace. The phrase also implies the erosion or ignorance of civic duty amongst the concerns of the common man (l’homme moyen sensuel).

In modern usage, the phrase has become an adjective to deride a populace that no longer values civic virtues and the public life. To many across the political spectrum, left and right, it connotes the triviality and frivolity that in popular culture is supposed to have characterized the Roman Empire prior to its decline.

February 20, 2011

Paul Verhoeven

basic instinct

robocop

Paul Verhoeven (b. 1938) is a Dutch film director, screenwriter, and producer who has made movies in both the Netherlands and the United States. Explicitly violent and/or sexual content and social satire are trademarks of both his drama and science fiction films. He is best known for directing the American feature films RoboCop (1987), Total Recall (1990), Basic Instinct (1992), Showgirls (1995), Starship Troopers (1997), and Hollow Man (2000).

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