Uncategorized

1-2016 Election Quake I: Five Expected Surprises in Cultural Trends and the Media

This essay first appeared in the Huffington Post, November 22, 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-j-croce/2016-election-quake-i-fiv_b_13144442.html

Huh?—a year and half of campaigning, two leading candidates with the highest disapproval ratings in American history, a Republican Tsunami—how’d that happen?  Get ready, America, for four years of Donald J. Trump’s reverse smile. 

Few anticipated the results.  Even Republicans and Trump himself seemed surprised on election night.  Although commentators have been wringing their hands for not anticipating the way voters actually voted, observers from major media stars to people at diners and around water coolers were already calling the campaign unprecedented.  And yet, contemporary history and the current state of the media provide clues about how we have arrived at this surprising election.

Continue reading

Advertisements
Standard
What's DAT?

Attention, Our Effective Intelligence

Everyone has their own particular brain capacity.  From an early age, we are good at some things rather than others, and attracted to particular fields.  Do you like detail work or big pictures?  Are you good with numbers or with words?  You probably had a favorite subject in school; and if you are lucky, when a first job did not suit you, you found one that did—one that well suited your native capacities.  Psychologists measure our brain capacities with numbers, our IQ or intelligence quotient, which puts a big emphasis on logical reasoning abilities.  But our full capacities are a whole congress of talents for figuring things out, from mathematical puzzles and chess moves to basketball plays and social interaction.  In the whole theater of life, some steps are smarter than others.

Education is the widely recognized setting for upping our intelligence game, with more knowledge and more skills; classrooms are important for learning all kinds of things from better writing to the subtleties of mitosis or financial accounting.  Education is a great social step for sharpening our native intellectual capacities.  But there is another personal step that anyone can take without spending a dime on tuition.  Pay attention.  Yes, paying attention is like pressing the power button on our brains.  Imagine a powerful computer that’s turned off; now imagine a powerful brain with great capacities but no attention: powered off.  Attention is effective intelligence.  No matter your native endowments, add the sharp focus of attention to any project large or small, with interests fired up and mind drilling down on every implication and detail, and you’ve got intelligence to the max.  Find what captures your attention, and you’ll find yourself capturing more of the world.

Standard
What's DAT?

What’s DAT?—Introducing Deficit Attention Tweets

This is a page for brief comments on the changing role of attention in American culture.  See my essay “Contesting the Human Normal,” https://pubclassroom.com/2016/02/12/adhd-contesting-the-human-normal/, for more on the emergence of the Attention Deficit Disorder diagnosis, revised in the psychiatric profession as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in 1987, and for an overview of debates about how to deal with these tendencies to distraction.

What’s DAT offers short accounts of what Americans have been paying attention to and what is being ignored.  Does attention follow love or hate, the important or the exciting?  Have our capacities for attention changed as our lives have changed in speed of travel and communication, where we live, how we work, and how we play?  Does attention support our thoughts or our feelings?  Can others control your attention, or are you in charge?  What other parts of life attract or distract for this vital gatekeeper of the human mind?

Standard
Campaign 2016

Constant Growth: The Elephant (and the Donkey) in the Living Room

Constant economic growth, constantly supported even when unhealthy, is the unquestioned goal of both major parties.  Few stop to ask about the ill effects of growth or the merits of maintaining good conditions when we get them (did we really get improvement when that store moved to the margins of town leaving a hulking building downtown?).  The unhealthy side effects of constant growth have become the elephant (and the donkey) in the living room–the unasked question for both Republicans and Democrats.

A shorter version of this essay was published as “An Economy That Grows Anger,” in the Huffington Post, September 24, 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-j-croce/an-economy-that-grows-ang_b_12173172.html

Scroll down to see a revised version of this essay, expanded with more economic data and historical examples, and published as  “Both Parties Back Economic Growth–But Are They Wrong?” in History News Network, October 2, 2016, http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/163991.

In this election, we’ve got a well-informed Democrat defending a crazy system and a crazy-sounding Republican brashly calling for undisclosed changes.  Consider the sources of the craziness—consider an economy that can’t stay healthy with constant growth.  In medicine, that’s called cancer…. Continue reading….

Standard