Monday, June 12, 2017

In Defense of a Liberal Education

Wow it has been two years since I published in this blog. For sure times flies and not having an intentional plan to write here makes it difficult, but times come and go. So here we are!

Fareed Zakaria in his book "In Defense of a Liberal Education" is giving us an insightful understanding for the reason of the "American" economic dominance. Let me first say that the use of "American" in this context is simplistic and reductionist as it refers to only the USA. We all know that America is much more than the USA and that even the USA is not isolated from the rest of the world. But let's use the term for now. Also let's make sure that we are not using the word "Liberal" in connection to the political framework prevalent in the USA now, here the word is related to an educational style that is not centered in what is called "professionalism" or the use of education to find a job. As a Professor of Physical Science myself, I find it hard to use the word profession for a lower, shallower understanding of reality.

When economists look at the economy isolated from the social and physical realities that surround our lives, they can get misguided ideas about the solutions to a economical problem. It sound like unfounded to say this because if it is an economic problem it should have an economic solution, right? Well not really, that is what you learn when being educated by the Liberal Arts. These arts help us to see things in their context, and to find solutions outside of the box. When Steve Jobs used his experience gained when learning calligraphy at Reed College in Portland Oregon (Where he dropped out after a year) he was opening the design of the Apple's "Graphical User Interface" that made it so user friendly and a terrific business success. This is the power of thinking outside the box in problem solving skills.

It has been well known that the intersection of disciplines of science has brought new frontiers to be explored, think about socio-biology created by E. O. Wilson; Biophysics that has enabled an understanding of the processes and mechanisms in biology; Geophysics that has opened doors into the understanding of volcanoes, earthquakes and other processes on the earth surface and interior. The number of examples about this expansion of vision when several sciences come together is so great that it would take much more that one book, not alone one article here to explore. I will continue with this latter on.

Books have been written about the connection between psychology and business. The connection is called psychonomy! Some like Robert Koppel's "Investing and the Irrational Mind" explore the idea that Emotional Intelligence is the main driver of our actions, many times appearing to be illogical or irrational, but effective when the intuition of the subject is well rounded and efficient. These treatises will base their assumptions that there is a well rounded context formed opinion on which these decisions are made. This is for me the best support for a well rounded-context forming Liberal Arts Education is critical for our society.

The more you know about reality surrounding you, the more you will base your insight (sometimes called intuition) in it!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Is It Even Worse Than It Looks?

Points of view are framed within a specific time frame and related to one's perspective of what is good of bad. Just thing about Larry Wilmore last night in his Nightly Show (June 11, 2015 for the show click here.) where he presented his new book: Good Things Are Good While Bad Things Are Bad! So let's start with the bad things. Mann and Ornstein's book, "It's Even Worse Than It Looks"

Sorry the link doesn't take you inside.

Clearly articulate and explain the awful state of the political system in the US. If we start with the idea that a united-federal republic is the best model for our present and future, and that power should be divided according to the constitution in three branches of government then it makes sense what Mann and Ornstein are saying. And the solutions to the problems created since the 70s, when the "government is the problem" (Reagan words,) are out of reach, not well defined, and obscure to the population at large. 

But history has shown that the only constant is change. We must expect changes in our most fundamental ideas about what government is and should be. Old paradigms are now being redefined and old ideologies, like 'libertarianism" have been embraced by prominent politicians like Kentucky US Senator Rand Paul. It might also mean that under the surface other ideas are being developed but they have not being exposed by corporate media and only on cyberspace blogs are talking about a new socialism or even anarchism of the style favored by intellectuals such as Peter Kropotkin (To read about what he wrote in 1910 click here).

It is strange to see how left has become right and vice versa the old democratic (pro-segregation) south has become republican anti environmentalist. Changes have occurred in our political system that for many people have been unnoticed. Social short memory has blinded voters in their understanding that changes occur and that there are physical forces that guide these changes. The advent of new communication technology and the integration of a global system that allows for interchange of goods and services, and (most important) ideas will bring for sure a better future. One will not depend so much or so directly on local politics. Even though paradoxically politics will always be local.

On the other hand, Living Life As A Thank You (book written by Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons) the future through the lense of present gratitude really looks different and more positive.

The whole political arena is transformed to what each individual can create as a personal relationship with one's environment. And I mean environment including everything and everybody specially those who we care and they care for us. This attitude is as the subtitle implies "The Transformative Power of Daily Gratitude" where in the power of the moment one is able to completely transform the future. In this new context the political structure becomes in a way irrelevant and to certain extent transformable as well. If new political boundaries based on new trade, interest, and security develop, it is because the old boundaries have lost their appeal and the new ones become immediate and productive. Productive in both areas the social and the individual, separated conceptually but intrinsically interconnected and inseparable.

Will we see in the near future a separation of political entities, a disintegration of the republican state giving rise to an international federation ruled by trade and multinational partnerships?  

Will this new paradigm be good as good things are, or bad as bad things are?

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Newton's Apple

Things fall by their own weight!

Not sure where this came from but is a saying in Spanish that is used to mean that sooner of later the out-come will be based on what the in-come was. One harvest what one plants.
It's been a long time since I wrote in this blog but this morning reading the blog of my colleague Dr. Roger Martin about "America's Choice" reminded me of the need for more analysis on what the future will be.

Over the recent history of human kind economist have recurred to science as a fashionable resource, developing what modern economist call economic science. Within this discipline many words from physical science have been used, not only in a metaphoric way but, literally. Sometimes thinking that they are using the term as it's used in hard science. Think for instance in the word 'leverage' that comes from the noun lever. As Archimedes is quoted saying: "Give me a lever long enough and and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world". (Ref. Brainy Quotes.) Now modern economist using advanced mathematics can introduce a term for levering in the calculations of stock derivatives. The "leverage' term introduces ideas, feelings, and suppositions as to what the lever is in the value of stock, for example the geographic position of the resource relative to the geographic localization of the demanding industry. Feelings about the social stability of the region in which these resources are including the markets to which the products are targeted.

At the moment there are three main mega-trends governing the development of our society. And I mean our society to include the whole world.

1. First is the increasing demand for goods and services, not only population has been increasing at a fast rate but the 'per capita' demand has been increasing. This megatrend makes 'capital' be a universal commodity and one that will determine the way we relate. It doesn't matter if governments follow the Chinese model of 'state capitalism' or the US model of 'free capitalism', or some hybrid in between. Capital becomes a new kind of matter in physiconomy.

2. Second is the interconnectedness of our society. Not only economic globalization has been developing at an incredible fast rate, but information technology has allowed an extremely diverse set of societies to come to know each other and to be informed almost instantaneously of what is happening in remote (relative to the observer) places around the world. For example how long took the american public to learn about the success of the european nations' Rosetta spacecraft to 'land'  on a comet?  (For more information about Rosetta Mission click here.)

3. Third is the change that humans are causing to the environment. This change is very complex and affecting, not only the physical reality of our environment like climate but, the way we look at and understand nature itself. Please waring eye glasses, hearing aids, metallic/ceramic implants are not seen as un-natural anymore! While in the past cyborgs where considered not natural, today we see them walking among us (disclosure: I am one) every day.

These megatrends are unreductable (Reduct from algebra is to substract) therefore are general and without a doubt will guide the way society in general and regional in particular will develop. Recent books like "The World in 2015" by Laurence Smith or "The Human Age" by Diane Ackerman have articulated in an extended manner how these trends will shape things to come and in a way explain why and how things are now. Including the fact that north of parallel 45 things are booming all over the world, just have a look at what is going on in Siberia.

So the question I have now is: Are supposed to learn more physics in order to understand socio-political-economic issues?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Psychopats in Wall Street

Somehow this writing got lost within my draft folder! Now I think is more important than ever to continue talking about the economic situation in our world. When we hear of children being kidnaped in Africa and governments unable to control the ever increasing violence, it is of paramount importance that we become active and participate in these affairs. So I am disinterring this article.

For a long time I have been writing in this blog how important is physics (reality) on the economy trying to balance the important of psyche as the Psychonomic society gas done for many years but in a recent article David Sirota has stressed the fact that today it is the psychological state of those running our economy that is defining the direction of our society. In fact Sirota is calling these leaders "psychopats" in his article in The Oregonian (Monday October 10, 2011)  Oregon live Oct. 10, 2011 starts by saying:
"Like most people living through this jarring age of economic turbulence and political dysfunction, you can probably recall a moment in the last few months when you thought to yourself that our lawmakers and corporate leaders are all crazy.
And not just run-of-the-mill crazy, a la George Costanza's parents, but the kind of crazy that makes films like "Silence of the Lambs" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" so frightening."
It is a wonderful article, I highly recommend it!

In future posts I will talk about the unbalanced minds of kids born with a silver spoon in their mouth and that grew up in an environment that is dis-equilibrated and do not learn the value of other human beings. Like in the legal case where a young man's defense used the "Affluenza" mitigator to relieve him from his guild on killing another person when this young man was DUI (

Is there a limit on what rich people can do?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Regaining some space

It has been a while since I posted in this blog. Not because I have not been thinking about the connection between the physical world and the economy but because I have been writing about other things. Please have a look at my other blogs listed here: ; about time:; Teaching Science Insights at; and life in general at
What I want to say here thinking in economic terms is how can be more efficient in writing about "Physiconomy"? For me is important to remember that what drives my interest in the economy is the physical fact that "things fall by their own weight." Meaning that when an enterprise what ever the discipline is will carry as a paradoxical medulla it own growth and destruction. In biology we learn that the information carried in DNA  contains both the elements of growth as well as the elements of death. This is where the inevitability of death is hosted.
As organizations grow, develop, and prosper they appear to also create their own demise. We are now reading about the psychological environment that big corporations are experiencing described by some as a lack of trust of the employees in their leadership. Of course this is not private to big corporations, small institutions are also suffering this illness as times are tough and many leaders have not be able to organize and provide their employees with a sense of belonging and thus of trust.
How can we relate this mainly psychological phenomena to what is happening to the physical environment?
Difficult question to answer, I say. But we don't have to look far for an answer. Just paying attention to what is in the news of the day, we learn how we are mistreating the environment and how the environment (as climate) is fighting back. Drought, flooding, tornados, fires, and other climatological storms and disasters are becoming more and more prevalent around the world. The special issue of time: places you have to see before they vanish is a good example of the extremely difficult situation that our planet is going through.
Who is responsible? Who can do something about it? Is there accountability in this matter?
I think I'll have to come back to this in a future post.    

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Sign Dick Durbin's petition to the GOP

There are so many things happening now related to our economy some are real and some are not. Created crisis like the one has been going on for the last weeks is an example of how physical reality is for some politicians not important. But at the end this physical reality will be imposed and water levels will go to their proper height. The US is the largest economy as one of the richest natural and human resources under a single political system, now the European Union in a similar way is organizing to become the most important economical force in the world. With the US not being able to manage her finances the European Union with out a doubt will become the central focus of economic progress in the world and will be have to balance its economic activity between Asian (China et al.) and India (the largest democracy in the world.) But there are things we can do to slow down any decay and maybe re-instate some sanity in our political system if we act together and: Sign Dick Durbin's petition to the GOP: "Tell Speaker Boehner, Eric Cantor, and House Republicans to get real: Stop holding America's economy hostage and work for a responsible solution to the default crisis."

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The New World Order

Thinking about economic structures get me into a problematic arena. On the one hand it is hard to fix economic principles in some kind of natural (physical) manner as it is possible with "real" natural sciences where laying the foundations is simply a matter of establishing laws and principles that apply universally. The economy is strongly based on mental appreciation and judgment based on impression or appearances. On the other hand one is costumed to see the world as based on unchangeable natural laws, and with the economy all is changing including the laws, rules, and regulations that control the economy. Just have a look at today's problem with the way the banking system is behaving.