June 11, 2008


Metaphors are an important and inevitable way of looking at the world. Some cognitive scientists think we're basically wired for metaphor. I even remember reading a book about the American Civil War that suggested one reason why the Union prevailed was that Lincoln made better use of metaphors than Jefferson Davis.

(The author had a point, but I tend to be of the same mind as the ill-fated Confederate General George Pickett, who mused that "the Union army had something to do with it" as well.)

We need good metaphors if we're going to start thinking and moving in the direction of a just and sustainable economy. I stumbled across a pretty good one in the introduction to Bill McKibben's book Deep Economy:

For most of human history, the two birds More and Better roosted on the same branch. You could toss one stone and hope to hit them both. That's why centuries since Adam Smith have been devoted to the dogged pursuit of maximum economic production. The idea that individuals, pursuing their own individual interests in a market society, make one another richer and the idea that increasing efficiency, usually by increasing scale, is the key to increasing wealth that has indisputably produced More. It has built the unprecedented prosperity and ease that distinguish the lives of most of the people reading this book. It is now wonder and no accident that they dominate our politics, our outlook, even our personalities.

But the distinguishing feature of our moment is this: Better has flown a few trees over to make her nest. That changes everything. Now, if you've got the stone of your own life, or your own society, gripped in your hand, you have to choose between them. It's More or Better.

STICKING WITH THE THEME, perhaps the "age of heroic consumption" is at an end.

GROW IT. Local food banks are urging gardeners to donate fresh food to help feed the hungry. Beware the flood of zucchinis!

SPEAKING OF FOOD, this article argues that sustainable farming is the way to go and that globally we can expect women to take a leading role.

REST, REST, PERTURBED SPIRIT! Insomnia and poor sleep quality has been linked to suicidal symptoms in college students. I think it's nap time.

SPACED OUT. Here are a couple posts from Wired Science about how the location of extraterrestrial life, if it happens, might affect religion.

MEDICAID. This Gazette story discusses the current state of Medicaid in El Cabrero's beloved state of West Virginia.


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