Thursday, February 07, 2008

Further Reading...

Recently I've found a couple of interesting on-line reads that I would like to share about topics outside the usual realm of architecture. I figured that I could give some of my readers a rest and maybe provoke interest regarding other subjects. Below are a few reads well worth one's time:

  • As of today, the presumptive presidential nominee of the Republican Party is John McCain. When his candidacy was on the rise following his win in New Hampshire, I happened to read an article that at first seemed to be an invitation to support McCain but that ended up actually being a persuasive reminder on what should truly matter in all politics beyond either party's dominant ideology: a creed stating what one believes about human nature and how virtue should play a part in the affairs of individuals. It isn't a question of philosophical purity or consistency but rather a question of whether it is the right thing to do. It is fundamentally better for a political leader to adhere to timeless virtues than to repeat all the right talking points. Benjamin and Jenna Storey make to my mind a convincing point, stating:

" ...they (ideologues) will lose an important -- indeed the most central and precious -- aspect of their creed: the faith in the virtue of individuals to make a good society for themselves, rather than the faith in an ideology to make a good society for us. "

Their article takes libertarians to task and reminds me why I gradually moved away from the libertarianism I subscribed to during my youth. It may seem naive to those who are generally cynical, but I believe it is imperative to preserve virtues that undergird a free and good society.

  • Last month Louisiana inaugurated the first the Indian-American governor ever in the U.S. Considering it was a little more than 16 years ago that David Duke was riding high in the Pelican State, the overwelming electoral victory of Bobby Jindal appears to be evidence that voters were finally willing to give a young ambitious man who lacked the traditional Louisiana political pedigree to solve seemingly intractable problems. In a post I wrote on another web site on the night of Jindal's election, I reflect on where the new governor came from, as he and I are fellow alumni at the same high school Baton Rouge. It was a truly unique place, filled with brilliant and talented young minds that stood out from the stiffling malaise that was life in Louisiana during the last few decades. I admit to often being cynical to who politicians are and what they can deliver, but his unique background and proven character makes me more hopeful about that state than ever before.

  • Is the ultimate goal of an education is achieving tolerance? From my perspective tolerance is just one of the many means useful to enhancing a person's education, spurring an insatiable curiosity and a desire to continue asking questions about anything. However, to many others, the job of education is not to instill a life-long skill for knowledge or foster employable skills, nor even to familiarize the young to notions of productive achievement. Instead they would like to socialize individuals to accept difference, to doubt any notion of objective intelligence or genuine academic achievement and to scapegoat those who choose to not become part of the group. Scott Walker writes in an understandably bitter tone about the fallacy of the doctrine of inclusion that dominates pedagogy in our public schools. When a school system forces students of various learning ability in the same class, the quality of instruction and achievement declines overall. Be sure to read the accompanying comment thread, as it reveals an orthodox perspective from those who promote the doctrine of inclusion. For these people, the problems with our public schools is not the lack of academic achievement but rather a lack of money for this or that program and that it isn't inclusive enough. How can one be hopeful for any productive reforms from within the school system with such a mentality?

  • A particular preoccupation that many women my age seem to have is trying to explain the lack of men wanting to get married. Apparently "commito-phobes" are a problem to many young women, and naturally the men get the blame. If there is one thing I am certain about, it is that the scapegoating of men for all sorts of things that sometimes are really the fault of women only leads to a greater faultline in the expectations of what men and women actually want. In trying to explain why more and more men are delaying or downright shunning marriage, there are two complementary articles I recommend. The first is Kay Hymowitz's exhaustive account describing men's natural state of immaturity and the need for civilized society to channel their energy in productive ways. To put it more simply, young men of today won't grow up because society don't expect them to, which may explain why men don't aspire to marry. The second article is a forum hosted by Dr. Helen at Pajamas Media that focuses on how contemporary society has made marriage a increasingly losing proposition for men, from biased divorce laws to a rejection of letting men be men within marriage. The discussion thread features an endless series of comments from disgruntled men, which in my view are illuminating in spite of their bitterness.

  • For some dazzling and imaginative examples of computer-generated architectural modeling, rendering and graphic, be sure to visit the Slovene Igor Mitric's blog. It's a genuine craft, and doing this kind of work as part of my job makes me that much more appreciative of those who do it with such incredible sophistication.

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