Saturday, July 05, 2008

Thoughts of the day

The period of Rumspringa for the Amish, the subject of television documentary Devil's Playground, is an intriguing Tao-like adaptation for an insular community with distinct customs that, at the same time, exists within modern American society. The Amish teens are old enough to be educated in the Amish ways, but like most teens their age, are at their most rebellious and desirous to forge their own relationship with the world. Rather than fight nature, the Amish are confident enough in their culture to allow their children to find their own way back. The key is that eighty to ninety percent of the young adult Amish do return to the community. The rite of passage seems to effectively serve the dual purposes of satisfying individual desires for the outside world while also filtering out the members whose dissatisfaction could have become destabilizing.

Jon & Kate plus 8 is my current TV addiction. The father, Jon Gosselin, is a year younger than I am and his wife, Kate, is a year older. There are several themes in the show that fascinate me. Plus, it's easy to fall in love with the family. Here's an interesting negative blog about the show.

Added musing, 3/15/09: The Jon & Kate plus 8 How We Got Here episode reinforces a fear of single men considering marriage: you surrender your freedom and commit your life to a woman who turns into someone else after marriage and kids. At the start of the episode, we're shown videos of the couple during courtship through early marriage. In them, we see a soft, girlish, pretty and carefree Kate and it's easy to understand how Jon fell in love with her. There are only hints of the shrewish demanding harder Kate we see in the show.

One of the take-aways from my Columbia political science education is the failure of post-Civil War Reconstruction, the enduring effect of that failure on American society, and the cautionary tale it provides for our current Reconstruction-type efforts in the War on Terror. There can be a long-term costly price to pay for succumbing to short-term political incentives.

Event cascade, also called chain of events, is a recurring theme on the National Geographic Seconds from Disaster series. It starts with a relatively minor breakdown, which can be human error, mechanical failure, or a procedural or structural fault, that causes another breakdown, which leads to another and another failure in a growing combination until disaster happens. The breakdown may have happened many times before without consequence. A good example. If you find yourself in an event cascade, how do you break out of the pattern before it's too late? Or, constrained by limited choices dictated by the situation, are you already too late when the event cascade begins?

A website about shoelaces.

Eric

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