An Imaginary Garden

Not One New Word Out of You!

June 9, 1998

A friend had steered an “outing” through the minefields of institutional resistance like Odysseus sailing for home. She was tired. The large organization in which she works devotes much of its energy to maintaining equilibrium. “We spend 60% of our time in internal politics,” a senior VP told me. Despite that priority, and despite the […]

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Ad Hoc Majors

June 3, 1998

One of my children did not like the way the undergraduate majors at his university structured his learning, so he asked for permission to create an “ad hoc” major. He combined courses from artificial intelligence, computer science, math, philosophy, and psychology into Symbolic Systems Studies and integrated the necessary coursework into a coherent framework. When […]

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Palmetto Bugs

June 2, 1998

It was a stroke of genius for tourism, calling those large Florida cockroaches “Palmetto bugs.” When I lived on Maui, I recall coming downstairs in the night and hearing the patter of thousands of little feet. When I hit the lights, hundreds of roaches ran for cover, but we always called them roaches. Never dreamed […]

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Ubiqutous Connectivity

June 1, 1998

Now that the world is wired, we see the word “ubiquitous” everywhere. Just a few years ago, you hardly ever saw that word. Now it’s ubiquitous. The habits of thinking that focus our view of the world change slowly. Stephen Hawking may say that the next generation will understand the world of quantum physics as […]

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Sex in Small Places

May 29, 1998

NASA doesn’t say much in public about what goes on in those small capsules in which men and women float about for months at a time. Look at NASA web sites, you’d think the Space Age is a Disneyland kingdom, all the naughty bits airbrushed out. SOMEthing must be going on. The astronauts’ references to […]

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How Could It Not Know?

May 28, 1998

That’s the question asked by Deckard, the bladerunner in the movie of the same name: how could the latest humanoid replicants not know they were machines? The answer in the film involved memories and the fragility of the subjectivity we take for granted as our field of identity. Now that genetic engineering and ubiquitous connectivity […]

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Speed Bumps

May 27, 1998

We just can’t move as quickly as we can think, which is another way of saying that our ideas and visions take time to become flesh. When we’re lucky, the distractions along the way become means for clarifying and focusing our vision more clearly. Some of the predictions of Y2K disasters sound like the end […]

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Wanted: One Plug and Play Pig Brain

May 22, 1998

Genetic engineering can’t come fast enough. Imprinting is difficult to erase. The brain is built to live life based on our earliest experiences. That made sense when our life spans were shorter. Psychotherapy is one way to learn how to short-circuit stimulus-response routines and make different choices, but that won’t work as longevity increases and […]

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I Dunno

May 20, 1998

They used to call it the “Silly Season” years ago, when newspapers ran reports of all sorts of crazy things, the kinds of things we read today in tabloids in line at the supermarket. Some days it’s best to declare a Silly Season at work and let the sand in our overloaded brains filter through […]

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Ego Tripping

May 20, 1998

Hackers apprehended by authorities often wanted their exploits to be acknowledged. They showed trophies to their pals, basking in digital clapping, and who can blame them? The respect of our peers matters much more than anonymous applause. It’s an anchor for an ego that wants to know it has a home. A 23 year-old Argentine […]

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