November 7, 2018

FROM THE ARCHIVES: The United States Peace Corps and Social Development in Africa

(Peace Corps Logos, Old & New)
A paper read at the University of Ghana, Legon, Department of Sociology
April 29, 1990
James E. Lassiter

October 29, 2018

DOCUMENTARY: No Room in the Inn by Pam Dewey

Pam Dewey

"Attempting to severely limit immigration to America is a hot-button issue in the political debates of the 21st century. Yet the plaque on the Statue of Liberty has extended a warm invitation to the tired, poor, wretched, huddled masses to find refuge in America for well over a century. Has the view expressed by Lady Liberty somehow changed in recent years? No Room in the Inn is a docucommentary I created that explores the long history of her offer. The political debates over immigration in the Trump Era are nothing new. You may be surprised at what the man or woman in the street thought about immigration and refugees in the 19th and 20th Centuries, including Jewish refugees from the Holocaust of World War II." - Pam Dewey

The Evolution of Western Individualism, Part I of II

A sincere thank you to those who attended Owl & Ibis - A Confluence of Minds on Tuesday, October 23, 2018 for my presentation, The Evolution of Western Individualism, Part I, ”From the East African Rift to Silicon Valley.” For those who missed it a PowerPoint version is here. A PDF copy of the slideshow is here.

A key part of the meeting was an individualism-collectivism measure and an accompanying graph I developed. This may be seen below (click on image) or in higher resolution by downloading it as an MS Excel spreadsheet here. Any comments or questions you may have about the slideshow or the measure and graph are welcome.

Regrettably, I ran over my allotted time presenting Part I and did not allow enough opportunity for discussion. I will be sure to allow plenty of discussion time during Part II, “Individualism in the 20th and 21st Centuries – A Closer Look.”

November 13 – No Meeting
November 27 – No Meeting

Dec 11 - The Evolution of Western Individualism, Part II, "Individualism in the 20th and 21st Centuries - A Closer Look" by Jim Lassiter
Dec 25 – No Meeting

Jan 08 – Little Known Facts About Gardening by Steve Yothment
Jan 22 – TBD

October 25, 2018

My Sources of News and Information

 I am sometimes asked what sources I use for news and information. In addition to electronic and paper books and a free local weekly newspaper tossed in my driveway every Wednesday (awful opinion page, great crossword puzzle), I read mostly online sources. Some of them I subscribe to at reasonable rates. The following are my main sources for news, articles, commentary, essays, and other information. Very often in reading something I'll explore an embedded link to an additional source. But these are my day-to-day places. If you know and use others you think I might be interested in, please put them and their links in a comment. Thanks!



August 31, 2018

Owl & Ibis: Human Nature - The Poets' View

Many thanks to all who attended last Tuesday night’s “Human Nature - The Poets’ View” at Owl & Ibis - A Confluence of Minds. The poetry recited or read aloud was wide-ranging and the discussion far exceeded expectations. Here’s the email from O&I that got this whole thing going:

Can we modern humans, three hundred years since the Enlightenment and a century-and-a-half since Darwin, accept as truths teachings about Humankind derived from sources other than secular science materialism? Is the inner view of self and outer vision of Humankind now all about science and its tech derivatives? Are the artists, musicians and poets merely useful as entertainers?

Yes, scientific or not, we humans, all of us, still like art, music and stories. But can the views expressed in, say, poetry impact us to the degree they once did, to the same degree that scientific facts do today? Can artistic, musical, literary/story truths be as consequential as those of the natural sciences? At the next O&I Confluence, led by yours truly, we shall read aloud and discuss selected poems from the Western canon and try to answer some of these questions.

Attached is a selection of such poetry and soliloquies, pieces I’ve collected over the years and reread often. Please look at them beforehand, though, and choose one, or a portion of one of the longer ones, you’d be willing to read aloud and initiate a discussion on.

You may, of course, choose other short poetic works or extracts not found in this compilation, or from works of non-Western origin. Feel free, if you wish, to read some of the online expert commentary on the piece(s) you’ve chosen. But, your own personal take on it may be best and more indicative of our locale, times, the general population, and the power of the piece than the views of academics. Your reactions would also include any language and ideas you don’t understand. O&I members typically rely heavily on scholarly views, but are not bound to seek their help every time. We of the Confluence think original thought, if such is possible, is also worth pursuing. Let us dare to think freely!

Truths, as we’ve explored at a previous O&I meeting, come in many forms with varying degrees of potency and utility, be they poetic, scientific or religious. And why not? Humankind is an amalgam of the matter of the universe and no less of the stories we create and tell each other.

Join the discussion!

As last Tuesday’s night’s chair I opened the meeting with a brief comment on the often disputed notion of “human nature.” I recommended to the Confluence and received no objections to this definition by Skye Cleary and Massimo Pigliucci: