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You Never Get One Isolated Great Thinker at a Time

By | February 21, 2017

Randall Collins’ curiosity about where ideas come from led him to do 25 years of research on the networks that connected thinkers and ideas through history and across continents. Collins, an emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, presented these networks and the implications of his study in a 1998 book called The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change. We …

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Why the Trump Administration’s Bad Math Can’t Close the U.S. Tr­­­ade Deficit

By | February 15, 2017

Every American knows that if you want to spend more than you earn, you either must liquidate some of your assets or you must borrow. This is as true of governments and corporations as people. And if you have been doing a lot of borrowing, stopping will result in much less consumption. Teenagers without finance PhDs learn this when their parents take away the credit …

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La La Land‘s “Burst-Into-Song” Style Echoes the Intimacy of Early Black, Mexican, and Jewish Productions of Yore

By | February 14, 2017

“Without a nickel to my name/ Hopped a bus/ Here I came …” So sings a young woman at the start of La La Land, the original musical film by Damien Chazelle and this year’s leading Oscar contender. The number begins with a pan across mostly solitary individuals sitting in a traffic jam on an L.A. freeway. As we move past open car windows, we …

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To Defy a Dictator, Send in the Clowns and Use Humor as a Weapon of Resistance

By | February 8, 2017

When Egyptians gathered in Tahrir Square to protest the regime of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, they brought with them a funny weapon against the guns and tear gas of the military: a sense of humor. They carried cartoons, sang parodic songs, and renamed the central garbage heap after one of the president’s agencies. In the short term, their humor was a powerful vehicle for non-violent …

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From Gandhi to MLK to the Arab Spring, Nonviolence Protest Is Portable, But Can It Still Persuade?

By | February 7, 2017

Early in the 20th century, M.K. Gandhi began to experiment with a novel form of political action, which he termed satyagraha. Gandhi first used satyagraha to protect the rights of Indian migrants in colonial South Africa in a series of campaigns over the course of a 20-year struggle. After World War I, Gandhi, now living in India and part of the movement for Indian independence, …

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In Rome, a New Kind of Sanctuary Rooted in the Humane Treatment of Migrants Provides Shelter Despite Significant Hurdles

The Baobab Experience, inspired by the strong African tree whose long roots can stretch far away and, for us, even across continents and cultures, is the name chosen for a new way of welcoming migrants to Italy, based on empathy and respect for each individual rather than on an impersonal welfare mentality.
I work as an archaeologist, but two years ago the refugee crisis in …

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A Sanctuary For Bees and Humans Eases the Sting Of a Public Housing Failure

By | January 31, 2017

The plight of public housing projects conceived with the best of intentions and then failing horribly is by now well-known in communities across America. Less known—and still unfolding—is the story of what happens next, both to the people who lived there and the physical spaces those projects inhabited.
As an artist and cultural activist in St. Louis, Missouri, I’ve long been interested in the relationship …

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It’s Human Nature to Shelter the Stranger in Need

By | January 30, 2017

Since Donald Trump’s election, I’ve had to change the focus of the talks I give at churches, community events, universities, schools, and bookshops about sanctuary and asylum.
I used to take audiences on a 125,000-year tour of these two venerable institutions. I’d tell them about bonobos, chimps, and baboons giving sanctuary to members of enemy primate communities; about the ancient custom of seeking sanctuary by …

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Giving Refugees a Sanctuary, Without Imprisoning Their Souls

By | January 30, 2017

In late 2012, I got a call from a church member. “Seth, Harry’s picking his daughter up from school? Is Sanctuary over?” he asked me.
It wasn’t, and Harry—an undocumented Indonesian immigrant we were sheltering in our church—wasn’t supposed to be out and about. In conversations with the media and our neighbors we had claimed, over and over, that the men we were protecting …

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Go West, Young Entrepreneur–The Left Coast Is Open for Business

By | January 27, 2017

At 7:05 p.m. Pacific on November 8, 2016, the group known as tweeted “California is a nation not a state” and the Calexit movement was in full swing.
With the sixth largest economy in the world, nearly 40 million people and a land area of more than 160,000 square miles, California is larger by far than most countries. It also is a state …