Since we’re going to the Chatfield Botanic Garden pumpkin festival today, and I’ve written enough long essays in the past couple of weeks (two or three a day) to earn a break, today I’m just going to offer a few quick commentaries on some of the morning’s news stories.

There’s a little gem in today’s Denver Post “Morning Brew” column ( It’s a reminder of what’s valuable and what isn’t, of how distracted we become by pursuits and expenditures that don’t make us happy, while neglecting those that do. For me, it’s also one more nail in the coffin of right-wing ideology, which eschews creating a happier society with less destitution even if less obscene concentrations of wealth in favor of a blindly fractious and harsh political ideology.

Aurora, CO just opened a new water treatment facility, just downstream from a wastewater reclamation plant ( That might sound like the beginning of an outraged diatribe on Aurora’s poor judgment and indifference to public health, but it’s just the opposite: This is a great step forward. Water scarcity is acute in this part of the country, and will be a worldwide crisis in short order. We have the purification technologies to vastly reduce waste. Though “toilet-to-tap” isn’t a good marketing slogan, it’s the right way to go.

The evolution of Beethoven ( is another little tid-bit of good news: Great memes (including great musical memes) deserve not just to be preserved in their pure form, but also to be catalysts and zygotes of new and interesting innovations. Kudos to Marin Alsop, for combining historical information, modern entertainment, and classical music into a new kind of presentation that can appeal to those who might otherwise never have benefited from this beautiful musical relic of our not-so-distant past.

I’ve sometimes imagined what it would be like if doctoral dissertations were multimedia events, not dry ones (i.e., typical powerpoint presentations), but rather syntheses of information and aesthetics, blending beauty and insight in imaginative ways. My own novel was an attempt to synthesize complex dynamical systems analysis, social theory, epic poetry, and the modern novel into some new, highly informative but (hopefully) highly beautiful form. The capacity of our minds to do both, to create analytical insights, on the one hand, and works of great beauty and elegance on the other, begs for more intermingling of the two.

We see again one of the great banes of our political system, that those with control of the most money have the most power to preserve the obscene degree of economic inequality in this country ( The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is pouring money into state elections all over the country, trying to put back in power the party more committed to bowing to the interests of those farthest removed from destitution. Campaign finance reform would be great, but what we really need is human-consciousness reform. Well-exercised and well-informed minds can’t be swayed by pithy platitudes expensively bombarded on an all-too malleable population.

The persistence of fiscal insanity as a legitimized political position bodes ill for the state and country, regardless of the fate of the “bad three” ( Organizations such as this should be viewed with the same amused contempt that is reserved for other essentially similar glassy-eyed cults. But such cults are far less amusing when they are trying to impose their insanity on the rest of us, to our ultimate financial destruction. Even those interests most concerned with retaining wealth currently spent on public welfare for themselves oppose these measures, because they know they can’t benefit from a completely crippled economy.

An aide to California gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown was caught on tape (a phone that wasn’t hung up, an answering machine still recording) calling Republican opponent Meg Whitman a “whore”. Shame on you, Aide! Other than that, this is completely irrelevant (and I would say that even if I were a supporter of Ms. Whitman). We need to stop pretending that these things matter (except to the people involved): They don’t. All that matters in elections is: 1) What policies and  methodologies best serve the public interests, and 2) which candidate is most likely to best advance those policies and methodologies? How rude an aide was in a private conversation accidentally taped rises to the level of quintessential irrelevance.

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