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Latest Original Content

Here is a list of original content recently added to our site.

Reframing our Debates about Capitalism

By Herb Bowie

There is a flaw in the reasoning behind our infernal, never-ending, society-splitting debate concerning socialism vs. capitalism, and I want to point it out.

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Blog Post   |   2020 Oct 12


The Era of Environmental Accommodation is Over

By Herb Bowie

When historians look at the long span of our human history, they try to make sense of our arc of cultural evolution by breaking it up into phases.

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Blog Post   |   2020 Sep 15


The Shocking Truth About Us Liberals

By Herb Bowie

I can tell from my occasional conversations with friends and relatives who are Trump supporters that they have been thoroughly brainwashed about what we liberals stand for in the 2020 elections. So let me lift the veil of secrecy and reveal some of our deepest, darkest secrets.

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Blog Post   |   2020 Sep 06


Undoing Trumpism

By Herb Bowie

With a little luck, and a lot of hard work, we might be fortunate enough to see Donald Trump leave office in a few months. If so, that will be the end of the Trump presidency. Unfortunately, though, it won't mean the end of Trumpism.

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Blog Post   |   2020 Aug 04


Cooperation, Competition and Coercion

By Herb Bowie

When we look at the major societal choices facing us today, the primary question is not whether we want a society that is more cooperative or more competitive, but whether we're ready for a society that is less coercive.

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Blog Post   |   2020 Jul 17


The Progressive Path Forward - A 12-State Strategy

By Herb Bowie

By now leading progressives are starting to realize that they face some severe structural impediments if they are serious about getting real progress in the United States. Let’s figure out a way around them.

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Blog Post   |   2020 Jun 29


Can the US Become a Truly Egalitarian Society?

By Herb Bowie

As with many of us, I've been thinking deeply lately about the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breanna Taylor, and so many other people of color, and wondering how and why these atrocities continue to occur in my country, and what we can do to turn things around.

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Blog Post   |   2020 Jun 15


Democracy

By Herb Bowie

We believe in democracy, with all citizens having an equal say in defining their society's laws, and an equal opportunity to influence their governments.

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Basic Info   |   2020 Jun 03


8 Big Lessons We Can Learn from the Pandemic

By Herb Bowie

Suffering through a pandemic is a terrible way to have to learn a lesson or two about the nature of humanity. But it's what we have, so we may as well make use of it.

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Blog Post   |   2020 May 10


Why Do We Call It Capitalism?

By Herb Bowie

As Americans we generally believe in capitalism as a superior economic system, and are typically convinced that our country is run on capitalistic principles. But I've been wondering lately: If these things are really true, then why do so few Americans actually possess any capital?

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Blog Post   |   2020 Apr 16


Core Design Principles for Teams

By Herb Bowie

David Sloan Wilson and his pals at Prosocial World have done the heavy lifting for us, providing the eight Core Design Principles to maximize the effectiveness of human groups of all sizes.

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Blog Post   |   2020 Apr 09


The Weight

By Herb Bowie

I recently came across the Playing for Change Song Around the World video of Robbie Robertson's composition “The Weight,” and it made me want to think – and write! – more deeply about how this song works, and what it means, and the timeless nature of its appeal.

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Appreciation   |   2020 Apr 06


Patterns of Human Cooperation

By Herb Bowie

As humans our superpower is the ability to work cooperatively with others of our species. But these seemingly simple ideas of cooperation and coordination turn out to be devilishly complex in practice, especially in large undertakings.

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Blog Post   |   2020 Mar 27


Understanding Human History

By Herb Bowie

When I was in school, history was one of my least favorite subjects: It just seemed like a bunch of arbitrary names and dates and events that I had to memorize. In hindsight, I realize now, the problem I had with the subject was that it had been “storified.”

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Blog Post   |   2020 Mar 24


Why I Use Markdown (And Why You Should Too)

By Herb Bowie

What is Markdown, and why should you care? Let's just start by saying that Markdown is a deceptively simple tool for writers.

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Blog Post   |   2020 Feb 25


What Trump Gets Right

By Herb Bowie

As we move into the 2020 election season in the US, I thought it might be useful to point out some things that Donald Trump gets right. If you're concerned about electability, then please pay attention to how your candidates navigate their ways through these seven minefields.

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Blog Post   |   2020 Feb 11


Assessment of Democratic Presidential Candidates - Jan 2020

By Herb Bowie

This is my assessment of the Democratic candidates for the US presidency, following the debates on the evening of 14 Jan 2020.

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Blog Post   |   2020 Jan 15


Dethroning the False God of User Experience Design

By Herb Bowie

The problem is that we've had something valuable stolen from us along the way. And the whole modern notion of UX design is one of the thieves that has robbed us.

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Blog Post   |   2019 Dec 27


My Prayer for a More Integral New Year

By Herb Bowie

As 2019 winds to a close, and we pause briefly to compose ourselves before finding out what 2020 has in store, I want to take a moment to offer up a prayer – not to God, but to all of us – for a more integral sense of who we are in the new year.

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Blog Post   |   2019 Dec 17


The Personal vs. The Institutional

By Herb Bowie

The problem here is that this conflict between the personal and the institutional is a false dichotomy.

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Blog Post   |   2019 Nov 01


The System is Working Very Well, Thank You

By Herb Bowie

We need to realize that the current system is, in fact, not broken. Instead, in truth, it is doing exactly what it was designed to do.

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Blog Post   |   2019 Sep 25


Rejiggering Our Religion

By Herb Bowie

When it comes to religion, the main question for most people is whether to keep the one we were raised with or to lose it altogether. But now I'm starting to wonder whether, instead of losing my religion, it might not be better just to rejigger it a bit?

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Blog Post   |   2019 Aug 13


Apollo 11 - The Most Important Movie You'll See This Year

By Herb Bowie

No matter what your age or orientation, it's hard to gainsay the significance of humankind's first trip through space to set foot on a celestial body other than our birth planet.

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Blog Post   |   2019 Jul 20


What the Latest Trump Attack Means for Democrats

By Herb Bowie

By now I'm sure you've heard of Trump's recent attacks on four Democratic congressional representatives, all women of color, urging them to “go back … to the crime-infested places from which they came.” How should Democrats respond? Here are the sorts of positions I'd like to hear them articulate.

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Blog Post   |   2019 Jul 16


The Dangers of Political Nostalgia

By Herb Bowie

I'm not quite as old as Biden, and I've never served in public office, but I can still share his nostalgia for seemingly simpler times when our political leaders displayed some sort of respect for each other, even when they disagreed over issues of state.

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Blog Post   |   2019 Jun 25


The Progressive Problem

By Herb Bowie

No wonder zombie movies have been popular of late: so many of us feel like increasingly isolated survivors having to fight off forces that we thought were previously vanquished and long buried, forces that seem to be arising all around us, springing at us from all sides.

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Blog Post   |   2019 Jun 10


How to Fix Big Tech

By Herb Bowie

We all sort of know the problems, right? Monopolies. Lock-in. Stream addiction. Reality bubbles. Billionaires seeking market dominance. All other values taking a back seat to growth. I don't think I need to elaborate. If you're reading this, then you're probably well aware of all these concerns.

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Blog Post   |   2019 May 22


Building a Case for the Detective Story

By Herb Bowie

Over the many years since the receipt of my Bachelor's degree in English from the University of Michigan, I have probably spent more rewarding hours reading detective stories than any other form of fiction.

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Appreciation   |   2019 May 07


The Challenge for Democrats: Playing the Long Game

By Herb Bowie

Right now Democrats are focused primarily on two things happening in 2020: 1. Beating Trump; 2. Regaining control of the Senate. These would both be great accomplishments for the party, and for the winning candidates. But for the country, not so much.

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Blog Post   |   2019 Apr 25


The Devastating Tragedy of our Vanishing Middle Class

By Herb Bowie

If you react in any of these typical ways, then I will argue today that you're missing the bigger picture, and overlooking the most devastating consequences of our country's loss of our middle class.

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Blog Post   |   2019 Apr 15


Paul Thorn and his 800 Pound Jesus

By Herb Bowie

I'd been aware of Paul Thorn for some time, but didn't really become a fan until I saw him live last summer at The Ark in Ann Arbor.

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Appreciation   |   2019 Mar 26


How a Balanced Candidate Might Win the Presidency

By Herb Bowie

I wrote recently to express my skepticism about the chances of a centrist candidate becoming our next U.S. president. I write today to share my belief that a balanced candidate might well win.

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Blog Post   |   2019 Mar 25


My List of Requirements for our Next President

By Herb Bowie

While many of us are waiting for our 2020 presidential candidates to hit the road and give us a chance to to get to know them better, I decided to stop waiting and let them know what I'm looking for in a new president. I mean after all, it doesn't seem fair to make them guess.

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Blog Post   |   2019 Mar 24


Citizen Kane vs. Citizen Bailey

By Herb Bowie

I've often considered Citizen Kane and It's A Wonderful Life to be complementary works, much like cinematic twins separated at birth.

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Blog Post   |   2019 Mar 11


Our Three Human Approaches to Dealing with Problems

By Herb Bowie

We all run into challenges from time to time, whether at work, at home, or in our communities. In general, I would suggest, we have three different approaches available to us when we try to respond to such situations.

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Blog Post   |   2019 Mar 05


Science

By Herb Bowie

A belief in science is one of the core Practopian principles. We embrace science as one way of understanding the universe in which we live, and we accept toolmaking (aka engineering) as one means of improving the human condition.

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Basic Info   |   2019 Mar 04


Is There Any Middle Left?

By Herb Bowie

As the US political scene transitions from the Democratic successes in the midterms to the beginnings of the 2020 presidential contest, one of the most pressing questions to emerge is whether there is any meaningful middle ground remaining along the political spectrum stretching from left to right.

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Blog Post   |   2019 Feb 18


Rebuilding Trust In Our Large Institutions

By Herb Bowie

I find it fascinating to compare the original Star Trek television series with the first Star Wars movie. And I think this comparison can reveal a lot about the current state of our culture.

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Blog Post   |   2019 Feb 11


Our American Class System

By Herb Bowie

In short, this was a period of our history during which class distinctions seemed to be fading. Sure, some people had more money than others. My mother drove a Ford Falcon, my father drove a Mustang, and my Uncle drove a Thunderbird.

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Blog Post   |   2019 Jan 27


More Love

By Herb Bowie

For me, love is an elemental human feeling that helps to bind us to one another, and to the world around us. It is a feeling of care and appreciation for, and attachment to, people and things of value that have an independent existence outside of ourselves.

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Basic Info   |   2019 Jan 26


What We Can Learn from the Government Shutdown

By Herb Bowie

As I write this, those of us in the U.S. are on day 30 of a partial federal government shutdown whose effects are increasingly rippling through our society.

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Blog Post   |   2019 Jan 21


The Truth About Capitalism

By Herb Bowie

No matter which way you lean politically, you probably have strong feelings about capitalism. It seems to me that there are a lot of odd ideas on this topic running around out there in today's world. Let me offer some thoughts about what seems true to me.

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Blog Post   |   2019 Jan 07


Have We Passed The Point of Maximum Useful Tech?

By Herb Bowie

What happened between 1990 and 2018? Who stuck the playing card between the spokes of the bicycle for my mind, turning a mental enabler into an annoying distraction?

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Blog Post   |   2018 Dec 17


The Value of Individuals

By Herb Bowie

A belief in the value of individuals is one of the core Practopian principles.

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Basic Info   |   2018 Dec 10


Calling for a US Sustainability Initiative

By Herb Bowie

Looking back over the history of the United States, it's easy to see in hindsight a series of events and actions that have either united or divided us.

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Blog Post   |   2018 Dec 03


The Importance of Mission

By Herb Bowie

The dictionary on my Mac defines mission as “a strongly felt aim, ambition, or calling.”

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Basic Info   |   2018 Nov 26


A Broadcast Consciousness

By Herb Bowie

Let me take you on a little journey of thought exploring some hitherto unconsidered aspects of our common cultural evolution.

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Blog Post   |   2018 Nov 19


The Written Word in the 21st Century

By Herb Bowie

Whether we are talking about the King James Bible, The Catcher in the Rye, On the Origin of Species, or Wikipedia, we recognize that writing things down is an important means of preserving human knowledge and wisdom, and that both writing and reading are invaluable human activities.

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Basic Info   |   2018 Nov 12


My Advice to Young People of All Ages

By Herb Bowie

Today I'd like to change my focus and offer some advice for what people can and should do to improve their own personal lots in modern life. I have only a few recommendations, and they're rather brief and straightforward, although I won't claim they're easy.

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Blog Post   |   2018 Oct 31


An Integral Approach

By Herb Bowie

A belief in an integral approach is one of the core Practopian principles. At its most basic, this principle simply means that people can see things from different perspectives, and that often no one way of seeing something is the “right” or only way.

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Basic Info   |   2018 Oct 26


Fruitcakes

By Herb Bowie

I've always considered this to be Jimmy Buffet's masterwork. The musical backing is infectious, swaying and danceable, and the background vocals add depth. The words are cleverly crafted, and perfectly suited to Buffett's conversational, wisecracking delivery.

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Appreciation   |   2018 Oct 13


Imperfection

By Herb Bowie

Belief in imperfection as a fundamental principle may seem like an odd concept but, in fact, it is an essential part of our thinking. Let's look at some of the reasoning behind this principle.

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Basic Info   |   2018 Oct 11


US Political Observations for October 2018

By Herb Bowie

In this brief respite between primary season and the general US midterm elections in November, I thought it might be fitting to offer up a few suggestions to those of us who will be participating, whether as candidates or as voters.

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Blog Post   |   2018 Oct 04


Our Societal Disconnect

By Herb Bowie

I was thinking recently about my own upbringing in Annapolis, Maryland, back in the sixties, and it occurred to me that there were several aspects of my experience there and then that I took for granted, but that are no longer very common today.

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Blog Post   |   2018 Sep 26


The Village Green Preservation Society

By Herb Bowie

This is a rather amazing song by The Kinks, first released in 1968. I loved this song from the moment I first heard it, but my appreciation for it has only grown over the years.

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Appreciation   |   2018 Sep 21


Why I Call Myself a Practopian

By Herb Bowie

I suffered a crisis of faith a few years ago: a crisis of faith in my atheism.

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Blog Post   |   2018 Sep 15


Will the Circle be Unbroken

By Herb Bowie

It's certainly fair to categorize this song as a religious one, and more particularly as a Christian song, and yet, even though I consider myself to be a non-believer, my lack of faith doesn't diminish my appreciation for this song in the slightest: if anything, I think it increases it.

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Appreciation   |   2018 Aug 15


Cultural Evolution

By Herb Bowie

A belief in cultural evolution is one of the core Practopian principles. But what do we mean by human culture? And by its evolution? Let's dive a little deeper to uncover some of the significant ideas lurking behind this simple statement.

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Basic Info   |   2018 Aug 13


A Twenty-Six Legged Stool?

By Herb Bowie

A few years ago, when I was teaching software development, I often invoked the image of a three-legged stool, with each leg representing one of the essential leadership roles: leave out any one of them, you see, and your project is liable to fall over.

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Blog Post   |   2018 Aug 04


Value Creation

By Herb Bowie

Many of the Practopian Core Beliefs will seem rather straightforward to most people: Liberty and Equality, for example, are fundamental human values that should sound familiar no matter what your background. The belief in the importance of Value Creation, on the other hand, may be puzzling to many.

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Basic Info   |   2018 Jul 24


What To Do About Big Business?

By Herb Bowie

Has business gotten too big? Rather than trying to answer this question directly, let's start by reviewing the fundamental architecture of all modern societies.

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Blog Post   |   2018 Jul 02


Humanism

By Herb Bowie

The first Practopian core principle states that “We are humanistic: we are focused on human concerns and human potential.” The primary intent behind this statement is to signal that we don't claim to represent any authority other than our own very human selves, and that we focus on the interests of….

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Blog Post   |   2018 Jun 22


Evolution and Its Implications

By Herb Bowie

A belief in evolution is one of the core Practopian principles. But to say that we believe in evolution means quite a bit more to us than simply a denial of creationism. We also mean to imply that we believe in natural selection as a process for improving things, including human culture.

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Basic Info   |   2018 May 22


Talking Openly about Hierarchy

By Herb Bowie

I sometimes think that at least half of the confusion we currently experience in our civil discourse stems from our inability to speak openly and honestly about the nature of hierarchy.

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Blog Post   |   2018 Apr 13


The Unraveling of The Common Good

By Herb Bowie

I've recently read The Common Good by Robert B. Reich, and can recommend it heartily. It's a lovely little book that can help remind us all that we have obligations to the societies in which we live and work, and that contributing to the common good should be a daily calling for all of us.

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Blog Post   |   2018 Apr 10


A Traditional Remedy for the Facebook Problem: Competition

By Herb Bowie

Facebook has been in the news lately due to renewed privacy concerns, and many observers have called for various solutions, including pledges from CEO Mark Zuckerberg to do better, as well as increased government regulation.

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Blog Post   |   2018 Apr 05


A Practopian Approach to Gun Issues in the US

By Herb Bowie

The recent Florida school shooting has again propelled issues surrounding gun violence into the forefront of our national dialogue. The Core Practopian beliefs may seem very broad and general, but I'd like to illustrate how they can be usefully employed in a specific debate such as this one.

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Blog Post   |   2018 Feb 27


Technology Education for the Youth of Today

By Herb Bowie

I came across a couple of things recently that got me thinking about the value of technology education, and what that training should look like. The first item that caught my attention was Kirk McElhearn's blog post about “The Tech Industry's Tunnel Vision about Coding and Language.”

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Blog Post   |   2018 Jan 22


Art and the Eye of the Beholder

By Herb Bowie

I've noticed that Big Thinkers – people like Ken Wilber and Yuval Noah Harari – tend to get confused about art and why it matters.

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Blog Post   |   2017 Nov 15


Help! Help! The Robots are Coming!

By Herb Bowie

Many pundits today are predicting a future of robots equipped with artificial intelligence so powerful that they will essentially render great swaths of humanity obsolete. Let me just make a few points concerning such imaginings.

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Blog Post   |   2017 Aug 23


Our American Identity: Where To Next?

By Herb Bowie

Like many of my fellow citizens, I've been struggling in recent months to understand exactly what it means to be American these days – to identify the central elements of our collective identity that still bind us together as some kind of unified whole.

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Blog Post   |   2017 Jul 13


In Defense of Balance

By Herb Bowie

When I founded The Society for Practical Utopians, I based it on a fundamental set of beliefs, divided up into principles and values. And the very first value, the one given preeminent position, is balance.

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Blog Post   |   2017 Jun 12


A Compact, Extensible, Open-Source Belief System for the 21st Century

By Herb Bowie

It often seems that there is little in this modern world that any two of us can agree on.

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Blog Post   |   2017 Mar 26


Human Population Growth

By Herb Bowie

If sustainability is the most serious issue of our time, then human population growth is certainly one of the most vital tools we have for making progress in this area. Let's look at the topic of human population growth from a number of different perspectives.

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Issue   |   2017 Mar 18


Capitalists who worship only at the feet of capitalism

Democratic capitalism is a wonderful device precisely because it maximizes the ability of individuals within society to singly and collectively pursue the ends that they find to be important and meaningful; the accomplishments of a capitalistic society are noble and grand to the extent….

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Quotation by Herb Bowie   |   2017 Feb 17


Another Way to Think about the US Elections

By Herb Bowie

I was recently puzzling over the still surprising victory of Donald Trump in the recent US Presidential elections, when it occurred to me that there is another way to think about this whole chain of events.

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Blog Post   |   2016 Dec 29


Christmas For All

By Herb Bowie

Here we are at the end of another year, well into what many of us call the Holiday Season.

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Blog Post   |   2016 Dec 08


Sustainability

By Herb Bowie

As Practical Utopians, we want our culture to continue to evolve towards better and brighter outcomes for humanity. The biggest threat we see to this continued evolution is our ongoing exhaustion and degradation of our natural environment here on Earth.

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Issue   |   2016 Nov 23


Making Sense of What Happened on Nov 8

By Herb Bowie

Trying hard to make sense of what happened last night. Here are my thoughts. 1. Our country is almost equally divided into two camps.

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Blog Post   |   2016 Nov 09


What We Need After the Election

By Herb Bowie

It may be too early to know who will win on Tuesday, but it's not too early to assess the major issues roiling the electorate and offer a few thoughts about what needs to happen after the voting is over – no matter who comes out on top.

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Blog Post   |   2016 Nov 03


Having Fewer Children and Grandchildren

On the subject of climate change, I think we need to not only think of what sort of planet we will be leaving to our children and grandchildren, but start to think about leaving fewer children and grandchildren for our planet to have to sustain.

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Quotation by Herb Bowie   |   2016 Sep 17


Developmental Levels as Evolving Social Structures

By Herb Bowie

As human society has evolved over the centuries, we have developed different types of social structures.

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Blog Post   |   2016 Jan 10


Religion, Storytelling and Art

By Herb Bowie

Religion can be thought of as a collection of shared cultural artifacts that provide a sense of meaning about human existence.

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Blog Post   |   2014 Nov 27


Human Nature

By Herb Bowie

What does it mean to be human? This must certainly be a foundational question for all of us, when contemplating almost any aspect of our existence.

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Blog Post   |   2013 Dec 15


The Four Quadrants of Human Knowledge

By Herb Bowie

I first came across Ken Wilber's work late in the last century when a friend handed me a copy of A Brief History of Everything as a birthday present. Wilber has described four quadrants of human knowledge, each representing a different and valid perspective on the same reality.

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Blog Post   |   2012 Oct 26


Religious Freedom

By Herb Bowie

When it comes to religion, I have to confess to being a bit of a mongrel. My mother was a Methodist. My father was a nudist. And I once called myself an immortalist. These days I choose not to align myself with any particular religious group.

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Blog Post   |   2012 Aug 04


The Nature of God

By Herb Bowie

Human records indicate that some sort of belief in a God or collection of gods is a feature of almost all human culture. No matter what the continent or age, a belief in powerful, supernatural beings that somehow influence human existence is a near-constant.

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Blog Post   |   2012 Mar 10


Reasons for Belief

By Herb Bowie

We often seem to assume that people say things, and come to believe them, because they are true. It seems to me, though, that people take up beliefs for a whole host of reasons, and the likely truth or falsehood of these statements is often the least of the motivating factors at work.

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Blog Post   |   2012 Feb 21


The Systemic Era

By Herb Bowie

We tend to divide up human history into relatively neat periods, and give them names like “The Agrarian Era,” “The Age of Industrialization” and “The Information Age.” When I look at what's going on around me today and try to make sense of it, I am forced to draw the conclusion that we are deep….

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Blog Post   |   2011 Aug 15


The Tautness of this Resonant Connection

No matter what the form, all art seems to produce a similar sensation – of timelessness, of implicit order, of connectedness.

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Quotation by Herb Bowie   |   2010 Nov 20


Developmental Levels

By Herb Bowie

A number of authors and systems of thought espouse one or another series of developmental levels, in fields of study as diverse as psychology, sociology, economics and organizational development.

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Blog Post   |   2009 Oct 22


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