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Archive for RYOL Lecture Info

I applaud efforts to make healthcare affordable, but in this blog post I’d like to offer up a caution: “As we make healthcare in specific and care in general more affordable, will it still remain desirable?” Looked at another way, does it make sense to make something that is quickly becoming undesirable, affordable? Should we be looking at a Desirable Care Act to go along with the Affordable Healthcare Act? To set the stage here, I’m old enough to remember when black bag carrying doctors made house calls. What a quaint notion given the current cattle-call environments we now have to regularly endure at medical clinics. OK, I know I’m spoiling the punch of this blog post but below I’ll argue that care has become increasingly cold, impersonal, and robotic, thus making it increasingly undesirable. I’ll use a bullet point format to make my point because, well, it’s easier and I’m in a slacker mood as the holidays approach.

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In my dual roles as psychotherapist (currently inactive) and philanthropist (currently active), I regularly attend workshops and conferences. As an example, the Association of Small Foundations recently wrapped up its annual meeting here in Albuquerque on October 3rd, 2013. (Our Foundation sponsored bringing in William Powers to speak as a part of our RYOL Lecture Series. Powers spoke on his book Hamlet’s BlackBerry, which talks about how people across time have found strategies that allow them to relate to technology in ways that bring greater insight, depth, meaning, and purpose to life. I summarized Powers’ book in an earlier blog series.)

At these workshops and conferences speakers will often use words and phrases such as systems or systems perspective or changing systems or acting systematically. As an example, back in 2009 I attended a workshop on Maximizing Grant Impact hosted by the Conference of Southwest Foundations. One of the slides presented was entitled “What’s Hot” and included the following bullet point: Systems Theory—Learning (continuous, peer, strategic, emergent, organizational). The presenter told us that systems theory was a hot topic in philanthropy but then did not go into any detail.

My overall impression is that systems concepts are often presented and talked about in vitalistic ways that do capture essences (a la Bergson’s élan vital). Unfortunately these essences are then framed in vague and often confusing ways. I believe these presenters mean well, however, their lack of definition and specificity often diminishes their message concerning systems theory, systems thinking, and even systems change.

In this blog post series I’d like to take a first pass at bringing a bit of clarity to the topic of systems. It will be a quick, cursory attempt at best. And I’ll use Bowlby’s work as a backdrop because he spent considerable time looking at systems worldviews and concepts. For more on the connection between John Bowlby and systems theory, contact the Foundation for a copy of the article we commissioned by Gary Metcalf entitled John Bowlby: Rediscovering a Systems Scientist.

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The FHL Foundation is excited to announce that we have partnered with the Association of Small Foundations (ASF) to bring author William Powers to Albuquerque to talk about his book Hamlet’s BlackBerry—A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age (2010, HarperCollins). Powers will be the keynote speaker for the first day of ASF’s annual meeting to be held here in Albuquerque October 1–3, 2013, at Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town.

Author and Book Description—

William Powers was born in Arizona and grew up in Rhode Island. He graduated from Harvard University magna cum laude with a degree in U. S. history and literature, and did graduate study in Spain as a Rotary International Scholar. He began his career as a U.S. Senate staff member working on foreign relations, intelligence and military affairs.

He then joined The Washington Post, working initially for Bob Woodward in the investigative unit. He did reporting and research for The Commanders, Woodward’s international best seller about the first Gulf War.

As a Post staff writer and columnist in the 1990s, Powers covered business, media, politics, popular culture and ideas. His writing has appeared in The AtlanticThe New York Times and many other publications. He created The New Republic’s first media column, and for ten years wrote an influential column on the intersection of media and politics for National Journal.

He has been featured in dozens of major news outlets, including interviews with Katie Couric, NPRGood Morning AmericaThe PBS NewsHourCNBC and the BBC, and coverage in The New YorkerThe Wall Street JournalUSA TodayWired and The Guardian.

Powers has been a speaker at such high-profile venues as South By Southwest, the Aspen Festival of Ideas, Google and Facebook. Reporting on one of his dynamic presentations, The New York Times called him an “apostle” of the next wave of digital thinking.

He is the author of The New York Times best seller, Hamlet’s BlackBerry. Widely praised for its insights on the digital future, the book grew out of research he did as a fellow at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center. It has been selected as the Common Read at a number of U.S. colleges and universities, and translated into many foreign languages.

Powers is a two-time winner of the National Press Club’s Rowse Award for best American media commentary. He has been a resident fellow at the MacDowell Colony, and studied the technology culture of Japan on a fellowship from the Japan Society.

He spent 2012 as director of The Crowdwire, a project analyzing the role of social media in the U. S. presidential race. The Crowdwire was sponsored by and based at Bluefin Labs, a technology company that grew out of the MIT Media Lab and was acquired by Twitter in early 2013.

He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, author Martha Sherrill, and their son.

Talk and Meet the Author Details—

WHAT: The Foundation’s third lecture in its RYOL Lecture Series

WHO: William Powers, author of the 2010 book Hamlet’s BlackBerry—A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age

WHY: To further investigate not only technological revolutions across time (i.e., oral traditions, written language, print media, screen technologies, etc.), but also how to develop a productive relationship with current digital technologies revolutionizing our world (i.e., smartphones, tablets, hypermedia, the Internet, social media, etc.)

WHEN: Tuesday October 1st, 2013

WHERE: The Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town – 800 Rio Grande Blvd NW – Albuquerque, NM 87104 (Room TBA)

HOW MANY: Seating limited to 25 attendees


  • Registration 11:30 to 12pm
  • Lunch (courtesy of ASF) from 12:00 to 12:30pm (along with ASF attendees)
  • Half hour lunch talk from 12:30 to 1pm (along with ASF attendees)
  • 15 minute break to 1:15pm (for FHL group)
  • 45 minute Q&A from 1:15 to 2pm (for FHL group)

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF HAMLET’S BLACKBERRY: Click on this link to access part I of the 14-part blog post summary of Hamlet’s BlackBerry written by the Foundation’s president

REGISTRATION: Once again, we will be using Eventbrite.com for our registration services, and MGR & Associates for our event planning. Use the EventBrite widget along the right-hand side of this blog site to register. You can also go to the EventBrite web site and search for this event.

We look forward to seeing you at this exciting event: an opportunity to meet in both large and small group settings to hear from one of the leading voices—William Powers—in the area of society and technology. If you have any questions concerning this event, feel free to contact the FHL Foundation using the Contact Us link above. Click on this link for more information on ASF’s Albuquerque Annual Meeting, October 1–3, 2013.

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Over the weekend I enjoyed reading Mary Eberstadt’s 2012 book entitled Adam and Eve after the Pill—Paradoxes of the Sexual Revolution. In many ways Adam and Eve after the Pill expands on themes Eberstadt delivers in her 2004 book entitled Home-alone America—The Hidden Toll of Day Care, Behavioral Drugs, and Other Parent Substitutes (a book I have mentioned many times before in my blog posts). In Home-alone America, Eberstadt points out the following paradox: If parents, educators, politicians, and practitioners (i.e., pediatricians, child psychologists, mental health therapists, etc.) are so concerned with the welfare of children, then why are they actively pushing parent substitutes such as behavioral drugs (i.e., Ritalin, Adderall, Prozac, Zoloft, Xanax, etc.), day care, and consumer products (i.e., Einstein DVDs, baby gym memberships, etc.)? In Adam and Eve after the Pill, Eberstadt continues looking at the paradoxes often displayed by Western society by asking, “What’s the source of these paradoxes and what possible purpose do these paradoxes serve?”

To cut to the chase, here’s how I would frame the polemic that Eberstadt delivers in Adam and Eve after the Pill:

History will ultimately view the introduction of the birth control pill in 1960 as representing one of the greatest wedges of all time, the purpose of which is to separate nature from nurture.

Simply, Eberstadt argues that when you separate or liberate nature from nurture, paradoxes are sure to arrive on the societal scene. We’ll look at a few of these paradoxes in the rest of this blog post.

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Robots, robots everywhere

by Jay Nelson
February 2013 issue of SWCP Portal
(reprinted with the kind permission of the author)

What follows is a reprint of an article by Jay Nelson that appeared in the February 2013 issue of Southwest Cyberport Portal Newsletter. Southwest Cyberport is the FHL Foundation’s IP or Internet provider. Their newsletter appears in our invoice statement each month. Given that SWCP is very much a digital technology company, I am impressed by how much they regularly write on such issues as how technology affects us not only as individuals but also as a society. The following article is just one example. I asked for (and received) permission to reprint this particular article because I myself have written extensively on what automation is doing to our society, especially our economy. In short, pundits (like economist Jeremy Rifkin, more on Rifkin below) regularly point to automation as a chief cause of our high levels of un- or underemployment. I am always heartened to see that others are also looking at this issue. When I called Jay, he told me that the TV news program 60 Minutes ran a piece on automation back in January, 2013. I did a Google search and, indeed, the title of the piece is, Are Robots Hurting Job Growth? Jay told me that the 60 Minutes piece offers up a more gloomy picture than the one he paints in his article. I’ll offer up a few additional gloomy observations of my own following this reprint of Jay’s article. For now, enjoy this reprint of Robots, Robots Everywhere. And thanks Jay. (My editorial comments will be in brackets.)

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About two weeks ago we launched a Zoomerang survey to collect feedback information from participants who attended the Foundation’s RYOL Lecture by Nicholas Carr on February 17th, 2012. Mr. Carr spoke about his 2010 book The Shallows—What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. As mentioned in my February 24th, 2012, post, Mr. Carr’s lecture was well attended and well received. In this post I’d like to briefly cover the results of the Zoomerang survey. We sent out 25 survey invites and we received 19 completed surveys. Not too shabby. Thanks to all who participated in the survey. We will definitely use your thoughts to guide our efforts as we put together the next RYOL Lecture.

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Categories : RYOL Lecture Info
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As reported here previously, on February 17th, 2012, the FHL Foundation brought Nicholas Carr—author of the 2010 book The Shallows—What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains—to Albuquerque to speak as a part of the Foundation’s Roll Your Own Lecture (RYOL) Series. This lecture benefitted St. Martin’s Hospitality Center, which received a grant check for $1,250. For more on the Foundation’s RYOL Lecture Series, click on the link above. (For those of you receiving this post by email, you’ll have to come over to our blog site to get more information.) The lecture was sold out at 25 participants. We have launched a Zoomerang survey to collect feedback from lecture participants. This survey will close on March 2nd, 2012. I’ll cover those results in a separate post. Today I’d like to briefly summarize Mr. Carr’s lecture.

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As I read through Nicholas Carr’s book The Shallows—What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, I took a few notes centered on where the information Carr presents dovetails with the information John Bowlby presents in his trilogy on attachment theory. Here are my notes. The page numbers refer to pages in The Shallows. Read More→

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Author Nicholas Carr will be speaking as a part of the Foundation’s Roll Your Own Lecture (RYOL) Series. Mr. Carr is coming to Albuquerque on Friday, February 17th, 2012, to talk about his book The Shallows—What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains.

Book Description—The Shallows

Here’s a description of The Shallows from the book’s publisher:

(W. W. Norton & Company, June 2010)

Finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction

In The Shallows, Carr describes how human thought has been shaped through the centuries by “tools of the mind”—from the alphabet to maps, to the printing press, the clock, and the computer.  The book interweaves a fascinating account of recent discoveries in neuroscience that reveal how our brains change in response to our experiences. The technologies we use to find, store, and share information can literally reroute our neural pathways.

Building on the insights of thinkers from Plato to McLuhan, Carr makes a convincing case that every information technology carries an intellectual ethic—a set of assumptions about the nature of knowledge and intelligence. He explains how the printed book served to focus our attention, promoting deep and creative thought.

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Quick Look:

Separate but unequal: Charts show growing rich-poor gap – Yahoo! News.

by Zachary Roth

This a quick follow-up to my February 18th, 2011, post wherein I comment on a news article entitled, How the Middle Class Became the Underclass. The growing income gap is a topic that we have been tracking for some time now. The growing income gap is a central theme of Daniel Brook’s 2008 book The Trap: Selling Out to Stay Afloat in Winner-Take-All America. Brook talked about the growing income gap at our first RYOL Lecture. (For more on the Foundation’s RYOL Lecture Series, use the link above). Brook talked about how the growing income gap could lead to increasing “brain drain” in the non-profit sector, increased housing insecurity, increased job insecurity, a decrease in funding to schools, and an increase in the inability to pay for college. In short, the increasing income gap plays a role in many of the social ills facing foundations today. For more on Brook’s work and lecture, see my posts of July 29th and 30th, 2010. Here are a few charts from Roth’s article graphically illustrating the growing income gap. The text accompanying the charts was written by Roth. Enjoy (if you can keep your gorge from rising). Read More→

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