In Praise of Idleness?
By Robert Bernstein   |   January 31, 2023

Work/life balance is one part of Utopia that I just wrote about. In Praise of Idleness was a collection of essays published by mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russell in 1935. In one essay he noted, “Owing to the productivity of machines, much less work than was formerly necessary is now needed to maintain a tolerable […]

What is Voting For
By Robert Bernstein   |   December 13, 2022

The 2010 midterm election for President Obama brought a devastating change in Congress. But, what did it mean? I happened to be listening to San Francisco talk radio KGO for several hours just before that election. The host asked people to call in, offering this framing of the issue: President Bush made a mess of […]

 

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Workplace Democracy?
By Robert Bernstein   |   November 29, 2022

Some years ago, I helped an engineer friend get a job at our company. Soon after she started, I invited her to attend a Science and Engineering Council meeting with me. I was shocked when she told me she had to miss the meeting because the new owners of the company were requiring her to […]

Trust to Thrive?
By Robert Bernstein   |   November 22, 2022

Do you want to be rich? To live really well? Then you will want to live in a society with high trust. Our World in Data detailed this in an article “Trust” by Esteban Ortiz-Ospina and Max Roser. Much of the data comes from the World Value Survey. The World Value Survey plotted per capita […]

What is Freedom?
By Robert Bernstein   |   November 15, 2022

President Franklin Roosevelt (FDR) delivered his famous “Four Freedoms” speech 11 months before Pearl Harbor took us into WWII. These four freedoms?  Freedom of speech; Freedom of worship;Freedom from want;Freedom from fear. This mural of the Four Freedoms (pictured) used to be on the County Human Resources Department. Note that the first two are negative […]

What Is an Animal Lover?
By Robert Bernstein   |   November 1, 2022

Some topics are still taboo to discuss and this may be one. Are you an “animal lover”? What does that mean to you? If you say you don’t like dogs, people are quick to ask if you like cats. Are those the only choices? There are 10-30 million species of animals on Earth. The exact […]

A Lesson From the Eighth Continent?
By Robert Bernstein   |   October 18, 2022

Over 20 years ago I attended a talk on Madagascar at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. It was one long rant about how the ecosystems of Madagascar had been almost totally destroyed. How there were no indigenous organizations for outside conservation groups to work with. And how the Pope had gone there to […]

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  • What Does the Bible Really Teach About Death?
    By Robert Bernstein   |   September 13, 2022

    Last year I lost a dear friend I will call “Susan” when she was on a high-altitude hiking adventure. She had spent most of her life in a fundamentalist Christian religion. But in recent years she had come to realize that religion is “just a bunch of made up stories.” When she died far too […]

    Can You Learn to be Lucky? Part 1
    By Robert Bernstein   |   August 2, 2022

    Dr. Richard Wiseman is a U.K. magician, skeptic, and psychology professor who set out to answer the title question! The result: The Luck Factor book, which I highly recommend! Soon after he began his research, the producer of a popular TV science program asked him to collaborate. They put out a short piece on the […]

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    Independent Commissions to Solve Climate Crisis and More?
    By Robert Bernstein   |   July 26, 2022

    Our system of government was deliberately set up to make change and action very difficult. Unfortunately, reality does not care about our inability to govern. Notably, the Climate Crisis marches on, with action urgently needed to avert unprecedented disaster on a global scale. The President, House of Representatives, and Senate are rarely in alignment. And, […]

    You Are Dreaming Now?
    By Robert Bernstein   |   July 12, 2022

    How do you know you are not dreaming right now? “I had to pinch myself to be sure I was not dreaming” is an expression. But it is mistaken. It is perfectly possible to pinch yourself in a dream and think you are awake. Would you believe that in fact there is no foolproof test […]

    Learning from Other Countries?
    By Robert Bernstein   |   June 28, 2022

    “We live in the greatest country on Earth!” So said a caller on Bill Maher’s Real Time on the eve of the unprovoked U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Maher asked the caller how he knew this. “Because I have lived in the U.S. my entire life.” Maher tried to explain the illogic of this, […]

    Policy Makers Don’t Care About You?
    By Robert Bernstein   |   June 7, 2022

    “When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” This was the conclusion of a Princeton University study by Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page, “Testing Theories of American Politics: […]

    Life Purpose?
    By Robert Bernstein   |   May 24, 2022

    Normalizing Atheism is an active Facebook page I recently joined. It is a surprisingly respectful forum for atheists to “come out” and for religious people to ask questions of atheists. On April 13, someone named Brian C. made this post: “I’ve been pondering something lately: Is it possible to live without meaning or purpose? If […]

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