Political decay — Insights from Francis Fukuyama

Are we experiencing political decay? Our political situation, particularly the current Presidential election process, is unsettling and unprecedented in my lifetime. Is this political decay or just a rough patch in our political process? I have been trying to determine whether my reaction has some rational basis or is just the emotional response of someone in the last third of life who, like so many before me, feels the world is falling…

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Character should matter in elections

I rarely write about politics but the current presidential election compels me to share some thoughts. I write not to advocate for or against one party or candidate. Instead, I am advocating for a principle.  That principle is that a candidate's character should matter when voting. This may seem to many simplistic, naïve, and Quixotic. But perhaps it is best to look past all the chaos of this election and focus…

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Fearless sifting and winnowing

The recent protests on several college campuses and the response by the leaders of those institutions have raised important issues that deserve public debate. One of the most important is free speech. The question is whether colleges and universities should allow speech by students, faculty, or outside speakers when some, or even most, of the people find the speech offensive. Some historical perspective, as always, is helpful.  In the late 1800's a University…

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So much we don’t understand — spooky action at a distance

For as long as I have known about the theory of quantum mechanics I have been fascinated and awed by what is referred to as "spooky action at a distance."  This is the phenomenon where two subatomic particles are "entangled" and a change in one particle affects the other particle instantaneously even though the particles may be light years apart. It seems foreign and impossible. Even Einstein thought this theory had…

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Facts about how immigrants assimilate in the United States

It is important that we base our opinions and public policy on immigration on facts.  With so much heated partisan rhetoric about immigration, it was refreshing to come across this recent study from The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The basic finding here are that recent immigrants are assimilating into the US as well if not better than previous immigrants.  On many measures immigrants show steady progress on assimilation as measured…

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World War I and its impact on the current Middle East conflicts

I recently attended a couple lectures at a University of Wisconsin - Madison symposium titled: The Diplomatic Legacy of World War I: A Symposium.  We were fortunate to have free public access to so many experts.  There are a couple thoughts I took away from the lectures I attended. The drawing of the national boundaries in the  Middle East that occurred at the conclusion of WWI were done with little involvement…

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The value of a traditional liberal arts education

A recent opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, Conservatives, Please Stop Trashing the Liberal Arts, caught my attention. I have long felt I missed learning something important in college. Those gaps left me ill prepared in important ways for work and life. I worked in my field after getting a Masters' Degree from a top university. I have a successful career and a happy life. So I'm not complaining. But college could have been…

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