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Practically Idealistic blog
The title for this blog originated with use of the term “practical idealist” in this 1996 opinion piece, which asked: “To what kind of work should a practical idealist aspire?” A century and a half earlier, Emerson, in his 1841 essay Circles, wrote: “There are degrees in idealism.  We learn first to play with it academically. . . .  Then we see in the heyday of youth and poetry that it may be true, that it is true in gleams and fragments.  Then, its countenance waxes stern and grand, and we see that it must be true.  It now shows itself ethical and practical.”  John Dewey and Mahatma Gandhi embraced practical idealism in the 20th century, as did UN Secretary General U Thant.  Al Gore invoked it in a 1998 speech. In the context of this blog, the term is meant to convey idealism tempered but not overwhelmed by realism: a search for the ideal on a path guided by common sense.
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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Edward Ball’s “The Inventor and the Tycoon”

A July 7 post below mentioned Sticks and Stones, a book by Emily Bazelon.  I just finished a book by another New Haven-based author, Edward Ball, known for works including his important book Slaves in the Family.

Edward Ball’s latest book, The Inventor and the Tycoon, is about an inventor of motion pictures, E. Muybridge (who gave himself various names and spellings over the years) and his onetime patron Leland Stanford – the railroad tycoon whose land and fortune created Stanford University.  The book’s history (including of Gilded Era-political corruption and extravagance, as well as of technology) and the author’s understated wit make the story both enlightening and entertaining.

8:10 am edt 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Giving Blood

I donated blood recently and encourage others to give blood, which one may do every eight weeks.  (For example, locally on August 16, there will be a blood drive at New Haven’s municipal Hall of Records; other Fridays, the Red Cross chapter house on Whitney Avenue is typically the location.)

7:22 pm edt 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

“Defeating the Culture of Bullying…”

I recently read Emily Bazelon's book, Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy.  Her book is valuable and subtle, informing readers about bullying without exaggerating it in promoting a positive culture of “character and empathy.” 

One of the authorities she cites, Susan Swearer of the University of Nebraska, describes "five myths about bullying" (December 2010, Washington Post). 

Emily Bazelon’s book also gives attention to Facebook’s fitful attempts to reduce bullying behaviors through that online medium.

Now, Facebook is benefiting from Yale's Marc Brackett and the psychological insights that he and colleagues at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence bring to this effort.  They are focusing on 13- and 14-year-olds and advice for their parents, teachers, and guidance counselors.

8:35 am edt 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

“Those Who Serve”

NPR’s “Those Who Serve” series today featured Sgt. Chris Cunningham, now on his fifth deployment to Afghanistan and training Afghan soldiers.  Thanks to Sgt. Cunningham, and the other members of the military and their families, for their service to our nation and the world.

A July 2012 (July 4) post cited a prior installment in NPR’s “Those Who Serve” series.  A March 2013 post treated Tomas Young’s “Last Letter” on the Iraq War.

2:31 pm edt 

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