Eben Rose

South Portland, ME, United States

About Eben

Areas of Expertise

Origins of life, Archean geology, Cambrian geology, Philosophy of Science

Comments & conversations

162029
Eben Rose
Posted about 2 years ago
Meg Jay: Why 30 is not the new 20
Congratulations to you and to all your 20something cohort who have the luxury to "settle for a job that's 'good enough for now'" and who also enjoy the transcendent confidence that they could instead "be doing great things". Please know that you are among the vast minority of such privileged free agents among your generation. Others are working as waitresses, line cooks, store clerks, etc. because they must pay rent and fend for themselves without the luxury of such choice. They take on soul-crushing jobs not because these jobs afford them freedom from worry about their future "for now". Quite the opposite. For them the paths to fulfilling careers do not reveal themselves so readily or, more commonly, are effectively closed. Consider that over a million 20somethings presently serve as active-duty rank-and-file soldiers, sailors, and airmen. Many are enticed by the recruitment ads that offer this as a pathway to a more promising future (and a stable present) and are willing to risk life and limb to obtain that promise even if, in the end, the promise might not be kept. Most of these recruits face few other choices. They are not supported by trusts and endowments; they do not have parents who are paying for them to go college or for summer enrichment programs like Outward Bound. They do not enjoy the confidence that theirs will be a stable, fruitful future of the sort that Jay apparently enjoyed. We are learning now that millions in their 20s are strapped with crippling student loan debt-- a debt which was accrued in large part under the hope of building a career and of planning for the future. Where is that future now? What words of advice --or admonishment-- does Dr. Jay have for those who made the most responsible choices that presented themselves at the time and who are now unemployed, underemployed, suffering from PTSD, or who are otherwise struggling to stay afloat? Seems that Jay is the one who trivializes your generation as she liberally doles out the shame.
162029
Eben Rose
Posted about 2 years ago
Meg Jay: Why 30 is not the new 20
So perhaps what I don't get about her talk is what exactly it is that she is criticizing. Immaturity? Is she criticizing people who drink too much? who play video games all day? who sleep around or watch too much TV? who follow the Kardashians or Royal Family gossip? Is this what is implied in her crass characterization of the twentysomethings? What makes that age group any more or less responsible than those in their thirties, forties, or teens? I have no doubt that she has had prodigal clients/patients who have squandered their advantages frivolously, but ours is hardly a deeply philosophical society as we squander our environmental inheritance on conspicuous consumption and flit from crisis to crisis. Why single out the twentysomethings for the shallow amnesiac narcissism that is so much a part of American culture in the eyes of the rest of the world? And why be so quick to condemn a whole generation who at some level wrestles with meaning and purpose within such a culture? One more comment: those twentysomething clients she admonishes to live responsibly must have a level of security that allows them to afford her therapeutic services in the first place. She does not see those who are working unbenefitted, low-wage jobs and who lack the time or support to see a psychologist not by choice, but by circumstance. Her broad-brushed criticism of twentysomethings is an insult to the multitude (maybe the majority) of that generation who are working and/or going to school and/or raising a family, and who are taking these tasks very seriously with abiding hope for a happy and secure future despite these uncertain times.
162029
Eben Rose
Posted about 2 years ago
Meg Jay: Why 30 is not the new 20
Perhaps Jay is counseling only those twentysomethings who first of all have an inheritance and inherited opportunities to squander. What advice does she offer to those whose choices in their twenties were of a limited and bad lot in this "land of opportunity"? Where is the acknowledgement in this talk (or more so from some of the comments about this talk) that unemployment and underemployment is manifest in many sectors that had, in our twenties, promised great rewards? Where is the acknowledgement that "success" in our society is pegged to monetary success that richly rewards, say, the executive class with all of its ethical compromises, and, representing the other extreme, offers poverty wages to social workers out there "fighting the good fight" with compassion and selflessness? Would Jay include as someone who squandered her youth the schoolteacher who faces wage cuts and layoffs, and who faces all of the commensurate stresses that such a situation entails? I think it's rather snobbish of Jay to cast the whole generation of twentysomethings-- the lost generation who are the beneficiaries of the empty cornucopia of trickle-down economics -- as prodigal sons and daughters lacking responsibility and maturity. Maybe her rich-enough clients fit this description. But twentysomethings represent millions of others who are struggling to find meaningful direction and some sense of empowerment in a profligate, wasteful, ADD society finally facing its economic and environmental reckoning. And lacking that empowerment, why scold them for gathering their hay while the sun shines when such dark days are predicted? Remember that those who are successful owe their success to a combination of personal attributes (possibly but not necessarily attributes to be emulated) and external factors that are stochastic and beyond individual control. So scold your adult children, Dr. Jay, but also show some sympathy to those who circumstance, not choice, has left struggling.
162029
Eben Rose
Posted about 2 years ago
Meg Jay: Why 30 is not the new 20
Something about this talk struck me as antithetical to much of Ken Robinson's pep talk posted at the same time as this. Robinson implores us to recapture the expressive, creative, and adventuresome spirit of childhood and to eschew the narrow selection of life choices that (American) schools tend to emphasize. Here, Dr. Jay seems to coach all twentysomethings into resume building-- not to explore and gather diverse experiences that build character and add to a compelling volume of life's stories, but to build "image capital" that will make one happy and secure in older age. Robinson speaks in terms that, though vague, invoke some sense of human spirit that transcend market demands. Jay uses the language of market capitalism to promote the rewards of pursuing a very linear life path early on. Would that we could all have the accurate clarity of vision to pursue a well-defined life path with an early start in youth... and to expect society to offer careers that more broadly capture the breadth of human creativity and potential. But the truth for many of us is that the paths of opportunity are strewn with unforeseen pitfalls, that these paths have grown more exclusive and narrowly selective (with less glistening rewards in the end) than when we began our journey, that these paths require us to compromise our ethics in some way and at various scales, or that these paths were never really available to us in the first place despite a culture that says "you can be whatever you want to be if you just apply yourself". In any case, I appreciate that Robinson at least seems to see human potential as broader than that which is confined by our market-driven society-- a market-driven society that Jay seems eager to corral young exploring minds into.
162029
Eben Rose
Posted over 2 years ago
Is capitalism sustainable?
Some concepts that are difficult for us to grapple with presently can, in time, become social norms by "organic" transformations of behavior, such as through popularization of ideas, adopting new descriptive language, and even through dialogues such as this. I think about, for example, the effect that Harriet Beecher Stowe had on influencing the national mood about slavery. I can also cite, for example, Brownmiller's (1990) account of Camita Wood's appeal for having been denied unemployment insurance after what we would now identify as clear case of 'sexual harassment'. That case was the origin of the term 'sexual harassment'. It was a term that was deliberated on in a brainstorming session by Woods and her lawyers and several others with similarly denied claims. Now as a result we have an easy way to discuss a concept that circumlocution could not otherwise communicate effectively enough to justify leaving a job and being eligible for unemployment. A similar history attends the term 'child abuse'. These are what linguists refer to as 'lacunae'-- concepts for which there is a gap in language. I believe that words can change worlds. The fact that we are discussing 'sustainability' at all is progress. This word would have drawn blank stares 20 years ago. But now we have some sense for a target in mind that would, 20 years ago, have required several sentences and possibly the loss of attention. I believe that national moods can change as well. Conspicuous consumption can grow more unpopular than it is now. It can be popularly internalized that hoarding wealth is not the gateway to happiness and that it may actually cause suffering in the world. And quite possibly those intangible elements of support and esteem-building-- those that give us a sense of accomplishment and success; those that give us a sense that we have lived/are living 'the good life'-- will center on ecologically sustainable behaviors. I already see much progress in this regard, and I hope for more.
162029
Eben Rose
Posted over 2 years ago
Is capitalism sustainable?
Sean, perhaps the key issue is the difference between what is shared and what is accrued, using your definition of the term 'greed'. The recent TED talk by Richard Wilkinson may help put some meaning behind a term like 'value' in the context of 'providing a great deal of value to the world'. Perhaps you would agree to the folksy wisdom of the quote by Libertarian Walter Williams: "Let me offer you my definition of social justice: I keep what I earn and you keep what you earn. Do you disagree? Well then tell me how much of what I earn belongs to you, and why?" The answer to Williams is this: it depends on how you earned that wealth. If that wealth was "earned" by exploiting labor and extracting environmental resources beyond sustainability, then that wealth cannot be fairly called "yours". The concept of sustainability recognizes, for the first time in the human experience, the real raw resource limits of our planet and the fact that this is a key source of wealth. This where social justice and environmental sustainability intersect, and this is where terms like "wealth" and "value" must be anchored.
162029
Eben Rose
Posted over 2 years ago
Is capitalism sustainable?
There must be a distinction between communism-, socialism-, and/or capitalism-done-right and communism-, socialism-, and/or capitalism-done-wrong. Marx and Engels wrote in response to the dystopia of capitalist industrial England. This does not mean that capitalism looks like mid-18th Century England in all cases. Likewise communism under Stalin or in N. Korea presently is hardly what Marx and Engels envisioned. And as to socialism, Denmark and Sweden seem to be faring well these days economically and in terms of citizen satisfaction with their government and society. Perhaps we should be less spooked by these labels and then could learn a thing or two from these good examples of, say, sociaiism-done-right.
162029
Eben Rose
Posted over 2 years ago
Is capitalism sustainable?
We can point to greed as "human nature" and thus use this as justification for unbridled greed, as if by denying our greed we are denying our human nature. But charity, forbearance, reflection, and contentedness are also all aspects of human nature as endemic to the human race as greed. Human nature also must include an abiding sense of justice, fairness, equality, progress, and (perhaps as new capacities) sustainability and global awareness. We can always retreat to limbic levels and our fate may indeed resemble something akin to that depicted in. e.g., the book (or movie) The Road. But I believe the promise of a discussion such a this is in dispelling the inevitability of this outcome and recognizing that we can-- and often should-- control our primal urges that were wrought in a world of scarcity. We have much greater potential to nurture the 'sapiens' aspect of our species' namesake than contemporary capitalism's emphasis on avarice allows.
162029
Eben Rose
Posted over 2 years ago
Is capitalism sustainable?
Does anyone else believe in the promise of developing a concept such as Gross National Happiness (as coined by Bhutan's enlightened king Jigme Singye Wangchuck) to transition from capitalism-as-we-know-it to something more directly relating to sustainable and equitable happiness than placing personal accumulation of wealth as the summum bonum of capitalism?
162029
Eben Rose
Posted over 2 years ago
Jill Tarter: Join the SETI search
1) Some bacteria, as well as tardigrades, can survive in a vacuum. We would not conclude that tardigrades are extraterrestrial. The demands of interstellar travel are greater than survivability in a vacuum. There must be abundance from the point source of diffusion capable of fertilizing stellar bubbles (the radius of stellar wind that pushed particles away). 2) We are not only the stuff of stars. We are that stuff in very specific proportions and assembled in path-dependent steps, from the molecular level up. This path dependency, if it is a natural evolution, is a stochastic process that relies on ecologic-scale buildup of substrates in stepwise fashion as part of Earth's coevolutionary history with organic matter. It takes much much more than a cupboard full of ingredients. 3) We are in a spacetime well that is limited in its accessibility to the human experience. Beyond this spacetime well, investigation across distances is investigation across time. Sending a probe, say, to the nearest "Earth-like" planet to investigate "life" there (how ever it is defined) would take hundreds of thousands of years. what human experience takes place at that scale? (The answer is, all of human experience.) At this point in time our Earthly home is in the balance; our very existence is threatened by self-inflicted harm to our environment, Talks like Tarter's put science's stamp of approval to the science fiction of rescue from without. I believe such talk is irresponsible if it is not counterbalanced by equally strident communication of the distances and dangers involved.