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Over at First Things, David B. Hart has an interesting essay on what he calls Anarcho-Monarchism that touches on the basic problem of political power, which is that it is most sought by precisely the sorts of people who ought not to get it.  I like this metaphoric description of in particular:

We all have to make our way as best we can across the burning desert floor of history, and those who do so with the aid of “political philosophies” come in two varieties.

There are those whose political visions hover tantalizingly near on the horizon, like inviting mirages, and who are as likely as not to get the whole caravan killed by trying to lead it off to one or another of those nonexistent oases. And then there are those whose political dreams are only cooling clouds, easing the journey with the meager shade of a gently ironic critique, but always hanging high up in the air, forever out of reach.

Read the rest.  To the extent that I allow political philosophy to intrude on my thought, I am definitely in the latter category.  And I would also say that I have much sympathy with both the anarchic and monarchic arguments made by Mr. Hart.  (The discussion, by the way, is a development of ideas put forth in the correspondence of J.R.R. Tolkien – with a helping of snarky asides about Salvador Dali- and there’s some interesting back and forth in the comments about the governance of the Shire as a reflection of those ideas.)

Researchers have estimated how much time people spend letting their minds…..Oh, Look! Squirrel!

People spend nearly half of their waking hours not thinking about what they are actually doing, according to a US study conducted via the iPhone.

More than 2,200 volunteers downloaded an app which then surveyed them about their thoughts and mood at random times of day and night.

The Science study suggested minds wander, even from demanding tasks, at least 30% of the time.

A UK expert said other studies confirm people were easily distracted.

The iPhone was a novel research tool for researchers at Harvard University.

Participants agreed to be contacted, at which point they selected what they were doing from a menu, whether they were actually thinking about it, and how happy or sad they felt.

Remarkably, some participants were prepared to answer the survey even when making love.

While their study sample was composed entirely of people who owned the device, and were prepared to download and be disturbed by an app of this kind, the researchers said it provides an insight into how our minds can wander during the day.

After gathering 250,000 survey results, the Harvard team concluded that this group of people spent 46.9% of their time awake with their minds wandering.

Only 46.9 percent of the time?  Fly-weights.  Ol’ Robbo keeps just about conscious enough of the here and now to remember to put one foot in front of the other when he walks and not to jam his fork into his cheek, but he’s usually miles away in thought.

**Spot the quote. (UPDATE: Fixed. Sorry about that.)


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November 2010