Friday, October 29, 2010

Explosives from Yemen to US: bogus!

I posted this to npr about the lead story today on all things considered:

The mailings are obviously suspect for being an effort at political disinformation and propaganda, timed just before the election. What genuine serious terrorist would try to send exploding packages to US Jews from so obvious a place of origin as the latest scapegoat for terrorism, Yemen. These packages were apparently meant to be found, don't you think? From a perhaps gullible White House to the CIA to Mossad in Israel, this looks to me like a crude black op.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I'm embarrassed

Yesterday I impetuously (as usual) posted a blog in which I made 2 big mistakes about my own past. I said I hadn't voted for a successful candidate for president since I first voted for Hubert Humphrey in 1968, forgetting to mention that I voted for Barack Obama. I claimed that Richard Quinney's and my book was written in 1980 (confusing it in my own mind with a 1980 book I devoted to crime measurement), when Criminology as Peacemaking was published in 1991.
It's funny how I discover these mistakes. I am lying awake in bed or listening to music and just thinking about what I wrote, and then bingo, I remember these mistakes in reporting about events in my own life. Humbling in a milieu where people are focused on dementia. On the other hand, my memory of external events I blog about seem to remain pretty reliable. and peace--hal

Sunday, October 17, 2010

on reuniting hearts and minds

I thank Olaf Krassnitzky for this continuing exchange on the humanist sociology listserv about being academically marginalized.

Hal Pepinsky,,, 209 St. Pierre St., Worthington, OH 43085-2262, 1-614-433-7386 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              1-614-433-7386      end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              1-614-433-7386      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
From: Pepinsky, Harold E.
Sent: Sunday, October 17, 2010 2:08 PM
Subject: Olaf, I call the Enlightenment the source of the contemporary violence you point to, what say? l&p hal

Olaf, in the concluding chapter to Crim as Peacemaking in 1991, I traced violence to separating religion from reason (hence, my decision to make Quinney's chapter on Buddhist crim the opening chapter to our volume). The opening buzzword for our splitting apart personally and globally, as far as I can see, was "the Enlightenment," or in our lifetime, a fetish for "science" and "objectivity."
My whole problem with social measurement is that it focuses on achieving substantive goals. Imagine the absurdity of econometricians pronouncing us in the US as in recovery.
My professional and interpersonal focus has been on building social security. The measures of what works and doesn't can, I believe, most authoritatively be tested in whether we build trust most centrally in our very own daily relations. It took a lot of time with a wonderful therapist and mentor for me to learn that my own daily interpersonal fears, anger and satisfaction were my own ultimate testing ground for what works and what fails. By now I am more firmly than ever convinced that my own concentration on trusting and sharing particularly in my closest intergenerational family of choice is my best investment not only in what keeps generations from our parents to our grandchildren as safe as we can make them. I generalize. I find that the course of human relations repeats itself from the interpersonal to the organizational to the national to the global. Accordingly, I believe that concentrating on our personal relations, along with acting locally, are the best any of us has to promote survival of humanity in the face of the more highly powered outbursts, globally connected, outbursts of violence humanity has ever before set off.
Since I first voted for a president in 1968, my candidate has lost in every election until 2008. As between Republicans and Democrats, I am more alarmed by the Prussian focus on winning elections and disheartened by the Democratic tendency to try to get the average voter to vote for them as political circumtances change. From Nixon to Reagan to Bushes I and II, I have survived the fear that a president or presidential force would harm US inhabitants and humanity at large irrecovably. On reflection, I don't think consolidated national power and direction can do more than alleviate pain and share power with people bit by bit.
There's a page one story today in the New York Times on the decline of the Japanese financial empire. When I started teaching criminal justice Japan was the darling of Enlightened economists. I think US trajectory in global terms is likely to be in the same direction. I see nothing to stop it. Conspicuous consumption will no longer hire unemployed skilled workers, as in construction, although already of course adaptive construction craftspeople are sustaining themselves as by restorative and remodeling work. Bartering of services has never stopped particularly among poor folks, and it's a lot more reliable than even a bank these days. So we are learning, which I suppose makes me a humanist optimist. Prophecy aside, I feel so blessed by the human companionship I continue to enjoy, and I feel no higher calling than to stay the course. love and peace--hal

Message: 2
Date: Sun, 17 Oct 2010 08:52:02 -0400
From: Olaf Krassnitzky
To: "'Discussion group for the Association for Humanist Sociology'"

Subject: Re: [Ahs-talk] Ahs-talk Digest, Vol 20, Issue 45
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

I have experienced the same in a number of fields (medicine, senior
management, sociology, anthropology, visual arts), whenever I was not 'going
with the flow', if my thinking was seen as different (or 'off the wall")I
got stopped in my tracks. In one outfit the worst characterization one could
receive was to be called an 'independent thinker". So I do not think that
any of this is a consequence of the market system, but rather belongs into
the Kuhnian category of thinking, or even to the general human tendency to
feel threatened by anything that is "different"be it skin colour, accent or
worldview. The consumer market today actually favors novelty, , but those
novelty deserve a hard look how new they really are. The same in politics.
And then of course there is power woven into it, and power tends to favor
status quo and will paint the merely unconventional as radical, if not nuts
or evil.

Cheers, Olaf.

-----Original Message-----
From: []
On Behalf Of M.Weigand
Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 2010 5:17 PM
To: Discussion group for the Association for Humanist Sociology
Subject: Re: [Ahs-talk] Ahs-talk Digest, Vol 20, Issue 45

Berger's Invitation to Sociology was one of my early inspirations.
Unfortunately I met him in person and was very disappointed--from an early
humanistic position he veered to the right during the 1980's. In my graduate

school, humanistic\qualitative methods were viewed as "unscientific". The
trend was to become ever more "scientistic" and quantitative as sociologists

struggled to gain legitimacy and funding. Those of us with
humanistic\critical sociology perspectives faced a lack of employment
opportunities. Today I regret to say there are many sociological "grant
whores" (as in many disciplines). In this society, "radical"
(unconventional) academics are not jailed, they are starved to death by
lack of employment and research opportunities. Isn't this just another
example of how the market system operates?

Ahs-talk mailing list

Monday, October 11, 2010

chk today's for John Le Carre on corporate power

If you have a chance, check out David Cornwell, aka John le Carre, on democracy now on the interview after he told bbc he was done doing interviews. I think he and I would be one on the dangers of charter schooling. l&p hal

Hal Pepinsky,,, 209 St. Pierre St., Worthington, OH 43085-2262, 1-614-433-7386

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Charter Schools

I sent this message to WOSU-am's talk show, All Sides, which turned out to get at the basic issues of privatization I mentioned, viz.:

School Privatization
Hal Pepinsky,,
October 7, 2010
The charter school movement is a part of the global movement to privatize public assets that British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher launched in 1979. In the United States, privatization means that workplace records are private and that members of the school community like teachers have no due process rights. When schools are for profit, their primary obligation is to shareholders to minimize expenses like teacher salaries and fringe benefits. Sadly the Secretary of Education who now administers the national “race to the top” program came into office as superintendent of Chicago schools, where privatization of schools has displaced neighborhood schools in poor neighborhoods. The charter school movement is so very damaging to our children’s public right to a decent education. Hal

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Social Science Methodology

Hal Pepinsky,,
October 6, 2010
I feel safer calculating two steps at a time than one. For instance:
US politicians press the Chinese government to sell off enough of the US dollars they control to make US labor cheaper. If this move works, the Chinese will be “disincentivized” (how do we dream newspeak like this?) to invest in US government bonds. So then the Chinese government literally loses interest in buying US bonds and so the value of the US dollar goes down globally, by definition that the US becomes globally inflated. Our trade deficits decline because imports become more expensive. With continuing high, deunionized employment, US exports become more saleable. US residents join the so-called third world.
Or if Republicans triumph this election, what about blowback in 2012?
Or when a president resigned and the United States lost its first overt foreign in Vietnam, popular will to punish enemies swung upward, and out of Hollywood, an actor adept at delivering corporate messages and turning FBI Cold War informant became the “Teflon” president who was overwhelmingly re-elected during double-digit unemployment in 1984. There is a white-black contrast not so much in economic circumstances as in the color of our current national father.
How quickly we forget. Beyond that how much our news and social science findings go deterministically one objective or result at a time—in methodological terms deterministically—rather than stochastically—at least two interations at a time.
In daily life as in global affairs, I’ve found thinking two steps ahead to be a more socially secure investment than winning the next political contest. Shamelessly, I have decided not to register to vote in my new home town. Mostly, I don’t want to be summoned to jury duty, when I know that even if I by some miracle got to serve, I would in the context of the current legal system be asked to pass judgment about people I scarcely knew.
Early in life I was an enthused if undisciplined chess player. I was good enough to beat my child when she thought one move at a time and I thought through at least two before responding. In politics, in journalism, in social science, I’m frustrated by focus on which side wins next. Love and peace--hal