The pandemic exposed some long-existing gaps in our civic life that had been dismissed or simply overlooked as we ran our busy lives. These gaps can be most easily explained as the duties we owe each other in a free society. Some duties are political like the duty we owe each other to abide by a common set of laws. Other duties are much more in the realm of commerce, the duties businesses owe customers for instance but also, the duties they owe employees and other stakeholders.

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Corporate social responsibility means more than being profitable for shareholders.

These duties reveal a social contract, an agreement that’s implied by life in…


It’s not that all good things must pass away, it’s that the conditions that made them good very often evolve obviating their need or possibly turning their results against their initial benefits. Take the Communications Decency Act as an example and specifically Section 230. Passed in 1996, the Act was seen as a way of encouraging Internet use by telling platform providers like message boards that they were not responsible for the postings of their members.

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The Declaration of Independence is a great example of Enlightenment thinking.

The act was eminently sensible back then but the nature of communications, exemplified by the rise of social media, has changed so drastically that…


There’s a worthwhile story in the New York Times about the invention of collage, that art form many of us experience in grade school that involves safety scissors that don’t really cut and glue that seems to get everywhere but on the object in question. Ah! Happy days!

What’s cool about Collage is not that it was invented over 100 years ago by the Cubist innovators Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso but what it has to say about the times we live in. These days, when serious people, or at least people with serious jobs, hold forth on space-based lasers…


Logical fallacies are an important part of life as we know it. Sometimes called rationalizations they are blips in logic that we most often use to get something we want though are not entitled to. We use fallacies and rationalizations daily. How important are they? I remember a line from a movie: you can go a day without sex but try going a day without a single rationalization.

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Oooh!

Logical fallacies are a part of communicating and we all use them from time to time. They’ve been around so long some have Latin names like, Tu quoque which translates as…


We’re beginning to see social capital redefined as an attribute of corporations in addition to the more common use in describing society at an individual level. At the same time, good will, an imprecise corporate attribute is still very much in use but it’s entirely possible that corporate social capital could come to replace it.

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Individual social capital can be brought down to the idea of paying it forward, doing something kind for someone else with no expectation of payback. For example, simple courtesies like yielding in traffic might qualify or holding a door for a stranger. …


Working in parallel, moving the goal posts and avoiding the point

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Photo by Headway on Unsplash

Negotiation is difficult. Practicing it requires skill, patience and experience and like many things in life, it can be done well, or it can be hindered by practitioners who might say they want compromise and not mean it. How do you tell which is which? When is a negotiation on the level and when is it negotiating in bad faith? What are the warning signals that one or both sides might be wasting the other’s time? Here are a few thoughts.

Working in parallel

One reason that negotiations don’t seem to get anywhere is that the parties are discussing two different but related…


Have we been here before?

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The new administration is gearing up for a long-awaited push to do something about climate change. And while that’s unarguably a good idea, there’s also a feeling that we’ve been here before. The papers are already running pieces about the anticipated pushback from various parties more fearful of having their profits squeezed than of having their grandchildren run out of potable water. It’s the political equivalent of running in mud and it shouldn’t be this way.

For reasons that aren’t clear Washington seems to have a focus on doing big headline grabbing pieces of legislation rather than smaller pieces that…


A few years ago, I thought the climate was in bad shape and that we weren’t doing enough, anything really, to change the picture. There were and are serious consequences to be faced by the global community regarding climate, I thought. So, to make a contribution, I did what I do best, I wrote a book about solutions. It was a good exercise too because it calmed my anxiety about the climate future. I have a lot of science, especially chemistry, in my background and it was reassuring to discover that, chemically at least, the climate situation was reversible.

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Maybe you’ve heard this one but read along because it has lessons for today.

Little Johnny has to do a project for school and, being a little boy, he decides to torture a frog in the name of science. He acquires a notebook, a sharp pencil, a knife, a measuring tape, and a frog. He also has the rudiments of the scientific method imperfectly acquired from class.

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From angiwallace.deviantart.com

The experiment starts innocently enough. Johnny draws a line in the sand, places the frog behind it and the loudly stamps his foot just behind the frog. …


By Alec and Denis Pombriant

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Amanda Gordon reciting her poem for the Biden inauguration.

Amanda Gorman was great. America’s first Youth Poet Lauriat wowed Joe Biden’s inauguration crowd with free verses that not only acknowledged our shared struggle with truth but dared to point to a common past and a hoped-for future that start with truth and use it as a foundational element in our discourse. Her poetry was aspiring reminding us that we are an aspirational people in search of a more perfect union also understanding that absolute perfection is not of this world. …

Denis Pombriant

Researcher, author of multiple books including “The Age of Sustainability” about solutions for climate change. Technology, business, economics.

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