New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Life on Mars?

August 20, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Current Events, Randall Amster

Searching for Signs in the Cosmos, and on Earth

by Randall Amster

Forty years ago, David Bowie asked the musical question, “Is there life on Mars?” Bowie’s song embodied an escapist sensibility, a longing for life elsewhere to break the doldrums and despair of living on Earth. Filled with vivid imagery, the song reflects humankind’s eternal longing to be part of something larger than our mundane lives. In essence, it taps into an acute desire to discover that there’s more than meets the eye to this existence.

As such, the search for extraterrestrial life is equal parts theological, philosophical, and practical. With the Curiosity rover now cutting swaths through the stark Martian landscape, we may soon have an answer to this perpetual question, at least partially. More to the point, it’s entirely plausible that (at the least) vestiges of life will be found to exist wherever there is (or was) water, and Mars almost certainly fits that bill. The impending confirmation will do more than alter our creation mythology — it will force us to rethink whether the heavens are merely there for our taking as the sole cosmic occupants. (more…)

Good Violence, Bad Violence

July 31, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Current Events, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Mourning the Victims and Resisting the Bait-and-Switch

by Robert C. Koehler

“In the end, after he has felt the full force of our justice system, what will be remembered are the good people who were impacted by this tragedy,” President Obama said last week in Aurora, Colorado, after the shootings.

That’s probably not true.

From Charles Whitman up to the present day, the collective American memory preserves the name of the killer . . . the lone psycho, the shadow hero. We’re far too fascinated with violence not to mythologize its perpetrators. And just as we all know (because the media tell us) that there will be a “next war,” we know, oh God, in the deep churnings of the heart, that there will be more murder victims — schoolchildren, college students, shoppers, churchgoers, theatergoers, bystanders. We know because we live in a culture that tolerates and perpetuates violence. (more…)

Running Out

April 19, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Lawrence Wittner

Reflecting on The Race for What’s Left

by Lawrence Wittner

Is it possible to cope with the immense dangers posed by the rapid consumption of the world’s resources? In The Race for What’s Left, Michael Klare claims that it is — but only through a significant change in behavior.

Klare is the author of fourteen books, the most recent of which focus on resources and international conflict. He is also the defense correspondent for The Nation and the director of the Five College Program in Peace and World Security Studies at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts.

In The Race for What’s Left — a book displaying his stunning knowledge of drilling and mining techniques, obscure minerals, geology, and remote regions of the world — Klare argues that “the world is entering an era of pervasive, unprecedented resource scarcity.” Both government and corporate officials “recognize that existing reserves are being depleted at a terrifying pace and will be largely exhausted in the not-too-distant future.”

In their view, “the only way for countries to ensure an adequate supply of these materials, and thereby keep their economies humming, is to acquire new, undeveloped reservoirs in those few locations that have not already been completely drained. (more…)