Suggest a Topic

After eight years, we still get great topic ideas from members and strangers alike.  If you have one, comment here, tell DavidG, or come to a meeting on a Monday night and see if you thin k it might fit the group’s needs.

34 responses

  1. Really. Please, please suggest some.

  2. — What should we nickname the last decade, and why?

    — Is Social Security really going bankrupt? [UPDATE: Discussed 9/9/10]

    — Should California voters legalize marijuana in November? [UPDATE: 10/20/10)

    — Can we have immigration reform that satisfies everyone? [update: 8/19/10]

    1. Check my new gravatar!

      1. ah bill youre so cute!

      2. I think Bill’s cuteness would be a bad topic. Plus, who’s Bill?

  3. The decline of the traditional family and its implications on the future of society. [UPDATE: 8/26/10]

  4. What is Wisdom?

    How have volcanoes affected humanity? [UPDATE: 7/22/10]

  5. The increasing gap between rich and poor – a ticking social time bomb? [UPDATE: 12/23/10]

  6. Now that we are free of Gary’s 7 year long veto on this subject, it’s way overdue for discussion:
    “When does human life begin, and when does it become a legally-protected person” [UPDATE: 11/18/10]

  7. OK; the problem is you want get anyone to agree about this because there is no logical or reasonable way to answer such a question, in my view at least. One has to make an arbitrary decision (or follow the Holy Father).

  8. Maybe we could have a topic on abortion more generally and if anyone wants to get into the more scientific and/or theological questions of when life begins, then we can.

    There are many interseting aspects to abortion other than irreconcilable first pribciples: constitutional law, politics of, current restrictions, recent effots by states to restrict much more drastically, etc.

  9. In reply to Jim Z’s remarks: Since when is our purpose to get anyone to agree on anything? This would support Gary’s assertion that we are becoming a mutual admiration society. Au contraire, we should encourage disagreement as long as one’s opinion is well articulated. Let’s hear the different opinions as to when life begins and when it becomes a legally protected person, and have a civilized conversation about it. We won’t change any minds, but our brains would be challenged and stimulated and we may learn something in the process.

  10. I don’t want to discourage such a discussion but my point is this:
    On certain issues, while there may well be different views, there are also areas
    of agreement which may emerge; or at least, the factual criteria which are a propos
    may come out as well as some way to structure the problem. You may still disagree but the problem has some valid dimensions of approach, so to speak, and that is the most fruitful kind of discussion.
    I may be be wrong, but the problem of “When does life begin” seems so utterly amorphous in these terms that such a result seems unlikely.
    However, if people want to discuss it…by all means. I will probably come
    to add my two cents, which is that at least in the context of abortion, the most
    useful criterion is, when is the baby viable outside the womb?

  11. “Who are the best and worst US presidents and why?” A new survey of historians just listed GWB as 5th worst (above Buchanan, Grant, Harding, and Pierce, I think). FDR is #1. Lincoln, Jefferson, TR, and Washington, are next if I remember right… [UPDATE: 1/6/11]

  12. Regarding the abortion idea, please note that on Sept. 23 we will be discussing whether the Constitution contains a right to privacy. That’s related to abortion in that Roe was decided on the basis ans violated a right to privacy allegedly implied in the Bill of Rights.

    Privacy right discussions used to be a code word for abortion rights. But, now, with the post 9/11 surveillance state and growing police powers, it’s about a whole lot more.

  13. You may have seen the news this week that China has surpassed Japan as world’s #2 economic power (with something like 1.3 trillion growth in the quarter vs. 1.2 trillion).
    Might not this be a good topic for future discussion==”China as #2?” [UPDATE: Done May 12, 2011]

  14. The State of Education and the Merit of Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind. [UPDATE: done on 7/28/11]

  15. Cooperation or Competition: Which is More Beneficial to Society? [Update: Done in November 2010]

  16. The Importance of the U.N., Past, Present, and Future. [UPDATE: Done July 2011]

  17. The Media – Watchdog or Lapdog? [UPDATE: Done on 8/25/11]

  18. Possible future discussion topics:

    1) If human beings are the smartest creatures on the planet, then why is civilization always so screwed up?

    2) Will we ever be able to afford to make overdue improvements in infrastructure?

    3) Should marijuana be legalized or decriminilized in Mexico?

    4) Would it make sense to raise the gas tax in The United States?

    5) How many people would ride a ferry oing between Imperial Beach and Rosarito Beach?

    6) What would the Founding Fathers think about the current debate over “the right to bear arms?”

    That’s all for now. Till next time.

    dw chula vista

  19. Voting rights, idea inspired by sickening efforts nationwide to make it harder for people to vote, targeted at low-income and young voters.

  20. Can the use of Sharia law in America coexist with our current rule of law?

    1. Thanks for the suggestion. However, we just did Sharia law on May 5, 2011. See here for links to a few articles on the subject of the domestic angle: https://civilizedconversation.wordpress.com/2011/05/02/this-weeks-mtg-sharia-law-obls-death/

      1. Hi – the topic was Sharia Law in the Arab countries. now since Sharia law is being used in the courts in America – can we discuss those ramifications?

      2. Added to the list of ones to choose from.

  21. I suggest a topic related to local economy and local vs corp. I think a lot of young people are not shopping at big box shops and it is actually changing the profits of Walmart and Target. I was seeing that the cool factor is not there and Target has noticed that they have lost a huge group. Also Walmart was thinking of creating mini Walmarts to put in areas such as North Park (lots of small shops) with hopes to capture the neighborhood business appeal. It’s very interesting this debate on whether or not these big box shops actually “bring a neighborhood up in status.” or if they bring it down in a ball of flames. Also the landscape of America is much different with all of these global corp businesses. People my age are leaving for Oregon to become entrepreneurs and farmers in droves. There is a trend here and an opportunity to talk about whether people are able to vote with their money, or whether the are forced to shop a certain way by the powers that be. Not sure if you have done this topic already or how to form this into a question. Please consider this topic. I would love to be a part of it as I have been doing an experiment to shop local for the most part and what do you know I am saving money!!!:)

  22. I’m sure you have discussed the issue before, but perhaps now is the time to discuss how to handle our deficit problem, or more narrowly, what to do about taxes.

    Also, I have a book recommendation: “The Science of Liberty” by Timothy Ferris. It gave me a new perspective on politics and the political spectrum.

  23. Beware of the Gingrich who stole Christmas. One week in March it will be possible to the new Republican choice. It will,of course, be time to readdress the subject in October. I could do something on any aspect of global warming. It would be easy to me to start a discussion on Aldous Huxley. We should also talk about the propsed Canada to Texas pipeline. I’ll be at the next meeting. Watch out for the Republican Ship of Fools trying to take over the Ship of State.

  24. I would like to see a discussion of what can be done to counteract the anti-science mood of the country,and to more effectively motivate primary and high school students towards math and science. We need to shift from ideology to rationality, and figure out how to do what makes sense and works. We are losing ground to the rest of the world.

  25. I recall opining last Spring that the reason NATO intervened in Libya was to avoid a flood of refugees on the Italian and French Rivieras.

    Perhaps not:

    http://nymag.com/print/?/news/features/bernard-henri-levy-2012-1/

  26. Subject: Mexico

    Here’s a link with food for thought:

    http://www.michaelyon-online.com/mexico-a-very-interesting-talk-by-general-ret.-barry-mccaffrey.htm

    It seems to me that Mexico may be on the cusp, and could go either way: With courage, support and good U.S. policies, we’ll get a Colombian outcome. And with fear, distrust, and stupid U.S. policies, we’ll end up with a Pakistan on our border.

    Recall the most fundamental, yet unwritten rule of U.S. strategy: “Don’t fight ’em over here — fight ’em over there.” It is a lesson learned in the Revolution, reinforced in the War of 1812, and confirmed in the Civil War. Whoever they are, and wherever there is, make the battlefield over there, in their country, not ours. Hiding behind a wall is not the answer. I do NOT mean U.S. boots on the ground — that would be worse than stupid. But there needs to be a coordinated policy to help and support the Mexican government — and that policy will have domestic components as well (e.g., drug and immigration policy). I just hope that our politicians can quit worrying about re-election for long enough to recognize the 600-pound gorilla in the room.

  27. David, I have several resource suggestions and a question for the space colonization discussion next week. Resources first:

    1. A friend of mine argues for starting colonies in low equatorial orbit:
    http://space.alglobus.net/papers/Easy.pdf

    2. I also recommend the “The Space Show” this Friday morning, at 9:30-11 PST. It is an on-line talk-show on space topics hosted by Dr. David Livingston.
    See http://www.thespaceshow.com/newsletterfinal.htm.
    The description says “We welcome DR. JIM LOGAN, DAN ADAMO & DR. JOHN JURIST for a roundtable discussion on Human Space Flight in general & specifically to Mars, the Moon and more, plus many other topics.”
    I know and respect Jim Logan. He argues that we don’t know what gravity levels we need (which I agree with), and whether we can handle high-Z cosmic rays without many meters of shielding for protection.

    3. Other relevant resources include Zubrin’s book “The Case for Mars” and lots of pro-and-con arguments that that has stimulated.

    4. Another key document is the US National Space Policy published in 2010, which states a goal of “ultimately more sustainable and even indefinite” human presence in space (for what I think is the first time). To my mind, that has to include growing food, which nobody other than “The Martian” is talking about. See the policy (which is generated once by each administration) at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/national_space_policy_6-28-10

    5. The movie “The Martian” is also a useful and enjoyable resource–both the realistic and the unrealistic parts of the story highlight key issues involved.

    One other item: I don’t see any indication of analogues to gold, silver, opium, rum, silk, spices, tea, or tobacco that could make colonization viable. There will be a long tail of dependence on earth, and that has to be paid for by something valuable. What is it? Globus’s candidate is “new real estate.” But even most of California is uninhabited!

    1. Thanks. I’ll look at them.

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