What’s on your mind related to homeland security?
May 17, 2013
May 16, 2013
In the tradition of Navy recruitment at theaters showing “Top Gun,” and what I hoped would be a similar boost for public health from “Contagion,” the National Guard has hitched itself to the new Superman movie that will hit theaters on June 14.
I saw this video during the previews before a showing of “Iron Man 3″ (which itself is absolutely worth going to see…).
First off, just to be clear, I have nothing but respect and admiration for the men and women who serve in the National Guard. And I think this recruitment video is well done, and the rest of their campaign found on http://www.soldierofsteel.com/ is innovative…for a government program anyway (play a game or watch some workout videos!).
What struck me in the theater is the juxtaposition of the scenes, all obviously showing the homeland rather than national security missions of the National Guard, with the title “citizen soldier.” Everyday men and women (who looked incredibly fit and reminded me that I need to get back to the gym) morph into these citizen soldiers who arrive at the scene of disasters to rescue you or your neighbors.
That happens. If you are reading this blog you are undoubtedly aware of the vital role National Guard units play in response to natural disasters or terrorist attacks while under the control of their respective governors.
However, as “citizen soldier” suggests, the National Guard is not strictly a homeland response force but also plays an enormously important role in national security planning. To be blunt, when push comes to shove, the Pentagon expects these forces to be deployed and aid in the projection of American power overseas. In simpler terms, they are soldiers expected to perform military duties — such as killing our enemies — whether or not it’s hurricane season in their home states.
I am not arguing against this role. In fact, along with the Reserves, the Guard plays an absolutely vital role in the defense of our nation. With the withdrawal from Iraq and the slow extrication from Afghanistan, in the immediate future it is much less likely that National Guard units will be deployed in warzones (hoping that we don’t get drawn into foolish adventures in Syria or Iran…or forced to respond to North Korean or other provocations).
Yet I can’t help but be a little…something, since disturbed is too strong and piqued too weak…by this particular representation of the Guard’s duties. Yes, it presents the opportunity to help your neighbors following disaster. Yes, you put on the uniform and will be called upon to perform heroic duties. But remember that you may not only end up digging children out of rubble but quite possible be responsible for inadvertently putting them, or at least foreign children, under it.
That is not an anti-war or anti-Guard or anti-military statement. Just one that aims to point out that war is by necessity messy with boundaries often hard to define. As the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan showed far too many times, there are few defined “front lines” and innocent civilians are too easily thrust into the line of fire.
Joining the Nation Guard is to join a honored profession and to serve our country. It is not, however, a job in a solely homeland security/disaster response force. And I wish that this recruitment campaign could make that point just a little more clear.
From a recent Baltimore Sun article on the last deployment of the Maryland National Guard to Afghanistan:
More than a decade of deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq and other battlegrounds since Sept. 11, 2001, has produced a highly skilled and deeply experienced generation of warriors. But with the United States out of Iraq and planning to leave Afghanistan, Maj. Gen. James Adkins sees a new challenge.
“Many of the soldiers that are serving now have known only war,” he said Thursday from Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia, where members of the 244th Engineer Co. are training for a deployment starting later this year.
Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Maryland National Guard has deployed nearly 4,000 soldiers and airmen to Afghanistan. Members have had a broad range of duties such as mentoring the Afghan Army and police, serving as infantry, evacuating wounded soldiers and flying drones.
Twelve Maryland guard members have been killed in action.
Since arriving at Fort A.P. Hill, an Army base north of Richmond, members have trained on weapons and tactics. On Thursday, they used a new GPS system to find their way through a wooded area.
“Warrior-type tasks,” Pennington said. “Your basic battle skills.”
May 15, 2013
The Rockefeller Foundation, this year celebrating its 100th anniversary, is throwing its weight (and its money) behind this mandate. Today, it’s announcing a 100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge, a three-year, $100 million prize with one particularly interesting component: The foundation plans to put up the money to hire a Chief Resilience Officer position in 100 cities around the world. Ultimately, though, these cities will have to scrounge up their own funds to keep the job alive.
Had anyone heard of this initiative? I hadn’t, and I’m impressed that a foundation as prestigious as Rockefeller is embracing the resilience concept. Until recently, in my view at least, “resilience” was an idea more or less regulated to homeland security, health, and other related fields. It would emerge immediately following a large event, whether natural or man-made, but just as quickly disappear from the public eye.
Rockefeller Foundation money does not equal widespread acceptance nor understanding, but I would argue that it is a sign that the concept is firmly entrenched in the public discourse and will not quietly pass into that good night if the next federal administration/round of homeland security “experts” decides to go in another direction.
It appears that this came about partly because of the threat of climate change:
Rockefeller is inviting cities to apply to be one of these 100 resilient cities – to be named in three rounds over the next three years – by arguing for how they’re working to become “resilient.” Rockefeller wants to then help them create a resilience plan, preemptively sketching out how they would address any number of catastrophes including but beyond climate change.
“We see it as broader than that,” Coleman says. “It’s really about how cities are able to deal with shocks and stresses. Those could be climate-related, or more general weather-related. But they could be other natural disasters like earthquakes. They could also be things like financial shocks and stresses – something we’ve seen a lot of over the last few years. Or health crises. Really anything that is going to test the city and its response.”
The foundation is thinking about the long term:
“We feel that having someone specifically tasked with thinking about and acting on and planning for resilience will mean that other people within the city government will need to pay – and will be required to pay – attention to the issue,” he says. “They won’t be able to ignore it. Or, what tends to happen more often is not that it’s ignored, but it’s put on the back burner because it’s not seen as a priority until something happens.”
Maybe this will be one of those jobs that becomes obsolete through its own success: When “resiliency” is baked into everything a city does, we won’t need resilience officers any more.
I have to admit, I’d love one of these positions. I also have to admit, that the best individuals for the job would be both well versed in the concept of resilience while also being among the movers and shakers in their local governments. This will not be an easy position — inherently tough choices will be faced, no matter the local conditions. It will, or at least should, require some level of political acumen that can best provide an opportunity for resilience-related initiatives to blossom.
For now, Rockefeller is unaware of any city already hosting a job quite like this one, so it’s hard to say exactly how the role will work (or what a qualified candidate might look like). Perhaps some mix of urban/transportation planner and sustainability officer and emergency manager? All of those jobs already exist, so it will be interesting to see how the people who hold them view the arrival of this new official tasked with reporting directly to the mayor.
(h/t to Dawn Scarola for sharing this concept and article.)
May 14, 2013
The website for the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International is http://www.apcointl.org/.
As of Monday, the site had links to 92 applications. Two thirds of the apps are free.
Here’s what APCO says about its AppComm site:
AppComm is APCO International’s online Application Community. Here, you will find a collection of applications related to public safety and emergency response for use by the general public and first responders.
AppComm is also a forum where public safety professionals, the general public, and app developers can discuss and rate apps, identify unmet needs, and submit ideas for apps they’d like to see built.
As you browse our growing list of apps, we encourage you to tell us which ones you’ve used, whether you liked it, and why. Additionally, if you are aware of an app that would be a good fit for our site, please use the “Submit App” tab located at the top of the page.
If you have a suggestion for an app you don’t see listed, be sure to submit your idea to AppComm by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We intend for this site to be your single, trusted source of public safety apps.
(h/t to GM for the lead)
May 10, 2013
What’s on your mind related to homeland security?
In the knowledge derived from experience.
The knowledge inposes a pattern, and falsifies,
For the pattern is new in every moment
And every moment is a new and shocking
Valuation of all we have been. We are only undeceived
Of that which, deceiving, could no longer harm.
T.S. Eliot, East Coker
May 8, 2013
I was back in Boston last week. Most of my meetings were along the waterfront.
But Sunday I worshiped at Trinity Church just yards from the first bombing. I had coffee at the Starbucks many of us saw in video footage of the second detonation.
Boylston Street was bustling despite the labyrinth of police barricades for Sunday’s Hunger Walk. The spring weather was spectacular: perfectly sunny in the high sixties.
The blast sites are cleaned, repaved, open to the public, and — unless you know where to look — entirely inconspicuous. I heard one man saying, “It happened somewhere close here, but I’m not sure where.” He was less than ten feet from where the first bomb exploded.
In the three weeks since the marathon trees have begun to bud. At the site of the second blast an entire tree was removed as part of evidence collecting. A new tree, still sporting a bright green root bag, has been staked upright to fill the gap.
Memorials — mostly flowers, hand written notes, and running shoes — have been moved and continue to accumulate at Copley Square across from Old South Church and the Public Library. Opposite Boylston from the memorial corner a quartet (of Berklee students?) was busking with soft jazz.
Several “Boston Strong” signs could be seen. Even more it seemed to me thanking First Responders, one reading: “Police, Fire, EMTs, and EVERYONE!”
While we want to learn whatever there is to learn — including mistakes that can teach us — there is good cause to commend Boston’s response. From what I could see the recovery is going well. Monday Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick noted, “We showed the world in the immediate aftermath of the attack what a civilization looks like…” On Sunday Boston was looking especially competent, creative, commercially vibrant, and compassionate.
In the Episcopal liturgy the Prayers of the People precede the offering of the Peace. A wide range of intercessory prayers are offered. Trinity has authored its own version but concludes as is traditional with a prayer for the departed. Sunday this included: Krystle Campbell, Martin Richard, Lu Lingzi, Sean Collier, and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. There was a perceptible quaver in the voice of the woman leading the prayer.
The congregation responded: “Heal us and guide us.”
May 7, 2013
I’m fortunate to work with very talented people. Last week, four of them (Kristin, Charles, Missy and James) put sound and images to the post I wrote a few weeks ago about the Boston Marathon attack and West, Texas explosion.
They produced the video in three days.
I think they did a remarkable job.
Here it is:
May 3, 2013
On this day in 1999 three days of violent storms began plowing across the Great Plains States. One hundred forty-one tornadoes were confirmed over the outbreak, including an F-5 tornado with winds exceeding 301 miles-per-hour. Fifty people died. Damages exceeded $1.9 billion.
What’s on your mind regarding homeland security?
Coincident with the flames filling your television screen this morning, on Tuesday the National Interagency Fire Center released its new National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for May-August. In the West — and some other places — the outlook ain’t good.
May 2, 2013
“I should prefer Mozart. Mostly I listen to 70s hits.”
“I should eat a hot breakfast, but usually have a powerbar instead.”
“I should work-out three or four times a week, maybe I walk around the block twice.”
Should has become moralistic. It is typically used as a kind of anti-verb, ascribing — often anticipating — non-action.
I have heard a lot of “shoulds” in regard to the explosion of the West, Texas fertilizer storage facility. The April 17 blast killed 14 and injured more than 190 in the town of 2700.
“We should regulate better.”
“We should put buffer zones in place.”
“We should be more realistic about the threat.”
“We should do a better job sharing what we know about the risk.”
“We should focus more on pre-event prevention and mitigation.”
More plural pronouns than singulars it seems.
According to a November 2012 analysis undertaken by the Congressional Research Service, 6,985 chemical facilities self-report they pose a risk to populations greater than 1,000. There are 90 that self-report a worst-case risk affecting up to 1 million people.
The West facility was not included in the CRS analysis. They did not self-report — or evidently self-conceive — a worst case scenario that would seriously harm anyone.
As regular readers know I have for a few years worked on catastrophe preparedness.
One of the most remarkable — and absolutely predictable — aspects of this gig is the readiness — preference really — by nearly everyone to define catastrophe as something non-catastrophic. I saw it again last week and this. It extends across the public-private divide and every level of government. When a few of us argue otherwise we are being pedantic, unrealistic, and wasting people’s time.
We should give regular time and energy — maybe five percent of overall effort — to truly catastrophic risks: Global pandemic, significant earthquakes and cyclonic events hitting major urban areas, sustained collapse of the electrical grid whatever the cause. Each of these could have far-reaching secondary and tertiary effects. In some regions I would include wildfire and flooding. If you have a chemical storage or processing facility nearby that is absolutely worth worst-case thinking now not later.
In many cases the most important issues relate to the mitigation of systemic vulnerabilities that are threat-agnostic. ”Fixing” vulnerabilities can reduce consequences for a whole host of threats, including non-catastrophic threats.
USA Today editorialized, “The Boston Marathon bombings overshadowed the disaster in Texas, but what happened in West was deadlier, and preventing the next fertilizer accident should command serious attention.”
There’s that anti-verb again.
And how I wish I’d, wish I’d thought a little bit more
Now shoulda, woulda, coulda I means I’m out of time
Shoulda, woulda, coulda can’t change your mind
And I wonder, wonder what I’m going to do
Shoulda, woulda coulda are the last words of a fool
Can’t change your mind
Can’t change your mind
May 1, 2013
In the April 30 Washington Post, back in the Style section with the comics and gossip, is a remarkable piece of long-form journalism every homeland security professional should read and be ready to discuss. The story’s substance is well within our domain. It is also wonderfully written. The writer has achieved a rhetoric that constantly reminds the reader, “this is one way of perceiving reality, there are others.”
Please access: The Prophets of Oak Ridge. The twenty-second inescapable advertisement is annoying but worth waiting out.
April 30, 2013
“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”
I came across that quote from Haruki Murakami yesterday.
I don’t know what everyone else is reading, so I asked them.
OK, not everyone, but at least the people who were around me yesterday, either physically or virtually.
Since 99% of the people I know have something to do with homeland security (that’s another story), the resulting list is mostly about homeland security.
And I do work at a university; that probably influenced the list a bit.
Plus the university is on a military base, so there’s that.
I did ask one person who was fixing a video screen near my office what he was reading. I’d never met him before, but he had no trouble immediately replying.
Two other people who responded are parents of small children who, at least for today, were the focus of their homeland security attention.
Here’s the reading list. I learned about some books and other material I had not heard of.
If you’d like, try the same experiment wherever you are today. Ask people you work with what they are reading. Keep it to one book per person. If you have the chance, post the results in the comments section.
1. Armstrong, Karen. The Battle for God. 1st ed. Ballantine Books, 2001.
2. “Articles that explore the use of Social Network Analysis to better understand: 1) cohesion factors in groups, 2) structure of message contributions, 3) pattern of exchange, 4) the role of the critical mass, 5) role and power network structures as they related to various type of on-line collaboration and knowledge creation.” (Right, not a book; the person who sent me this also included 15 pdf articles to illustrate the point he was making.)
3. Berggruen Institute on Governance. “Think Long Committee for California” a new governance tool to repair California’s government. (Not a book, but it’s what she was reading.)
4. Carafano, James Jay, and Paul Rosenzweig. Winning the Long War: Lessons from the Cold War for Defeating Terrorism and Preserving Freedom. Heritage Books, 2005.
5. “Cub Scout Committee Chair Training Manual” (That was her third choice. Her first choice was somewhat more “shaded.” She also said if I planned to use her name I had to say she was reading the Bible.).
6. Deardorff, Brad. The Roots of Our Children’s War: Identity and the War on Terrorism. AgilePress, 2013.
7. Desmond, Leslie, and Bill Dorrance. True Horsemanship Through Feel, Second Edition. 2nd ed. Lyons Press, 2007. (At first I thought this had nothing to do with homeland security, but on second thought….)
8. Dumas, Alexandre. The Three Musketeers. Simon & Brown, 2013.
9. Eco, Umberto. Serendipities: Language and Lunacy. Mariner Books, 1999.
10. Gardner, Howard. Five Minds for the Future. Harvard Business Review Press, 2009.
11. Hirsch, James S. Willie Mays: The Life, The Legend. 1st ed. Scribner, 2010.
12. Lemov, Doug, Erica Woolway, and Katie Yezzi. Practice Perfect: 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better. 1st ed. Jossey-Bass, 2012.
13. Lewis, Ted. “The Book of Extremes: Why the 21st century Isn’t Like the 20th Century.” 2013. (This book is in a prepublication format, and won’t be published for a few more months; it’s a follow up to Lewis’ Bak’s Sand Pile: Strategies for a Catastrophic World.)
14. Mackey, Sandra. Mirror of the Arab World: Lebanon in Conflict. 1st ed. W. W. Norton & Company, 2008.
15. McCauley, Clark, and Sophia Moskalenko. Friction: How Radicalization Happens to Them and Us. 1st ed. Oxford University Press, USA, 2011.
16. Moghaddam, Fathali M. The Psychology of Dictatorship. 1st ed. American Psychological Association (APA), 2013.
17. Mudd, Philip. Takedown: Inside the Hunt for Al Qaeda. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013.
18. Owen, Mark, and Kevin Maurer. No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden. First Edition. Dutton Adult, 2012.
19. Rejali, Darius. Torture and Democracy. Princeton University Press, 2009.
20. Sodium Polyacrylate: My life would be a mess without it. (Not actually a book. But it could be, should be, one.)
21. Stegner, Wallace. Angle of Repose. Penguin Classics, 2000.
22. Williams, Gary. Seal of Honor: Operation Red Wings and the Life of Lt. Michael P. Murphy, USN. Naval Institute Press, 2011.
23. “What am I reading? I can’t think of anything in particular…. Wow. How sad is that,” said a person who works as hard as almost anyone I know.
To paraphrase Mark Twain, “The person who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the person who can’t read them.”
If you do ask people in your ecosystem what they’re reading, please post what you learn here. And if you get to talk with each other about what you’re reading, that’s even better.
April 29, 2013
Son-of-Boston Rich Serino, currently Deputy Administrator of FEMA and formerly Chief of Boston EMS, penned a thank you op-ed last week to the first responders and citizens of Boston who participated in the response to the bombings.
While in one moment we saw terror and brutality, in the next we saw our community’s love and compassion. We saw our EMTs, paramedics, police officers, and firefighters spring into action and perform their jobs heroically.
He also saw how those non-professional responders helped save lives.
They weren’t the only first responders, though. Bystanders and marathon volunteers, regular people given the chance to run, decided instead to stay and help the professional responders do their jobs. Some comforted victims, urging them to hold on and that help was on the way. Some helped carry victims to the medical tent for triage. Some did more by helping to control bleeding, in some cases using their own clothes as tourniquets to stop life-threatening blood loss.
Years of planning across the spectrum of agencies in the area contributed to the incredibly high level of preparedness.
For years, responders in Boston, as in other cities, have utilized large public events as “planned disasters,” anticipating and preparing for mass casualties if something goes wrong. In Boston, First Night, Fourth of July on the Esplanade, and the 2004 Democratic National Convention, all offered the city’s medical community a chance to hone their plans and skills in managing high-profile, public events. In my current role at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, we work with communities big and small across the country to prepare for these worst-case scenarios.
And he was clear about the successes of that day.
It was no accident that not a single hospital in the city was overwhelmed with patients in the aftermath of the bombings. It was no accident that patients were appropriately triaged and transported in an orderly manner to the appropriate hospital based on their needs. And it was no accident that a Medical Intelligence Center was fully staffed and operating on race day to keep track of patients, coordinate resources and share information with the medical community throughout the region. All of these are tangible results of disaster planning that has gone on in Boston for more than 20 years.
A man of, by, and for that community for so long, Chief Serino is uniquely positioned to offer his thanks.
In a disaster, everyone has something to give and never was that more evident than on Marathon Monday. For the EMTs and paramedics of Boston EMS, a special “Thank you for a job well done!” To the citizens of our town, I’ve never been more proud.
The entire piece is worth your time: http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2013/04/26/medical-response-marathon-bombings-was-community-wide-effort/VxBxwziGKrz532QbwPQlfP/story.html
Last week two different events reviewed various aspects of the terrorist attack in Boston.
Harvard’s School of Public Health held a panel, “The Boston Marathon Bombings: Lessons Learned for Saving Lives:”
Following the twin bombings at the Boston Marathon and a dramatic search for the suspects, the city’s emergency preparedness and response systems have been credited with saving lives. This Forum event, focused primarily on the immediate aftermath of the bombings, revealed the sometimes surprising underpinnings of a successful emergency preparedness system and shared hard-won lessons applied and learned. Presented in collaboration with WBUR.
- James Hooley – Chief, Boston EMS
- Judy Ann Bigby – Former Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services
- Paul Biddinger – Director, Emergency Preparedness and Response Exercise Program, Harvard School of Public Health, and Chief, Division of Emergency Preparedness, Massachusetts General Hospital
- Leonard Marcus – Co-Director, National Preparedness Leadership Initiative
- Don Boyce – Director of the Office of Emergency Management, Department of Health and Human Services
An event at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government looked at a wider range of issues related to the bombing:
“Boston Marathon Tragedy & Aftermath” featured Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis, former Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs Department of Homeland Security Juliette Kayyem, Harvard Divinity School Dean David Hempton, Director of MEMA Kurt Schwartz, WBZ Anchor David Wade and Harvard Kennedy School Dean David Ellwood. The extensive conversation touched on terrorism, coordinated city, state and federal responses, impact of the media, and the resilience of Boston.
April 26, 2013
On this day in 1986 reactor number 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant experienced a catastrophic event. On this day in 1989 a tornado hit Bangladesh, killing upwards of 1,300, injuring 12,000, and leaving as many as 80,000 homeless. Why do many of us remember one and not the other?
What’s on your mind related to homeland security?
April 25, 2013
The human mind is a story-engine. Our species survived by — strangely, weirdly, perhaps uniquely — perceiving the future as something that can be influenced, even created.
In many cultures there is a sense of past, present, and future. In other cultures it is more a matter of an unfolding toward completion…
But whatever the subtlety of time past or yet to arrive, we can feel compelled to anticipate, predict, and — forewarned and thereby forearmed — take action to shape our story’s outcome.
This cognitive adaptation was very helpful to a puny, hairless primate. We may not be able to see ultraviolet, but we can see — or think we see — the future. Over the generations we have sharpened the skill and applied it in wonderful ways.
But the skill emerged more as automatic reflex than mindful choice. Lions, tigers, and bears are unambiguous. The other tribe was immediately recognizable. When there is an unexpected rush of wind or water, my senses surge and cognition jumps into overdrive.
When I am in a strange place surrounded by a strange tribe — most cities, for example — my senses and story-engine are especially alive. The prospect of an immediate intentional threat provokes a particular kind of cognition. It’s similar to when a police car suddenly appears in the rear-view mirror.
This internal engine for imagining the future seems especially adept at short-stories and, actually, rather trashy repetitive short-stories. Stereotypes abound. Once I decide what a threat looks, sounds, smells, feels or tastes like everyone (thing) that shares those characteristics is a threat until proven otherwise — if I take a chance before running away or killing them. For most of the last 60,000 years this has probably been a mostly helpful predisposition.
Daniel Kahneman, the psychologist who won the Nobel prize in economics, has written, “…people are not accustomed to thinking hard, and are often content to trust a plausible judgment that comes to mind.”
I am. Most of the time.
So… I hear about an unexplained fire in a small town in Texas. There is considerable evidence of human neglect in terms of a fertilizer storage facility and what was allowed to be built near the storage facility. But neglect is not intention. Evidently without intention, my story-engine doesn’t feel much motivation. Accidents happen.
This week many of my friends and family are threatened by the flooding Mississippi and Illinois rivers. There is a part of my brain (mind?) that knows (perceives?) the threat has been amplified by a whole host of human choices. But once again neglect is not intention. Without intentionality, my story-engine is mostly bored. Other engines — sympathy, empathy, problem-solving — may start-up. But the story-engine is quiescent. Nature will have her way.
But when two kids not only intentionally kill and maim, but do so randomly and wantonly: while I am 550 miles away my story-engine roars into high speed.
Some ten or fifteen years ago when there were terrorism scares in Europe but not in the States, people who were about to travel to Europe were asked questions like, How much would you pay for insurance that would return a hundred thousand dollars if during your trip you died for any reason. Alternatively other people were asked, how much would you pay for insurance that could pay a hundred thousand dollars if you died in a terrorist incident during your trip. People pay a lot more for the second policy than for the first… basically what you’re doing there is substituting fear.
You are asked how much insurance you would pay, and you don’t know—it’s a very hard thing to do. You do know how afraid you are, and you’re more afraid of dying in a terrorist accident than you’re afraid of dying. So you end up paying more because you map your fear into dollars and that’s what you get.
Perceived intentionality amplifies the sense of fear which stimulates our story-engine. The story-engine looks for sources-of-intentionality that will explain — and allow us to quickly influence — how our story unfolds. Our story-engine is not very sophisticated: it’s principal plot device is avoidance or elimination of the threat. Like the scriptwriter for Texas Chainsaw Massacre, our story-engine prefers obvious threats, unambiguous good and bad, and is inclined to several sequels of essentially the same story.
Reality is not usually so obvious, unambiguous, and repetitive. We need to spawn more sophisticated stories, less pulp fiction, more great American novel, maybe some Russian tragedies or German existentialism. Even some poetry.