Blight of the century

Some reflections on the disgusting spectacle queued up for tomorrow night, from almost a decade ago.

If you enjoy watching this, you have a screw loose.  Or a piece missing.

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.

3 thoughts on “Blight of the century”

  1. Although less immediate, football often leads to a similar result.

  2. Mike wrote "If you enjoy watching this, you have a screw loose."

    I suspect the individual psychopathology explanation is not correct. Boxing, ultimate fighting (which is even more violent and sadistic), wrestling in all its forms etc. have been popular features of culture in many places and in many times. I suspect it's hard wired in our species, going back to our hunter gatherer days, to be enthralled by the spectacle of violence rather than it being an aberration shared only by a few.

  3. Mike, I'm with Keith: I have utterly no interest in this stuff, but I think I'm not very normal. My number one just went out last night to a friend's house, they were pooling their high school senior $5ses to do the pay per view for the fight. He's also very sports and team-oriented. The challenge is how to make a humane and positive society out of people who thrill to this stuff, and who find MS-13 exciting in high school and join. My high school best friend's grandparents (he an Aryan war hero, so not under threat for what he was) got their family the Hell out of Germany in 38 in part because their kids were joining the Hitler Jugend – it was what there was to do – and getting sucked in. His mother has told me of the excitement of Baldur von Schirach's torchlight rallies and spotlight columns in the sky. One of the most interesting things about Mayweather and Pacquaio, for me at least, is their retinues – huge numbers of guys revolving around each of them. It reminds me of court, and the Sun King. Again, durable forms of human organization, which don't square with my egalitarian ideals.

    This is sort of an 'I read a book' comment, or at least an 'I'm reading a book' one – I'm in the midst of both Jonathan Haidt's book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion and Barzun's Dawn to Decadence. They are enriching each other for me, particularly thinking about Barzun's capsule description of the terror period of the French Revolution. We have the people we have, and how can we make people who like watching gladiators into constructive citizens?

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