Social Criticism

Social Criticism


Free Speech in Modern America

free speech November 16th, 2022

Freedom of speech is a liberty that is woven into the very fabric of the United States. We have a long history here of continuing the tradition and system set up by the founders of America, such as Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine. Except for certain periods of a marked diminution of free speech and dissent (such as the Alien and Sedition Acts, McCarthyism, and the juggernaut of the post-9/11 Middle East wars), one could rest assured that if they wished to stand on a soapbox and absolutely trash the POTUS, one would not be prevented from doing so. Of course, there are libel and slander laws, which make it illegal to lie about someone in public (i.e., to besmirch their good reputation). And yes, in the age of social media free speech, freedom of expression, and the liberty to be who one chooses to be are greatly stressed.

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A Nightmare About America

America November 13th, 2022

While jogging at sundown one day in April 2003, I had a very moving experience, one that may indeed have bridged my conception of the spiritual and the worldly. My wandering mind juxtaposed my impression of American Indian culture, spirituality, worldview, and morality with the current state of affairs and mentality in European-American culture. I experienced a combination of seemingly coincidental events that struck me as conveying great meaning: that we may come to face a startling reckoning for our legacy and lifestyle.

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Skepticism, Belief, Doubt, & Evidence

evidence November 9th, 2022

We all believe some things without sufficient (or, perhaps “good”) evidence to support the belief. It is often innocuous—”My son is going to win his game this Saturday!”, or “Our financial problems will get better, don’t worry, honey”, or “Go Pats!” However, belief without evidence is highly questionable. This blog gets into religion, politics, and such from the perspective that belief in something should, by and large, be apportioned based on what the balance of solid, dispassionately-perceived evidence indicates.

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Self-Interest and Self-Righteousness

self-interest October 24th, 2022

I aim to convince the reader that two things which work against social progress, social justice, the ability to survive global warming, and so on are two age-old human habits: self-interest and self-righteousness. Indeed, the reason humanity sucks so badly—and why it has almost destroyed its only home, and why so many have suffered (even died!) over the millennia—is that we have these traits and tendencies within us that stymie and counteract and subvert our other, higher notions such as goodwill toward man, love of one’s neighbor, caring, compassion, a reasonable type of equality and equal opportunity, etc. I try to make the case that America is being torn apart by neo-fascist, extremist conservative, nativist, white supremist, Trumpist values, and that this must be reversed if we wish to avoid another January 6th, another Civil War, or a complete inability to counter global threats such as China and Russia.

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America: Land of …. What Exactly?

lost in America October 21st, 2022

This blog is a social critique of America, and makes the point that the United States has had some endemic problems written right into the Constitution, and in regard to the racist, genocidal, patriarchal, and overly-capitalistic values that were there right from the get-go. By many measures, things have gone downhill since…

I am using the late, great lyricist Neil Peart’s song “Beneath, Between and Behind”, which he wrote in 1974, to make my points about America. He hit the nail squarely on the head, and hard. I love this song, and I hope you will take an interest in what it has to teach us.

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How to Find Happiness in Modern America

happiness October 18th, 2022

Attitude is everything, so they say. There is truly something to that. According to one strain of research, our happiness is about 50% “determined” by our genes. There is little we can do to stray very far from our “set point” level of happiness. A death will bring us very low, and that “new car smell” will give us a happiness bump for days, perhaps weeks. A promotion will engender some greater satisfaction, but it’s effect, too, will fade (perhaps only leaving a somewhat larger paycheck and potentially greater stress associated with increased or different responsibilities). The point is, If genes account for 50% of one’s level of happiness, what does that leave us with? This is a blog about psychological research, applied philosophy, and values and virtues such as personal growth, free will, and responsibility.

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I Think About the Spotted Northern Owl

the northern spotted owl October 13th, 2022

A poem dedicated to the the Spotted Northern Owl, a beautiful creature that was here long before the Mayflower sunk its anchor into the seabed like a claw into flesh…

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Economic Justice: My Ideal Society Described

justice October 6th, 2022

What would a society that really paid attention to economic justice look like? Here are some thoughts on the philosophical underpinnings of such a society. The basic structure of my favored economic system is roughly welfare statism centered around merit, equity, progressive goals, and just desserts.

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Are Americans Virtuous, or the Opposite?

virtuous September 30th, 2022

I wish to ask a question about whether we Americans are virtuous—or, alternatively, vice-ridden, lazy, selfish, evil, immoral, and culpable. The curiosity was brought about by my watching a Firing Line with Margaret Hoover last night. In light of the interview Hoover conducted with Sara Botstein and Ken Burns, the co-directors of the recently-completed documentary film America and the Holocaust, I really do wonder about my country and my fellow citizens

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Times Are A-Changin’

September 25th, 2022

As Bob Dylan wrote in 1964, the times they are a-changin‘! That might be an understatement when applied to today, in fact. The changes are coming in very rapid succession nowadays, and much of it ain’t good, as Dylan might have put it…
It’s not just a right-of-center phenomenon, since I too think that more progressively-minded people are right to lament ways in which society has changed since Reaganism was first ascendent (these individuals are relatively much more focused on the ways in which society is being prevented from changing by those at the top—more than any kind of moral degradation that has to do with the country failing to uphold its proper Christian values and virtue on the whole).

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