There is a saying that passes as folk wisdom: ignorance is bliss. That is, if a person ignores information, facts, and wisdom (and remember that ignore comes from the same root word as ignorance, of course), or is otherwise benighted, misinformed, mentally lazy, or superstitious or biased to an adequate degree, then they will be happier, so it is claimed. Not so! I consider it dangerous, not a route to happiness. What follows are some thoughts I have about what a state of stupidity we humans seem to consistently find ourselves in. It’s a species-wide flaw!Read More
September 9th, 2022
August 20th, 2022
I wish to make three points which, hopefully, will lead a reader to accept my conclusion. The premises are: a) Donald Trump is a very mentally ill individual, and probably fascistic and authoritarian and criminal in his heart; b) political extremism on the Right is out of control and untethered to reality or decency; and c) far-Right extremism is buoyed by a noxious media echo chamber, fueled by white supremacy, and these individuals don’t seem to have much to lose. They are armed and they are endlessly aggrieved. The conclusion I draw is that America is facing unparalleled danger from far-Right extremists because they are buying this malarkey, have very little “reality-testing” (as psychiatrists call the ability to think critically and avoid delusional thinking), and are quite aggrieved. When combined with the fact that they tend to be armed and hostile and groupthink-y, it adds up to a powder keg of violent extremism.Read More
June 30th, 2022
Things keep coming across my desk that strike the same note of fear and anger: the skullduggery, chicanery, and corruption the modern Republican Party is engaging in is a clear and present danger to the fabric of American society. We must not take this lightly, be cowed into silence, or shrink from this grave danger. Obviously, no one has to agree with my take on vigilance, patriotism, or decency—or any other value, political stance, or threat assessment—but I believe it is imperative that we stay cognizant of just how extreme, dangerous, and self-aggrandizing this broken Republican Party is.Read More
June 21st, 2022
Now is a time of heightened threat, trouble, tribulation, and tumult for America.
We are beset by anxiety, risk, lack of clarity, fear, and in-fighting.
I really worry that we are facing a panoply of dangerous (and often self-created) problems!
Can we rise to the occasion, or will we crumble in the face of myriad threats and internal vulnerabilities? Will we listen to “our better angels,” as Lincoln put it? Or tear ourselves apart as we did in the Civil War?Read More
June 14th, 2022
Wisdom is a complex topic. If you look it up in the dictionary, you will get a paper-thin definition—correct perhaps, in as far as it goes. What I tried to do in my 2022 book on the subject is to go beyond mere definition to metaphorically painting a picture of the phenomenon. In this blog, I will get into one aspect of wisdom: what I might term an efficient perception of how the world works, what humans are like, and how we can best cope with the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” as Shakespeare put the vicissitudes and the turbulence we each face in life. This is existentialism; personal growth; the development of the self.Read More
May 25th, 2022
Meaning, existence, fulfillment, passion, and insight are values and virtues that cohere in some way. They are all relevant to existentialism, a philosophical doctrine that examines man’s existence, state, and nature. Mostly it’s not cheery stuff, but truth and reality often are not. In this blog, I share many of the quotes about meaning that I particularly like, as well as existentialism, living well, freedom, and choice. As you can tell by this first quotation by 19th-century German existentialist Arthur Schopenhauer, this is not a simple or reassuring topic:Read More
April 3rd, 2022
This blog is an analysis of the short essay of Richard Taylor’s, “The Meaning of Life”, from his book Good and Evil (2000). Questions of meaninglessness, meaning, will, existentialism, free will, determinism, despair, and hope are touched on. In the end, the questions are asked, what a human is meant for, what makes him truly happy; what makes her have the will to go on? It is an easy argument to follow, and the culmination is fairly hopeful. The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus is integral to the essay. Quotes about meaning bookend it.Read More
January 14th, 2021
Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tend to be the poster children of political extremism if you ask a partisan from the Right. You hear this repeatedly on Fox News — these are their main bogeymen/women. These hard-working patriots will be called frauds, hypocrites, radicals, Socialists (of the Communistic stripe, that is), traitors, and so on. I don’t want to make a defense of those on the far end of the political Left in this country, but I will in this blog highlight a dangerous style of thinking that is the garden of political extremism when paired with political power or demagoguery: the authoritarian mindset.Read More
May 9th, 2020
“Now is the winter of our discontent,” Shakespeare wrote nearly 500 years ago. Talk about something standing the test of time! Indeed, there are many quotes from his prescient plays and striking sonnets that still aptly describe human beings today. As I write, it is nearly April, 2020, and the world is caught in convulsions of the chaos created by coronavirus. The pandemic, like something Shakespeare would have taken inspiration from, highlights both the good and the bad, the wise and the foolish, the wonderful and the absurd. It shows everything about human beings, the human condition, and humanity’s aspirations — and failings. It is through this lens that I write a bit about what is evident all around us now, in the winter of our discontent.Read More
May 3rd, 2020
…along the way.”
That, as you may recognize, is the unparalleled song No Woman, No Cry by Bob Marley and the Wailers. Contrary to what some figure, the title does not mean “If you don’t have a relationship with a woman, that’s great—your heart won’t get broken”; rather, it refers to a “government yard in Trenchtown”, Jamaica where the poor, huddled masses were trying to survive in what was obviously a horrible economy and conditions of stress and privation. The man (the narrator) is looking back on the time he decided he must go find work or some other opportunity, and when he was leaving, his wife or whomever was crestfallen and worried. His reassuring response was, “No woman; no cry!” which is basically a pidgin-type dialect of Caribbean English for “Please do not cry.” The reference to “good friends we had, and good friends we lost along the way” is part of Bob’s reminencence, with his woman, of all the good and bad things that have occurred to them in the refugee camp (or whatever kind of camp it is). It is shortly followed by the inimitable line: “Everything’s gonna be alright!” I picture him wiping her tear and then turning to head off to the “far, unlit unknown” (Rush’s phrasing in Subdivisions, a song that I consider a tear-jerker). No Woman, No Cry is a somber tale about the storm and stress a life tends to bring at one time or another, and the perceptive listener might just feel pangs of empathy and loss in their own memory, as I usually do.Read More