Category Thought Exercise

Why It’s So Hard to Combine Goodness and Honesty

I was reading Bertrand Russell’s “History of Western Philosophy” and got to his analysis of Socrates. Russell has a number of amusing insights into the man, but my favorite is this idea that Socrates’ primary value was as perhaps the first systematic philosopher of bullshit-detection. The Socratic Method, though of limited use in formal, mathematical […]

Freeberation, the Logically Tortured History of “Freedom” and “Liberation”

Some words are flexible. Love, for example, might encompass your feelings for ice cream, the relationship you have with a grandparent and the things you do at night with your spouse. Some words are even more flexible, encompassing not just diverse concepts but diametrically opposed concepts. For example, you might organize a protest for freedom […]

Ozio

I’m reading Machiavelli for a project and came across a concept that I think deserves more attention – ozio. Ozio is the term Machiavelli uses to describe idleness, luxury, and physical comfort. So far so common. However, the interesting thing is that Machiavelli doesn’t characterize ozio as leading to corruption, he characterizes it as being corruption. Put another way, […]

Nietzsche’s Fascinating Little Quote

“If you regard as deserving of annihilation, any suffering and pain generally as evil, as detestable, and as blots on existence, well, you have then, besides your religion of compassion, yet another religion in your heart (and this perhaps the mother of the former) – the religion of smug ease. Ah, how little you know […]

Just a Tool Kit?

Before my first semester of high school an as-yet unknown English teacher sent me a message commanding that I should read four books during vacation and prepare detailed reports on each, due on the first day of class. At the time, I thought this was a pretty intense increase of difficulty compared to middle school. […]

Rust Belt This

The Upper Midwest is a nice place — if you don’t mind cold winters. Since the mid-80s, Wisconsin has had lower unemployment than the national average for all but two years. It has a diverse economy, US News says it’s the eighth smartest state, and there’s lots of delicious beer. I could go on, but […]

The Homely Gangsters, Episode 11

Immigrants are good for the economy, slightly good for unemployment rates, they commit way fewer crimes and their kids are better students and more upwardly mobile than similar SES natives. And this is all a problem. You see, most people would rather have social status than a slightly more efficient economy or a safer neighborhood […]

The Homely Gangsters Episode 6

Do you spend all day watching the news, terrified of gun violence and involuntarily urinating at the thought of armed neighbors? Is your front room filled with assault rifles, NRA posters and shrines to John Rambo? Check out the latest episode for a balanced examination of exactly what the whole gun thing is about. https://www.buzzsprout.com/255212/1093037-guns

The Homely Gangsters Episode 4; The Paris Agreements

https://www.buzzsprout.com/255212/949605-the-paris-agreement.mp3?download=true As the greenest podcast in the history of podcasting, the Earth-Mothers Mia and Jen team up with primitive survivalists Ben and Jamal to talk global warming, Trump vs. the UN and the largely ignored conflict between fighting climate change and helping poor people in industrializing countries. 

Science Popularizers in the 19th Century

We are, as I’m sure you’re aware, in the middle of a boom for scientific prestige. Never before have we been so impressed with the scientist as a heroic figure and only once before have we been willing to listen seriously when scientists (like Niel De Grasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking) pretend that […]