30 December 2011

Democracy for the sake of dignity, thanks Vaclav

In my younger days I believed all kinds of things.  I thought that I'd live in Indianapolis for most of my life.  That never played out.  I thought that I'd probably be self-employed.  You never know, one day maybe.  I thought that democracy was preferable to other forms of government because it brought economic growth.  Way off on that one.  We're currently watching as most of the world's democratic countries go through extended periods of economic difficulties.  At the same time we see countries with non-democratic systems experiencing strong growth.  A horde of wannabe Cassandras argue that democracy should be reined in, that economic growth should take precedence over our freedoms.  Could they be right?

20 December 2011

Always looking backwards, vol3

Two very interesting thinkers passed away this week.  One was very interesting, got a ton of press, and will likely be forgotten within a generation.  The other was very interesting, went through long periods of being largely ignored, and will likely be read and reread for the next several centuries.  The first was Christopher Hitchens, the second was Vaclav Havel.

15 December 2011

Freedom to bare it all

When does "empowerment" to display yourself morph into just another type of exploitation?

11 December 2011

Mind and body and children

Some will tell you that there's no such thing as body, that everything is an illusion created by the mind.

Others will tell you that the mind is simply an extended string of biochemical processes and reactions.  They're probably correct, but being verifiably, scientifically correct isn't always very useful when it comes to broader questions of humanity.

08 December 2011

A video on materialism

I've always liked this style of animation, and the video is really well done:

05 December 2011

The good life is interconnected, but individualistic

Being yourself is a pretty scary prospect.  The reality of sitting alone with oneself in a room is more than most people can handle.  The idea itself is even a little frightening for some.  If just being temporarily alone with our own thoughts is more than we can handle, how could we even imagine being alone in the world?  And so we build relationships and connections and interconnections, as we should.  Understanding how to separate those connections from our own true selves is one of the primary difficulties involved in figuring out what it means to have a good life.

02 December 2011

The banquet of life

Some chapters are boring, some are interesting.  Some people seem to be a little bland, but when they stand up to speak they passionately set forth on their topic.  Grand ideas are floated by some students in the attempt to solve all problems, while others are happy to deal with the details.  You open your mouth and say something interesting, and the next day you open your mouth and sound like an idiot.  You take it as it comes I suppose.  Being in Kingston for classes and discussing interesting ideas with other students always takes me to a little piece from Epictetus that never fails to put a smile on my face:

Remember that you ought to conduct yourself
as if you were at a banquet.
When something is passed around to you
stretch out your hand and take it politely.
If it passes by you, don't ask for it to come back,
it's not its time.
Perhaps there'll be some left when it comes back around.
 (Encheiridion, 15)

01 December 2011

It's a girl!!!!

So, the question is, if you find out you're going to have a daughter, can you just read "boy" stories to her anyway, or am I confined to princesses and frogs.  If that's the case, I'm going to be an upset papa.