Things Fall Apart: Why We Think Everything’s Getting Worse

Most Americans, year after year, continue to think that the country is on the wrong track. The older you are (i.e, the more experienced you are, and the more of history you’ve seen), the more likely you are to think everything is falling apart. And it’s not just in America: worldwide, people tend to think…

Big Data Will Blind You

Not all of us are scientists, but all of us today are consumers of science. And I mean science, not technology. When we want to lose weight, or make more money, or find that perfect someone, we don’t go to gurus, and we don’t go with our guts. We look at the latest studies. It’s…

The Toxic Society

I stumbled on an old, ignored piece of news the other day, which struck me powerfully. Apparently crime rates in the United States continue to plummet, despite the ongoing recession. While I had assumed that the drop in crime rate was related to our insanely high rate of incarceration, apparently that doesn’t really explain it….

Gaus: Freedom, Morality, and the State

Ok, here’s another book I desperately want to have (and while I’m wishing, it sure would be great to have the time to read it as well): The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom and Morality in a Diverse and Bounded World by Gerald Gaus. It’s about large-scale human societies — how they…

The Cat Cure: Animal Husbandry and Human Civilization

I do love my cat. Gods, do I love my cat. Cu Gwyn is his name, meaning “White Dog” in Welsh; we chose it for him because he’s a black cat, and that’s the kind of sense of humor we have. Cu wanders the house at random, mostly sleeping or looking out the window or…

Temperance, Terror, Torch, Torture

My old blog, the Word of the Day, is defunct, and I’m getting ready to take it down. Before I do, though, I’m going to repost some of the best words here over the next few weeks. Enjoy! Temperance Ultimately, temperance comes from Latin tempus, “time”. No one knows where Latin picked up tempus –…

The Tie that Binds: a Meditation on Love and War

Why are people violent? Years ago, during a visualization meditation on physical violence (I wanted to try and get at the root of it, to understand where it came from), I found myself on a path edged with tall, tangled bushes. Their branches were bowed with huge blossoms and masses of matted leaves. The air…

Nature and Social Insanity

I’ve been talking with Alison a lot over the past week about insanity — particularly insanity in societies. Obviously individual people can be insane — usually broadly defined as mental or emotional distress that interferes with functioning normally in society. But what would it mean for a whole community to be insane? Is that even…

At Death’s Door: Thoughts on Immortality and Spirituality

A few months ago there was another breakthrough in geriatrics. This time, scientists were actually able to reverse aging in mice. The very thought of reversing aging has been considered insane for most of the history of science. Getting old happens — to animals, plants, buildings, planets, and stars. Bodies, like everything else, just wears…

Year 2010

Year is originally from way back in Proto-Indo-European, yer, meaning “doer”, i.e. one who does something or makes something.  It became jæram in Proto-Germanic, and gear in Old English, before softening to year in modern English.  Energetically, year packs a lot of punch; it’s a forceful, powerful, high-strung burst. 2009 definitely packed a punch.  A lot of folks I know had…