Dystopia Journal #2: Is It Really That Bad?

One month into the Trump administration, I'm looking for any reason to be optimistic. One that's occurred to me is that I have to wonder whether I'm not falling into the trap of present bias - exaggerating how bad things are now, just because I wasn't around in past eras when things were far worse, so I don't have the proper baseline for comparison.After all, we've been through bad times before. The U.S. has had awful presidents and Congresses, wars and depressions and all kinds of … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: Know Thyself

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 2When Peter Keating returns to his mother's house in town that night, Howard Roark is sitting on the porch. The two of them are roommates; Roark is renting a room in his mother's boarding house.The two of them are friends (frenemies?), of a sort. Roark congratulates Keating for his graduation, utterly indifferent to his own expulsion. Meanwhile, Keating thinks that Roark is "the one person whom he had wanted to see tonight". He tells Roark that he … [Read more...]

Some Right-Wing Christians Enthusiastically Promoting a Form of Genocide

This column was originally published on AlterNet.In 2014, Charisma magazine, a major media outlet for evangelical and Pentecostal Christians, published an open call to genocide. The article in question, titled "Why I Am Absolutely Islamaphobic" [sic] and written by Gary Cass, begins with the premise that "every true follower of Mohammed" wants to "subjugate and murder" non-Muslims, and therefore it's impossible for Christians to live together peacefully with them.Cass proposes three … [Read more...]

I’m Not Responsible For My Son’s Soul

If you browse relationships advice forums like Reddit's, you'll find many threads started by people asking how they can get out from under the thumb of fundamentalist families. Here's a recent one:This hurt more than anything else. "I love you, but". If there has been an overwhelming feeling I have received from all of my family members in the last year, it has been conditional love.I am so afraid that I will have to limit or cut off contact with my family, and I don't want to. I want … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: No Man Is an Island

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 2It's graduation day at Stanton, where Howard Roark has just been expelled. A line from the previous chapter fixes the date as 1922:WELCOME TO THE CLASS OF '22! GOOD LUCK, CLASS OF '22! The Class of '22 of the Stanton Institute of Technology was holding its commencement exercises that afternoon.The graduating students are crowded into an auditorium for the ceremony. Among them, we meet the second major character of The Fountainhead, Peter … [Read more...]

Can Married Christians Go to Heaven?

Christians today are known for obsessively policing people's sexual behavior. But hard as it is to believe, their ancient predecessors were even more strict. To see how this can be so, let's examine a surprising, little-known Bible verse.In this New Testament passage, Jesus is being interrogated by the Sadducees, a Jewish sect skeptical of resurrection. They ask, if a woman's husband dies and she remarries, which one's husband will she be in heaven? Jesus' astonishing response is that the … [Read more...]

Science Is Partisan, Like It Or Not

I've written about the March for Science already, but there's another critique I wanted to address. This one is from a surprising source: Robert Young, a geologist and one of the authors of the famous North Carolina report that predicted rising sea levels from global warming, to which the Republican legislature responded by passing a law banning state agencies from taking these facts into account.You'd think someone in his position would be the ideal person to speak out against politicized … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: A Very Bad Architect

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 1As we've learned, Howard Roark has his own idiosyncratic style which is the only way he'll design buildings. He even refuses to do schoolwork that requires him to sketch a building in a classical style. Because of this, he's dropping out of college to launch his career. But with an attitude like that, what makes him think he's going to fare any better in the working world?"Look here, Roark," said the Dean gently. "You have worked hard for your … [Read more...]

Science Is For Everyone

In the years to come, science will be under threat in America as never before. Every branch of science that makes conservatives unhappy, from evolution to climate change, is on the chopping block. Birth control and abortion will be assaulted with religious pseudoscience. Federal agencies from NASA to the EPA to the National Park Service will be silenced by executive fiat, forbidden to speak facts that don't align with the reigning worldview. And, of course, an indiscriminate immigrant ban is … [Read more...]

The St. Louis Manifest

I wasn't able to join in the massive protests at JFK over the weekend - not being able to jet off on short notice is one disadvantage of having a baby to care for, alas - but I was cheered up to see them. After a dark few months where it seemed as if America's progressive spirit was dead, this is one of the first real signs of a backlash against the poisonous racism that's wormed its way into our government.Even so, the illegal Muslim ban, decreed with no warning or debate, has already … [Read more...]