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...]

Friday Night Music: Not Your Way

We're going to need some anthems of resistance over the next few years, and this is a good one from the MisterWives (see the lyrics) that's also catchy as hell:What are you listening to to get through the Trump administration? … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: Out With the Old

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 1Last week, we learned that Howard Roark had been expelled from architectural college for refusing to do his homework. In this installment, he explains just why he finds it so objectionable to design buildings in classical style:"But I don't understand. Why do you want me to think that this is great architecture?" He pointed to the picture of the Parthenon."That," said the Dean, "is the Parthenon.""So it is.""I haven't the time to waste on … [Read more...]

On the Morality Of: Punching Nazis

I wasn't anticipating I'd ever write a post with a title like this, but here we are. Welcome to America in 2017.This past weekend, neo-Nazi Richard Spencer was giving an on-camera interview in Washington, D.C. when this happened:Richard Spencer got punched in the face during the protests at Trump's #inauguration pic.twitter.com/oQAwtbtEeT— Gender-Professecs (@MrTrunney) January 20, 2017If you don't know who Richard Spencer is, here are the highlights: He founded an online … [Read more...]

Dystopia Journal #1: A Vast Unreality

This past weekend's inauguration didn't feel real. It still doesn't.Despite the evidence, it's hard for me to accept that the presidency of Donald Trump is really happening. Watching the news feels like we've been granted a collective glimpse into an alternate timeline, a bad future, as a warning and a means of averting it. But this is no dream or fantasy, it's the reality we live in now and we'll be facing it for years to come.It feels all the more unreal because it's such a sharp break … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: We Don’t Need No Education

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 1Last time, we found out that Howard Roark, Randian superman, was being expelled from architectural college. In this installment, we'll find out why. Try to form your own guess before reading on!When Roark returns to his rented room in town, there's a message from the dean asking to meet with him. Instead, he spends an hour sitting and doodling, reworking some of his old sketches. He later makes the excuse that he lost track of time; although since … [Read more...]

Letter-Writing Wednesday: Andrew Cuomo’s Bad Faith

Dear Governor Cuomo:As a New York State resident and a Democrat, I was dismayed to read that you vetoed a bipartisan bill passed by the legislature to reform the state's woefully inadequate public-defender system. What's even more disgraceful is that you let the legislature pass the bill back in June of last year and then sat on it, waiting until the last possible moment to announce your veto, to ensure that the legislative session would be over and there'd be no chance to override it until … [Read more...]

When Should a Humanist Forgive?

In "The Ashes", I wrote that we should stop trying to help Trump voters who are about to suffer the consequences of getting what they voted for. This drew a rejoinder by Dragoness Eclectic:And this, I fear, is the difference between the compassion preached by Jesus, and secular humanist compassion: "We'll only be kind and compassionate to our friends and allies" vs. "Love your enemies; for even sinners love their friends. You are called to do much more."I thought this critique … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: Our Hero

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 1The Fountainhead begins with nudity:Howard Roark laughed.He stood naked at the edge of a cliff. The lake lay far below him. A frozen explosion of granite burst in flight to the sky over motionless water. The water seemed immovable, the stone — flowing. The stone had the stillness of one brief moment in battle when thrust meets thrust and the currents are held in a pause more dynamic than motion.Howard Roark will be our hero for this novel. A … [Read more...]

How to Resist Temptation

A quick question about your philosophical intuitions. Who's the more moral person: the one who feels immoral temptations and resists them, or the one who's never tempted to do wrong in the first place?Famous philosophers have taken different sides on this. As an article in the Atlantic describes, social scientists are now investigating the question:One argument, associated with Aristotle, is that a truly moral person will wholeheartedly want to do the right thing, and no part of her … [Read more...]