Can Basic Income End Poverty?

Last year, in "The Post-Work Society", I wrote about whether a universal basic income would be a feasible option in a society where there aren't enough jobs for everyone.I was skeptical that this wouldn't lead to a tragedy-of-the-commons problem - that the people who get the money would drop out of the workforce and leave everyone else to pick up the slack. But a test run in Kenya, at least so far, is offering evidence to the contrary.The program is being run by the nonprofit … [Read more...]

The Next Hop

For all the madness and cruelty on earth, we're privileged to live in a time when scientists are confirming that the skies are overflowing with planets friendly to life. And another big discovery that expands our cosmic horizon has just been announced:NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: McMansion Hell

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 3Peter Keating shows up for his first day of work at Francon & Heyer, the prestigious New York architectural firm. At first he's impressed by the well-dressed people and the lavish office (its walls decorated with "etchings of Greek temples", naturally - damn those evil Greeks).When he sits down at a drafting table, he fears the plans he's been given to work on are "someone's tremendous achievement which he could neither question nor equal". But he soon … [Read more...]

Does Atheism Lead to Islam?

As a society becomes increasingly secular and unchurched, what's the natural next step? Will it continue to become freer, more liberal, more peaceful? Or will it take a sharp 180-degree turn into ultra-fundamentalist Islam?You might find that idea absurd. If so, you're probably not archbishop emeritus (which I'm assuming is code for "ultra-conservative old fossil who pines for the Inquisition") Carlo Liberati, of Italy, who reportedly said the following:Because of their "stupidity," … [Read more...]

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...]