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April 3, 2016

48 Comments

The Price of a Book

This is a story that was not meant to be told. That it has been told is partly serendipitous. In 1926 the daughter of an Irish aristocrat, Violet Gibson, attempted to assassinate the Fascist leader Benito Mussolini in Rome. After being beaten up and imprisoned in Italy she was returned to England and immediately incarcerated […]

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March 22, 2016

40 Comments

“Love life more than the meaning of it”

You’ve seen them and met them, self-righteous do-gooders who seem to love humanity more than any one individual. They are always talking about saving humanity, saving the planet, saving the American people, saving the environment, saving the American way of life, saving the poor etc., and they know exactly what needs to be done. However, […]

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March 6, 2016

39 Comments

Non Serviam: The Anarchy of James Joyce

When James Joyce has Stephen Dedalus, the protagonist of both A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man (A Portrait) and Ulysses, say “Non serviam” or “I will not serve”, he is merely restating Joyce’s own political, spiritual, and artistic creed. While almost everything that can be written about Joyce has been, it’s still not well known […]

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February 15, 2016

56 Comments

Civil Society and My Knife

I love my knife, a small enough folder to be legal in most states, vicious enough to be used in self-defense, practical enough to be used for everyday cutting tasks, and strong enough to last forever. It goes with me most places and that was the problem. My daughter and I had just finished an […]

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February 8, 2016

14 Comments

Sunday, Glorious Sunday

  Sunday, glorious Sunday. SmartWool layers, beanie, gloves, audible playing, legs pumping, wind in face, ocean ahead. Slow down for swing with Lindy in the Park. Past the Botanical Gardens (Kew for me), turn around, downhill from here. Long-legged rollerbladers strutting their stuff, grown men playing with toy boats, tatanka roaming unfree. Beach Chalet and […]

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January 27, 2016

49 Comments

Marriage is Made of Lies

“Marriage is made of lies, kind ones mostly, omissions. If you give voice to the things you think every day about your spouse you’d crush them to paste.” This is the crux of Lauren Groff’s best-selling novel Fates and Furies, which intriguingly Barack Obama chose as his favorite book in 2015. It would be too […]

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January 14, 2016

31 Comments

Eating the Inner Organs of Beasts and Fowls

Mr. Leopold Bloom was clearly given to sensuous pleasures but he wasn’t entirely immune to the pleasures of the mind. Following yesterday’s market action, most of us probably feel the need to scale back a little from our sensuous pleasures, such as eating the “inner organs of beasts and fowls”, and give more weight to reflective […]

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May 11, 2015

105 Comments

Taking a Blogging Break to Write a Book

I have been blogging for three years now and it has been one of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences of my life. The blogging community is amazing and I have learned from and met some incredible people. During this time a number of you have suggested that I ought to write a book, but keeping up […]

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May 3, 2015

32 Comments

Lost Friendships Can Hurt : A Government Health Warning

I have always wondered where lost friendships go. A reference I discovered in a copy of the Necronomicon, which I consulted in the Library of Babel, led to the discovery that most lost friendships eventually find their way to what physicists call five dimensional space. Here, some of them end up in libraries where they are frequently cataloged […]

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April 23, 2015

87 Comments

The Atheist’s Soul

My book club is like an extended family. We have been going long enough that we have already seen three of our number pass away, one from suicide, one from illness and one from not-so-old-age. I mention this only to convey that our members, a sprinkling of bright, secular-minded, financial types, techies and assorted professionals, […]

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April 9, 2015

75 Comments

In Praise of Procrastination

In his memoir Confessions, Saint Augustine tells us that he used to pray “Lord, make me chaste – but not yet.” Augustine’s prayer not only became the world’s greatest pick-up line, but also illustrated a plight so common, that it explained why most of the world’s great religions were against procrastination, seeing it as a clear […]

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March 28, 2015

61 Comments

The Hero Within

In the last few weeks I have read Andersonville, a story about the notorious Confederate prisoner-of-war camp; Augustus, a historical narrative exploring the life of the founder of the Roman Empire; and Stoner, a novel about a man whose life, measured by modern-day metrics, was an abject failure. These works have reminded me how grateful […]

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March 15, 2015

61 Comments

What is the Best Life for Men?

The core of Western political and philosophical thought since Socrates has been an attempt to answer this question through the application of reason. Socrates, Aristotle and Plato all believed that it was possible, by the use of reason, to discover what the perfect life or perfect society looked like. The idea of human and social perfection […]

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March 1, 2015

98 Comments

The Atheist’s Prayer

Many atheists, in their ignorance of history and philosophy and their often naïve and aggressive attacks on traditional religions, particularly Christianity, have thrown out the baby with the bath water, dismissing all religious traditions out of hand. However, many of these traditions predate Christianity, have their origin in Greek humanist philosophy, and do not require a belief […]

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February 1, 2015

42 Comments

Learning To Fly

I wrote this brief piece in my early twenties. It was not meant for public consumption and in retrospect it reads like the typical ramblings of a self-absorbed youth. However, it does concisely convey an intellectual journey and as such has some wider relevance. As a youngster and well into manhood, I lived almost exclusively in […]

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January 25, 2015

46 Comments

Eugenics, Gas Chambers and Nazis: America’s Shameful Past

Forget the film, it’s the book you want to read: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand. It’s a remarkable and inspiring story about Louie Zamperini, an Olympic runner who survives a series of terrifying ordeals. However, early in the book my attention was drawn to Hillenbrand’s statement, […]

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January 19, 2015

48 Comments

What Is Your Epitaph?

The other day I was asked to write an epitaph for a relative, just one sentence summing up a human life. I couldn’t imagine him without his books so I came up with three alternatives: “An indomitable reader, he has found a quieter library”; “He loved books more than people”; and “He died to save the library fines”. […]

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January 11, 2015

55 Comments

The Horror of H.P. Lovecraft

Even wordsmiths have difficulty describing the immensity of the universe. After all, our sun is 1,000,000 times bigger than the earth and our galaxy contains approximately 300 billion stars, but there are also 100 million galaxies in our observable universe. Moreover, our observable universe, which is 13 billion light years away (1 light year = 6 trillion […]

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January 3, 2015

62 Comments

Against Theory

I have a very dear friend who always sends me the latest scientific evidence showing that a vegan diet is the optimum one for good health. He has an answer for every objection, but so does another friend who happens to follow the Paleolithic diet, and is just as persuasive. Personally, I’m a cheating vegan, […]

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December 22, 2014

37 Comments

The Myth of the Robber Barons

Marxist class theory was incoherent from start to finish. For example, Marx predicted that the first proletarian revolution would take place where the proletarian class was most developed, certainly not in 1917 rural Russia. Furthermore, Marx failed to see that the proletariat would increasingly become obsolescent as unionized workers are replaced by the new entrepreneurial […]

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December 15, 2014

48 Comments

The Improper Subjects

As an undergraduate I remember getting so frustrated at a mandatory Political Science course that I complained to the Dean of Studies that the subject was not a ‘real’ one, not a ‘proper’ subject. Asked to explain what a ‘proper’ subject was I uttered something to the effect that it wasn’t eternal, that in fifty years the knowledge […]

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December 7, 2014

87 Comments

In Praise of Repression

I once attended a Jungian workshop and found myself uncharacteristically emoting in front of a roomful of strangers. In retrospect I was probably just acting out what was expected of me as I usually have a rather British ‘stiff upper lip’ attitude to expressing feelings. I recognize, however, that this attitude has long since been […]

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December 1, 2014

53 Comments

My Strange Friends

Once upon a time, I lived in Oxford, England and browsed second-hand bookshops in streets reminiscent of Diagon Alley. Nobody browses now. Most such bookshops have either closed or moved online, and the few that are left have customers with neither the time nor the inclination for an activity motivated solely by the hope of a […]

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November 20, 2014

83 Comments

Declaring War on War

During the first five years of drone operations in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere, more than 2,400 people have died, and according to the most reliable estimates, the civilian casualty rate has been eight to seventeen percent. Earlier this year Obama told the New Yorker that he “wrestles” with civilian casualties, but, he said he has: […]

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November 15, 2014

36 Comments

Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

“… one hundred thousand people may have died from yesterday’s tsunami off the coast of Sumatra in Indonesia.” “Turn the volume up darling.” “What time do I have to pick up Jennifer?” “Terrible, that earthquake. After 5.” “It was the tsunami, did you see the video?” “Most of it. I feel so sorry for all […]

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November 9, 2014

1 Comment

Paper Bag Treasure

Originally posted on A Holistic Journey:
We had recently moved to a better part of London to ensure that my brother and I could attend a decent school. Dad was a London cabbie, the kind that drove one of those large black London taxis in the era before the Uber invasion. He would usually drive…

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