May 11, 2015


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 […]

Continue reading...

May 3, 2015


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 […]

Continue reading...

April 23, 2015


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, […]

Continue reading...

April 9, 2015


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 […]

Continue reading...

March 28, 2015


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 […]

Continue reading...

March 15, 2015


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 […]

Continue reading...

March 1, 2015


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 […]

Continue reading...

February 1, 2015


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 […]

Continue reading...

January 25, 2015


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, […]

Continue reading...

January 19, 2015


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”. […]

Continue reading...

January 11, 2015


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 […]

Continue reading...

January 3, 2015


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, […]

Continue reading...

December 22, 2014


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 […]

Continue reading...

December 15, 2014


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 […]

Continue reading...

December 7, 2014


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 […]

Continue reading...

December 1, 2014


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 […]

Continue reading...

November 20, 2014


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: […]

Continue reading...

November 15, 2014


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 […]

Continue reading...

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…

Continue reading...

November 8, 2014


That Cad Socrates

In my youth Socrates was my hero, an intellectual superman, questioning everyone and everything, and his dignified but unjust death at the hands of the Athenians made him my favorite  ‘good guy’ in history. Now, older and humbler, I am not so sure. Antifragile:Things That Gain from Disorder, the latest book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, contains an […]

Continue reading...

October 19, 2014


Love, Passion, Reason and Marriage

  Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797), the founder of modern liberal feminism, was also a serious philosopher, anonymously writing a Vindication of the Rights of Men in 1790, the first counter to Edmund Burke’s treatise on the dangers of the French Revolution. But it was her Vindication of the Rights of Woman, with her name appearing on the […]

Continue reading...

May 11, 2014


Bitcoin and Freedom

On this morning’s run around Lake Merced I noticed a red balloon struggling to gain elevation before reaching the open skies. Suddenly, without notice it was snagged by the branches of a tree, but it struggled valiantly, aided by gentle gusts of wind until it finally managed to free itself and soared away over the water. I […]

Continue reading...

April 16, 2014


Radiation Oncology

It’s Passover and after four glasses of wine I was determined to write an uplifting post, but I recently discovered something I had written many years ago during a dark period of my life. It’s not uplifting but I thought it worth sharing in the spirit of thankfulness. _________________ “Thank God I don’t have to […]

Continue reading...

March 29, 2014


Dying To Live

  I have spent the last three weeks watching someone I love die horribly. It is over. We cannot choose the way we die, only the way we live, so I flew home yesterday and used the time to reflect on another way  we might be said to die. Life is lived at the edge. […]

Continue reading...

March 15, 2014


Visiting The Gates Of Hell

I am writing this post on my phone, in a waiting room, just outside the gates of hell, and I’m delighted not to have been invited in. This particular hell is an English intensive care unit (ICU) and all the patients inside are in constant pain or extreme discomfort, and have either been or are very close […]

Continue reading...

February 9, 2014


Is The Ocean In The Bone Vault Only The Bone Vault’s Ocean?

My friend from Asia has powers and magic, he plucks a blue leaf from the young blue-gum And gazing upon it, gathering and quieting The God in his mind, creates an ocean more real than the ocean, the salt, the actual Appalling presence, the power of the waters. He believes that nothing is real except […]

Continue reading...

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,729 other followers