society

Centrists and extremists

There are a variety of centrists, as there are a variety of means (e.g., arithmetic, geometric, harmonic, etc.). But all centrists share certain characteristics, which differ markedly from all extremists. Centrists reside in the center, the middle, from a long-term perspective. Unlike moderates, who go with the flow of current politics and culture, centrists resist …

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Conservatives and liberals

The terms “conservative” and “liberal” are used in a variety of contexts but what is the distinction? They have come down to us through 19th century politics, but that turns out not to help much since many conservatives today would consider themselves as “classical liberals”. One can use alternate terms such as traditionalist and progressive, …

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International English spelling

With the spread of printing and literacy, spelling became standardized. Samuel Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language (1755) led to one standard for British English, while Noah Webster’s An American Dictionary of the English Language (1828) led to another standard for American English. Johnson’s preference for Norman (French) spellings preserved the -re ending of …

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Cherchez les hommes

Cherchez la femme is a French expression from the 1854 novel The Mohicans of Paris by Alexandre Dumas, which means “no matter what the problem may be, a woman is often the cause. Look for the mistress, the jealous wife, the angry lover… there is a woman at the root of each problem.” The alternative …

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Separation of society and state

On the face of it, the separation of society and state makes no sense. Society provides the framework for the state, whether a hierarchical society leading to a kingdom or an egalitarian society leading to a democracy. And there would be no state without a society, whether it is the people who assemble to establish …

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Constitutional authority undermined

I’m not a constitutional lawyer, but those who are have been sounding the alarm over the actions of a Supreme Court and President that are extra-constitutional. I write to point out that an official under a constitution who officially acts outside that constitution has undermined their legitimacy. The constitution remains but the official who sets …

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Time and memory

Is it possible to reverse time? Yes, in a sense. It is possible to reverse thermodynamic time by a local decrease in entropy. Cooling down, metabolism, and memory are examples of decreases in entropy. Memory may be described as an information model: it compresses experience for storage. The information in memory is not all that …

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Political liberty still lacking

We in the United States like to consider our nation “free” and even the leader of the “free world”. Compared with totalitarian and authoritarian regimes of the past and present, yes, we are free. But that should not be the standard of comparison. The standard should be full political liberty, and there we are still …

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Alcoholism and homosexuality

Some people are born with alcoholism, that is, they are inclined toward alcohol dependence. Others acquire it over time or a combination of both is the cause. Alcoholism is a disease, also called alcohol dependence syndrome. It can cause people to behave in unhealthy ways such as engaging in risky behavior. Whether alcoholism can be …

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The necessity of philosophy

The contemporary world is characterized, among other things, by the cult of the expert.  It is widely and officially accepted that the expert and only the expert can speak authoritatively on a given subject.  So extensive is this cult that once someone has become a certified expert in one field, they are often assumed to …

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