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From the New York Times’ review of Kropotkin’s “Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution” in 1903

From the New York Times’ review of Kropotkin’s “Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution” in 1903

… a disappointing truth of human progress—there are things that have been forgotten, and they will never be re-remembered …
Seriously people, if you’re using shaving gel, stop and get this!

Seriously people, if you’re using shaving gel, stop and get this!

The trouble with the world: nations and states

The trouble with the world: nations and states

The idea of a nation and the idea of a state have been unnecessarily conflated, and this has led to all the trouble of the last half-century.

These are both nebulous concepts, but loosely defined, a nation is a bunch of people (a rather large bunch) with a set of shared cultural attributes (usually including language and religion and perhaps ethnicity or common geographical origin).

A state is…

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But instead the liberals I know have no interest at all in the Kurds, because the Kurds made the unforgivable mistake of liberating themselves with the help of American military power. That makes them the bad guys, because the only indigenous people a modern liberal approves are those that burn American flags.

… Christopher Hitchens pointed out that the true, best heir of the 1960s youth Revolution was Vaclav Havel. Unlike the Western hippies, he led a revolution — wrapped in blue jeans and non-violence and rock music — that really did overthrow a repressive, dour authoritarian state.

Yet the heirs of the ’60s in the West have little use for him. They cling to Castro.

On mysteries

The modern world knows little of these ancient rites. The scientist and the theologian alike gaze upon the sacred structure, wondering what fundamental urge inspired the herculean labor. If they would but think for a moment, they would realize that there is only one urge in the soul of man capable of supplying the required incentive — namely, the desire to know, to understand, and to exchange the narrowness of human mortality for the greater breadth and scope of divine enlightenment.

Though the modern world may know a million secrets, the ancient world knew one — and that one was greater than the million; for the million secrets breed death, disaster, sorrow, selfishness, lust, and avarice, but the one secret confers life, light, and truth. The time will come when the secret wisdom shall again be the dominating religious and philosophical urge of the world. The day is at hand when the doom of dogma shall be sounded.

No other institution has so completely satisfied the religious aspirations of humanity, for since the destruction of the Mysteries there never has been a religious code to which Plato could have subscribed. The unfolding of man’s spiritual nature is as much an exact science as astronomy, medicine or jurisprudence. To accomplish this end religions were primarily established; and out of religion have come science, philosophy, and logic as methods whereby this divine purpose might be realized.

— “The Secret Teachings of All Ages”, Manly P. Hall

The earth is delicate, but it endures. Nature is cruel, but man is part of nature. Man is not the only destructive force on the planet.
I, however, have made no very great discoveries, yet I have explored more of the Great South Sea, than all that have gone before me.
James Cook, 17 August 1771
The modern political liberal at this point goes off and attempts to embrace the fundamentalist terrorist. He expands his sympathetic circle of humanity toward that hijacker pilot with the bloody boxcutter, but he usually ends up in a red-faced rage, ranting about Israeli bullying of Palestinians or Bush’s refusal to accept the Kyoto protocols. I confess I find that repulsive, not because those terrorists are monstrous but rather because they’re petty, ignorant, arrogant, and selfishly infantile. It’s not that they’re inhuman: they’re all too human in the least worthy ways. And to be glamored out of your sense of right and wrong by vindictive voices from oppressed places seems to me not a high humanism, but rather a low point and a form of self-loathing.
The Sciolist

These days, Google shows the etymology of a word if you search the right way; as an example, the following image shows what comes up if you search for “Sciolist etymology”.

google sciolist

Until this helpful feature was turned on (and even now, it isn’t always what I reach for first), the place to go to for all “word origin” queries (and I have a lot of them!) was etymonline.com.

etymonline sciolist

It’s heartwarming to come…

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