April 13, 2015
Hi Jim, this is Joel. I'd like to ask you to tell your fellow congresscritters to vote against reauthorizing section 215 of the Patriot Act. You understand that the mass surveillance that is currently occurring under your watch is unconstitutional and makes our country not a functioning democracy but a dictatorship, a tyranny. Tell your fellow congressmen and congresswomen to vote against reauthorizing section 215 of the Patriot Act and that will be a step toward making our nation a functioning democracy with a working system of checks and balances. Nothing can undo the harm that has already occurred under the Patriot Act and we can no doubt expect that the NSA will repeatedly attempt to continue mass surveillance of the entire world, including innocent American citizens here in the US. Constant vigilance is required to ensure that the tyranny that the NSA has created collapses and is never again rebuilt.
I will keep the rest of my thoughts to myself so that you can go on doing your job.Read more »
Feb 4, 2015
Before you write a letter accusing me of class warfare and petty bourgeoisie anti-intellectual navel-gazing, read on. The title is misleading. No, I'm not going to make the opposite case either. Let's talk for a moment about happiness and money. A windfall of a small amount can make a poor person unimaginably happy. Gifts that make it easier for you to buy something you need or want are a big deal. A gamer who wins a challenging game becomes elated and euphoric. Some have called it the "epic" emotion. A gamer needs extra money to buy games and so without money they are usually unable to play very many games. For many gamers, their happiness subsides over time playing the same game. This is known as replayability and is very important for MMORPGs, online games, and even single player games. But the epic emotion is just one tiny sliver of happiness.
Happiness is the emotion that accompanies goodness. But does goodness equal happiness? In my opinion, no. I have for years attempted to argue that hedonism is a bankrupt philosophy and that doing something because it makes you happy is not the same as only doing things because they make you happy. Purpose comes not from happiness in my opinion, the reverse is not exactly true either. Purpose is often thought of as an old puritanical value that doesn't fit in with post-modern philosophy of life. But wait, why do we care about post-modernism? Because life matters. It takes almost no effort on the part of a philosopher to come to the conclusion that nihilism is incorrect despite the important lessons it teaches us. But post-modern philosophy goes much further than nihilism. Existentialism is a much more complex philosophy that post-modernism uses to deal with the major questions of life. Its opposition to positivism and rationalism in my opinion makes it unable to explain purpose that is ingrained into our soul, but I can understand how they would come to their conclusions. So how does this fit in with happiness? It is my belief that happiness comes from more than one thing. This makes it elusive. When you chase it, you lose it. When you have it you don't know that you have it, you just are. But that doesn't mean that you have to just be happy with your lot and not strive to make yourself happier. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Strive, knock, ask and don't stop until you look back and say that you were happy. Don't worry that you aren't currently happy, as Winston Churchill said, "If you're going through hell, keep going." What makes this so important is that you don't really know if you're happy now if you are happy. So you have to try to figure out what will make yourself happy and do that. But like I said before, happiness isn't everything.Read more »