Politics

We’ll leave it to the history books of the future to decide whether the events in Charlottesville, VA in August of 2017 were a clear demarcation of events, indicating the start of a dangerous civil unrest. For the first time, clashes between rioters from the extreme left and those from the extreme right ended in a tragic loss of life. Regardless of protesters’ political views, lethal violence should never be the answer, but somehow when dealing with politics, it is.

Yet in the free market, fans of products don’t come to blows. Have you ever seen a frequent diner at Panera come up to a Subway aficionado and give them a knuckle sandwich? Has a Ford guy ever made it clear to a Chevy guy he is cruising for a bruising? When did a lover of Ella Fitzgerald’s music and an admirer of John Coltrane duke it out over who’s better? GE and Philips employees don’t punch each others’ lights out, nor do Colgate and Crest users come at each other armed to the teeth, and I can’t recall when an iRobot and a Dyson owner ever had a dust up.
Continue reading “Politics”

Autobiographies and Biographies

At a very young age, I remember my father telling me about books and genres he loved to read. He has a strong affinity for ancient history and archeology, the bible (old testament), and how it relates to the history of the Jewish people. He is also a doctor, and when he’d want to learn about a disease, he’d go read the contemporary writings of physicians and others at the time that disease was discovered. After all, what better way is there to learn to diagnose someone than by understanding what symptoms tipped physicians off way back when?

Basically, my dad likes going back in time and getting to the source of any account. As for history, his favorite way to learn it – whether historical events or the history of thoughts and ideas – was to read autobiographies and biographies. I couldn’t agree more. Continue reading “Autobiographies and Biographies”

Popular Culture

Politics is downstream from culture, as Andrew Breitbart used to say. Think what you want of the outfit that now bears his name, which has morphed greatly from what he had left behind before his death, but Andrew Breitbart was very astute in understanding that if you change the cultural narrative you can alter the political landscape as a consequence.

This phrase confirms another sentiment expressed by many libertarians over the years regarding the nature of a democratic government: politicians need to get re-elected. They will tend not to act upon something that is unpopular or if it is not accepted within their culture. Therefore an ideology must have already achieved critical mass in the hearts of the people before legislation can be passed to set it in stone. Continue reading “Popular Culture”

Administrative law

We like to think we live in a just society. We like to think the political system is a transparent one. For all their faults, we like to think that we elect legislators who enact laws strictly in line with their published party platform, predictably and benevolently. And due to the separation of powers, the executive only acts within the limits set by these laws.

Well, let me clue you into a little-known fact… that ain’t the way it works, buddy! Continue reading “Administrative law”

The Lucifer Effect

Have you ever wondered why otherwise good people end up doing bad things? I’m not talking about telling white lies or eating grapes out of the bag in the grocery store. I’m talking about whole nations swept up in a Nazi stupor. I’m talking about Guantánamo Bay, Abu Graib, and drone bombing of wedding parties and hospitals. On home ground, I’m talking about police brutality. And, to a lesser extent, I’m also talking about college kids who mentally and physically abuse their peers in psychological experiments or, more commonly, in hazing rituals. Regardless of the degree, I’m talking about acts of evil.

There is an easy answer that comes to those who have not taken the time to contemplate this issue or to those who would rather not find out what human nature is actually like. Continue reading “The Lucifer Effect”

Environmentalism

One of the shows I watched as a kid was Captain Planet. Protecting our environment was, and still is, a deep concern of mine. However now I dare not watch another episode of this show because I have a feeling it will boil my blood. I present to you 3 pet peeves that raise my blood temperature by at least 2 degrees Celsius and what it all means. Continue reading “Environmentalism”

Democracy

As I was getting acquainted with the ideas of liberty I read many e-books and listened to many audio books courtesy of the Mises Institute. Almost every topic that came up went through the same process:

  1. Hey, Daniel! Here’s something you know about!
  2. Wha…? Wait! What’s going on? What are you saying about this topic that I am very familiar with and have strong, (supposedly) well-informed and grounded opinions on?
  3. Worldview shattered.

Continue reading “Democracy”

Other classifications

To make things easier to find, I created a few groupings that allow you to narrow down certain topics that include a large number of named individuals, geographical locations, or geopolitical entities. So in addition to the detailed name of the person, group or location I created the topics: people and groups; areas and nations; economists; and politicians (who, within it, include also nation state leaders and US presidents).

You can always use the search bar to look for a particular person or country. The autocomplete function will bring up the search results immediately as you type. But if you just can’t remember the name of the person or if you want to get some ideas by searching the broader category (e.g. “let’s see which economists have something written about them…”) this would be a great way to do it.

And sometimes you might just want to read a book that seems to have a wide variety of topics, like a primer on some broad topic or a book that will help you answer every question under the sun. In that case you may just want to filter with the word smorgasbord and see what books come up.

. . .

This concludes the series on Recommended Starting Points. I hope you found some useful content in here or, better yet, know that these posts exist so you come back here again when you start over looking for new topics to explore. And as always, thank you for reading!

Literature

While all books technically fall under the topic of “literature“, I’ve reserved this tag mostly as a way for you to easily filter through the many hundred titles to find works of fiction (whether it be science fiction or dystopian novels), humor (yes, believe it or not, there are plenty of those), poetry (even harder to believe, right?) or quotes.

The great manifestos are clearly labeled, as are Festschrifts, which are collections of writings published in honor of a scholar. Finally, I included a range of biographies and autobiographies that shed light on some key individuals.

Within these topics you will probably find the widest range of books to suit whatever you’re in the mood for tonight. Take that light fiction book with you on vacation one day and pore over the pages of that great manifesto the next. And as always, thank you for reading!