Assortments of Thought

Of all the world’s documents concerning liberties and freedom, perhaps none remain as celebrated as the U.S. Constitution. By establishing a government of checked and limited power, it enabled a society of liberty, a society unlike any the world had ever seen. Hence it’s gone on to mark the greatest turning point in political approaches and realities of all time, and has truly provided the inspiration and model for countless other, similar documents for governments around the world. Nevertheless, many people admire and look to it primarily for the support of rights, when in fact granting rights is something the Constitution basically doesn’t do. While it does cover some very fundamental ones like freedom of speech, even those are so simply stated that they require laws by Congress and occasional Supreme Court interpretation to be effectively applied. Further, many of the rights so integral to contemporary American society are nowhere to be found in the Constitution, because it guarantees little to nothing, for instance, about labor regulations, civil rights, or decent treatment for non-citizen groups. Nor is it practical that it even could guarantee many rights, for in writing such a document, no one could ever have the vision to foresee the situations of the future, or the understanding to specify the precise rights of everyone throughout all of society. Instead though, the Constitution does something far more achievable, and yet altogether more remarkable: it establishes a system in which injustices can be witnessed, recognized, and protected against by law, as the political advancements since its implementation have shown. That’s not as ideal as a perfect society, of course, in which everyone is treated fairly from the beginning and forever, and no one knows what the far future may hold. In lieu of the impossible document that could create such perfection though, the Constitution remains a truly brilliant, original document of freedom, and hence worthy of all the reverence that so many people hold for it.

Continue reading “The Constitutional Way” …

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As we continue living our lives, we all struggle, it seems, to discern a purpose behind it all … to find a meaning in it all. It’s an unavoidable struggle for such as us–sentient beings who perceive so much–not least of all because definitive answers are not to be found. So in our increasingly complex, modern world, we each find something to believe in. Our beliefs are indeed myriad though, and so are often, unfortunately, too specific and personal for all of us to agree on. Yet all of us share the experience of living a life–and we certainly all know sorrow and pain–so alleviating or preventing the suffering of others is, in fact, a purpose that we can all believe in. Not, of course, that we should all feel a need to make doing good are whole lives’ work, for such a goal entails many shades of grey, and is not even achievable or uniquely definable. No, the idea, rather, is simply that we can all act thoughtfully and non-begrudgingly toward others during everyday life … exercising our capacities for sympathy and empathy, and desiring neither rewards for us, nor punishments for others. For then we’ll help others because we genuinely feel like doing so–knowing how we would feel in similar situations–thus sharing a universal purpose that can make all our lives that much more meaningful.

Continue reading “Meaning in the Everyday” …

Scary stories and films and such have been favorites for generations. From the monsters of the silent film era to contemporary horror films, and from all the scary tales surely told since the dawn of humanity, of ghosts and goblins, vampires and witches, there’s been something about the dark and the supernatural that’s just too alluring to pass up. Hence we’ve called for the production of all the scary movies and books and such that people continue to enjoy, and today, one man and company furthers this vibrant tradition with everything from stories to artwork, and even music. Indeed, Joseph Vargo has created many stunning works of gothic art, and even more remarkably, he founded and works in the band Nox Arcana–until recently along with William Piotrowski–to bring the world several gothic, instrumental concept albums, in a significant step beyond the typical “Halloween music” that’s more suited for the background than focused listening. He’s also collaborated with various other writers to produce a couple of story anthologies, and has–through his company, Monolith Graphics–made various other gothic items available as well. And so Vargo, Nox Arcana, and Monolith Graphics continue to bring forth a wonderful assortment of spooky and darkly romantic works, just perfect for when allure of the darkness comes tempting … or, for when a little gothic romanticism feels right.

Continue reading “A Tour of the Shadows” …

Discussions involving bodily functions and, to a lesser extent, personal hygiene are often uncomfortable, as are discussions that relate to sexuality. It’s not surprising then than menstruation is a difficult topic, both historically in many cultures and in contemporary times. Indeed, there are many men in particular who would rather avoid menstruation to the greatest extent possible, who don’t like talking about it and who may even want their girlfriends and wives to more or less hide it. Likewise, there are many women who are hesitant about discussing menstruation with men–and in some cases even with other women–while cultural attitudes dictate that menstruation isn’t to be talked about in mixed company either, that it’s something to be avoided or joked about. These attitudes by all sides are, however, flawed at best, and hurtful at worst. Not only is menstruation simply a natural function–nothing to get uptight about–it also isn’t right that women should ever have to feel embarrassed or ashamed about it, or feel that they must unduly conceal it. Further, whenever a woman might feel like talking about it, whether with boyfriends or husbands, family or friends, she shouldn’t have to anticipate a negative reaction either. In short, men and women alike should lighten up about menstruation; acknowledge it as being the significant and natural feature of women’s lives that it is; and become more open to discussing and accepting it, without fear of so doing. Perhaps then women and men would feel just a closer to one another and accepted as a result.

Continue reading “Menstruation” …

For various reasons, a lot of people aren’t too fond of rap and hip-hop music. Some simply don’t like the style, of artists rapping over beats. A few, sadly, shun it for its black origins, out of a sense of racism. Many, however, are simply turned away by the subject matter they hear: killing, violence, profanity, drug abuse, cheap sex, disrespect to women, and get rich no matter what schemes. While the artists that focus on these themes are not without talent or skill, it’s understandable that many people aren’t interested in what they have to say. Yet rap is not defined solely by these subjects, and indeed, there is a lot of rap out there that not only avoids them, but even delves into issues like persevering and working hard, setting good examples for kids, and taking life seriously and positively, among more trivial topics. I would therefore like to highlight the lyrics of one rap duo in particular, Blackalicious, that expresses such sentiments, as well as discuss those of Gift of Gab, Blackalicious’ emcee, solo, if only to demonstrate this often-overlooked side of hip-hop.

Continue reading “A Brighter Side of Rap” …

Formal contact with an extraterrestrial species remains one of the most tantalizing possibilities today. While everyone can’t agree on the desirability of such contact, nearly everyone agrees on how significant it would be, for the grand question of our uniqueness in the universe would be answered. Yet it’s possible and perhaps even likely that contact is about as much as we might achieve with an alien civilization, let alone social relations, because the barriers may be too great. Whether they’re out there isn’t the problem; the size and age of the universe guarantees us that. Rather, the problems of contact hinge on how widespread such civilizations are, and whether they have the technology to find and travel to us. For establishing and maintaining social relationships, however, the potential barriers are far greater. Not only could individuals of an alien species require radically different environmental conditions than we do, their varying biological senses and psychologies could present them with vastly different perceptions and understandings of the world, while mismatches of cognitive and linguistic abilities could present problems as well. Even assuming then that a given civilization was at all like ours, which is to say, not so scientifically advanced that we’d have trouble relating to or even fathoming it, we could still be different in ways that would preclude or at least greatly hinder social relationships. Thus the problem in notions of an eventual inter-species community is probably not whether extraterrestrials exist or whether we’ll eventually make contact, but rather that contact may never lead to meaningful social relationships.

Continue reading “Barriers Beyond Contact” …

As Mexican and other Hispanic people continue to enter the country illegally, a solution to illegal immigration is becoming more important than ever. The border states in particular are becoming increasingly agitated, which is to say, the people who live near the border are becoming increasingly agitated, and often for legitimate reasons. Let there be no confusion about it: illegal immigrants are coming here illegally, and in doing so, they’re disrespecting our sovereignty. More pragmatically, they’re obtaining our benefits illegally, and some are even bringing drug activity with them, or else stealing people’s identities. This state of affairs should not be allowed to continue. However, despite calls for mass deportation, deporting every illegal immigrant is not the answer, and nor is taking any measure meant to force them out voluntarily. The fact is, illegal immigrants wouldn’t be here had we been regulating our border properly for the past several decades, and further, many are just trying to better themselves, and are contributing to our economy in the process. Thus the solution is not to deport, but rather to secure the border once and for all; deport just the criminals; and provide everyone else with permanent resident status, subject only to the usual conditions that such status brings.

Continue reading “Solving Illegal Immigration” …

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