On The Tempests Of Misery

The Roman writer Aelian, in his Varia Historia (X.5) credits the following parable to Aesop the Phrygian, although I have never heard it mentioned in collections of his stories.  He said that a pig squeals when it is touched by man for a good reason:  it does not produce fur or milk for human use, as a goat or sheep, and has nothing to offer except its own meat. 

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On Why The Best Philosophers Are Men Of Action

The Roman writer Aelian, in his Varia Historia (III.44), conveys the following anecdote. Three young friends, he says, were traveling to Delphi in order to consult the oracle.  Along the way, they lucklessly encountered some bandits.  In the melee that followed, some of the robbers were killed. 

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The Inescapable Limitations Of Knowledge

As we become older, we are more conscious of the limitations of knowledge.  Nothing is so frustratingly difficult as its attainment.  It is like trying to look up at a star or planet in the night sky.  Every time we look directly at one of these points of light, it seems to disappear; only by shifting away our eyes can we perceive it. 

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Empty Words, Empty Gestures, Empty Actions

There is a scene near the beginning of the film The Departed (2006) in which the character played by Martin Sheen, a police captain, asks Leonardo DiCaprio, a potential recruit for undercover work, a pointed question.  The question is this:  “Do you want to be cop, or do you just want to appear to be a cop?  It’s a legitimate question.  Some guys just want to appear to be cops.” 

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“How Do I Transition From Youth To Middle Age?” (Podcast)

A reader emails me and asks for advice and guidance on how to navigate the passage from youth to middle age. But there are no magic answers, no magic wands. You have to keep moving forward, keep working on yourself, keep focusing on mind, body, and responsibilities. But I also detect some other things in his email, things that are unsaid. We discuss.

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Arousing The Imagination

By what means can the imagination be activated?  By what artifice may its secrets be coaxed to the surface of our consciousness, and made capable of articulation, as an enterprising fisherman might lure a rare specimen from deep waters to the surface?  Are there tried techniques, or is it simply a matter of random inspiration?  These are questions worthy of consideration.

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“Should I Reopen A Closed Chapter?” (Podcast)

A reader reaches out to ask a question that’s been troubling him.  He was recently re-contacted by an ex-girlfriend from several years ago.  She appears to want to start over again with him, but he has his doubts and hesitations.  Should he re-open this closed chapter of his life, or should he keep his distance?  We discuss.

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The Anatomy Of The Scam

There has been a big surge in online scammery and con artistry in the past two years.  Economic hardship and desperation have been contributing causes, but this kind of activity has been with us since the dawn of time.  And con games will always be with us, because they are rooted in the timeless and predictable ingredients of human nature.

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Betrayal Will Find Its Punishment

We will examine the consequences of treachery and betrayal.  Zahir Al-Umar Al-Zaydani (ظاهر العمر الزيداني) was a charismatic regional potentate who managed to carve out a fiefdom for himself in Palestine during the waning centuries of the Ottoman empire.  Born around 1690, he achieved ascendancy through the usual mix of piety, maneuvering, and ruthlessness; and by the 1730s he had acquired such power in Galilee that the Turkish authorities in Istanbul knew they needed to find a way to clip his wings.

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