About Flywheel

Database Application Specialist, Independent Scholar, Student of Language

What Gary Johnson Should Have Said About Aleppo

Photo from Haaretz There’s an old saying that war is God’s way of teaching geography to Americans. These days, even that may not be enough. Now, because of Gary Johnson’s Aleppo gaffe, that city has become a little more familiar to most Americans than it was a few weeks ago. But, what’s truly regrettable about his embarrassing moment is that it puts us deeper in the dark. The media had a feast with it, and continued to neglect the conversations we need to have. Aleppo became a story with no moral… I was rooting for Johnson to get … Continue reading →

Purple Capitalism

Purple Capitalism and Social Justice Capitalism offers real opportunities to advance social justice. Across America and across the world, capitalist-driven innovation and entrepreneurship has generated profound benefits for human well-being. Yet, it’s also true that unbridled capitalism can lead to suffering and misery. The challenge of our time is to leverage the virtues of capitalism and defeat its excesses. Purple Capitalism sees economic freedom and social justice as complementary ideals, linked by the imperatives of human empowerment and moral fairness. We’ve seen how energetic competition in open markets elevates diversity and inclusion over outdated hierarchies. We’ve seen how … Continue reading →

Crooked Sky

Posted this on FB not long ago, and now I’m cross-posting here. Things are moving fast on this planet. If we intend to get smarter about where we want to go, it’s important not to forget where we’ve been. I started writing this several days ago for a group I’m a member of, The Open Source Party. After last night, it needed some updating. Now that it’s finally finished, I’ve decided to share it with everybody. **** See that crooked sky? A few steps away, a black man was shot dead in his car. The World Wide Web … Continue reading →

Big History Project Contest

I submitted a video to the “What Does it Mean to Human” contest sponsored by the Big History Project. Unfortunately, I didn’t make the cut for the top 25. That suprised me, because I thought had done a pretty good job of resonating with Big History’s themes about thresholds of complexity. In any case, there’s no doubt in my mind that they picked the right winner… Abby Lammers. She made the the same fundamental point that John Green made in the video I pointed out last time, and she did it in a very succinct and engaging way. … Continue reading →

John Green knows what it means to be human

I’m a huge fan of the Big History Project, and just got the email about their new contest. It’s focused on getting people to create videos to answer the question, “What does it mean to be human?” There were three example videos, including one from Big History’s big benefactor, Bill Gates (@BillGates). Another was by Jacqueline Howard (@JacqEHoward), the Science Editor at Huffington Post proxy. But the one that really stood out was by John Green (@johngreen), who’s one of the vlogbrothers on YouTube. Here’s the awesomeness… … Continue reading →

I’m not the Secular Progressive Reporter

There’s a website at http://paper.li/SecularProgress titled, “The Secular Progressive Reporter.” It runs unattended, aggregating content from preselected categories. @secularprogress ticks out updates. The Secular Progressive Reporter has no authority over this blog, I’m someone else… Craig Simon, @gitis on Twitter, SecularProgress on YouTube, and aliased as Flywheel at various places around the web, including here. The other site’s proprietor is unknown to me. I’ll call that person SPR. SPR and I clearly have many views in common. We admire Neil deGrasse Tyson and Tim Minchin. We want to showcase science. We follow each other on Twitter. We’ve chosen similar titles. But don’t mix us up. Every page under SPR’s control … Continue reading →

Cracking the Nutshell on Free Will by Percent

Dolors, the physicist/mathematician/philosopher who posts as Cracking the Nutshell on YouTube, publishes more content than I can regularly follow, but this morning I watched one that was so good, I felt motivated to comment. She’s also a respectful critic of Sam Harris. We need more of those. Here’s the comment: Great quote from Carl Jung at 10:26… “I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become.” You also made a point that I’ve always thought needs to be amplified. People who use language like “I had no choice” are excusing themselves for behaving … Continue reading →

Staying Awake to Anti-Islamic Bigotry

I’m a big fan of Bill Maher and rarely miss his show. I agree with a lot of what he says, but certainly not everything. I’m also very attentive to Sam Harris. He’s become one of the leading proponents of the notions that consciousness and free will are illusions (ideas I oppose), and he’s been exceptionally disciplined and precise in making his arguments. So I was very attentive to the famous debate with Ben Affleck about liberal attitudes toward Islamic illiberalism, and I posted my response in a couple of places online, including Juan Cole’s Informed Comment and … Continue reading →