The World Is Getting Better, Not Worse

The World Is Getting Better, Not Worse

Is the Human Race in Decline? I read a comment on another blog yesterday in which an individual argued that humanity has been “decaying” over the last three to four centuries because we’ve basically devolved from a supposedly “high level of spiritual knowledge and understanding of life to lower levels where the technical language is the norm.” The commenter went on to argue that people today are confused and incapable of comprehending anything complex. Unless something is delivered simplistically, his point was, most people “grow tired and bored.” The trend, therefore, is for everything to be reduced more and more into an overly simplified form to the point where, the commenter asserted, adults now act like children. In fact, he even went so far as to suggest that in the future most literature would be a form of children’s literature. Now, it’s not my intention to slam or ridicule the author of those comments in any manner. But his underlying hypothesis is intriguing and not totally uncommon,  and I feel it’s important enough to explore and address – has the human race been in intellectual, spiritual, and moral decline since peaking in some golden past, in this case somewhere between 1613-1713 (i.e. three to four centuries ago)?   Renaissance, Reason, and Enlightenment To me, the Age of Enlightenment, or the Age of Reason, was a natural extension of the European Renaissance that preceded it. And to be sure, it was a heady time as science and reason began to take firmer root in a world that had previously been dominated almost exclusively by organized religion. So I can certainly understand why someone would argue that the Age of Enlightenment was an historical high point and a phenomenal era of human achievement. After all, this was the era of Descartes and Hobbes and Pascal and Newton and Milton and Jefferson and Voltaire. They certainly don’t make them like that any more . . . Of course, it goes the other way, too. Because back then, they didn’t quite make them like Einstein and Stephen Hawking and Mahatma Gandhi and Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King Jr. Now, from a historical perspective, the era doesn’t align cleanly with the 1613-1713 period...

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Ethan Bortnick Videos

Ethan Bortnick Videos

A good friend of mine who really gets the point of this blog sent me a link to this Ethan Bortnick video the other day. I’d never heard of musical prodigy Ethan Bortnick, who was born in 2000, even though he’s appeared on Oprah, The Tonight Show (multiple times), PBS, Good Morning America, Wendy Williams, The Little Einsteins, and many other programs. (Hey, I’ve been busy, OK?) I love his biography and his accomplishments and even his philanthropy, but what really stands out for me is his Renaissance Spirit (he even starred in the film Anything is Possible and co-wrote the songs for it). That spirit is evident in the video below. It’s not about the crowds, it’s not about the achievements, it’s not about the accolades – it’s about the music. And the music is everywhere. Enjoy . . .   More Ethan Bortnick Videos Want more videos involving Ethan Bortnick? Please see the collection below . . .   YouTube responded to TubePress with an HTTP 410 - No longer...

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O.A.R. – Shattered

O.A.R. – Shattered

Here’s the official O.A.R. video “Shattered.” No major commentary or an insightful review here – I just really like this song . . .            Official O.A.R....

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The 3 Piles of Shit

The 3 Piles of Shit

Back in my college years, I developed this theory I called The Three Piles of Shit. (I originally considered titling this post The Three Piles of Crap in order to keep this blog’s family friendly status unparalleled on the web, but hell, if you can’t be true to the spirit of your own youth, how can you be trusted when it comes to anything important?) Regardless, this wasn’t so much a theory as it was a metaphor of how I envisioned my role in life. Or more specifically, how I envisioned navigating my life. Basically, I divided the universe into three piles.   Pile #1 – The Universe itself This was all the stuff I didn’t know and hadn’t experienced. It was absolutely gargantuan in size because, well, it was the universe. And my objective, as I saw it, was to sort through that pile, to start working through it piece by piece, taking an individual idea or experience from the Universe and then, after evaluating it, placing it in one of two separate piles. Most of the ideas, thoughts, experiences, etc., would go into Pile #2.   Pile #2 – The Discard Pile Pile #2 is the discard pile. That’s not to say it contains only worthless items. On the contrary, it contains some extraordinarily valuable information and resources. For example, I have nothing against mechanical engineering or the ability to hang wallpaper. I’m thrilled that we live in a world where there are mechanical engineers and individuals who are gifted when it comes to applying wallpaper to a wall, but in the end, those two disciplines just aren’t for me. (I also suck at connecting a tank to the back of a toilet without ending up with either a leak or a cracked tank.) Moving an item from Pile #1 to Pile #2 should not be construed as a judgment on my part that the item in question is without merit. Without doubt, there IS a lot of crap in Pile #2. But there are a lot of other very valuable elements as well. It’s just that those elements don’t personally resonate with me. They don’t appeal to me, they don’t speak to me, they don’t call...

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The World Is Your Personal Alexandria

The World Is Your Personal Alexandria

The city of Alexandria was an important trading hub and at one time was the intellectual and cultural center of the ancient world, renowned for its comprehensive library, which was said to have had as many as 500,000 scrolls. Yeah, I know – sometimes it feels like I have that many scraps of paper floating around my cluttered desk, office, dining room table, various flat surfaces, and garage myself. But that’s not the point. It’s not about the quantity of the collection, but the quality. Or rather, the impetus we humans have to preserve what we consider important in the first place. That’s all a library is after all – an attempt to preserve the best of what we, as a civilization, have created in order to feed and inspire us in the here and now as well as a gift we bestow to the future. And that’s the essence of Renaissance, too.   And I’m Telling You This Because . . . So unless this is National Library Day, what exactly is the purpose of today’s little history lesson? The purpose is to underscore the point that it’s never been easier to build your own personal Library of Alexandria than it is right now – and to encourage you to appreciate that fact as well as urge you, if you haven’t already, to begin construction on such a library. And, no, I’m not talking about renting warehouse space and getting into hoarding mode. I’m talking about collecting the resources, the wisdom, and the art that you consider to be the “best” – the pieces that feed and inspire you, the pieces that you personally find important, the pieces that make you feel most alive. And the reason why I said it’s never been easier to do this than it is right now is because this can largely be a virtual construction. What an amazing and transformative technological revolution – the digitalization and democratization of information. Thanks to companies like Amazon and Apple and Netflix and Google (and many others), we can now easily – and for the most part pretty inexpensively – explore, organize, and assemble our own private collections from a nearly inexhaustible supply of books and...

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