Let a Place Be As Much Itself As Possible

Almost every day I drive to work down the brilliantly landscaped two-lane road of a local resort island. And what I see is nothing like what I see on the side of pavement in most of the rest of my state. The place is swarming with wildlife. Despite development of many golf courses and houses, […]

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Get Some Help to Remember Your Early Life

We like to think that other people couldn’t possibly know us better than we know ourselves. But for at least part of our lives, and at least in retrospect, this is untrue. How much do you really remember about yourself and your experiences and your actions when you were 5 years old? 3 years old? […]

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You Have To Work for Your Identity

Lately I’ve been riding a horse roughly once every week or every two weeks. Does that make me a horseman? I would say not. While I’d like to one day be known as a horseman, I realize that once every week or so won’t cut it. Doing an activity is the only way to earn […]

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Don’t Click the Bell

I have 42 unread LinkedIn notifications now. I had 20+ Facebook notifications the other day, and I have 20+ unread Twitter notifications now.  These platforms badly want me to click on their little bell. You can tell because they keep multiplying things about which to notify you.  Now the platforms don’t just tell you about […]

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Re-Wedding Myself to the Sun

I’ve noticed something strange since returning to the country: a noticeable feeling of dis-ease any time I stay in the house on a sunny day. If I haven’t gone out and sweated and done something under the rays of the sun, I feel incomplete and unworthy of the comforts of the AC. As I began […]

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A Land In Common

I’ve written before about how the South Carolina sea islands’ culture is defined by their environment. If you take a drive down one of the back roads through the tidal creek country, you’ll see people fishing on roadsides. You might see people casting nets from docks, or watch boats collecting crab traps. Most people have […]

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Social Salvation vs. Individual Salvation

From one era to another of human history, human energies seem to be dedicated either to social salvation – think “progress” – or individual salvation – think “enlightenment” or “sanctification”. Sometimes this takes religious guises, other times more secular ones. We live in a time that, despite its frequent pandering to individual *lusts* and frequent […]

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In Most Conflicts of Ideas, Socratic Dialogue Beats Research

There are so many controversial issues in our world right now, and so many people who want to change the way we think, see, speak, feel, and live because of them. I’m not an expert on COVID, not an expert on climate change, not an expert on China, not an expert on interracial and intersex […]

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Half-Assing Many Places vs. Whole-Assing One Place

“Never half-ass two things. Whole ass one thing.” Ron Swanson, Parks and Recreation John moved a lot as a kid. He leaves home at 18 to go to college in another state, then moves to New York City for his first job. After a few years, he gets a job in Chicago and moves there. Then […]

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Consider Who You Want To Enrich

Passion, talents, location, timing, status – all of these things dictate our decisions about how we work and how we make our livings. Why do we never seem to consider the downstream effects of our labor surplus? Whether we work for ourselves or work for someone else, our labor is going to generate wealth for […]

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Landlords Then Vs. Landlords Now

I expect I’ll be a landlord of some kind some day, and so I think about how I might choose to operate. And I must conclude that landlords used to be a lot more epic than they are now. The “landlord” used to literally be a lord, for one thing. How cool is that? Let’s […]

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The Roadside Fruit Stand, Convenience, and Culture

Based on my recent drive through South Carolina’s back roads, the state’s main economic output is peach/firework/boiled peanut stands. Seriously – you can find these everywhere from the upstate to the coast. It’s a staple of South Carolina roadsides, and probably of the rest of the South, too, and it’s delightful. Here is commerce on […]

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The Lives In Our Hands

We are responsible for the present. This is clear. How we act hurts or helps our parents, siblings, neighbors, and fellow humans. We are responsible for the future. This is clear. How we act “echoes in eternity,” and we shape the future world for future people in what we do (and fail to do now). […]

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“Avoid Highways”

I hate interstates. Yes, they are fast, but they’re also encrusted with the ugliest buildings and purveyors of junk in American life – billboards, franchised fast food, garish gas stations, clotted shopping malls and strip malls and parking lots. There is little beauty and lots of consumerist architecture that varies little place to place. So […]

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Learn How To Be In the Minority

If you hold any beliefs or values or traditions more sacred than the spirit of the age (secular state-managed consumerism, more or less), you should be prepared to feel like a minority for the rest of your life. Agrarians, conservatives, libertarians (of the non-hedonist kind), Western traditionalists, orthodox religious believers, small-town people, and small-time artisans […]

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Your New Ideology Probably Won’t Make You Better

“There’s no cure for being a c***.” – Bronn, Game of Thrones It’s no new insight to say that the loudest proponents of virtuous utopia often lack virtue themselves. I only want to confess to the same sin.  I have changed my mind on many things at least a couple of times (per thing) by […]

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The Problem with “This Is the Way Things Are Done”

About half of everything we do and take for granted in modern society is probably less than 100 years old (e.g. watching television). Another half of that is probably less than 50 (e.g. using computers). Some things we now take for granted are less than 20 years old (e.g. using smartphones, etc). So it’s hard […]

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Restoring the Soil of Manhood

Many of us are disappointed in ourselves and disappointed in our fellow men. We wonder where the men of honor, courage, and adventure have gone. You can find an answer in an analogy of soil. There is a kind of “soil” that produces men like the Beowulfian heroes of old, men who would skillfully live […]

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Continuity Is Power

Once upon a time, the nation-state and the joint-stock corporation were new and small. The Church, the family, the tribe, the town, the land (kept by farmers), the wilds, and even small businesses (craftsmen) – in short, the things of humanity – were far older. While this was true, these institutions were more powerful than […]

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Train Like An Animal

I learned to surf from a very intense hippie instructor on a beach in Puerto Rico. He spoke of how the ocean was like a spirit mother or something, and he taught by means of whistling as if we were dogs in training. It annoyed me so much. It was also extremely effective. The instructor […]

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The Irreplaceable Survives the Interchangeable

Conformity may be craven, but it is a powerful and common survival strategy throughout nature. “Blending into the herd” works often enough. But for many reasons, conformity fails in the long run. Why? Because in imitating the crowd, the conformist becomes interchangeable with every other member of that crowd. If he is lost, it is […]

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To Earn the Beauty of the Past, Keep the Past Alive

In my hometown of Charleston, SC, architecture is a big deal. Charleston is a historic city filled with gorgeous homes from the neoclassical period of architecture in the 1700s. And as a growing city, Charleston is full of homes with builders and homeowners who have to make decisions, including the decision to keep with traditional […]

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“You Always Think You’re Right!”

I once had someone tell me something along these lines, delivered as a sort of condemnation. This is one of the trickier attacks a person can make on your character. It’s effective because it makes you seem like an arrogant person. Broken down, though, it doesn’t make much sense. By definition, you believe your beliefs […]

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Life Can’t Be About Saving the World

For much of my life I’ve found purpose in the idea of saving the world, or at least making it better than the way I found it. In this, I am like many young people and quite a few older ones as well. We all have different ideas about what saving the world looks like, […]

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The Easy Road Does Exist, But It Is a Scam

Always be on guard when someone offers to make something easy for you. Run like hell. They are stealing away an opportunity for growth. Of course, they aren’t promising you something that isn’t real. The easy road does exist. Most everyone takes it. Learning that’s easy gets you mediocre knowledge. Training that’s easy gets you […]

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Defend the Gifts of Your Deep Past

I’ve been thinking today about the value of childhood friends (have written about this before). An author I’m reading has quite rightly said that childhood friends are the only ones that really matter. While I do have dear friends I’ve made more recently, I think he has a point. There’s some robustness and durability and […]

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Think While Doing

I recently listened to a fine episode of the Working Man podcast in which the interview made the good point that the trades are beneficial to help young men stop living so much in their imagination. They’re tactile, and they require presence. His observation bore itself out for me today, as I spent much too […]

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Heroes of Character vs. Heroes of Ideology

I grew up reading biographies of great men who had defined American and British history – people who lived long ago, and who despite their deep flaws, still managed to live lives of significance and personal character. I’m talking of course about people like Theodore Roosevelt, George Washington, Robert E. Lee, and Abraham Lincoln. These […]

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Feel Challenge, Not Pride, from Your Heritage

If you were born in America, you were gifted with quite a heritage: explorers, craftsmen, warriors, statesmen, sailors, writers, and artists from Henry David Thoreau and Thomas Jefferson to Meriwether Lewis and Thomas Edison. Should you take pride in that heritage? (Set aside the bad heritage – and there is plenty of it – let’s […]

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Two Ways To Stop Caring What Other People Think

Caring what other people think is deeply human, deeply useful for social bonding, and ineradicable as a habit. But this human tendency can also make us fearful, cruel, ignorant, lazy, mediocre, and unhappy. A lot of folks who went along with the Soviets and the Nazis probably did it – in part – from a […]

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