A life worth living

See updates through January 29, 2023, at end of post.



Please, if you would, and especially if you’re young enough never to have heard the song, take a few minutes to listen to Paul McCartney’s “When I’m Sixty Four,”[1] which he apparently wrote when he was 14 years old, and was included in the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (1967) album.[2]

On one level, it’s a sweet and silly love song, whose protagonist is the male half of an ordinary English couple contemplating a life together ahead. Here are the lyrics: Read more

  1. [1]Beatles, “When I’m Sixty Four,” YouTube, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCTunqv1Xt4
  2. [2]Genius, “When I’m Sixty-Four,” n.d., https://genius.com/The-beatles-when-im-sixty-four-lyrics

Why Uber is not merely a ‘technology platform’

This particular saga begins at a fast food restaurant in West Mifflin, a suburb of Pittsburgh. Uber has the pin for this on a particular side of the building, so that’s where I drove to and waited for my passenger. There are two doors on that side of the building.

Almost always, when I pick up at a fast food restaurant, I’m taking an employee home, and as it happens, this particular establishment has what appears to be a large workspace or office behind one of the doors, so there was absolutely no way I could rule that door out. Read more

Revisiting Philip Slater’s Chrysalis Effect in the post-Donald Trump era

See updates through December 12, 2022, at end of post.



Fig. 1. Philip Slater. Photograph by Benjamin Wheeler, 1980, via the New York Times,[1] fair use.

Before I was in the Ph.D. program that I ultimately completed, there was another Ph.D. program, one that was the wrong program for me, but one nonetheless that I learned a great deal from. I’m thinking of one of the professors, there, now deceased,[2] Philip Slater, who wrote a book in which he applied the metaphor of a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly to human society.[3] Read more

  1. [1]Paul Vitello, “Philip E. Slater, Social Critic Who Renounced Academia, Dies at 86,” New York Times, July 2, 2013, https://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/30/books/philip-e-slater-social-critic-who-renounced-academia-dies-at-86.html
  2. [2]Paul Vitello, “Philip E. Slater, Social Critic Who Renounced Academia, Dies at 86,” New York Times, July 2, 2013, https://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/30/books/philip-e-slater-social-critic-who-renounced-academia-dies-at-86.html
  3. [3]Philip Slater, The Chrysalis Effect (Brighton, UK: Sussex, 2009).

Republican politicians out of touch?

See updates for December 7, 2022, at end of post.



Fig. 1. “Jake Angeli (Qanon Shaman), seen holding a Qanon sign at the intersection of Bell Rd and 75th Ave in Peoria, Arizona, on 2020 October 15.” Photography by TheUnseen011101 [pseud.], October 15, 2020, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

I don’t advocate oxygen for the bizarre,[1] but Republican Party politicians seem increasingly out of step with their constituents:

“That’s a remarkable statement. You’d support a candidate who’s come out for suspending the Constitution?” the host [George Stephanopoulos] pressed, with [David] Joyce replying, “You know, he says a lot of things—you have to take him in context,” before trailing off. Joyce ultimately closed the interview by shrugging off [Donald] Trump’s comments as a “fantasy” that should not be taken seriously.[2]

Read more

  1. [1]David Benfell, “To condemn a delusional raging narcissist or to ignore incitement to rebellion. That is the question,” Not Housebroken, December 5, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/12/05/to-condemn-a-delusional-raging-narcissist-or-to-ignore-incitement-to-rebellion-that-is-the-question/
  2. [2]Caleb Ecarma, “Republicans Apparently Have No Red Line With Trump—Not Even His Desire to Terminate the Constitution,” Vanity Fair, December 5, 2022, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2022/12/republicans-trump-terminate-constitution

To condemn a delusional raging narcissist or to ignore incitement to rebellion. That is the question.

Our story today begins with Donald Trump being Donald Trump:

Former President Donald Trump called for the termination of the Constitution to overturn the 2020 election and reinstate him to power Saturday [December 3] in a continuation of his election denialism and pushing of fringe conspiracy theories.

“Do you throw the Presidential Election Results of 2020 OUT and declare the RIGHTFUL WINNER, or do you have a NEW ELECTION? A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution,” Trump wrote in a post on the social network Truth Social and accused “Big Tech” of working closely with Democrats. “Our great ‘Founders’ did not want, and would not condone, False & Fraudulent Elections!”[1]

Read more

  1. [1]Kristen Holmes, “Trump calls for the termination of the Constitution in Truth Social post,” CNN, December 4, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/12/03/politics/trump-constitution-truth-social/index.html

Why ‘being reasonable’ doesn’t work and why violence is sometimes unavoidable

Were I a better communication scholar, I would have understood sooner that three principles of argumentation interact with each other. This is largely about clichés, but it is crucial in understanding a difference between Left and Right, because epistemologically, the left wing is more amenable to arguments and reason than the right.[1] Read more

  1. [1]David Benfell, “A theory of conservative epistemology,” Not Housebroken, November 19, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/08/06/a-theory-of-conservative-epistemology/

Apparently, it’s ‘thoughts and prayers’ for the dying in Pittsburgh


Fig. 1. “Ed Gainey poses with CeaseFirePA during the 2020 Women’s March in Downtown Pittsburgh.” Photograph by Megan Gloeckler, undated, via Pittsburgh City Paper,[1] fair use.

Are we at the “thoughts and prayers”[2] stage yet? Because I’ve already explained what needs to be done[3] about a surge in violence in Pittsburgh.[4] (The short version is that Mayor Ed Gainey needs to follow through on his campaign promises.[5]) Read more

  1. [1]Charlie Wolfson, “Neighborhood groups try to curb shootings as Pittsburgh’s mayoral campaign puts political focus on gun violence,” Pittsburgh City Paper, October 20, 2021, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/neighborhood-groups-try-to-curb-shootings-as-pittsburghs-mayoral-campaign-puts-political-focus-on-gun-violence/Content?oid=20401296
  2. [2]Abdullah Shihipar, “The Kind of Prayer That Could Make a Difference,” Atlantic, June 1, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2022/06/only-thoughts-and-prayers-we-should-offer-uvalde/661156/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “To Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey,” Not Housebroken, October 30, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/10/30/to-pittsburgh-mayor-ed-gainey/
  4. [4]Justin Vellucci, “Pittsburgh’s soaring homicide rate leaves officials baffled,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 27, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburghs-soaring-homicide-rate-leaves-officials-baffled/
  5. [5]David Benfell, “To Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey,” Not Housebroken, October 30, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/10/30/to-pittsburgh-mayor-ed-gainey/