The Modern Survival Guide: Vol. 2

Photo by Valeria Boltneva, courtesy of

“Objectively speaking, we live in the easiest time to be alive that humanity has ever experienced.”

That’s what I opened with a couple of years ago, when I started writing what would become Volume One of the Modern Survival Guide. I still stand by these words, but with some rather pointed caveats as we close in on the tail end of 2020, because it’s been one hell of a year.

I’m no longer as confident in the stability of American democracy.

I’m no longer as confident in the capacity of the average American citizen.

I’m no longer as confident in the ability of our society to meet challenges.

Survival in the modern world is less assured than it was a few years ago. We have the COVID virus to contend with. We have an increasingly authoritarian-looking federal government to deal with. We have a whole host of purveyors of misinformation, false information, and just generally wrong information who are gaining traction. Our economy, at the time of this writing, it teetering on the edge of catastrophe. And of course, half the country simply cannot stand the other half, again.

All of which indicates, to me, that it’s high time to get started on The Modern Survival Guide: Volume Two!

In Volume One I examined more than a hundred topics, ranging all over the place with regard to politics, science, culture, philosophy, religion, and motivation. I have absolutely no intention of changing my ways. The primary difference between Volume One and Volume Two is that, for Volume Two, I have expectations. Mostly, I expect you, dear reader, to be somewhat familiar with topics which have already been discussed in Volume One which have relevance for articles in Volume Two.

Is this a rational hope? Dear Lord, no. I don’t honestly expect you to go back and read the whole Volume One article list, that would be ludicrous!¹ So instead, here’s what I’m going to do: if I reference a previous article, or if there’s something that you ought to know going into a new article, I’ll let you know and drop a link. I am considerate like that.

I’ll also make you a promise right up front: Because I am not necessarily an expert on all things (shocking, ain’t it?) I will do my level best to present my opinions with factual backing. That’s to say that if I tell you what I think about a thing, I’m going to provide a link to at least one other article or source that backs me up with actual, factual, proof. Is that a guarantee that I’m right? Of course not! I’m a fallible human being, just like you. But it’s my commitment to you that if I hold a strong enough opinion on something to write about it, I am obliged to demonstrate a good backing for my opinion.

This time around I’m also going to try to curate the articles into something reasonably approaching an ordered presentation; we’ll see how long that lasts. As per the standard of Volume One, though, I will be adding to the list of articles as time goes on, as I think of new things, and as events pop up that seem like they might affect our ability to survive in this modern, crazy, beautiful, frustrating world. As I add new articles, I will link them from this page.

Last but not least, as before, if you have an idea or something you want to see, please let me know! And without further ado, here’s the article list for the Modern Survival Guide, Volume Two:

  • How to Win a Federal Contract
  • How to Buy a Home
  • How to Buy Insurance
  • How to Troubleshoot Someone Else’s Computer
  • How to Politely Disagree
  • How to Multitask
  • How to Have and Use Moral Authority
  • How to do Research
  • How to Judge Your Neighbor
  • How to Accept Feedback
  • How to Keep a Level Head
  • The Truth About the Federal Government
  • The Truth About Racism in America
  • The Truth About Law Enforcement
  • The Realities of Eating Out
  • The Weaknesses of Democracy
  • The Reality of History
  • The Trouble with Voting in America
  • The Truth About Immigration
  • Empathy and the Reality of Tribalism
  • On Malicious Optimism
  • Why Populism is Bad
  • The Dangers of Magical Thinking
  • The Hazards of Politicized Science
  • Echo Chambers from Hell
  • Why Multilevel Marketing is a Poor Business Choice
  • Why Homeopathy is (Probably) Bad for You
  • The Dangers of Religious Endorsement
  • The Problem with Miracles
  • Conduct of a Gentleman
  • Conduct of a Citizen
  • The Real Value of Public Opinion
  • On Self-Definition
  • The Benefits of Shame
  • Basic Economics for the Modern Age
  • On “Good” and “Bad” People
  • On Trust in the Media
  • The Narrative Order of the Mind
  • The “Any Given Tuesday” Problem
  • The Art of Asking Questions
  • The Fine Art of Charity
  • Fixing Toxic Cultures
  • Choosing Death vs. Choosing Life
  • The Big List of National Crises
  • Reconciling Contentious Choices
  • The Constant Necessity of Police Reform
  • The Constant Necessity of Criminal Justice Reform
  • The Constant Necessity of Constitutional Reform
  • Predicting the Future of America

¹But it would make me happy!

Searching for truth in a world focused on belief.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store