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Moderates are not the Enemy

With both major American political parties offering fringe candidates this election season, let’s look at the relationship between those fringes and the so-called moderates who are said to represent most of the country. First, we have to know what we’re talking about. The reality is that most Americans are not moderate–that is to say, not politically centrist–even limiting ourselves to the American political spectrum. For one, most people may consider themselves “moderate” while holding decidedly partisan positions, even extreme ones.

Stellaris: Slavery and Racism in Space

Ethics in video games (not to be confused withethics in video game journalism) is a favorite topic of mine. Given my recent interest (“obsession,” if you prefer) in the 4X strategy game Stellaris, it’s an area whose time has come to revisit. Starting with the basics: if you don’t know what a 4X game is, it is a type of strategy game, so called because of the four main activities that characterize such games–eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate.

Freedom and Capitalism

For Americans, it seems that freedom and capitalism have, at some point in our history, become interchangeable concepts. There is no freedom without the ability to own and control capital, and capital that cannot be used as its owner wishes cannot be considered freedom. But is this really right? You’ve probably guessed already that the answer is “no.” But it’s why that matters. How did we come to link these ideas together, and what purpose does it serve?

Americans' Mixed Feelings on Unions

Labor unions in the United States are both more and less popular than people tend to believe. Confusing? It sure is. I spend a lot of time thinking about labor in the United States, and around the world. What will the future look like? Will there be more worker organization, or less? And how do Americans feel about unions, anyway? I wanted to see what data existed, and sure enough, Gallup has some long-term polling on American attitudes toward labor unions.

Gender: Beyond Binary

Transgender people have been in the spotlight quite a bit lately, and not always for positive reasons. Whatever one thinks of recent developments, it is evident that the landscape of gender is changing. We don’t know what it will look like in the future, but a peek at what’s happening in the present might help. When most people think of transgender, they might think of someone like Caitlyn Jenner: born with a male body, grew up and identified as a man for most of her life, and eventually transitioned to living as a woman full-time.

Can Donald Trump Win?

The short answer is “yes,” but the more qualified answer is “probably not.” Read on for why! The hot news right now is about the latest Quinnipiac University poll, which shows a tight race between Trump and Hillary Clinton in key swing states. But the poll slants things in favor of white and Republican voters. This is bad news for Trump in a critical way: if the best he can do with polls slanted in his favor is a statistical tie, then he’s got an uphill battle on his hands.

The American Anxieties

Is it class? Is it race? Is it something else? What’s at the root of Americans’ identities and political divisions? This line of thinking spun out from a discussion of Us Against Them, which I have yet to read (though it sounds fascinating), as well as conversations with others on similar topics. Matthew Yglesias offers a good overview, from back in 2012: The No. 1 book about American politics that I wish more people would read is Donald Kinder and Cindy Cam, [_US Versus Them: The Ethnocentric Foundations of American Public Opinion_](http://www.

The Hugo Awards: What's Going On?

I was asked today what’s going on with the Hugo Awards. What’s this business about “sad puppies” and “rabid puppies”? Are you confused? I’ve got you covered. If you know what GamerGate is, you can think of the sad/rabid puppies as the science fiction literature equivalent. In many ways, they’re just another head on the same hydra. If you don’t know what GamerGate is, you can go educate yourself, but it’s not entirely necessary to understanding the Hugo situation.

Obamacare: No Good Options

I recently had a conversation with a friend about the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) which made clear to me the level of frustration a lot of people have experienced with it. It also helped me realize how poor our health coverage options are, in general. The marketplace plans available to single young people with modest incomes bring either large premiums or large deductibles, running up an overall expense that can be several thousand dollars a year.

The Growth Addiction

I don’t own any Apple products. No iPhones, no iPads, no Macs. I’m not a fan of the company, its culture, or the late Steve Jobs. And yet, I can’t help but think the market is hugely overreacting to Apple’s recent earnings disappointment. It’s true, revenues and profits are down. Are they down enough to erase $40 billion in stock value, though? Does that make any sense at all? Apple is even being blamed for dragging the Dow index into the red.